I’ve had a bumper crop of various vegetables from this year’s garden, and we gave away as much as we ate. Because some of these are new vegetables or vegetables I don’t often buy, I’ve had to come up with some new recipes. You can read about the garden here. Below are my favorite recipes.
The variety of cucumbers I planted is called “Jumbo”, and they got big. We prefer them, though, not quite so big so we harvested them a little smaller and more tender. The vines bloomed and produced now for almost two months. Those three vines gave us a bumper crop of cucumbers. Maybe this is why my Grandmother Hamrick put up so many pickles.
So I wanted to try and replicate her vinegared cucumber recipe. Vinegar wakes up the flavor in foods, something I learned from my her. I can still see her in my mind’s eye pouring a little vinegar into her vegetables as she cooked. She lived to be over 99.
Vinegar brightens up a dish. It cuts the richness of the food and wakes it up, making it taste fresh and flavorful. If a dish is dull or missing something, add a little vinegar, especially instead of more salt.
I remember her using a product named Accent and I made sure it was in my kitchen when I married, but as I grew older I realized that it was the vinegar that she added to so many dishes that made a difference. That was her secret.
There was no measurement. She just opened the bottle and poured a little into the pot. She cooked a lot of vegetables, and vinegar was always added. I just don’t remember what kind.
Vinegar comes in so many flavors. Rice wine vinegar is tart, while balsamic vinegar is sweet. Try balsamic vinegar on strawberries. It is yummy. If you serve strawberries in a salad, make sure you use a balsamic vinegarette dressing.
For my cucumbers, I use white wine vinegar. Here’s the recipe. No canning needed. These are kept in the frig, and must be eaten before they get soggy.
Peel your cucumbers, enough for your container. It needs to be a container with a lid that can be placed in the frig. Slice the cucumbers about an eighth of an inch thick and almost fill the container with them. Next, take a measuring cup and fill it with 1/3rd cup plus two tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Then add 2/3rds cup minus 2 tablespoons of water. Next, toss in a tablespoon of sugar and stir well. I also add salt and pepper at this stage. About a half teaspoon of each. Stir again.
Next pour the solution over the cucumbers. Make sure you cover the cucumbers. You may need to make more of the solution to cover them. Then place a lid on it, shake it up, and put it in the frig. It will be ready to eat in a few hours. It can sit in the frig until the cucumbers get soggy, but don’t wait that long to eat them. They are too good to let ruin.
Another bounty from the garden has been a variety of wax beans called Custard Beans. I think if General Custer had had these beans at home, he might not have run off to that fateful meeting on Little Big Horn Creek.
This recipe is super simple. I snap off the ends and boil the bean pods in water with some salt until tender. Then pour off the water and place them still hot in a bowl with a pat of butter. Let it melt and then add some crushed whole wheat Ritz crackers and stir. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
Yum! These are the best beans I’ve ever eaten.
We’ve been getting a lot of peppers, four different kinds. For the jalapeño peppers, we have been slicing them in half, removing the seeds, and filling the halves with a cream cheese mixture of cream cheese mixed with a little liquid smoke. Wrap each in a slice of bacon and hold with a toothpick. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or more if needed. I got the basic recipe from the Betty Crocker website which you can find here.
This makes a great appetizer, and not too spicy either. The cooking and cream cheese take care of the heat.
Stuffed Banana Peppers with Curry Chicken
For the banana peppers, I bought a bag of curried chicken and rice by evol. Then I cut the top out of each pepper being careful to remove the top while pulling out its seeds at the same time. Just circle the pepper below the hard part below the stem being careful not to cut through the center under the stem. Then pull. Much of the seeds will come out, but you can rinse out the rest of the seeds. Or you can leave them in.
Then carefully stuff each pepper with the curried chicken and rice mixture. I try to stuff them more with the small bits of chicken than just the rice and vegetables. Place the stuffed peppers in an oiled Casserole dish and add the rest of the mixture on top. Next, add small lumps of either paneer or cottage cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. This makes a great dish, and it is simple to make. I’ve also used evol.’s Chicken Marsala.
I also stuff the bell peppers and tomatoes the same way, except I leave out the paneer. I remember my mother stuffing tomatoes with hamburger helper. The point is that you can use all types of pre-prepared frozen or even canned foods. I sometimes sprinkle bread crumbs on top of my stuffed tomatoes.
So there you have some of my favorite recipes for produce straight from the garden. You’ll notice that I didn’t give you exact measurements.
For years I always cooked exactly from the recipes, until about 15 years ago when I realized that I was unable to find recipes for several of my grandmother’s dishes. So I went experimenting, and the experience made me a better cook.
So what you have here are the ingredients and some instruction. Experiment and figure out the flavor you like best. You just about cannot mess these up, and you’ll become a better cook for it.
White wine vinegar
Ritz Crackers, whole-wheat
Frozen Thai Style Curry Chicken by evol or another brand
Cottage Cheese or paneer
Please do share, because the garden is still producing. What recipes have you discovered for these vegetables? Do you remember your grandmother’s cooking? What was her secret ingredient?