I have loved pickles my whole life.  I am fairly addicted to salt and pickles are the perfect vehicle for that addiction. But even I am grossed out that as a child I use to drink pickle juice from the jar after the pickles were gone.  I loved that salty vinegar mix.  What I never knew about those store-bought pickles was that they were missing all the other great pickle flavors.  Now I do not mean sweetness-sweet pickles  are complete disgusting, I mean fresh dill and garlic and cloves.  Those flavors are what makes these homemade pickles rock.

Also, these pickles were the perfect thing to make on a Saturday because in short I cut up some cucumbers, salted them, went out to dinner for two hours, came back and put the pickles in jars.  I know you are all jealous that I spend Saturday nights canning with my friends because it’s as cool as being a grandma but you too can spend your weekends canning delicious treats.

First, a special thanks to my husband’s I-phone for taking these pictures so well.  Good job Apple!

We started off with 10 lbs of cucumbers of many sizes.

And we cut them into  spears and these slices which are perfect to go on burgers.

Then we covered them in salt, a whole cup of salt, which was a shocking amount of salt.  We used all of the salt in the house!

Next we covered them with ice.  After that we left for dinner.  Like I said, it was Saturday night and we needed to eat.  You can do whatever you want but the pickles have to sit in the salt ice mixture for two hours.  It helps them keep their crispness.

After we got back from dinner, we mixed up all the ingredients to give these pickles their excellent flavor.  This included dill, mustard seed, allspice, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, celery seed, cloves, and bay leaves.

We also added crushed anise and a bulb of garlic.

All of those ingredients were boiled with vinegar, water, and sugar to create the brine.

While this was boiling, we packed in the cucumbers into hot sterile jars.  By the way, this method is called cold-packing because the veggies are put into the jars cold.  Some recipes call for hot-packing where you heat the veggies with the brine.

After your cucumbers are all arranged, pour the hot brine into the jars.  Then process them in a water bath for 10 minutes if you are sealing them.  You can also just toss the jars in your fridge.  I left the pickles to sit for about three days to soak up all the flavor before checking them out and they were good.

Enjoy these with your favorite sandwich or burger and try not to eat them all out of the jar right away!

Ingredients: 10 lbs of cucumbers, 1 cup of salt, lots of ice.  For the brine: 4 Tbs dill, 2 Tbs mustard seed, 1 Tbs allspice, 1 Tbs black pepper, 1 tsp coriander, 1/2 a nutmeg, 2 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp whole cloves, 1 tsp crushed bay leaves, 1 bulb of garlic, 8 cups of vinegar, 4 cups of water, 4 tbs of sugar


It is officially the end of the summer.  And not because I wore a scarf to the coffee shop or because the tree outside my window has a few yellow leaves, it is because I finished canning apple butter this week.

I know it looks like chocolate but that is all apples!

I may not have the blogging posts to prove it yet but this was a very productive summer.  Our urban garden did pretty well for it being our first time and having to withstand snow, hail, and crazy wind and rain storms.  I did not take as many pictures of this as I should have but we had some tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos and more peperocinis than we knew what to do with.   Later tonight I will make fajitas to show off all of our garden’s good work.

My partner in crime and I put away tons of food.  We have done two kinds of strawberry jam, blueberry jam, sweet corn, marinara sauce, whole tomatoes, pizza sauce, hot sauce, giardiniera, pickled peperocinis, pickles, pickled beets, applesauce, apple butter, and loads of bags of frozen fruit.  It has been tons of long hours in the kitchen after work and on the weekend.  When we finished the apple butter, I told her we would just have to hang out for real by which I meant sit on the couch and eat jam by the spoonful.  That is the plan for the long Chicago winter, hibernating and remembering the summer and waiting for it to come again one spoonful at a time.

I can unequivocally state that Garlic Scapes are my favorite.  They only come once a year and they make my summer.  I definitely had to do some research when these came in my first csa box…three summers ago.  Thankfully, The Joy of Cooking had a nice diagram of the life of garlic and onions and all those other edible plants in the allium family.  So Garlic Scapes are the flowers from garlic and they are delicious.  If you just lightly saute them, they taste like a bomb of roasted garlic in the most marvelous way possible.  Now I have to be honest, I made this recipe sometime in June, and I am just posting it.  So unless you live in some tropical place where garlic grows all the time, you probably missed your chance for scapes this year.  But you can totally make this dish without the addition of scapes and it would still be excellent. Continue Reading »

For some of you, it might be that time in the summer when you are wondering, what to do with all that Kale?  Kale is delicious, but it can sometimes be overwhelming to keep consuming all those leafy greens.  While I love making The Breakfast of Champions, it is nice to get some variety out of a vegetable so I decided to try something new.

For years my husband has told me about the sausage and kale soup his old roommate use to make.  When I tried to get more information from hubby to get an idea of the recipe, he told me it was cooked in a crock pot, had sausage, kale, and potatoes, and was amazing.  Since that was not enough to go on, I turned to the web and found this recipe for portuguese kale soup which I figured would do the trick.

This was definitely a nice change of pace for kale.  Cooking it in the form of soup changed the texture and flavor because it soaked up all the tasty broth.  Plus, it is always fun to have a veggie in a new recipe.

Continue Reading »

CSA Veggie Fried Rice

Do you ever open your fridge and say what should I do with all of these veggies?

Well a good fried rice is almost always the correct answer.  You can hide almost any vegetable in there and it is a great way to clear out anything extra you have lying around.

This is actually a dish my mother taught me to make as a child.  Back then the main ingredients consisted of frozen “stir fry vegetables” with some canned water chestnuts and dried crunchy lo mien noodles sprinkled on top.  It was delicious then and even better now with fresh ingredients.  There are many ways to whip up this dish but I try to make mine low on greasiness and high on flavor. Continue Reading »

Ginger-Garlic Paste

This very easy to make paste is called for in many Indian and Asian dishes.  It goes into tasty curry dishes

and spices up fried rice or stir fries.

Continue Reading »

If you recall I picked some strawberries and I promised to do many things with them.  Well I have made good on my promise.  As you can see this is homemade strawberry jam.  I made a classic version and a Thai Spiced Strawberry Jam.

Continue Reading »