Cooking Stuff From the Garden 🌶🥒


So, today I felt like cooking. We recently came back from a weekend at a cabin and a week at camp. We had a bunch of new stuff ready in the garden, and some stuff past ready.

Here are three quick recipes that I posted on Instagram. The Poblano peppers, banana peppers, straightneck squash, and snap beans were grown in our garden.

🥓🧀🌶🍄🍝🥒🌱

Bacon-Wrapped Poblano Peppers

Well, that turned out well. Got some poblano from the garden this week. I mixed some bacon bits, minced garlic, shredded cheddar cheese, and steak seasoning into some cream cheese, cut the peppers in half, stuffed with the peppers with the mixture, sprinkled more cheddar on top, wrapped with bacon, & baked on a sheet pan at 375° for 40 min.

Turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!

Snap Beans with Mushrooms & French Fried Onions

Some fresh snap beans from the garden. Steamed, then tossed in with some sautéed mushrooms, French fried onions, minced garlic, a pinch or 2 of flour & fresh cooked bacon pieces. (Used the leftovers from the peppers.)

Straightneck Squash Parmesan

Had some straightneck squash that grew a bit too big while we were at camp. I had it in my head to prepare it sort of like eggplant parmesean & fried zucchini. I didn’t want the stacked lasagna version, I wanted something with a bit of crunch.

I sliced then up, dredged in flour/cornstarch, egg/buttermilk. & coated in regular & panko breadcrumbs with a bit of parmesan “shake cheese” mixed in. I seasoned each step with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, & black pepper.

I baked them for about 25 or 30 min. on 400°, then topped with provolone & mozzarella slices & a bit more parmesan. They went back in for 10 min.

Served with bowtie pasta & covered in our favorite slightly doctored sauce.

Added the needed flavor to the overgrown squash and I actually preferred the consistency to eggplant.

🥒🧀🌶🥓🧄🍄🌱🍝

All in all, I was really pleased with the results, and I think the family was too.

Do you have some good recipes, tips, & tricks for these garden ingredients?

What do you like to grow and cook?

How to Drink Buttermilk


I’ve been quiet with blogging lately.  I’m not all that busy, and I’m certainly not out of things to ramble on about.  I guess I’ve just been doing other stuff.  I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday & any time with friends, family, or time off of work.  Today. I was inspired to make a post about buttermilk, and thought I’d get it down before I forgot about it.

Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

I like buttermilk.  Occasionally, when at the grocery store… something hits me that says I want buttermilk.  Much to my wife’s dismay, I listen.  Buttermilk is an acquired taste to say the least.  Most people any more seem to see it as a cooking ingredient.  It makes great pancakes, ranch dressing, and mashed potatoes.  It’s a good dredge for breading.  It’s good in many recipes.  But, it’s also a delicious drink.

Generally I prefer Charlie’s Old Time Buttermilk (by Turner’s) or Country Charm Cultured Buttermilk (by Dean’s).  Uncle Charlie’s has the tiny added butter flecks.  If you like things like sour cream, cottage cheese, or stinky cheeses… you may also like buttermilk.  (Maybe if you like yogurt too… but I personally hate yogurt.)  You may like it only after your first couple of tries, like beer or coffee.

No, it’s not higher in fat than regular milk like you’d expect.  It’s good for you.

I don’t remember not liking buttermilk, but there aren’t many of “us” out there.  My parents always drank it, my grandparents drank it.  I was used to it forever I guess.  It’s delicious, and now something I crave like a special treat.  I’ve had people make horrible faces after trying it.  I’ve had people swear at me, and even hit me after letting them try it.  This is how you man up (no offense to ladies, the dairy-allergic, or the lactose intolerant) & drink buttermilk the right way:

  1. Get a nice tall glass.  (I like a nice beer mug or even a really tall weizen or pilsner glass.)
  2. Pour in just enough buttermilk to cover the bottom.
  3. Add salt & pepper to cover a good portion of the top of the buttermilk.  (Paprika like on old-school diner cottage cheese if you’re fancy.)
  4. Pour buttermilk to the top of glass.  Top off with more salt & pepper if desired.
  5. Make the first gulp obnoxiously large.
  6. Make a refreshing “ahhh” sigh.
  7. Enjoy the rest at a relaxed pace.

…or just drink straight from the tiny jug or carton if you’re a barbarian.

