Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Apple Lady Recipe

January 4, 2018

Apple Lady2

This is everything I like about apple pie(s), and none of the things I don’t enjoy. Because you are making a portion of it almost as a “sauce”, the remainder of the apples don’t need to be cooked.  You don’t need (nor should) to pre-bake either of these crusts. Since you are using multiple apple varieties with different aspects of tartness, sweetness, and toothiness, you get a more complex dish – because you aren’t cooking them first you don’t get mushiness everywhere.

Apple Lady

6-8 lbs of apples; use 4 or more varieties

3 sticks of unsalted butter

2 cups of dark brown sugar

1 pear, preferably very ripe

1 bottle of J.K. Scrumpy’s hard cider

Cinnamon, mace, ground ginger, allspice, clove to taste

1 lb walker’s shortbread (3 5oz packages are fine)

Springback pan, large (10″)

First, a word on the apples.  I use multiple apple varieties to get more complex texture and taste, rather like using more varieties of chilis when making a good chili. This last time I used Honeycrisp, Granny smith, Gala, and Fuji apples. I’ve also used Macintosh and Staymans, and others.  Do not use any red or yellow delicious apples, ever.

  • Cooking Mixture:

Combine the butter, brown sugar, half-bottle of hard cider, spices, the pear (chopped), and 2 apples (chopped) in a pot to bring to a boil, simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

If you do not use scrumpy’s or another very apple-y-tasting cider, then add a cup or two of fresh squeezed / juiced apple juice or fresh cider.

  • Main apples:

Core and either half-peel (vertical stripes) or wholly peel the apples.

Slice thin and evenly. I like to use the mandolin, and do ripple cuts, like potato chips, but thicker. The ripples increase adhesion of the slices.

  • “Crust”:

Pound the shortbread into crumb in a mixing bowl with something heavy, I use a meat tenderizer.  Then press 10 ounces or so of the shortbread into the bottom of the pan as a crust – you can come up the side of the pan just enough to make a ridge, but not like a real pie.


Look up a recipe for a sour cream pie crust and make that.  I’ve done it both ways. I made the sour cream pie crust this time.

  • Assembly:

Start layering the thin slices of apples around the bottom, as flat and overlapping as much as possible. Come up about halfway.

Add half the mixture from the pot, then layer in the rest of the apples. At the top, pour over the rest of the mixture, then press the rest of the shortbread crumb around the perimeter of the pan, but not in the middle.  (Or like this time, I made 2 different lid crusts, one latticed, one disk, for the 2 I made).

Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.  Let cool, and then preferably refrigerate before serving with fresh whipped cream.





Aunt Anna’s Baked Macaroni & Cheese

March 28, 2011

I had a great-aunt who made amazing macaroni and cheese.  Well, honestly, everything she made was amazing.  This recipe is based on a discussion I had with her when I was about 12 years old, and I’ve included aspects of that discussion every time I’ve made macaroni and cheese since.

Prepped for the Oven


24-32 oz elbow macaroni

16 tbls butter (2 sticks)

16 tbls flour, all purpose

6 cups hot milk

6 tablespoons sweet paprika (not hot, not smoked)

6 tablespoons Black pepper,

salt to taste

4 tablespoons dry mustard

8 ounces sharp aged cheddar

8 ounces gruyere cheese

4 ounces shredded romano cheese

2 15 ounce containers of ricotta cheese

2 eggs


2 Dishes full


Cook macaroni in salted boiling water for 8 minutes, or until al dente.  You want it slightly undercooked.  Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and whisk in the flour to make a roué.  Heat the milk in the microwave.  Stir in the hot milk and whisk constantly until thick, seasoning with pepper and salt.

Grate the cheese and add 3/4s of the cheddar and romano to the sauce, stirring slowly over low heat until absorbed by the sauce.  Remove from heat.

Combine the ricotta, the eggs, the dry mustard, and the paprika.

