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SweetChiliSauceToo many cucumbers! This one looked good, not sure it’s going to withstand the canning process, but . . . too many cucumbers!

I started with a recipe from Many Grandmas. My cucumbers were so big it was difficult to slice them into strips as indicated in her recipe, but I went for it anyway. Here is how I did the recipe.

2 very large cucumbers
1 very large carrot
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then lay the cut side down on the cutting board. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the cucumber down into very thin slices.

Peel the carrots and then use a lemon zester to score the length of the carrots several times. Slice the carrots cross-wise. The scoring will make them into a pretty flower shape.

Put the cucumbers and carrots into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix gently, but well. Let stand for 30 minutes or so. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Let stand.

In a saucepan mix vinegar, water, sugar, and sweet chili sauce. Heat to boiling.

Sprinkle the minced garlic into two pint jars. Divide the vegetables into the jars and pour hot brine over all, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Screw lids onto the tops of the jars and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove.

In case you don’t know what sweet chili sauce is . . .

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I had never cooked fresh beets before last year, so I really didn’t realize what I was missing. It’s been a revelation. This recipe is sort of thrown together, so take it for what it’s worth.

Scrub beets well, try not to pierce them. I snap off the long root. Wrap tightly in foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour for tennis-ball sized beets, maybe longer if you have extremely humongous beets like I did. I baked mine for 1-1/2 hours. Last year I put my foil-wrapped beats on one of my oven-safe dinner plates. It ruined the plate. This year I laid a piece of foil across a metal pie pan and then put the foil-wrapped beets in the pan. I was trying to protect my cookware and it worked. No problem. Let beets cool until they’re not too hot to touch. Peel the beets. It’s easy, the skins slide off. Slice one beet into about 1/2-inch slices, not thin. You probably won’t need more than one beet.

In the meantime, boil 4 eggs to hard-cooked. I put my eggs in cold water and bring to a boil, let boil 5 minutes, then let them sit in the water until it cools and I’m ready to use. I don’t think it matters how you do this. Peel the eggs.

Make a mixture of 2/3 cup vinegar (I used cider vinegar) to 1/3 cup water and a sprinkle of salt. This mixture does not have to be precise. You may need more.

In a clean quart jar, pour a little vinegar mixture. Drop in a few beet slices. Drop in a boiled egg. Add vinegar mixture to cover. Drop in more beet slices, another egg, more vinegar mix . . . layer until you reach the top of the jar. Cover the jar with a lid.

Refrigerate for three days, you can shake the jar around a little bit every day or so. These pickles are so yummy. The eggs are quite beautiful when sliced. They taste great and so do the pickled beets.

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IMG_3333This recipe is found at GeniusKitchen.com. I really love this relish. It’s not that hard to make and we use it to make tuna salad and potato salad. It’s good on hot dogs, too.

In the picture above, note that I used the nearest third to make the relish. I ended up with four half-pints, so I’ll probably make more tomorrow. I don’t think four half-pints will be enough for the coming year.

The ingredients:

4 cups chopped green tomatoes

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped (red is prettiest)

2 Tbsp. canning salt

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. mustard seed

1 tsp. celery seed

4 whole cloves

1 cup vinegar (I used cider vinegar)

IMG_3334 I start by rough chopping 4 cups of green tomatoes, a large sweet onion, and a large bell pepper.

IMG_3337Then I put the tomatoes, onion, and pepper into a food processor. I carefully pulse the processor until the vegetables are chopped small, but not pureed. It’s tricky and you have to be careful. I put the vegetables into a large bowl and stir in the salt. Let it sit for an hour and then drain through a fine strainer.

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Put four cloves into a spice bag. I used a disposable tea bag. In a large pot, stir together the drained vegetables, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, and the spice bag. Stir in the vinegar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bag of cloves. Ladle into 1/2 pint canning jars. Leave 1/2-inch of head space. Screw the lids on tightly. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.

IMG_3343So, here’s how I did the hot water bath processing . . . I’ve got a massive 7-quart pressure cooker, but that thing is too much of a beast to can only 4 half-pint jars. Instead, I put my metal steamer basket in the bottom of my largest stock pot and filled the pot with water, nearly to the top. I brought the water to a boil while the relish was simmering. I also had my tea kettle over a flame for more hot water as needed. Once the water in the pot was at a full boil, and the relish had been put into the jars and sealed, I placed each jar carefully into the boiling water and and made sure they were covered with boiling water from the kettle. Once the water came back to a boil, I set the timer for ten minutes. The trick is the metal steamer basket. I’ve tried water bath canning without a rack in the bottom of the pot and ended up with broken jars and a big mess. My metal steamer basket allows the boiling water to bubble without rocking the jars. Different shape jars and sizes pots and steamer baskets would suggest that you make sure it will all fit as necessary before beginning the process. Please consult a canning expert if you have never done any home canning before. I am certainly not an expert.