Tall glass of buttermilk

Tall glass of buttermilk

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes


This past Christmas when we had the family over for a holiday dinner, I decided to try & make some scalloped potatoes.  I found a ton of recopies online, and took what I liked from some & what I liked from others and put them all together… leaving out the stuff I didn’t like.  They turned out really well, to the compliments of everyone.  The only problem is that I didn’t write down what I did… so I had no idea when I went to make them again for an Easter  dinner yesterday.  Last time, like everyone in the kitchen, I kept adding stuff until the sauce looked & tasted just right.

Friday night, I pulled out the same printed recipes from last time…. made sure we had most of the stuff here & popped what I needed on to the grocery list.  This time I wrote down what went into it, but I may have the portions off… Where I have “cup” or “Tablespoon”, I may have just dumped some stuff in by eye.

People have asked how I made them, so I’ll try writing it out coherently here.  I’ll add that  my wife, Bethany, washed & cut the potatoes while I made the sauce… which was invaluable… because the sauce needed to be watched, and cut potatoes that sit for any period of time get all brown.  I guess I could have cut them & put them in some cold water to halt the browning if I absolutely had to… but we get along well in the kitchen, and it’s nice to cook together sometimes.  (I offered for her to do the sauce & to put me on potato duty, but she declined in case the cause didn’t turn out well, the blame could go solely on me.)

Eric’s Decadent Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I buy the stuff in bags, this is 1 small bag.)
  • 2 cups shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese (The store brand was 2 bags for $5 I think.)
  • 1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy cream
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. corn starch
  • Salt/Pepper/Season All to taste
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the stuff minced & put in olive oil, in little jars)
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise… (or 1 Tbsp. Each!)
  • 1 sm. bag bacon bits
  • bread crumbs (or crackers)

Stuff:

  • potato scrubber
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish
  • sauce pan
  • spoon and/or wisk
  • large bowl (if you’re gonna soak the potatoes)
  • measuring cup & spoons
  • aluminum foil
  • hot pads
  • oven
  • stove top

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Wash & slice the potatoes, store in cold water if you have to so they don’t brown… or have someone do that while you…
  3. Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with the stick of butter.  Melt the rest of the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.
  4. Add the flour & corn starch to the butter to make a roux.
  5. Turn it down to low heat, & slowly stir in the cream, buttermilk, sour cream,  & mayo/Miracle Whip.  Stir like a madman.
  6. Add the bacon bits, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper/spices to taste.  Don’t forget to stir.
  7. Add about half of each kind of shredded cheese to the mix, keep stirring like a madman.
  8. Pull the sauce from the heat, keep stirring… add a little to the bottom of the baking dish.
  9. Later potatoes, sauce, & remaining shredded cheese… saving a nice amount of shredded cheese for the top.
  10. Cover with foil, bake at 350° for an hour.
  11. Pull it out, uncover, top with bread crumbs or crumbled up crackers, add some additional seasoning if so inclined, and pop it back in for another 15 minutes.

Well, there you have it.  Pretty simple, and nothing makes me happier than cheese & potatoes.  I noticed a lot of scalloped potato recipes don’t have cheese, but really… where’s the fun in that?  Some also used a cream of chicken or cream of potato soup… makes it too much like White Trash ‘Taters for me.  You may want to skip the breading, use chips or those crispy canned fried onions.  Everyone has their own thing that they dig.  Yukon Gold potatoes would make this really nice, probably wouldn’t need to cook as long…red potatoes might make it bitey…  A mix may be nice.  As far as the spices, I used coarse ground black pepper, I think some dry mustard, paprika, and some McKormick Season All.

Turner Dairy products at Giant Eagle stores?


Turner'sGiant Eagle

I’m sure you remember my last post about Turner’s with the pretty picture.  I decided to ask Giant Eagle why all of their stores don’t carry Turner’s products…

From: Eric Carroll [mailto:me@my.email.address]
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 1:46 PM
Subject: Turner’s Dairy | Charie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Hello Friends at the Big Bird,

I’m writing to you today to request that all of your Giant Eagle and Market District Stores carry products from Turner Dairy Farms, Inc.  I know that some locations do already carry Turner’s products, because I’ve written to them trying to track down some of Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk… and they clued me in to the Giant Eagle in Brentwood.  I know that the Giant Eagle in Murrysville also carries Turner’s Iced Tea.

