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Pickled Green Beans, AKA “Dilly Beans”

Dilly Beans (I left out the optional red pepper flakes.)

Dilly Beans (I left out the optional red pepper flakes.)

I didn’t take a bunch of “process” photos, but I made 2 pint jars of pickled green beans, AKA “Dilly Beans”. I think Dilly Beans sounds kind of silly…although, it is quicker to say than pickled green beans. Anyway, I decided to give this recipe a try, because I got some green beans on sale and they looked pretty good. Plus, I have some dill in my garden that needed trimming back. I didn’t measure my beans, but I’m assuming it was a maybe a pound to a pound and a half?

Dilly Beans

Fresh green beans, trimmed both ends. Enough to firmly pack (2) pint jars.

1/8 c. kosher or pickling salt

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled, lightly crushed

2 fresh dill heads/fronds

1 t. mustard seeds

(optional: pinch of red pepper flakes per jar)

1-1/2 c. white vinegar

3/4 c. water

Directions

Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and mustard seeds in a small, non-reactive sauce pan (like stainless steel). Bring to a boil and reserve, keeping hot. Prepare a water bath canner with enough water to cover jars by an inch or two. Prepare two pint jars, lids, and screw rings. Divide the garlic, dill, and red pepper flakes (if using) between the two jars. Trim the green beans to fit the jars vertically, leaving 1/2 to 1/4 inch space from jar’s rim. Pack the jar tightly, so the green beans won’t float.

Ladle the hot brine over the beans, trying to distribute the mustard seeds evenly. Bring the brine up to 1/4″ below the jar’s rim and covering the beans. Use a skewer or a knife to make sure there are no trapped air bubbles and add more brine, if necessary. Using a paper towel or clean cloth, wipe the threads and rim. Place a prepared lid on each jar and install the screw ring to “finger tight”. Add to boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes. Leave jars in the hot water, off heat for another 5 minutes. Remove to a kitchen towel on a counter top and leave for 24 hours. When cool enough to touch, tighten lids. If lids do not “pop” to indicate seal, store in refrigerator. If properly sealed, remove the rings and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use. (I would wait at least 2 weeks and maybe a month before opening.)

I had a little leftover brine and the bean ends that I trimmed to make the beans fit the jars, so I put them in a plastic container and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes, then I popped them in the fridge. I’ll have them as a snack in a few days.

 

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Is That Carton of Eggs Almost Out of Date?

 

Pickled eggs. Cue the banjoes.

Pickled eggs. Seriously.

Do you have a carton of eggs in your refrigerator? What’s the expiration date on them? If you’re within a few days and have no immediate plans to use them, what should you do? Pickle them! That’s right. Pickle them. I know, you’ve been in that little country store…dueling banjos playing in the background…and there’s a big  jar of pickled eggs on the counter. Right next to the jar of pickled pig’s feet. Have you ever seen anybody purchase either? Somebody has to be eating them, right?!  Well, I don’t know about the trotters, but let’s talk  eggs.

Eggs that are closer to their expiration are actually better candidates for boiling than fresh eggs. It’s a food science and chemistry thing. But if you boil a dozen eggs, are you going to use them before they go bad anyway? I don’t know…if you love boiled eggs or have a big party and plan on making deviled eggs, then maybe. If not, consider pickling them. Here’s the deal: a pickled egg practically lasts forever. The amazing thing is that the yolk stays practically pristine. The white eventually gets a different texture…less tender, more springy…and they pick up a little of the flavor from the pickling brine.

If you have several eggs, you can leave a few in the shell and refrigerated for eating or using in recipes in the next week. Whatever you anticipate will not be used that quickly can be shelled and pickled. Yes, you can eat a pickled egg, as is; however, you can use them in just about any recipe calling for hardboiled eggs. My favorites are tuna and chicken salads.

First, boil the eggs. My preferred method is to place the eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water just to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set a timer for 13 minutes. When the time is up, remove the eggs from the hot water with a slotted spoon or strainer amd submerge them in a bowl of ice water. When thoroughly chilled, refrigerate;  or peel and pickle.

