Some favorite seasonal recipes – Tricks and Tips

More Kats’ imitations of Shack sauce recipes

Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The recent column featuring my favorite cornbread recipes prompted Pattie Shinn to share her favorite.

“I have used the recipe on the back of Aunt Jemima’s [now known as Pearl Milling Co.] white cornmeal bag for 60 years,” Shinn writes.

Shinn continues:

“Because of some people’s gluten intolerance, I omitted the flour. I place a scant amount of oil in the bottom of a cast iron skillet (buttermilk has plenty of fat content) and place it in a 450 degree oven while I mix 2 cups white cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 cups buttermilk, and 1 egg (I break the egg into the buttermilk and mix it before I incorporate the liquid into the meal.) which is poured into the hot skillet and baked 25 minutes. I never use baking powder in cornbread because I can taste it. I do have some friends who like sweet cornbread. To me, adding sugar makes it a cake.”

“Here’s another seasonal recipe for Idea Alley,” writes Trish Walters.

“This is a super-easy no-canning sweet pickle recipe I’ve used for some years now with both cucumbers and squash, with great results. Look for Kirby pickling cucumbers at farmers markets, they’re a great choice. For squash, choose small ones to avoid large seeds. Coarse kosher salt is recommended, as regular iodized table salt might cause the brine to be cloudy. For a little spicy heat add a slice of fresh jalapeno to each jar, or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the brine.”

Icebox Bread and Butter Pickles

  • 5 ½ cups (about 1½ pounds) pickling cucumbers OR small yellow squash and/or zucchini squash
  • 1 ½ tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced bell pepper, any color, optional (see note)
  • Brine:
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons whole mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cloves
  • ½ teaspoon whole allspice

Wash and cut cucumbers into ¼ inch slices. For squash, choose small squash and slice a bit thinner than ¼ inch; may have to halve or quarter larger squash and then slice.

In a large glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl, combine cucumbers and salt. Toss to mix well; cover and refrigerate for 1½ hours. Transfer to a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Drain well. Rinse and dry the bowl. Return cucumbers to bowl; mix in onions and bell peppers, if using.

In a medium saucepan combine the brine ingredients. Over medium heat bring to a low simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the hot brine over the cucumber mixture; stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until completely cooled. Pack in clean jars with airtight lids and refrigerate 24 hours before serving. Store refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Makes about 3 pints.

Note: For a little heat, add a slice of green or red jalapeno to each jar.

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An unidentified reader shares this recipe for Fried Sage Leaves for Tracy Cooper. I can’t say if they’re anything like Restaurant Capeo’s, but they sound good.

Fried Sage Leaves

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 5 ounces beer OR sparkling water, well chilled
  • Canola, sunflower or olive oil, for frying
  • About 30 sage leaves

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly stir in the beer (or sparkling water) and mix well. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Heat about two inches of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Dip each sage leaf in batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Working in batches so the leaves are not crowded, add the battered sage leaves to the hot oil; fry until golden brown, puffed and crisp on both sides, turning once or twice.

Drain on paper towels.

Season with more salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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