Busy busy week. Yesterday Jimmy, T-bird and I produced 20 pint jars of southern chow-chow, 24 jars of spiced pluot cranberry jam and 1 big pot of chicken and dumplings, and.......... by the time we crawled into bed the kitchen was clean and ready for this mornings breakfast which will be beignets with the great jam we made and scrambled eggs. Yep!..... altogether a very productive day.
Southern chow chow is an interesting thing. It is a very 'old' food item. It tends to vary from state to state and recipes can get very complicated.' It is also an 'end of the garden' recipe. Meaning the ingredients (as explained to me by my grandmother) are the things in your garden that have not ripened ....like green tomatoes and peppers. For northerners who don't know what chow chow is.... its a green tomato .......well...... relish.... commonly served with beans and cornbread, bar b que, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy.... and just about any other way southerners can get it into their diet. It took pretty close to 3 hours on the phone with granny (who is 90 this year) to get it out of her because she says its NOT a recipe... its a process. 3 hours is not unusual when trying to get a recipe that is over 100 years old and that morphs slightly with every years harvest. I also think its Granny's way of keeping me on the phone long enough to tell me all the family gossip and what her neighbors are doing and which politico is the most evil and various conspiracies she is aware of ( I come by my paranoia honestly). She only gives me 1 useful piece of information about every twenty minutes. So out of respect for her years and everything she has taught me I will pass on the 'process' but for simplicity will call it a recipe. And I will give it all to you at once without holding you hostage for the info.
hot southern chow chow
6 pounds or so green tomatoes (remove all seeds and juice)
5 pounds or so green (bell) peppers
two- ish medium heads of cabbage
6 or 8 large onions
a handful of garlic
several hot peppers to taste (this year we used hot cherry peppers last year jalapenos)
1/4 or so cup mccormicks pickling spices (ground.... this is important cuz one year I just threw it in and had crunchy chow chow )
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 cup sugar to taste
2 or so tbsps salt to taste
1/2 gallon apple cider vinegar ( I finally figured out that you put the veggies in the pot and fill to about 3/4 with vinegar)
Chop all ingredients finely. Granny used to do this with a metal hand grinder. I use my kitchen aid food processor. Granny spent about 4 hours prepping and chopping...... It takes about 45 minutes with the kitchen aid. ( I don't even want to think how long it took great granny to chop it all by hand)
Put all ingredients in pot and let simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, tasting and adding peppers,sugar,salt until you get the flavor you are looking for. Put into sterilized jars, put on sterilized lids and water bath for about 20 minutes. Let cure ( put them in a cool dark place) for 6 weeks and enjoy.