16 November 2016

Homemade Appalachian Pimento Cheese (and a Book Review)

victualsI've spent the last couple of months savoring and drooling over a new cookbook.  Well, to be clear, this publication is part travelogue, part coffee-table style pictorial, and part cookbook.  The short title is Victuals, which, in case you're like me and didn't know, is pronounced like vittles.

The full title is Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes – author being Ronni Lundy.

I recently moved to southern Appalachia, and was excited to get my hands on a copy for many of the same reasons written about in the Introduction:

…[T]he people of the southern Appalachian Mountains have been right about victuals all along.  About the way you say them, the way you raise them, the way you cook them, keep them, and share them.  About saving seeds, and working the land, and simmering pole beans, and making real cornbread.  About the connections between earth and the table, and between the table and the people seated around it.

Chapters include:  Roots and Seeds, Salt of the Earth, Corn, Beans, Apple-achia, Preserving, and Husbandry.  States mentioned and/or profiled include Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina.  The author travels to locations within these states to profile individuals, chefs, restaurants, and small farms and businesses who are keeping the history of southern Appalachia alive with their practices and products.  With words, she weaves history, childhood memories, and present day reality together to paint images of the true story of the southern Appalachian Mountains and their people.  The photographic images placed in between are breathtakingly beautiful, and they, too, tell the story.

Let me not forget the recipes! (I couldn't, if I tried.) Each chapter provides food preparation instructions that have been passed down for generations, and offers new twists on old – even forgotten – classics.  This is not the type of cookbook that can be flipped through in one sitting.  You will be salivating and wiping the drool from your mouth more than once -- maybe even every time you take a peek.

100_8304Recipes range from the simple to the elaborate, yet everything is doable.  I'm going to share here a simple recipe from the book for homemade Pimento Cheese, which is part of the more elaborate recipe for Lisa Donovan's Pimento Cheese Nabs, described as a cracker snack "for every mountain pickup truck driver's glove compartment emergency ration."

All you have to do is mix all the ingredients together well.  It's delicious on a sandwich right away, but if you could let it sit in the refrigerator for some hours or a day, you'd get an even better treat for your taste buds.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 oz. finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz. finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1 (2 oz.) jar pimentos, strained
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp finely grated yellow onion (grater I use
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Pimento Cheese

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More about Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes via Amazon.
More about the author, Ronnie Lundy.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The words and opinions here are all my own.
Shared at Coffee and Conversation, This is How We Roll, Happiness is Homemade, and The Homemaking Party.

30 October 2016

Small Batch Canning in an RV (a Couple of Tips)

Yes You Can!I'm sort of ashamed to admit I did not do any canning this past summer.  Since living in the RV full time, the thought of getting out my big water bath canner, and probably having to use every burner on the stove to really heat that much water properly was a little daunting.  Not to mention, the idea of gas just flying out of my tank made me cringe a bit.

Yesterday, however, I made a pleasant discovery.  Small batch water bath processing was surprisingly a breeze.

Yes, you can can in an RV!

Did you see yesterday's post about crockpot apple butter? If not, you should go check it out.  That recipe and product is what I used for this canning project.

A couple of tips for water bath canning in an RV:

1.  Think deep instead of wide.  A tall stock pot works beautifully.  I have one in storage that measures 8 1/2 inches high (tall, deep) and 9 inches across.  I easily processed 4 half pint jars.  They were the tall slender jars, as opposed to the short fat jars.  I'm confident 3-4 whole pint jars would fit easily.

2.  A wash cloth in the bottom of the pot is enough to keep your jars from sliding about and / or clanking against each other.  No raised wire basket necessary!

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This is the type of half-pint jar I was using.  The quilted jelly jar, I believe it's called.

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Here you can see the small space, and how a more typical water bath canner would take up almost my entire stovetop!
Think deep instead of wide.

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Hopefully use can see the wash cloth in the bottom of the pot.
It's thin enough to not take up too much space, yet does a fine job of keeping the jars stable.

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All done! Four pings before I even got my camera ready.  Yes, you can can in an RV.

I'll save the big batches for the open fire outside, though.  I'll be attempting that next season (I hope).

