Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homemade Pickles

Well. Sort of. Yankees are well known for being frugal.

My favorite store bought pickles

I can't be the only one that does this. When I finish a jar of pickles there's more than a half a jar of pickle juice left. See the picture? I hate to waste it. Sometimes I use it in dressings. Especially slaw dressings. Often, especially this time of year, with the abundant farm fresh produce and sandwiches on my menu, I'll use that pickle juice for...more pickles.

I slice up a pickling cucumber. First I drag the tines of a fork the length of the cucumber. It gives the pickles nice frilly edges and helps the pickle juice penetrate. I add chopped red onion and sliced jalapeño.

In a day or two...

Delicious fresh (homemade?) pickles!

I usually get 3 jars of pickles for every jar I buy.

Actually, I do sometimes make homemade pickles. I can't be bothered and I don't have time for the whole canning thing with the sterile jars and all. So I always make some kind of refrigerator pickle. Refrigerator pickles are so easy to make anyone can do it. You keep them refrigerated and I'm told they'll keep for up to 2 months. I've never had any last more than a few days.

Sometimes I just add some sliced cucumber to a vinegar solution with a pinch of salt and a little honey. Maybe I'll put some dill in it too. Makes a great little side flavor thing with sandwiches or a fresh platter.

Something like peppers need a hot solution. Many years ago D. L. Jardine's made something called Texas Hot Wheels. These were *delicious* sweet pickled jalapeño wheels. I used to buy them by the case and I'd sit and eat them until my mouth was numb.

Then they discontinued Texas Hot Wheels. Such a bummer!

I haven't been able to copy the recipe. So I veered off and made a bread and butter solution I use over jalapeños.
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon pickling salt
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • Some whole peppercorns. Sometimes. However much looks right.
I put all those ingredients in a stainless steel sauce pan. Bring them to a boil and then pour the solution over a couple of pounds of sliced jalapeños. Make sure all the peppers are covered with the solution. Cover them and refrigerate when they cool.

Start eating them the next day. They get better and better every day. I just stand in front of the refrigerator and eat them by the fork full. I had some last a little over a week once. They're very good with sandwiches, hamburgers and for some reason, I especially like them with hot dogs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The hottest day?

Did you know, according to this story, the National Climatic Data Center says July 24 is, statistically, the hottest day of the year in continental United States? That was this last Tuesday.

I just love the summertime!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sad day

RIP little J :(

July 2000 - July 2012

All my toys! May 2006

Happy Dog! July 2009

April 2008

She was a good girl and I'll miss her a lot.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Local Corn!

I had some corn from Deerfield, Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago. It was good. It was "local". Well, more local than Georgia.

*This*, however, is the real thing!

From just down the street. 14 July

I thought for sure the local corn would be early this year. Everything has been growing like crazy! But as it turns out, yesterday was just about right. Last season's local corn came in a year ago next week. So I lived to see another year's fresh local corn!

Last year I took a liking to these.

Bourbon Rickey

An instant favorite!

Squeeze a half a lime into a tall ice cube filled glass, drop in what's left of the lime, add a shot of your favorite bourbon and top it all off with sparkling water (club soda). So good!

It turns out this is a short season for the local blueberries. This will be the last weekend for picking blueberries at most places.


Hands down my single most favorite thing in the whole world. From the time I was a little kid.

Blueberry pie

Not pretty. I know. But it's pie. Pie is awesome. It's a Pillsbury pie crust. I should really learn to make pie crust some one of these days. Pillsbury pie crust has trans fat. It's not "reportable" but it has partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in its list of ingredients.

The filling:
  • Blueberries. 4 cups.
  • Tapioca starch. 2 tablespoons.
  • Lemon juice. A few drops.
  • Cinnamon. A generous pinch.
  • Honey. 2 tablespoons.
Gently mix the ingredients together. Line a pie plate with pie crust, fill it with the blueberry mixture, dot with some butter (I don't use a lot, maybe 1 tablespoon), cover with another pie crust, crimp the edge and cut some vent slots in the top.

Put the pie in a preheated 450 degree oven. After 10 minutes turn the oven down to 350 and it should be done in another 40 minutes or so.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Clean horses

I just love clean horses!

Bathing them I'm not too thrilled with

Imagine washing your car and having your car free to wander away from you every few minutes...

It's a big project. Usually on a hot day.


Um. What is he doing?!