For the pickling, have a clean quart sized canning jar ready with a lid and screw ring. In a pot on the stove, add 1-1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, a couple of garlic cloves, a pinch of red pepper flakes, dry dillweed, and dill seeds. You could use a fresh frond or two of dill, instead of the dry dillweed, if you like.bring everything to a boil and remove from heat and allow to cool.  Pour the brine and herbs/spices into the canning jar.  Drop the hardboiled eggs into the brine…you can fit up to about 10 large eggs in a quart jar. Put the lid in place and screw the threaded ring down to seal. Place jar in the refrigerator and store pretty much indefinitely. If you haven’t used them in, like, a year, you could toss them, if you’re concerned. I doubt that will happen, though. They’re so convenient!

To use in a tuna or chicken salad, I cut an egg in half and remove the yolk. I crumble the yolk with the tuna or chicken. I then chop the white and throw it in. Add a tablespoon each of dill pickle relish or salad cubes and finely diced celery. Add a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise (I like Duke’s!) and a pinch of salt and pepper. From there, you can be creative and add a little curry powder, some halved, seedless grapes, some toasted or candied pecans…whatever. Or, you could just cut an egg in half..salt, pepper, and eat! Enjoy!

 

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Eastern North Carolina Style Cole Slaw by Bob Garner

Classic BBQ Sandwich and chips.

Classic BBQ Sandwich and chips.

Growing up in the heart of North Carolina, I was exposed to a lot of pork barbecue. Everybody has their own way of doing it and everyone has their own sauce. But there’s another necessary componant: cole slaw. Whether you’re eating your BBQ on a bun or as a “plate” with hushpuppies or corn bread, you have to have slaw. And there’s about as many recipes for slaw as there are for BBQ sauce. And I’m picky about mine. Oh, I’ll eat some kinds of slaw as a side dish. I’ve even had a pineapple-cole slaw that I liked. But if I’m eating it with or on pork BBQ…or on a hotdog  or with fried fish, for that matter, the recipe that follows is what I want! This recipe comes from a well known authority on North Carolina BBQ and it is spot on! I basically eyeballed my ingredients to make a half batch, because I’m not making it for a crowd. I wound up with enough to fill a two pound deli container. I also used dill pickle cubes instead of sweet, because I don’t keep sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish on hand. It’s still good, though, just not quite as sweet. Enjoy!  

Eastern North Carolina Coleslaw  by Bob Garner 

Half a head of cabbage, cut into pieces.

Half a head of cabbage, cut into pieces.

Bob says:This is my wife Ruthie’s recipe, and it’s typical of the coleslaw that’s served at pig pickings and fish fries along the Roanoke River in Halifax and Martin counties.“

Ingredients

1 medium-size, firm head of cabbage

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/3 cup mustard

3/4 cup sweet pickle cubes

2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cole slaw dressing.

Cole slaw dressing.

Keep cabbage refrigerated until ready to use, and do not allow it to reach room temperature once you begin. Remove outer leaves and core from cabbage. Cut head in half and grate fine, using food processor or hand grater. (I used the “s” blade and pulsed in the processor.) In large bowl, combine cabbage, mayonnaise, mustard, sweet pickle cubes, vinegar, sugar and seasonings. Mix thoroughly and chill for one hour before serving.

On a bun with pulled pork BBQ and some sauce.

On a bun with pulled pork BBQ and some sauce.

Combined dressing with chopped cabbage.

Combined dressing with chopped cabbage.

Makes 20 servings

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Pickled Hard Boiled Eggs…No, Wait! Where are You Going!?

Pickled Eggs. Oh, C'mon. Don't be afraid!

Pickled Eggs. Oh, C’mon. Don’t be afraid!

