Our "Long Horn" Okra

This year's crop of long horn okra, got off to a late start, but are now off to the races.  We planted them late, after harvesting our Spring crop of snap beans.  Okra do well in the Summer heat, and give our little square foot garden something to do till it's time to plant our winter garden.  The okra has, in the past, continued making pods all the way to Christmas and beyond, as long as we get no frost.  
They are making around 5 to 10 okra a day, which gets cut up (sliced like thick pennies) and put in the freezer until we have enough to make something with it.
Growing in stages, some plants are already over my head, while others are still only 1 ft. or so tall.  Staggered like that insures a longer growing season.  
We leave 2 pods on the healthiest plant for our seeds for the next year and too, later, if anyone wants some seeds we will let more dry.  Over ten years ago I lost my beloved batch of seeds, so we put out some feelers out online here and an elderly Cajun man was nice enough to send us a small package of seeds in the mail.  I never met the man but thank him and say a lil prayer for him every time I walk out and see the beautiful okra flowers smiling at us.
The good news:  We currently have a gallon bag full in the freezer and I can hardly wait for the first batch of smothered okra. Keep smiling you long "horned" beauty; you are music to our eyes!  



Strawberry Figs

Well, while we were in a fig preserving mood we decided to try another of my mother's fig tricks and make some strawberry figs.  We dug another bag of frozen figs out of the freezer.
We poured them into a dishpan and rinsed them good.

After rinsing, we snipped the stems off them.
Placed them in a colander to drain then weighed them.
To seven pounds of figs we added 6 cups of sugar, and a splash of lemon juice.
While the figs were slowly thawing and warming, we put our jelly jars in a 212 degree oven. We also put the canning lids, rings, a soup ladle, a food funnel, and a pair of tongs into a pot of water that we brought to a boil. All THREE things need to be at the same (boiling) 212 degrees temperature for us to be able to can:
1. the jars in the oven, 2. the lids and utensils, 3. the figs. (or whatever we are fixin' to can)
After an hour or so of slowly warming the frost from them, the figs made their syrup and began cooking.
Once the figs were cooked, we took them out of the pot with a large wire mesh ladle, reserving the syrup.
Then we mashed them with a tater masher.
Since we had 9 cups of smashed figs, when we added them back to their syrup we added three 3 oz boxes of (dry, not dissolved) Wild Strawberry Jello.
  Stirring in the Jello, we let it come to a boil and cook for 7 minutes or so, then went to canning them.  Peggy has canned so many jars of things, she has become a well-oiled canning "machine". I do the lifting, stirring and mashing, but when it comes to canning I just stand back and watch my sweet wife do her thang.
Man, this stuff is good.  No joking, you would swear it's real strawberries right down to the small seeds. 
 A couple helpful tips: 
 1.  Use the Wild Strawberry Jello if you can find it because the strawberry flavor is stronger and more intense.  2: the recipe calls for One 3 oz. box of Jello for every 3 to 4 cups of figs.  After cooking and smashing our figs, they measured out at 9 cups, so we used 3 boxes which probably would have been good for 11 or so cups of figs, before adding any more Jello.  This stuff is well worth a try and we highly recommend it to those of you who have more figs than fig eaters.  It's a wonderful way to turn 1 fruit into 2 different jellies. Peggy, not knowing any better, this being the first time she's ever had this, she thinks it tastes just like strawberry jam, Bless her heart.
Believe it or not, though, it actually tastes as good as it looks.


Old-Fashioned Fig Preserve

Finally,  after struggling through hurricanes and hard freezes, our Celeste Fig tree began bearing enough figs for us to can them.  Last year it only yielded a handful a day, but those few handfuls of figs rarely made it into the house, because between us and the birds eating them as they ripened, they never stood a chance of us making any kinds of plans for storage of any kind.  This year, thanks to no major storms, and the tree finally growing big enough to survive a freeze, it began to bear enough fruit for us to begin saving some to can, using one of my family's (my Mama and grandmother's) traditional recipes.  In the last month or so, Peggy and I picked on average a quart of figs each day; sometimes more some days none at all. Day by day we stashed them in 2 gallon zip lock freezer bags till we had approximately 5 gallons. I had seen other folks use this technique and it worked great.  Pick the figs from the tree, put them in a big bag and store them in the freezer till you have enough to can. 
    When you take the bags out of the freezer, they will have frozen as individuals, and not in a solid clump. Since they are separate, the process of rinsing and snipping the stems off is an easy (and fun) task. 
  Stewing the figs using the original family recipe is very simple.  Weigh your figs and for every pound of figs add 1 cup of sugar.  Since our figs were frozen, I added a little water to start them steaming sooner, but it really wasn't needed.  I also added a splash of lemon juice 'cause I saw lots of folks on the internet do it and it aint like we don't have several gallons of our Meyer lemon juice still in the freezer.  At any rate, we started with this:
 And ended up with this below, in a few fun-filled hours. Of course we had to "taste test"...Oh Mmmm! It took me back to the days of my youth, sitting at the table with my elders who cooked everything with love.
Below is the video of how we did it.  This time honored Cajun treat deserves to be passed on for further generations to enjoy.  Please give it a try and let us know what you think.


First Sunday in August BBQ 2014

In honor of it being August, or maybe in honor of it being Sunday, or more likely in honor of the fact that we scored some pork riblets on sale for $1 a pound or maybe even just for the heck of it we decided to fire up the ole rusty charcoal chimney.
We had been soaking some riblets in Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce for 2 days, so we threw them on the pit.
My new BBQ buddy Bo, was already licking his chops in anticipation.  
While Sarge, our old scarred veteran of a tomcat knew full well he could whoop that bratty lil dog out of anything hi might snag.
The ribs smoked away, and  with the breeze from our outdoor fan blowing and good music blaring from the speakers, we had a wonderful afternoon on the patio.  Me drinking beer and Peggy enjoying a glass of wine and the yard cats competing for snacks, and with the dogs for company, a couple hours slid by.
The wonderful smokey smell filled the yard.
The bad thing about wonderful back yard BBQ'sis they invariably end too soon.
With a slab of ribs and our volunteer butternut squash steamed and smashed, the last of the garden cucumbers and the first of our sweet bread and butter pickles, this, my friends, is a "Cajun happy meal".   Was it good?? Here's your answer: