Farmers' markets and supermarkets that carry local or regional farm products are selling plenty of squash, zucchini, ears of corn, tomatoes and peppers of all varieties.
From banana peppers to bell peppers and jalapeno peppers, markets have them. From Naomi Coleman of Gulfport, Miss., I learned that banana peppers are great to use for stuffed bell peppers. Not only do these peppers add a little different taste, but they also offer a smaller portion size than do regular bell peppers.
The jalapenos are great in salsas, but I particularly like them in pico de gallo. My daughter and I made cheeseburgers topped with guacamole and pico de gallo last Friday. That was the best burger that I have had in a long time.
Since the pepper crop is good this year, it is a perfect time to make some pepper jelly. My husband returned from our church's men's breakfast talking about the jalapeno jelly that one of the men made. He said it was hot, but good.
Another good cook, Sandy Smith of Gulfport, Miss., makes a pepper jelly that is not quite so hot. She uses a combination of green bell peppers and jalapeno or Serrano peppers, depending on your heat preference or tolerance.
Serranos look like skinny jalapenos, but can pack more heat than a jalapeno because the seeds and ribs are often hard to remove.
If you like foods mildly spicy, go for the jalapeno and remove the seeds and ribs.
I will share Smith's recipe, which appears in Gulfport's Temple Baptist Church's "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice" cookbook.
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped hot green pepper (jalapeno or Serrano)
1- 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
4 ounces pectin (Certo)
4 drops green food coloring
Process green pepper and hot pepper in a food processor until finely minced. Combine pepper mixture, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add pectin and food coloring. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Makes 6 half-pint jars.
-- Submitted by Sandy Smith
Like peppers, fresh corn has been sweet and flavorful this year. My mother, daughter and I love corn any way you can fix it, but my husband likes it best when scraped off the cob in corn maque choux, fried corn or in salads. I found a corn salad from Sunset that can be made with sweet Vidalia onions. It is a make-ahead dish that is better if it sits a day in the refrigerator.
SWEET CORN AND ONION SALAD
1 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups corn kernels (can use frozen)
1/2 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper
In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir chopped onion in oil until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add corn and broth; stir until liquid is evaporated, 8 to 9 minutes. Pour into a bowl and add lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. This can be served warm or cold. Top with a sprinkling of chives and thin slivers of lemon peel for garnish.
-- From Sunset andwww.americanfamily.com/recipes
Last week's squash recipes spurred two more readers to share some of their best squash recipes.
Dee Turner of Lucedale, Miss., and Myra Jones of Bradenton, share two squash recipes one for a squash and shrimp casserole and the other for an easy zucchini side dish.
"In reading your article and seeing the squash recipes, I thought I would share a recipe I made up for squash and shrimp casserole," Turner said.
DEE'S SQUASH AND SHRIMP CASSEROLE
6 squash (approximately)
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 bunch of green onions
1 to 2 stalks celery
Italian bread crumbs
Tony Chachere's seasoning -- to taste
2 teaspoons Nature's Seasons -- or to taste
1/2 to 1 pound shrimp
A little ham for seasoning, chopped (optional)
Slice squash and steam in microwave for a few minutes until softened, but not too soft.
Take onions, bell pepper, celery and shrimp and sauté in skillet with butter or olive oil. Mix all ingredients into a bowl. Add about 1/3 cup of bread crumbs. Then pour into a casserole pan.
Sprinkle top with bread crumbs and place a few pats of butter on top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.
-- Submitted by Dee Turner
"Is it too late for yet another squash recipe?" asked Jones. "This one is the easiest yet. I got it from a friend who owned a restaurant in western North Carolina, and he grew a lot of the vegetables that appeared on the menu, including the squash in this recipe."
Slice some raw rather large zucchini, pretty thick.
Lay slices on a baking sheet.
Spread with mayonnaise (can be low fat).
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle with paprika and/or seasoned salt, if desired.
Put under the broiler until mayonnaise is bubbling and a bit browned. Serve. Accept graciously the compliments.
-- Submitted by Myra Jones
More sweet potatoes
As promised, here is a recipe for a sweet potato dip from Brenda Plaisance of St. Martin, Miss. Aussie Lynette Faul recently asked for sweet potato recipes.
SWEET POTATO DIP
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1-1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
2 packages (6 ounces each) Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals Cracker Chips, any variety
Place potatoes into 3-quart saucepan and add water to cover. Heat over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes in a colander. Peel potatoes. Return potatoes to saucepan. Mash potatoes.
Stir together potatoes, syrup, butter, lemon juice, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper and 3 tablespoons pecans in medium bowl. Sprinkle with remaining pecans. Serve with cracker chips for dipping.
For a savory twist, omit ginger and nutmeg. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and garlic powder and 2 green onions, minced.
-- Submitted by Brenda Plaisance from www.campbellskitchen.com.
Wanted: molasses cake recipe
"My mother used to make the greatest molasses cake. She'd use a big baking pan and never put any icing or powdered sugar or anything extra on it, just cake. Before the night was over, the whole cake was gone, and that was a lot of cake. It was heavenly," said Georgia Nagorka. "I never asked her for the recipe and never watched her make it. By the time I thought to ask her when my kids were small, she hadn't made it in years and had forgotten the recipe. Do you know of any old-time molasses cake recipes? I would dearly, dearly love to find one like the way she used to make it."
Readers, can you help? I know some of you have molasses cake recipes, especially those that may produce their own syrup.
Andrea Yeager, a freelance writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send contributions or requests to Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.