Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recipes, Recipes and More Recipes

Kristina over at Pioneer Woman at Heart and Susan at e-i-e-i-omg! have been talking recently about working their way through their stash of "to try someday" recipes they've accumulated.

Kristina has been pulling out a not-yet-tried recipe, taping it on her refrigerator and making an effort to use it before the week is out.  Susan commented that she has a stack of new recipes about two inches thick.

To Susan I say, "Piffle!  Move over, girl.  I've got you beat by a long shot."

Do you see that open box pictured above?  The dimensions of it are 12" x 16" x 11" high.  It sits in the bottom of my clothes closet.  It is nearly full to the brim with recipes and other food ideas I've clipped out of magazines or newspapers, found on the Internet or in other bloggers' posts.

Each fall I make a To Do List for the coming slower (ha!) winter months.  "Go through and try or toss all saved recipes" is always on the list.  For how many years I'd be embarrassed to say.  (I probably can't count that high.)

So, being sensible about this situation, should I make it a priority (and just how would I do this short of hiring an armed guard to stand over me?) to really, truly dig into this box or should I take it all to recycling and unceremoniously dump the whole content in the scrap paper bin?

Anymore, I actually feel a bit of guilt printing out a new recipe to try or clipping one from a magazine.  Why even bother adding more to my box in the closet when I know those at the bottom of the stack must be ten (or even twenty -- oh, my!) years old?

Do you save recipes to try?  Do you place them in your super-organized filing system?  Or do they get squirreled away helter-skelter in a cardboard box like mine?  When you come across something that sounds like it will be a new taste treat for your family, do you make it immediately?  Or are you like me and it takes you years to dig it out and actually try it?  Don't be afraid to confess.  After thinking about this, I'm hanging my head in shame and feel it is definitely time to do something with that box in my closet.  Goodness knows, I can use the space for my four new pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes.  Hahaheeheeheehohohoho!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How Many Chopped Green Peppers Are Enough Chopped Green Peppers?

Last year I didn't keep track (when will I learn?) of the quantity of chopped green peppers I had frozen going into the winter season.  I do know I ran out sometime this early spring.  Or was it late winter?  Dunno.

Although fresh green peppers are available year 'round at our organic foods co-op, during the winter months they are quite pricey (and sometimes look like they've been separated from the plant they grew on for several months) so I tend to ignore recipes calling for green pepper as a key ingredient . . . unless I have a good supply from the garden in the freezer. 

Because the ones I just harvested weren't enough to make a batch of Stuffed Green Peppers (when I gear up the production line for making stuffed peppers I need lots and lots of peppers!), I chose to cut them up and freeze them in handy-dandy pieces.

I spread the pieces out on trays and left them in the freezer over night.  (No blanching required.)

This morning I shoveled them into a freezer bag where they remain fairly much separated into their individual pieces.

I can easily take out any amount I need for use in a recipe.  (About 3/4 to 1 cup of pieces equals one whole green pepper.)

The peppers I cut up last night measured out at just about exactly three quarts full . . . and I made sure to mark it down on my canning/preserving sheet for 2015!  I'll need more than this one bag full so hope to get more.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Go Figure . . .

I tell ya --- this gardening business.  I don't think I'll ever figure it out.

Remember my bed of green pepper plants that have been mysteriously dying, one by one?  (Another one kicked the bucket just yesterday.)

Well, the few that remain are producing peppers.

And what lovely peppers they are!

If all the plants had remained healthy and produced, it might have been downright scary.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It Happens Every Year

When we hit mid-August, the days may still be sweaty-warm, but the nights turn cool bringing in the definite feel of autumn.

On my way to get milk from the dairy early this past week, I saw the first orange leaves on some maple trees.  For some reason (although it shouldn't have been a surprise), this year it hit me like a brick.  Probably because we've had such a busy summer with so much going . . . and (surprise, surprise) the list is not completed yet.

Sure, we've still got a couple of months of nice weather, but for us up here in the very northern part of the States, summer is over, folks, so I'd better switch mind gears pronto.

Last night I finished putting by our quota of pickles for the year.  (After my encounter with the bumble bee a week or so ago . . . they are still thick in among the pickling cucumber vines . . . I pick wearing hubby's heavy bee gloves that come up to my elbows.)

The desired quantity of beans (green and yellow wax) are in the freezer.  I haven't canned Dilly Beans for a few years, and because Daughter loves them, she's volunteered to help make a canner or two full of them today.

Cut our first head of broccoli last night.  If you remember, I planted them from seed in the garden later this year in the hopes of missing the egg-laying stage of the dreaded white cabbage moth and be successful in growing broccoli without any (shudder, ish-ish) little green worms.  Looks as though (shhh, could it be?) this may have worked because the head brought in was soaked in warm, salt water to drive any of the little buggers out and nary a worm did appear.  I can only hope the rest of the heads are the same.

