Nanny’s Homemade Pickles

 

Nanny's Homemade PicklesThere’s a minimalist inside of me just screaming to get out. I want to be surrounded by less and somehow I continue to take in more. My affinity for food props and ‘old things’ that appear to tell a story continue to steal my heart with every visited estate sale. How is it these families of deceased loved ones could let go of such treasures. Sets of silver and hand-woven baskets, wood-working pieces and quilts consisting of fragmented memories. It’s a bit melancholy when I reflect on it. I know that some of the pieces I own were simply thoughtless purchases of a scrambling aunt who forgot a birthday or two but it doesn’t mean there’s no value…or maybe it does?

The thought of clutter and neglected things often cause me to yearn for simple things. You know the sandwich your mom used to make with a spread of mustard and a slice of ham nestled between two slices of white bread. Or maybe for you it was a cup of chocolate pudding and a glass of milk. What is it about simple prepared foods that often have our palates pleading for seconds and sometimes third servings? I mean, sure it’s nice to have a piece of smoked meat wrapped in something, suveed in something, cured, smoked again, sliced thin, piled high with a gastrique chasing the plates rim. But that isn’t how the typical person eats or at least I wouldn’t dare to think so?

homemade picklesI’ve run into this time and time again from the recollection of my childhood to the occasional venture to a new dining spot here in Nashville. The dish that has 5 ingredients as opposed to fifteen is the ‘last man standing’. Nothing annoys me more than a chef who over thinks their dishes. It’s often as simple as leaving off that hibiscus foam or random shaved vegetable that could make a dish shine. And leave an everlasting impression on that first-time or returning guests palate that could possibly ignite their passion for food. Not just eating it for necessity but also for sheer pleasure the enjoyment flavor profiles, local ingredients and textbook cooking techniques. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both skilled artisans at these simple things and I could go on and on telling you about some of the best meals I ever ate because they were so simple that they can’t be erased from my ‘food memories’. And I don’t think that I’d be willing to part with them. Nanny's Homemade Pickles by The Local Forkful

I’m sharing these pickles with you today because the farmer’s markets have been overflowing with them and I just couldn’t resist making you a batch of them the way my great-grandmother and her daughter made them. Sometimes I sit and long for the day when I could walk into her backyard and be greeted by the hung sheets on the line, being dried by the suns warm beams. Carelessly running across that fragile bridge that connected to her quarter acre garden in the middle of suburbia. It was perfection at its best and I still long for those days when life was truly simple. These pickles don’t involve a tedious collection of herbs and spices. No boiling of liquids or Ball mason jar’s, no, these pickles only require white granulated sugar and apple cider vinegar. I know you might be thinking, “could it really be that good, if there’s only two ingredients for the brine?” And I tell you, yes, yes they are. And if you aren’t a believer after trying them then back to your usual way’s and I’ll eat them for you.

There’s no need for me to write out a method for them. You simply rinse and slice 3 medium cucumbers about a 1/4 inch thick slices. Place them in a mixing bowl or storage container with 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and a smidgen of kosher salt. I gently stir them until I see most of the sugar is dissolved and be careful not to bruise the cucumbers. Let them sit at room temp for one hour stirring every 15 minutes to insure all cucumbers come in contact with the liquid. I like a bit of spice in mine so I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes. They are ready to eat at the end of the hour but if you’re a chilled pickle fan then put them in the fridge for about thirty minutes. These pickles also taste fantastic on burgers, or just eat them when no one else is around. Nanny's Homemade Pickles by The Local Forkful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits

The introduction to fall has been an interesting one. I mean typically, I don’t even pay attention to the change of the seasons until I become annoyed by the reaction of my allergies to the first pollen breeze, chill of wind upon my face or warmth of sun upon my car seats. All of these things an indication that the season has changed and we are walking into a new cycle of life. One where our blankets fall from the attics and our heaters blow the dusts of summers neglect away. Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulPumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulI have to admit there is a soft spot in my heart for the fall. I adore the quilt of colors brought to us by the leaves aging. The rustling and crunch of your feet in the grass conjuring yesteryear’s thoughts of s’mores and diving into mountains of raked leaves.

I was sitting in the waiting room while my wife was in surgery when I thought of these biscuits. Her parents and I fretting on the inside but doing our best not to let it show. I was holding on tight to a cup of hot chocolate mixed with coffee that I swear never left the cup no matter how much I drank. Oh, hospitals and those small styrofoam cups that remind you so coldly of where you are. When will they ever learn?  Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulJenna’s been having an ovarian cyst issue that required moving along with some other abdomen problems due to a botched surgery from our past. We were told post-surgery that they found scar tissue from that surgery and a couple of fibroid that needed to be removed. If that wasn’t enough the doctor with this look of discontent said, ” if we were thinking of having children we would need to do so sooner than later.” (Well, good morning to you too.) was the initial thought that jumped into my head, but this wasn’t the doctors fault and we were already aware that the road to having children would not be that of an easy one. And this is OK with us. God has his own divine timing and though we are often impatient in waiting for things to unfold. We’re good with just enjoying each others company until then.Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local ForkfulDon’t ask me what the correlation between scary waiting rooms and biscuits have to do with each other because I honestly don’t know. But I knew I had no idea of what to take to Nashville Food Bloggers CSA Potluck the following Sunday. And maybe this is what my brain does when in uneasy situations. It goes directly to the chamber of comfort foods I have stored away in my mind. These biscuits were practically an experiment of sorts.

