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 πŸ™‚

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.

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6 Comments »

  1. Love that garden Linda. Those freshly made pickles must be a delight. I have a bone to pick with you. You came to DC and I did not know about that?(this is from your comment on the bittergourd post).

    Also if you have any mature over grown cucumbers save them I have a neat recipe for that coming up.

    Dearest ISG, do you think I could ever visit DC area and not tell you! πŸ™‚ I have so many cucumbers it’s not funny. Have given them away to neighbors and co-workers and still can’t use them up fast enough. Bring on the neat recipe, can’t wait! πŸ™‚

  2. Vani said

    That apple click is gorgeous! So much wood – DG must be really super-fit! πŸ™‚ Is that a kettle on top of the wood stove?

    Thanks Vani, I loved the apple pic too — just lucky with it dripping rain when the sun came out. That is indeed a kettle on the wood stove — it’s a humidifier in the wintertime. The beans will bubble on the lower level (under a diffuser). DG will like to read your comment πŸ™‚

  3. Nupur said

    Mmm- that beautiful apple looks so crisp and tempting! I have several refrigerator pickle recipes bookmarked and yours looks particularly good with cukes straight from the garden.

    I hope the apples taste as good as they look, Nupur! I am told they are ‘delicious’ variety, but not the same we would get in the stores. I’m also told November is picking time, so we shall see! πŸ™‚ The pickles are lovely — I didn’t get a good shot of the jar after it was filled, so will have to remedy that soon. There are a million pickles, for sure. I might try Indian variety if these things keep growing πŸ˜‰

  4. Thanks for the clarification Linda πŸ™‚ I should have know.

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  5. Finla said

    As usual i am in love with your garden and tha tpic if the apple is so beautiful. I love the smell of wood fire, here in winter while going for walks i get the smell from the chimmeny were ppl use wood for heating and i love that smell as it reminds me of home were we used to burn all the leaves from tha garden every week.

    There is a lovely new chimney here Finla, and lots of wood to burn over winter — I love that smell too! Glad it brought you a good memory. Thanks for your kind words as usual! πŸ™‚

  6. shammi said

    I love your garden, Linda. I must say I’m living my garden dreams vicariously through you πŸ™‚

    She with the purple peas and beans is living through my garden!? :):) Shammi, I’m living vicariously through your garden too! We can form the mutual garden admiration society πŸ˜‰

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