Pickled Okra Recipe

Canning…. I should be excited about this in the spring, but I never seem to get around to it until the fall.
Canning has a weird backstory. In a nut shell, Napoleon wanted to be able to better feed his troops during war. By better feed, I don’t mean quality. It was hard finding enough food to make sure large groups of soldiers could eat while on the road and it was equally irritating to have to haul a bunch of live animals and dried staples around to prepare meals. So, the French government offered a cash prize for someone who could figure out a cheap, fast and effective way of preserving food that could be taken on the road. In 1809, a brewer figured out that food cooked inside a jar didn’t spoil unless the jar leaked or broke. He worked on a method to use jars to seal in food, and won the 12,000 franc prize (about $175,000 today). So, what are we making today? Hot pickled okra. Yum!

 

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Materials:
1 big pot for boiling water
1 medium sauce pan for your pickling brine
Canning Jars, lids and bands (Half pints are fine as long as you don’t have okra that is extra long.)
3 cups of distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 -6 cloves of garlic – peeled.
4 – 10 fresh hot peppers
3 tablespoons of whole yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons peppercorns
1 to 1 ½ pounds of okra
Sieve
water
What I refer to as a “canning jar lifter”. It’s this thing :

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Procedure:
1. Clean your okra by rinsing it off under running water and shaking it dry. Set it aside for a minute.
2. Clean your canning jars and then put the okra top down into the jars. Try to get them as full as possible without smooshing the okra.
3. On top of the okra in the spaces, add your peppers and garlic cloves. This is one of those things where you do it to taste. Like it hot? Use hotter peppers and more of them. Want just a hint? Use a halved jalapeno that has been seeded.
4. In your big pot, boil a bunch of water. How much water? Not sure. To test this out, put one of your canning jars in the pot. You want the water level to be about an inch and a half or two inches from the top of the jar. Bring this to a rolling boil as well.
5. In your sauce pan, combine your vinegar, mustard seeds, peppercorns, sugar, kosher salt and about 4 cups of water. Heat all of that until the sugar and salt have been dissolved. After that, bring everything to a rolling boil.
6. Pour the hot brine into the jars, filling them so that there is about a half inch of room left. Try to keep it all on the INSIDE of the jar. If you spill, you will just have to do more clean up later. NO ONE WANTS THIS. You need to tap the jar gently to let any sneaky air bubbles rise to the top, but beware. You just put boiling liquid into a glass jar. It will be hot. I like using a dish towel wrapped around the jar as a hot pad for this part as you can grip it a little better.
7. If all of the above was theoretically done correctly, you should be good to seal your cans. I don’t trust myself, so I am going to reheat everything for a minute. To do this….
8. Turn your boiling water down to low and let the water settle for a bit. Then, using your canning jar lifter, put the canning jars (now filled with okra, peppers and pickling brine) into the hot water. The water level SHOULD NEVER REACH THE TOP OF THE JARS. The water will be displaced as you put more jars into the big pot, so you may need to scoop out a little bit of water as you go to keep the water level from rising too high.
9. Let everything get nice and toasty in the hot water bath. After a few minutes, use the canning jar lifter to pull the jars out. Set them on a towel or heat proof surface. Use a clean towel to wipe and dry the lips of the jars. Place a lid firmly on the jar and wait. After a few minutes, if the can seals, you will hear a “thwip” as a vacuum is created. Once you hear that noise, put on the bands, wipe everything clean and wait for them to cool to store in the pantry. The pickled okra can last several months!
10. BUT WHAT IF THE JARS DON’T SEAL? Stick them in the fridge and eat them in the next week or so.
11. The final step? Come to the OKRA Charity Saloon before the end of September to help support educational programming at the Museum. For more information, visit hmns.org/okra.

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And the skull goes to…

 

Will Carlson!

Earlier this month, we posted a picture of two 3D printed skulls and asked our readers to identify which dinosaur they belonged to for a chance to win their own copy! 
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This ten year old kid was able to identify the 3D printed skull of Deinonychus all by himself, with help only from his Dinosaur books at home. Most adults couldn’t do that!

 

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For his prize, we not only gave him the 3D printed skull, but I also led him on a tour of our Morian Hall pf Paleontology. I’ve showed a lot of people around that hall, but few have displayed the level of enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the subject of Paleontology like Will did. 

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Congratulations Will!!

 

Now let’s talk a little about the skull.  “Deinonychus? What?” you may say… “Who….?”

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Photo courtesy of Dallas Krentzel

 

Most people haven’t heard of Deinonychus, but they have probably seen them. The “velociraptors” in the Jurassic Park movies were basically Deinonychi. In reality, Velociraptor was a small dinosaur, about the size of a turkey. They were terrifying, and a pack of them could probably kill us all if they broke into the marketing offices here at HMNS, but small nonetheless

 

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Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

 

Deinonychus, on the other hand, was quite large, much larger than the Velocitraptors that have been discovered so far. Deinonychus grew to about 13 feet long and between 4 and 5 feet tall, similar proportions to the “Velocitraptors” you see in the movies. The name Deinonychus means “terrible claw” in greek, referring to the large second toe claw of the animal, most likely used to pin down its prey as it tore away at their flesh.

 

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Photo courtesy of James St. John

 

Deinonychus is important in the history of paleontology because its initial scientific description by Dr. John Ostrom of Yale ignited the classic debate over how active Dinosaurs were. Up to that point, dinosaurs had been generally regarded as “sluggish lizards”, wallowing in shallow water or competing in stop-motion style fights. However the similarities between the skeletons of Deinonychus that had been discovered and that of modern birds led Dr. Ostrom to theorize that these animals were active hunters who were agile enough to take down prey that was much larger than they were.

