Author: NicoleCarpenter

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

This is a simple, easy and healthy apple crisp recipe.  It is also easy to make as a gluten free apple crisp.  This recipe can easily be doubled and cooked in a 9 x 13 pan.  If you want the apple crisp to be gluten […]

Heart shaped Butternut Squash

Heart shaped Butternut Squash

It has been awhile since I’ve posted a heart shaped food, so here is heart shaped butternut squash. Some foods are commonly heart shaped. You see them often around Valentine ’s Day, but I enjoy taking any food, particularly the un-common ones and making them […]

Easy Fried Okra

Easy Fried Okra

fried okra

My mother used to fry okra in the traditional, standard or common cut way – round slices.  Anyone who has ever battered and then turned all those little round pieces in a frying skillet knows how time consuming this is.  Once I was married and both gardener and cook, a faster way was needed.

Okra is always ready to pick in the height of gardening season.  There are other vegetables to harvest and preserve.  There are farmer’s markets to set up at and lots of other summer work.  I just did not really have time to fry a bunch of little round slices of okra, but we also really like fried okra.

That’s when I started slicing our okra lengthwise.  It saves a considerable amount of time.  Thankfully, Paul likes it this way as well.  He likes to be able to taste okra and not just a bunch of batter, and long slices provides this.

fried okra

I used to beat up my eggs and individually coat each piece of okra with egg and then in flour.  I still individually coat each piece in flour, but have found it quicker to tumble all the okra with the eggs all at one time.  So, here is how I do it.

fried okra

I beat one egg in a medium size bowl with about one and one half teaspoons of water.  The ends are cut off a half a pound of okra and then the okra is sliced in half lengthwise.  I place the okra in the egg mixture bowl and toss it all around good until the okra is coated with eggs.  In a separate medium size bowl is mixed one half cup of flour, one teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper.

I take a piece of okra out of the egg mixture and place it in the flour bowl, turning and coating it with flour.  I do not like my flour getting gummy, so I keep my right hand dry.  The left hand takes the egg coated okra out of one bowl and places it in the flour, and the right hand tosses flour on the wet okra piece before picking it up and rolling it over.  This keeps my right hand and the flour fairly dry which in turn keeps my flour from getting clumpy.  The flour coated okra is place on a plate to await frying.

fried okra

I heat one third cup of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Once it’s hot enough to sizzle a bit when touched with a piece of battered okra, the okra is placed in the oil.  After one side of the okra is fried to a golden brown, I usually turn the stove down to medium low to finish frying the rest of the okra.  When one side is fried to golden brown, it is flipped and fried to golden brown on the other side.  Depending on the temperature of the oil, this will take a couple of minutes on each side.  Then it is transferred to a paper towel lined plate.

fried okra

Fried okra is good by itself, with a dinner meal, or for breakfast.


Easy Fried Okra

Ingredients

  • ½ pound of okra
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon water
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup of oil

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the okra and slice in half lengthwise. Beat the egg and water together and then toss in the okra until well coated. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Roll and coat each piece of egg washed okra in the flour and place on a plate. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet and fry okra until golden brown, turning about halfway through cooking. This will take a few minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
    fried okra

Macaroni Frittata

Macaroni Frittata

Macaroni Frittata is a great way to use leftover macaroni noodles. Leftover spaghetti noodles can be used as well. We sometimes have a macaroni frittata for a meal at home, but most often we use them for lunches. Due to Paul’s work, he likes a […]

Planting and enjoying Zinnias

Planting and enjoying Zinnias

Zinnias would not have been one of my favorite flowers prior to this year, but this year I am learning to really appreciate and enjoy them.  Last year at market, someone gave me a packet of Zinnia seeds.  I had never grown Zinnias before, but […]

Hand pollinating squash

Hand pollinating squash

Hand Pollinating squash

Back when we lived and gardened in Georgia, I had never heard of hand pollinating squash.  I did not really give the idea of squash being pollinated much thought at all.  I planted a garden, prayed for it to prosper and nature took care of pollination without my even knowing it.

Then we moved to Ohio in the middle of a corn and soybean field away from the trees and brush I was used to, and apparently, away from the bees as well.  The first year we planted a garden, we were disappointed to find our squash plants were producing no squash.  There would be baby squash, but instead of maturing, it would rot.  If it did try to grow, it was stunted and ill formed.

As I began looking into the problem, I learned that the bloom on the baby squash was the female and if it did not get pollinated by the male blossom, the squash would not mature, but would rot and drop off instead.  Bees are the nature’s pollinators.  Sadly, the insecticides sprayed on the fields around us killed many of the bees in the area.  I began hand pollinating squash and sure enough, they stopped rotting and starting maturing.

It is easy to tell the difference between the male and female blossoms.  The female blossom opens on the end of a baby squash.  The male blossom is simply attached to a long narrow green stem.

