Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
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Pickled Tomatoes

I love pickles. Pickled okra, pickled cucumber, pickled onions, pickled squash, pickled tomatoes, pickled peppers, pickled you name it. Year round they are my go to hit-the-spot salty treat. I can’t imagine a world without pickles. This summer I planted five or six yellow pear tomato plants. Unfortunately, two of the ones planted in our backyard garden have already died because of the record high temperatures and others are looking pathetic. At the community garden, however, it’s a different story. Two have merged to form a giant mega tomato bush. It’s at least 5 feet in diameter and has overtaken three or four other plants. It has literally hundreds of tomatoes growing on it and I could not be happier. It’s my mega-mater. I’ve named him Ernest.

Since we’re drowning in tiny yellow tomatoes I decided do some small batch pickling. Two or three jars at a time I’m throwing these suckers in a spicy vinegar bath to stew until sometime midwinter when I’m sick of potatoes and all I want in my life is a burst of tomatoey goodness.

*If you’re a Baltimorean and around this weekend you should come see Fluid Movement perform at Patterson Park. I’m in the Boom Boom Room, come find me after the show!

Pickled Tomatoes

*This recipe will work for small ripe tomatoes such as these or any variety of green tomato

Enough tomatoes to fill all your jars

6 pint sized canning jars with lids and bands

3 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 cups water

6 tbsp red pepper flakes

12 cloves garlic

2 tbsp salt

6 tsps whole mustard seeds

6 tsps whole cumin seeds

1 jalapeño, sliced

Begin by sterilizing your jars. About an hour before you want to can fill two large pots with water. I recommend that you have some canning equipment, at the very least a large pot with a rack and a pair of tongs. You’ll need a separate pot for sterilizing your jars and lids. Bring both pots of water to a boil. In one pot (the one without a lid) place your jars and the lids (not the screw bands). Allow them to boil for at least 10 minutes, but keep them in the pot until right before you fill them.

In a non reactive sauce pan heat vinegar, water, and salt.

Rinse the tomatoes. In each sterilized jar, place two cloves of garlic, one slice of jalapeño, 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, and as many tomatoes as you can pack in tightly. Ladle vinegar mixture into each jar, leaving about 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rim down, place a clean lid on each jar, and screw band on tightly. Process in your large pot (with rack) for 10 minutes. Remove from water, give the band another squeeze, and allow to sit. Once the jars have sealed (you’ll know if you can’t pop the lid up and down), set them in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks. They will stay for up to a year.

**As with any preservation process, there are risks. If you notice anything abnormal, discard the pickles immediately. Botulism is no fun.**

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Iced Black Coffee

Last night, as I was trying to work up the energy to brush  my teeth and go to bed, I was looking at the pictures I’ve posted recently on flickr.  As it turns out, most of them are of iced coffee.  I decided I might have a problem.

In addition to mango smoothies I am drinking a copious amount of iced coffee these days.  Homebrewed, black, very strong iced coffee with coffee ice cubes.  I’m addicted.  It might be the only thing getting me through the day lately.  Between practicing for the water ballet, my attempt to be a runner (again), and a crazy work schedule, I’m beat.

And this stuff?  It’s liquid gold.

Iced Black Coffee

The thing about iced coffee is that you can’t just brew coffee and then chill it.  Coffee that has been heated and then chilled gets bitter, which ruins the delicious coffee flavor.  So for iced coffee you need to steep the coffee at room temperature.

3 cups coffee grinds

6-7 cups of water

1 cup of water, to be added later


In a large bowl (I like to use my 8 cup pyrex measuring cup that has a lid) combine water and grinds.  Stir and cover.  Let sit overnight.

Strain coffee mixture through a fine mesh strainer that has been lined with cheesecloth.  Add another cup or two of water to dilute to your taste.  Chill.

Coffee Ice Cubes

Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup coffee.  Free in ice cube tray.  Use to chill your coffee without diluting.

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Watermelon Vodka Tonic

watermelon vodka 1

Internet, today is my 25th birthday. I can now rent a car, I am officially in my mid-twenties, and there’s a little bit bigger gap in age between myself and our slew of summer interns. Or at least, so it feels. I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for a while, and I am so excited it is finally here.

As far as gifts, this has been a great birthday season (as a July birthday I tend to celebrate all. summer. long. It drives Dan insane). In May, Dan surprised me with the most adorable clutch from North Carolina native Holly Aiken. Then, in June I got my birthday tattoo. And then in July I put the money I’ve been squirreling away, plus some birthday money, plus some surprise refund money towards a new iPad! My dear friend Dana and her sweet guy Emerson surprised me with one of her adorably unique plush folkies, Leo. Not to mention the bagel sandwich I treated myself to this morning. Best birthday ever, in my opinion.

Tonight should be exciting, too. My coworker Rachael and I applied for a grant a while back to start a series of young adult programs at the Museum, and that series kicks off tonight. We’ll be eating falafel, listening to live music, and the (amazing) artist, Loring Cornish, will be giving tours of his exhibition. All in all, it’s shaping up to be an incredible birthday. Unless it rains or nobody comes, in which case, MORE FALAFEL FOR ME! All in all, this summer so far has been wonderful. Dan and I are loving our jobs, loving our home, loving our garden, loving our life. We’ve been surrounded by friends and family, there hasn’t been a moment that I don’t feel so fortunate and so loved. Toast with me, if you will, to this wonderful summer.

P.S. All I’m toasting with are these watermelon vodka tonics. They’re amazing. Refreshing, light, delicious, and oh so summery.

Watermelon Vodka Tonics

1 medium size watermelon
1 750 ml bottle of vodka

Slice your watermelon. Place in a large sealed container or multiple zipped plastic bags. Pour vodka over the watermelon so that it is partially submerged. Let sit 24-48 hours in fridge.

Remove the watermelon, place in a separate container or serve. Pour liquid into an air-tight bottle. For a stronger drink, add more vodka to taste. Chill.

Mix 1 part watermelon vodka to two parts tonic. Serve.

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