Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bread and Butter Pickles, Part 2

My DC School Scrabble T-shirt was a casualty of the pickling adventure today.   The recipe calls for tumeric which is really for color and not flavor.  As I was stirring the boiling pickling mixture, it splashed all over the t-shirt.  Big yellow slotches.  Oh well.  Maybe Stefan (my kids scrabble coach) will feel sorry for me and give me another one.  Maybe the stains will come out in the wash.

Anyway, back to the pickles.

White vinegar is combined with sugar and the spices (mustard seeds, celery seeds and tumeric) and brought to a boil.  Add the rinsed and drained cucumbers and onions and bring back to a boil.  Pack into hot jars and then process for 10 min.

Jars being taken out of hot water

Vegetables mixed with vinegar and spices

Being ladled into jars.  There was more mixture than I had prepared jars, so I grabbed one of the old fashioned jars (the blue one on right)  and filled it with the remaining vegetables.  This went into the fridge instead of into the water bath.

All done!  Yummy bread and butter pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles, Part 1

Today, I am home sick with my daughter.  She was up all night, poor kid, with a stomach bug.  So I dropped her brother off at camp this morning and stopped at the garden on the way home.  I am going to be a busy homesteader in the next couple of months.  Today's harvest was carrots, cukes, zucchini, peppers, mizuna, green beans, dill and a few cherry tomatoes. 

Peppers and carrots

 Dill, tomatoes, green beans


 Cucumbers and zucchini

I finally have enough cucumbers to make the first batch of bread and butter pickles.  The recipe I use is from a very nice book called Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.   My friend Kathryn claims they are the best bread and butter pickles she's ever had!  I posted the recipe on a previous blog so I won't post it again.

The cucumbers and onions need to soak for 2 hours so that is what they are doing at the moment.

I have an Oxo Mandoline which I love.  These cukes are being sliced at the setting between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch

Sliced Onions.  Good thing I wear contact lenses - no tears!

Cucumbers and onions, covered with pickling salt

Cover with cold water.  I added some ice cubes.  Let sit for 2 hours, then rinse.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What's blooming June 27

I walked out of the house this morning and saw a big beautiful Tiger Swallowtail on the butterfly weed

The first Hibiscus bloom!  Lord Baltimore

Germander - purple blossoms

Russian Sage
Daylily among hostas

Dainthus - reblooming

Marigold I don't remember planting

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Basil

This week's Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Mele Cotte

This week's herb is basil.  I have a plant at the vegetable plot and 2 plants in a pot in my front yard.  The one in the vegetable garden is getting overtaken with the zucchini plant but is stretching to hold it's own.  I clipped just the top for a few leaves.

This weekend is the American Library Association conference in Washington, DC.   The most I could muster to do is attend the exhibits tomorrow with my kids and my daughter's book loving friend and her mom.  My good friend Jennie is in town for the conference so it was an excellent excuse to have a BBQ and invite a bunch of friends.  I've already slow roasted the pork and Sean chopped it all last night.  We'll have brats and chicken on the grill and Jennie's request was to eat from my garden.  So the menu is

From the garden:
Zucchini, garlic and basil:  Couscous salad with sauteed zucchini
Green beans and garlic:  roasted and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper
Leeks: Leek and goat cheese galette
Fava beans, cukes and carrots:  Fava bean puree with pita and raw cukes and carrots
Sour cherries (picked from a local orchard): Sour cherry crostada

I think that's it!

Sean and I and the kids went to a new local pizza place last night and had a started that was a salad of Israeli couscous and grilled zucchini.  It was delicious so I tried to recreate it for the BBQ

Couscous Salad with sauteed zucchini

Cook 1 cup of Israeli couscous in lots of water, 7-8 min or until done.  Drain and then toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  While couscous is cooking, thinly slice zucchini and sauteed until brown in olive oil.  Toss with couscous.  I had some sun dried tomatoes so I soaked those for a little while in hot water, thinly sliced and added to salad.  Make a dressing of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove,  salt, pepper, 2 teaspoons sumac and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Toss with couscous and vegetables.  Take a handful of basil and slice into slivers and add to salad.

