There are gorgeous peppers at the Farmer's Market right now. Small ones, large ones, red, yellow, green, hot and sweet to name a few.  We had tons of hot banana peppers in our garden and I made this recipe with some of them.  Once again, the recipe comes from my most used and favorite book, Simply In Season. The book suggested using it with cheese and crackers.

I warmed a wheel of Brie cheese in a 350 degree oven until it was soft and melted (about 15 minutes) and topped it with the hot pepper marmalade about 5 minutes before removing from the oven.  What an amazing taste treat it was!

I made two batches of the marmalade and the second time I increased the hot peppers from 3 to 4 to give it a little more kick. I could easily have added yet one more hot pepper since my banana peppers were not that hot, but it probably appeals to more people if it's not too hot, so I decided to stop with 4.  The recipe calls for 3-5.  This is a very simple recipe to make and only requires a hot water bath to can the marmalade. 

My intention was to use these jars as gifts during the holidays by combining the marmalade with some special cheese and crackers in a gift basket, but the marmalade is so delicious, I want to be sure to keep some for us to enjoy!

I just found out that I can 'glean' from a field of red peppers. I can pick bushels of these peppers, so I might actually make a few more batches using red peppers and hot peppers. The recipe calls for red, green, and yellow, but I'm sure it would be much the same if using only red.

 I still have a lot of beets to harvest from our garden, but I've already canned a lot of pickled beets. We will try to store some of them, but most likely will need to give some away so they don't go to waste. Other than the beets, we still have two rows of potatoes to finish harvesting, then our 2010 gardening season is done! I think my 'season' of canning has come to an end. I made a large batch of peach jam last week, as well as 27 pints of applesauce. I got the apples for FREE and it was delicious!

So many people have fruit trees that they don't use, as was this case. In some larger cities, there are groups of  'gleaners' that collect from trees that people don't use to give to charities or soup kitchens. I wish there was something like this locally. So much food goes unused! All you need to do is look around as you drive this time of the year, to realize just how true this is! I'll be sure to take a picture of the ACRES of red peppers that are going to waste, just because the farmer 'met his quota' for the pepper harvest. I do not understand this! For insurance reasons, many farmers will not let people into their fields for gleaning. Really? When there are people who can't afford to buy food? We'll pick several bushes of these peppers and give them to a local soup kitchen-it's the right thing to do!!

I'll post the recipe if requested!



When I was in grade school, my parents helped start a church in a neighboring town. It was the first spanish Mennonite church in that town. For a number of years, it was the only church we went to. All the services were in spanish and none of us spoke spanish! My mom did take lessons and became fluent. The rest of us just limped along!

On Sundays, after the service, the whole church came together for a pot luck meal. The food was 'authentic' mexican food! Fresh made tortillas, chicken and mole, beans, rice, and a whole bunch of other wonderful foods. Even as a young person, I could tell this food was the real thing! It tasted so different from what we were used to getting at home. Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, pot roast, corn, etc.!

For years, I've tried to make my own mole sauce. I could remember that flavor of that dish but could never replicate it, or find it in any Mexican restaurant...UNTIL TODAY!! 

Our daughter recommended a little unassuming restaurant in Napoleon, Ohio. My mother-in-law wanted to take us out for dinner so we thought we'd be brave and give this place a try. It's hard to find mexican food that tastes REAL when you've had the real thing cooked by real Mexican cooks!! The only complaint we had about this place was that the tortillas weren't all that great. They were dry, a bit tough, and tasted like any tortilla available off the shelf at your local grocer. But, the mole?  The enchiladas? The tamales??  They were just fabulous. My MIL had a chicken dish served in a hollow pineapple which she really liked.

The dining room is pretty cool with lot of great murals on the walls in bright colors.  The tables and chairs are hand carved wood and on some weekends, they have Mariachi music!! If youlive in the area, you might want to give this place a try if you like mexican food. The mole was the real deal...it brought back such vivid memories with the very first taste! The waiter was extrememly friendly and helpful in our selections. We tipped him well, he really deserved it!

