Archive for Cooking

Pumpkin Sambhar ~ Literally!

During my short break from classes, I am having a blast just going to work and coming home — sometimes even having a day off like today. I was poking around for something to do with a leftover ‘pie pumpkin’ from the fall. After Halloween, a local farm stand had these for fifty cents apiece and I couldn’t resist — I bought three. Two went out to the deer.

two fawns
two fawns at the bird feeder in broad daylight ~ that’s how cold it is and how hungry they are

With the last pumpkin, I thought I might make this pumpkin soup in a pumpkin.

As usual when I have time on my hands (a rare occurrence these days!), my mind started turning after reading the recipe. I decided it would be far more fun to make sambhar. OK, I know, when is it NOT more fun to make sambhar? Never! But this sambhar is baked in the pumpkin.

I made a regular onion sambhar with some carrot as well. I added fennel seeds and fresh garlic to the usual tadka, and a pinch each of ginger powder and nutmeg powder with the sambhar powder. A little extra tamarind water offset the sweetness of pumpkin. I made the sambhar on the stovetop, but did not cook the veggies all the way. I hollowed out the pumpkin, rubbed it with oil outside, and filled it with the half-done sambhar. Baked in a 350F oven for about two hours, the sambhar came out delicious. The fringe benefit was the pumpkin bowl — its softened insides bathed in all the spices and just waiting to be scraped out into the sambhar. A little bit of trouble but well worth it!

pumpkin and onions
hollowed out pumpkin with unusually small regular yellow onions ~ I treated them as sambhar onions and they worked perfectly

sambhar ~ ready to bake in a pumpkin
all ready to bake ~ I covered the pumpkin with its natural lid for the first hour ~ then removed the lid and baked an hour longer

voila ~ sambhar in a pumpkin!
voila! sambhar in a pumpkin bowl ~ perfect comfort food for the cold weather

Comments (7)

Happy New Year!!

Just a few shots of low-key holiday happenings here in the beautiful north woods…

Wishing you lots of love, good health, and happiness in 2014!

winter birds
pileated woodpeckers in the front yard

meg in the leelanau peninsula
a wintry trip up the leelanau peninsula to show miss m sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore

sleeping bear nat'l lakeshore at Glen Arbor
sleeping bear point as seen from glen arbor ~ snow covered dunes

the new kitchen aid!
for christmas dg and I got ourselves a mutual gift ~ a kitchen aid mixer!!! seen here after whipping up maple buttercream frosting for miss m’s cookies :)

pileated woodpecker
pileated woodpecker at the window suet feeder ~ this amazing woodpecker is the size of a crow and so beautiful! we have three around the yard…

red haven peaches
summertime dreaming… locally grown red haven peaches

summer bounty in Oct
more summertime dreaming… the mess of tomatoes still ripening indoors in october

spice cabinet
dg built a new wall cabinet for spices and things… here it is in progress

the tree
the tree

Comments (2)

A Wee Christmas Verse and How To Wrap A Cat

‘Tis the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a kittie is stirring, not even to chase a mouse.
The stockings are hung by the wood stove with care
In hopes that Saint Kittielaus soon will be there.

The kitties are nestled all snug in their chairs
While visions of kittynip dance in their heads.
I’ve thrown down my apron, Meg’s picked up her book,
After hours in the kitchen, we’ve nothing left to cook.

So from Pinks and Daisy, from Gibby and Lemur
From little old Squeaker, asleep by the fire,
We wish you much happiness, your joy our desire.
And let us exclaim as we purr out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!

xmas eve kitty buffet
pre-christmas kitty buffet

xmas eve daisy
daisy, asleep in her chair

xmas eve pinks
pinks has decided he will not be starring in how to wrap a cat for christmas — the sequel

xmas eve squeaker
little squeaker is going on 22 yrs old…

xmas eve deer
magical deer outside ~ late afternoon on christmas eve

german apple pancake
we made german apple pancakes!

the golden boys
the golden boys

my christmas gift!
the best gift any day of the year ~ miss m is here!!

Comments (3)

Back To School

office assistant searching for APA citations...
my office assistant ~ searching for proper APA citations :)

After years away from school, I found a way to finish my bachelor’s degree online!

