Monthly Archives: August 2017

Fall = Applesauce!

Fall is in the air… well kinda sorta, now that fresh North Carolina apples are making their debut at farmers’ markets! And with that, comes comfort foods, like applesauce. Who doesn’t love that?  It makes such a quick and simple healthy side dish for so many things, including breakfast! What could start your day off better than some NC maple or brown sugar pork sausage with a side of freshly made applesauce?  Check out this site for lots of great information about North Carolina apples!

And because you can crock a pot so fast, unless you really want to, there’s no need to do huge batches and can.  Just make some fresh every week or so as you need in your house!

Apple Pie Spiced Slow Cooker Applesauce

Apple Pie Spiced Slow Cooker Applesauce

This recipe is so easy… you can have it in the pot in 5 minutes and go on about your business. It takes care of itself… wouldn’t it be great if all our foods did that?  

My applesauce is featured in this month’s September issue of Carolina Country Magazine but you can find it printable below.  As you will see in the notes, there are easy ways to vary this basic recipe.  You can use your favorite pie spice… and I really like to use the Georgia Peach Spice from Savory Spice Shop.

And here’s a helpful hint... for those of you with small households, I highly recommend getting yourself a mini crock pot (or two) for cook’n. I have a couple and cook in them several times a week.  The heat is so intensified due to its smaller size, food gets hot faster and cooks much faster too. I enjoy soft creamy grits some mornings in 30-45 minutes. I buy Boston butts when on sale and have them cut in half to freeze one/cook one… a half fits perfectly into the mini pot and in a couple of hours, I have my own Eastern North Carolina pulled pork BBQ!  The portions are perfect for a couple of folks and you won’t end up with lots of leftovers (but maybe just enough to throw together a mini crock pot of soup).  I’m not sure all the places you can get them, but I picked up both of mine at thrift stores… one for $3 and the other was $7. And I recently gifted one to my “other mother” from Roses for $12!  You can’t beat that….  and they are a great inexpensive Christmas gift for singles, couples and seniors that aren’t able to stand and do much cooking anymore.  You can even pair up with a grocery store gift card if you want to help someone on a fixed income at holiday time! And for you single and couple campers out there, a mini is a must-have.

So without further adieu I give you my delicious slow cooker applesauce! Happy Sauce’n and Happy Fall y’all!  Please be sure to share my recipe and blog with friends, and thanks!

Apple Pie Spiced Slow Cooker Applesauce
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Apple Pie Spiced Slow Cooker Applesauce
Fall is here, and so are North Carolina apples! Some are better for applesauce than others, so be sure to ask at the farmers market or do a quick online search to get just the right ones. We like to leave half the peel on for a chunkier sauce, but peel them all if preferred.
Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Sauces, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, North Carolina Goodies, Southern
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 8-10 large apples cored and roughly chopped, peel half
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or water
  • pinch salt
  • brown sugar, honey or sugar as needed
  • apple pie spice or something similar
Instructions
  1. Add apples, water and salt to slow cooker. Stir and cover. Cook on high about 2 hours or low about 5 hours until tender.
  2. Leave chunky, or puree with an immersion blender for smooth sauce. Taste for sweetness and add sugar as needed. Dust with apple pie spice.
Recipe Notes
  • Serve warm or chilled. Great alongside pork and chicken or stirred into your morning oatmeal or yogurt. Perfect for lunchboxes too!!
  • Spice:  Use cinnamon or any sort of "baking" spice you like such as pumpkin pie spices. I love to use the George Peach Spice blend from Savory Spice Shop!
  • Variation: Use half apples and half pears for a wonderful apple-pear sauce.

 

 

 

Speaking of tomatoes, fried green ones…

A few years ago while food styling and creating recipes at Our State Magazine, I had the opportunity to create some “sauces” for Fried Green Tomatoes!  We Southerners know summertime isn’t complete without enjoying this tangy fried treat. OK, I’m sure some folks may coat and bake them, but Wendy don’t play that with some things, and “Fried” green ‘maters are one of those things.

Most of us have our preferred way to cook those, so this post isn’t about that…. since basically you just dip in buttermilk, crumbs…. and fry!

