Jul 082015

I’ve tried pickling everything I can get my hands on…yet no pickles?!


What’s up with that?! So yeah, I finally tried making my very own pickles! I bought a pickling cucumber plant and waited patiently for something to grow. And then I blinked and the plant had overtaken the entire planter bed. LOL Apparently it’s like zucchini…you only need one plant because it will be prolific. I saw some teeny tiny cucumbers growing and figured it would be about 2 weeks and then they’d be the right size. Well, the heat wave sped that up. They were slightly larger than I had planned on using for my first batch of pickles, but oh well.


I got some fresh dish at a local produce stand and then tried my hand at making pickles! Here is the recipe I used:

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickles

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 jars

From: http://thecreeksidecook.com/refrigerator-garlic-dill-pickles/#axzz3f4KTLSg4


  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • ½ cup pickling salt
  • About 3 to 4 pounds of cucumbers - small pickling cukes are best
  • 8 large heads of dill, or more if they are smaller
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 4 pinches red pepper flake
  • about 20 black peppercorns


  1. This will make about 4 quarts of pickles, so you need 4 1 quart jars with lids, or more if they are smaller. Canning jars aren't necessary, but they do need a lid. Wash in hot soapy water and rinse well [or run through the dishwasher].
  2. Measure the water, vinegar and salt into a 3 quart sauce pan and set over high heat - you want the salt to dissolve and the mixture to come to a full boil.
  3. Meanwhile, make sure your cucumbers are good and clean. Cut them however you like - the smaller the pieces, the more that will fit in a jar. I like spears, because they are pretty to serve, though if I end up with a lot of odd sized cucumbers, chunks may work better.
  4. In the bottom of each jar, place 1 large head of dill, or several smaller ones. You can also put in some of the fronds and stems. Then put 1 garlic clove in the bottom.
  5. Fill each jar with cucumbers - for spears, it might be easier to lay the jar on its side. You can really cram them in there tightly, but leave a good inch of headspace at the top, so that the brine will be able to cover the pickles.
  6. Top the cucumbers in the jars with another clove of garlic, as well as another large head of dill. You can just leave it at that, or for a little more complexity of flavor, add a scant teaspoon of mustard seed, a pinch of red pepper flake and 5 peppercorns to each jar.
  7. Carefully fill each jar with the boiling water/vinegar/salt mixture, making sure to get the cucumbers completely covered.
  8. Screw on the lids.
  9. Leave the jars out in the counter for 2 or 3 days, and then store in the refrigerator for at least two weeks before opening them.
  10. They will keep well for several months at least, so long as you keep them refrigerated. [Naturally, if anything looks or smells funky, discard them, but honestly, that happens very rarely.]

I added more red pepper flakes than the recipe called for because I love spice. The recipe was super easy. The one thing I had an issue with was that the liquid wasn’t enough for 4 quart jars. I’m not sure why–maybe I let the liquid mixture boil down too much? I have no idea. But I ended up having to make a second 1/2 batch of the liquid to finish up the pickles.


I also added some “pickle crisp granules” to each jar because I like crunchy pickles. The finished product:


It will be about a week or two and then I can open these babies up and test them out. I’m really excited about them! If this recipe isn’t perfect, I have two other recipes that I want to try and those both are recipes for canning (as opposed to just refrigerator pickles). I will keep you updated on how they turn out.

4th of July

It was a pretty low-key holiday this year. Usually our street goes all out with tons of giant fireworks and a BBQ and everyone does a potluck/drinking fest on our street. It’s always a good time. Sadly, a bunch of neighbors went out of town this year instead so it wasn’t the big affair it usually is.


We had our friends Mike and Susanna over for a BBQ and their oldest son brought some fireworks (and I got some of those Pop Its). Michael grilled up some ribs for dinner and we did corn on the cob and Baked Beans. I also tried a new (to me) beer! A Grapefruit Shandy. I only bought 2 bottles because I didn’t want to buy a 6 pack just in case I didn’t like it…and of course I loved it, so I wish I’d bought the whole thing. It was very refreshing and light for a very hot summer night.


After dinner we went outside and did the fireworks. Their youngest, Rowan, is 2.5 years old and just learning to talk and it’s so adorable! He repeats everything you say and he has a slight lisp when he says the word “yes.” “Do you want to throw some Pop Its?” Answer: “Yesh!” Haha. He’s a little rockstar too. He wasn’t scared at all by the fireworks and seemed fascinated by the whole thing.


The teenage neighbor kids were setting off the “real” fireworks once it got dark and we watched those for a bit. Then I went back to the house to be with the animals. They were all freaked out. :( Rowan found Maya (the super scared and skittish cat that hides most of the time) and Maya let him pet her! (Which is hilarious because she doesn’t let ME pet her…) Rowan said “I pet the nice kitty” and he did a very good job being gentle with the kitty. It was cute.