This is very exciting… but I don’t have a minute to breathe.
I work, I study, I sleep. When I study, I am lost in a sea of APA citations. When I sleep, I have nightmares about APA citations.
I think one could get a PhD in APA citations alone! :(

But all work and no play makes a grumpy Linda :)

Tonight I took an hour off to make to a dish I have been craving ever since I left Massachusetts — months ago now. I have canned jackfruit in the cupboard, which is what I always used. Somehow I had convinced myself that I didn’t have time to make it. I wasn’t worth it? HA.

Why do you suppose we deny ourselves permission to do the things we love best? Well, leaving social science behind, suffice to say that this evening, at long last, I made dear Solai’s jackfruit pirattal once again.

If you have never tried Solai’s jackfruit, I say, do! It’s beyond simplicity and beyond delicious. Plus it gives me reason to forage in the spice cupboard I took over in the north woods, which around here is affectionately known as “Little India”. :):):)

In the first three weeks of school, I have made A grades. The rice is nearly done. My kids, DG, and the kitties are cozy warm in their respective beds. All is right with my little world… and I hope, with yours too :)

Comments (3)

Weather With You ~ Spicy Brinjal with Shelly Beans

spicy brinjal with shelly beans
spicy brinjal with shelly beans

More lyrics, tonight :)

This time it’s an old favorite by Crowded House.

Listen here or just read, here :)

“Walking ’round the room singing Stormy Weather
At 57 Mount Pleasant Street
Well it’s the same room but everything’s different
You can fight the sleep but not the dream

Things ain’t cooking in my kitchen
Strange affliction wash over me
Julius Ceasar and the Roman Empire
Couldn’t conquer the blue sky

Well there’s a small boat made of china
It’s going nowhere on the mantlepiece
Well do I lie like a lounge room lizard
Or do I sing like a bird released

Everywhere you go
Always take the weather with you…”

— excerpt from Weather With You
(Neil Finn / Tim Finn)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Given that choice, this bird will sing, thank you :)

If only Nupur had time for another series; let’s say: The A-Z of Weather and Veggies!

I am prepared with “S is for Snow and Spicy Brinjal with Shelly Beans” ;)

wall 'o beans oct 4
wall ‘o beans ~ beginning of october

wall o'beans oct 23
wall o’beans ~ this morning

A heavy, wet snow fell overnight and the sun rose feebly over a winter wonderland complete with frosted trees and garden. Sadly, the weight of the snow was such that the sweet old apple tree out front was nearly toppled. Time will tell whether it recovers.

apple tree snowed under
the poor apple tree ~ nearly touching the ground

With snow covering the plants, and more lurking on the horizon, we hurried to finish harvesting the last of the garden. A few days ago we got in the last of the tomatoes and brinjals, a lot of peppers and a few other goodies. It had been unusually warm so we let the garden grow…

late harvest in northern michigan
late harvest in the north woods ~ few days ago

Today, in the fickle in-and-out sunshine of late afternoon, we picked all of the shelly beans and *another* big mess of papdi beans. I have no doubt these papdi would keep growing and growing. They are flowering yet. Perhaps next year I will plant them where they don’t have to be taken down with the fence! ;)

fresh papdi beans ~ variety priya
latest, greatest, and probably last mess of papdi beans ~ these will be prepared simply so DG can get a taste of them :)

OK, but what on earth are shelly beans? Good question!

Shelly beans are described nicely here in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and also here at BBB Seeds.

I have grown them in the past, but I didn’t know them as shelly beans. I knew them as horticultural or cranberry beans, and cooked them in succotash only.

Mom sent a few seeds of those cranberry beans for the Michigan garden. Planted in July alongside the Priya papdi beans and the long beans (of mixed variety), they flourished as did the others. When I mentioned the pods were turning cream-and-red, Mom told me to hurry and pick them for shellies.

Shellies. Who knew? I think we picked nearly two quarts of them today.

It may be a little late for them in stores or farm markets. It’s certainly late for them here.

shelly beans in the pod
shelly beans in the pod ~ greener pods yield plain beans, while the ripe cream-colored pod yields speckled beans

After learning about them, I knew what I had to do. I shelled those lovely beans. And then…

I thought of my great kitchen buddy, ISG — and how she always pairs brinjal with beans to such great effect. I know a good dish when I taste one; after years of tasting ISG’s recipes, I had no hesitation. Shamelessly taking my cue from her, (and mostly from her recipe), I dove under the bed to dig through my stash of spices. Armed with fresh coriander seeds (is that an oxymoron??), I headed for the kitchen.

