Sunday, November 29, 2009
Eight cucumbers from the garden, after discarding one that was drying in the center, gave roughly five cups of sliced cucumber. This was an easy and simple recipe for a first attempt that resulted in three pints of pickles put up in the freezer and a half pint in the fridge. That half pint didn?t last long either.
2 pounds pickling cucumbers (about 6 cups)
2 to 3 tablespoons pickling salt
1 large or several small carrots, grated (between 1/2 to 1 cup depending on taste for carrot)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 teaspoons or no more than 1 tablespoon freshly chopped dill
Wash cucumbers well. Cut off the blossom end plus about an inch then slice 1/8th inch thick. Toss well with two - three tablespoons of pickling salt, cover with a clean dish towel, then let set on the kitchen counter in a cool spot two to three hours. In case you might consider munching on a salted slice, just trust me, don?t.
After standing for a few hours, drain. In a separate bowl, mix one half to one cup of grated carrot (more if you like carrot, less if not so much), one and half cups sugar, one and half cups cider vinegar and a couple teaspoons or one tablespoon of fresh chopped dill. Stir until sugar has dissolved fully. Pour over cucumbers and mix well, making sure all slices are coated. Refrigerate eight to ten hours, or overnight.
Using tongs place cucumbers into freezable food grade plastic containers or freezer bags. (Supposedly you can also use wide-mouth canning jars.) Ladle in enough liquid to cover cucumbers. Allow one inch headspace for expansion and place into the freezer. When hankering for your homemade pickles, take out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. For a faster defrost, place the sealed container in a bowl of cold water and run a stream of cold water continuously until contents are defrosted. Never let food defrost out of the refrigerator without a running water cold bath.
If when thawed there is a bad smell, cloudiness in the liquid, bubbles or when you eat the pickles there is a sensation of carbonation, toss the batch. Something went wrong and they are not safe to eat. For additional information on how to safely home can and pickle, check out Putting Food By, by Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan. (Go with the latest edition because well, things change and what was thought safe once may not be considered safe now.)
Homemade icebox pickles - make the most of your garden harvest. Enjoy.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The air is crisp, bright with the blue sky sharply contrasted by the yellowed Poplar leaves that linger on the trees still. This afternoon the Bug and I sat watching the wind toss leaves from the trees across the yard, dancing in small swirls against the concrete grey steps into the kitchen. The dog ran wild from one end of the yard to the other then dug into the wood chips until just the right three inch slug of bark was found. Ignoring the cow femur in the grass, the dog crunched down upon the wood, slivers caught in thick saliva hanging thick from the side of her Mastiff/Lab jaw. Thicker than gravity's pull, the spit held hanging off her jaw, wood slivers encased in slime. Bug found this exceedingly funny.
Friday, November 27, 2009
What does a baby find funny? Apparently, incongruent behaviors. The Bug laughs when mom pants like the dog, when a face coming down to kiss growls and gobbles baby belly. Bug belly laughs also come when wild dog comes out to play and charges around the yard, to and fro, with a quick play bow in front of baby before galloping away instead of the usual lying around sleeping. Discovering what will make the baby laugh, and not just little laughs but rolling laughter that continues on and on, now that is fun.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The first attempt at a winter garden grows slowly. Tomatoes from the spring garden continue to ripen while the vines wither in the cool evening temperatures. Almost December but no freeze yet so I’m inclined to see how long they will keep producing. Alternately, could look for a green tomato recipe and put up what remains on the vine. I recall my mother making strawberry jam when we’d visit upstate New York where she grew up and my grandmother’s root cellar with shelves full of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, pears, apples and more. Growing up in Florida with nearly year round access to fresh produce, mom didn’t continue to can and never passed on the how and why of proper canning. Now I’m into my fourth or fifth season of urban farming and I suppose, the natural progression is saving the excess for beyond the growing season. I’ve got some books, acquired supplies, and am hunting down a local class or workshop. Hopefully, I won’t poison the family.