08 November 2010

Kool Point Relish

Kool Point Relish is one of those things that takes me back to my grandmother's kitchen. In her life I don't believe there was much of anything she didn't can, freeze or dehydrate at one time or another. My grandparents got married in May 1929 - just before the stock market crash that started The Great Depression. My Mom was born in early 1930. There they were: newly married with a baby and an economic crisis that those of us who didn't live through it can't really understand.

I suspect my grandparents were always frugal as they came from farming and cattle families who always grew their own food. But the situation in which they found themselves at the start of their married life really sealed their values of being self-sufficient, "Waste not, want not", and kept them on the path of always providing for their immediate family and anyone else they could help along the way. My grandfather gardened every year in a HUGE garden and produced most of the vegetables they ate. I rarely ever saw commercially canned food in my grandmother's pantry. It was all jars and jars of beautiful home grown fruits and vegetables.

My grandparents lived in northwest Louisiana. There are lots of waterways in Louisiana and fishing is a way of life for many people. Atchafalaya blue catfish are particularly prized in the inland areas. 40 to 50-ish years ago there was an eating establishment on one of these lakes called the Kool Point Restaurant. It specialized in fried catfish.

Now my grandparents weren't much for eating out, but my grandfather was the Mayor of their town, so meals in restaurants were sometimes required. Along with the fried fish and hush puppies served at the Kool Point Restaurant there was a hot/sweet green tomato relish. Most gardeners know that at the end of the season there are always green tomatoes that have to be picked when the first frost is coming. My grandmother had several ways she preserved them, but she and my grandfather found this relish to be particularly tasty. One day she decided to ask the owners of the restaurant how it was made and they gave her the recipe.

The Kool Point Restaurant has long since disappeared into the memory of time, but once my grandmother got the recipe we always had Kool Point Relish around. I helped my grandmother make it any number of times. But my grandmother crossed over in 1988. Since then I've been making Kool Point Relish every few years. When we were expecting the BIG FREEZE this past Friday night, I picked the remaining herbs, hot peppers and green tomatoes that were on my plants in the containers. And my sister called and asked me did I want the green tomatoes off of our plants that she was growing for me. Well of course I did! There wasn't any Kool Point Relish made the last couple of years and I had been wanting some. So ask and ye shall receive.

Big basket of green tomatoes:

There were enough tomatoes for three batches of relish. This time I did not follow the recipe exactly. I did as my grandmother would have done. The recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped hot green peppers. My grandmother used whatever colour hot peppers were picked along with the green tomatoes. I had a jalapeño plant that produced very hot peppers this year. I used 4 to 5 of those (and nearly all of them were red) in each of the three batches and they were hot enough for me! A cupful would have made the relish too hot. It pays to know your ingredients. BTW, while it is OK to decrease the amount of peppers, you shouldn't increase it. You need to have maintain enough acidity for safe storage after canning.

Veggies chopped and in the maslin pan:

Jars of relish, sealed and cooling:

From the three batches of relish I got three pint jars and six 1 1/2 pint jars.

Besides serving this with fish, the relish also makes a nice appetizer. Pour it over a block of cream cheese. Or mix it into cream cheese and make a cheese log or cheese ball. Or simply spread cream cheese/relish mixture on crackers. Depending on how small you chopped your veggies for the relish, you might need to chop them a little more before mixing with the cream cheese. I usually chop the relish and mix it with the cream cheese in my food processor.

Kool Point Relish

1/2 gallon chopped green tomatoes (8 cups)
1 cup chopped hot green peppers
3 cups chopped onions
1 Tbsp plain salt
1 cup vinegar
3/4 pound sugar

Drain juice from vegetables and mix all ingredients. Cook till tomatoes lose colour, but do not boil. Pack immediately into scalded jars and seal. Using a boiling water bath canner, process pints for 10 minutes, 1 1/2 pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20 minutes. Remove from canner and set on tea towel to seal and cool.

Notes: Serve with fried fish. This is also excellent with cream cheese for an appetizer. You can pour the relish over the block of cream cheese for people to serve themselves. Or you can mix the relish into the cream cheese and make a cheese ball or spread it on crackers.

I'm linking this recipe to Kim's Saturday Swap over at Quit Eating Out. Click on the logo to check it out and join in the fun.

Bookmark and Share


Together We Save said...

Looks a lot like what my grandmother called chow chow!! Looks yummy!

Craig Miyamoto said...

Well now, THAT looks like some major yumz!

Cathy said...

This sounds very similar to a relish my mother in law made years ago. Love the idea of serving it with cream cheese and crackers.

Daphne Nicole & Lynda Cade said...

It looks yummy... thanks for sharing!!! Blessings~~~ Daphne

sweetlife said...

I love your Kool point relish, and the history makes it even more tempting..how nice that you were able to make some this yeqar, I bet your grandmother would be happy that your passing her great recipes...


Becky said...

Thanks all! I love keeping the tradition of my grandmother's recipes going and have been passing them along to my girls. Neither one of them has been interested in canning yet. But maybe someday. I at least have the recipes written down.

We don't eat enough fried fish to use up all the relish, so I was thinking about what else I could do with it and hit on the appy idea.

Craig, it is one of those yumz. Hope Diane got a good report yesterday.

Erica said...

That Kool Point Relish looks wonderful, but I don't think in my garden I can gather so may green tomatoes...But I especially love the story about your Grandparents and that you are passing along the 'family' recipes to your girls.....

Anonymous said...

Becky, I LOVE recipes that have a personal meaning. Thank you so much for sharing this special recipe with us. I want to try my hand at canning and would love to try this recipe. Just love the recipe and the story! Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation said...

Loved your sweet family memories. I remember my grandparents telling similar stories about the depression! I'll have to tell my senior mom about your relish recipe as she has a handful of green tomatoes left from her summer gardening. :) Thank you.

Lisa said...

What a lovely story. I could have kept reading. I love recipes that have a story behind them,,,especially history of two people in love who seemed to thrive during the hard years. What a heritage.I am going to have to wait to make this until next year. I am excited! Thank you. I am visiting from uit Eating Out.

Candi said...

SO glad I found you tonight! I've been scouring the web for recipes to use up green tomatoes. I have quite a few little ones from our garden and it's going to freeze tonight. I was going to try my hand at Chow Chow, and this recipe looks really similar. We use Chow Chow with Soup Beans and Cornbread, can't wait to try this! Thanks!

Becky said...

Candi, I hope you will enjoy it. My grandmother's chow chow always had cabbage in it and didn't have the sweetness of the Kool Point Relish. Both are delicious, though. Have fun!