Saucy Fried Green Tomatoes
photography by Matt Hulsman for Our State Magazine!

 

Today, I’d like to share the 3 toppings the magazine published.  See if you find one you like, or if you have a preferred way to serve, please add a note about that in the comments below! 

The toppings are…

  • Herby Mayo Dressing… like Green Goddess
  • Whipped Feta & Basil Pimento Cheese
  • Sweet ‘n Hot Strawberry Spread

Enjoy these recipes on Our State’s site or printable below!
Recipes published June 2015

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Herby Mayo Dressing for Fried Green Tomatoes

Try a drizzle of this dressing, then add bits of bacon and chopped chives. (Hint: It tastes great on salads or as a vegetable dip, too.)

Yield: About 1¼ cups.

Course: Brunch, Dressings, Main Course, Salad, Sauces, Side Dish
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Southern, Summer Food
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise, Duke's preferred
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste (or 4 cloves, grated)
  • 4 whole scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • several turns freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the dressing is blended and the herbs are incorporated. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. 
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Whipped Feta & Basil Pimento Cheese for Fried Green Tomatoes

This recipe calls for feta cheese, but you can easily substitute goat cheese if preferred.

Yield: About 1 pint.

Course: Brunch, Dressings, Main Course, Sauces, Side Dish
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Southern, Summer Food
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons diced pimento, drained
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar optional
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients except basil leaves into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and fluffy. Tear up 3 or 4 of the basil leaves, add to the pimento cheese, and pulse until chopped and incorporated into the cheese. Roll up remaining leaves and slice into thin ribbons.
  2. Spoon cheese on top of warm fried green tomatoes. Garnish with basil ribbons.
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Sweet ’n’ Hot Strawberry Spread for Fried Green Tomatoes
The best of both worlds: strawberries for sweetness, chowchow for a little kick.
Course: Brunch, Dressings, Main Course, Sauces, Side Dish
Cuisine: Farmers Market, North Carolina Goodies, Southern, Summer Food
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons drained chow chow
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam or preserves
  • fresh basil optional
Instructions
  1. Stir to combine and spread onto fried green tomatoes.

 

Squishy Fig Gingerbread… oooh la LA!

Squishy Fig Gingerbread

It’s no new news that I’m not the baker. I can do it when need be, but all that chemistry of proper measurements annoys me… I’m not particularly into tedium, and I much prefer concocting stuff where the final successful outcome isn’t determined by improper measurement of a bit of this or that. 

When I was recently gifted with a bunch of sweet ripe figs, I said “self, what SHALL we do with all these here figs?”  Of course, I could throw together some quick and simple preserves. I’ve got that covered. But dang, look at all those figs still in that bowl (aside from those I’m throwing in my mouth while pondering).

So, first thing I did was to fill up my mini crock pot (I adore that thing) with figs, squishing with my fingers as I threw them in.

NOTE:  Squishing is an accepted cooking term and process, at least in my kitchen. You squish when you want to break up whatever ’tis you’re working with, but still want to keep pieces in tact, mostly for the texture. 

…the makings of crock pot fig preserves

So once I had my little crock filled with squished figs, I drizzled in some honey, a squeeze of 1/2 an orange and a little orange zest. I didn’t put much honey, because the figs were perfectly ripe and fully sweet all by themselves.  I turned my little gadget on “high” and in a few hours, had…. fig preserves!  I only made a small batch so I didn’t go through all the processing… and made a few batches of this to share.

Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps!

My favorite way to enjoy fig preserves is with cheese! If you have never savored fig preserves on some good salty cheese… or in my case, my FAVE Cambozola Cheese, well, you just haven’t lived! My family loves this too, and it’s always on our Christmas “nibbly” table. We particularly love this on these Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crackers! 

That weekend, some friends invited me over, so i took a little nibble…. some cambozola with some fruited crackers, my tomato jam and these freshly made fig preserves…. most there had never had such a combination and loved it. AND, the ones that “don’t like blue cheese” really liked this creamy Gorgonzola blue/Camembert combination cheese too.  

…Cambozola Cheese with Tomato Jam & Fig Preserves

 

 

 

Another way I love these preserves is in a grilled bacon and Swiss cheese sandwich…. 

