Green Tomato Chow-Chow

This is my Dad’s Green Tomato Chow-Chow recipe. I think it originates from Nova Scotia, Canada as it is also known as “Nana’s Chow-Chow. It is made only with green tomatoes and onions, vinegar and spices. All my life, I’ve eaten precious rationed portions of this delicious mixture and called it Dad’s Green Tomato Chow-Chow.

I’m here to tell you this is really good stuff.

There are many recipes for chow-chow out there, Southern recipes call for everything left in the garden that is harvested just before the first frost: cabbage, peppers, onions, cucumbers. This one is different. And, it gets better as it ages.

Wash the tomatoes, and there is no peeling or seeding required!

Green Tomato Chow-Chow

Chow Chow PicIngredients:

8 cups chopped green tomatoes

4-6 medium sweet onions, sliced

1/2 cup kosher salt

(use non-iodized salt)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 teaspoon turmeric

(If using fresh turmeric, shred about 1 inch of a knob)

Grating fresh turmeric

Grating fresh turmeric

2 Tablespoons Pickling Spice in a bag (I used a tea ball)

Wash and slice the tomatoes and onions.

in a large bowl, sprinkle the salt over the tomatoes and onions; set a plate on top, cover and let this sit overnight. In the morning, rinse the tomatoes and onions to remove the salt. Strain, place into a large pot with the vinegar, sugar, turmeric and pickling spice.

Simmer the tomatoes and onions with pickling spices

Simmer the tomatoes and onions with pickling spices

Green Tomato Chow-chow

Bring to a boil, reduce to an active simmer and then let this simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

The entire mixture will cook down to a lovely sweet, tangy concoction with a jam like consistency. This is so good on grilled meats, as a glaze for ham or chicken or as a condiment with cheese.

One of our favorite ways to have it is with beans and cornbread. It makes the meal.

Chow-chow with grilled chicken leg quarters

Chow-chow with grilled chicken leg quarters

This is what it looks like when finished

This is what it looks like when finished

My Dad says this is a real treat because it is only made with the green tomatoes picked just before the first freeze. He says he can’t pick a tomato when it can turn red on the vine. He loves his tomatoes! I know he spoiled me from store-bought tomatoes. Every year, I always grow a plant or two. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. It’s a tradition to grow tomatoes every year.

I’ve encouraged mom to make him a Green Tomato Pie because he has been fascinated with making pies that taste like apple but not using apples. In the past he’s used zucchini and Ritz crackers (separate pies), so I hope he can add green tomato soon.

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

Another delicious slice of Green Tomato Pie

When I asked mom to make him a pie, he quickly said there weren’t enough greens left and frankly he’d rather have chow-chow.

I’ll have to wrap and send him a bottle to see how he likes it.

#greentomatochowchow #chowchow #southerncooking #pickling #dadsrecipe #southernfoods #passeddownrecipes #recipesfromhome

Jar of Green Tomato Chow-Chow

Jar of Green Tomato Chow-Chow


Sauteed Kale with Bacon and Onions

Today I picked up some fresh kale, just picked from the garden, from a friend. Since I was eating alone tonight, I decided that  some bacon would be on the menu. Robert doesn’t eat bacon but I sure do!

Sautéed Kale with Bacon and Onions

  • Fresh Kale
  • 2 slices thick smoked bacon
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper
Fresh picked kale

Fresh picked kale

To start, remove the stems from the kale and wash well. Allow it to drain while preparing the bacon and onions.

To make this dish, fry up some bacon, try not to burn the pan because you want the lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan for all the flavor. In cooking terms this browned bottom is called “fond”.

When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan, place it on some paper towels to drain. For this dish, the bacon is best cooked to done but not crispy. However is you want it crispy, have at it.

If there is a lot of grease, pour some off. All you need is a small bit to saute the onions and kale in, not too much.

Slice and saute some sweet onions in the bacon pan. When the onions are soft, deglaze the pan with a splash of malt vinegar, bring to a boil, and loosen all the fond from the pan.

Saute onions in the bacon pan

Saute onions in the bacon pan

Add the washed and stemmed kale, bring to a boil and saute the kale until done. The liquid should be almost gone, but not all gone.

Cut the bacon into matchstick sized bits and fold into the kale. Cook until the kale is tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Grind some fresh pepper and serve.

I just filled a bowl and ate it. If you like, add a dash of hot sauce.

I love greens this way!

Kale with Bacon and Onions

Kale with Bacon and Onions

Simple (And Great Tasting!) Bean Burger

Bean Burger

Bean Burger; Can you see it under the mushrooms and onions? I had to take the picture before Robert got to the table and didn’t have time to “present” the burger for photos.

This simple and great tasting bean burger is quite simple to make and is versatile enough to become many things besides burgers.

  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachio or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (the salt)

Start by cooking the oatmeal. Include the garlic, onions and dried vegetable flakes if using for flavor.

