Lemon Confit Cantaloupe Salad

I’d like to thank Laura Venhaus from the Botanic Research Institute of Texas
for getting me to write this down. This is my most famous (and only) recipe of my own (Maybe when I get a decent camera this terrible picture will be replaced.)

Lemon Confit Cantaloupe Salad

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1 small Texas cantaloupe
1 pint sweet cherry tomatoes
2 wedges lemon confit
extra virgin olive oil
pepper and salt

Peel and deseed the cantaloupe and dice into half inch cubes. In a large bowl toss with cherry tomatoes sliced in half and a drizzle of oil, about 1/4 cup. Remove the pulp from two wedges of lemon confit and wash the remaining rind under water to rinse the excess salt off. Dice finely and toss in bowl with fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste. Be careful to taste the salt level as you go. The confit will infuse the salad with salt, but additional salt may still be necessary. You can experiment by adding some of the salted lemon juice from the jar.

Let macerate for 30 minutes before serving. It keeps well for a day, but is not as good as when freshly tossed. I usually toss the salad first, when guests arrive. Then I like to eat it last. This is one of the best deserts you can give someone. Great with a Texas Viognier.

This salad was discovered late one summer as I looked into my fridge and realized I had only tomato and cantaloupe to eat. The result was one of the best dinners I’ve ever had, all because I refused to get more. The best meals often come this way, the simpler the ingredients, the better.

I am a huge fan of M. F. K. Fisher and her modern day counterpart, Tamar Adler. I believe everyone should own a copy of “An Everlasting Meal.” Adler’s book has put back the soul  of the common meal for me, more than any celebrity chef or food fad. Get it, and you’ll cook up great ideas like this too, hopefully relax a little about cooking and enjoy it instead. My copy is nerdily underlined and reread every summer. It reminds me to slow down and take inventory of the importance of what and how you feed the soul and that you can be grateful for rice and boiling water.

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Inaugural Crestline Neighborhood Market

 May 17 was the first Saturday market for the neighborhood and it went exceedingly well for a first run. The market is held in the All Saints Episcopal Church parking lot off Crestline Road and Dexter every 3rd Saturday from 8 to noon. I sold out of strawberry, lemon confit and hibiscus tea.

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The weather was absolutely perfect and several neighborhood folks just walked up on foot from home, but many were not from the neighborhood. Spread the word. I bought tamales  which I keep often for lunch or no cook nights.

Check out my artistic shot of the prickly pear jewel color. That’s a rice measure it’s hanging out with. The one thing that I enjoy most about Saturdays is meeting people. The sellers are one thing. It takes a determined kind of person to sell food early on a weekend, often standing out in the heat. But the buyers are pretty fun too. This event, I met some pretty incredible people.

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I picked up my baguette from David, with Black Rooster Bakery.

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I was not so lucky to get a Sweet Lucy Pie from Lindsey because they sold out. It was her first time selling. I’m guessing next market they’ll go pretty early.

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There is something about seeing labels of handmade goods from your town that changes what you eat. If you don’t remember chow chow, you should try it. It’s the taste of summer in a jar.

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I was set up next to the Texas Olive Company booth. The flavors. umm. mm

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My favorite part is talking about how to make lemon confit salads. And then there’s the educational arm of Seed and Salvage. So far nobody knows the state fruit. As I suspected, just like me, the common Texan does not realize it is the grapefruit. And so I sell smoked sea salt grapefruit jelly. It’s great with cheese and crackers.

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Thanks, Anthropolgie Fort Worth!

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As promised, photos of last Saturday, which was an incredible experience for Seed and Salvage. I had no idea what to expect and honestly was shocked at the sales. If you remember that was a really wet day, so I was glad when I realized it was all indoors. Expected the worst and it turned out the best day to date. Four hours flew by and set up was so fast, I’m wishing now I had time to style my booth and take good photos a little more.
I’d like to thank the very smart folks working hard on this event to bring their customers at the Fort Worth store what they want and value.
So if you’re new to the blog from that event, welcome! I’ll be posting more about the next locations for Saturday April 5th.

Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures. But first…

Gonna have to brag. Fort Worth got mentioned best downtown in the U.S. by Livability, this week. Will be posting more on this later. I guess I’m shocked? Or not?
It’s always where you live you take for granted.

I was in the car listening when I heard the news and this fabulous line that says it all about who we are as a city…”cohesion between cowboy culture and urban sophistication.” Well. Spending my first  Saturday of the month in Archer City at a Wild Hog Cook-Off and the next at the Anthropologie store in Fort Worth, I guess I’d say they’re pretty close…

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Great to share the hibiscus spiced tea and sell so much of it! And meet so many new faces! More posts on cactus jelly and the tea to come.

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 Met someone selling lavender products from the part of Texas I grew up. Funny when you still can say “hey neighbor” like you’re old friends. The farm is in Bellville, just across the river from my folks, where my ancestors first established when they moved to the U.S.

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There were about ten tables of local vendors, mostly food. I made contacts with some local CSA’s Cold Spring Farms and Jazbac Farm. If you’re looking for produce, check ‘em out.

Also these flower ladies sold out. You can see why…

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And Dude, Sweet was there. With samples. Head to West 7th anytime if you want free samples.

