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Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Pickled Watermelon Rinds is an extremely old Southern mountain recipe. There used to be a time when people could not spare to waste anything so they would make more out of what they had. After all Southerners sure loved their pickles. The watermelon would be ate, the seeds would be saved for growing watermelons next year and the rinds well they would be pickled. But most definitely its an old recipe that everyone should try at least once. I am not much of a pickler that being said I have yet to pickle anything so if your comfortable then please do so the right way and you will not have to refrigerate like I have. Let your pickles sit for awhile before you eat them.

6 cups cubed watermelon rind
3/4 cup salt
12 cups water plus more for brine
2 cups sugar
1 cup white vinegar
20 whole cloves
3 large cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

1. Remove pink flesh from rind. In a large bowl add rind, add salt and cover with water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into refrigerator over night.

2. Drain; rinse. In a large saucepan on high heat add watermelon with 12 cups water and bring to a full boil; continue cooking until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

3. In the same large saucepan on high heat add sugar, vinegar, water cinnamon and allspice. Boil 5 minutes. In a large bowl add watermelon and pour hot liquid on top with lemon slices. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

4. In a large sauce pan on high heat add watermelon with syrup. Bring to a full boil; reduce heat to medium-high for one hour. Pack the hot watermelon pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars.Cover with boiling syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if needed. Tightly add lids. Leave jars out over night not moving.

5. Place pickles into refrigerator and allow to sit for awhile.

Yields: 2 jars

Italian Tomato Sauce

So what do you think about the new look around here? I wanted something a bit more simple and warm and I feel like I really achieved that. The previous image I had of an illustration that was similar to me cost $50 and I got all 3 of these images (header, sidebar icon and footer) for less than $5. I found this awesome new stock site called YAY. You should check it out if your looking for some nice images. And if any of you want your own custom design go on over to So Sweet Designs which is my design business. Yes, I am a graphic designer with a passion for food my friends.

Now lets get on to this beautiful red sauce that has brought you here. What better way to use up those extra tomatoes then make an enticing sauce that you can have for more then one meal and recipe. Most cooks will have all of these ingredients on hand. If not they are easy to obtain. I always save all of my glass jars for projects just like this. If you do not you really should start they are so useful. If you leave the one inch space between your sauce and lid you do not have to worry about the glass bursting as the liquid freezes and expands. Just thaw your sauce out when you want to use it.

15 tomatoes, quartered
3/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
5 garlic gloves, smashed
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a 6-quart pan on medium add olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook until onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, sugar, oregano, thyme, basil and water, mix well. Carefully add tomatoes. Raise heat to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for 3 hours.

2. Stick a hand blender into pot and mix until sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper. Pour sauce into glass jars leaving a one inch space at least between sauce and lid. Close lid tightly. Continue filling jars until all of sauce has finished. Place jars aside until cool.

3. Place jars into freezer unless you plan to use the sauce quickly. If so place jars into refrigerator.

Yields: 4-6 jars

How to make perfect Bread

I have been wanting to make this post for quite sometime and just never got around to it. I am in the process of baking today and thought again about this post so here it finally is. One thing that I am pretty good at is baking. Even my mother in law who is one of the best cooks I have known asked me to teach her how to make bread like mine. What a compliment right? I hope that my tips help each one of you achieve the perfect bread from now on.

How much yeast to use? The general yeast rule is 1 tablespoon per 3-1/2 cups of flour. You can use less yeast (I have) but the rise will be a bit lower.

Proofing Yeast: surprisingly hardly anyone seems to do this. This is one of the main things I get questioned on. Just because you have yeast it does not mean its alive. You should always keep your yeast stored in the fridge. To make sure your yeast is alive add the amount you will be using in a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of warm water, do not use hot that will kill it and do not use cold it will not activate. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar so it has something to eat. Wait for 5 minutes and you should see foam, that means its alive. If not throw that yeast out and buy some more. You should do this every time you use yeast. Just add the mixture to your recipe as usual.

How to get the perfect dough? I hear so many people say that every time they make bread the dough is way to sticky. You should never add the entire liquid amount that the recipe calls for. This saves a lot of time. What I do is add all the dry ingredients then I add the liquid a bit at a time until I get the perfect consistency. Some recipes may work perfect for others but the same amount just may not work for you. You may end up using less or more liquid.

Dough Rising: A lot of things effect the rise of your dough. After you roll your dough into a ball you should pat the outside (do not work in) with oil so that the dough is not hard to work with after the rise. I use sunflower oil. You HAVE to place the dough somewhere warm. Do not use a glass or steel bowl they are cold and the dough may not rise. I use a plastic mixing bowl. I then place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a towel. Take the bowl anywhere in the house that is really warm. For me that is the front foyer and the hottest place in the house. I always just sit the bowl down and go about my business. I have yet to be disappointed. The idea temperature is 70-75.

Kneading: Some breads call for it others do not. Try to follow the directions when it comes to the kneading. Some people use mixers or food processors but honestly my favorite tools are my hands.

How to get moist breads and cakes? I always fill a cake pan to the top with water and sit in on the bottom oven rack. This creates a moist environment for the bread or cake to bake in which results in a really delicious piece when your finished.

How do I know if its done? Nothing works better then the old fashion toothpick test. You should always have them on hand. Anytime you want to check a baked good insert a toothpick into the thickest part. It it comes out wet stick it back in the oven. It not then its finished.

I hope my baking tips work for you let me know if you try any.

Prepping Vegetables

I love taking a day when I have some free time and prepping my vegetables for later usage. I always wash, dry and then slice and dice away. I slices carrots, dice onions, chop scallions, chop bell peppers, make ginger paste and cut the stems off chili’s. I individually wrap each one in a 1 quart freezer bag. Make sure you get most of the air out of the bag so they do not get freezer burn. I label mine but I personally do not date them because I use them so frequently. If you will not then you should date them.

Prepping your vegetables saves so much time, you would not believe it. We all have days were not in the mood to cook or were just in a hurry. Regardless of what your reason is this is a great method for any cook. The vegetables stay fresh and full of nutrients as well. I just grab some frozen and throw it in the pan I am cooking in and there you go fresh vegetables in no time.