Add the macaroni to a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the cheese sauce.  Add the ricotta mixture and combine thoroughly.  Spoon all this into a large casserole dish; cover with breadcrumbs; and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Ready to Serve

This recipe filled 2 9’x13’ casserole dishes, as you can see.

Ruby Myrick’s Low Country Quail Stew

March 13, 2011

“Stew” is a relative term.  In this case, it refers back to the Southern Coastal Oyster stew.  In fact, if you substitute oysters for the quail, you pretty much have the same dish.  This is not a thick stew, it is a light, rich soup with minimal ingredients.

Quail Stew

I got this recipe two weeks ago when we went quail hunting at Pine Lake Plantation in Carthage, NC.  The hunt was a present from my father, and we had a great time in addition to getting a lot of quail.  In fact, we’re going again soon.  The Myricks are great folks, and Mrs. Ruby Myrick graciously told me her recipe:

Serves 2.


4 quail

1 quart water, plus

salt & pepper


fresh parsley

3 tbls butter

2 cups half and half, or cream

2 tablespoons manzanilla sherry (optional)

1 small to medium potato, in 1/4 in. chunks (I added this)


Add the four quail to a large non-reactive pot with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Sear.  Remove the quail, and add 1 quart of water.  Scrape the fond off the bottom into the water.  Put the quail back in, and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer for 10-15 minutes, just until the quail are cooked.  Remove the quail from the liquid and set aside.

Quail on a plate

To the pot of liquid, add 1/4 cup of fresh celery, or celery leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried celery or celery seed.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Add up to 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley.  Chop a small potato into 1/4″ cubes, and add to the liquid (optional).

Simmer for 45 minutes.  In the meantime, remove the quail meat from the bones and chop it into even pieces.

30 minutes before you want to serve dinner, add the quail meat and the half & half.  Bring the heat up, but Do Not boil the broth & milk mixture.  You want it steaming, but not boiling, and you may have to nurse it, stirring constantly but gently.  With 10 minutes left, add the sherry, stirring gently.

Put 1/2 tablespoon of butter into the bottom of each serving bowl, and serve the quail stew over it.  I recommend crackers, croutons, or garlic bread.

It was delicious.

Valentine’s Day, post-action report

February 27, 2011

For Valentine’s Day I made dinner for the two of us.  The menu was as follows:


Grongnet Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, NV

1st Plate

Shrimp Cocktail

Main Plate

Chicken Cordon Bleu

(with Gruyere and Country Ham)

Asparagus with Béarnaise Sauce

Cheese Soufflé


Chocolate Cake

Lemon Mist Cake


The desserts came from our local (but famous) store, A Southern Season.  The champagne I learned about from my best local wine folks, currently at 3Cups.  The shrimp were caught off the coast of NC and/or southern VA.  The chicken is from a local farm, just up the road.  The country ham is from A.B. Vannoy Hams, right here in NC and some of the best country ham you can get in this day and age.

The cheese soufflé is something I’ve been making for 30 years and I’ve always followed Julia Child’s recipe.  Ditto the béarnaise sauce.


Bearnaise sauce

I learned how to make my version of chicken cordon bleu from a chef in a Baltimore Maryland establishment in the 1980s.  The major things to note are:


1)      After pounding out the chicken breast, soak it in buttermilk for a bit, then dip both sides in the flour / breadcrumbs / cornmeal seasoning.  I use black pepper, salt, and lots of sweet paprika in the seasoning.


Prepped chicken

2)      Then layer on the thinly sliced gruyere cheese (go ahead and get a good cave-aged one, you’re not going to use a lot of it anyway), then the razor-thin country ham.  Roll it up and pin with toothpicks.


3)      Bake (yes, bake) in the oven on a bed of the rest of the seasoning mix and a little oil.

We had a grand old time for dinner, and just wanted to share our fun menu with you.  A few of the cooking process pictures I shot didn’t come out, and we plain just forgot when I pulled the souffle out of the oven and we immediately sat down to eat.

