Jul 082015
 

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

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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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.]
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=47391

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Mar 312015
 

I fully admit that I am accident prone and kind of clumsy.

I’ve never used the mandoline that came with the salad spinner Michael’s mom got me for Christmas one year. It just seemed like a bad idea. Especially for me. But last weekend I decided that I wanted to try my hand at pickling some radishes (because I love pickled things and I recently discovered that I quite enjoy radishes so why not?).

I asked Michael if he wanted to help me with the Mandoline or take me to the ER. Either way, he needed to be aware and on hand. :) He said “didn’t it come with a widget?” I had no idea so we poked around and found a widget. He experimented and low and behold it was for the mandoline! YAY! I feel excited that we discovered I CAN use the mandoline with the widget thingy and I don’t have to worry about slicing off my hand.

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You stick the radish on the prongs and then slide it down the mandoline and your fingers are all intact afterward. Brilliant. I’ve often wondered why they didn’t come with like metal gloves or something because seriously, these babies are dangerous weapons!

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Tada! Sliced radishes ready for pickling and no fingers were lost in the making of it. I sliced up the bunch and some cuts were less attractive than others but it got the job done and I’m really excited to use this thing for other veggies! Here is the recipe I used:

Spicy Quick Pickled Radishes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

From: http://cookieandkate.com/2014/spicy-quick-pickled-radishes/

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch radishes
  • ¾ cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this yields very spicy pickles, so use ½ teaspoon for medium spicy pickles or none at all)
  • ½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds (optional)
  • Optional add-ins: garlic cloves, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds

Instructions

  1. To prepare the radishes: Slice off the tops and bottoms of the radishes, then use a sharp chef's knife or mandoline to slice the radishes into very thin rounds. Pack the rounds into a pint-sized canning jar. Top the rounds with red pepper flakes and mustard seeds.
  2. To prepare the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, honey or maple syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour the mixture over the radishes.
  3. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You can serve the pickles immediately or cover and refrigerate for later consumption. The pickles will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks, although they are in their most fresh and crisp state for about 5 days after pickling.
  4. MAKE IT VEGAN: Substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey.
  5. CHANGE IT UP: To the best of my knowledge, you can pickle any thinly sliced vegetables in this manner. Try carrot ribbons, cucumbers, red onions, cabbage and/or fennel! The thinner you slice the vegetables, the faster they absorb the vinegar solution and taste like pickles.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=46209

It seemed simple enough and I had everything on hand, except honey, but it said you could use syrup instead.

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I added the red pepper flakes and some of the peppercorns. I also sliced up about four cloves of garlic and added that to the radish mixture in the jar. I followed the instructions and boiled the water, vinegar, salt and syrup. I ran the jar under hot water then put the radishes, garlic, red pepper flakes and peppercorns inside, mixed it up a little and then poured the liquid in the jar. I mixed that up, sealed it and put it in the fridge. Unfortunately it takes a few days for the radishes to pickle and be ready to sample but I’m confident that they will be good!

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I waited about 6 days and then gave them a try. They were perfectly pickled! And SPICY!!! Super spicy. I loved it! I had some with dinner, which didn’t really go together but who cares. Pork chops with brussels sprouts cooked with bacon and onions, and the pickled radishes on the side.

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They were crisp and crunchy and like I said, very very spicy. I will probably eat this jar pretty quickly. :) I need to make some more!

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