Female blossom:

hand pollinating squash

hand pollinating squash

Male blossom:

hand pollinating squash

It is also easy to hand pollinate the squash.  Take a small paint brush and run it along the anther of the male blossom.  The brush should have some nice yellow pollen on the bristles.  Then rub the pollen all over the stigma of the female blossom.

hand pollinating squash

hand pollinating squash

hand pollinating squash

You will need to check your squash plants every morning for new open blossom.  The squash has to be pollinated the day the blossoms open.  The flower petals start to close up to protect the pollinated stigma and if closes before it gets pollinated then the baby squash will not mature.

hand pollinating squash

This basic concept of hand pollinating squash also applies to butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and zucchini.  The female flowers all look pretty much the same; only they will be opening and blooming from the end of a baby butternut squash, a baby spaghetti squash, or a baby zucchini.  All the male flowers look the same on their long plain green stems.

While it was not fun losing our squash crop when we first moved up here.  I’m glad to have learned about hand pollinating squash.  At least once at one of the farmer’s markets I have met someone who was puzzled over the fact that their zucchini or squash plants looked great, but all the little squashes were rotting.  I was happy to be able to suggest what the problem might be and how easy it was to fix it by hand pollinating the squash.  And if this post helps you, I will be happy about that as well.  One of the blessings of things “going wrong” in life is to be able to help or at least empathize with others in a similar plight.


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Budget meals – It is the little things

Budget meals – It is the little things

It’s the little things This post goes along with the $25 weekly budget meals posts.  Weather you have a $25 weekly budget, or a $75 weekly budget, if you are trying to reduce grocery expenses and eat meals on a budget, the little things add […]

Crockpot Boiled Peanuts

Crockpot Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts – an icon of the South.  In the summer, roadside boiled peanuts stands are a familiar sight along southern routs.  My family used to occasionally purchase a bag of boiled peanuts from them until we figured out they could be made easily and […]

Mulberry Cobbler

Mulberry Cobbler

mulberry cobbler

It’s mulberry season here in Ohio, which means mulberry cobbler time.  Actually, my preferred way of eating fresh mulberries is piled on a bowl of homemade granola cereal, but we usually make a mulberry cobbler too.  We do not just have mulberry cobbler at this time of the year.  If it is a good mulberry season, we freeze a few bags of mulberries for cobblers in the winter time.

Mulberries were new to me when we moved up here.  They do not grow in GA.  I am curious which States mulberries do grow.  If you have mulberries in your State, I’d like to hear what State you live in.  If you do not live where mulberries grow, this recipe can be used for blackberries or black raspberries as well.

mulberry cobbler

When we rented, there was no mulberry trees on the land.  Paul would stop on his way home from work along the highways and byways and pick berries from there.  This spring, we were delighted to discover our little homestead has a couple of mulberry trees.  Neither tree is a plentiful amount for freezing, but they produce ample for fresh eating on granola cereal and a mulberry cobbler or two.

mulberry cobbler

Some people may not call this recipe a “true” cobbler.  There are varying opinions of what constitutes a cobbler and how a cobbler must be made.  If you are in the group that thinks biscuit type dough must be dropped onto a berry mixture, I won’t argue with you.  You may very well be correct in calling that cobbler.  This is simply how we grew up eating blackberry “cobblers” and is what I am familiar with.   But do not let a disagreement in name keep you from trying it.  Call it what you wish, “mulberry pan muffins” if you prefer.

mulberry cobbler

When it is first baked and warm out of the oven, we eat it with ice-cream.  The next morning, we eat it with milk.  Paul often pours his milk over it in a bowl, and I often drink my milk on the side and eat them as square muffins.

mulberry cobbler

Mulberry Cobbler (or blackberry)

1 cup flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ cup (half a stick) butter

1/3 cup honey

1 cup milk

2 cups berries

I always like to save work and dirtying and extra dish if I can.  So, I melt the butter in my 7×11 baking dish while the oven pre-heats to 350.  While the butter is melting and oven pre-heating, mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and measure up the remaining ingredients.  After the butter is melted, stir in the honey, then the milk and flour mixture.  Stir just enough that there remains no dry flour.  The mixture may be a little lumpy.  Sprinkle the berries over the top and do not stir.  Bake for about 35 minutes.


Mulberry Cobbler (or blackberry)

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup half a stick butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups berries

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a 7x11 baking dish while the oven pre-heats to 350. While the butter is melting and oven pre-heating, mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and measure up the remaining ingredients. After the butter is melted, stir in the honey, then the milk and flour mixture. Stir just enough that there remains no dry flour. The mixture may be a little lumpy. Sprinkle the berries over the top and do not stir. Bake for about 35 minutes.

 

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What to do with too tall tomato plants

What to do with too tall tomato plants

Have you ever started your own tomato seeds only to end up with too tall tomato plants?  It happened to me this year.  The cold lingered on longer than expected and the plants kept growing until the tomato plants were too tall.  They can often […]