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And yes, this is why I love this store!!!
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Anthropologie Pop-Up Market On Saturday

Come out and see me in Fort Worth this Saturday! I’ll be at the Anthropologie store off University from 1-4 with hot pickles, cactus jelly, and hibiscus spiced tea. I hear Dude Sweet Chocolate will be near by so there’ll be good stuff to try when you come. Excited to be a part of this event. I’ll follow up with pictures and how it goes.  It’s been a long winter Fort Worth. See ya’ll there!anthropology315

Archer City Hog Fest

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Honestly, I wanted to do some photography. But it was too dang cold! The wind blew and kept it feeling less than 39 from about the time I got there at 10 in the morning until late afternoon when I shut it down. The first hour really was fine. It was the last two that had me done in. I think the temp hovered or dropped by then. I sold prickly pear jelly, hot pickles and spiced hibiscus tea. The cactus jelly was fun to shove in people’s mouths.

The turn-out was great for the weather, the first annual Hog Fest benefiting the Archer City Volunteer Fire Department. I had agreed to come out back in the fall when Lynda first asked me to come sell pickles. I sat next to the Smoked Cashews folks from Wichita Falls and I believe we were the only food vendors who came out. I would have probably sold out had it not been so cold. Next year!

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Another neighbor sold chain-saw art. I bought a little 5 in bear figurine. He was nice enough to give me a horse shoe business card holder so I’m a pretty lucky business now.

There’s a lot about Archer City that’s been said already. And a lot still rings true. Ladies, hold on to your shirts, cause when the men in Archer see a new face, they’re always fast and friendly. You won’t need to waste time trying to figure out which one, they’re always both.

From the time I arrived till the time I left there was music playing, and at each song, somewhere in view was somebody bustin’ a move from deep within. After awhile it got to be something I was watching for, a girl jumping in the car with a little extra slide to her step. One lady shakin’ her hips as she packed up her wares near the end. And of course Jackie’s arrival to come see my booth involved a little shake up. I really should go to the dance, they kept telling’ me all day. The band was a good one. I love music and dancing, but I stayed this one home and promised I’d come out for another one.

From where I was set up, I did not get to see much of the hog cooking action, and I’m sad to report no good pictures of cooking since I was chained to my booth, but I did taste all the chili’s in the chili cook-off, thanks to an admirer, ice cold though they were by the time they got back to my huddle. I did not get away with any secret recipe, but I did manage to get off with a plate of pretty damn good bbq thanks to Jackie sharing back at her house. Got to see some familiar faces again and take this shot with Jackie at my booth. She has been a mentor in writing, in life, and in the kitchen. She picked and boiled the pears and gifted me with a freezer full of juice. So far I’ve made a hundred jars and still have juice waiting. It’s all worth it when somebody tastes and gives you that big smile that says it all. After a winter off, it was great to be back talking food with strangers. I will be out in Fort Worth next Saturday, will reveal exactly where in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, I need to dedicate a post to the prickly pear.

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You got to take out your anger on this car and then the fire department demonstrated their Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue tool. I did not get to see this, but at least I turned Jackie’s grandson into my photographer and he got a few shots for me. He was the lucky volunteer to be inside the car to test it out. It would have been fun to see. I now have a photographer I think.

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What To Do With Hot Pickles?

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What to do with hot pickles? Besides eat them straight from the jar because they’re always healthy, and mighty enough to stop any jalapeño chip craving.

Well… here’s what else I do with them…

To start, here is my sister’s family secret Chicken Salad recipe. She’s perfected it (it took her a summer) and now if she’s home we pretty much force her in the kitchen to make it. I admit I have not really truly made it on my own the way she does. So I called her up to get the gist. Here it is. We decided on the name rather solemnly (may we not offend you). Let’s just say we toned it down even. I will let you know when I will be making mine. I’m salivating even now.

Emily’s (Bad Ass) Chicken Salad

1 whole chicken
1 tsp ground dill weed
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup craisins
1 or 2 hot pickles depending on size and preference
3 hard boiled eggs
10 red seedless grapes
1/2 cup ranch dressing and mayo combo

First of all you have to start with quality fresh whole chicken simmered in salt water till cooked (at or under an hour depending on the size of the bird) and cool. Shred or chop up the meat into a bowl. Add in the dill weed and chipotle powder to give it that flavor and smokey back of your mouth mild heat (depending on the powder you use and preference). You’ve really got to remember this recipe is a lot about preference and tasting as you go to get it right. In fact, Emily has never really measured or written these things down so use your taster on this. Then in a chopper (if you have one) roughly chop the almonds and craisins together, then dice up your pickles and hard boiled eggs – including the yokes and toss into the bowl. The grapes are optional but they add an additional layer of cool texture and temperature to the dish that isn’t too much even if it may sound like it. Quarter them and mix in with chicken.

Then this is the really hard part. The Mayo to Ranch ratio is critical. What makes this taste so different from standard chicken salad is the chipotle and ranch flavors – but you can really *%#! it up if you use too much. Go light  because you won’t believe how bad it is if you put too much (a cardinal but sadly common chicken salad sin). Start with a 1/2 cup and fill it 2 parts ranch 1 part mayo and you’ll be safe. All the may does is thicken the ranch. There’s nothing worse than too much of the mayo/ranch. It should be just enough so that everything sticks together but should not be coated.

Actually we’ve tried this recipe leaving one of just about every ingredient out and honestly – it matters. It just is that one shade off of perfection if you leave one of these bad boys out. Even down to the grapes if you ask me. A great way to serve this is inside a halved avocado over a bed of lettuce. It makes a Jamaican boatload, but you will absolutely want that Jamaican boatload. It hardly lasts 24 hours whenever I’ve seen it around.

Vodka/Gin Pickle Martini

Simple way to use up the juice to the last drop.
4 oz favorite gin or vodka
splash of dry vermouth
1 oz (or 2) of hot pickle juice

 

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