Friday, May 23, 2014
There are a couple of rules I try to follow with regards to growing vegetables at home.
Rule #1: Try not to let the varmints win.
Rule #2: If the varmints are winning, don't let them win.
We had one larger variety tomato plant in particular whose tomatoes were consistently being eaten/half eaten or otherwise marred before getting any color. We battled with, lay wagers on, and repeatedly swore at the critter that was winning the tomato battle, until we finally decided to take action and claim the green tomatoes for ourselves. Take that, varmint!
Slice the green globes in thick, 1/4-1/2 inch, slices and place on a wire rack. Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow the tomatoes to rest and release their moisture for about 30 minutes. Next, gently pat the slices to remove excess moisture, then season with salt and pepper.
Dredge slices in flour, then buttermilk, then crushed, rich, butter cracker crumbs and place back on wire rack to set for about 10 minutes. Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
You cant' beat these crispy, tangy bites, served with a little buttermilk ranch dipping sauce, with some crunchy quick pickles on the side! Now that's a tasty lunch. We win, varmint!!
Crispy Butter Cracker Fried Green Tomatoes
3 large or several small, firm green tomatoes, thickly sliced 1/4-1/2 inch
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups crushed butter crackers
salt and pepper
dipping sauce of your choosing
Slice the green tomatoes in thick, 1/4-1/2 inch, slices and place on a wire rack. Sprinkle both sides of slices with salt and allow the tomatoes to rest and release their moisture for about 30 minutes. Next, gently pat the slices dry to remove excess moisture, then season with salt and pepper. Prepare dredging stations of flour, buttermilk, and butter cracker crumbs. Dredge slices first in flour and shake off excess, then dip in the buttermilk to coat, and finally coat each tomato slice in the butter cracker crumbs. Place the slices back on wire rack for about 10 minutes to set. Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and pour in enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan to 1/4 to 1/2 inch up. Carefully add in tomato slices, making sure not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
It's pickle season!!
Summers bring lots of cucumbers to the garden. We love them, and eat them in salads, sliced with hummus, and often pickled, along side your favorite supper, tucked in your sandwich, or on top of a salad. When they are abundant, I preserve the pickles by canning. But when they are just first showing on the vine, and we're enjoying them fresh, it's nice to make a mini-batch of quick pickles for the fridge.
This is a Suyo Long cucumber. It's a traditional long-fruited cucumber from China, and grows quite well in our hot and humid Houston, Texas climate. It may be ugly, but it's an excellent tasting cucumber, thin-skinned, sweet, crisp and bitter-free, you really can't beat it for taste, in my opinion. It grows up to about 15 inches, and it makes an excellent pickling cucumber.
Sliced cucumbers, sweet onion, garlic, dill seed, celery seed, salt, vinegar, sugar and turmeric -- it's a simple and straight-forward pickle recipe. Heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, water and turmeric to a boil in a sauce pan. Place garlic, dill seed, and celery seed in the bottom of a sterilized quart sized mason jar. Layer in cucumber and onion slices.
Once your liquid mixture comes to a boil, pour over the cucumber and onions in the jar, and fill to within 1/2 inch headspace. Gently tap the ingredients down with a wooden spoon, and cool on the counter, then chill in the refrigerator. Voila! You have just made delicious quick pickles. Dig in!
Sweet Garlic Dill Quick Pickles
(makes 1 quart)
1 large Suyo Long Cucumber (or other thin-skinned pickling cucumbers), sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion (such as 1015), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp dill seed
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tbsp pickling salt
scant 1/8 tsp turmeric
Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and turmeric in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, add garlic, dill seed and celery seed to the jar, then pack cucumber and onion slices in layers. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Allow to cool completely on the counter, then chill in the refrigerator. These will keep for about a month in the fridge, but trust me, you won't have them that long!