Zucchini, picked this morning


The salad

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's hotter than Hades out there

I went to garden this morning at 6:30 to pick and water - there were a bunch of us there and a nice surprise - one of the gardeners donated a drum composter and had it delivered yesterday - now to figure out how to use it.

Picked the first cucumber and zucchini today.  Pulled out the rest of the garlic and dug up the first shallots.

I am having good friends to dinner on Sunday and my friend Jennie has requested garden food - so the menu will be

Slow roasted pulled pork
Brats on the grill
Split grilled chicken (since the grill will be going, I thought I might as well roast a chicken)
potato salad
something with green beans - either roasted or a salad
leek goat cheese galette
fava bean puree with pita
sour cherry crostada

The pork is my heritage hog.  Potatoes, green beans, leeks, fava beans, shallots, garlic from garden.  Cherries picked last month

Today's haul



More garlic, potatoes, zucchini, cuke

Green beans

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let the canning season begin - Honey Dill Carrots

I rode my bike today to work and rode it to the garden on the way home - I always pretend I'm in Rome or Paris, as I bike home in my skirt and my saddle bags bursting with vegetables. 

The stop at the garden was only to pick enough carrots to make enough to can.  My mother gave me this recipe last summer and I don't remember from where it came - one of her books on preserving.

Honey Dill Carrots

1 lb small carrots
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons of pickling salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 sprigs fresh dill

Scrub carrots.  Blanch in boiling water for 2 min and drain well.
Combine vinegar, water, honey, salt and pepper in a nonreactive sourcepan and boil until honey has dissolved
Evenly divide carrots into hot clean jars, wedging carrots in and stacking some upside down.  Fill jars with hot liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Add 2 sprigs of Dill.
Process for 30 min in a boiling water bath.
Let sit for 2 weeks.

I have a canner so to prepare the jars:  wash pint jars (this recipe makes 2 with some leftover for another jar to just keep in the fridge).  Put the jars in the canner and fill with water.  Bring to a boil, then put on simmer level until jars are ready to process.  Take jars out of the boiling water in order to fill.  Put the tops and rings into hot water until ready to use.  There are a lot of sites that will outline the canning process but this is just the basic.

Carrots, ready for blanching

Canner with water and jars inside

Carrots done blanching, rinsed with cold water (it's steam that is clouding the picture)

Carrots in jar with dill, being filled with vinegar mixture

All done processing

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's blooming June 20

The front yard is out of control.  I'm sure my neighbors hate part of the  yard because they can barely get out of their cars on the passenger sides.  I did buy stepping stones to make it easier but just haven't gotten around to putting them down.  I seriously don't have enough time to do all that I enjoy

Daylily - Sabra Salina


White coneflowers

Asiatic lily

butterfly weed with bee balm

Lavender with bee

Tall phlox

Hot in the Garden today

I got to the garden this morning at 8am and it was already hot and steamy.  I pulled up the radishes (I let them go to flower because they are pretty and the insects love it) and weeded.  Spent most of the time weeding the little flower plot that is adjacent to my plot.  My conclusion is in the fall, I am going to dig out the whole plot.  There are daffodils that barely bloomed this year because they are so dense, so they will be separated and replanted.  There is mint, lily of the valley, violets and oriental poppies - all of which spread like crazy and I don't want them!  I'll replant the flower garden with cast offs from my own yard and then seed with annuals.  That is the ambitious plan for Sept and Oct.

Today I pulled out the rest of the leeks and planted summer squash in the space.  Also planted some fennel - I don't think it's too late for that.

I pulled what I thought would be enough beets to actually can but I was wrong.  So I just made a salad of pickled beets instead.  Here is the recipe I used.

Here is today's harvest

Fabulous Garlic!

Chiogga Beets

Carrots - tomorrow I will pull up a few more and then make Honey Dill Carrots to can.

The rest of the leeks.  I found a leek goat cheese Galette to try

The first pepper - Hungarian Wax.  The first green beans and potatoes

The last of the lettuce