Shared at Happiness is Homemade, Tasty Tuesdays, and Thrifty Thursday.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs' tails wag.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

From my mountaintop cannery to yours!

29 October 2016

Crockpot Apple Butter – 'Tis the Season!

100_8199There won't be a lot of typing for this post, since I'll be letting the photos do the talking for me…

Folks, now's the time! The apples are at their peak, in both freshness and price, and the fall flavors are calling your name.  If your crockpot doesn't already have a spot on the counter, shove some stuff aside and bring her out.

This apple butter recipe is so stinkin' easy! The crockpot does most of the work.  All you have to do is prepare the apples, watch, stir, and wait.  And, believe me, waiting will be the hardest part.

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Peeling and slicing the apples is a little annoying, I'll admit, but even with just my humble apple wedger and corer, it wasn't too bad.  If you have a peeler-slicer-corer, you are way ahead in the game.  But no matter what you use, the time it takes to get these slices of sweetness in the crockpot is so worth it.

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Just a few autumn spices is all you need to add to your apples.  Cinnamon and nutmeg just scream fall, don't they?

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I highly recommend sitting your slow cooker next to a window with a wondrous view of the fall colors outside.  It adds to the mood the aromatherapy coming from the crockpot creates.

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When it's all done, ladle the thick, dark, sweet goodness into jars.  You can freeze or can them for later.  But don't forget to leave some out for slathering on some biscuits right away! And if you're so inclined, put some back for Christmas gifts.  (Recipe after one more enticing image.)

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Crockpot Apple Butter Recipe
Adapted from recipe at Simply Canning.

100_8219*I used a 5-quart slow cooker, filled to the brim with sliced apples.  Adjust your additives, based on the size of your crockpot.

Ingredients

  • apples – peeled, cored, and sliced (I used fresh from the orchard, Fuji apples; any on the sweet side variety will work)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions

Peel, core, and slice apples – enough to completely fill your crockpot.

Mix together sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a separate bowl.  Pour over top of apples.

Cover and cook on low for 12 – 24 hours.  (I know that's a huge gap in time, but it really depends on how juicy your apples are, and how low your crockpot cooks.) Stir occasionally.  Once the apples have broken down, you can take the lid off or leave it off-center so steam can escape.  Still stir occasionally, but now use a whisk.

As the hours slip by, the apple butter will thicken and become a deep, dark color.  You'll know it's done when any "watery-ness" has been absorbed or escaped.  Turn off heat when the apple butter is at your desired consistency.

[Note:  I know it's tempting to crank the temperature up to high to speed up the cooking process.  But be careful! The apple butter could easily scorch on the bottom, and it most certainly will splatter as it thickens.]

Your apple butter will last about a month in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze it for up to six months, or can it for your pantry with a 10 minute processing time (pints and half-pints) in a boiling water bath.  Just so you have an idea how far it cooks down, my five quarts of sliced apples gave me a little over 6 half-pints of butter.

Shared at Simple Saturdays, Simple & Sweet Fridays, Happiness is Homemade, and Tasty Tuesdays.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs' tails wag.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

From my buttery mountaintop to yours!

27 October 2016

Parmesan Mashed Potato Pancakes (Leftover Makeover)

Use it Up!I like potatoes.  Just about any way you make 'em, I'll probably eat 'em.  But I'm especially partial to Grandma Logue's mashed potatoes.  So smooth and creamy, I can just taste them.

Right now.

Mouth watering as I type.

Her "secret" is evaporated milk.  But try as I might, I never get them quite right.  Consequently, I always make more mashed potatoes than I eat.

Since I know I'm not the only one with this occasional predicament, I'd like to share with you a way to use up those leftover mashed potatoes.  You might call it a leftover makeover.

Parmesan Mashed Potato Pancakes

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Some people eat them for breakfast.  Can't say I blame them.  Sounds good to me.  Tonight I made them to go with our dinner of Italian dressing marinated baked chicken breasts.

I added parmesan cheese, onion, and freshly ground black pepper to our leftover mashed potatoes.  Minutes in the nonstick skillet resulted in a slightly crunchy outside, with a smooth and creamy middle.  The crust reminded me of a tater tot.  YUM!

