Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tomato jam recipe

tomato jam

One of my favorite guilty pleasures when I was in preschool was ketchup on biscuits. I’m not sure how I got into the habit of doing this, but a bit of that old, strange love lingers on today when I eat barbecue: I won’t put sauce on the meat but I’ll dip those soft, spongy slices of white bread in a bucket of a tomato-based sauce if given the chance.

I realize this isn’t the most sophisticated thing to eat, heck, some of y’all might even say it’s downright gross. Well, fortunately, a reader asked me if I had a recipe for tomato jam. Now, I’d never eaten tomato jam but I'd certainly heard of it. I even have a T-shirt from the Tomato Jam cafĂ© in Asheville, North Carolina that my mom sent to me. (I haven’t been to Asheville but I hear it’s the Austin of North Carolina, which means it’s probably a very cool place.) So when this reader asked me for a recipe, I told her I’d get right on it.

First, I checked my old recipe files to see if any of my grandmas and great-grandmas had directions on how proper tomato jam was done. They didn’t. So before I came up with one, I asked the reader what exactly tomato jam was supposed to taste like. She said it was a wonderful mix of sweet and savory; she ate it on her biscuits while her grandpa spread it on his rye toast.

tomato jam

A sweet and savory tomato spread that isn’t ketchup? I was curious. I started thinking about how I would make my jam, and decided I’d do my usual citrus, sugar and spice blend as I do with my apricot jam.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cantaloupe ice cream

cantaloupe ice cream

I didn’t think I liked cantaloupe.

I know, I know, how can this be? Texas is famous for its cantaloupes, especially Pecos cantaloupes, which hail from this West Texas town situated between Odessa and El Paso.

The soil around Pecos is salty and sandy. And even though cantaloupes aren’t native to Texas, in the early 1900’s farmers started planting them there and they realized that special soil produced especially juicy and sweet fruit. A Texan fruit star was born.


Pecos cantaloupe is in season right now and while they don’t often travel outside the border if you do get your hands on one you’re in for a treat. For a few years, Blue Bell even produced a limited-edition flavor in the late summer called Pecos Cantaloupe ‘N Cream. It hasn’t been made for the past two years, however, and this has made people sad.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Fried pickles

Last week, everyone was talking about fried pickles. Sure, fried pickles are good but why all the sudden interest? Well, apparently a popular TV show about New Jersey beaches (or something like that) had some of its characters eating this Southern delicacy for the very first time.

“Eating fried pickles was a life-changing experience,” said “Jersey Shore” cast member Snooki upon her introduction to said pickles.

Life changing? That’s quite a statement. Now, I enjoy a basket of fried pickles alongside a bowl of buttermilk dressing as much as the next person. But are they a revelation? Let’s take a closer look.

In Texas, we are known for deep frying anything edible. Butter, Coke, bacon, ribs, turkey, lattes, cookie dough, peanut butter sandwiches—all have been dipped in batter and hot oil in the name of making delectable food. Heck, after you’ve had a serving of fried bacon, a fried pickle might even seem rather mundane.

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