Thus was born…

Spicy Brinjal with Shelly Beans

for the curry

a mess of brinjals (I had about 20 in all, small and medium)
one large red onion, diced, divided
4-5 medium fresh tomatoes, pureed (about 2 cups)
1 c shelly beans, shelled and boiled 30 min in salted water, drained
thick tamarind water from a large piece (about 1/2 cup)
jaggery to taste
salt to taste

for the paste

dry roast:
1/4 c coriander seeds
2 TB cumin seeds
a few methi seeds
a few curry leaves
3-4 red chiles, seeded (I used fresh from the garden chiles!)

Saute half the diced onion until lightly browned, then grind with the above to a paste.
Set aside.

for the seasoning

1-2 TB canola oil
curry leaves
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
half the diced onion

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To prepare:

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. When the oil is ready, add urad dal, curry leaves, hing, and mustard seeds. When the seasonings are hot, add half the onion and saute for a few minutes while you prepare the brinjals.*

Add brinjals and saute over med heat until they begin to brown and wilt. Clear a space in the center and add the ground paste. Cook this over medium heat, stirring, until the paste is fragrant. Keep stirring to coat the brinjals.

After five minutes or so, add tamarind water and pureed tomatoes. Mix well. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook about ten minutes. Now taste and add jaggery depending on the sourness. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and simmer until brinjals are tender.

Uncover, stir in the cooked shelly beans and additional salt to taste.

Serve with hot rice to soak up the spicy gravy, and pass the ghee, please!

spicy brinjal and shelly beans curry
oh so spicy brinjal and shelly beans curry ~ thanks for the great idea, ISG!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Slit long brinjals in four pieces, leaving tops intact. Make four cuts in smaller round brinjals. Cut any large brinjals into pieces to match the size of small brinjals. I even had some really tiny ones which I just slit in half as above. I did this while frying the seasonings, so I did not have to worry about discoloration.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are now five cats in the house…

lemur and gibby
the golden boys ~ lemur and gibby

pinksdaisy
pinks and daisy

Little 22 yo Squeaker is out in her cozy bed by the furnace…

All the kitties are safe and warm. All is well, and winter is coming…

I love it here :)

the kitties are in :)
the kitties are all snug inside

Comments (7)

Season of Change ~ Time Heals, As Do Fritters :)

autumn in northern michigan
stormy sky in autumn ~ my favorite!

Wow, this post has taken a long time to write. It’s cathartic and contains some things I needed to set out on paper — even virtual paper — in order to work through them.

Thanks for your indulgence!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have always been glad to live in a place where I can experience four seasons. Without winter, I don’t think I would appreciate spring. I’ve always especially loved autumn. In my old life, I looked forward to this season of change; trees adorned in flaming colors against dark and stormy skies and that brisk feeling in the air lending new energy to my walk and to my outlook on life.

Then last autumn came crashing in.

old house being packed up
living room of the old house ~ almost through packing

It’s just over a year since the Massachusetts house was sold.

It had to be sold and I was glad, but… it resulted in a period of panic and mayhem which gave way to a period of anger and frustration, all due to circumstances beyond my control.

Memories of that time are bitter, and I hate that.
I don’t like to be bitter. That’s not *me*!

Since April I have been racing from that old life headfirst into the new. I’ve been frantic.

Frantic is not good. It’s time to stop and remember. It’s time to assimilate all that happened. It’s ok to have a good cry over what should have been. It’s time to heal.

Therefore, I am doing my best to allow myself to feel every emotion I pushed deep down inside last year. If I can do that, I can continue to forge ahead into my new life with my customary enthusiasm.

My new life is a bright one and happy, but sometimes it’s hard to be cheerful *every day*.

It’s tough to be away from my kids. Though they are grown to adulthood I am forever bound to them. There are moments when I am a bit lonesome for the m’n ms.

I can’t always predict or control when those moments occur.
They sneak up and ambush me. I’ve had a good meltdown or two, lately ;)
That’s ok; it’s not my fault.

It’s natural.

who would not miss these kids  :)
the best kids in the world ~ nope, I am not biased :)

In my new life, I strive to make each day positive and peaceful after the uncertainty and upheaval of the past few years. Sometimes I succeed, other times I am still struggling.

