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Monthly Archives: August 2012

  • Guest Post: In the Beginning, There Were Blackberries

    Being a fan and customer of Parkesdale Farm for years, I was thrilled to be asked by Xi to do a guest post on her blog.  While Xi and her family enjoy a much deserved vacation, I'm pleased to offer this post for reading pleasure. 

    It started with blackberries that grew by the railroad track in Geneva, Alabama  just down the street from my grandparent's house in the Cotton Mill Village.
    I spent a lot of time during the summer with my grandparents in that little southeastern Alabama town. Summer in the south means insufferable heat but it also means blackberries.
    As a small child, I would pick blackberries for Granny to make cobblers, pies and jelly.  She'd arm me with a bucket and an admonition.
    "Be particular for snakes, Shug."
    During the 1960s in small town America, you could get away with sending little children alone to pick blackberries next to the railroad track among snakes, chiggers and thorns the size of  nickles.  The bushes grew thick and the thorns were protective of the berries. Occasionally, a train would come  along. I would stop picking , count the cars and wave to the Engineer on the caboose.
    Blackberry summers began my love affair with food that's lasted almost six decades.  I’m not sure what part of it I actually enjoyed. Was it the freedom of being responsible enough to have a job as important as picking the berries that Granny would turn into delicious cobblers and jelly? Was it the challenge of seeing how quickly I could fill up my bucket? Or was it simply that I loved the smell of the berries as they cooked away in Granny’s little kitchen knowing what the end result would be?
    One thing for sure, I learned to appreciate the connection between self-sufficiency, food and memories.  The pride I felt in bringing home a full bucket of berries joined forces with the anticipation of the goodness that was soon to come out of my Granny's kitchen to produce one little girl who was just about to burst at the seams.  I remember the sweet, fruity winelike aroma that wafted throughout the house as Granny cooked the berries into jelly and cobblers. I thought the scratches from the thorns and the occasional chiggers were worth it all. But most of all, it was worth it hearing Granny sing her hymns. It was a happy time.  Blackberries are the one food most closely tied to my earliest, fond food memories.
    Wild blackberry bushes are hard to come by now so I planted my own.
    I never get tired of looking at them. Seeing blackberries ready for the picking is a gift to my sense of overall well-being. It just makes me happy.  I don't have a railroad track running through my backyard so I can't recreate the whole blackberry summer memory. Besides, trains no longer have cabooses and the Engineers don't seem as friendly now.
    Blackberry summers are the reason the blog Syrup and Biscuits exists.  The association I made between blackberry picking and goodness soon spread to various other southern food creations that came out of my Granny's kitchen. At an early age, I was keenly aware of the power that was  unleashed when people shared good food.  Granny's affinity for wanting to feed people, infected me. If there's a cure for this infection, I hope I never find it.  The love of feeding  people is a gift from God that came by way of Granny. I felt like I needed to write about it.
    Granny singing, the aroma of blackberries cooking away and the promise of cobblers and jelly. That’s what heaven will be like. Amen.
    Y'all come see us!
    Blackberry Cobbler
    Having something that tastes unbelievably good that's easy  and quick to make is a prize.  In fact, this cobbler won me a prize. A  Blue Ribbon.  No kidding.
    If you're picking blackberries (or having your granddaughter pick them down by the railroad track), then grab a handful of red ones, too.  The tartness of the red berries accentuates the flavor of the cobbler.  If you can't get red ones, then add a tablespoon of lemon juice.
    1 stick unsalted butter
    4 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen without sugar
    1/4 cup water
    1 cups sugar
    2 cups self-rising flour
    2 cups milk
    2 cups sugar
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, optional
    cinnamon
    Melt butter in 9X13  baking pan.
    Place berries,  sugar and  water in a pot and bring to a quick boil. If the berries are particularly sweet, you might not need the full cup of sugar in the berry mixture.  If you're using lemon juice instead of red berries, add it to the berry mixture.
    While berries are coming to a boil,  mix 2 cups  sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add in milk and stir well until smooth.
    Pour batter over melted butter.  Add hot  berry mixture to the pan.  Don't stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
    Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes until mixture is bubbly and top has started to brown.  The center will be somewhat jiggly but not loose. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.  Yeah, right.  That's a big joke. But in order for my recipe to be technically correct, I had to tell y'all to do that.
  • Guest Post: Refrigerator Dill Pickles

    Hey there!  My name is Julia and I blog over at La Petite Maison Verte, that's French for "The Little Green House."  I am so excited to be guest-posting for Xiomara today since she is on vacation!  She really deserves it, what with training for triathlons, raising two little girls and helping to run the family business, I'm not sure how she finds the time to blog too!

