Ground Cherry Pie

ground cherry pie smallI had not heard of a ground cherry until 2 years ago. In the Lehman’s catalogue there was a package of ground cherry seeds for sale. I bought several. This is the second year that I have grown ground cherries and I love them. I really don’t know how to describe their flavor. It is a mix gooseberries and pineapples. The ground cherry has a small orange fruit when ripe inside of a papery husk. My research has indicated they are kin to tomatillos because they grow on plants that resemble tomatoes or tomatillos. The ground cherry can be used in pies, salads, jams and jellies. I have also frozen them.

gr cherries and tree small gr cherry fruit smallUnfortunately, you will probably have to plant some to harvest ground cherries. Here in Oklahoma, I can barely find canned gooseberries. And that is only 80 miles one way up to Tulsa. These photos show  volunteer plant that escaped from my garden this year.
ground cherries small

1 unbaked deep dish pie shell, store bought or your own recipe
3 cups Ground Cherries, husked and rinsed
2 Eggs
¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
2/3 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Milk or Half and Half
2 teaspoons Vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a deep dish pie plate with ground cherries. Set aside. Beat the eggs with salt. Add sugar and flour. Add milk and vanilla. Pour over ground cherries. Bake for 10 minutes. Cover edge of pie with tinfoil to prevent over browning. Bake an additional 25 minutes until the center is set and cooked. This pie has a custard like appearance. Can be served with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Pinto Beans with Cactus Nopales

Pinto beans smallI have wanted to try cooking with cactus paddles for some time. A friend in town gave some to me last week. I did a little searching and found some recipes using the nopales. I have added them to my regular pinto recipe and found them quite good. The cactus has a taste like cucumber with a citrus undernote. They are soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside. I have 2 paddles left that I am going to use in a recipe I found online. I’m going to make that over the weekend for our Labor Day meal. Not traditional holiday food but whatever. I do know that I have some cactus plants on my back forty acres. I will have to walk back there soon.

1 pound dry Pinto Beans, rinsed and picked over
Enough water to cover beans with 3 inches over them
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning, I use my own blend of “Fuzz’s No Salt”
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
5 slices of thick cut Bacon or Smoked Hog Jowls, cut into cubes
1 or 2 Jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 slices of Onion , separate into rings
2 small tender Cactus Paddles, Nopales

Put everything except the Cactus Nopales into the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or overnight on low. Add water as needed. Cook until the beans are tender.
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After the beans are cooked and tender, process the nopales. The nopales will have long spikes and short quills on the skin. Carefully holding the base of nopales, scrape a sharp knife over the skin to remove the short tufts of quills. I found it best to do this under running water in the sink. The quills will wash down the drain. Fortunately, I got go 2 quills in my palm that I removed with tweezers. After the quills are removed rinse the nopales under water. Cut a thin strip off the edges and discard. At the base cut off the thick woody part and discard. I didn’t even give this to my chickens. I didn’t want them accidently getting some quills. Cut the nopales into strips and then cube. Place the cubes into a saucepan with one tablespoon of salt. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain the liquid off. This will look like a little like runny jelly. Place the nopales cubes in the slow cooker with the beans. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Serve with cornbread if desired.

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Okie Ranch Wife’s Meat Lovers Ratatouille

Okay, so here’s the thing. Ratatouille is normally a vegetarian dish. And it tastes great like that, but I had some quick sale beef that I needed to use immediately. Yes I could have frozen it but… I buy a lot of quick meat because to be honest, I must stretch my grocery budget. The summer veggies from my garden really helped so I was able to buy more meat protein than I ordinarily could. I love paying $2.00 for a beef steak. So here is my version of that traditional eggplant/ aubergine dish.

1 large Eggplant, peeled, sliced then quartered
2 pounds Beef, cubed into ½ inch
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 large Red or Sweet Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and pressed
2 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and sliced into strips
1 medium Zucchini, unpeeled and thin sliced
1 tablespoon fresh Basil or ½ teaspoon dried
1 medium Yellow Squash, unpeeled and thin sliced
1 can (28 ozs) Italian Diced Tomatoes, undrained
Sea salt or Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh chopped Parsley or 1 tablespoon dried

Place the eggplant quarters in a colander and coat with salt. Let the salt work to pull excess water out of the eggplant quarters, about 30 minutes. Rinse and drain.
Heat 4 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat in a heavy soup pot. When oil is hot brown the beef. Add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is translucent not brown. About 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add and cook and cover for 8 minutes. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of EVOO, add peppers, squash and tomatoes. Cook about 10 minutes. Add herbs and season to taste. Enjoy with crusty bread.

