Fried Okra


We spent a wonderful and relaxing week in Illinois with Gary’s parents, and made it just in time to view the eclipse in its totality! What amazed me the most was how bright the sun shone even with the majority of the sun being covered from the moon. And the corona around the sun, during the total eclipse, was mesmerizing! It makes me appreciate that beautiful ball of fire all the more, giving life to gardens and trees and everything in this blue & green world.

Melvin and Dorothy’s garden is full of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, sweet potatoes, peppers, and zinnias of all shades, all growing fast in the hot August sun. We ate great meals among great company; our hearts and bellies are full.


2 c okra, chopped into 1/2 slices
2 c peanut oil
1 c flour
1 T paprika
1 T chili powder
1 egg


Heat the oil in a fryer, or in a large stock pan on the stove. After chopping all the okra, beat an egg in a small bowl. Pour over the okra. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Take a 1/2 cup of the okra at a time, put in the flour mixture, then put them in the hot oil, being careful not to let it splatter. Fry for 5-7 minutes, or until they start to brown. Remove from the oil. Do this in 1/2 cup batches until finished.

Spicy Sausage Pasta with Peppers


I have bad luck with growing peppers, and this year seemed to be no different. About a month ago, my pepper plants again looked ill. Fortunately then my in-laws were visiting, and Melvin helped me tend to them. As I’ve written before, Melvin has a green thumb like no other (examples: his sweet potatoes and cabbage). So maybe it was the fertilizer that made my peppers grow this year, but I like to think it was his “Melvin Magic” that finally did the trick.


1 lb rotini pasta
1 lb spicy sausage
3 Cubanelle peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T lemon juice
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved


First, set a pot of salted water to boil on the stove. In a saute pan on medium-high heat, add 2 T olive oil. Next add the pan sausage, and cook thoroughly. Once cooked, dump on a paper towel on a plate to drain the excess grease. Don’t clean the skillet, and put it back on the heat, but turn to medium. Add the chopped peppers, onions, and garlic. Start cooking the pasta at this time, and follow the instructions on the bag. Cook the vegetables for about 5-7 minutes. Then throw in the tomatoes and lemon juice. The acid from both will make the brown bits from the pan come off into the vegetables, which adds great flavor. Add the sausage back to the mix to reheat. Drain the pasta when ready. Combine, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan and S&P. Enjoy!

Honey-Soy Chicken with Green Onions


Onions take a crazy long time to mature in the garden; this variety took about 175 days, or almost six months. They’ve been clogging up my garden space for half a year, when a bag at the store costs about $3! Bah! Live and learn.

On the other time extreme, this recipe is a cinch. Five minutes prep, and 6 hours (not months!) unattended in the crock pot equals a quick and tasty dinner.


6 chicken thighs
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c honey
2 T hoisin sauce
1/2 t crushed red pepper
2 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
3 T sriracha
1 onion, chopped
1 c broth
1-2 T corn starch

green onions
sesame seeds


In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey, hoisin, red pepper, lemon juice, broth and sriracha. In a slow cooker, put the olive oil in the bottom, then chopped onions, then pour over the sauce. Cook for 6-8 hours on low heat. Before serving, take 1/2 cup of the broth and mix with the corn starch. Add back to the slow cooker to thicken. If it doesn’t look thick enough, repeat.

Serve over rice, and add your favorite garnishes.

Tomato & Corn Galette


Here is a sub-par crust and poor food presentation, but heck, I made a galette! And it was tasty.

I amended this recipe from the Half-baked Harvest. Her crust and photos beat mine by a mile.


You can use pre-made pie crust here for an easier version; I tried a gluten-free version that became too brittle. Use the Half-baked Harvest’s recipe for the crust instead; I’m sure it’s much better than mine.

2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Olive oil
6 oz fresh goat cheese
2 T butter
2 c sweet corn (off the cob)
1 sweet onion

First, if you’re making your own crust, start with that. If you’re using a pre-made crust, set out so it gets to room temperature. Set out your goat cheese so it gets to room temperature as well.

Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While heating, chop all tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and add the leaves from one sprig of thyme. Put on a cookie sheet, and cook for 20 minutes, or until most of the water cooks out of the tomatoes (otherwise they’ll make your galette soggy). (Once the tomatoes are done, decrease the oven temp to 375 degrees.) While the tomatoes are cooking, chop the onion. In a saute pan over medium heat, add the butter. When hot, add the onion, cook for about 5 minutes. Add the 2 cups of corn. Cook for about 15 minutes on medium-low, or to brown the onion and corn in the butter. Once cooked, set aside.

With your crust, on parchment paper, either flatten your store-bought one or roll out your dough into a nice circle about the width of a pie. Spread the goat cheese in the middle of crust and extend it to all but an inch around the parameter. Spread the corn/onion mix, and top with the roasted tomatoes. Put the thyme leaves on last, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 45-55 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Vietnamese Pork Tacos with Carrots


This recipe came from the NYTimes, titled “Vaguely Vietnamese Slow Cooker Pork Tacos“. I love the “vaguely” descriptor; that’s exactly as far as I’ll ever get with my Vietnamese cooking, too.