I take comfort in believing that I made the best choices I could during a trying time — I did what I thought was best for both the kids and myself. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but this too shall pass. Time is a great healer.

So is love.

chickadee at feeder
autumn view at my new home ~ bird pond and chickadee at the feeder

There is a lot to be said for a small gesture made by one, which means so much to another. The old adage is true — sometimes actions speak louder than words :)

When the corn had been eaten (mostly by raccoons) and the plants began to fall over, I mentioned to DG that a corn shock would be the perfect autumn decoration. At that time, he didn’t really go for the idea — perhaps it was too festive ;)

Several days ago, a corn shock was waiting when I returned from work. Dear G made it for me. That small gesture, as well many larger ones have spoken volumes.

I am snug under a new roof, with a new room at the back of the house besides. The garage has been cleared so that my car fits in, and that enormous supply of wood mentioned in a previous post, cut and stacked by hand, is at the front door. All this is done in anticipation of the cold and snowy winter to come, and it is all very much appreciated by me.

awesome wood pile and corn shock made by dg  :)
the corn shock that DG made for me, leaning on the huge wood pile he made for winter warmth… yep, I am happy :)

Did I mention I have a little pumpkin and scarecrow near the front step, and the maize is hanging on the front door as I have always had (and probably he has never had) — making the new home more home-like for me.

So, to you Dearest G — thank you for your constant winter preparation, as well as festive fall decorations.

Thank you for your love; spoken and unspoken alike.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen…

I made some garden fritters a la Mandira!

I did make changes to the veggies. Mandira’s recipe called for besan, we had just picked green peppers, and I love green peppers and besan combo! I boiled the corn and cut it off the cob, and I added jalepenos. I roasted all the veggies in a non-stick pan with a spritz of oil. I tried two versions — with and without egg. The egg version came out something like a pajeon!

Both were great with maggi sauce :)

Garden Fritters a la Mandira
see original recipe here

For veggies:

2 c corn kernels (2 small ears, cut from the cob after boiling)
1 c green bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 large pepper)
2-3 jalepeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 c onion, diced

For batter:

1/2 c besan
1/4 c rice flour
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chaat masala
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste

water to make a thick batter
canola oil (or Pam) for spritzing
canola oil for shallow frying

optional: one egg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heat a nonstick pan over med-high heat and spritz with canola oil or Pam. Add diced veggies and let them roast for 5-10 minutes — it depends somewhat on the heat of your burners. We don’t want to burn the veggies, only roast them golden with a few dark spots. Flip and toss them from time to time, until they smell and look roasted. Remove to a plate and allow to cool for a few minutes.

pan-roasted veggies
pan-roasted: corn, bell pepper, onion and jalepenos

Meantime, mix the besan and rice flour along with the seasonings in a large bowl.

When the pan-roasted veggies have cooled, add them to the bowl of seasoned flours. Mix well and add sufficient water to form a thick batter. I used approx. 1/2 c plus a couple teaspoons.

thick batter for fritters
a thick batter for fritters ~ optional egg added after frying the first batch :)

Heat canola oil in a non-stick pan over med-high. When it’s hot, make the fritters by dropping spoonfuls in, flattening them as you go. Cook until golden and then turn to fry the other side — approx. 5 min per side but your mileage may vary depending on your burner.

Remove fritters and drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot with Maggi (dg’s favorite) or your favorite chutney/condiment.

*Optional: mix one beaten egg with the batter and cook in the same manner. These will be softer inside and more like a Korean panjeon. The jury is still out on which was tastier :)

garden fritters a la mandira
garden fritters a la Mandira! classic on the left and more korean/pajeon style on the right

autumn in the north woods
view from the mailbox is some changed from May ~ still a very happy camper!

Comments (4)

The Weather Rock

The weather rock sits outside the front door of the cozy red house. Who needs The Weather Channel?

If the rock is wet, it’s raining.
If the rock is white, it’s snowing.
If the rock is warm, it’s sunny…

weather rock welcoming autumn

the weather rock, dressed up for autumn in the north woods ~ where it is unseasonably warm (and raining)

Please go and visit my dear friend Shammi, who posted a perfect autumn recipe complete with turnips, mushrooms, and everyone’s favorite, pasta! Shammi, I love you for that post :) As miss m would say, YAY! ;)

Comments (3)

Surti Papdi Lilva Valor!? It’s All Poriyal To Me

beans and green chiles
just picked! beans and green serrano chiles

Surti papdi lilva valor!? I am so confused about these beautiful beans, I don’t know what to call them!

I’ve seen these in the Indian groceries for years and they were usually called papdi — this was on the east coast of US… for some reason I never tried them. Shame on me!

Now that it’s a day trip to the nearest Indian grocery, I’ll have to grow more veggies next summer. With these little guys, I am encouraged to do just that :)

A long time ago, I received a bonus packet of beans called Val Papdi, ‘Priya’ variety, in an order from Seeds Of India.

For some reason I never planted them. They moved with me to the north woods, where I doubted they would grow at all. As much as I love it here, the growing season can be much shorter than what I was used to — also, the seeds were old.

In spite of rather late planting and much company between dg’s pole beans and my mom’s cranberry beans — they have not only grown, but flourished!

wall o'beans
wide view of the ‘wall o’beans’ in august

cranberry bean from mom's seeds
cranberry or horticultural bean ~ seeds courtesy mom ~ they will be cream colored with red or purple streaks if they have time to ripen ~ you can see the streaks beginning to form

Suddenly we had all these lovely ‘Priya papdi’ beans and I didn’t know what to do with them. Over on facebook, Richa wisely suggested undhiyu! OH, that would be perfect, but I have no time at the moment to make muthia and no means of getting it frozen.

When I try my hand at undhiyu for the first time, I want to cook the *real deal* ;)

what is my name!? lovely papdi beans growing...
beautiful beans…

So, for a first taste, I looked for something simple that would showcase the flavor of this veggie which is new to me.
I finally settled on this recipe by fellow WordPress blogger Cheryl of Kitchen Kemistry. It was whipped up in no time and made an awesome lunch today. Thanks Cheryl!

harvest of beans
freshly harvested pale green beans ~ I love their graceful shape!

thinly sliced papdi? beans
the thinly sliced (papdi?) beans

frying seasoning
frying the simple seasonings

an ice cube for water
adding an ice cube instead of water ~ this impromptu trick worked really well and I will remember it next time I want crisp-tender veggies!

the finished poriyal
about fifteen minutes start to finish ~ fresh and fragrant papdi(??) beans poriyal

Incidentally, the Seeds of India listing above says the entire plant is edible including the leaves. If anyone has experience eating leaves of this plant I would be most interested to hear.

Comments (1)

Out Of The Surplus Garden ~ Plus Pickles as Promised!

“Where have all the bloggers gone….”

Sung to that old tune Where Have All The Flowers Gone, this phrase keeps running through my mind.

~~~ begin tiny rant ~~~

Time and again when I click on a link, from my own blog archive or another, and I receive the same message:

“To access your blogs, sign in with your Google Account.
The new Blogger requires a Google Account to access your blogs”

Where *have* all the bloggers gone?

I mean the bloggers of yore (if ‘yore’ means several years ago!).
I know life can come crashing in — often unexpectedly.

It happened to me.

I understand taking an extended break — I had to do so myself.
I know there are times when I can’t get motivated to post a thing.

I know blogging takes hard work, time, and a certain desire and drive to keep plugging away. It’s not very lucrative for hobbyists such as myself! ;)

I started my little blog venture purely for my own selfish pleasure. Along the way, I learned much, found camaraderie and friendship. For these reasons, I am thankful to be back once more. The thrill that accompanies each new visit to my old haunts — the same thrill that comes from a comment at my own humble blog-home — these have not diminished :)

That said, I do confess to missing some old friends. For example, Suganya would have liked the kitty pics I took last night…

daisy playing
daisy playing with her jingle toy

pinks talking to me
pinkie talking to me about how hungry he is ;)

Never mind, I tell myself… don’t look back. If you must, look upon the happy times and all you have gained from them!

And if you find yourself stalled in blog land with unpublished drafts in your dashboard, as I was for so long, here’s a thought. As miss m and I said to one another countless times throughout the past year of trial and tribulation… don’t stop, don’t give up! If you’re even thinking of giving up on just about *anything*, I promise you’ll think twice after viewing that little one-minute clip ;)

~~~ end tiny rant ~~~

Meanwhile, back at my dashboard….. several recipes lurk!