Unfortunately the animals were really freaked out. When it was bedtime Bella jumped up on the bed and slept between us because she was so scared. :(

The next day I went to a birthday party for my friend Debby. It was her 50th! She had the party at K Marie in Milwaukie. It’s a really cool idea for a party. Food and drink and arts and crafts! This time we decorated hat boxes. Since Debby went to Italy, Vienna and Paris to celebrate her 50th birthday our hat boxes were European themed!


It was so much and everyone’s hat box looked a little bit different even though we all used the same stuff. There was artichoke dip with bread and crackers, a refreshing fruit and mint salad and of course cupcakes!

It was a busy busy busy weekend but so good! And I was so happy to see so many friends!

Jun 162015

On Saturday we met up with some friends at the Sandy River Delta park. I’ve seen it on our drives out to the Gorge to hike but we’ve never been there before. It’s a humongous dog park! 1400 acres of trails and off-leash dog fun! If you live in the Portland area and have a dog, definitely check it out.


It’s a big park and it looks like all the trails connect. It’s really flat so more of a nature walk than a hike. We saw so many different breeds of dogs out there. It was pretty cool. One was a Pharaoh Hound, which I’d never seen or heard of before but it was a neat looking dog. We walked along the trail with our friends who had a 2.5 year old daughter and a dog and their friends with a dog joined us. The troop went down to the river to let the dogs go nuts.



Bella is such a water baby! And it was a hot day (hotter than was expected) so the dogs were super happy to splash around and cool off. It was fun just watching them spaz out in the water. Bella was hopping in the water and having a blast. I took a short video you can see it on my Instagram.



Bella was having a grand old time playing with her new friends. Getting filthy dirty and covered in sand. She was one ripe puppy! We spent a few hours with them at the park and then it was obvious the dogs were tiring out so we left. I went to the gym for a quick workout and then home to clean up. Then our friends invited us over to their place for dinner.

We sat outside on their lovely patio in the nice summer evening. They had some really tasty sushi as an appetizer (I think it had mango, tofu and something else in it). It was really good!



Dinner was grilled Korean short ribs (which we’ve never had before and loved!), brown rice and grilled broccolini with kimchi. Everything tasted so great. I wonder if Korean short ribs are easy to do? I kind of want to experiment on our own after trying them.


It was such a lovely evening and we talked late into the night until it was dark and time to head home (after grilled peaches for dessert). I love late summer nights!


On Sunday we had just enough time to do a quick hike in town before some friends were going to come over for dinner. I chose Marquam Trail to Council Crest Hike. We’d done part of this hike before and started at a different trailhead last time.  This time I think we picked up the trail about half way up Council Crest.

The trail was a bit steep in places and got my heart pounding. Bella was practically running up the trail when we first started out! We set a fast pace and in no time we were at the top, which I think was Council Crest Park. I’ve never been there before and it was a cute little park with fantastic views of the city in all directions!


We stopped in the shade underneath a tree for lunch and to give Bella some water. Lunch for me was some curry chicken salad and broccoli salad. Michael had a sandwich. It was a really nice park. And it was only around a mile to hike up to it from where we parked.



I didn’t realize how short the trail was (since we didn’t start at the beginning of it), so after lunch we decided to hike back down and then turn around and do it again. We saw a ton of other hikers, hikers with dogs and a fair amount of trail runners. It was a really popular trail and it connected to the Wildwood Trail, which is part of Washington Park.


It was nice for a hot day because a lot of it was shaded and it felt cooler than it really was. We stopped a lot for water breaks for Bella. We ended up hiking just under 4 miles. I burned 609 calories.


Sunday afternoon our friends Stu and Christi came over for dinner. She brought this gorgeous salad–strawberries, blueberries, hazelnuts and bleu cheese. It was a fantastic Oregon summer salad. I need to make this sometime. So light and refreshing.


For dinner I made this recipe, PALEO BACON WRAPPED CHICKEN STRIPS. It was pretty good but of course mine didn’t look like the picture! Next time I made this I will broil it for a few minutes at the end. I also made a cucumber salad.


We sat outside on the deck with some music and the fairy lights. Christi brought some tasty wine and a bottle of champagne. She also had this liqueur. A little splash of it in the champagne was really good! Not too sweet. But darn it, it was dangerous!


We ended up playing Cards Against Humanity until it was so dark we could barely read the cards and the mosquitoes were starting to eat us. Then it was time to call it a night. But I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard! It was such a fun night and the kind of evening where you feel like summer will never end.