I am honored and delighted to have Frugal Table featured on Catholic Rural Life as one of their top 5 blogs for beginning farmers. Being a transplant from suburbia it has been one fun-filled hair pulling journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed and hope you enjoy reading about.
If you are a gardener like me, then you are always looking for new ways to use the bounty. Pickled bell peppers is a great way to use up some of your garden peppers or if you do not garden stock up on peppers when the prices drop during the summer. They can be sliced and frozen and then used as needed. Peppers are one of my most used vegetables during the year.
No. 1 son recently located from Chicago to Charlotte and stayed with us in between for a few months. I keep many bags of sliced red, yellow and green peppers in the freezer and noticed some canning jars of yellow peppers popped up in the refrigerator. When I asked about them my husband and younger son thought I had made them and proceeded to tell me how good they were and that they were eating them like crazy. Turns out No. 1 came across this recipe from Simply Scratch and adapted it using yellow bell peppers.
No. 1 son relocated, the peppers ran out and my husband has been asking if I could make more. They’ve been on my to-make list and with chicken fajitas planned for one of our weekend dinners I made a batch of the peppers to go with them. They were an excellent addition and give a bit of a bite to the mix. In addition, they would be great chopped up in potato or macaroni salad or on pizza. As mentioned before, the guys in the house love them on subs, burgers and just about any sandwich that includes meat.
- 4 large bell peppers, any color (I used red and yellow)
- 3 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 garlic clove, smashed per jar my garlic was very strong so I only used a ⅓ of a clove in each jar
- Canning jars I used 3 half pint wide mouth jelly jars because it’s what I had on hand. How many jars needed will depend on the size of the peppers
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil to make sure the salt and sugar dissolve. Set aside to cool.
- Rinse, dry and slice the peppers to your thickness preference, avoiding the seeds.
- Put a bit of smashed garlic in the bottom of each clean jar, then put the sliced peppers in. Really pack them in there leaving a room at the top so they can be covered completely by the vinegar mix.
- When the vinegar mixture is cool, pour over the jarred peppers. Top with canning lid and ring and into the frig they go! They need a day or so before you start eating them. It’s hard to say how long they will last as the first batch was gone within a couple of weeks.
- The recipe can be halved if you want to start with a smaller amount to try them out.
Husband and I left Kentucky on a Friday morning and rolled into the Nashville, TN flea market around noon. The flea market is held one weekend a month and is free to the public but there is a $5.00 parking fee.
It was hot as blazes with the temp at 99°. We found a nice shady spot to park under a tree. Being that the flea market is located at the Nashville Speedway and Fairgrounds there are quite a few buildings that you can step into and cool off. This flea market is said to be in the top 10 in the nation size wise. It was certainly large. We stayed for a few hours on Friday afternoon going through the vendor booths that were located inside.
Saturday morning we got there right after they opened as we anticipated the crowd to be much larger on the weekend. I purchased 4 cute and surprisingly sturdy folding chairs for camping that I need to paint and reupholster. We didn’t really have anything in particular in mind to purchase so we just browsed and talked to a lot of people. Everyone was very friendly and mostly willing to dicker on the prices. For the flea market schedule go here: Nashville Flea Market dates. We plan on going back in the fall!
I have been down and out for over a week with the flu. My husband succumbed a few days after I did so thanks to our good neighbors they made sure the livestock was taken care of. I must say if I have to be sick I am grateful for our view. The piglets were very entertaining to watch while they were busy at turning over the garden!
Saturday, I had rallied back enough to make bread and yogurt for the upcoming work week. This recipe comes from an old Good Housekeeping cookbook and makes a good sandwich bread as it is heavy enough to stand up to thin slicing which is how we prefer our bread cut.
The only changes I made was to use buttermilk instead of whole milk and to make half of the dough into a loaf and the other half into dinner rolls. I just take half of the dough and divide it into 10 sections or so. Roll into balls, they do not have to be perfect, and place in a greased cake pan. Bake along with the loaf but keep an eye on them as they may get done sooner.
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 2¾ cup milk (I used buttermilk)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Combine sugar, salt, yeast and 3 cups of flour in large bowl. Over low heat, warm milk and butter until warm (120-130F.)
- Using a mixer at low speed, slowly add the heated milk mixture to flour mix until blended. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Gradually add 1½ cups of flour, beat 2 more minutes. With a spoon, add in 4 cups of flour and blend.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes or so. (Mine never got totally smooth but I just went with it after 10 minutes and it was fine), Work in up to a ¼ cup more flour if needed while kneading.
