Posts from September 2013

Blackened Grouper


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Our friend Sam brought over some grouper he caught over the weekend in the Atlantic for us to grill. While he was fishing, he was bitten by a SHARK! He accidentally caught an ENORMOUS SHARK on his line, and while he was trying to free it, the shark leaped out of the water and BIT HIM! BLOOD = EVERYWHERE! (Okay, what really happened: Sam caught a three foot shark, and while trying to free it, he snagged his hand on the hook. Without thinking, he accidentally put his hand in the shark’s mouth, and ended up with a few scratches on his finger. But what good is a shark bite story without a little embellishment?) Sam was fortunately okay. The grouper, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky.


1 lb grouper
2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t crushed red pepper flakes


Heat the grill to high, and let it warm up. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Put the rub on the grouper. Oil the grill grates, and when you put the fish on the grill, turn the temperature down to medium low. Grill the grouper for 10-15 minutes on each side, or until the grouper is flaky.

I sprinkled chopped green onion on it for garnish, and served it with polenta, corn on the cob, and salad.

Tomato Juice


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Along with banana peppers, we also canned tomato juice at my inlaws in Southern Illinois this past weekend. Their garden is currently flush with tomatoes–Celebrities, to be exact–so we got out the juicer to squeeze the goodness out of them.

To make juice, all you need is a bowl full of ripe tomatoes, any kind will do, and a juicer. The amount of juice you make depends on the quantity of tomatoes. If you have a bunch of tomatoes, grab a bunch of quart jars, canning salt, and a juicer, and go to town.

To start, wash and cut your tomatoes.

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Put the cut tomatoes in the juicer’s funnel and juice them to death.

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As you can see, the tomatoes go in the funnel, the juice comes out into the square pan, and the guts come out the other side. We ran the guts through again just to get any remaining juice as well.

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From there, bring the juice to a boil on the stove. Boil for ten minutes. At the same time, boil quart jars and lids for ten minutes. When the jars are finished boiling, take them out of the water bath and add one teaspoon of canning salt to each jar.

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Ladle the hot tomato juice into each jar, and screw on the lids tightly. Put the jars in a bath of boiling water for 10 minutes; the water should be up to the neck of the jar. After the ten minutes is up, take the jars out of the water bath and make sure the lids are on tight. As with anything canned, the seal of the cap should be vacuumed. Tomato juice is one of the few things that you can can without using a lot of salt or sugar; the acid in the tomatoes inhibit bacteria growth.

I use this tomato juice in all my tomato based soups in the winter: chili, gumbo, vegetable beef, ect. It makes a mean Bloody Mary, too.

Pickled Hot Banana Peppers


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Over Labor Day, my husband and I traveled from Florida to Southern Illinois to visit his family. His parents have a large and beautiful garden that is always bursting at the seams with ripe vegetables this time of year. Their one acre gives them enough corn, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, and beans for them to last the winter. I’m always amazed and envious of their crop. Their soil is hard Southern Illinois clay, yet their yield and fruit is always tremendous. I think it’s because my inlaws’ secret garden ingredient is love.

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Ingredients (makes 6 quarts):

Hot peppers! Any kind, as many as you can gather or grow

1 quart cider vinegar
2 quarts water
1 c canning salt
12 cloves garlic
1 T turmeric (optional)
red hot pepper flakes (optional)


Boil your six pint jars and lids to sterilize them for at least 10 minutes. In another pot, mix together the vinegar, water and salt. I added turmeric to my banana peppers to give them a more yellow color, but if you’re not using banana peppers, you can leave that out. Bring this to a boil for 5 minutes. While you’re waiting for the liquid to boil, put 2 cloves of garlic in each jar, once the jars are sterilized. If you want to add a teaspoon of red hot pepper flakes, add that to the jar, too. From there, add your cut peppers.

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You can either leave in the seeds and veins, or take them out depending on your spiciness tolerance. Once the jars are packed full, pour in the vinegar/water mixture. Put the lid on, and screw the cap tight.

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They need to stay in the jar at least two weeks for them to pickle. After that, they’ll be just fine in a dark cupboard for a year or more. Add them to sandwiches, use them as pizza toppings, or just eat them plain. This way your garden’s goodness will last you year round!

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