Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homemade Dill Pickles (fast. . . no canning required!)

So far I've made three batches of homemade dill pickles. Every morning I go into the garden, there's a another "surprise" cucumber. This is my best cucumber crop yet. A few years back, my first pickling disaster was so salty, it nearly required eating a pound of bananas to offset the spike in my sodium levels. A detox from dill pickles then ensued. This recipe is forgiving and allows for some latitude in the amount of salt you'd like. I prefer my pickles a little more briny and less salty.

 The cucumber season has been plentiful. I planted about six seeds back in April indoors. They were about two or three years old. Truth be told, cucumber seeds will produce better the older they are. (When they fall off the cliff in terms of their germination rate, I have no idea--but I had read this fact about the cuke seeds and fortunately for me, I am always saving seeds.) Thus, I am experiencing my first "old cucumber seed" bonanza this summer.
 At first, I wasn't sure I'd have room for them--they spread and like tons of garden space. If you're savvy about it and have the "energy"--they will climb a trellis. I skipped the trellis. But I did give them plenty of room to grow. I have pickling cucumbers and slicers. The difference being, one is for pickling (obviously). The pickling cukes are smaller and quite prolific producers. I companion planted them with two bronze fennel/dill plants and zucchini. I love the bronze fennel against the bright green of the other foliage. Companion planting tip: always plant dill with your cucumbers!  

Grab some pickling cucumbers the next time you're at the farmers' market. Then rush home and make these dill pickles. Or next  year, plan ahead and plant your own cukes. They are incredibly easy to grow and will do well in containers, too. The best cucumbers are made from the most freshly picked cucumbers. Ask the grower when the pickles were picked. 

Ask if Peter Piper picked them. . . just get them as fresh as you can.

Grab some pickling spices. The difference in your pickle flavor will be amazing. The McCormick's brand is the one I used. 

Because you aren't using a water bath canning method to make these pickles, they are only good for about four-five days in the fridge (if they last that long). Store them in a glass container with a lid and enjoy!

Homemade Dill Pickles 
*Adapted from Rachael Ray

3-4 pickling cucumbers sliced on the diagonal about 1/2" thick
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic minced
2 T. fresh dill chopped
2 tsp. pickling spice

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add vinegar, sugar and salt and bring just to a boil. In a medium bowl--one that is a bit flat (so the cucumbers can be submerged in the vinegar to soak up all the goodness) add your cucumbers, garlic, fresh dill, and pickling spices--toss together in a bowl. Pour the warm vinegar mixture over all of this. Carefully toss the pickles around a bit to make sure the pickles all have a chance to soak up this yummy mixture. Store them in the fridge. These are better after they've had a chance to cool. *Note: if you taste the mixture and feel there needs to be more salt, just sprinkle more over the pickle/vinegar mixture.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Blogger Photo Restoration Complete! (How I Fixed the Google Plus "Mess"-- You're Welcome)

I am not going to tell you the last few days has been easy. A nightmare is more like it. (Felt like I was trapped in a cage with spider monkeys.) This "blog photo disappearing act" tragedy has happened to other blogspot bloggers. I feel your pain and possibly this made me even more determined to find a solution to this mess that nearly wiped out SIX YEARS of my digital life. Here's a caveat to remember: if you are going to blog on a free platform, recognize there are risks you take in doing so. I don't claim to know the inner workings of Google any more than the next person. However, I sort of have an "in" with regard to how search works (those digital footprints and detritus)--and his name is Dr. Thyme. So to you DH for these little monster moments you had to endure as I sat feverishly plucking my blog posts from cyberspace (dear god, over 450 of them)--thank you for your patience and understanding--and tissue-box-replacer man.

I hope in sharing my story, I am able to help at least one more person who may experience a similar meltdown, er, "problem". Or prevent the same disaster from happening to someone else.

Now for the details--and this is not complicated, but is very time consumptive:  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We Have A Problem. . .

Well. I think this may be my official "undoing." It appears the entire six years of photo history within my blog has been wiped away. All except those I decided NOT to delete in Google+. Why, may you ask, would you EVER do that? Delete photos. To save space, silly. I had moved my photos from my phone onto Google+ (to shore up more space on my phone--like you are supposed to do, like you are told to do). While doing so, decided, well, since I was "in there," may as well free up more space in Google+, because wouldn't that be nice to free up space for Google? So I deleted some photos of "old food" and whatnot. Years. Of. Food. And. Whatnot. . .GONE.

Never, never realizing for one single moment that I had just deleted 99.9 of my blog photo history. Because I am prone to hysterics, and yes, you could say I am near hysterical right now, I called my DH. Oh no, he said. When he says "oh no," this is very bad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes with Black Raspberry Buttercream Frosting (. . . I was "berry" surprised by Rubus 'Bristol'!)

Vegan Thyme: Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes with Black Raspberry Butte...
I was out in the back yard yesterday and had an I Spy moment while walking the kids. Mother Nature had gifted us with canes and canes of black raspberries. Apparently we once lived on top of a berry plantation. Out of sheer laziness I had decided to not "bother" trimming back some overgrowth of the thistle-bearing sticks that for years have demanded some attention from the pruning sheers. They are the ugliest things, really. And in winter they stick out of the ground with their red stems like nobody's business. All over. I am forever walking by the ragged jumbles telling myself get to those sticks. Never made it this spring. 
Lucky us!
Whoa. So glad I let things "go" a bit. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kelp Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing (Um, I may have a yarn "problem" plus we go hither and yon)

It was only a matter of time before "kelp" entered this blog. Last month, DH and I were searching for a vegan eatery in St. Louis. Finding a vegan restaurant in STL is very simple--there are only a handful. I overwhelm easily, so it's a win-win for me in deciding. We were near Forest Park, PuraVegan was ohsoclose. So that settled it for us. This isn't a restaurant review post, but if it were, major kudos would be handed out. I decided to have a kelp noodle salad. Dr. Thyme had the vegan burger. (No surprise there.) What happened next changed my eating for about two weeks. Kelp was all I could think about. Kelp was all I wanted. 


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