Sunday, September 28, 2014

Changing Seasons

We are beginning to see touches of color in the trees. Poison ivy makes its presence known to birds, who eat the seeds, by turning bright red while most of the trees are still green. If the ivy has no berries, it remains green much longer.

In the vegetable garden, the beds are overflowing with cool season greens and we are still picking okra. Tonight's menu will therefore include a pot of gumbo and some "kilt" greens. For those who do not speak Appalachian, "kilt" = "killed," meaning that the fresh greens are cooked in a hot dressing until they are wilted. The dressing involves bacon fat and vinegar, and the dish is usually garnished with the bacon that provided the fat. Two strips of bacon will render enough for a 12-inch skillet full of greens. After frying the bacon, transfer it to paper towels. Add about 2 teaspoons of your favorite vinegar to the fat in the skillet, along with a few grinds of black pepper. Raise the temperature until the dressing boils, add the washed greens, and stir fry until the greens are wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. You can also add onions or garlic to suit your preference. This is amazing with turnip greens, but any greens will do. You can mix different types, provided they are approximately the same texture. Otherwise, lettuce may overcook before the kale gets done, for example.

Our cousin from New Mexico sent us a bunch of the famous Hatch chilies, and we have been making salsa this weekend. Canning salsa is a great way to use up the last of the tomatoes. Find specific recipes for canned salsa online and follow them to the letter. Do not experiment with the ratios of tomatoes and acid components (vinegar or lime juice) to other ingredients, or you risk dangerous spoilage. You can, however, adjust seasonings or substitute one type of pepper for another without risk, so long as the total amounts remain the same.

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