Cooking in the Florida Heat

Cooking in the Florida Heat
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

I often hear from people who say they can't bake, that nothing they ever bake comes out well. If this is you, take a good look at the dates on your ingredients. As a general rule of thumb, flour and baking powder, baking soda and spices etc. have a one or two year shelf life. So if you think it's been in your cupboard longer than that, throw it out and start with fresh ingredients. I make it a point to toss out the old at the beginning of each December so I know it's fresh until next December, just in time for my baking spree!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Putting Up Fresh Vegetables: Hot Pickled Okra

Recently I was given a copy of the Farm to Fork cookbook by Emeril Lagasse. This book is especially dear to me because it came to me at a time when I'm doing just that, buying from local farmers to put on our table, some by way of my pantry.

It's been a goal of mine to feed our family healthy unprocessed food. If any processing is going to happen, I'm going to be the one processing it using only natural ingredients. It just makes sense to me. Besides, I enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Putting Up Fresh Vegetables: Tomatoes

Container Garden
We are blessed to have such a long growing season in Florida. I'm still getting tomatoes and hot peppers from my garden, both my container garden and those in the ground! As the cooler air comes through I know that if I'm going to get some fresh veggies put up, I'd better do it now. Along with my homegrown produce, we purchased other vegetables from the local farmer's market as well. So far, I've washed, blanched, stewed, chopped, peeled, chilled in ice water, vacuum packed, pressure canned, water bathed, pickled or frozen: 35 lbs of tomatoes, 15 lbs of zucchini, 15 lbs of okra and 22 lbs of asparagus. My fingers are wrinkled like prunes and I know I looked a little wild there for a few days!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vanilla Honey

I've lived in Florida since I was eight years old. We grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and as an adult, I moved with my Husband to the Jacksonville area with our two sons. For the first time in a very long time I got to experience a change in seasons. I was so ready for what I consider a real winter, or at least, the closest I'd get to one while living in Florida! Cold air, fireplace burning and trees, lots and lots of trees that had nothing in common with the palm trees I grew up with! I just knew that I'd get a white Christmas! That move was in 1992 just after hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vanilla Velvet, A Pot de Crème ™

Of all the flavors in the world, the scent of vanilla brings hearth and home to me immediately. My earliest memories are of warm sweet food my Grandmother would bake for me from vanilla crepes to homemade blueberry pie. It’s such a versatile flavor. It can be used in everything, sweet and savory alike. It’s the prominent scent in my favorite perfume. The fruit of an orchid plant, vanilla is the second most expensive spice to make because growing vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. So, the next time you pull your bottle of vanilla from your cupboard, pay respect to it by creating a wonderful and aromatic memory to share with those you love.
A Pot de Crème is very rich and thick. This dessert is delicious and elegant, perfect for your Holiday gathering. Enjoy.