Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers did not believe in wasting food.
They turned leftover pot roast and potatoes into an awesome hash, and the vegetables and fruits from the summer garden that were not eaten immediately were put up in jars. Even watermelon rinds found their way into pickles and preserves.
Peggy Crawfords request for watermelon rind preserves stirred up memories for several readers. My phone started ringing bright and early last Wednesday.
I was thrilled to see someone else in search of the watermelon rind preserve recipe. My mother made lots and lots of this, and we had to eat tons of watermelon in order to have enough rind for the preserves, said Cissy Jordan. Her preserves were cut in cubes almost as thick as they were high with just a hint of the red flesh showing. Of course, the outer skin was removed. It had a great clove-allspice taste and was very sweet. Served cold the preserves were a great accompaniment to meat dishes as well as a stand-alone condiment to serve at parties.
When I had Lagniappe Restaurant, I could buy this preserve in large No. 10 cans and while more expensive than most garnishes, it made a great addition to any plate, Jordan said. But no longer, I cant seem to find either the old recipe or the actual preserves. I hope one of your readers can come up with the original way to make this tasty treat from yesterday. It would be worth having to eat the watermelon to get to those preserves, eventually.
Well, Jordan, readers have granted yours and Crawfords wishes.
Heres a recipe from my mothers southern recipe collection. I can still see her along with my grandmother sitting on the back porch, peeling watermelon rinds, said Phoebe Harper of Bradenton.
Watermelon rind preserves
q 2 pounds watermelon rind
q 1 tablespoon cinnamon
q 1 teaspoon whole cloves
q 1 teaspoon whole allspice
q 2 pounds sugar
q 1 pint vinegar
q 1 pint water
q 1 lemon, sliced thin
n Soak the watermelon rind overnight in salt water (1/4 cup salt to a quart of water).
n Drain off the brine, and cook the watermelon rind in clear water until tender. Drain.
n Tie the spices in a cheesecloth bag.
n Make a hot pickling solution of sugar, vinegar and water; add the spice bag.
n Add the drained rind and boil rapidly until the rind becomes clear.
n Fill sterilized jars with the pickled rind and seal. Label and date your jars.
n Makes about 2 pints.
-- Submitted by Phoebe Harper
I never tasted any watermelon rind pickles that tasted like my mothers, said Mary Beasley. I found her recipe in The Priscilla Cookbook, which was published in 1929.
Watermelon rind pickles
q 3 pounds watermelon
q 5 cups sugar
q 2 cups vinegar
q 1 cup water
q 1 stick cinnamon
q 1 tablespoon whole cloves
q 1 tablespoons whole allspice
q 1 lemon
q Lemon makes the difference.
n Prepare watermelon rind and removing green skin and pink pulp and cutting it in small pieces.
n Let stand overnight in salt water (2 tablespoons salt to 1 quart water) Drain.
n Cover with fresh water and boil until tender.
n Mix sugar, vinegar and water. Add spices in cheesecloth bag and the lemon slice.
n Boil 5 minutes.
n Add watermelon and cook until transparent.
n Turn into clean hot clean jars and seal, first removing the spice bag.
-- Submitted by Mary Beasley
I used to have several recipes for watermelon preserves, but this is my favorite, said Gretchen Edgren. You can adjust quantities proportionately if you have more rinds or fewer.
Watermelon rind preserves
n Select melons with thick rinds. Peel off all the green portion and cut the white part into small cubes. Soak overnight in mild salt water (1/2 tablespoon salt to 1 gallon water). Remove from salt water and cook in clear water about 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well.
n For each 4 pounds of rind, make a syrup of 9 cups sugar, 8 cups water, 1 sliced lemon, 1-2 sticks cinnamon and 4 teaspoons of cloves (the spices should be tied in a cheesecloth bag). Boil syrup and spices for 5 minutes before adding the rinds.
n Cook until the rinds are transparent, remove the spice bag, pour into sterile jars and seal. These pickles improve with age and will be thicker and tastier after several months.
-- Submitted by Gretchen Edgren
Found: orange chicken
Several weeks ago Louise Blanton of Gulfport, Miss., asked for an orange chicken recipe similar to the ones served in Chinese restaurants. Two readers have recipes for her to try.
Mary Wong of Las Vegas shared her recipe and added that her uncle once owned a restaurant in Hawaii.
