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! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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And if you find yourself stalled in blog land with unpublished drafts in your dashboard, as I was for so long, here’s a thought.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 πŸ˜‰

~~~ 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 πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

miss squeaker and the squash
little miss squeaker isn’t much bigger than this squash πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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

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4 Comments »

  1. shyam said

    Why are they called bread-and-butter pickles, do you know, Linda? Also, re your little rant… I felt guilty because I KNOW I should post recipes rather than let my blog die a slow lingering death – but inertia is a dreadful thing! The more you sit on it, the less you’re able to take off running *sigh*

    Not to make you feel guilty at all, Shammi! You could always post some of your fabulous veggies — if I wasn’t on FB I never would have seen those πŸ˜‰

    Bread-and-butter pickles, not sure why they are called that, other than they are nice with a bread-and-butter sandwich…? Will research that and get back with you. Thanks for stopping by!

    ~~~~~

    OK, back with a little update — I found an interesting link here which seems to incorporate my own hunch, plus other ideas… hope this helps! πŸ™‚

    • shyam said

      Thanks, Linda. That was an interesting series of posts! I love cucumber in every form – pickled no exception πŸ™‚

      I would have shipped you an airmail parcel, Shammi, had I known………. fresh cukes still coming on here!! πŸ˜‰

  2. sra said

    Linda, loved the pickling pix and that pancake looks glorious! Thanks for the recipes.
    My question was actually about how you would finish off all those jars – on FB you said that the photo there was only the tip of the iceberg! πŸ˜€

    When we were kids, my grandmother would make these pickles with tendli (coccinea), whole onions and one or two other vegs. I remember she used to add cloves and don’t remember any sugar – it was a hot and sour mix from the cloves and the vinegar. Probably she was experimenting, because I remember them making an appearance only now and then, not regularly.

    Today, I made a snake gourd-curd chutney, just stir fry the vegetable with some salt, green chillies and tempering, grind it and stir it into some thick curds. Lovely!

    Oh Sra, sorry about that, the joke’s on me then! πŸ˜‰ At least that prompted me to get a step-by-step recipe down here again. As for how to finish off all those jars — I don’t stand a chance! There are at least three GALLONS of dill pickles I haven’t photographed.

    In older US cookbooks there are loads of recipes for mixed pickles like your grandmother made — Penn Dutch especially seem to have alot. Sugar is not always such a featured ingredient. As for your snake gourd chutney, I am green with envy. Can’t get a snake gourd without traveling hundreds of miles — but next year I will try growing them πŸ™‚ It sounds delicious!

  3. indosungod said

    That fake dahi vada was a brilliant idea. Delicious! And those pickles looks fantastic. Bread and butter pickles had me curious . That kimchi pickle sure looks great as well.

    ISG, that curry was sooo spicy good and definitely a keeper! The pancake was a little decadent but it was sure tasty πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recipe!

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