I’d love it if the Cochran Road, Bridgeville, and Parkway Center locations had Turner’s buttermilk, chip dip, and tea varieties readily available.  I’d add them to my order virtually every time we shop there… much like I do now with the tea when I find myself in Rite Aid on Banksville Road.

I also find it hard to believe that with the myriad of products and name brands available at the new Market District in Robinson… Turner’s is nowhere to be found!  Have you tried the chip dip?  It’s incredible.  It puts the Kraft and B L brands to shame.

You’ll find in the attached photo all of the Turner’s bounty that my wife & I picked up this weekend while just passing by the Brentwood Giant Eagle.  I can assure you, these products would be on every grocery order if available at the Giant Eagle locations where we typically do most of our shopping.  Not only these products, but the raspberry & lime tea… and just about everything that Turner’s offers!  (Sorry, I don’t do diet drinks.)

Thank you for taking the time to read my email, and I hope that you give Turner’s products serious consideration for inclusion in your fine establishments.

Sincerely,
-Eric
me@my.email.address

And, they responded…

From: “Frey, Brian” Brian.Frey@gianteagle.com
To: “me@my.email.address” me@my.email.address
Sent: Tue, February 2, 2010 10:39:21 AM
Subject: RE: Turner’s Dairy | Charie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Eric,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us regarding Turner Dairy Farms and some of the items that you obviously like as detailed below.

I can understand your frustration related to these items that you feel passionately about not being readily available and convenient to purchase.  However, I must honestly inform you that we don’t have any upcoming plans to carry additional Turner Dairy Farms items at any of our corporately owned Giant Eagle and Market District locations.

We get contacted by customers on a daily/weekly basis requesting us to carry a variety of items from local dairies, and we just cannot support all of these local dairy item requests in our limited dairy cooler space in our stores.  To manage the limited space we have in stores, we try to partner with dairies and vendors that can provide us item programs that accommodate the needs of the majority of our customers.  If we were to carry a representative sample of all the local dairy items that we get contacted about, we would have to eliminate a large portion of our current item mix that a significantly larger customer base demands us to carry and also asks us daily/weekly to expand upon but we cannot as a result of the same limited space challenge.

Sorry I could not give you better news here.  There are a lot of items that I am personally fond of that I have decided to not carry as well due to our limited space and need to satisfy the largest amount of our customers.  In the meantime, some of our independently owned and operated stores such as Brentwood are allowed to carry the Turners Dairy Farms items as you note below.  We allow those owners to have some flexibility in their item mix, and some stores have elected to carry Turners items based on customer demand or geographic proximity to the dairy.

Sincerely,
Brian Frey

Category Buyer
Giant Eagle, Inc.
101 Kappa Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
412.963.2592
Fax: 412.968.1706
E-mail: brian.frey@gianteagle.com

D’oh!  Well, it doesn’t hurt to try, does it?  Apparently Giant Eagle has no intentions of widely carrying Turner’s products, but at least they’re honest about it.  It’s just annoying that I can’t do all of my grocery shopping in one store (or even at one chain), especially with the vicious circle of fuelperks and foodperks and whatever other kind of perks they come up with next.

Interestingly enough, I just sent an email to all those with whom I’ve shared communication with in the past at Giant Eagle, but the “To” address was cut out of the original inline reply… so I have no idea which one actually got through.

I’m assuming they’d have to have an onslaught of messages in order to even consider carrying the Turner’s products.  If you’re so inclined, you can…

Not that many of you are that adamant about the Turner’s brand… but if you are, or you know someone who is… please feel free to direct them here.

Turner’s | Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk


Turner’s is awesome… whether you’re talking about the Iced Tea, the Tea-Bird, the Buttermilk, all the other products, or the customer service.  I just thought I’d share while again trying out the post-via-email feature on WordPress.  Apologies, you’ll have to read from the bottom up for it to make sense…


From: Nicholas Yon <Nicholas@TurnerDairy.net>
To: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.address>
Sent: Mon, February 1, 2010 11:38:57 AM
Subject: RE: Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk?

Eric-

Thank you for the email and picture!  Looks like a nice variety of products.  I am glad to know that your trip to Brentwood GE was a success this past weekend and I hope that it continues to provide you with a viable option for procuring our higher standard products (and especially our Charlie’s Buttermilk).  If you enjoy baking, try the Charlie’s Buttermilk in everything from waffles to mashed potatoes to biscuits.  Thank you also for passing along your comments to Giant Eagle corporate.

