Sep 032014
 

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I had some free time and our garden was exploding…I decided to make good use of my time and take care of all those jalapenos! We planted 18 plants this spring. I know, that sounds like a lot, right? Yeah, it kind of is a lot. Michael panicked though. Last year we had a bunch of jalapeno plants and we ate poppers and pickled the jalapenos and gave a bunch away. Mid-winter we actually ran out of our pickled jalapenos (which has never happened before). So Michael was determined not to run out this time. Hence the 18 plants (and the one random plant that turned out not to be a jalapeno).

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I picked a bunch of peppers and a few of the ripe tomatoes. I learned my lesson from last time I cut up the peppers. I used latex gloves this time! I ended up using the following recipe as just a guide. I think I tripled it because I had over 2 pounds of peppers. And that’s not even all the peppers! There are still tons out on the plants. Here is the recipe:

Pickled Jalapenos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
From: http://www.simplyscratch.com/2013/05/easy-homemade-pickled-jalapenos.html
Ingredients
  • 15 large Jalapenos, stems trimmed {discarded} and sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 cup Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Filtered Water
  • 4 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan combine the garlic, water, vinegar, sugar and salt.
  2. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once at a boil; add the sliced jalapenos pressing them so they are submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pot off of the heat and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use tongs to transfer the jalapenos into a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices over top until you've reached the top of the jar. Let cool at room temperature before securing a lid and popping them into the fridge.
  4. I personally, would treat these as I would any opened jar of jalapenos. They should last a long while if kept refrigerated in the airtight jar.
  5. Enjoy!

I’m excited to try these jalapenos because I think doing it this way (instead of just putting them in a jar with vinegar in the fridge for months) is much faster. I imagine these babies will be ready to eat soon! Look at these–the color was already different than the way we usually pickle them. I used a ladle to get the liquid and pepper rings into a big jar.

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In the jars with the liquid and peppers are some peppercorns and crushed garlic cloves. I tried to put as many of the jalapeno seeds in there as I could. I let the jar cool before sealing it and putting it in our spare fridge. I planned on testing them every week or so until I know they are ready to eat. Who knows, maybe they will be ready right away. We’ll see!

The peppers didn’t take much time so I decided to try my hand at pickling some other things. Next up: red onion. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. I absolutely LOVE pickled things. No matter what it is, if it’s pickled, I’ll like it.

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The recipe I found was for quick pickled red onion–which was perfect because I didn’t want to pickle it and can it for real, I just wanted a quick version that could go in the fridge and be ready soon. This recipe claims to be ready within a few hours of making them. I doubled the recipe for the onions because when I weighed them on my food scale it was closer to 12 ounces instead of 5 ounces like the recipe says.

Quick Pickled Red Onion

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

From: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-quickpickled-red-onions-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-193247

Ingredients

  • 1 firm red onion, about 5 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Flavorings (optional):
  • 1 small clove of garlic, halved
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 small springs of thyme
  • 1 small dried chili
  • Equipment
  • Kettle for boiling water
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Sieve or colander
  • Clean jar or container

Instructions

  1. Slice the onions: Start 2 or 3 cups of water on to boil in a kettle. Peel and thinly slice the onion into approximately 1/4" moons. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half.
  2. Dissolve the sugar and salt: In the container you will be using to store the onions, add the sugar, salt, vinegar and flavorings. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Par-blanch the onions: Place the onions in the sieve and place the sieve in the sink. Slowly pour the boiling water over the onions and let them drain.
  4. Add the onions to the jar: Add the onions to the jar and stir gently to evenly distribute the flavorings.
  5. Store: The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes, but are better after a few hours. Store in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks but are best in the first week.
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I’ve never par-blanched something before but it was super easy and I could tell the difference in the onions immediately after pouring the boiling water over it. After it cooled, I put the lid on tight and then shook it up a little to mix the peppercorns and garlic slices around in the liquid. I also added a little bit of red pepper flakes, but not tons.

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For dinner that night I made bratwursts with some sauerkraut (from Trader Joe’s–which is awesome) and I tried some of my pickled onions! I also roasted some zucchini in the oven with a little grapeseed oil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.

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My pickled onions were AMAZING. They were so good I couldn’t stop eating them! I even had some with a snack of crackers, cheese and tomatoes the next day at work. Love love love these onions. I will definitely be making more and will can them so I can make a bunch of store it in the pantry. Seriously, make this recipe!

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Aug 262014
 

My besties planned my bachelorette party. I had no idea what they were planning. My maid of honor, Rachel, set up a private Facebook account for her and the other ladies involved to discuss and plan in secret. Even when the day finally came, I had NO idea what was planned other than it wasn’t going to be your typical party–doing shots, staying out all night, going to clubs, etc etc. I was a-okay with that. I am getting older and the idea of doing shots sounds awful and even more awful? Trying to stay awake until 2am! Gawd I’m old. I’m not a huge fan of surprises because I am such a control freak, but it was kind of nice not being involved in any of the planning and just anticipating the event. Rachel said it was going to be a “day of shit Lisa loves”.

I did a quick mini workout at the gym Saturday morning, had a small breakfast and Michael drove me downtown to meet up with friends. It was Rachel (maid of honor), the bridesmaids: Erika, Robyn and my cousin Anna, as well my friend Samantha who is doing a reading at the wedding. We all arrived and we got in the tour van for EverGreen Escapes. It was driven by Dylan, who was very fun and nice and a great tour guide! He asked if I wanted to know what the day itinerary was and I said no. It was kind of fun being surprised! We drove towards the Gorge and he told us some historical and ecological things about the area that I hadn’t known before, as well as some of the Native American legends surrounding the “origins” of landmarks. Then we came to our first stop.

