Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kosher-Style Dill Pickle Spears


10 pounds cucumbers
1/4 cup mixed pickling spices
2-3 bunches fresh or dried dill
1 1/2 cups canning salt
2 cups vinegar
2 gallons water
6 cloves garlic (optional)
Bay leaves
6-8 cloves of garlic
6-8 hot, red peppers
Mustard seed

Preparation Steps:

I basically had two sized of cucumbers and for these pickles.  I used the larger ones.  I decided to quarter them, slicing them into spears.
  • Wash and drain the cucumbers.  Quarter them, slicing them into spears
  • Place half of pickling spices and a layer of dill into the bottom of a clean pickling container.  (I used a clean five-gallon bucket.)
  • Add cucumbers to within top of pickling container.
  • Combine, salt, vinegar, and water; ladle over cucumbers.
  • Place a layer of dill and remaining pickling spices over the top. 
  • Add garlic, if desired.
  • Weight cucumbers under the brine.
  • Store container in a cool place.
  • Let cucumbers ferment until well flavored with dill and clear throughout.  Pickles should be ready to can in about two to three weeks.
  • Remove pickles from brine and rinse.
  • Strain the brine; bring to a boil in a large saucepot.
  • Pack pickles into hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  • Add one bay leaf, one clove garlic, one piece hot red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed to each jar.
  • Get out your new plastic, collapsible funnel that you got on clearance at the grocery store and place it in one of the jars.  Ladle the hot brine into each jar leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  • Adjust two-piece caps.  (I'm not pleased that the brine in these jars is a little milky looking.  Wonder if that is how it is supposed to look?) 
  • Process fifteen minutes in a boiling water canner.
  • Allow to ferment in jars for two to three weeks.
  • Hope they turn out to be tasty!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Breaded Okra


fresh okra

corn meal and flour from your fancy labeled tubs


Steps to prepare:

  • Put some CDs into the stereo and turn it up really loud so you can dance around to the music and feel happy while you do this.  Today I picked from the sexy men singers category and listened to folks like Conway, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Trace Atkins, Marvin Gaye, Boys To Men and, of course, the most sexy - George Strait.   (Yes, I still use my old school stereo because I can turn it up really loud and not have to have those iPod ear buds hurting my ears and falling out when I dance around the kitchen.  Has anybody solved this problem with the iPod ear buds?)

  • With a sharp knife cut the ends off the okra and discard.  Then, cut the okra into bite-sized pieces.
  • Pour just enough buttermilk into bowl to coat the okra slices.  (I'm still amazed that I could do this and make a picture of it at the same time!)
  • Combine about one cup of cornmeal and three tablespoons of flour in a gallon plastic zipper bag.  (I usually sneak and add some salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning into the mix as well.)  I forgot to take a photo of this step so just envision this part.

  • Get out your favorite old spoon with slots (that came with the Fry Baby you used in college more than 20 more than 30 ahem... many years ago) and gently stir the okra to coat it thoroughly. 
  • Then, begin lifting and draining it and place it into the plastic bag holding a combination of flour and cornmeal.  (I usually shake this around a bit and then add spoonful after spoonful and shake a little between each addition.)
  • Close the zipper bag tightly (or you will have a dusty, gritty kitchen where the ceiling fan blows the cornmeal/flour mix around).  Shake bag vigorously like the little girl did in the Shake-n-Bake commercials and say, "And I hay-elped."  (Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about because it will make me feel depressed that I am so old and you are young and spry.)
  • Take out the grungy old cookie sheets that you almost threw away when you married and moved into your husband's house because they looked so terrible but he talked you into keeping them because they would be good for something.  Line these cookie sheets (that you are thankful you have) with a sheet of wax paper.
  • Wash your favorite, old, slotted spoon and dry it well because it is the only one like it that you have and it works perfectly for this step.  Use it to carefully lift the okra out of the bag and place on the wax paper in a single layer. 
I took two shots of this because somehow on my fancy inexpensive camera the settings got changed while I was trying to do all these things and take photos at the same time.  The one above is with a flash and the one below has no flash.  Which one do you think looks more appealing?
  • Or you could just use your hand and get your pretty wedding ring all gritty and grungy.

  • Place the pan of breaded okra in the freezer for at least 24 hours until it freezes through.  Then, put the frozen okra into freezer bags and label them so you will know exactly what it is and when you froze it and won't have to stand there wondering in a couple of months which bags are the older ones that you should cook first.

  • When the weather gets cold and you want to be reminded of these sweltering, stifling, arid days of summer, simply open a bag of this delicacy and (get your hubby to) drop the delicious nuggets into his deep fryer.  You also could fill a skillet with vegetable oil and heat it to very hot and fry it till it is golden brown.  Then, using your favorite, multi-purpose, slotted spoon lift the okra out and place it into a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the excess grease.  Serve hot and enjoy this southern treat!
P.S. If you have some squash that is a bit too mature and you tried to tell your husband to throw it away but he said it would be good battered and fried, you could slice up the smaller parts of it and bread it and freeze it the same way and it will be delicious prepared just like the okra!

sliced squash pieces
buttermilk coated squash

squash layered on wax paper/cookie sheet ready to freeze