Lucky me, I have good friends out there; they never fail to come to my aid. Take dear ISG, who blogs all that tempting food for thought and plate, over at Daily Musings. I peeked in the other day and there was her perfectly timed vellarikka pachadi. I made this last night and it was awesome! I added brinjal and a couple of rogue okra, too :) Since we are still eating down a huge pot of rice and (green) beans, I wanted a little something fun to float in the curry — a la kadhi pakora.

isg's cucumber pachadi
ISG’s vellarikka pachadi ~ YUM!

Taking a stroll through my own archives, I found this recipe from Nags at Edible Garden, formerly Cooking and Me. Using that old standby Upvas Fasting Mix in place of besan, I mixed the batter and cooked it as a pancake, in a non-stick frying pan. Cucumber (yes, more cucumber!) took the place of potato and onion.

thick cucumber pancake
a thick cucumber pancake

It turned out better than I hoped — in fact it was great.
For once I didn’t skimp on oil for frying — I bet I used a whole TB! The pancake was crispy and crunchy outside, melting soft inside.

cucumber pancake
crunchy outside ~ soft inside

I broke this pancake up (after I ate about half of it hot!) and had it for my supper at work tonight, soaked in ISG’s pachadi — a loose and liberal adaptation of dahi vada with a double dose of cukes! ;)

my dinner
my dinner tonight ~ thanks ladies!

Cucumbers in check, next up was the gigantic lebanese squash. You may recall I was thrilled to have these growing earlier in the summer — and far be it from me to complain. Like plain old zucchini in Nana’s garden years ago, these did take over and come on much faster than I could cook ‘em. One day I thought they had all but gone by — I looked down to find this monster :)

miss squeaker and the squash
little miss squeaker isn’t much bigger than this squash ;)

Not to worry — as I was in backtracking mode, this chutney by Mythreyee’s hubby, originally using ridge gourd, came to the rescue! Lebanese squash is more watery than ridge gourd; it needed to be drained well before grinding and still came out a little thinner than I like. Nevertheless, it was as tasty as I remembered and also made a great, healthy alternative to guacamole. Served with Snyder’s of Hanover corn chips, it was a hit.

lebanese squash chutney
chutney made with lebanese squash ~ recipe by Mythreyee’s husband

Finally, we come now to the pickle section (just for you, dear sra)!

Disclaimer: Making pickles is fun and easy. Remember to follow safe food guidelines at all times. I have referred to USDA guidelines and others when preserving at home. I am not a food safety expert and am only relating what works for me in my kitchen.

Not to scare anyone off, just advising to err on the side of caution :) Here is a good place to start.

Food poisoning is nothing to joke about — if you make these or any other preserved product and you have the least inkling something is wrong — I would say follow that old addage: “when in doubt, throw it out”!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This bread and butter pickle recipe came from my mom. These are a treat because they’re not ‘sickly sweet’ like some bread and butter pickles from the store. I believe the addition of onion makes a difference too. The most important part, in my opinion, is to slice the cucumber and onion as thinly as possible. I like to use kosher salt — if you can’t find that, canning/pickling salt can be used. In a pinch, I am sure any coarse salt would work.

Mom’s Bread and Butter Cucumber Pickles

makes approx 2 pints

Vegetable preparation:

4 medium cucumbers
1 large yellow onion (preferably sweet)
2 TB kosher salt

cucumbers and sweet onion
cucumbers and sweet onion

kosher salt
kosher salt — my favorite brand is Diamond, but can’t find that in Michigan!

Pickling solution:

1 c white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c white sugar
pickling spice (optional)

white vinegar and sugar
white vinegar and sugar ~ brand is not as important as freshness!

pickling spice
commercial pickling spice ~ you can omit, or make your own with yellow mustard seed, clove, bay leaf, and black peppercorns ~ this brand uses cinnamon but I remove that

You’ll need several pint or half-pint sized canning jars, also called mason jars. How many will vary depending on the size of your cucumbers. After you’ve made pickles for awhile, you know how much they will shrink after salting and can estimate. This recipe made 2 scant pints for me. You can reuse old canning jars and rings as long as they are clean. It’s preferable to use new lids each time you make pickles.

canning or mason jars
this package of half-pint mason jars came with brand new lids and rings

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wash the cucumbers well. Cut a bit off each end. Slice very thinly and place into a large, non-reactive bowl.