Recipe for Parmesan Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

100_8206Ingredients

  • 3 cups prepared (leftover) mashed potatoes
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp finely diced yellow onion
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • kosher salt, for sprinkling

Procedure

  1. Combine mashed potatoes, cheese, onion, black pepper, egg, and flour in a large bowl.  Mix together.  (Today, I used a bit over a 1/4 cup of flour.  The consistency of your mashed potatoes will have an impact on the amount of flour used.)
  2. Heat vegetable oil (enough to cover bottom of pan) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Drop mashed potato pancake batter by rounded tablespoonful into pan.  They will spread some on their own, or you can help them out a bit with the spoon.
  4. Fry in batches until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side.  Don't overcrowd the pan, and try not to flip too soon.
  5. Transfer mashed potato pancakes to draining rack, or a paper towel lined plate.  Immediately sprinkle with kosher salt.

Shared at This is How We Roll and Tasty Tuesdays.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs' tails wag.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

From my mountaintop to yours!

09 October 2016

On Strangers (Scripture & a Snapshot)

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This image of Amicalola Falls in north Georgia was actually taken a few years ago.  I was revisiting the computer file for another reason, and thought an early fall photo would be nice.

Scripture is Leviticus 19:33 >> "And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex (or, oppress) him."

I have no interest in getting political.  I just came upon this scripture in a recent morning devotional, and it made an impression:  how different and tolerable this world could be, if we all got "back to the basics."

Shared at Scripture and a Snapshot.

I'm still relatively a stranger to my mountaintop, and thankful it has been welcoming.

28 September 2016

The Humble Apple Wedger & Corer

100_6880Apple season is in full swing in the mountains of north Georgia.  In fact, the Georgia Apple Festival (it's 45th year!) begins in less than two weeks.  I visited Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge yesterday, and found people by the bus load carrying out apples by the bushel.  According to their website, varieties that include Golden and Red Delicious, Mutzu, Rome Beauty, and Granny Smith are currently available.

Personally, I'm anxious to get my first taste of Arkansas Black.  And I'm counting on some  fresh, sweet Fuji apples to go in the planned crock-pot apple butter.  Those should be coming available soon.

Here are a few landscapes of Mercier from about a month ago.  Very pretty place.  Can you imagine all the fruit and produce harvested?

Mercier and More

I've been told, if you do a lot of baking, cooking, and / or canning with apples, the peeler-slicer-corer is a must-have.  The cost doesn't seem prohibitive to me, but I don't consider myself enough of an apple professional to warrant such equipment at this time.

However! My apple wedger and corer thingamabob is useful and awesome.  I was surprised, first, at how heavy it was – not cheaply made at all – and second, the blades are sharp enough to require little muscle.

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It's super easy to use, especially for turning your single apple into an 8-piece snack.  I even like it for prepping the apple for peeling, since I find it pretty simple to take a knife and peel each wedge.  And, of course, separating that core without waste.  Huge plus!

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So where do you fall with apple preparation? Are your knife skills superb and no additional tool is necessary, are you a professional peeler-slicer-corer user, or do you (like me!) find the humble wedger and corer to be a simple, easy-to-use time saver?

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Shout out to Georgia Grinders creamy peanut butter! All natural, hand crafted goodness.

Shared at Wonderful Wednesday and This is How We Roll.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very small commission if you click a link and buy something. This helps pay for the RV, supports our mountain homestead dream of owning land, as well as my blogging activities, and makes the dogs' tails wag.  Hopefully, the purchase benefits you, too!  The price you pay will be no different than if you arrived at the same destination through any other link. My opinions are my own, to be sure. If I link to a product and say I like it -- I truly like it! Thanks for reading, following, and supporting Stephlin's Mountain.

From my apple-ful mountaintop to yours!

14 September 2016

Need More Soil! (Almost Wordless Wednesday)

That's what this field pea seedling was yelling at me this morning.  It's light years ahead of its siblings in growth, for some reason.

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Just look at those roots!

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Shared at This is How We Roll.

From my fall garden to yours!

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