Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Farm Report

Another lovely Saturday. Really, although its predicted to be only in the high 60s today (a record is expected; lowest high ever!) and mostly cloudy, it means that we've had some good rain this week, and we'll have a break from the heat. In general, our weather has been good this summer. Warm enough to grow things, cool enough to be comfortable, wet enough so things are really, really green, dry enough to enjoy the outdoors. Yes, we have mosquitoes, and flies, but we have Cutters, so alls good!

We've been eating green beans, basil and tomatoes from the garden. Potatoes are almost ready to be dug, at least some small, new ones. Flowers look nice, horse is grazing well, and poultry is growing plump and sassy. Speaking of sassy, a Jersey heifer of that name should be gracing our pasture soon! I am a little reluctant to mention it until its a done deal, because I want it to happen, but it looks pretty likely that, within two weeks or so, we will once again own a cow. A cow, no less, who will calf in the next year. -squee!-

Today I will be painting. We're moving bedrooms around, and that involves changing of colors and fabrics. It's a girl thing; you might not understand! This time around, because of our age and family situation, it seems like it may be "permanent." I'm choosing colors wisely, because I think I'll have to live with them until we can sell this place.

But I'd best get at it. I leave you with a view from my kitchen window.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's Time For Pickles!!

Yes! It's been AGES!! When someone makes your blog a writing assignment, you avoid it. That's what I learned.

Anyway, a couple of friends were looking for some certain recipes, and this is the easiest way I know to share them. So, without further ado...

I make gobs of these. I use a Red Wing 2 gallon crock that I have, or some 1/2 gallon Mason jars. I usually have a jar of these steeping in my frig. One recipe brines one gallon of cukes.

Boil 8c water. Stir in 1/4c pickling salt and 1c white vinegar. (I use Heinz. It's more expensive, but it tastes better. Remember, I've been making these for at least 20 years and have used LOTS of white vinegar. Heinz tastes better.)
Let the brine cool to room temperature; you're trying to make refrigerator pickles, and you don't want them to "cook."

Wash the cukes and put them in your container. I have cut them up or just left them whole; either way makes scrumptious pickles. In my 2-gallon crock, I put 2 fresh dill heads, 3 whole but cleaned cloves of garlic, 2T mixed pickling spices and 2 bay leaves. Depending on the size of your container(s), divide up the seasonings accordingly. Pour the brine over. I put them in the frig with a plate pushing the pickles into the brine, and plastic wrap over the top of the crock. In 2-3 days, they become half sours. As they sit longer, the flavor intensifies. Pickles put in the brine in September and eaten on Christmas Day are awesome!
(Caveat: I have been told by the professional pickle gurus at the Extension Office that I will die if I eat those September pickles in December. I have not, nor have any of the many people to whom I have served them. Your mileage may vary, and I just wanted you to know.)

Again, I usually have a jar of these in my frig.
Heat 6c vinegar (again with the Heinz!) to simmer. Dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar. Let cool slightly. Add 2T celery seed and 2T turmeric.
Layer 1/2 gallon thinly sliced cukes with thinly sliced onion in jar. Cover with brine and refrigerate. These are best after sitting at least 2 weeks, but don't last as long as the Refrigerator Dills, hence the smaller quantity.

And, because everyone should eat these, and so everyone needs a recipe, I share mine. It came from my Lithuanian grandmother. You KNOW those ladies know their beets!

Makes about a quart jar.

1 bunch of beets; cooked until crisp-tender, peeled and sliced.
1 large onion, sliced
1c white vinegar (You already know!)
2c water
1/3c sugar
2 whole allspice
1 bay leaf
Heat vinegar and water to simmer. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Let cool slightly; add allspice and bay leaf. Layer beets and onion in jar. Pour brine over and place in frig. Eat the next day, and every day thereafter!

There ya go! Pickle Nirvana! Enjoy.