Next, peel and wash the onion. Cut a bit off each end. Slice very thinly and place into the bowl with the cucumbers.

Mix the cucumbers and onions well, separating the onion rings as you go. Add the salt and mix again. Cover and leave for four hours, stirring every hour.

thinly sliced cucumbers and onions tossed with salt
thinly sliced cucumbers and onion are mixed with kosher salt and left to stand

While the mixture is salting, prepare your jars:

Wash jars, lids, and rings well in hot sudsy water. Rinse well in hot water. Leave the jars upside down to drain, in the dish drainer or on a clean towel. Place the lids and rings into a clean plastic or metal bowl.

canning or mason jar
a pint-sized canning or mason jar, showing the three parts ~ jar, lid, and ring

When four hours is up, transfer the cucumbers and onions to a large colander. Rinse well under cold running water, tossing and squeezing to remove as much salt as possible.

cukes and onion after salting
cukes and onions after salting for four hours ~ you can see how they have wilted down

rinsing the cukes and onion
rinse the mixture well and squeeze to remove excess salt

Fill a pot or kettle with enough water for sterilizing the jars, lids, and rings. Bring this to a boil as you make the solution below.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the vinegar and sugar together, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. When this solution is hot and the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Run the glass jars under hot tap water to heat and temper them. When the plain water is boiling, discard the tap water and fill each jar with boiling water. It’s fine to let the water run over the rim too. Fill the bowl of lids and rings with boiling water as well.

preparing the canning jars
canning jars, lids and rings prepared with boiling water to sterilize

Now it’s time to pack your pickles, one jar at a time.

Empty the first jar, taking care not to scald yourself with the boiling water. Set it on a clean towel to absorb heat. If you are using pickling spice, put a scant teaspoon into the bottom of the jar now. Using a clean spoon or fork, fill the jar with the cucumber and onion mixture. Pack it in lightly, leaving at least a half inch at the top to allow room for the pickling solution.

canning jar with picking spice
optional pickling spice goes in first

filled canning jar
the jar is filled with cucumber and onion mixture ~ leaving room for solution

Now carefully pour the hot pickling solution over the veggies in their jar. You can pour directly from the pot, use a clean ladle, or a clean canning funnel. Fill the jars nearly to the top. Don’t worry if you run out of solution, just make more using the 1:1 vinegar to sugar ratio.

canning jar filled with pickling solution
carefully fill the jar with pickling solution ~ use a clean fork to press around the side of the jar, allowing the solution to seep down to the bottom

Place the lid on the jar and then the ring, tightening gently.

canning jar with lid applied
first the lid is applied

canning jar with lid and ring applied
then the ring is fastened over all

If everything is sufficiently hot, you may hear a slight pop when you fasten the ring — this means the jar has self-sealed — it is nothing to worry about. You can test whether the jar is sealed by pressing gently in the middle of the ring. If it bounces back, it is not sealed. (Don’t worry if your jars don’t self-seal. These are not processed pickles and must be refrigerated at all times.)

Repeat the process until all the jars are filled.

Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. They should keep for about a month after opening.

mom's bread and butter pickles
mom’s bread and butter pickles!

I wish I could take credit for the beautiful red cucumber kimchi I made — alas I cannot. It comes directly from this recipe with all credit to Dr. Kim.

cucumber kimchi from Dr. Kim
Dr. Kim’s cucumber kimchi

And sadly, I am still working on the banana peppers. When it came time to open the jar, they were mushy and not at all what I hoped. When I get that recipe settled, I will post it.

banana pepper pickles
banana pepper pickles ~ heat packed and not crispy :(

Leaving you now with a halfway decent shot of a halfway unusual bird sighting a few days ago — a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. He was lunching in a tree at the top of the steps that lead to beautiful, ever-changing Lake Superior :)

yellow-billed cuckoo
yellow-billed cuckoo ~ in the upper peninsula

Comments (4)

Autumn In The Air

apple after early morning storm
ripening apple dripping rain after an early autumn storm ~ right in the front yard!

I arrived home to Michigan five months ago, but it feels like only yesterday. There has been much hustle and bustle around here of late, and every day seems to bring an exciting change!

A new roof sits on both house and garage and a brand new room was created in the old entry porch out back. While contractors worked, DG gave the little red house a fresh coat of paint, complete with tan trim.