The chips and salsa that they bring to the table before you order were freshly made. They were light and crispy and the salsa was good. Both Cole and I prefer our salsa a little hotter and they brought out their 'hot' salsa which was different from anything I've ever tasted. It had a 'roasted' pepper flavor, full of the seeds that make it hot. It didn't really burn like hot salsa does. It was like an oven being turned on...it just kept heating up and getting hotter...and hotter...and hotter!! We also tried several varieties of their habanero sauces in bottles...on which was XXXHot. Now that was extremely PAINFUL!!!

When we got home, I walked straight to the cupboard and popped 2 Xtra strong TUMS!!! The servings were very large and two of us brought home enough leftovers for another meal. Since tomorrow is a work day for me, I'm thrilled to have some leftover mole, 1 tamale and a few chips to take with me! I hope I remember to take a couple of TUMS with me, too!



Several days a week we eat meatless. We've cut back our meat consumption to a minimal amount.  Monday is always meatless Monday at our house as much as possible. I never feel that it's a sacrifice. The benefits far outweigh the challenge of cooking interesting food without meat.

Winter squash is now in abundance at the farmer's market.  We grew butternut squash in the garden but didn't have room for acorn squash.  Last Saturday we purchased nice size acorn squash for $.50 a piece at the market! I think the most common way to cook these is with a bit of butter and brown sugar and then baked in the oven.  When we eat a meal without meat, I try to 'pimp' up the meal so my carnivore son doesn't complain.  Today, though, he's not going to be here so I can use ingredients that we like but he would turn up his nose at. 

My mother-in-law is with us for a couple of weeks so I try to make our meals a bit special, even though she has complained every day that "all we do is EAT!...or...why do you FUSS so?.." and other irritating comments. 

In the Simply In Season cookbook there are several suggestions for stuffed acorn squash.  I used it as a guideline and combined several of the recipes and came up with this delicious dish!!! 

First, clean halved squashes, and drizzle olive oil on the inside along with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down in a baking pan. I lined mine with parchment because experience tells me that the pan will be difficult to clean after the squash bakes.  This is not a necessary step, but you won't be sorry you did this. Aluminum foil would also work to line your pan.  Bake the squash until just tender...about 40 minutes.  Turn the squash over and leave in  your baking pan. 

Meanwhile, I cooked 1 cup of brown rice until nice and tender.  In a saute pan I placed some olive oil, chopped carrot, chopped onion, 1/4 c. raisins, 1 small chopped green pepper, salt and pepper to taste, some oregano, and about 1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts.  I then added a seasoning packet from an Oriental ramen noodle package that I had saved, along with about 1-2 Tbsp. of honey.  This stuffing then goes in the squash and the whole thing is baked for an additional 15-20 minutes before serving. 

I made fresh applesauce this morning and we'll have some of that as a side dish.  I'm also going to heat a small wheel of Brie cheese topped with my hot pepper marmalade and serve it with wheat crackers! MMMM Sounds so yummy!!

Hope you enjoy your Monday...what did you cook???



For my birthday my brother and sister in law sent me this oven mitt. It's actually an oven 'glove' and it has fake fur trim!  A little bit of Hollywood glamour in my corner of the world! It was fun to use and made me laugh a bit...thanks Lamont & Char!!

I also baked an apple pie for our dessert tonight, and a cherry pie to take to our son's family when we go visit them tomorrow and meet in person our newest little granddaughter! I can't wait!!! 

This morning was also shrimp harvest at the Shrimp Farm down the road from us. These shrimp are fed naturally and they are so delicious. We only ordered 3 pounds but it will be enough for the four of us to have a nice taste.  I enjoy cleaning them. They are slippery little buggers though!  I had read a lot about them and found that many say that the best flavor you can get from them is a result of leaving the shells and heads intact for cooking. Many say the heads have the best flavor. After cooking just seperate the heads and sort of 'crunch' on them and suck out their juices and enjoy.

 I had planned on doing it this way until I had them in front of  me. I just didn't think I wanted to try it. I wouldn't hesitate doing that if it was prepared for me by someone who actually knew what they were doing...but to experiement with it didn't appeal to me at all! Plus, Richard said "I don't want a head on mine!!" I thought 3 pounds would be plenty, but once they are fixed it is not a lot of shrimp at all. We'll all get to taste them but nobody will 'fill up' on them!  It doesn't look like $36 worth of shrimp after they are cleaned!! I'm not sure yet how I want to fix them. I was going to grill them and serve them with fresh garden potatoes roasted in garlic and herbs, but since the amount looks small, I may decided to make them into a pasta dish. 

