Okra is Optional

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Okra is Optional! Mention the word “okra” and you may see people wrinkle their noses. It’s really not that bad, in my opinion. The flavor is mild and the texture is silky. Okra is often eaten fried in a delicious cornmeal batter or combined with vegetables in hearty homemade soups. Today’s version is pickled with its spicy second cousin, the jalapeño.

OKRA IS OPTIONAL

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh okra

2 jalapeño peppers, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, halved

2 cups apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

Instructions:

Wash okra thoroughly and remove tips. Divide between 3 pint jars. Repeat with jalapeños and garlic. Combine vinegar, water, kosher salt, and mustard seeds in a 2-quart pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Ladle hot vinegar over okra mixture in jars. Wipe rims. Cover jars with kids. Cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for no longer than two months.

Kosher Salt Dill Pickles

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Kosher Salt Dill Pickles! When I visited the Farmers Market this week, I was impressed by the cute little cucumbers in abundant supply. The fact that my dill was showcasing its yellow flowery blossoms in proud display earlier that morning nudged me to take advantage of both. Canning a jar of classic dill pickles was about to become the focus of the day. So….when choosing a variety of cucumber to pickle remember three things: 1.) Choose small cukes about the size of your thumb. 2.) Make sure they have a thicker skin in order to maintain a crunchy snap. 3.) And remember to ask for the ones that were just freshly picked. Time is of the essence. The crucial time to pickle is as soon as practical after picking. This recipe will make one jar, which is exactly what I wanted.

KOSHER SALT DILL PICKLES

Ingredients:

1 pound pickling cucumbers; cut off tips of both ends and slice in half

2 fresh dill sprigs, with heads

1 cup filtered water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a clean quart jar, place one dill sprig and one garlic clove in bottom of jar. Arrange cucumber halves against the side of the jar working your way to the center. Do not crush. Add one more dill sprig. Pour cooled juice into the jar. Be sure to include the spices. Stop liquid within 1/4″ of top. Seal and store in refrigerator for 12 hours before opening. Keep refrigerated.

Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter J

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Jalapeño Spiced Green Beans! I must admit, the first time I tasted these incredible green beans, it was as a garnish in a Canadian Caesar Cocktail (a seafood version of America’s Bloody Mary). Talk about a natural kick of spice! Oh. My. Gosh! If you don’t mind a little kick of heat and like green beans, you must try these. Toss them into a garden salad, layer them inside a grilled cheese sandwich, top them on deviled eggs, pair them with shrimp cocktail. Do you see where this is going? It’s extreme, it’s appetizing, and it’s a party in your mouth. 
JALAPEÑO SPICED GREEN BEANS
Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves

1 cup apple cider vinegar 

1 cup water

1 tablespoon agave nectar 

2 tablespoons kosher salt

5 jalapeño peppers, sliced and stems discarded 

1 pound fresh green beans, stems snipped and snapped to fit in the jars. 
Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, water, agave nectar, and kosher salt. Heat to boiling. Stir until dissolved. As it continues boiling, add the slices jalapeños. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquid. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside for 10-15 minutes. Have ready 1-2 clean, sterilized pint jars. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add the green beans. Cook until the beans begin to turn bright green, 3-4 minutes. Drain the pan. Rinse immediately with cold water; place green beans in an ice bath for 10 minutes. Drain well. Divide the green beans between the jars. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapeños and garlic cloves to the green beans. Ladle the pickling juices over top until the jars are filled. Discard any leftover brine. Let cool at room temperature before securing lids. Store in refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Eat More: Kosher Salt Dill Pickles! When I visited the Farmers Market this week, I was impressed by the cute little cucumbers in abundant supply. The fact that my dill was showcasing its yellow flowery blossoms in proud display earlier that morning nudged me to take advantage of both. Canning a jar of classic dill pickles was about to become the focus of the day. So….when choosing a variety of cucumber to pickle remember three things: 1.) Choose small cukes about the size of your thumb. 2.) Make sure they have a thicker skin in order to maintain a crunchy snap. 3.) And remember to ask for the ones that were just freshly picked. Time is of the essence. The crucial time to pickle is as soon as practical after picking. This recipe will make one jar, which is exactly what I wanted. 
KOSHER SALT DILL PICKLES
Ingredients:

1 pound pickling cucumbers; cut off tips of both ends and slice in half

2 fresh dill sprigs, with heads

1 cup filtered water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns 

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar, Kosher salt, garlic, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile in a clean quart jar, place one dill sprig and one garlic clove in bottom of jar. Arrange cucumber halves against the side of the jar working your way to the center. Do not crush. Add one more dill sprig. Pour cooled juice into the jar. Be sure to include the spices. Stop liquid within 1/4″ of top. Seal and store in refrigerator for 12 hours before opening. Keep refrigerated.