Six pints of pickle relish ought to be plenty, at least until I taste it.

Assault of the cucumbers continues unabated, so I made an attempt to work my way through some of them today.

I thought I’d given this latest harvest, some 10 pounds of cucumbers, away, but in the haste and hustle to get us and all the needed accoutrements out to AGC 2’s birthday party last night (A fine time was had by all; icing was smeared liberally, much juice was consumed, and gift bags were ripped asunder with glee), I failed to put them outside for my friend to pick up. So I’ve still got these:

The garden that keeps on giving.

As well as about twice that many that I picked today. I’ve decided I’m going to try to make the classic half-sours, a fermented pickle, with the rest, and maybe a quick batch of cucumber salad. And then I’ll start trying to give them away again, because, y’know what? The zucchini are about to start up.

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Happy Independence Day, y’all!

Whew. Long holiday weekend began about a cocktail and a half ago. And none too soon. I am not suffering fools gladly today.

This is an odds and ends posts, designed to catch up on a few things and ease us into the holiday weekend, which I am welcoming with Moscow Mules and salsa with chips and grated cheese. Don’t judge. It was that or Asian takeout, and I didn’t want to get up and get out to go get the Asian.

Holiday weekend will begin tomorrow, when I bestir myself from bed and set out for the Farmers Market and other assorted errand-running, and come home to do some serious cooking and housecleaning.  On my “get it” list at the market: sweet corn, peaches, more canteloupe, whatever else looks good. Cabbage, if the market still has any, and I’ll make some kraut, being I never got around to the last kraut I was going to make, and chunked the elderly cabbages yesterday. Thank God I at least have a compost bin.

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A peck of pickling

June 27, 2017

Here. Here’s a post I wrote four days ago, but didn’t have the photos edited to go with it. Here it is, with photos. Also, Good Night.

Pretty bread-and-butter pickles in Weck jars!

How it was, was, like this.

I had been out of town for a week. Before I left, I checked the garden. Picked a handful of tomatoes, a couple of banana peppers. Took them with me for a hostess gift.

It got hot while I was gone. Gardens, and things growing in them, like hot.

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Thinking about Christmas….

November 4, 2016

holiday-basket…baskets, that is.

Long-time readers will recall that I make annual Christmas baskets, collections of goodies, for gifts for some family and friends. It’s about the time of year I start thinking about what’s going to go in those baskets.

Yes, I know it’s hard to think about Christmas when it’s 80 degrees outside and you still have tomatoes on your vines. I can’t help global warming. Work with me, here.

I’m thinking this year’s baskets are going to lean toward the savory, a turn of mind inspired when I canned jalapeno peppers someone gave me last week. Such pretty, Christmasy-looking things they were.

Well, why not? Maybe not pickled jalapenos, but something leaning in that direction?

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All up in a pickle

August 2, 2016

Horseradish pickles. Hope they're as good as Boar's Head.

Horseradish pickles. Hope they’re as good as Boar’s Head.

Lord have mercy.

I have been in the kitchen, y’all, really, I have.

I have been pickling. Oh, and canning tomatoes.

In the past week, by my count, I have canned 11 pints of tomatoes; three quarts and a pint of tomato juice; seven half-pints of tomato sauce; 11 pints of Old South lime pickles; three quarts of sour pickles; and 12 pints and two quarts of horseradish pickles.

The shelves are starting to look full.

This all started because Child A asked me one evening as I was shelling peas for the freezer, “Mama, how come you never make any Grandpa pickles? As much as you like to can, I would have thought you would be all about making Grandpa pickles.”

"Grandpa pickles," waiting for taste-testers.

“Grandpa pickles,” waiting for taste-testers.

By way of explanation, “Grandpa pickles” are the name my children give to a salty, sour, slightly hot dill pickle, which my mother used to can by the metric ton, because Daddy carried ’em in his lunchbox every day God sent, to eat with his sandwich for lunch. They are a vinegar pickle, not a brined/fermented one like kosher dill, and they’re canned flavored with garlic and dill, and canned with a whole jalapeno in each jar.  And my children will sit down with a quart of them and eat the entire jar at one sitting.

Once, in fact, when the kids were all up at Mama and Daddy’s, Children A and B gave Child C, who was at the time about 4, the jalapeno instead of a cucumber, telling her it was a “special cucumber.” She took a big bite and immediately screamed bloody murder.

My mother quickly came to investigate, and didn’t take long to determine what had been done. She quietly went downstairs, got two more quarts of pickles, fished out the jalapenos, and made Children A and B both eat one.

Child C, of course, thought that was just excellent.

My mother was pretty good on this Golden Rule thing.