I found the recipe on a farmgirl’s dabbles for Pumpkin Biscuits with Candied Ginger. And I’m not good at simply making a recipe without a few minor changes, not always for the better, but you gotta try. So any-who, once I put my spin on them, they were no longer the same. If you make these biscuits you’ll get a heartier biscuit that’s somewhere between sweet and savory. Which I believe will make them the perfect appetizer, bread with dinner or even dessert with a little bit of your favorite flavor of cream cheese. Also recommended by the original recipe, a little honey butter, I concur.Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits: Recipe by The Local Forkful

What are some of your favorite fall baking recipes and how do you keep them interesting? I’d love to hear from you.

Pumpkin Cranberry & Apple Biscuits
adaptation via A farmgirl’s dabbles

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. Kosher salt
6 T. chilled butter (cubed)
1/2 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. canned pumpkin puree (not pre-spiced)
3 T. Honey
2 T. chopped candied ginger
1/2 c. chopped apples
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Method

1.Preheat oven to 375 and spray or butter cookie sheet. set aside.
2.Add flour, baking powder, salt, and spices and whisk together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Place in the refrigerator to chill about 15-20 min.
3. Combine apples, cranberries, pumpkin, buttermilk,and ginger in a bowl and combine. Add this mixture by the heaping spoonfuls until you have a tacky dough that forms a ball.

Side Note: it is essential that you do not move too fast. Slowly work the dry and wet ingredients together without over-mixing the batter. This is the key to happy, fluffy biscuits.

4. There is no kneading or rolling unless you want the perfectly shaped round biscuits. I went with the drop biscuit method. I used a 3/4 fluid oz scoop which will roughly be about an ounce of dough per biscuit.
5. Leave a 1/2 an inch of space between the biscuits. Bake for about 6-8 minutes. Due to their size they won’t take long to cook, but like I always say. “No two ovens are the same.” so you be the judge. I hope you enjoy.

Side Note: In the photos you’ll see that I sprinkled brown sugar on a few and some kosher salt on others. Just for a bit of added flavor.

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Summer lamentations & Tomato Jalapeno Jam

I’m not sure where the time has gone but it left with no note on the night stand or a tepid wave. The summer time is officially gone and some of us never gave it the chance to leave with our pumpkin cookies, souffles and cakes. Even I was guilty of whipping up a batch of pumpkin, apple and cranberry biscuits for a food blogger gathering.Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local ForkfulI can’t help but to pause and think of all the fresh bounty that I never even tapped into. I think the wife and I will try tackling the company of a CSA box now and again. It would definitely assist in the rounding out of our diet which is simple in the least. At the end of the summer there’s always one last bunch of something that you come across and tell yourself you need. And thanks to the extended warmth this year we were blessed with more tomatoes than we knew what to do with at our fingertips. I had a bag of tomatoes sitting on the dryer that were on their last leg and so I decided to make jam. Most of our tomatoes met their demise with a clenched fist and a salt shaker but not these. They were destined to meet my favorite Cusinart pan with a little sugar, vinegar and salt. Not to mention a kiss of warmth from some jalapeno I had. I told myself many a time I was going to make Foodie with Family’s candied jalapenos which sound fantastic and I never got around to it, but it is still on my to-do list.

Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local ForkfulIt seems like yesterday the wife and I were making plans for the summer. No doubt, most of it would be consumed by work and the mundane details involved with being an adult. And now that I think about it, we never even made it to the pool once this summer. That’s an epic fail for us. But nonetheless, I was able to attend many farmers markets for the summers harvest and heirloom tomatoes were in plenty this year.