I thought you might enjoy seeing what they looked like. I think they're really beautiful! Something about pulling the heads off and cleaning them appeals to me. I was brought up with parents that butchered their own chickens in our back yard. I can remember vividly looking at the bucket of 'guts' that accumulated as my mom cleaned the insides of them.  Later, we grew our own but sent them  out to have them dressed. A few times we butchered a couple because I thought our kids should see what it's like. Our daughter still feels somewhat traumatized by that!! The only thing I can say to explain my behavior is that I am a country girl through and through.



What to do with a 5 gallon bucket of hot peppers? Make marmalade, of course!! My favorite cookbook,Simply In Season, has a recipe for hot pepper marmalade.  The suggestion is to serve it with cream cheese and crackers or a warmed wheel of Brie.  Both sound equally delicious to me.  You can control the amount of heat in the final result by how many hot peppers you use, and I suppose the type as well.  I don't think you would want to use habanero peppers for this recipe.  We grew a mildly hot banana variety this year.  The recipe calls for 3-5 hot peppers and I used 3 for my first recipe, and 4 for the second.  After the first recipe was done, and I had tasted it, I wanted just a little more heat so I added one additional pepper the second time around.

The other thing I did to alter the recipe was to add and additional 1/3 of a package of pectin so that my end result was firmer.  I didn't want it too runny.  I would rather have it firm so that I can spread it over a wheel of Brie before baking and let it gradually become runny and ooze over the cheese for serving.  The taste of this marmalade has a nice mild kick to it, and an excellent blend of sweet and sour.  It's going to make delightful gifts come holiday season!

3-5 chili peppers minced
2 medium green peppers minced
1 medium red pepper minced
1 medium yellow pepper minced
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups sugar
Combine in a large saucepan. (I placed all peppers in my food processor and pulsed to mince them)

1 package no sugar needed pectin
Gradually add the pectin to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Boil 1 minute, skimming off foam.  Ladle into hot 1/2 pint jars to within 1/2 inch of top.  Seal and hot water bath for 10minutes. 

As you can see from this recipe I didn't use all the peppers in my 5-gallon bucket!  Last year I chopped and froze a  lot of peppers for use through the year. I still have some left to use up so I decided to just string the rest of these and hang to dry in my kitchen.  We will be able to cut off what we want and add to salsas or dishes that need a little OR a lot of kick.  Plus, they also serve as a lovely decorating item! I love them especially this time of the year.  The reds, oranges, and golds are a reminder of the next couple of months of cooling weather and changing season. 


One last garden harvest item!  We had an over abundance of green beans this year. I canned over 50 quarts and still gave away several bushels!  We ate them fresh for over a month and they just kept growing! Now Richard is trying to clean up the garden and there are a ton of them on the vines drying.  I've never used green beans as a dry bean before, but I'm not going to let these go to waste. We'll let the bean pods dry on the plant and then later, during the cooler months, I'll shell them and use them as a dry white bean.  They'll be delicious as a white bean spread, soup, or dip!



I don't have a picture to post and no new recipe, but I do have good news, and since this is my little corner of the world to post whatEVer I want to...here goes!

Last week I had blood work done to check my glucose and cholesterol levels. It's been a long time since I had them checked and was pretty nervous about the results. I needn't have been.  These are 'fasting' numbers: glucose - 108, triglyceride - 127, cholesterol - 178! I was extremely relieved! When you carry a lot of extra weight, your health condition is always at the forfront of your mind. While we do try to eat healthy, it still concerns you that there is weight to be lost and it's not coming off!! GRRRR

This proves two things.  I have really good genes, and weight is not a measure of health. I know someone who is not overweight and eats healthy but has very high cholesterol! The reason I decided to post this here is that I truly believe our DIET has everything to do with these test results!  I have pretty much quit eating red meat. I might have some on occasion, but rarely, and only in small amounts.  We have fish at least once a week, and other than that, I might have grilled chicken and very rarely, bacon but usually as a small addition to add flavor to a dish.  Salads and fresh veggies and fruits are our main menu items.  When cooking or sauteeing I use a nice extra virgin olive oil, and once in a while I use canola oil.  We never buy margaine and use butter in controlled amounts.

