Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
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Grilled Squash Salad

Lately it seems like a lot of my plants are leaving me for the big organic farm in the sky.  I’ve said goodbye to a few tomato plants, three squash plants, and a cucumber.  The only thing looking fat and happy in these ridiculous temperatures are my okra.  Note to self: when it gets so hot that almost nothing will grow, figure out more ways to cook okra.

Despite the untimely demise of half my garden, I have been able to harvest quite a bit of fruit and vegetables.  This past weekend I had a party to go and the squash was piling up on my counter (and I couldn’t imagine turning on my oven to make a pie), so I threw together this quick grilled salad.


I was pleased with how it turned out.  It was light and refreshing with a burst of lemon and some good charred grill flavors.  It’s so rewarding to finally start cooking with what’s growing out back, it makes all the hard work worth it, a thousand times over.

Grilled Squash Salad

2-3 medium size squash, whatever variety you prefer

1 red onion

1 cup chopped cherry, yellow pear, or grape tomatoes

Juice of two lemons

4-6 okra


2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing on the vegetables

Fresh basil and oregano, chopped

This salad is great because it can really be made up of whatever you have on hand.  Slice your squash and okra and brush with oil.  Grill for 2-4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  Remove, chop, and combine with chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, oil and vinegar, salt, and herbs.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.


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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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