Hygiene lesson! Mares get a waxy crusty buildup on their udders. They need a good scrubbing. There was a time L was rubbing her tail. I'd hose her hind and I'd scrub her tail with tea tree oil shampoo. I kept her tail clean and brushed. None of it worked. This can be serious business. They can rub the hair off their tail. The hair can take a very long time to grow back. They can rub their tails raw. They can become infected.

One day, after a thorough bath that included cleaning her udders - she stopped rubbing her tail! Your mileage may vary. It's just something to consider.

The easiest thing to do is either use a soapy sponge or a soapy tail to get under there and scrub. Being very careful. This can be a good way to get kicked clear into next week. If you've never done it before get some help from an expert.

No problem. She likes it!

And it's not as sheath cleaning (can be).

Behold. Nice clean horse!

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's about time!

The 5th of July and I *finally* cleaned my saddle.

I should really be ashamed...

Mostly dirt. Not much mildew at least.

I've raved about Effax before. I treated the leather with Mildew-Free after I cleaned last year and I'm sure it helped. Mildew is a perennial problem with my tack for as long as I can remember.

Cleaned up nicely!

I still have to polish the silver. Nice to have that done though!

The tassel. There hanging by the concho. Donna Murray in Alberta Canada made several of those for me some years ago. From tail hair from my very first horse. She did a wonderful job. I'd collected his tail hair from the barn floor over the years and kept it in a bag. Just hairs ripped out during grooming. I'd never thought to actually "harvest" any hair. And then he was gone.

A lot of people make custom jewelry from your horse's hair now.

Red Alert! Turkeys!

Apparently she thinks they're where they don't belong. She certainly isn't afraid of turkeys!

And this is mostly how I spent my Summer vacation...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rural Charm

Thirty five years ago this really was Cow Country.

Today...not so much. We still have some tiny pockets of rural life. I'm grateful to have that and kinda sorta be a part of it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I stuffed 'em!

Grape leaves!
Dolmades. Stuffed grape leaves.

The barn property is just lousy with grapevines. They're *everywhere*. Some of the vines climb 30 or 40 feet up the trees that line the woods.

A grapevine jungle

We frequently make jelly with these in the fall. One of these days I'd like to try making wine with them!

5 September 2011

I just love collecting stuff from around the barn and the fields and bringing it to the table.

I've long enjoyed Mediterranean food and I've been eating stuffed grape leaves for years. Last year I decided I'd collect some grape leaves from around the barn and stuff them! I gathered really nice new soft leaves and ... failed miserably. As soft as the leaves were they were too "springy". I didn't realize I still had to blanch such soft leaves. They were hard to handle and completely self destructed as I proceeded. I got discouraged and said screw it.

This year I decided to try again!

A fully grown grape leaf

So I gathered a big bunch of fully grown adult grape leaves.

I trimmed the stems. Here's a trick for trimming stems:

Fold the leaf in half and trim off the stem

I blanched them for 5 or 6 minutes and then put each one between paper towels to dry.

This is mostly about procedure. Lay the blanched leaf face down on the work surface and cut a little notch in the center where the main stem is. Spoon in a little stuffing. Fold the bottom lobe of the leaf up.

Then fold it over. Do the same thing on the opposite side.

Then just roll them up. So easy!

Here's another trick. Line a skillet with grape leaves. Lay the stuffed grape leaves seam side down on the grape leaves lining the skillet. Cover with chicken broth and put a plate over the stuffed grape leaves. This keeps them from floating in the chicken broth and becoming undone. Bring the chicken broth to a gentle simmer. Keep a gentle simmer going. If it gets going at a rolling boil the stuffed grape leaves will pop.

They're done in 20 or 30 minutes.

Look! Just like from the store!

About the stuffing.

I stuffed my grape leaves with lemon rice and walnuts. With a generous pinch of oregano. I like them cold so I left them in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

You can stuff your grape leaves with all kinds of things. Rice variations are common. You can stuff them with lamb or pork or beef. Think Mediterranean and think Greek.

For my lemon rice I mixed lemon juice and lemon zest with water and used equal parts liquid and rice added to sautéed onions. This left the rice undercooked because it finishes cooking in the chicken broth inside the grape leaf. I thought oregano gave it a Greek twist. Oh, these were just delicious. Parsley would have worked. Mint would probably have worked too.

One can use a lot of imagination and get very creative with this.

As a matter of fact, I even took my leftover stuffing and mixed it up in a bowl with peas and chopped mint.
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