Note to self: ran out of cider vinegar and made a second batch using white-wine vinegar. It is marked #2 on the lids. See what you think.

The recipe is found at myfrugaladventures.com. These are really crunchy and delicious!

IMG_3339Bring to a boil 3-1/2 cups water and 1-1/4 cups vinegar. I used cider vinegar. Add 1 Tbsp. canning salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Slice cucumbers into your preferred shape: spears, chips, or leave whole. They aren’t pictured, but I have used lemon cucumbers as well. The type of cucumber does not seem to matter. They’re all good! Make sure the entire cucumber will fit beneath the liquid. Pack sterile jars with cucumbers. Add garlic cloves, dried red peppers, and fresh dill to each jar.

Pour cooled vinegar mixture over the cucumbers in each jar. Makes a couple quarts (I use 2 pint jars and 1 quart jar). Screw on lids, use any type. Place into refrigerator. Shake the jars around a bit occasionally. Good to eat 24 hours later, best to eat after three days, should last a few weeks if they are kept refrigerated.

We were eating these quickly and we had so many cucumbers that I left the brine in the jar and filled the jar with cukes again. It worked fine. I wouldn’t do that more than once, because you would probably want more vinegar and salt, so you may as well start at the beginning.

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Trying to put all my pickle recipes on the blog so that I don’t have to search so hard next year. What do I do with all the cucumbers my husband grew? FullSizeRender

Use the top recipe. It’s from Oded Schwartz’s book Preserving (1996, Dorling Kindersley).

Here’s my start . . . I’ve blanched the whole cucumbers, refreshed them, sliced and added onions and mini sweet-peppers and salt. Then it sits overnight.

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After draining and rinsing (I did the ten minutes in cold water) I boiled the brine for ten minutes and then added the chopped vegetables.SecondBoil

I brought the pot to a second boil.

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Then ladled into sterile jars and sealed with canning lids. It made 5 pints. Really looked like a lot, but 5 pints is what I ended up with. I am going to keep these in the refrigerator once they cool. The lids did pop and with the amount of vinegar and salt, it’s probably not necessary to can them in a water bath, but it makes me a bit nervous, so I’ll just keep them in the refrigerator. I made these last summer, too, and they do last in the refrigerator for months and months. They are a very sweet pickle and are good served with sandwiches.

This is from Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Canning and Freezing (1973 Meredith Corp).

Note: I quadrupled the batch in order to make 6 quarts. I used my canner to do the boiling water bath. Start the 20 minute processing time when I put the jars into boiling water. Don’t wait for it to re-boil. I put the cover on my canner, but left the stopcock open so it’s not pressurized. Removed the jars immediately at the end of 20 minutes processing.

4RhubarbPickleMakes 2 pints. I used one wide-mouth and one regular.

Chop clean, fresh rhubarb (approximately 4-5 stalks) into chunks about 1″ long. Try to use stalks about the same diameter as your finger. In some places that’s big rhubarb, in others (like here in Alaska) that’s quite small. Pack the rhubarb loosely into the jars.

Divide these spices evenly between the two jars: 2 tsp. peppercorns, 1/2 tsp. whole cloves, 1 tbsp. sliced fresh ginger, 2 bay leaves, 2 dry red chiles.

In a small saucepan mix together 1 cup cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure the sugar and salt has dissolved. Remove from heat and pour, hot, into the jars. Run a knife or something like that around the inside of the jar to release air bubbles and then make sure the jars are filled to within 1/2″ of the top. I did have a little bit of leftover liquid that I threw away.

Cover the jars with lids, let cool, and then place in the refrigerator. They’re okay to eat in two days and should be eaten within two weeks. All good! It’s a very nice pickle eaten with salty foods.

 

1RhubarbPicklesOne thing I really noticed was how the liquid turned pink after a couple days, even using fairly green rhubarb as seen above.

I based this upon a recipe found at lifelovefood.

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I had never made sausages in casings before and I’d never eaten salmon sausage before. It’s an adventure. So, I went to Alaska Butcher Supply and bought collagen casings (30mm) and a sausage stuffing funnel that looked like it would fit my sausages. The casings are a size one would use to make hotdogs or bratwurst. They are dry casings that do not require soaking before stuffing. I could have tied knots in the casings themselves, but I used string to tie the ends.