Drain the beans, rinse and add to the oatmeal.

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Process the mixture in a food processor until things are coarsely chopped up. You do not want to make a paste.

Coarsely chop

Coarsely chop

Form burgers using a scoop for even sizes.

Scoop for even size

Scoop for even size

Pat the burgers with additional pistachio or almond meal to ‘dry’ the outside of the burger. This will allow it to become nice and golden brown.

Using a very small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan (or use a non-stick pat and go fat-free) place the bean burgers into the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Saute them until golden brown on one side, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown too.

You can finish cooking them in the oven or hold them in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Remove the burgers from the saute pan and then add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions, saute for 2 minutes, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, continue cooking until the water is evaporated.

Serve the sautéed onions and mushrooms over the bean burgers.

This evening, we served them on a bed of fresh spinach with a side Caesar salad. I couldn’t eat it all!

If you have leftovers, you can saute the  crumbled burgers with some diced onions, chili powder, cumin and diced tomatoes to make “taco meat”. Fill corn tortillas and finish with your favorite taco toppings.

I find this can be used nearly the same as you would ground meat. Make chili, tacos, casseroles etc.


Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Pickled Beets

Pickled beets jumped out at me this weekend while at the farmers market. I brought home a beautiful bunch of beets with the greens, for just $2.50 this was a real steal.

I made a list of what I could do with them: Roasted beet salad with blood orange vinaigrette, Beet chutney, beets in butter with a splash of rice vinegar and in the end, pickled beets won.

I suppose I thought the bunch of beets was larger than it really was.

The first step in all the recipes is to cook them.

There are several ways, the best method and least messy is to steam them.

Here’s the thing about beets. They will “bleed” this lovely magenta color everywhere and leave a legacy of stains behind them.

Trick of the trade: Don’t cut, nick or peel them before cooking.

Trim leaving 1-2″ of stem; soak to remove soil and sand.
Do not peel or cut.

Trim the roots from the stems by cutting at least 1-2 inches of stem remaining on the root end. Leave the tap-root end in tact also, don’t trim it, just tuck it out-of-the-way.

Gently wash the beets to remove excess soil and sand. Don’t scrub them as they have a thin skin. Soaking for a few minutes is usually good.

Keep the greens. Set them aside in a large deep bowl of cold water. Remove any yellowish or ‘spotted’ leaves you wouldn’t want to eat.

Soak the leaves in cold water. Swish the leaves in the water gently. The sand will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Lift the leaves from the bowl without disturbing the bottom and repeat at least 4 times. You will be amazed how much sand and soil the leaves can hold.

Soak greens to remove dirt, and sand.
Change water 3-4 times

Lastly, rinse the leaves under running water, wrap in a towel, cover with plastic wrap or bag and store in the refrigerator until you want to use them in the next couple of days. That is another post.

How to use the beet greens is another post coming soon. The greens need to be cared for as soon as you remove the root ends so you don’t lose quality. If the greens look limp at first, they crisp up during the soaking process.

If you buy beets with greens and plan to use them later, separate the green tops and the root ends because the greens will pull nutrients, sugars and moisture from the roots during storage. (same with radishes, carrots, bulb onions etc.)

This recipe for pickled beets is simple and very flavorful. Some folks say they can eat the entire batch at once but that’s not recommended.

Steaming the beets takes the longest amount of time.

So here is how to make Pickled Beets:

Pickled Beets

  • Servings: 2 quarts
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 bunch of beets (8 medium size beets as close to the same size as possible)

Steam the beets by placing them in a steamer pot with a tight-fitting lid. Use good quality water to steam the beets. You will use 1/2 cup of this water in the pickling brine.

Steam the beets until tender

Steam the beets until easily pierced with a paring knife, just as you test a baked potato for doneness.

Do not pierce the beets often or all over as they will “bleed”. You want them to retain the color. Just test the biggest ones.

When the beets are done,  save the water in the bottom pot and place the beets in a big bowl of cold water. Once they are cool, underwater, using your hands, slip the skins off.The skins slip off very easily.

Set the peeled beets aside in another bowl.

Peeling underwater helps keep your hands from staining magenta.

Using a cutting board you can bleach later, trim the top and bottom, then slice the beets into thick slices and place them back into the bowl.

Make the brine and have the jars or containers you are going to store the finished beets in ready to fill.

Pickling brine

  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water from steaming pot with beet drippings
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or any non-iodized salt)
  • 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small sweet onion sliced

Bring the beet water and vinegar to a boil, add the remaining ingredients, including the onion and return to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.

Pour the hot mixture over the beets and gently stir with a rubber spatula to ensure all the beets are coated.

Pour the hot brine over beets, place in storage jars, cool. Serve cold.

Gently place the beets and all the brine into the storage jar. Allow to cool then refrigerate.

The pickled beets are ready to eat after 24 hours. One of my favorite parts are the onions that get pickled too. Slightly crunchy and  what a taste treat!

Pickled beets

Pickled Beets – I could eat the whole jar!

Serve very cold.

Chive Blossom Vinegar and Vinaigrette

Onion chive blossoms

Chive blossom vinegar isn’t a normal thing to be making in January, but my wish for chive blossoms was realized.

This winter had been on the warm side for us. It was just last night the geranium and the jalapeno plants bit the dust to freezing.

While making a salad for dinner the other evening, my thoughts turned to chive flowers and all the yummy things I could do with them.

I thought how nice it would be to have some chive blossoms to add to the salad, or sprinkle some over the baked potatoes.

I was thinking about making more chive blossom vinegar but alas, being January, my desire would have to wait until spring.

Chive blossoms have a delightful onion or garlic flavor, depending upon which type of chive you have. Onion chives have lovely purple flowers that I really like; garlic chives produce white flowers.

But look at what I found!

As I rounded the corner towards my office, right there in front of me was a lovely plot of blooming chives in the schools herb garden.

Yay! Wish granted!

( Now I wish for a million dollars)

I picked as many as I thought I needed and ran home to toss them into the evening salad and make some Chive Blossom Vinegar for salad dressings in about a month.

Chives are quite simple to grow and actually are perennial so they come back year after year. I have both garlic chives and onion chives growing in my garden. They definitely are not flowering now. In fact they look quite pathetic until a bit of warmth cradles them a bit.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Prepare the blossoms 3 ways: with stem, no stem, single flowers

Use a funnel to fill the bottles

Chive Vinegar

Wash and dry the chive blossoms. Prepare the chive in any of the following ways:

  • Leave as much stem on as you want
  • Use only the tiny flowers
  • use the entire flower heads in tact; no stem
  • leave some stem with the flowers
  • chop some chives to add with the flowers
  • any combination you want

The goal is to make it look pretty and attractive.

  • Place prepared blossoms into an attractive bottle.
  • Boil enough white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar to fill the bottle.
  • Use a funnel to fill the bottle with the hot vinegar.
  • Cork or seal the bottle.
  • Label with the date you made the vinegar.
  • Let steep for 30 days.

After the flavor has developed, open the bottle and experience the fresh aroma of the chive blossom vinegar.

Use it to make a simple vinaigrette.

Chive blossoms on baked potato

Chive Blossom Vinaigrette over Tomato, Onion, Cucumber Salad

  • 1/2  cup chive blossom vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups of olive oil

Place all the ingredients but the oil into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Whisk in the oil and serve.

This is a temporary emulsion which means you will need to whisk it before using as it will separate.

Tomato, onion, cucumber salad with chive blossoms

Tomato, Onion, Cucumber Salad

Serves 2

  • 1 medium tomato, wedged into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced thin
  • Chive blossoms

Toss the sliced vegetables in a bowl and then arrange attractively on salad plates.

Sprinkle the chive blossoms on top

Drizzle Chive blossom vinaigrette over salad and serve.

To make this go over the top, drizzle a few drops of truffle oil over the salad too.

Tabouli, Taboule or Tabbouleh

Tabouli, Taboule or Tabbouleh, is all the same.

It is time to get to know this terrific and tasty side dish.

Taboule is a middle eastern dish that has become part of the American diet. Just as Chinese foods became Americanized, so have middle eastern foods. So to call a particular taboule recipe an authentic middle eastern dish is not exactly accurate. There are regional differences – some use more parsley, some add cucumber and feta cheese. Then there are the non-traditional taboule salads that can have apples an walnuts in them or made with quinoa rather than bulgur.

My favorite version is simple with bulgur, parsley, tomato, olive oil, mint and lemon juice.

Sometimes I’ll make a batch and sit down and eat an entire bowl. I love how this dish makes you feel like you are really doing something good for your body.

Serve taboule as a cold side dish.  This recipe for taboule has a nice balance of traditional flavors.

  • 1 cup  bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup  fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced small
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced small
  •  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground black pepper


  • Place bulgur in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Soak bulgur in water for 30 minutes.  The wheat should have absorbed all of the water. If there is any water left, drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.
  • Peel, seed, and dice the tomato
  • Dice the onion and finely chop the parsley and mint
  • Mix the bulgur, tomato, onion, parsley, and mint in a large bowl
  • Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together and pour over the salad
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper

Taste and adjust the various ingredients to your taste. More olive oil? More lemon juice? Just be careful not to make the salad too wet. Instead of adding more salt, consider adding feta cheese crumbles.

  • Refrigerate for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend

Optional additions:

  • Finely sliced scallions
  • Crumbled Feta cheese
  • Diced cucumber
  • Pitted olives
  • Diced green and/or red pepper