Anyway, I got to thinking about that, and wondering why I never made pickles, because I love ’em. So I decided, OK, I’ll make some Grandpa pickles. And, y’know, since I really prefer sweet pickles, I’ll make some of those lime pickles. And, wow, wouldn’t it be great if I could duplicate those Boar’s Head horseradish pickles I love so much, particularly since those suckers are $4.99 a pop for a pint jar?

First up were the Grandpa pickles. I went looking for my Mama’s old recipe box — I have it here SOMEWHERE — in the hopes the recipe might be in there. It may well be; I haven’t found the box yet.

So I went online and found a recipe I thought looked similar to how I remembered Mama making pickles 40 years ago, and I went by that. It’s a very simple brine of half and half water and cider vinegar, with a cup of kosher salt to every gallon of brine. I packed the cucumbers and the jalapeno into quart jars, heated the brine, poured it over, sealed the jars, and processed 15 minutes, sometime during which I remembered I’d forgotten to add the dill seeds. (Mama always used a couple of florets of fresh dill flowers).

Opened a jar a few days later for Child C to sample.

“They’re close. They’re REAL close,” she said.

I take that as a win.

Lime pickles, soaking. These babies are SWEET.

Lime pickles, soaking. These babies are SWEET.

The lime pickles are by the recipe on the back of the Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime bag. Mama didn’t make those real often, but she did occasionally. These turned out pretty good.

So all that I lacked was the horseradish dills. At the market Saturday, one of the farmers had baskets of big, straight cucumbers, between 6 and 8 inches long and between 1 1/2 and 2 inches in diameter. Perfect for horseradish dill chips, to eat alongside or on a sandwich. They were $3 a basket of 6 or 7 cucumbers.

“How much apiece if I buy four of ’em?” I asked. He thought for a minute and knocked off a buck apiece. Sold.

So today, I got the cucumbers out of the fridge, where they’d been soaking in a dishpan of plain water overnight. Sliced ’em up. Put ’em back into ice water while I ran jars through the dishwasher and sterilized lids. Distributed garlic, dill seed (remembered it this time!), and prepared horseradish into each jar, packed in cucumber slices. Made up a weak brine of vinegar, sugar and water, boiled that, and poured over it.

My kitchen estimator has, by the way, gone to hell in a handbasket. I figured maybe a dozen pints of pickles, and whatever was leftover I could use in a cucumber salad.

A dozen pints did not put much of a dent in the dishpan of cucumber slices. I grabbed two quart jars that had also gone through the dishwasher, prepped those and packed them full. Still lots of pickles left. Damn cucumbers were like the loaves and fishes. I finally made a quart of refrigerator pickles and put the rest to another use (later post coming on that).

And I reckon I’m through pickling. Unless maybe I decide to pickle some beans or maybe some okra.

But we’ll have pickles with our sandwich when you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come over!



Puttin’ up

July 26, 2016

Pickles! First of several batches to do this week.

Pickles! First of several batches to do this week.

It’s that time of year.

Produce is flowing in (well, not really from my garden, but everyone who didn’t break their ankle and screw their garden for the year), and it’s time to fill up the canning shelves and the freezers for the winter.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing, little bits at a time, so’s not to put too much stress on the recovering leg. I’ve put up enough peas, I think, for the winter, just a few packages of peas at a time (not that peas are much work to put up). I’ve done eight pints of corn, and have corn to work up tomorrow that’ll be about that much more, which will be about all the corn I have room for. I’ve put up three half-pints of tomato sauce from the back yard garden, which is at least still yielding me lots of Romas, grape and cherry tomatoes.

Tomato sauce. From my own tomatoes!

Tomato sauce. From my own tomatoes!

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A dilly of a bean

May 20, 2016

Pretty looking things, aren't they?

Pretty looking things, aren’t they?

Consider the humble green bean.

I grew up on ’em, simmered long and slow in a saucepan on the back of the stove, with a piece of salt pork for seasoning, or, if it was pot-luck Sunday at church, in a three-bean salad. Helped snap and string hundreds of bushels of ’em during my childhood. Learned, after I grew up and got away from home, to enjoy them in other preparations, like barely sauteed with some soy sauce and a little sugar; steamed until they were just barely crisp-tender and then dressed with a little butter and some tarragon, or in a salad Nicoise, which is not one of my huge favorites but is certainly OK.

More recently, I have learned to can them in a light vinegar solution, so’s to be able to water-bath them instead of pressure canning them, and I’ve learned to stick them in the oven with soy sauce, brown sugar, crumbled bacon and mustard.

And now I have made a pickled green bean.

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