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HMNS Weekly Happenings

Cultural Feast – Oktoberfest: The History and Science of Beer

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In 1810, King Ludwig I of Bavaria proclaimed that the last sixteen days of September, ending with the first full weekend in October, should be set aside for feasting and beer drinking. To commemorate this tradition, join HMNS at St. Arnold Brewing Co. for the history and science of beer making. Tour St. Arnold³ production facility with founder Brock Wagner and special guest Scott Birdwell of DeFalco’s Home Wine and Beer. Drink your fill of brew and enjoy Bavarian pretzels and sausage.

 

Hosted at St. Arnold Brewing Company. 21 and up only.

Tickets $59, Members $49

Advance ticket purchase is required by September 25. No refunds will be made 72 hours before the event, however tickets can be transferred to another individual. Please notify webmaster@hmns.org with your name, transaction number, and name of the guests using your tickets.

 

Lecture – Archaeological Legacy of Poverty Point by Diana Greenlee

Factory-made modern cutting implements versus hand crafted, all natural paleo-cutlery (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory

Factory-made modern cutting implements versus hand crafted, all natural paleo-cutlery (Image Credit: Gus Costa, The Flintstone Factory

 

A remarkable earthworks complex that was built and occupied by American Indians from about 1700 to 1100 BCE in what is today northeast Louisiana is designated Poverty Point World Heritage Site. Some archaeologists refer to Poverty Point as the “New York City” of its day because it was so huge, sophisticated and out-of-character compared to everything else going on at that time. Trading hub, engineering marvel, monument to ingenuity—the original configuration included five earthen mounds; six nested, c-shaped, earthen ridges that served as the habitation area; and a flat interior plaza.

 

Although it is not the oldest or the largest mound complex in North America, it stands out as something special—a singularity—because of its scale and design, and because the people here lived by hunting, fishing and gathering wild foods. Also, because there was no naturally occurring rock at the site, tons of stone for tools and other objects were brought in over distances up to 800 miles. At Poverty Point, we can glimpse a reflection of humanity that no longer exists.

This program is co-sponsored by Fort Bend Archeological Society and Houston Archeological Society.

October 4, 2016 at 6:30pm

Tickets $18, Members $12

 

Coming Soon!

 

Class – Bruise and Laceration Make-Up Tutorial

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First Aid? More like Worst aid! Get ready for Halloween with this special class, a favorite with the staff. You will learn how to create realistic bruises, poorly stitched wounds and bloody bandages. Need to look worse? You’ll also practice making and applying Gel Wound lacerations for that extra special touch. We promise you’ll look terrible when we are done with you. Each ticketed participant will leave with their own Ben Nye Bruise Wheel and an applicator sponge as well as a spare bloody bandage and spare laceration. The class is open to all ages, but anyone under 17 must come with a grown-up.

October 8, 2016 at 9:30am

Members $40, Adult Tickets $50

 

Lecture – Deep Life: The Hunt for Hidden Biology of Earth, Mars, and Beyond by Tullis Onstot

Photo by NASA

Photo by NASA

 

Taking us to the absolute limits of life–the biotic fringe–where scientists hope to discover the very origins of life itself, Dr. Tullis Onstott of Princeton University will explain how geomicrobiologists are helping the quest to find life in the solar system by going to uncharted regions deep beneath Earth’s crust. The recent discoveries of exotic subsurface life forms are helping understand the possibilities of life in the Universe. Book signing following lecture.

October 12, 2016 at 6:30pm 

Tickets $18, Members $12

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Happy National Pancake Day Breakfast For Dinner

 

In honor of National Pancake Day, A Fare Extraordinaire is celebrating with our favorite party trend – Breakfast for Dinner! Whether it’s a birthday celebration, a baby shower or intimate date night for two, we love incorporating breakfast food items during dinner time.

BRUNCH seems to be everyone’s favorite meal, so why not bring the brunch to dinner? Breakfast foods are fun to incorporate into any menu because it is easy to turn them into cute, petite bites. One of our favorite brunch items are our Petite Pancake Stacks.

 

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AFE Petite Pancake Stacks
Short Stack of Three Mini Pancakes
Topped with a Banana Slice
Presented with a Custom Beaded Pick
Dusted with Confectioner’s Sugar
*Chocolate Chips Optional But Strongly Encouraged*
Pancakes are an easy way to add a filling food item to your brunch display. We also love pancakes because you can add a large variety of toppings and sauces to appeal to different palates and tastes. At AFE, we love adding chocolate chips into the mini pancakes and a banana slice as a topper….and you can never go wrong with a little bit of powdered sugar!

 

These mini stacks are as easy, if easier, than normal sized pancakes. Simply mix your batter and pour it into a squeeze bottle or a pastry piping bag – this will allow you to control your batter portion and standardize the size of your stack. Heat you portable pancake griddle and squeeze sandollar-sized pancake batter onto the griddle. Once the batter begins to bubble, it is ready to be flipped! When each pancake bite is complete, you can stack 3-4 pancakes on top of each other with any topping of your choosing. Skewer them with a beaded pic or bamboo skewer. 

 

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To compliment these precious petite pancakes, we recommend creating a full brunch display. Dinner is always a heavier meal, so incorporating a full display with endless options will be sure to fill your guests for the evening. Be sure to tie on some savory items to complement the pancake sweet tooth. Some of our go-to savory “breakfast for dinner” items include: Bagels and Lox & Chicken and Waffles. Enjoy!!

 

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Blog Post by A Fare Extraordinaire, Photography by Meredith Marceau

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