Our carrots are still going strong!


For the pork:
Bone-in pork shoulder
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh ginger, grated
1 c beef broth
1/4 c fish sauce
1 T sriracha sauce

For the slaw:
1/3 c rice vinegar
2 t grated fresh ginger
3 T olive oil
1 T sriracha sauce
1 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1/2 bunch of cilantro


For the pork, dump all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Before eating, put together the slaw. Combine all ingredients except cilantro. For the taco combine flour tortillas + slaw + cheddar (I told you it was “vaguely Vietnamese”) + sriracha = a mighty fine dinner.

Salmon with Hollandaise


Our little red-head just turned one!
And my is he a sweet smiling son.
We’re cooking much less, and my garden’s a mess,
But that’s okay; he makes up for it in fun.


For the salmon:
1 lb salmon
1 T herb of Provence
Olive oil

For the sauce:
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 T water
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t Dijon mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
(Fresh tarragon, if you have it)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a pan, and put the salmon skin side down. Drizzle more olive oil on the salmon, and sprinkle the herbs of Provence and salt and pepper on the fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the meat reads 130 degrees (if you like the fish more rare, cook for less time).

While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. In a double boiler over medium high heat (with water in the base of the bottom pan), put in both egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, and cayenne. (If you have fresh tarragon, like a true hollandaise calls for, add it now. I didn’t have it, thus didn’t add it.) Whisk together until slightly thickened, or about two minutes. Gradually add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated, or about five minutes. Add the salt. Serve immediately.

Dried Loquats


I have a complicated relationship with loquats. Loquats originate from Asia and have an apricot/mango flavor, but try as I may, I’ve never found the perfect thing to do with the fruit.

Our friend Sam’s tree puts on an abundance of fruit every March. Throughout the years, we’ve tried a variety of recipes. We made loquat jam once, which was not so tasty. The next year we made loquat wine, which was gross. So we tried to make loquat vinegar out of the loquat wine, but that was even grosser. I think there was a loquat crisp in there, too. But because I hail from descendants of farmers, I physically cannot let fruit rot on the tree. (Growing up, we picked EVERY LAST cherry and EVERY LAST apple.) The only thing I’ve found that works is to dry them and eat them as is.

(If anyone knows good loquat recipes, I’m all ears.)


Once you pick the loquats, you have to process them right away otherwise they’ll turn brown. Wash them, and cut them in half. Remove the two large seeds. Dehydrate in a dehydrator for 6-8 hours on low. They’re best left slightly chewy.

Strawberry, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad


We had some visitors this past week–my niece and nephew! Since they can’t grow things like kale and carrots in Iowa in February, it was quite the treat to help me harvest mine. They even helped me prepare my salad, too.


1 head lettuce, chopped
1/2 bunch kale, de-veined and chopped
1/2 c pecans, chopped
1/4 c crumbled blue cheese
10 strawberries, chopped

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1 T honey


Mix salad ingredients together. Mix dressing ingredients together. Combine.

Strawberry Cardamom Jam


Roses are red,
Strawberries are pink,
When my kid’s eyes are that color,
Life kinda stinks.


6 c crushed strawberries
7 c sugar
1 package pectin
1 T lemon juice
8-10 cardamom pods
12 pint jars with lids


Boil all your pint jars and lids for at least 10 minutes. While they are boiling, chop your berries add the cardamom seeds (removed from the pod) and set aside. Measure out the exact amount of sugar and set aside. Bring the berries to a boil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan. Stir in 1 package of pectin. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add the sugar all at once, and stir. Bring to a rolling boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat.

Fill the jars immediately to a 1/4 an inch. Wipe the rims and threads with a clean cloth. Cover with the two-piece lids. Place in the water bath that you used to sterilize the jars with the lip of the jar just out of the water. Bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Once done, remove from the water. Make sure the lid is on tight. Once it cools, the center of the lid should be sunken, which means the jar is pressurized. Enjoy on anything that could use some extra jammy sweetness!

Broccoli and Sausage Orecchiette


According to the USDA, the average American eats 4 pounds of broccoli per year. Given our garden’s glut, Gary and I have been eating probably a pound of broccoli per day for the past month. Although I’d love to brag about our healthiness, all I can really attest to is our over-abundance of gas.


1 lb broccoli, chopped into florets
1 lb orecchiette pasta
1 lb ground sausage
2 cloves garlic
1 c broth
1 hot pepper, chopped
1/2 c Parmesan, grated
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 lemon juice
1 T mustard


First, get a pot of water boiling for the pasta. While waiting to boil, cook the sausage until done, or 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel, pouring most of the grease. With the remaining drippings, add the hot pepper, garlic, and broccoli. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the pasta to the boiling water. Then add the broth to the pan with the broccoli and cover, so it will steam. Keep covered for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat when the broccoli is cooked. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and S&P in a small bowl. When the pasta is finished, drain. Add the broccoli, garlic, pepper, and broth mixture to the drained pasta. Add the grated cheese and dressing.

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