Southern Fried Duck Breasts

January 30, 2011

These are pan fried duck breasts with a mushroom tarragon cream sauce.



4 duck breasts


Peanut oil

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

White wine

Garlic, crushed


Salt, pepper, paprika, tarragon

All purpose Flour



½ Large Onion, sweet


Garlic, sliced


White wine vinegar

White wine

Sherry, dry

½-1 cup cream



Marinate the duck breasts for 4-8 hours ahead of time in olive oil, peanut oil, red wine vinegar, white wine, and crushed garlic.

Combine a dredging mix of flour, salt, pepper, paprika (sweet), and tarragon.  Be liberal with the herbs and spices.

Finely chop the onion, then sweat the onion, 3-5 sliced garlic cloves, and the mushrooms at low heat in a covered skillet for 10-12 minutes, with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add salt, pepper, and lots of tarragon.  Turn the heat up at the end of this period, and caramelize the onions.  Scrap this mixture from the pan and set aside, but don’t clean the pan.

Add peanut oil (I used refined and a few dashes of unrefined) to the skillet and turn on medium high heat.  The oil should come up to about 1/3rd, but less than ½ the height of the duck breasts.

Dredge the duck breasts through the flour mix, coating them thoroughly, and lay into the hot oil.  Brown 6-8 minutes on each side, then remove from the oil and place into an oven pan in a 350 degree oven while you finish the rest.

Pour out all but about 2 tablespoons of oil, scraping out any large amounts of flour coating that remain.  Deglaze the pan with white wine and a little white wine vinegar, add a couple tablespoons of butter, and add the onion/mushroom/garlic mixture back in.  Pour in the cream and the sherry; bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer.  Taste and season, adding more herbs or spices as desired.  Reduce to desired thickness.

I plated the duck breasts, slicing off a few thin slices to lay by the rest.  We had mashed potatoes and baby butter beans.  I ladled the mushroom tarragon cream sauce over the duck breast (ok, AND the mashed potatoes).


Weekly Garden Update: 1/17/11

January 17, 2011

An actual Harvest:  4 carrots



Fabulous tasting, sweet and carroty carrots.  Hopefully we’ll get more soon.


We’ve had temperatures this winter that have been significantly and consistently (like 9 degrees in the month of December) colder than “normal” according to the weather statisticians.  The difference around here between a low of 35 and a low of 26 is major, particularly in what you can over-winter and/or if you are trying season extensions.  We’ve also had more frozen precipitation up to this date than in many years.

Attached below are pictures of our Kale, which might make it.  And then there is our mustard, which probably won’t, though it might come back out.  And then lastly, our tom thumb lettuces, which look surprisingly good.


Kale, beaten by Winter

Mustard on the Edge

A lettuce nested in the leaves



Lastly, we’ve been having a great time with the seed exchange.  A happy shout-out to those of you that we have been communicating with, and getting seeds from — thank you!

2011 Garden Beginnings!

January 2, 2011

For our weekly update this week, we have the beginnings of our 2011 Garden plantings, and a Seed Exchange!


We spent part of the week planning out what (and how many) plants we need to start in the basement to be transplanted out in the Spring.  We’re expanding the garden a bit this year to the front yard to grow melons and winter squash where they can spread out and not be in the way.  Doing so opens up some of the main garden’s boxes for more PEPPERS.  We figure we have room for 86 pepper plants at the dense planting we tried this year (and it worked out great).  We have 16 different varieties we’re going to try to grow next year (some are even home-saved seed!).  The first number in the list below is the number of plants of each variety we hope to end up with; the second number is the number of plants we’ll start in order to (hopefully) end up with the desired number:

HOT Peppers:

Tabasco:  2, 3

Habanero:  5, 7

Ancho:  7, 9

Thai Hot:  1, 2

Cayenne:  5, 7

Jalapeno:  6, 8

Serrano:  4, 6

El Chaco:  2, 4

SWEET Peppers:

Cherry:  5, 7

Anaheim:  7, 9

Pimento:  3, 5

Yellow Pimento:  3, 5

CA Wonder:  11, 14

Red Marconi:  8, 10

Yolo Wonder:  9, 11

Italian Relleno:  8, 10

We’re cutting back on tomato varieties this year to only four (2 paste, 2 slicing) plus tomatillos.  We’ll be planting (and starting):

Better Boy:  9, 12

Early Girl:  5, 8

Amish Paste:  5, 8

Roma (seed gotten from Mimi):  5, 8

Tomatillos:  3, 5

Tomatoes/tomatillos will take up 3 boxes, as they did last year and we thought we had a good amount for eating, canning, and sharing.


In other plants, we had way too much celery last year, even though we lost a number of plants to voles.  But we had so much we actually sold some to a local specialty store.  Next season, we hope to have 25 celery plants and we’ll start 32; all one variety this year (Tendercrisp) – it’s our first time growing this variety so hopefully we’ll be successful!

Eggplant:  we lost all of our eggplant seedlings to the voles last year and had to plant store-bought seedlings.  Four plants survived the voles and we thought this gave us a reasonable number of eggplants through the growing season (basically, 1 per week).  We’re aiming for 4 eggplant plants again next year so we’ll start 8 since we have trouble getting eggplant to germinate well.

Onions:  this year we’ve finally figured out which onions grow in our area!  (Maybe we’re a bit slow…).  We’re growing Yellow Granex from seed.  We’re going to start half of the seed inside and direct sow the other half to see which methods works the best for us.  We may also pick up some Candy onion seeds from Southern States if we decide we need more than one seed pack.

Broccoli and cauliflower:  we’ll try again but this may be the last time we do so.  We do not have good luck growing either of these vegetables to maturity, regardless of whether it’s Spring or Fall.  But we will start two varieties of cauliflower (8 of each, hopefully to end up with 6 of each) and three varieties of broccoli (7 of each, hopefully to end up with 5 of each).

Summer squash:  we normally do not have room under the seed starting lights to start them early but we’re going to make room this year.  The plants germinate so easily when direct sowed but the squash bugs pose such a problem here in NC that the plants die long before they’re even thinking about giving up.  We want to plant transplants this year to give them a bit of a head start on squash bugs and hopefully get a bit more production.

Winter squash:  we may direct seed the butternut varieties since they seem to have a bit of resistance to squash bugs but the acorn squash we want to grow needs an early start indoors if we hope to get any fruit before the plants succumb to bugs.  We also ordered some “Lakota” seeds from Burpee and will likely start those indoors as well.

It’s looking like we may need to expand the indoor seed starting operation!  Maybe I’ll go down to the basement soon and figure out what we can do…

More Seeds!


We’ve culled the seed collection and decided what we’ll be growing next year so we have the following seeds to either just give away if you need seeds but don’t have any to trade or to trade for seeds we’d like to get.

Seeds we’d like to get:





French Breakfast radishes

something you have that you think is particularly worthy

Seeds to give away/trade:

Old Dutch Half-Runner Beans (a great, tasty, prolific green bean that we’ve grown for 3 years and will continue to grow but we have too many seeds.  Stringless when young.  Although a 1/2 runner, it grows to 8 feet in our garden).

Heirloom Iceberg Lettuce (iceberg lettuce can be hard to get to germinate)

Parisian Carrot (small-ish round carrots)

Green Zebra Tomato

Greek Basil

White Sweet Spanish Onion (long day)

Walla Walla Onion (long day)

Bianca di Maggio onion

Ruby Queen beet

Chioggia beet

Plum Purple Radish

Watermelon radish

Chinese Red Meat radish

Chinese Green Luobo radish

Black Spanish radish

Japanese Minowase Daikon radish

Baby eggplant

Russian Tarragon

Utah Celery

Beefsteak Tomato

Bloody Butcher

San Marzano Tomato

Send us an e-mail: foodgardenkitchen at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