As for fried foods...okra, green tomatoes, and zucchini, but usually in olive oil or a bit of canola. Do I miss beef?  NO. Do I miss fried foods?  YES! My mom made the most amazing fried chicken and I can duplicate it, but it does require frying the chicken in oil and bacon grease!! Imagine! 

Now, if I could just get some of the weight to fall off without the use of a machete everything would be just great!~! Talking about weight issues is never comfortable, but today I just wanted to 'toot my own horn' as they say!! 

So, I will keep spreading the word about eating "MEATLESS MONDAY" and will continue to post pictures and recipes on this blog about EATING CONSICOUSLY! I guess it works!

Now, I'm off to make my second batch of Hot Pepper Marmalade. I will have pictures and a recipe to follow. This is the most delicious little gem! It's not terribly hot, you can control the heat, and it's supposed to be delicious served with cream cheese on crackers. I purchased a wheel of Brie and will serve the marmalade with a warmed Brie and some nice crackers to my mother-in-law who is visiting us for 2 weeks. It's a special treat! It looks gorgeous in the jars after it's canned and will make a really nice presentation as a gift. 

It's also MONDAY, so I might also have something to show for our dinner tonight. I haven't decided for sure what we'll be having but I do know it will include fried zucchini. Eat Well!!



Summer produce is waning. I always long for the days of cooler temperatures and the sounds of autumn but I'm also sad to see the garden begin to die down.  The butternut squash is laying on the ground waiting to be harvested, surrounded by vines and leaves that are brown and lifeless.  By this time of the year, most of my canning is done. The tomatoes have been picked and canned and the only things left in the ground are potatoes and beets.  We'll have a few fresh tomatoes to eat  as they ripen but there won't be many.  The farmer's markets are still overflowing with produce to buy so we've been shopping there the last few weeks.  We didn't have room to grow okra this year so I won't have any in the freezer for winter use. 

The past two weeks we've stopped at the market and purchased fresh okra from the farmer.  One of my favorite summer vegetable treats is fried okra. It's one vegetable that you cannot replicate in the middle of winter. It's only good when it's fresh! I also think you can't have really delicious fried okra without cooking it in cornmeal and frying it in a cast iron skillet! You can probably tell from the picture that I don't have a lot of breading on the okra. I prefer it lightly dusted with corn meal. I wash the okra, then slice into a zip-loc bag that has corn meal in it that is seasonsed with salt and pepper. After heating the pan I add a small amount of olive oil and drop in the okra. I let it brown before I turn it.  It's ready to eat when it's nicely browned on both sides.

We had a rain shower today and the weather has changed drastically.  The weather report is that there will be a 50 degree drop in temperature between yesterday and tomorrow!! I think we may get our cast iron soup pot out and break it in for the autumn soup season! This is another of our favorite things. We bundle up warm, make a big bonfire, and hang the pot on the tripod over the fire and sit and relax.  It's our therapy. 

The grandkids are here for the weekend and they love making smores and have a fire so maybe we'll cook a pot of chili over the fire tomorrow evening. I'll post pictures if we do that. Until then, enjoy the cooler weather!



Today I was admiring this dish of pears. My friend Tammy brought them to me from her brother's tree. I love fresh fruit in season, and pears are one of my favorites. For years, we had friends who had a big pear tree and they would give us at least one bushel every year. They have passed away, and I really miss those pears! I love home canned fruit for it's fresh flavor and enjoy a simple dish of cottage cheese and fruit during the winter months. 

Another favorite way to use pears is to make pear pie.  It's not a common pie, as pies go, but to enjoy it once a year is quite a treat. It's so delicious. The flavor is very mild and is a real taste treat.  I thought I'd share this recipe since pears are in season now. It's an easy recipe, so if you are a beginner, you can make this with no trouble at all!


3/4 c. sugar
3 1/2 Tbs. flour
1/2 pint whipping cream
dash of cinnamon
Mix sugar and flour, then add cream and cinnamon and stir to combine ingredients. 
Peel, pare, and slice pears or peaches. Place prepared fruit in a pastry crust lined pie pan.  Pour cream filling over fruit.
Bake 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional hour.
I usually cover the pie crust edges with foil to keep them from browning too much.