We truly value your dedicated support of our products.  Have a great week!

Nicholas Yon

Marketing Director

Turner Dairy Farms, Inc.

From Local Farms to Local Families!

Nicholas@turnerdairy.net

412-372-2211


From: Eric Carroll [mailto:me@my.email.address]
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 10:39 AM
To: Nicholas Yon
Subject: Re: Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk?

Hello Nicholas,

I just wanted to thank you for telling me about the Giant Eagle in Brentwood .  We stopped a few weeks ago when in the area to no avail… the milk shelves were quite bare… must have been re-stocking time.  This past Saturday evening though, we hit the mother-load.  I grabbed two little jugs of Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk and (as you can see in the attached photo) a bunch of other Turner’s products!

The Buttermilk is awesome… it’s just like the stuff we used to pick up when I was really little at an old local dairy farm that is long since gone (Sinan’s in Murrysville/Export PA).

I intend to pass the photo along to several local Giant Eagles to urge them to also carry your products.  They’re obviously great sellers, and all the stuff in the photo could regularly be their sale if they’d only have the stuff in stock!

Have a good week!
-Eric

.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI


From: Nicholas Yon <Nicholas@TurnerDairy.net>
To: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.address>
Sent: Mon, December 28, 2009 10:27:44 AM
Subject: RE: Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk?

Eric-

Thank you for the email, kind words, and years of dedication.  The Turner family, our employees, and our local family dairy farms truly appreciate your patronage of our products all these years.  Plus iced tea stickers on a guitar case is “uber-cool.”

Listed below is the closest location to you that currently carries our Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk with real butter flakes.  This is an independent Giant Eagle location, thus they are able to offer Turner’s higher standard dairy products.

I’ve also attached a “product request” form that can be filled out and turned into the store manager or sent to any local Giant Eagle or Kuhn’s.  I would also encourage you to email the company directly via their website.

We currently produce three varieties of buttermilk:

– Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk – a whole buttermilk with real butter flakes

– Light Buttermilk – a 1% light buttermilk

– Baking Buttermilk – light buttermilk formulated for baking

Thank you again for the email and question.  Have a great New Year!

Giant Eagle (they carry the plastic quart size)

Brentwood Towne Center

600 Towne Square Way

Pittsburgh, PA   15227

Nicholas Yon

Marketing Director

Turner Dairy Farms, Inc.

From Local Farms to Local Families!


From: Eric Carroll [mailto:me@my.email.address]
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 1:03 AM
To: customer service
Subject: Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk?

Hello Friends,

I’m a huge fan of Turner’s iced tea… I even wrote a letter years ago that warranted a free T-shirt and a few little jug labels.  I grew up in Murrysville PA not far form a little mom n’ pop store called Thomas’ that sold your milks, teas, and other products & got me hoooked.  I still have the Tea labels on my guitar case, and my wife cringes when I wear my bright orange and slightly tattered Tea-shirt.

Now I live in Pittsburgh, and I go out of my way to get Turner’s, as they don’t sell it at the Giant Eagle where we do our grocery shopping, or at the Kuhn’s that’s right by our house.  We have to go to Rite Aid to get the tea, and we usually pick up Turner’s dip & some chips while we’re there.

I know of a small number of other places around that carry the tea…  I think the BP station, and a beer distributor here are loyal Turner’s sellers… but I hear you have a new product that I’d love to get my hands on…  Buttermilk with the flecks?  I can’t find this type of buttermilk anywhere… I’ve been looking for it for … well, it has to be over a year now.  I heard a dairy up north makes it… but I haven’t been able to find any in local stores.

My mom told me that she had discovered it at Wal-Mart in Delmont, and belives that the aforementioned Thomas’ sells it… but I rarely find myself out that way these days… especially not to do any grocery shopping.

Are you able to tell me which (if any) stores in my area have been carrying this new flecked buttermilk?  I’m currently in Dormont… zip code 15216.

Also wondering… do you have any sort of form letter that I could send to Giant Eagle and/or Kuhn’s to request that they carry your tea in addition to or instead of some of the other local flavorless tea brands?

Thank you for your time, can’t wait to hear from you!

Thirsty!
-Eric

P.S. – What’s the difference between the baking buttermilk & the other varieties?