Weekly Update: 12/26 Second Day of Christmas

December 26, 2010

Well I must say that  Christmas Day was one of the best I’ve had in quite some time.  Everything was just right, and at the end of the day, to top it all off, it started to snow.  This is what it looked this morning, about 4 inches of it:


Winter Wonderland


We had a lovely Christmas Dinner (“that couldn’t be beat”, to quote Alice’s Restaurant).  The Menu was as follows:

First Courses

Baked Pimiento Cheese Filo Pastry Wraps

Hot Pepper Jelly with Cream Cheese and Water Crackers

Main Courses

Country Ham, sliced open

Roast Muscovy Duck

Glazed Baked Country Ham

Cheese Pudding

Haricot Verts

Braised Greens

Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash

Dinner Rolls

Watermelon Rind Pickle and Green Tomato Pickle


Boiled Custard & Fig Preserve Parfaits

Apple Spice Cake

Vanilla Rum Cake with Brown Sugar & Butter Glaze




Both of the pickles are sweet pickles.  I ordered a country ham from A.B. Vannoy Hams.  I soaked it in water overnight, then washed off any mold, set it into a pan on a raised cooling grate, cross-hatched the thick skin/fat layer on top, pouring over it a bit of the glaze I made, and adding a cup of water into the bottom of the pan.  I covered the whole thing in aluminum foil and baked it for 3 hours at 350 degrees.  Then I took it out, trimmed off the heavy fat layers, crosshatched it again, and covered it in the rest of the glaze, then baked it at 400 for 20 minutes.

The glaze was:  fig balsamic vinegar, dark brown sugar, sorghum molasses, and pineapple juice brought to a boil, then briefly simmered.

We cooked the duck as we mention in the recipe section herein.


A Superior Apple Cake


A grand time was had by all, and now we wish you a Happy New Year in the coming week!

Weekly Update: December 20th

December 21, 2010

Extended cold temperatures, and two more incidents of snow have rendered nearly everything in the garden either dead or dormant.  Until the weather changes for at least a couple of weeks, it is unlikely we’ll have anything garden-related to report.

Christmas is coming, and we’re hosting Christmas Dinner this year.  Stay tuned for our next update which will include the menu, and perhaps another recipe or two.

Until such time!

Venison Roast

December 21, 2010

A lot of people I know only really eat the loin of the deer as a “piece of meat”.  The rest is either discarded or made into sausage, jerky, or dog food.  But there are ways to cook this lean red meat that lend themselves to the more modern American palette.

Over Thanksgiving my Uncle gave me a whole deer haunch, which we promptly transferred to our freezer.  And yesterday I cooked it, and was rewarded with murmurs of pleasure from my spouse and my son.

So here is a my crock pot venison roast recipe (technically what I was given was a ham I guess, but this should work for any roast of venison).


Brine the venison overnight, adding a cup of salt per two gallons of water.  Rinse with water afterward.

Trim the meat.  You really must remove any traces of blue-white membrance.  Large pieces of venison likely have the membrane running down through the meat in a couple of places as well as being on the outside.  Don’t hesitate to cut the meat into large chunks in order to get at it.  Basically I trimmed away anything that wasn’t hard white fat, and I didn’t worry about trimming away some meat while I got everything.

I ended up with 8-12 chunks of meat roughly the size of my fist, and tossed them into the crock pot.

To this I added:

1/2 bottle of hard cider (I used Scrumpy’s)

3-6 tablespoons black pepper

1/4 cup of red wine

1 cup of chicken broth/stock

1 coarsely sliced onion

2 tsps dried thyme

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons worchester sauce

The level of the liquid was almost, but not quite enough to immerse the meat.

Turn the crockpot on low and walk away for 9-10 hours


The result was flavorful, clearly venison, fork-tender, and yummy.  I roasted some potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash and heated up some of our home-canned green beans, and dinner was served.