Restaurant-style Orange Chicken
q 1-1/2 cups water
q 2 tablespoons orange juice
q 1/4 cup lemon juice
q 1/3 cup rice vinegar
q 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
q 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
q 1 cup packed brown sugar
q 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
q 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
q 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
q 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
q 3 tablespoons cornstarch
q 2 tablespoons water
q 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
q 1 cup all-purpose flour
q 1/4 teaspoon salt
q 1/4 teaspoon pepper
q 3 tablespoons olive oil
n Pour 1-1/2 cups water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, chopped onion and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil to melt the sugar. Immediately remove from heat, and cool 10 to 15 minutes.
n Place the chicken pieces into a resealable plastic bag. When contents of saucepan have cooled, pour 1 cup of sauce into bag. Reserve the remaining sauce. Seal the bag, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
n When ready to cook: In another resealable plastic bag, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Remove chicken from marinade and add the marinated chicken pieces, seal the bag, and shake to coat. (Discard marinade) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken into the skillet, and brown on both sides. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, and cover with aluminum foil.
n Wipe out the skillet, and add the remaining sauce. Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat.
n Mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; stir into the sauce. Reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken pieces, and simmer, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately over cooked/steamed rice. Serves 4. -- Submitted by Mary Wong
Another reader who asked to remain anonymous e-mailed a recipe that she likes to use for orange chicken. Its called Airman Andersons Chicken, and it is taken from Sunny Andersons Cooking for Real show on the Food Network, she said.
Airman Andersons Chicken
q Vegetable oil for frying
q 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
q 2 eggs
q 1/8 to1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
q Salt and freshly ground black pepper
q 1 cup all-purpose flour
q 1/4 cup cornstarch
q 1 orange, zested
q 1-1/2 cups orange juice
q 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
q 6 tablespoons butter
q 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
q 1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
n Line a sheet tray with a wire cooling rack.
n Slice chicken into 2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cayenne, salt and black pepper to taste. In a paper bag, shake together salt, pepper, flour, and cornstarch. Dip the chicken in batches, first in egg mixture, then in the flour mixture and shake to coat. Set on a wire rack and let sit 10 minutes.
n While chicken is resting, prepare sauce. In a large straight-sided saute pan, combine orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, butter, hot pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce.
n Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened 5 to 8 minutes (it takes me longer). Carefully place chicken in hot oil and fry until golden and crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the saute pan with the sauce and toss until evenly coated. Remove to a serving platter and serve on rice.
Cake that makes its own frosting
Annie Hall sent another recipe for a cake that makes its own frosting for Jayne Trahan of Navarre.
Neiman Marcus chocolate cake
q 1 box German chocolate cake mix
q 2 eggs
q 1/2 cup chopped pecans
q 1 teaspoon vanilla flavor
q 1 stick of margarine or butter, at room temperature
n Mix with large spoon. Batter will be very stiff. Press into a buttered 9-by-12-inch dish. Set aside.
q 1 16-ounce box confectioners sugar
q 2 eggs
q 1 teaspoon vanilla flavor
q 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
n Mix above with electric mixer until creamy.
n Pour over bottom layer in dish. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
n Do not overbake or bottom layer will be very dry.
n Cool and serve from pan. -- Submitted by Annie Hall
Fig preserve recipe
A year or two ago, you had a fig preserves recipe in your cooking column and it was from a lady in Long Beach, Miss. I kept it on the side of my fridge since, and now, when my son brings me figs, cannot find it, said Ada Reid of Long Beach. I delved into all my cookbooks and files and tried one, and it was a disaster. As I recall, this recipe that you had was easy and delicious. Would you ask for it again? Figs seem to be plentiful this year.
Readers, send me those fig preserve recipes.
How to preserve mint
Being an Aussie, I love mint sauce on my lamb, peas, etc. and grow my own mint, said Lynette Faul. But, I am not sure how to preserve it. I put some in a sandwich bag with water and then into a freezer bag, and it came out OK albeit a little wimpy. I am doing it now without the water and in a freezer container instead of a bag.
When I make my mint sauce, I freeze it in plastic bottles, so maybe that is the way as the leaves are great in iced mint tea. I am so sad mint does not grow year-round.
Readers, any tips on preserving mint and other herbs? If so, please send them to me.
Madelon Diaz is still looking for a skillet cornbread that is made on top of the stove. If anyone has a good non-stick recipe, please send it to me.
I scream for ice cream
Dont forget to send me those ice cream recipes. I already have some from a Picayune reader, but can always use more. Ill publish all the recipes in next weeks column. After all, July is ice cream month.
On the trail of chow chow
Dora Harrison asked for a chow chow recipe like the one the hot dog vendor at Lowes in Gulfport, Miss., makes every Saturday. I have the vendors name, but shes been on vacation. Ill keep trying.
Mary Triplett of Palmetto, will share her 50-year-old chow chow recipe in next weeks column.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send contributions or requests to Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.