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Skillet Chicken and Squash

6/16/2021 – Mary made this up as she went surrounded by piles of yellow squash and zuchinni and boneless chicken thighs in the refrigerator. It turned out very good and one she will want to repeat so here it is.

Ingredients

  • 4 large boneless chicken thighs cut into 2″ pieces
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Bacon Grease
  • 3 smallish young yellow squash from the garden this morning cut into 3/4″ coins
  • 4 small zucchini from the garden this morning cut into 3/4″ coins
  • 1 small bell pepper from the garden this morning
  • ½ large yellow onion chopped into minimum ½” pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • Our Mediterranean Seasoning
  • Kosher Salt and fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes from the garden this week

Directions

  1. In our 10″ All-Clad skillet, sauteed the garlic in the olive oil and bacon grease until the oil is flavored but the garlic is not beginning to fry. Removed the garlic and saved it.
  2. Season the chicken with the Mediterranean Seasoning plus salt and pepper and saute until it is done. remove it.
  3. Added the onion, bell pepper, and the saved garlic and stirred until the edges begin to soften. Then added the squash and zucchini stirring as it all cooked.
  4. Sprinkled with more Mediterranean Seasoning and coarse ground black pepper and salt. As it cooked it became a bit dry several times so enough chicken broth was added to keep it simmering.
  5. Once everything was getting close to done, returned the chicken and added fresh tomatoes cut into 8ths.
  6. Once the tomatoes had heated and the edges began to soften, plated it and sprinkled with parmesan cheese slivers.

Brined Dill Pickles Canned in Warm-Water Bath

6/16 & 17/2021 – We tried this canning process as it is so different maybe it will work. It makes since that 10 minutes in a boiling water bath would cook the cucumbers at least to some extent and they would not be as crisp. So, this warm water bath is worth a try as it is included in the government healthy canning recommendations. We made no changes other than in how the spices were included. In general we ______ them and found they _____ crispy.

Followed the advice from SimplyCanning.com’s website here, here, and here. Much of what is below was extracted from there and she deserves all the credit.

  • Recommend canning this dill pickle recipe in pints. Quarts must be processed longer, so they tend to get mushy. 
  • On day one, wash your cucumbers and thinly slice off the blossom end. (The blossoms have an enzyme that will make your cucumber pickles soft.) The sooner you do this after picking, the better.

Ingredients

  • Called for 8 pounds of 3-4 inch pickling cucumbers but we had 7 pounds of 1″-3″ diameter cukes picked this morning and so cut them into spears and the right length to fill wide mouth pint jars. There were rather large pieces from each end not used in order for the spears to fit in the jars. Note that when we were done the spears filled 7 wide-mount pint jars and luckily that was exactly what the large SS stock pot would hold.
  • Brine:
    • 2 gallons water
    • 1¼ cups canning or pickling salt
    • 1½ quarts vinegar (5% acidity)
  • Pickling Brine:
    • 2 quarts water plus ½ cup of pickling salt [she called for the salt in the directions although not in her ingredient list] and ¼ cup sugar.
    • 2 Tbsp. whole mixed pickling spice. Below makes ½ cup.
      • 3 Tbsp. mustard seed 
      • 1.5 Tbsp. whole allspice 
      • 3 tsp. coriander seed 
      • 3 whole cloves 
      • 1.5 tsp. ground ginger 
      • 1.5 tsp. red pepper flakes 
      • 1.5 bay leaves, crumbled 
      • 1.5 cinnamon sticks, crushed roughly  
  • To add to the filled jars:
    • whole mustard seed 2 tsp per pint jar
    • dill seed 1½ tsp. per pint jar. The alternate was fresh dill (1 to 1½ heads per pint jar).

Directions

Day 1

  1. Add 3/4 cup salt dissolved in 2 gallons water. Intended to soak cucumbers in the brine for 12 hours but ended up being about 18 hours as we cleaned the carport slab and west patio before it got too hot outside.
  2. Prepared Pickling Spices – See above.

