Here’s why I love the South. I had to make an unscheduled trip to the Community Resource Center this morning because I’d forgotten one of our agencies was coming from Cannon County to pick up some lateral filing cabinets. I was a little grouchy about the whole thing, but when I got there these two delightful people were sitting in lawn chairs in the warehouse, patiently waiting for me. They smiled. They shook my hand. And then they said, “We brought you some peach preserves, pickled okra and tomatoes from the garden. Guess we have an organic garden because it’s so far in the woods that the bugs can’t find it so we don’t spray. That’s organic isn’t it?”
These are people I’ve never met before. And here they are with beautiful presents for me. And I know exactly what I’m going to do with my unexpected treasure. The tomatoes will be slow roasted in the oven. The best recipe I’ve ever used is from Saveur. It calls for canned tomatoes, but that’s probably because it was written in February or something. Everybody should have farmstand tomatoes right now, so don’t use anything else (and especially not any from the grocery store – they should be banned).
The pickled okra will become Pickled Okra-Ham Rolls. This is a recipe from my friend, Mimi Richeson. Mimi used to bring them to Friday night feeds at BBQ contests. That’s when everyone gathers for friendship and a few libations before the cooks get busy and don’t want to bother with you anymore. She used to serve them with Blue Margaritas, which I do not recommend (but don’t tell her!). Headache in a bottle is all I’ve got to say about that.
Here’s the recipe:
Pickled Okra-Ham Rolls
1 (16-oz.) jar pickled okra
1 (8-oz.) container whipped cream cheese
½ lb. thinly sliced ham
1. Drain pickled okra, and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Spread about three tablespoons whipped cream cheese on one side of each ham slice, leaving an inch border on all sides. Trim ends off pickled okra. Place two okra, end to end, across one short side of each ham slice; roll up, jelly-roll fashion. Cover and chill ham rolls at least four hours. Slice each ham roll into one-inch pieces before serving.
As to the peach preserves, I might just go simple with those. I’m tempted to make fried pies. This is what they’re supposed to look like. But that isn’t what mine looked like the one time I tried to make them. I used some Yankee recipe, which was a mistake of course. It took me hours to make the dough and then the filling and put them together in little moon shapes and then heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet and gently slip what looked like perfect specimens into the oil. And then I watched the dough DISSOLVE. I mean it just vanished in ten seconds.
But here’s good news for you! Miss Carolyn Armstrong of Nunnelly, Tennessee, will make your fried pies for you! These are exactly the same fried pies I buy every Saturday at the Franklin Farmer’s Market. And here’s the key. According to Miss Carolyn’s website, they are fried in vegetable oil and/or animal fat. And that is exactly what you want. Trust me.