Grilled Swiss Cheese & Bacon Sandwich with Fig Preserves….

 

 

 

OK…. so let me get back on track and tell you about my gingerbread.  I had had gingerbread on my brain for a few days and suddenly, the thought of combining moist sweet figs into rich gingerbread seemed like something to do… or at least ATTEMPT to do.

I pulled out an old recipe I had and went to tweaking… having no idea what would happen! I was really hoping for success so I could spring a tasty baked goodie recipe on all those who know me as the NON-baker,” self included. I’m so tickled to report that… IMO, success has been achieved! I declare, this gingerbread is da’bomb and exactly what was in my head when I embarked on this culinary cooking adventure.  I do hope before the figs are all gone, you will give this recipe a try, and come back here and tell me what you think…. did you like it? did you tweak it?

So since I have 11 new recipes I must get to in the kitchen and create for publication deadline, (but let myself get diverted to this post)…. here you go!  I hope you enjoy as much as I have… I even wrapped up some of the bars and threw in my freezer to enjoy after all the figs are gone this year!  

Note: This recipe was created using Savory Spice Shop Raleigh spices!

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Squishy Fig Gingerbread

Looking for a new way to enjoy all those ripe figs? Here you go... my squishy fig gingerbread! The figs make this gingerbread sooooo moist and a bit "gooey" too. A dusting of powdered sugar and you're good to go. Cut into bites, bars.... or enjoy a slab if that suits your fancy. 

Course: Brunch, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Southern Desserts, Summer Food
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, liquified
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup self-rising corn meal mix
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon apple pie spice
  • 2 cups very ripe figs squished with fingers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13x9 baking dish.

  2. Using mixer, gently combine eggs, sugar, molasses, coconut oil and extracts until blended.

  3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix into wet ingredients a little at the time until well incorporated. 

  4. Using spatula, fold in squished figs.Pour into baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the surface starts showing cracks.
  5. Let cool, slice and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Peas, please… field peas, that is!

…field peas and country ham

Peas are such a simple food… they don’t need much fuss’n with, and can be fixed in all sorts of ways. Cook simply with some country ham pieces.  Ladle up a cup of the pot likker from their cook’n. Add some cornbread and call it supper!  Top with stewed tomatoes or homemade tomato jam

White acre peas with a dollop of tomato jam!

 

 

Whirl up for some right tasty hummus. Or make what we call “Carolina Caviar” for porch sit’n or tailgate’n which we will be doing soon! 

Add some tomato based BBQ sauce for a little kick to your Carolina Caviar!

To make this rather southern “dip,” you can cut up fresh veggies like peppers and tomatoes and onions and shake in some hot sauce, or just stir in some prepared salsa and “doctor it up” for a simpler version. I like to stir in some thicker tomato based BBQ sauce for a tasty surprise too. I like to serve mine with pork rind dippers as you’ll see here at this big reception I did long ago, but just serve with your own favorite chip!  

 

All sorts of fresh field peas are plentiful during July and August… time to stock up!

Any way you use them, North Carolina field peas are just good eats.  And right now is prime pea pick’n season. Load your freezer with all sorts of great peas to enjoy throughout the coming seasons, until it is time to load up again next summer. 

 

Putting up peas… White Acre Peas

 

You will need to blanch them before freezing, but that’s really easy to do.  You will find several methods to do that here, at the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s site! 

 

So run along to your local farm or farmers’ market and pick up PEAS!  Beautiful peas in all shapes sizes and beautiful colors!  Cook some cornbread, pour a glass of iced tea, and plop yourself down in that rocking chair on the porch… enjoy these dog days of summer before they are gone.  

….beautiful summer field peas

I rocked many a mile with my mama and grandma…. shelling peas on my grandma’s porch… back in the day, before pea shelling machines stole that “joy” from us.  Who else has those memories?  I remember my mama saying… “you will be glad you shelled those peas when we are eating them this winter” to which I defiantly declared… “I’d just as soon not eat a pea as to have to do this right here” as any young girl wanting to go play would say. But you know what, those WERE “the days.”

Oh how I’d love to turn back the clock… to these days… porch pea-shelling days!