Then it was time to clear out the garage so two cars can fit inside during the snowy weather to come.

front view of wood pile
woodpile seen from the front door

wood pile side view
side view of the impressive woodpile ~ a tremendous amount of work done by dg

For winter warmth, DG has worked hard, splitting and stacking over thirteen cords of wood. This is fuel for the wood-burning stove which, to me, a thing of beauty — presiding over the living room in its own fresh coat of black paint.

the all-nighter wood stove
patiently awaiting the first fire ~ the trusty wood stove

I envision a pot of bean soup bubbling on this stove during a winter storm, and it makes me smile.

In the kitchen, DG removed an old dishwasher and is building an open cabinet in its place, complete with tongue-and-groove paneling to match the rest of the room. Included with this new storage area will be a shelf, sized perfectly to accommodate the mixie in its box underneath.

building the new open storage cabinet
dg is building the new open cabinet

DG envisioned that project — a few days later, it’s becoming a beautifully built reality. I don’t have that sort of talent, but I am so happy to be here watching these ideas come to life :)

And now, regarding pickles…

cukes and tomatoes in late june
cucumber and tomato seedlings

Way back in June, it seemed the little cucumber seedlings would never take off and produce a fruit. Patiently we waited through June and July. Then, all through August and into September, the cucumber vines marched onward and upward. They now spill over the tops of the teepees we made, climbing over tomatoes on one side and weaving through the beans on the other.

bunch of unruly cucumber vines ;)
riot of cucumbers

Inundated with cucumbers (happily so, I might add!), we have been making pickles to beat the band. Refrigerator pickles are fun and easy to make — they require only a few ingredients and a little bit of time. You can tweak the amount of sugar and add or subtract seasonings to suit your taste — I would not recommend changing the salt or vinegar however — as they both act as preservatives.

I should mention here that these are not canned or processed pickles and I cannot vouch for their safety. They should be immediately refrigerated and kept so at all times. My own experience has been positive. Follow your instincts, and rely on food safety guidelines. Here is a good place to begin.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

1 lb cucumbers, preferably small
2/3 c white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c water
1 1/2 TB canning or pickling salt
1 TB sugar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed whole
fresh dill stalks (with leaves and heads) to taste
fresh green or red chiles to taste (I used serranos and the occasional jalepeno)
peppercorns to taste
yellow mustard seed to taste (optional)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prepare your jar and lid by washing in hot, sudsy water and rinsing completely. While it is still warm from rinsing, sterilize it by filling it with boiling water. I always let the water run over the top to hit the rim as well. Leave this boiling water in the jar and lid until you’re ready to fill it with pickle mixture.

Collect your cucumbers from the garden or very fresh from the farmstand. Wash them carefully under running warm water. Slice a bit off each end (this helps to keep the pickles crisp) and lay them aside.

cucumbers from the garden
cucumbers fresh from the garden

Prepare the brine: in a non-reactive pot (ie don’t use aluminum), mix the vinegar and water. Add the salt and sugar and stir well to dissolve. You can heat the mixture to aid in this, if you choose. Once dissolved, keep aside.

Prepare the garlic by peeling and slicing off each end — then crush each clove lightly with your hand or the back of a knife.

Prepare the hot peppers by removing the stem and cutting a slit through the side.

Prepare the fresh dill by rinsing and draining.

dill, garlic and chiles for pickles
dill, garlic, and chiles for pickles

Starting with the garlic, mustard seed, dill and peppers, pack your ingredients into a quart-sized jar. Add cucumbers as they fit best — some may go in straight up and down, others may do well laying crosswise.

laying on the cucumbers
cucumbers ~ washed, trimmed and packed for refrigerator pickles

When everything is packed into the jar, pour on the brine. Be sure all the cucumbers are submerged in the brine. Wipe the rim and threads of the jar with a paper towel. Fasten the lid and refrigerate at once.

In a couple of days, the pickles will be ready to eat. They taste even better as time goes by.

refrigerator dill pickles
just one of the many jars in the fridge now

Refrigerator dills are just one of many pickle projects. I have a bread and butter pickle recipe from my mom which turned out great — I’ll share that soon. Still working on the pickled banana peppers!

In the meantime, we are off to my beloved Lake Superior for a few days next week… I can’t wait.

Comments (6)

Older Posts »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers

%d bloggers like this: