Getting creative with flavors


One of my favorite ways of preparing meals is by smoking the meat, whether ribs, chicken, turkey. To do this, recipes often call for rubs to be used. We’ve tried a variety of them, finding several that are our favorites, but it just wasn’t home grown.

With the variety of peppers I grow, many of which we smoke and dehydrate, it seemed I could do something with them. Besides, if I just use those peppers in recipes, I’ll never get through them all.img_4176

I found some homemade rub recipes in a smoking and grilling book I had gotten for my husband and thought I’d give it a try. I found a recipe that I had most of the ingredients for and began making a few substitutions. It was fun trying to find as many homegrown ingredients as I could for each recipe.

Through a little trial and error, I made a variety of rubs and seasonings, including an all-purpose rub that can be plain, hickory or apple smoked; as well as a Steak House Rub, Memphis-Style Rib Rub and Hickory Dill Rub. The fun part about this is getting creative. Substitute peppers for an endless variety of combinations.

I used to grind all of my peppers with my mortar and pestle, but I recently made a new purchase for the kitchen – an herb grinder. I haven’t used it too much yet, but when I did it worked great, and I can’t wait to get some more peppers ground up to start creating some new recipes. If you find a new combination that you like, let me know. I’d love to try it out.

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Julie’s All-Purpose Rub

5 T. dark brown sugarimg_4177
1 T. Hungarian Wax Peppers
1 T. Sweet Red Peppers
1 T. Serano Peppers
1 T. Mucho Nacho Peppers
1 T. Rosemary
4 tsp. onion powder
4 tsp. garlic powder
4 tsp. dry mustard
3 tsp. basil
2 tsp. parsley
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. ground corriander
1 tsp. sage
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
3 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt

Grind dried peppers in herb grinder or with mortar and pestle. Then combine all ingredients in food processor until fine and store in jars or air-tight bags. For variety, smoke the peppers with either hickory, apple or mesquite smoke for different flavors.

Hickory Dill Rub

5 T. dark brown sugar
4 tsp. dry mustard
3 tsp. pepper
1 T. dill seed
2 tsp. dill weed
8 tsp. chives
3 tsp. corriander
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
4 T. hickory-smoked Poblano Peppers

Grind peppers, mix all ingredients in food processor until ground fine. Use as a rub on your favorite foods before smoking, or use as a seasoning in your foods.
Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at and some will be featured in upcoming columns.


Putting a home-made twist on pizza night


It’s always an easy option to pick up a pizza on the way home for dinner, but if you have time, home-made is fun and delicious. Plus you can tailor it to your own tastes, no matter what combination that may lead to.

There are several key home-made ingredients in my pizza.

The first is homemade pizza sauce. I discovered this a couple of years ago as a mix to add to my tomatoes I was canning and I have not looked back since. I like to can them in half-pint jars, rather than pints because that is just the right amount for two pizzas. It has that home-grown tomato taste in the middle of winter.

I also like to make my own dough. As I’ve said before I like to use my bread machine for all of my breads, and pizza dough is no exception. There wasn’t a good pizza dough recipe in my bread machine book, so I started researching several and took the best of each to create this recipe (see recipe).

With a combination of oregano, basil, cilantro and more, the dough has so much flavor it hardly needs any toppings. But we are making pizza, not just bread, so toppings are important.

Once your dough is rolled out (and only roll it out when you are ready for it, otherwise it will continue to shrink back up), cover it with sauce and start layering on your toppings.

You can then bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or cook it in the grill for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch for the dough to brown and cheese to melt, then you know it’s done.
One trick to getting the pizza to slide onto and off of the pan on which you cook it is to put cornmeal on the pan before putting the dough on it.

Once it is done, slice and enjoy!

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Herb Pizza Dough
(makes two pizzas)

1 cup warm water
3 T. olive oil
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. oregano,
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cilantro (or crushed corriander)
1 1/2 tsp. yeast (quick rise)

Add all ingredients in order to bread machine. Select dough cycle. When complete, remove dough and cover. Let rise 30 minutes. Divide in half and roll out. Then top with sauce and toppings.
Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at and some will be featured in upcoming columns.

Dehydrating mushrooms for future recipes

There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a delicious-sounding recipe to make for supper, glancing at the list of ingredients and jumping in, then finding out you are missing one thing. For me, running to the store takes about 45 minutes, so that could create issues with keeping on track for the meal.mushrooms

With all of my garden produce and herbs preserved that has stopped a lot of those instances, but one thing I still find I don’t have very often is mushrooms.

I used to opt for leaving them out of the recipe if I didn’t get them when I was at the store. But before putting my dehydrator up for the season, my husband asked me if we could dehydrate mushrooms. I’m not sure what brought up the question, but I replied that I was sure they could be dried. Pulling out my preserving book, I found mushrooms dehydrate very well.

The next time we were at the store, we found several packages of sliced mushrooms on sale and loaded up our cart. To dry them, wash the mushrooms and place them on the trays, leaving a little space between each one. It only takes about four to six hours to dry them until they are crispy. Let them cool, then put them in jars or baggies to store them.
Now, when you have a recipe with mushrooms, simply rehydrate by pouring boiling water over them and letting them set for 15 to 30 minutes. Or, if you are making a soup, just toss the dried mushrooms in and they will rehydrate while cooking.

Now there is one less ingratiate I will have to go without when trying out a new recipe on the spur of the moment.

Another plus is those extra mushrooms no longer go to waste when you do buy some for one recipe.

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at and some will be featured in upcoming columns.