Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Basil Onion Pepper Jelly

In my search for a better pepper jelly, this one is a milder version with a wonderful sweet, herb flavor. The peppers are a blend of cubanelle, red cherry, sweet banana and tiny yellow bells from the garden. The basil and red onion add a depth of flavor that is wonderful when served as an appetizer on cream cheese with Ritz crackers.

Basil Onion Pepper Jelly

11 ounces peppers
5 ounces red onion
20 basil leaves
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo

Sterilize the jars and prepare the lids according to manufacturers directions.

Chop the peppers, onion, and basil in the food processor finely. In a large stainless steel pan, combine the pepper mixture with the sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Bring to a full rolling boil and add the Certo. Bring back to a full rolling boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam. Ladle into hot jars, wipe rims clean and secure the lids and rings. Place jars in a canner covering completely with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

Jalopeno Cheese Grits Two Ways

For many years, Jalopeno Cheese Grits have been a family favorite. Served for breakfast, as a side with smoked chicken or BBQ, or the base for Shrimp and Grits, this is one recipe that can't be beat. This year I decided to try topping the grits with fresh tomatoes from the garden and it was definitely worth the effort. When fresh tomatoes are available, I will be adding them.

Jalopeno Cheese Grits

3 cups water
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cups quick cooking grits
2 beaten eggs
3/4 stick of butter
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, grated
1 - 4 ounce can chopped green chilis
3 or 4 shakes tabasco sauce
Optional: 3 - 4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped

In a large saucepan, bring the water and evaporated milk to a boil. Gradually add the grits, stirring until thick, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and bring to a boil. Add butter, chilis, tabasco sauce, pepper Jack cheese, and all but 1 cup of the cheddar and stir until blended. Pour into a grease baking pan and top with tomatoes, if using, and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spicy Mustard Sauce

For our Labor Day BBQ, I decided to make a South Carolina mustard sauce. A quick search on the Internet resulted in a variety of recipes. After tasting, Kenny said it needed more sweetness and we decided to add some of our homemade pepper jelly. The result was a spicy, but somewhat tangy sauce. I plan to work on the recipe and next time cut down on the vinegar since the pepper jelly has a lot of vinegar.

Spicy Mustard BBQ Sauce

1 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
I cup pepper jelly
Juice of one lemon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with pork or chicken.

Labor Day BBQ a Success

It was a time to gather with friends and enjoy good food at the barn. The BBQ was delicious. The Boston butts were delicious. After rubbing with McCormick's Pork Rub - 1/2 jar for each butt - they were smoked the night before and reheated before pulling the pork. The 4 Boston butts served our 40 guests with some leftover to eat and freeze. Friends provided the sides and desserts to complete the wonderful meal. After the meal, we all settled down to talk about our summer and enjoy the beautiful evening. It was a great way to end the summer.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day BBQ

It is Labor Day weekend and time for a BBQ at the barn! Today we smoked 4 Boston butts. This is so easy. One tip I will give for preparing the meat is to wear gloves, the surgical kind, to apply the rub. It is amazing what a difference it makes -- the rub adheres to the meat, not to your hands! We smoked the butts at 250 degrees F. for 8 hours and they are cooling the frig, waiting to be reheated tomorrow and "pulled" for the meal.

This year's BBQ is pot luck, with friends bringing the sides and desserts and using all the mismatched plates and napkins. It is going to be a perfect end to the summer season, visiting with family and friends.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fig Cake

At the Sprayberry family reunion each year, we all look forward to Boot's Fig Cake. The moist cake is packed with flavor and sweetness. It begins with a jar of Boot's fig preserves. This year she shared a jar of preserves and the recipe with me and it is becoming a house favorite. I wish I had a picture of the whole cake. It is a rich brown and absolutely delicious.

Boot's Fig Cake

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Wesson oil
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 cup fig preserves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix oil, sugar, eggs and buttermilk. Add to dry ingredients. Grease and flour a tube pan and bake at 325 degrees F. for 45 minutes. (In my oven, it took 55 - 50 minutes.) Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Spoon or brush glaze over the cake after cooling.


1 cup sugar
1 stick oleo (I used butter)
1 teaspoon white Karo syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon soda

Mix well and boil 3 minutes. Pour or brush over cake.

As you can see, there wasn't much left! Thanks, Boots!

Fig Preserves

As a child, I remember my mother and grandmother making fig preserves. The strange looking brown fruit was cooked in syrup and left to stand overnight before cooking again the next day and preserving in decorative jelly jars. The sweet preserves were a staple at breakfast as a topping for hot biscuits and toast.

Several years ago we planted two fig trees with the hope of someday having figs, but that day has not arrived thanks to a late cold snap that has taken the summer harvest. But just 2 miles from our home, James and Mary are enjoying a bumper crop of figs and were kind enough to share.

Fig preserves are very simple to make but require an overnight soak. The 10 pounds of figs yielded 11 half-pints and 12 four ounce jars of preserves. James and Mary, thanks for sharing your delicious figs with us!

Fig Preserves

6 pounds figs, washed and stemmed
1 1/2 quart water
8 cups sugar
1 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Combine the water, sugar and lemon in a large pan and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Remove the lemon and skim off any foam. Add all the figs to the syrup, a few at a time so the syrup continues to boil. Cook rapidly, stirring frequently, until the figs are translucent, about 30 minutes. Remove figs from syrup and place in a shallow pan. Boil the syrup until it is as thick as honey. Pour the syrup over the figs and let stand overnight, covered at room temperature.
The next day, heat the figs and syrup to boiling and continue cooking until the syrup is thick, about one hour. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
While the figs are cooking, sterilize the canning jars and prepare lids and rings according to the manufacturer's directions. Spoon hot preserves into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Add syrup to 1/4 inch from jar top. Remove air bubbles wipe rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

If you have leftover syrup, can or refrigerate it and use as a topping for biscuits, toast, pancakes or pound cake.