Roasted Garden Vegetables, Ripe Tomato Relish, Pickled Okra, Peanut Butter Drops

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By Andy Bedwell

The food we Southerners ate as children nourished our souls as well as our bodies. I have fond memories of waking up to the smell of bacon, eggs and grits. There is not anything better than looking forward to fried catfish for dinner with the whole family. While we enjoy the same basic foods today, menus and styles of cooking have changed to accommodate our busy lifestyles and our increased concerns for nutrition. For example, instead of frying the catfish, try grilling it and serving it with a delicious garden salad.

Oven Roasted Garden Vegetables

This recipe is customizable. Use whatever fresh vegetables you like. I like using summer squash, onions, okra, green tomatoes and others.

In a large roasting pan, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Slice into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle a little water on top and mix. Cover the vegetables with self-rising flour and mix well. Throw the vegetables in the oiled pan and place in a 450-degree oven until you can see brown on the bottom of them. Turn over the vegetables using a spa-tula and bake until they are as brown as you prefer. When they are browned, drain on paper towels. Add the amount of salt you prefer.

Andy’s Note: My family loves vegetables served this way. What I love is that it is so easy to prepare and you can feed a crowd.

Ripe Tomato Relish

20 ripe tomatoes

7 hot peppers

4 large onions

2 ½ tablespoons salt

3 cups vinegar

2 cups sugar

Chop vegetables finely. Mix and cook for three hours or until thick. You must simmer on low heat or it will stick on the bottom.

Andy’s Note: After 24 hours, I freeze this relish. When you take this out of the freezer, it is still as red and pretty as the day that it was made.

Elizabeth’s Pickled Okra

2 cloves of garlic

1 hot pepper

2 teaspoons dill seed

3 cups water

3 cups vinegar

1/3 cup canning salt

Let water, vinegar and salt come to a boil. Pour this hot mixture over okra in quart jars and seal. This needs to water bath in the jars for 15 minutes. Use small and tender okra for this recipe.

Andy’s Note: Elizabeth Carter was a good friend of my sweet sister-in-law, Ruth Bedwell. I discussed food and recipes with her for years. Everyone that I have given this pickled okra to have always said it is the best that they have ever eaten. Elizabeth was a great cook and a dear friend.

Peanut Butter Drops

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup margarine

¾ cup flour

½ cup milk

2 ½ cups Rice Krispies

2/3 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, combine sugar, margarine, flour and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients and drop by teaspoon on wax paper and cool.

Andy’s Note: Lou Lee was a wonderful lady and a wonderful cook at Eastside Presbyterian Church. At many of our social events, she brought these wonderful Peanut Butter Drops.

Happy Cooking, Andy

“Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell” can be purchased at Alabama Gift Company in downtown Gadsden and The Messenger on Rainbow Drive.

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