“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 with her jingle toy
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And if you find yourself stalled in blog land with unpublished drafts in your dashboard, as I was for so long, here’s a thought.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 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.
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.
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 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 :)
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.
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
4 medium cucumbers
1 large yellow onion (preferably sweet)
2 TB kosher salt
cucumbers and sweet onion
kosher salt — my favorite brand is Diamond, but can’t find that in Michigan!
1 c white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 c white sugar
pickling spice (optional)
white vinegar and sugar ~ brand is not as important as freshness!
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.
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 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.
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 onions after salting for four hours ~ you can see how they have wilted down
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.
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.
optional pickling spice goes in first
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.
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.
first the lid is 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!
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.
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 ~ 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 ~ in the upper peninsula