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Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

March 2012 Post Produce: Applesauce Corn Bread

Weird winter has given way to silly spring in my small kitchen garden. By last weekend I was about three weeks ahead of my usual pace preparing the soil and planting. However, I’ve been busy with other things, and am impatient to commit seedlings and seeds to the garden bed.

An abundance of applesauce and red pepper relish in my larder led me to create applesauce and red pepper relish cornbread for dinner tonight. It’s very satisfying to find ingredients from my garden to use in my cooking.

I’ve turned and raked nearly half the main bed, and it’s ready for three rows of pea seeds, a row of cauliflower and broccoli seedlings, and a row of lettuce and spinach seeds. I also need to find a spot for a bunch of romaine lettuce seedlings. Usually, I leave all these cold weather crops till April, but with daytime temperatures consistently in the sixties and seventies this March, I’m afraid I’ll miss spring veggies if I don’t plant immediately.

No Fresh Produce to Report

On this Post Produce day, I can almost claim to have fresh herbs. Last season’s cilantro plants have perked up, and spring onions I left in planters last fall are green and appealing. As well, young shoots are emerging from the roots of my tarragon plants… but I’m not harvesting any of these for another week or two.

Normally, our homemade red pepper relish ends up with cream cheese on crackers. I once posted about how to make red pepper relish. I plan my small kitchen garden to produce enough ripe peppers to make several batches of red pepper relish each year, though I’m branching out to other colors. Last season I made orange pepper relish, and this season I’m hoping for white pepper relish, purple pepper relish, and yellow pepper relish as well.

To celebrate Post Produce, I turned once again to my larder. With a pot roast in the slow cooker, I realized I hadn’t mixed yeast dough in time for dinner, so I decided to make cornbread.

Applesauce and Red Pepper Relish Cornbread

There’s a lot of applesauce in my larder, and we aren’t going through it as quickly as we used to. I like to use surplus applesauce in baked goods, so I promoted a jar from larder to kitchen. Then, it occurred to me that cornbread might be tasty if it had red pepper relish mixed through the batter. So, I pulled a 4 oz jar of last fall’s relish off the shelf.

Here’s the recipe I created using these two ingredients that began last year as produce from my small kitchen garden:


1 cup corn meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup smooth applesauce

½ cup milk

1 egg

4 oz red pepper relish

4 oz grated cheddar cheese


Set your oven to 375F degrees. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix the applesauce, milk, egg, and relish in a separate bowl. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry, agitating them just enough to make batter.

You can see flakes of red peppers in the cornbread, and darkened cheddar cheese melted into the top. I baked mine a tad hot and suggested a lower temperature in the recipe. Even though my cornbread looked sketchy coming out of the pan, my family admitted it was good. (Got lucky this time.)

Pour the batter into a greased 9” by 9” baking dish, or a 10” diameter round baking dish. Then distribute the grated cheese evenly over the batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes—a tooth pick should come out clean if you stab through the top crust.

There’s a lot of sugar and pectin in this cornbread, so it may darken quickly. The surface, sides, and bottom may form an elastic crust that traps in moisture and results in a slightly doughy bread. If you find yours a bit tough to cut, yet soft and bordering on gooey inside (but you like the flavor enough to try again), decrease the cooking temperature and increase the cooking time.

Post Produce is ON!

By this date in April, I’m confident my Post Produce post won’t be about food from my larder. There should at least be herbs, and quite likely lettuce to harvest. I look forward to the possibilities and hope to see many more participants in the monthly Post Produce celebration.

Please share what you’re eating from your garden. Once you’ve posted on your blog, return here and enter the link in the grid below. Other readers will find their way to your blog, and maybe you’ll meet more food-growing enthusiasts. I’ll certainly have a look… even at posts from warmer climes; they’ve been making me feel a bit envious through these inappropriately warm months of winter.


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Post Produce, Jan 2012: Sweet & Sour Pork

Scroll to the bottom of this post if you’re here to link to your January 2012 Post Produce post. I look forward to seeing what you’re consuming from your garden!

I can pineapple and pickled mixed vegetables so they’re on hand when I want to make sweet and sour pork. The vegetables are carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and chili peppers quick-pickled in brine made of water, vinegar, and salt. Canning pickled vegetables involves specific procedures to prevent growth of deadly bacteria, so please don’t make your own pickled vegetables without following USDA-tested procedures.

Still no produce to pick fresh from my small kitchen garden! Actually, we finally had our first snow of winter, and the planting bed is buried under white powder. About six inches fell overnight, finally making winter real.

But this non-planting season hasn’t soured me on Post Produce. I try always to look at the larder when planning meals, and more often than not, the larder saves me when I’ve failed to plan. Today was such a day, so for dinner we had sweet & sour pork.

Pickled Vegetables from My Small Kitchen Garden

Each year I like to preserve at least one canner full of pickled mixed vegetables in quart jars. When I can them, I follow the procedures I wrote in my post, Pickles From Your Home Kitchen Garden, with two significant differences:

1. I don’t use pickling spice—I use no spices at all.

2. I don’t use dill.

Making a canner full of pickled vegetables in summer lets me make sweet & sour pork or chicken seven times through the year.

I also can a lot of pineapple, but I don’t grow that in my kitchen garden, so it doesn’t qualify for sharing during Post Produce. Still, it’s important to know if you want to do this at home: I use 10% sugar syrup to pack pineapple chunks when I can them. Of course, what matters during the off season is how the veggies and the pineapple combine to make a sweet & sour sauce.

Sweet & Sour Pork (or Chicken) in a Hurry

Typically, I serve this stuff with rice. Right when you start prepping the meat is a good time to set rice on to cook. I almost never work from recipes, so there are no hard numbers here.


1 pound of boneless pork (boneless spare ribs, chops, or tenderloin all work well)…


1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken (I prefer breasts, but thighs work well, too)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 clove garlic (optional)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)

1 pint canned pineapple chunks in juice

1 quart pickled mixed vegetables

1 – 2 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable stock

1 – 2 tablespoon cornstarch


Cut the pork (or chicken) into bite-sized pieces. Peel and dice the onion, and crush and dice the garlic if you’re using it. Open the pickled vegetables and reserve ½ cup of brine; pour off the rest if you can’t think of a way to use it. Open the pineapple and strain the juice into a measuring cup. Ideally, you’ll get a cup of pineapple juice, but if not, add water to result in a cup of liquid.

Heat the vegetable oil on high in a wok or skillet. Being careful not to splash the hot oil, put the diced onion, grated ginger, and garlic in the pan, and stir briefly to prevent sticking. Then dump the cut-up pork or chicken in on top. Stir and turn the meat for five minutes or so to coat it with the oil.

When I cooked dinner, it didn’t occur to me the meal would end up in tonight’s blog post. So, the only photographic record remaining is of the leftovers in storage containers. My son and I each had a generous serving without side dishes, and there’s enough left for two more servings. The recipe in this post should easily feed four and possibly five people.

While the meat is still obviously not fully-cooked, add the soy sauce and sesame oil to the pan and stir it in thoroughly. Continue to stir until all surfaces of the meat appear cooked and most pieces have cooked through. You don’t need to stir continuously, but neither should you leave the pan unattended while cooking on such high heat.

Add the drained pickled vegetables and toss the contents of the pan gently for a few minutes until the vegetables heat through. Add the drained pineapple, and heat for another minute or so. Then add the reserved pickle brine and pineapple juice and stir.

Taste the liquid! If it’s sour, stir in a teaspoon or two of sugar till it dissolves.

When the liquid has a pleasant sweet and sour balance, stir in a cup of stock. While that heats, stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into a quarter cup of stock and then add that to the skillet. Stir it all until it thickens… if it’s too thick, add more stock, if it’s too thin, mix more cornstarch and stock to stir into the pan.

Your Turn to Post Produce!

Please join the celebration of home-grown produce. Post about something you’re eating from your garden, then return here and link to your post. Watch for other Post Produce posts to see what others are enjoying from their gardens. Follow this link for more information about Post Produce.



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Grill Squash from Your Small Kitchen Garden

My small kitchen garden sometimes pushes up so many butternut squashes that there’s no chance my family will eat all of them. This inspired me to set some on the grill. Now grilled quash provides a fine counterpoint to the baked, mashed, and cubed squash dishes I’d repeated so many times over the years.

My small kitchen garden sometimes produces way more of a particular vegetable than my family will eat. Worse: when we have too much of a type of vegetable on hand, it’s easy to fall into the trap of preparing it the same way again and again.

This happened a few years ago with butternut squash, and I developed a great urge for a quick but different way to prepare it. After some thought, I decided to exercise my grill: it seemed that a big slab of squash would perform much like a slab of beef or pork. The result made me very happy and I hope it will make you happy too. Follow the instructions in the photo captions to make your own grilled butternut squash.

If you try this, please let me know what you think—or share whatever variations you feel are noteworthy. Grilled squash goes especially well with smoked poultry or just about anything else you prepare on the grill.

Before you start on the squash, start your grill and leave it on high so it’s hot when the filets are ready. A vegetable peeler removes skin from a butternut squash; it helps to rest the squash on a firm surface and draw the peeler down toward that surface. After peeling the squash, cut off the stem and the blossom scar.


To cut up a squash for grilling, it helps to have a big honking chef’s knife. Be cautious and always cut toward a cutting board with the hand that steadies the squash safely above the knife’s blade. My first cut goes down the center of the squash, but notice that I start the cut through the seed end before standing the squash up and forcing the knife down through the neck.


I scrape the seeds out of the squash before slicing it into filets. The filets are about a quarter to three-eighths of an inch thick. Notice again that I start each cut at one end of the squash, cutting down and through (I’m not pushing the knife toward my hand in the center photo… just down toward the cutting board). This first cut acts as a guide when I stand the squash on end and work the knife down through the length of the fruit.


Once I’ve cut out all my squash filets, I paint them on one side with a thin coating of olive oil (left). Then I sprinkle on cayenne pepper and black pepper (center). You could add salt at this point if you like. I finish with a light distribution of brown sugar which I press into the oil with my fingers so it will adhere when I put the squash on the grill.


I place the squash filets seasoning-side-down on my grill and immediately paint the unseasoned faces with oil. Then I season them as I did the other sides. I put the cover on the grill and let the squash cook for just three or four minutes. Then I flip the squash and cook it for another three or four minutes. CAUTION! The squash may be soft when you flip it, so work a spatula along the length of each piece before lifting it off the grill.


Grilling caramelizes the sugar, but the charring usually adds complexity to the flavor of the squash; don’t reject it just because it looks singed. If six to eight minutes on the grill doesn’t get your squash filets soft, put them back on the grill or finish them off in your microwave oven. This grilled squash is soft, sweet, and savory with a touch of heat. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


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