And oh how I’d give ANYthing… to go back and have those days again… with my mama, my Ma Hocutt, and the sounds of peas falling into those metal pans and my sore little thumbs. Anybody care to join me?

…sweet summer corn salad with honey-citrus dressing

Corn…. here, there and over yonder!  Oh, the delicious time of summer is here in all its golden glory, and I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get.enough.CORN!
I love it raw… lightly steamed on the cob… grilled… in my grandma’s corn puddin… as a side…. or as a meal, like last night when I made my favorite corn salad.  Just good nekkid food at its finest…. nekkid just like the Good Lord gave it to us!

summer corn salad with honey citrus dressing

Enjoy this vibrant sweet summer corn salad with honey-citrus dressing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corn time is HOT time here in North Carolina, so anytime I can “cook” supper, without cook’n a damn thing…. well, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. I tell you, we just do not appreciate our local farmers enough… who toil in this heat for US… and bring us their goodness, for such bargain prices! I get a tad defensive when I hear folks saying “that food is more expensive… I can’t afford it.”  Say WHAT?  I sometimes feel like I’m stealing from them, and just say “keep the change” even though it’s a mere pittance of what they deserve.  Having come from generations of farming families in rural NC, I consider them to be “my people.” I know my food didn’t come from the back cooler at the Food Lion.  So when I have the choice, it’s farmers’ market  freshness for this gal.  

…tasty little wheels of fresh summer corn at Raleigh State Farmers Market!

I love strolling about, tasting little “wheels” of fresh corn, to find that day’s bestest! But usually, there’s little difference so I 

…one of many fresh corn vendors at the NC Raleigh State Farmers Market!

try to buy from different farmers each trip to share the love. I think about how early they had to rise to get that freshly harvested load of corn to the market… some coming from counties away.  Sleepy. Hot. Tired. …and ready to call it a day!  And probably not interested in cook’n anything either when they get home.

So wherever you are, run to your local farmers’ market and shop! And don’t cook this salad for supper. Grab some fresh corn…. field peas that are abundant right now, squashes and tomatoes and peaches and figs and melons…. oh my!  The bounty right now is endless… too bad it can’t be available all year long, although if it were, it probably wouldn’t taste nearly as good.  Savor the seasons.… and Make.Corn.Salad!  Your mouth (and those you share it with) will thank you!!

What could be wrong about combining these delicious ingredients together?

The dressing is so simple…. bright and flavorful, and citrus is the perfect pairing with the corn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweet Summer Corn Salad with Honey-Citrus Dressing

Summer = Farm Fresh Vegetables!  And there are few things better that freshly pulled corn. The hardest thing about corn is deciding which way to eat it on any given day, but when my craving sets in, I just MUST stir up this summer corn salad. There's just nothing like the sweet corn, with its little "bite" stirred together with some feisty radish.... and freshly snipped herbs all dressed simply with honey and the bright flavors of citrus! So run to your local farmers market and get some sweet corn and make some for yourself.  But watch out, it's addicting!

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Farmers Market, No Cook, Southern
Servings: 4 ish
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 5-6 ears fresh corn shucked, cleaned and cut off cob
  • 1 bunch radishes cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion diced
  • a few snips fresh herbs (I used chive, cilantro and thyme)
  • about 1/2 cup local honey (drizzle in a little more if suits you!)
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons Savory Spice Shop California Citrus Rub
Instructions
  1. Combine all vegetables and herbs in large mixing bowl.  Drizzle with honey and juices.  Add spice rub and stir to combine.  EAT!!

Recipe Notes
  1. Feel free to add other herbs that you prefer. I just use what I have growing in my herb pots around the porch.   Feel free to throw in other veggies too!  I sometimes add a little bit of minced celery to this salad. Just don't get too carried away and lose focus on the CORN.
  2. If you do not have a Savory Spice Shop near you (although you can order their incredible goodies online!)... just look at what they have in it and use similar things.  I do love pairing citrus with the honey for this salad.  It just seems like a perfect match. You can zest your orange and lime into the salad and add whatever seasonings you have on hand.  Don't not make it just because you don't have the SSS rub.