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OkieRanchWife’s Pork Chili Verde

This is not your traditional pork Chili Verde. It was developed from what I had in the pantry and 2 pounds of pork. I think it tastes excellent over brown or white rice.

2 pounds Pork, cut into ½ cubes
1 can (4 ozs) Salsa Verde
1 pint of my Tomatillo relish (posted earlier)
½ bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 cans (4 ozs) diced Green Chilies
Garlic Powder to taste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Cooked rice

In a large saucepot or skillet over medium high heat, brown the cubed pork in Olive oil. About 10 minutes or until the pork is not pink. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Serve over brown or white rice.

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Zucchini and Tomato Skillet

Zucchini Tomato Skillet smallAnother awesome zucchini recipe!!! This one is from a cookbook that I picked up in a second hand store in Jenks when my friends from back east were visiting me last month. The book is “Oil and Vinegar” published by the Junior League of Tulsa in 2002. The sidebar on the recipe page states, “In the 1930’s, Tulsa was called the city with the atmosphere of Lower Manhattan and the style of Fifth Avenue, with more millionaires in one generation than grew in New England in a century.” I don’t know how true that was but you can still see some of the Art Deco buildings in the downtown.

1 Onion, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons Butter
2 medium Zucchini, unpeeled and thin sliced
4 ounces fresh Mushrooms, sliced or 1 can, drained, (4 oz) Mushrooms
3 medium Tomatoes, sliced or 1 can (14 oz) Stewed garlic and Onion Tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
1 ½ tablespoon fresh Basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon Sea Salt or Kosher
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella, or Colby Jack Cheese

Sauté the onion in the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until tender and translucent. Stir constantly. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook for at least 5 minutes or longer until the zucchini is tender. Stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and cook for at least 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Cook for one minute. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the mozzareela or Colby cheese over top. Cover and let stand for 3 to 5 until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

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Tomatillo Relish

Tomatillo Relish smallAnytime I post a canning or preserving recipe you can be assured that it comes from one of my canning books or from a tested recipe that follows proper canning procedures. There is nothing fun about food poisoning. This one part of cooking that I don’t change or have a cavalier attitude toward. I owe that to you my readers to provide safe directions on canning. That being said this comes from “So Easy to Preserve” by the Coop Extension of the U of Georgia. I use this book even more than the Ball Blue of Canning.
I use this relish in my Pork Chili Verde recipe that I will post next.

12 cups Tomatillos, husks removed and chopped
3 cups Jicama, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups Onions, chopped
6 cups Roma Tomatoes
1 ½ cups Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 ½ cups Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 ½ cups Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
1 cup Canning/Pickling Salt
2 quarts Water
6 tablespoons Whole Mixed Pickling Spices
1 tablespoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
6 cups Sugar
6 ½ cups Apple Cider Vinegar (5%)

Place tomatillos, jicama, onion, tomatoes and all peppers in a large saucepot or soup pot. Dissolve canning salt in the water. Pour over vegetables. Heat to boiling, simmer for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer until no more water drips out, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Place the pickling spices and red pepper flakes on a clean cheese cloth square, about 6”x6”, and tie up. Mix the sugar, vinegar and spice bag in the large soup pot and bring to a boil. Add vegeatables and bring to a boil again. Reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes uncovered. Remove spice bag.
Fill hot sterilized pint jars. Leave ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust to ½ inch headspace again if needed. Clean rims. Adjust lids and place rings on the jars to finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Yields about 5 to 6 pints.

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Sweet Zucchini Relish

Sweet Zucchini relish small
DISCLAIMER: This is a 2 day recipe.

I love Outhere magazine published by Tractor Supply Company. This is another zucchini recipe from a Summer issue published about 3 or 4 years ago. It was submitted by Debbie Moyer of Auburn, PA. It is so good. I believe that I will never buy sweet hotdog relish again.

10 cups grated/shredded Zucchini, unpeeled
4 cups Onion, diced
¼ cup Salt
5 cups Sugar
2 ¼ cups White Vinegar
1 tablespoon Celery Seeds
1 tablespoon ground Tumeric
1 tablespoon Black Pepper

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl or Tupperware. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Transfer the zucchini/onion mix to a colander and rinse with cold, drain well, press water out by hand and you could press between paper towels.
Combine the zucchini mixture with the remaining ingredients in a large dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.
Pack the hot mixture into hot sterilized jars. Fill to ½ headspace. Remove any bubbles. Wipe the rim clean. Cover with lids and screw bands onto jar finger tight.
Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Gives about 5 pints.

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