Monthly Archives: September 2009

No-canning-needed quick dill pickles

My imprecise recipe 

Best pickles!!!These pickles are AWESOME (as you can see from my gratuitous use of exclamation points on the recipe card). The friend who shared her recipe calls them refrigerator pickles. Since you don’t process them in boiling water (i.e. can them) you have to keep them in the fridge, but that’s what makes them so crispy. I’ve made these with my friends for the past few years (pickling is always more fun with a friend) and they earn high marks from pickle-lovers.

First, find yourself a few pounds of pickling cucumbers. These are small varieties especially made for pickling – I’ve had better luck finding them at farmers markets than the grocery store.  If you grow your own cukes and want to pickle them, make sure to only use the ones that are small, firm, and darker green. Last summer I grew “asian cucumbers” and they worked beautifully too- they were very dense and had small seed cavities. Wash your cukes and set them aside. Next, bring to boil in a big pot:
4.5 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
6 tablespoons canning salt

Spices ala carte

Repeat: "I am the SPICE MASTER"

I have found that most very very good recipes (i.e. my gramma’s baked beans) contain moments of imprecise-ness. Here is where this recipe allows for personal interpretations. You’ll need some faith in your ability to estimate the spice ratios. You can do it!Spice the jar

In each (previously washed) canning jar, put approximately:
2 bay leaves
big sprig of fresh dill
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1-3 dried chili peppers
a couple cloves of fresh garlic
a pinch each of whole coriander and whole allspice

Pack the cucumbers

Pack each jar with baby cucumbers. I like to keep them whole, but I've also tried halving or quartering them.

Fill with vinegar/salt solution

Fill with vinegar/salt solution

Wait a few weeks

Wait a few weeks

Fill each jar nearly to the top with boiling vinegar/salt solution. Put the lid on, put them in the fridge, and wait a week or so. From what I’ve read online you’re only supposed to keep the jars around for a few months. If you and yours love dill pickles then it’s no concern because they’ll be gone much sooner. Since I’m the only dill-pickle-eater in my house sometimes it takes me a while to eat through them. In case you’re in the same situation, I can assure you that I’ve eaten them 6-8 months later with no ill effects (if anything, they tasted even better!).

Color Week – Plum

packing up

packing up

Last weekend Read packed his plum-colored suitcase for Italy, where he’ll be interning for a few months. Sam heard Read tell about the salami and cheeses of Italy and thought it was worth trying to go along. Sorry Sam. 

A stowaway!

A stowaway!

Color Week – Chestnut

I know…this is super sappy but Sam’s eyes ARE a nice chestnut color.

Samson contemplates the arrival of fall

Samson contemplates the arrival of fall

Color Week – Goldenrod

Halfway through color week and there are so many great photos from fellow participants

Making apple butter

Making apple butter

This photo was taken in my uncle’s goldenrod-insulated pole barn and it documents my favorite fall activity – canning a GIANT vat’s worth of apple butter with my extended family. Gramma and Grampa have been doing this forever, and now my generation of cousins is learning the process.

Gramps checks how far it's cooked down

Gramps checks how far it's cooked down

Everyone brings their dogs. And snacks. And beer. Gallons of diced apples are cooked down with gallons of cider, and then you add an amount of sugar that no dentist would approve of. It takes about a half-day worth of stirring (hence the beer…sometimes with a game of euchre). Then in the words of my gramma, once the boiling bubbles make this noise – “bloOOP bl0OOp” –  it’s ready to can (classic gramma recipe instruction). One vat makes about 33 quarts.

Color Week – Burnt Sienna

 

The horse across the fence

The horse over the fence

I have never plunked down the cash for a salon dye job. This horse got me thinking maybe I should – then maybe THIS color could be mine. The perfect mix of orange, red, and brown. I found Mr. Horse loitering by the fence eating grass, totally oblivious to the fact that his natural color is completely impossible to get from a box of dye. When it comes to reddish hair dye in a box, there are wayyyy more bad ones out there than good ones (if I owned a scanner, this is where I would insert photographic evidence in the way of my prom photo, circa 1999).

Color Week – Brick Red

Monday of Color Week, hosted by Elsie Marley. First up is brick red. 

Boxes waiting for walnuts

Boxes waiting for walnuts

Read and I spent some time walking around his parent’s property this weekend in Oregon wine country. Their fields run alongside a walnut orchard. These boxes are stacked, waiting for ripened walnuts.

Color Week from Elsie Marley

Meg at Elsie Marley (check it out – great photos and craft ideas) sent out an invite for a fall-inspired “Color Week.” This is where participants post photos each day of a certain color.  For this upcoming round, Meg has selected her favorite fall colors from a box of Crayola Crayons.

Sore subject, that big box of Crayola Crayons. As a kid I had one goal every August – negotiate for more crayons when back-to school shopping. I would first pause to drool over my coveted prize – that HUGE box of 120. Do you remember that box? It was wonderful. It had every color imaginable…ones like seafoam and cornflower and brick red. That was definitely aiming too high. So I’d then select the box of 48 and explain how it was necessary for the more refined art projects we were sure to have in third grade. My mom would compare the prices, drop the box of 12 in our cart and cheerfully suggest, you can blend them. NOooo another school year filled with fruitless attempts to blend 12 crayons to get flesh tones. WHy WHY??

colourlovers.com

colourlovers.com

What memories does a box of Crayola crayons bring back for you?  In looking for pictures of crayon colors I stumbled across this blog entry from Colour Lovers. The RGB swatches for the box of 120 is awesome, and a good cheat sheet for Elsie Marley’s upcoming color challenge. What is your favorite crayon color? Mine is midnight blue because there was something elusive about it – I could never recreate it by blending my blue and black crayons.