Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fried SPAM Sandwiches

Hands up if you have ever enjoyed a fried SPAM sandwich! Now, don't be thinking this is a 100% Southern delicacy. As child growing up in the 70s in Connecticut, I clearly remember my Mother frying up SPAM and making sandwiches for Saturday lunch.SPAM was introduced in 1937, so somebody is still eating this stuff if it has accrued an over 75-year history. Since I do have a "Redneck Food 'n Fun" link on this blog, I feel obligated to throw out a little something on the Redneck side from time to time. Please be sure to notice the upgrade to toasted wheat bread and the fancy pickle stackers...the sandwiches from my youth were strictly white bread and the little round dill chips. And to think 51 years later I survived and can tell you about it.

One night Andy and I were talking about fried SPAM and shared our memories of eating it as kids. We wondered if you could even buy it anymore. We discussed the little key that you used to roll the metal top away to reveal that not quite ham looking blob of meat. Now, if I get to thinking really, really hard about what something is made of, I just can't get over it and eat it again. So, we tried to dodge that conversation. As naturally curious as I am, I even made myself not look at the ingredients. There are some things that should be left a secret.

A week later I was shopping and saw the familiar blue can with the bright yellow letters (and a safety pull tab lid because people just have no sense anymore). Lo and behold, there were so many varieties I was blown away. I snatched two cans off the shelf and put them away in the pantry for future use. Well, that day arrived and here you go. My opinion...a little too salty but a serious blast from the past!

 Half the fun is getting the can opened and figuring out how to remove the SPAM.
If they feature this on "How It's Made," I believe I'll have to pass.
 Like any canned "ham" product, it's coated with a gelatinous substance, so be sure to rinse that off.
Slice into 1/4" - 3/8" slices.
 Cover the bottom of a skillet with a small amount of oil and carefully fry both sides until the
SPAM has a nicely browned color.
Drain the fried SPAM on a paper towel lined plate.

Toast two slices of bread
Squirt yellow mustard on both sides
Layer a few dill pickles (lay on paper towel to absorb extra pickle juice)
Top with two slices of SPAM

Cheesy Sloppy Joe Bread Bowls

Did you think I was gone forever? I looked back and was mildly surprised to see it had been August since I last posted anything. After sitting behind a computer all day long at work, when it's pretty out, I find it hard to get behind one when I don't have to. As usual, Andy and I have been busy, busy, busy. We've spent a lot of time taking in the sights and sounds of the river and just enjoying a break from the hectic pace of life. We had a big cookout Labor Day Weekend that could have been a washout thanks to a downpour of 5" of rain in a short period of time. Thankfully the soaking suffered the night before was made worth it as the day of the event turned out to be very pleasant. If you could have seen us trying to fit in a catfish/frog-leg fry with our kids and getting the barbecue pit fired up to smoke a bunch of meat the night before; you would have been crying from laughing so hard. Andy and I donned blue ponchos and our adult "kids" were calling us Smurfs as we slogged through the huge pools of water to get to the pit.

I'm still fixing new dishes and have a bunch filed away for future use on my "Food I've Got to Make" Pinterest board. There are several that won't make a second round in our house, but Cheesy Sloppy Joes will. Is this something we fix frequently to begin with? No. But, there are some nights both of us want to fix something quick and easy and this is on the table in no time flat. If you buy frozen fries, even quicker. We think oven baked fries are worth the extra time.

1 lb. ground beef
1 can Sloppy Joe sauce
Round, hard roll of your choice (I chose Kaiser rolls)
Cheese slices
 Brown beef and drain; stir in Sloppy Joe mix.
Slice top of the roll and scoop out bread to create a bowl.
 Top with a slice of cheese and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until cheese melts.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tomatoes and Okra or What you can Make with Bruised Tomatoes

As I sit here wrapped up in a blanket at the first of August....Well, it's not THAT cold, but I do have a chill. I think about the crazy weather we've experienced this summer. There were floods one week, no rain for weeks, tornadoes, sweltering heat and almost record-breaking cold around the 4th of July. The only thing missing was snow and I'm convinced if we got some of that, I wouldn't have been surprised. We would have made a bread and milk run and waited a few hours for it to disappear.

We live just outside of the city limits and the deer have moved in the back yard and helped themselves to the feast my husband has prepared for them. They really loved the asparagus, carrots and lettuce. The blue birds and finches are really enjoying the sunflowers and the marigolds I planted in between the cabbage are incredible! The ones on my patio are dried up and hopeless. This only proves who has the green thumb in the family and it's not me. In spite of all the ups and downs, our garden performed quite decently.After all the mud following the rains, the weeds got a little crazy, but it didn't stop anything from growing.

I've spent many a night and weekend putting up green beans and especially tomatoes. Some years are great and some not so. When I do have a lot of tomatoes, I work really hard to put up all I can because I never know what the next year will hold. When the cold for us weather gets here, I look forward to all the soups, stews and pots of chili these will be a part of.

Yesterday, I was picking through the tomatoes to can and I had a bunch that just weren't going to make the cut. They had a bruise or some other flaw. Andy had also cut some okra. I can't stand to throw away food so he and I started talking about what I could do with them. I looked back over the 400+ recipes on this blog and realized I had never posted my recipe for tomatoes and okra This is so easy but it requires some patience. Why? Peeling tomatoes requires that and a super sharp knife. Other than that, it's a piece of cake. I'm not going to give exact measurements on this one because it's a throw what you have a in a pot recipe. TASTE THE BROTH! That will determine if you need to add additional seasoning to satisfy your taste buds.
 Blanch some chopped okra in a medium saucepan.
 Cook until the color just starts to change. It will finish cooking in a big pot later.
 Pour the okra and the "slime" in to a strainer and rinse several times. Set the strainer on top of your pan and set to the side. Another inch of slime drained off by the time I was ready to use it.
 Drop a half stick of butter in the bottom of a large soup pot. Cover with chopped or sliced onions. These were some of the small onions from this year's garden so I left them in rings. Set to the side.
 I went through probably 30 tomatoes; peeling, trimming out the bad spots and cutting into large chunks. Season with some salt and set to the side.
 Season with salt and pepper and saute until just tender.
 Drop in the tomatoes. Season some more and add Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. Stir well and cover.
 Turn heat to medium low and cook for about 20 minutes or so. The tomatoes will be tender. Taste the broth. Add additional seasonings if needed.
 Drop in the okra and cook uncovered.
 Cook until the okra is tender. Serve as a soup. 
If you have squash or zucchini, they make a wonderful addition!
With the little bit of Creole Seasoning. I had an urge to turn this dish into something with a little more flair. 
I decided to cook some rice for a base to top with tomatoes and okra; added in some boiled shrimp and Andy grilled some garlic bread.