IMG_3290Ingredients

1.5 to 2# raw salmon, deboned (mostly salmon bellies)

1.5 cups raw zucchini cubes (do not peel)

1 Tbsp. salt

Seasoning (I used a couple tablespoons of Summit Seasonings Smoky Maple Salmon Rub), but next time I’ll try more spice (red pepper flakes) and maybe some mustard seed. A little more salt, too.

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I used a Cuisinart to grind all the ingredients together into a rough paste. Then I wet my hands and started stuffing the sausages. Never again by hand. Never. It was such a chore. Part of the problem was that I did not have a utensil to move the meat down the stuffer tube. Once I figured out that my finger worked best, things went a little faster. Never again. I’m probably going to invest in a sausage stuffing attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

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I kept the sausages refrigerated for several hours and then set them out on a plate with paper towels for an hour or so. The temperature change from my kitchen to the refrigerator had caused them to sweat a little and I wanted them to be dry.

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Then my husband went out to smoke my regular salmon and he put the sausages on the bottom of the smoker where it is hottest. It took about three and a half hours. Our smoker runs really hot.

IMG_3287I will say that my sausages are beautiful. They are also tasty, but a little too mild for me. Next time, spice it up!

 

Hummus & Pita

The hummus recipe is based upon one found here.

Hummus Recipe

1 16 oz can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup liquid from can of garbanzo beans

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons tahini

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Drain garbanzo beans and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from garbanzos. Blend for a few minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

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Place in serving bowl, and create a well in the middle. Pour a small amount of olive oil into the well.
Serve with pita bread.

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The pita bread recipe is based upon one found at Under The High Chair.

Pita Bread Recipe

1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour. With the dough hook, beat well to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Let it knead for about 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky. The dough will rise AFTER you’ve formed the flat loaves. Go straight to forming now.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them puff. Note: Do not roll out on parchment paper or let them rest on parchment paper in an effort not to use too much flour. They stick! Flour is the way to go. Flour them.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffy. By the time you are finished forming the last one, you may be quite close to starting to bake the first one. Get your oven going. It takes time.

Preheat oven AND baking sheet to 425F. Let the baking sheet sit inside the hot oven for about ten minutes after the preheating is finished. That baking sheet needs to be HOT! A high-quality (thicker) baking sheet will retain heat longer, but will take longer to heat at the beginning. I could totally be making that up, but I believe it.

With a large spatula, flip a well-floured round of dough upside down on the dry baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until it’s puffed and light golden. I baked mine one at a time letting the baking sheet heat thoroughly between batches. I think two at a time would work, too.

If you have children or adult science buffs in the room, be prepared! Watching pita bread puff in the oven is really, really cool! A crowd could gather if you have a window in your oven door. Just sayin’. Learn to shout, “Step away from the oven now so I can remove the pita before it burns.”

I’m not telling you how to save your leftovers because these are so amazingly delicious that you will not have any leftovers.

Slice in half cross-wise and stuff with yummy sandwich ingredients or pile gyro ingredients on the top or slice into pie-shaped sections to serve as an appetizer with hummus. It’s all good!

Green Tomato PicklesAt the end of the most sunny summer on record, we had a glut of green tomatoes. These pickles are very mild, not too tangy and not too sweet. The recipe comes out of the book Preserving by Oded Schwartz (Dorling Kindersley, 1996), one of the most beautiful and useful books ever published. I had everything on-hand except the chiles.

2# green tomatoes

2-3 fresh or dried red chiles (I did not use)

a few sprigs fresh dill

2-3 bay leaves

1-1/2 Tbsp. mustard seed

1 Tbsp. peppercorns

4-5 cloves

4 cups cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

4 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. salt

Lightly prick each tomato in several places with a wooden toothpick. Arrange in pint jars (I used four pint jars) with chiles, dill, bay leaves, and spices. In a saucepan, mix vinegar, water, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand until warm. Pour warm vinegar mixture into the jars. Top with cold vinegar if you don’t have enough mixture to cover the tomatoes. Seal* and refrigerate. Tomatoes will be ready in a month, but improve after 2-3 months. Should last a year as long as it’s refrigerated.

*One thing that wasn’t clear in the recipe was how to “seal” the jars. Since they were to be refrigerated and because the brine is mostly vinegar, all I did was screw canning lids on tightly. So, I didn’t “seal” them by my definition, merely closed the lids. I think it will be just fine.

Those aren't grapes, they're green tomato pickles, along with smoked salmon, bleu cheese, and Italian dry salame. What a great snack!

Those aren’t grapes, they’re green tomato pickles, along with smoked salmon, bleu cheese, and Italian dry salami. What a great snack!