Day 2

  1. Combined vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts of water. Placed pickling spices in a cheesecloth bag and it was taking far too long to season the large pot of vinegar brine so we dumped the spice out of the bag. Heated to boiling.
  2. Drain the brined cucumbers and fill seven wide mouth pint jars while the pickling brine was heating.
  3. Add:
    1. 2 tsp. mustard seed per pint
    2. 1½ tsp. dill seed per pint
  4. Fill jars with hot pickling brine, clean the rim, and attach the lid and ring. The jars were well packed with cukes and so we had at least 60% of the pickling brine to throw out.
  5. The warm water bath pot was boiling at one point and we removed the lid and let it cool to 160 based on readings from the ChefWorks digital thermometer with a probe submerged in the pot.
  6. Added the seven pint jars that filled the large SS pot and turned up the fire watching the ChefWorks to not let it overshoot 185°. Once it reached 180 we started the 30 minute timer. Tweaking the dial kept the water temperature between 181 and 184 for 30 minutes. For the final 15 minutes, the dial was at the 30% point in the Simmer range. This sealing method comes from the following.
    1. The following treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Place jars in a canner filled halfway with warm (120º to 140º F) water. Then, add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars. Heat the water enough to maintain 180º to 185º F water temperature for 30 minutes. Check with a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180ºF during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185ºF may cause unnecessary softening of pickles. Caution: Use only when recipe indicates. The directions in this item are from NCHFP here. [NCHFP said they extracted it from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning,” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA (Revised 2009).]
  7. At the end of 30 minutes, we removed the jars from the bath and let them cool. All the lids “popped”.

“Sun-dried” Cherry Tomatoes

This post will be for multiple days and different seasonings Mary used in making “sun-dried” tomatoes in the food dehydrator. She sliced the tomatoes in half, drizzled on oil and seasonings as cited below.

6/15/2021- Mixed in Kosher salt, dried thyme, and dried oregano with olive oil and they were in the dehydrator overnight—about 12 hours. They made 5 cups in small ½-pint vac pack bags. They had a good flavor going into the bags.

6/16/2021 – Mixed in dried basil, kosher salt, and pecan oil and they were in the dehydrator all day—about __ hours. They made __ cups in small ½-pint vac pack bags.

Bread & Butter Pickles – No. 4.2

This was a slight mod on the fifth preparation of B&B pickles. This has 50% more crisping agent like No. 4.1 but it has jalapeno like earlier versions and the vinegar is all ACV. Other than that this is the same recipe. For some reason, these six cups of sliced cukes and 1.5 onions made 6½ pints whereas the last batch that was also six cups of cukes plus onions made only 2 quarts (4 pints). We also seemed to have a lot more leftover brine/spices after the 6 pints were topped off.

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Pickled Red Onions

6/10/2021 – Mary made this and it was great. It made a quart and a pint jar full.

Ingredients

  • Brine
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 3/4 cup vinegar
    • 1½ Kosher salt
    • 24 black peppercorns
  • 2 red onions, large monsters
  • 3 jalapenos, large, 3″ and fat

Method:

  1. Heat the water. vinegar, salt, and pepper to almost boiling, turned off.
  2. Thinly slice the onions and the jalapeno.
  3. Heat a separate pot of water to boiling. Add the onions and jalapenos to a large enough pot and pour in the boiling water. Let steep for one minute. Drain and put the onions and jalapenos into mason jars.
  4. Pour in the brine to cover the veggies.
  5. Install lid, label with date, and refrigerate until gone.

Refrigerator Pickles

6/10/2021 – These pickles turned out good and the recipe below was inspired by one at TheChunkyChef.com.