There were so many recipes that I wanted to blog but I knew I’d never get the time with working two jobs and the balancing act of marriage and blogging. Of course, marriage always comes first and I like it that way. Regardless of what sh!t food blogger says, this jam won’t sit in the fridge and rot. I’ve already knocked one jar off on crusty baguette and have plans to use more on a seared salmon dish, coming to a post near you. 
Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local Forkful
I grabbed a couple of jalapeno when I snatched these tomatoes from Bradley’s Farm stand and they sat on the counter for a couple of days before they were utilized in this jam. One of them began to turn a shade of red and while I was familiar with this I never questioned as to how this changed the flavor of the pepper itself. It turns out the heat actually becomes milder and you might say well the heat is in the veins. And Yes! This is true, but the fruit itself packs a little kick and what is there slowly dissipates with the deepening of the red and the color is quite the eye catcher. Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local Forkful

Tomato & Jalapeno Jam: Recipe by The Local Forkful

I can’t help but too pause and think of all the fresh bounty that I never even tapped into. I think the wife and I will try tackling the company of a CSA box now and again. It would definitely assist in the rounding out of our diet which is simple in the least. At the end of the summer there’s always one last bunch of something that you come across and tell yourself you need. And thanks to the extended warmth this year we were blessed with more tomatoes than we knew what to do with at our fingertips. I had a bag of tomatoes sitting on the dryer that were on their last leg and so I decided to make jam. Most of our tomatoes met their demise with a clenched fist and a salt shaker but not these. They were destined to meet my favorite Cusinart pan with a little sugar, vinegar and salt. Not to mention a kiss of warmth from some jalapeno I had. I told myself many a time I was going to make Foodie with Family’s candied jalapeno which sound fantastic and I never got around to it, but it is still on my to-do list.

Ingredients
adaptation via A Cozy Kitchen

3 lbs rough chopped tomatoes
2 medium jalapeno minced (optional)
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
1 oz. red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon of tomato paste

Method

1. First, rinse, core and chop your tomatoes into 1/4″ x 1/4″ cubes. Does not have to be perfect shapes. You can even rough chop the tomatoes. set aside.

2. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and tomato paste to your medium sauce pot over medium heat. Stir until all ingredients become a syrupy paste. Add your tomatoes. Let the mixture cook for about an hour over medium heat. Make sure to come back and stir the mixture often. You really shouldn’t leave the mixture for long periods of time so grab a magazine or two.

3. 45 minutes into cooking your jam should have reduced by 2/3 and be thicker with a nice sheen. At this point, add your minced and seeded jalapeno to the mixture. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld together.

4. Turn off the heat and transfer jam into a bowl (preferably stainless steel or glass) that is a good conductor of heat/cold. You are going to make an ice bath and set the bowl with the jam into the bowl that contains your ice/water mixture. Stir until the mixture is cooled down and the mixture has become jam consistency. The mixture should cling to the spoon. Transfer to a storage container and enjoy on crackers, bread, fish or chicken. Get creative.

When I thought about doing this post I remembered that jam doesn’t boil down to a whole lot. And since I don’t work far from a Williams Sonoma, you know I couldn’t resist these Weck Jars. Enjoy your jam and let me know what you’ve done with the end of your summer’s harvest? Though I know it isn’t over for everyone.

Weck Jars from Williams Sonoma via The Local Forkful

Zucchini ribbons in Sage Brown Butter

I sat down at the desk with my chilled glass of apple juice to the right of me. I thought I had it all figured out. The words had an extra week to find themselves since I didn’t get a post up last week. But as I set there at the desk wanting to share with you my hectic week, and the woes of working too many hours in a hot kitchen. I could only think of this heart-felt blog post I read on Thursday from The Merry Gourmet. I’ve grown fond of this blog as Merry is a great writer and a painter of vivid imagery through well composed lines. She is an oncologist who also has an affinity for cooking, baking and making eye-candy chocolate desserts. But any-who, as you scroll down to gaze over the zucchini recipe which makes an awesome side dish. Here is The Merry Gourmet post I’m insisting that you read and enjoy the peach bar recipe as well. I’m also a fool for a high crust to peach ratio. Enjoy.Zucchini Ribbons in Sage Brown Butter

Ingredients

4 medium-sized squash
1/2 cup unsalted butter
5-7 sage leaves
smidge of kosher salt(to taste)
fresh cracked black pepper(to taste)

Instructions

1. First rinse your zucchini and pat dry. Then grab a folded kitchen towel and stand your zucchini in the center of the towel to peel ribbons. If you apply too much pressure you will break your zucchini. Set ribbons aside on paper towels to soak up any excess moisture while your butter browns.

2. Heat your butter in the skillet on medium high heat until it begins to foam. You can not walk away from the pan. Throw in your sage leaves once butter has melted. Stir gently in a circular motion until you begin to see little bits of milk fat separate from the butter. Once butter has turned golden brown remove from heat quickly and add one tablespoon of chilled butter to keep your butter from burning. Return the skillet to the eye and add ribbons.

If you are confident, feel free to give it a few quick chef toss in the air to incorporate the butter throughout the ribbons. But if you are not confident use tongs or a wooden spoon to stir your ribbons.

3. Add your salt & pepper to taste. Continue moving the ribbons around as they will cook quickly because they are thin. Remove sage and use for garnish. Now, that was simple.Zucchini Ribbons in Sage Brown Butter