- Smooth dough into a ball and place in a well greased bowl, turning the dough around to grease all of it's surface. Cover and place in a warm area until doubled. Takes about an hour. (I turn my oven on it's lowest setting, 170F. for about 10 minutes while I am mixing the dough. Then I turn it off and place the dough in it to rise).
- After the rise, punch the dough down. Place on lightly floured surface, cut in half and let rest for about 15 minutes. Shape each half into a loaf and place into a greased loaf pan. Cover, let rise again until about doubled.
- Heat oven to 400F. At this point, you can melt a bit of butter and brush the tops of the loaves. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and test done. Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire rack.
While we do not consume mass quantities of honey I do like to use it for a few recipes and in hot tea. I have had friends do a taste comparison between the wild honey we harvest and a supermarket brand. While I’ve never had a complaint against commercial honey the wild has what I would describe as a mapley, buttery, vanillish, and amazing flavor.
We have 3 bee trees around us. There is a hive in a black walnut across the street in the “holler”, a hive in a cherry tree by the creek over at our sheep farm – Maplewood Hill, and the third is back behind us in a cherry tree down near the river. The black walnut has provided us with the most delicious honey for quite a few years so we have yet to harvest the other trees.
The honey is harvested on a cold day when the bees are least active. The bees eat a large portion of their honey stores through the winter so we need to leave plenty for them to feed on until spring. A single hive can produce from 60 pounds to upwards of 100’s of pounds of honey in a season so we are comfortable with getting enough to fill a couple of mason jars.
We never saw a bee but could hear them happily buzzing away somewhere in the tree.
Collards were a staple in our house growing up. It was a common Sunday afternoon event for our family to take leisurely drives out in the country. From the backseat of the family station wagon, I would see huge collard plants growing out in the sandy fields. Later, my parents would stop at the roadside farm stands to purchase them. On New Year’s Day, the tradition was that eating collards helped insure that money would come your way throughout the year and Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas and rice) would bring good luck.
I have been cooking a lot this holiday season and a large amount of it has been party food. On Christmas day I bring a dish and gather with my husband’s family at one of my sister-in-law’s. This year after so much party food, I felt the need for something green and nutritious so I cooked a bunch of collards to take. My brother is the collard cooking king in the family so I gave him a call the day before, “Hey George, remind me of how you fix the collards?” They are so easy and so good.
If you go to the grocer and buy collards they are usually tied up in a bunch. When you see it you’ll think there is no way that your family will eat all of them. Do not worry, they will amaze you and cook down to less than half the original volume.
- 1 bunch collards
- 1 ham hock or 6 pieces of bacon
- 2 cups or so of chicken broth
- salt and pepper
- What you want to do is strip the leaves from the center stem and soak in a sink of cold water for about half an hour. Collards can be pretty sandy so you want to be sure to get all of it off. After soaking, drain the water away, rinse the collards and put in the other side of the sink. Clean out the side they were just in, rinse them again and again put in the clean side. I usually do 2 or 3 rinses. There’s nothing worse to a Southerner than gritty collards or gritty oysters!
- Get a large pot out and put the meat in. What you want to do is render (melt) the fat at a fairly low temperature. If I am using a ham hock I’ll cut it up first to help with the rendering. It may take 20 minutes or so but at the point you think the fat just won’t melt anymore pour in the chicken stock to a depth of about an inch. Leave the meat in the pot, and shake out some salt and pepper on it.
- Put the rinsed collards in the pot, put the lid on and simmer on low for a couple of hours, stirring every now and then. Salt to taste if needed. When serving, it is handy to have pepper vinegar or hot sauce on hand as a lot of folks like to dash some on the collards.
- The liquid in the pot is referred to as pot liquor. It is common to cook the dried black eyed beans in this for New Year's Day.
I am only 5 days into my holiday break and hooweeee, has it been busy! Saturday night, while we were in Gatlinburg, the first lambing of the season occurred. On Monday night, Miss Piggy decided to get in on the action and went into labor. This was a first for us so there was a lot of hand wringing and whispering about what we should do but she paid us no mind and farrowed 11 piglets all on her own.
Tuesday, the kitchen sink clogged and we spent most of the day snaking the lines to no avail. There was a lot of grumbling and throwing of the snake around but the clog didn’t budge. The snake broke so a run to the hardware store 15 miles away was in order. That night another set of twin lambs appeared. Wednesday, after more snaking with the new snake and gallons of hot water later finally the clog left the premises.
We are installing a new chimney pipe for the woodstove so about the time the clog cleared the bucket truck showed up. Friends came over to assist so there was lots of yelling back and forth from our living room to the roof. The pipe was installed and yay (!), no one fell off the roof.
Friday morning when we went to let the sheep out into the big field we found that 2 more sets of twins had been born during the night. That’s eight lambs so far!