Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Today we are going to make Fig Arnolds, from fresh figs picked from the large bush outside our kitchen window. We made these last summer and they were a big hit. These figs are very popular with our backyard neighbors, the birds and the squirrels. As I type this, 2 mockingbirds are fighting over the figs - which are ripening quickly in this heat. There's a little squirrel who enjoys picking a fig, relaxing on a branch and taunting me by chowing down on his fig of choice while staring at me through the kitchen window. But really, there are plenty to go around and they were here before we were.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Okra: The Misunderstood Vegetable

Ah, okra. I think it gets a bad rap. People think it's slimy. (um, slimy doesn't have an e. weird) It isn't. People think it's only good for thickening soup. Not true. Some people, like my husband, have never heard of okra. So sad. He was born in California and moved across country to the DC area when he was 9 - and he had never seen okra until he headed South to college and saw it in Winthrop's cafeteria. For some strange reason, they always paired it with spaghetti. Maybe they got a BOGO deal on pasta and okra. At any rate, he learned to like it, but still wouldn't touch grits. His loss. Recently I made some fried okra - which reminds me of vegetarian chicken poppers - and our son Chase said, "Oh, I thought okra was an Indian vegetable." Haha, you can tell our family eats a lot of Indian food.

So then I had an okra epiphany. I had some fresh okra and tomatoes from the garden and was wondering what I could make and I happened to turn on Food Network. Who should I see but Paula Deen and one of her sons? I can never remember which son is which, but it was one of them. Guess what they were making? Paula Deen's Mama's Okra and Tomatoes! And I had all the ingredients - see, an epiphany! (Don't ask me how I first pronounced that when I became an Episcopalian.)

I spent this morning making it and it is worth making, yum! Here's how, so easy once you have everything cut up:

The okra, onions, red and green peppers (from our backyard garden), and garlic, all chopped up and ready for the party:

Seeing that it's Paula Deen's recipe, there's some bacon and a little butter. That's a given, right?

Once the bacon is cooked and veggies are translucent, you add some seasonings and then the okra and...


Then you cook it for about 30 minutes. Okra is so cool once it's sliced. Brianna says it's spoke-like, but it reminds me of Geometry. Okra: The Geometric Veggie

Here it is on its bed of basmati rice. Basmati rice is our favorite, so fragrant and flavorful - time to head back to the Indian grocery store in Greenville, since I used the last of it tonight. Maybe this did turn out to be an Indian meal after all, Chase! (Sorry about the blurry picture. I was in too big a hurry to eat.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summertime Supper

I decided to try this recipe for a Tomato Pie in the new Southern Living magazine. I was amazed at how flavorful it is! I'm lousy at any kind of pie crust, so this one didn't look so great (might help if I had an actual lovely pie dish) but it was tasty. I did add a little sour cream to the cheese mixture - I'm not a big fan of mayo (What?? And I call myself a Southerner??) but the finished product didn't taste like mayo at all. I also used a 6 cheese mixture instead of just parmesan because that's what I saw at the store today. Tomatoes were from my SIL, Leanne - is there anything better than an all red summer tomato? I think not. Also, fresh basil from our herb garden. My very, very favorite herb.

To go along with the tomato pie: fried okra, picked fresh this morning, butterpeas, and my grandmother's Hot Sauce. Once again, I wish I could ask her why she called it Hot Sauce - it is most definitely sweet, even though I cut the sugar in the recipe in half.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dinner, AKA Supper

My Yankee children refuse to refer to the evening meal as supper. This leads to much confusion in our home especially now that we're back down south and I'm surrounded by normal people who know the meaning of supper. Anyway, tonight our evening meal consisted of: marinated and grilled chicken tenders, fried okra, butterpeas with Granny's hot sauce, sliced tomatoes, and bread. This morning the okra, butterpeas, and tomatoes were still in the garden. You just can't beat fresh summer produce.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stroll Around the Backyard

Since this heatwave is making it no fun to actually be outside in the yard, I have a little time to post in the nice, cool AC. Here are a few random shots around the backyard this summer.

Some extra oregano and rosemary, hiding out under the huge fig bush. In Maryland, we had a big, round herb garden that started out as a pizza garden. At this house, we have herbs scattered all over the yard.

Scout's little obsession: figs. Busted!

A few New Guinea impatiens right outside the back door.

On the other side of the back door, some mint - especially delicious in that Southern staple, sweet tea.

Two different types of thyme.

Brick patio + Scout. 4 pots of basil plants to bring in at the first sign of cold weather. Something has been chomping on my basil plants this year, I have declared war!

Brick patio - Scout

Garden gone wild! Tomatoes, peppers, echinacea, black-eyed susans, butterfly bush, etc.

A few black-eyed Susans (Maryland's state flower) in an old bottle we found in the backyard.

Cement planter with more New Guinea impatiens. This picture makes me think of what the yard might have looked like 100 years ago.


Why, yes, that IS a wheelbarrow full of corn and a watermelon sitting in my kitchen. Thanks to the Arnold 5, the corn has been shucked and de-silked and thanks to Mom and Dad Arnold is now cut, cooked, and tucked safely away in the freezer for some cool winter evenings. Watermelon has been sliced and eaten, although not by me (see previous post).