Ingredients

First 2 quarts:

  • pickling cucumbers cut into spears enough to make 2 quarts
  • Brine
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 cup white vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
    • 1-1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp dried dill seed in each jar
  • 6-8 cloves garlic peeled, smashed, roughly chopped
  • 5 whole black peppercorns in each jar
  • 1 tsp whole yellow mustard seeds in each jar
  • 2 dried cayenne peppers from our garden divided between the two jars
  • pinch celery seed in each jar

Second 2 quarts as an experiment – Made the same except for sliced fresh jalapenos instead of cayenne peppers and same amount of dill weed instead of dill seed.

Instructions

  • Slice cucumbers into typical spears and slices about 1/4″ thick.
  • In a saucepan, make the brine by adding water, vinegar, salt, and sugar, and heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • While brine is cooling, add cucumbers to jars. Make sure to leave enough room for the brine and other ingredients.
  • Add dill, garlic, mustard seed, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and celery seed.
  • Pour in enough brine to cover the cucumbers, making sure to leave a 1/2″ or so at the top. Seal jars to be airtight.
  • Refrigerate for at least 5 days.

Bread & Butter Pickles – No. 4.1

6/8/2021 – This was the fifth preparation of B&B pickles. This has 50% more crisping agent than No. 4 made last June and it has a bit more Sabal Oelek. Other than that this is the same recipe.

Ingredients – Made 6 pints but one broke in the bath.

  • 16 cups of sliced medium to small cucumbers from our garden sliced with the wavy mandoline blade.
  • 1 large and 1/2 of a medium white onion, sliced the same as the cukes
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt
  • 10 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar and 1-1/2 cups of white vinegar (we did not have enough apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of Sambal Oelek
  • 1 tablespoon per quart jar – Mrs. Wages Xtra Crunch calcium chloride granules. Last year we had added 1 teaspoon per pint and the pickles were still a little limp. So, this batch has 1 tablespoon per quart; i.e. 1.5 teaspoons per pint that is 50% more.

Directions

  1. Slice the cukes and onion with the mandoline. Combine cucumbers, onions, and pickling salt. Add 1 inch of ice cubes. Refrigerated for 2 hours. Removed remaining ice cubes and drained well in a colander.
  2. In a large kettle combined sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, turmeric, and celery seed. Heated to boiling and let rest until the cukes had been in the refrigerator with ice for 2 hours. Returned to slow boil and add cucumber mixture.
  3. As soon as it returned to boiling, pack cucumber mixture and liquid into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Add garlic in the bottom, at half full and when full. Added a slightly rounded tablespoon of Mrs. Wages Xtra Crunch calcium chloride granules on top before the lid.
  4. Processed in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.
  5. Made three quarts.

Stuffed Squash, Cajun Style

5/27/2020 & 6/7/2021 – We have enjoyed the stuffed large Zucchini “boats” and wanted to make some spicier in a cajun style. In 2020 this was made with fresh Pattypan, zucchini, and yellow squash as well as green onions from the garden. It also uses our tasso. In 2021, they were made only with zucchini.

Ingredients & Preparation

  1. Cut the yellow squash and zucchini in half stem to bloom and scooped out the seeds. Cut the pattypans between the bloom and stem and scooped out the seeds.
  2. Rubbed them with EVO and Kit’s creole seasoning.
  3. Baked at 350 for about 30 minutes.
  4. Browned:
    1. 1 lb. of ground pork and 1 lb. of ground beef;
    2. 4″ of a Bertran’s green onion sausage and jalapeno sausage in the 2020 cook. In 2021, added the Alabama Speciality Meats “Hot” sausage; and
    3. 4 pieces of our tasso.
  5. Sauteed celery, onion, garlic, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes (from last year’s garden) in EVO
  6. Add brown meet to sauteed veggies
  7. Add parmesan cheese, Swanson’s chicken stock. Added the stock as needed to prevent it from becoming too dry. Simmered for about 30 minutes.
  8. Filled the baked “boats” and sprinkled with parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. In 2020 we also topped with chives; aka green onions,
  9. bake 20 minutes then let rest 20 minutes.