I heard about this new gardening idea – it is called the Rain Gutter Grow System (RGGS). Being a real southern farm girl, I love farming and gardening. Once I read about this innovative growing system, I couldn’t wait to start.
Folks in eastern North Carolina love Purple Martins and I am one of those folks. My dad taught me to treasure these special birds. Every spring he watched for his Martins to return. And now I do the same thing.
A Family Squabble
In March, a Purple Martin scout would come and sit on the bird house – these are special houses or gourds. Then in mid-April, if the scout approved of the accommodations, the “family” of Martins would arrive. By this time, you had better have your Martin houses or gourds ready!
The houses must be built to certain specifications – my Martins seem to prefer painted white gourds. They demand a clear flight path and a water source. Of course, they like to have a good supply of bugs. If the Martins arrive early and we have a late freeze, they will suffer because there won’t be any bugs. Click to read more about these spectacular birds.
• 1 large sweet onion or 2 small onions, peeled and chopped
• 4 Tablespoons butter
• 2 cups fresh, tender okra (about a double hand full)
• 6 large ripe tomatoes (or a 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes - canned tomatoes are fine)
• 3-4 ears of fresh, mature corn
• 1 teaspoon sea salt or regular salt
• Pepper, if desired
• ½ cup water
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook chopped onion for a few minutes until transparent, not browned.
While the onions are cooking, blanch the tomatoes for half a minute. Drain and cool tomatoes. Peel, remove the cores and cut into chunks, making sure that you save the juice. If using canned tomatoes, cut the tomatoes into large pieces, saving the juice.
Wash the okra. Cut stem ends off and cut into ½ inch round pieces.
Shuck corn and cut corn off the cob. Older or mature corn works best for this recipe.
Add the tomatoes and juice, okra, corn, salt, pepper and water to the cooked onions. Cook covered over medium to low heart for one hour or until the ingredients are all done.
I have always wanted to write a cookbook that told the stories behind the recipes.
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One time, I took a month off and house-sat for my friends in the Florida Keys. Well, as usual, I was sidetracked with the beauty of the area. I would make a recipe and spend all my time taking photos of the food. I do love to photograph food – it doesn’t whine or wiggle or complain that the picture makes it look fat.
Friend Jody has helped me FINALLY produce a wee digital cookbook that features some of my favorite Southern recipes; we call it Chloe Ann’s Farm Life Recipes. My folks grew up in an area very close to Big Mill B&B called Farm Life, so that seemed like a lovely homage.
While we were pulling this book together I was happy that I took the pictures. I’m guessing all these recipes will hold memories for those of us who grew up in the South.
I hope you enjoy it and I promise there are more to come.
Big kids and little kids like to dig in the dirt. When I was growing up on the farm here in eastern North Carolina, if we dug deep enough we could find a fossil. It was so exciting to get those remnants from the past and to know that right where we were digging was once under water. Click to read more about Fossils and the Fossil Museum in Aurora, NC
½ gallon ripe figs-small figs like Brown Turkey work best. Use figs that have stems
Add the sugar and water to a large cooking pot. Boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Wash figs, do not remove stems.
Add the figs to the sugar syrup – figs will not be totally covered. Bring to a slow boil and boil gently for 45 minutes. Don’t worry about stirring the figs. They will release more juice and then there will be more liquid. They are so fragile it is best not to stir them now, but do keep an eye on them. After 45 minutes remove pot from heat and set aside. Cover pot.
If you feel you must stir the pot, use a wide spatula and gently lift the figs. Remember they are fragile.
Day 2 & 3:
Boil gently until sugar is almost gone, checking often. For me this took several hours so I set the temperature on low.
Gently remove the figs from the pot and place them on the cooling rack set on a large cookie sheet with sides. The figs will drip.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Turn off oven. Place the cooling rack and cookie sheet with the figs in the warm oven. Leave figs for several days to dry. You can keep heating oven again to 200 degrees if needed. I did not dry my figs totally. They are so tough if you do that. I think I like them half dry.
Optional: When figs are dry enough for you, sprinkle them with the extra granulated sugar. They are already sweet but this keeps them from sticking together so much. Store figs in refrigerator in an air-tight container or zip lock bag.
I grabbed my Edible Flower book and wandered around the yard, tasting. I eat whatever is in the yard that I KNOW is edible, including pecans, blackberries, mulberries, blueberries, tomatoes, wild cherries, figs and cucumbers.
No matter what you think about bears, when someone says, “I saw a bear,” you listen.
Bears in North Carolina are usually black with a cinnamon color muzzle
Increasingly, we are beginning to see bears here in eastern North Carolina. They are mostly in the mountains and coastal regions – bears love our coastal pocosin habitat.
In one of the articles I read, eastern North Carolina was said to have the highest Black Bear population of all the states. A 500-pound bear is not at all uncommon and bear biologist, Colleen Olfenbuttel, confirmed that they are seeing “an increased frequency of 700+ pound bears.”