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It was a view point up by Vista House that I’ver never been to. We all hopped out and he took a few pictures for us then the girls decided it was time to deck me out with my outfit for the day. :)

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Then we got back in the van and went by Vista House and then down the old highway to the Bridal Veil post office! Remember, the one I was going to mail my invitations from? It was so cute in person!

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After seeing that Dylan drove us down a hidden road and we all got out in the middle of nowhere. It was weird and then he said that Sam had brought a bottle of champagne so she opened that up and he poured glasses for all of us and there were cookies too! Little macaroons. They were so tasty.

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We hiked a little ways up a hidden path and then we were at the Bridal Veil Falls. I’m surprised Michael and I haven’t hiked this one before. It was really pretty and quiet.

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After that we stopped by another waterfall along the highway and he said the next one was usually Multnomah Falls but we all said to skip it. We’ve all been there and done that and on a weekend in the summer? It’s a nightmare with no parking and too many people. As it was we sat in traffic for a bit trying to get through it all to get past the Falls! So instead he took us to Starvation Creek. Another hike I hadn’t known about!

It was lunch time so we drove to Hood River and stopped at this restaurant/deli. I don’t remember the name of it now but we got everything to go because it was so crowded and loud and Dylan drove us up to a viewpoint in the Fruit Loop. That was a much better idea! We sat outside in the sunshine and had like a picnic lunch, complete with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. There was a gorgeous view of Mount Hood behind us.

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When we finished up lunch they asked me if I knew what were doing yet. I said it was probably wine tasting. :) I was right! Dylan drove us to the first winery, Wy’East. It’s in the “Fruit Loop” in Hood River and they have really nice wines. Michael and I have been there once before.

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It turned out we had a private tasting and were seated on the patio underneath a big umbrella and vines of wine grapes. They brought out a snack plate of gouda cheese, crackers, toasted hazelnuts and salamis. We did the wine tasting and I really enjoyed all the wines we tried, even the Chardonnay (which I’m not really a fan of normally). I ended up buying a bottle of their Pinot Gris.

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I was not a fan of the Port so I poured that into Robyn’s glass. :) We made it work sharing stuff we didn’t like. The patio was so nice and there was a cool breeze. The day was warming up but it was just wonderful drinking wine outside in the sunshine. There were even a few cute winery puppies! Here was one that apparently loved cheese and salami. :)

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After Wy’East we went over to Cathedral Ridge, one of my favorites in the Gorge. I was a little worried because the weekends in the summer time are kind of a nightmare for wine tasting. Too crowded, too busy. But we were ushered to a back patio, shaded, for a private tasting!

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There was one white wine, that I loved and almost bought a bottle of. The rest of the flight was red wines. This is what happens when you go wine tasting with my cousin Anna:

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Usually when Michael and I go wine tasting together we split tastings. It’s more affordable AND I’m a lightweight so I don’t totally sloshed by sharing a tasting. But yeah, this day? I definitely got drunk!

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After the wine tasting we had some time before we had to head back to Portland (I am glad we only went to two wineries). Some of the girls pitched in for a bottle of red and we all shared it while we sat on a couch near the gorgeous view.

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It was such a gorgeous day! The weather was perfect, the wineries were gorgeous, the food was good. I had so much fun with my ladies and it was definitely something I needed after some of the UBER STRESS I’ve been dealing with lately. There was so much drama and stress and disappointment with a wedding vendor but I was able to completely forget about all that stuff and just enjoy my day. I was grateful I had such wonderful friends to help with that.

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And I was grateful that my friends chose the PERFECT day for my bachelorette party. They know me so well. This was a memorable trip and something that I probably wouldn’t have thought of myself. It was out of the ordinary for a bachelorette party and I loved it! Our tour guide, Dylan, was also a rockstar. Great sense of humor, wasn’t freaked out about a bunch of cackling hens drinking a lot of wine. ;) He drove us back to Portland and dropped us off at Rachel’s hotel downtown and gave us each a big hug and me a congratulations. What a great tour!

Sam had to take off and the rest of us ladies went up to Rachel’s room to freshen up before dinner. We walked a few blocks to Henry’s Tavern where we had reservations. It’s funny, we ran into two other bachelorette party groups. One of them asked to take a picture with me because part of their bachelorette scavenger hunt was to get a pic with another bride to be. ;) Thank god I didn’t have to do any of that stuff!!! Hahaha!

I definitely did not need any more alcohol but I ended up getting a beer with dinner–Boneyard RPM. I saw my beloved Boneyard on the menu and just HAD to…! Thankfully we’d all been drinking a lot of water all day and I drank like 8 pints with dinner, too!

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We all shared an order of Henry’s famous onion rings and I ordered their small burger with a side of Caesar Salad. LOVED their Caesar. It was just a bunch of romaine lettuce that they grilled, drizzled Caesar dressing on and then salted. It had a wonderful salty, smoky flavor.

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Dessert was on the house! That was very nice of Henry’s Tavern. Even though I was SO STUFFED I couldn’t think about eating anything more, I ordered the chocolate brownie sundae. It had ice cream, whipped cream and salted caramel. Thankfully everyone helped me eat it!

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After that we made a quick trip to the Spartacus store and then back to the hotel. Thankfully I was home and in bed by 10:30. No 3am here! I am really glad we didn’t do something traditional. It was a very long, very wonderful day and I could not wait to go to sleep. :)

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