Buttermilk fried okra smallLast night when I got home from my town job I made a typical Southern Meal, pan fried ham steak with a Crown Royal Maple Whiskey drizzle (ok so the Crown Royal may not be so typical Southern but it was good), black eyed peas and fried okra. The okra defiantly was the star of the meal. I picked it in my garden before I went to work so it was fresh, fresh, fresh! The recipe is from Southern Living magazine July 2010. I have tried other fried okra recipes but they just didn’t measure up. Most of the time the breading fell off during the frying process. This breading didn’t. This will be my go to recipe for okra.

1 pound fresh Okra, cut into ½ inch slices (cap discarded. I gave them to my chickens)
¾ cup Buttermilk
1 cup self raising White Cornmeal mix
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Sea Salt or Kosher
1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning (Or use my recipe http://wp.me/p1qGwH-31)
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl place okra in the buttermilk. Let soak. In another large bowl mix cornmeal, sugar, salt, Cajun seasoning and mix well.
In batches remove the okra from the buttermilk and dredge into the cornmeal mix. Let sit in a colander to shake off excess cornmeal.
Put vegetable oil in large tall sided skillet or Dutch oven. Cast iron works best for even heat distribution. Cover the bottom of the skillet with at least one inch. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry okra in batches 4 minutes or until golden brown turning once. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

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Baked Corn and Cheese Casserole

Corn and cheese casserole smallThe side of the baking dish is a little dirty. I guess I would not pass the muster for Master Chef and Gordon Ramsey. LOL.. This is super easy and is an excellent summer picnic food. Even great at the end of the summer holiday.

1 bag frozen Corn Kernels or 2 cans (15ozs) drained whole kernels
2 Jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 cup Sweet Onion, diced
½ teaspoon Cumin
Sea salt or kosher salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 cup Cheddar Cheese,  Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, etc
1 package (8ozs) Neufchatel Cheese or Cream Cheese softened
½ stick Butter softened
1 scant cup Panko Bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together and spoon into a cast iron skillet or an 8×8 baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts. You can serve this as a side or serve with tortilla chips.

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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.
Cactus paddles small
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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