I started doing this awhile back, mainly because I was told that my father in-law liked pickled eggs.  The thing is, I realized that they are actually pretty good! I’m kind of picky though…I don’t just munch into one. I slice them in half and put a little salt and fresh pepper on them. Amazingly, months after you pickle them, the yolks are still like they are from a freshly boiled egg. The texture of the whites gets denser and takes on the pickle flavor, but not a very strong one.

I like having pickled eggs on hand for making a quick tuna or chicken salad, too! Easy. Throw in some mayo, finely chopped celery and/or pickles (sweet or dill), a squirt of mustard, capers, onions, whatever you like…boom!

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

Some possible tuna (or chicken) salad ingredients

Some possible tuna (or chicken) salad ingredients

Now, I have gotten into canning over the last couple of years and I have some of my own pickles that run low and I refill those jars…I can even combine jars, if I need more brine in one. I have used pickled beet brine as well. It adds a distinct color and earthy sweetness. If you add a little beet brine to regular dill brine, you’ll get a lighter color and sweetness. If you aren’t canning, though, don’t worry. You can use commercial pickle juices, just as well.

This egg came from a batch with a small amount of beet brine. Look at how fresh the yolk looks!

This egg came from a batch with a small amount of beet brine. Look at how fresh the yolk looks!

This is a great way to salvage eggs that are approaching or just past their freshness dates. (Boiling works better with older eggs, rather than fresh!) Cover with cold water, add a tablespoon white vinegar and a teaspoon baking soda and bring to a slow boil. Remove from heat, cover and set a timer for 13 minutes. When time is up, drain and transfer to an ice bath to halt the cooking. Peel under some warm running water and drop peeled eggs into the pickling brine. Refrigerate practically indefinitely.

By the way, remember my blog awhile back about buying eggs already boiled and peeled, for deviled eggs, at the grocery store? Don’t want to boil and peel eggs, but want to try pickling some eggs? Did I say “Boom!” already?

No, really! They're good!

No, really! They’re good!

So, I may be picky about how I eat my pickled eggs, but don’t let me stop you if you want to just bite into a whole one…enjoy!!!

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How About Some Easy Deviled Eggs?

Easy Deviled Eggs

Easy Deviled Eggs

Here’s an easy recipe for some great deviled eggs. I’m not usually a fan, myself; however, even I like these! These have a little kick, but are pretty traditional. The fun thing is that you can personalize deviled eggs with all kinds of variations, from anchovy to Sriracha…from different mustards to truffles. The thing that makes these so easy is that you can buy eggs in the grocery store that are already boiled and shelled. I know, right!? But bear with me! I was reluctant for a long time too; but I finally tried some and they are great and very consistent. Different stores may carry different brands. Not a problem! I’ve tried a couple and all were good. Cooking and shelling the eggs is the real pain in the butt! The rest is pretty easy. Just watch the expiration date!

No, really! They're good!

No, really! They’re good!

Easy Deviled Eggs

Ingredients for Easy Deviled Eggs

Ingredients for Easy Deviled Eggs

18 Eggs, hardboiled, peeled and chilled

1 t. Coleman’s English Mustard (powder)

4 T. Dill Pickle Relish

1/4 c. mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)

1 t. Yellow Mustard

1 t. Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Directions

Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks to a mixing bowl. Place the whites on a serving platter. Use a fork to smash the yolks and stir until evenly broken up and fluffy.

Fork-fluffed yolks

Fork-fluffed yolks

Stir in the Coleman’s English Mustard to distribute evenly throughout the yolks. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well blended.

Fill the whites

Fill the whites

Fill the whites with the yolk mixture and chill until ready to serve. You can use a very small (#60 to #80) disher (food/ice cream scoop), spoons or a pastry bag with a tip big enough not to be blocked by the size of the pickle relish. Sprinkle with a dusting of paprika to garnish just before serving, if desired. I’m thinking that these would be great at a New Year’s Day brunch with roughly chopped capers in place of the pickle relish, a thin slice of lox on top with a touch of sour cream and a little sprig of fresh dill! What’s your variation? Enjoy!

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