    Xiomara and I are both food-lovers and I have a special place in my heart for fresh, in-season fruits and veggies - they should form the foundation of any healthy diet. Living and working in Tampa, I don't have the time (or the green thumb!) to be able to devote to growing my own vegetables, at least not right now, but I have more than enough variety to choose from when my husband and I make the trip out to the Parkesdale Market.

    Lately, I've been seeing lots of pickling cucumbers gracing the market.  These are some of my favorite cucumbers for their super-crisp texture, thin skin and mild flavor and I like to stock up on them this time of the year, both for salads and for homemade pickles.  Pickling cucumbers are also called "Kirby" or "Liberty" and you'll recognize them from their bumpy exterior and small size.

    The great thing about homemade pickles is that they are completely customizable.  Add more or less garlic depending on your preference (I like lots of garlic!), decrease the amount of sugar if you don't like any sweetness to your dills, make half into spears and the other half into coins.  It's entirely up to you and you can't really go wrong.

    If you've been hesitant to try home canning in the past due to the specialized equipment required, then this is the recipe for you! You won't need any special equipment besides just a clean glass jar with a lid - that's it - an old pickle jar from the grocery store or a couple of saved peanut butter jars would work fine. These are refrigerator pickles so they must be kept in the refrigerator, not the pantry, and they're ready to eat in as little as 1 day but keep for at least two weeks in the fridge.

    There is nothing better than fresh, homemade pickles to accompany hamburgers or hotdogs hot off the grill, and they're equally as good eaten icy-cold straight out of the refrigerator for a healthy snack.  I hope you give these a try this summer!

     

    Refrigerator Dill Pickles

     

    makes 1 Quart

    adapted from Bobby Flay

    1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

    1/4 cup sugar

    4 teaspoons kosher salt

    1 teaspoon mustard seeds

    1 teaspoon coriander seeds

    3/4 teaspoon dill seeds

    2 cups boiling water

    2 pounds kirby cucumbers (sliced into ~1/4" thick coins, or lengthwise into spears)

    3/4 cup coarsely chopped dill

    4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

     

    special equipment:  one clean, dry 32-oz jar (with a lid), OR two 16-oz jars, OR a large clean plastic resealable container with a lid.

     

    In a large, heatproof bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and dill seeds.  Pour over the boiling water and stir until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved.  Allow to cool fully to room temperature.

    In a separate large bowl, add the cucumbers, chopped dill and the chopped garlic, toss well to ensure even distribution.  Using a ladle or spoon, transfer the cucumbers, dill and garlic evenly into your jar(s), don't over-fill.  Ladle over the brine to nearly fill the jar(s).  Place lids on jars and tighten by hand, store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

  • Guest Post: Fatma's Mediterranean Salad Recipe from The Watering Mouth

    Today, I'm excited to introduce Cheri from the watering mouth!  For yummy, fun recipes go check out her blog!
    First I wanted to say thank you so much Xiomara and Parkesdale Farm Market for asking me to guest blog! I am so honored to be able to do this for you. I am sharing one of my all-time favorite salad recipes that I learned from a friend of mine named Fatma back when I lived in Aurillac, France a few years ago.
    We both worked at an elementary school and quickly became great friends. One night, she invited me over to her apartment to have dinner with her and her two children (my students) and she prepared this amazing meal with this salad as a starter. I find it to have the perfect blend of heartiness balanced with a refreshing coolness. It has been in my repertoire ever since, and I hope you will like it as much as me!
    Fatma's Mediterranean Salad
    INGREDIENTS
    For the salad:
    1/2 medium red onion, diced
    2 English cucumbers, chopped, bite-size
    8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
    7 oz kalamata olives, diced
    3 medium tomatoes, diced
    Directions to make the salad:
    Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
    For the dressing:
    Dijon Mustard
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Directions for the dressing:
    Put several tablespoons of mustard into a bowl. Using a wire whisk, gradually and vigorously stir the olive oil into the mustard until it has become thoroughly combined and emulsified. Adjust ratio to taste. Season to taste.
    Mix the salad portions with the dressing when serving. To store, keep the salad and dressing separate so it doesn't become too soupy (the cucumbers and tomatoes will lose water over time).
    Enjoy!

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