When I planted my tepee trellis
of morning glories this spring
there was a volunteer sunflower
growing in the center
of the tepee.
 The sunflower grew and grew and now
 reminds me of Nature's Christmas tree
 with a star sunflower on top.

I've started to clean up the garden as crops are finished.  Two 8' x 4' compost bins are being filled with the refuge, and Papa Pea has been adding dirt and chicken house bedding in layers. 

Tomorrow (and today, also) is to be gray and drippy.  I'm scheduled to get together with gal pals tomorrow morning for a little sitting, visiting, catching up and handwork.  (Handwork?  What's that?  If it doesn't involve harvesting, washing, prepping and preserving produce from the garden, I haven't done any of it lately.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

For Those Of You Who Asked . . .

I've had two requests, one from Laurie and one from Susan, for my dill pickle recipe, so here goes.

They're super simple (once you stretch every muscle you have planting, watering, weeding, harvesting the cukes, scrubbing all those little black prickles off the pickling cukes, hauling your jars out of storage and washing, checking to make sure you have enough rings and lids, getting your canner down from the top pantry shelf, and . . . oh, never mind) and they have always turned out great for me.

The name, Easy Boom-Boom Dills, is kinda silly and does have a story behind it, but it's not very interesting so I'll just stop rambling and set forth the recipe.  

Here goes.  (I think I said that before.)

Easy Boom-Boom Dill Pickles

In each sterlized quart jar, place a fresh dill head and a peeled garlic clove in both the bottom and then in the top.  In between, pack in as many pickling cukes (about a 3"-3-1/2" size is best) as you can.

If you pack the cukes in tightly,
none will float to the
top of the jar during canning.

Fill the jar to 1/4" of the top with a (hot) brine made up of 9 cups of water, 3 cups of apple cider vinegar and 6 tablespoons salt which has been combined and brought to a boil.  Adjust caps and process in a boiling water bath 15 minutes for quarts, 10 minutes for pints.

Seven pounds of pickling cucumbers and the above amount of brine comes really close to making exactly 7 quarts.  If I have any brine left over, I store it covered in the refrigerator and use it with my next batch.

These dill pickles come out nice and crisp and we've been happy with them for years.  And years.  A long time.

I think the secret of them being crisp is to plant and grow actual pickling cucumbers rather than using slicing cucumbers.  Also, plan to get the cukes from garden to canning jar as quickly as possible.  If you have to accumulate a couple of day's pickings to have enough for a batch, be sure to refrigerate them until use.  Or cut the cucumbers and brine recipe in half.  No problem there.

Once I read that cutting off the blossom end of your cucumbers would make for crisper pickles so I did that (what a lot of extra work), but we couldn't tell any difference.  But, as I say, these dills have always turned out crispy-crunchy for me anyway.

Some time I'm going to add more garlic to make Garlic Dills.  Or how about a hot pepper?  One year I didn't have any fresh dill so I used dill seed and that worked okay.  But fresh dill has such a good flavor that I grow plenty of it just for the dill pickles.

Any question, class?  Feel free to "raise your hand" in the comment section if I've missed anything, okay?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In A Pickle

No, nothing bad.  More like "In The Pickles!"

I spent the day canning pickles.  Did 14 quarts of dills and 8 pints of bread and butter pickles.  I have to check the totals of what I've done before, but I may be done with pickles for this year.

It was a perfect day for it as we had a much needed steady rain for most of the day, cool temps and I didn't even get over-heated.  The only downside was that dinner was just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches . . . and even that was delayed while I got my last batch in the canner.

Checking out blogs tonight I see I haven't been the only one doing a bunch of canning lately.  Click on over to Laurie's blog, 111 LaLa Lane.  That gal just processed FIFTY pounds ot tomatoes.  Kinda makes my pickling efforts pale in comparison!

How 'bout you?  Were you in a steamy kitchen today?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Okay, Got That Over With!

Don't know why Mother Nature has done this to us, but we have hordes (yes, actual hordes) of those big, fat, round bumble bees in the garden this year.

Because I get such a bad reaction from stings, I've been talking to the little buzzers constantly as I work in the garden:  "I know you have your place in the grand scheme of things and do good pollinating work and you know I won't hurt you, so please, please, please don't hurt me."

This worked until last Friday when I was picking pickling cucumbers.  I even had gloves on (which I hate to wear in the garden) when I got zapped on the middle finger of my right (of course) hand.

This guy is no doubt a close family member
of the one that got me.

But I was down and out for only a day and a half.  Laid out on the couch with an ice pack on my head and an ice pack on my hand.  Feeling crummy and fitfully drifting in and out of sleep.

I figure that was my sting for this year, so now I'm home free.

Hear that, you grumpy, ol', unfriendly bumble bees?