As I mentioned in previous posts it was a stellar year for growing cucumbers. I lost track of how many jars of various of pickles I canned. The cucumber plants did stop producing and the vines dried up, so my husband has pulled them out and added them to the compost pile.
We gave cucumbers to family, friends and neighbors – pretty much anyone who we came in contact with was a least offered some cucumbers. I guess by early this week we had also had our fill of fresh cucumbers since there were four cucumbers that had been sitting in the refrigerator for several days and neither my husband nor I had offered up any suggestions on what we should do with them.
On Wednesday it occurred to me, I hadn’t saved any cucumber for one of my favorite soap recipes. That’s right – soap. I created this recipe several years ago. It contains cucumber and yogurt and has rosemary infused into the olive oil. Since many of the ingredients might be found in a salad, I named it Salad Bar (as in bar of soap). Don’t Eat It!
I pureed those last four cucumbers and put the puree in the freezer until I have time to turn it into soap.
If anyone is interested in this soap recipe leave me a comment and I will post it for you.
Today I’ll be canning. I expect to produce about 10 quarts of tomato juice but since my canning kettle only holds seven quart-size jars I will cook down the excess into sauce to be used in a meal later this week. Likely stuffed cabbage. Before I head to the kitchen to begin cutting up tomatoes and sterilizing canning jars let me tell you about the results of last week’s efforts.
Last week I canned:
6 quarts garlic dills
4 quarts hamburger dill slices
6 pints pickled peppers
4 quarts sauerkraut (still fermenting)
7 quarts tomato juice
6 pints bread and butter pickles
Some of our garden meals.
We also continue to include some of the fresh-picked bounty in our meals daily, something that only happens this time of year.
Grilled steak with boiled potatoes, steamed Swiss chard, glazed carrots and boiled beets.
Pasta and clam sauce with sauteed Swiss chard and eggplant.
Not pictured: Tuna salad sandwich. I love to mix lots of veggies into tuna salad – chopped lettuce, diced tomato, shredded carrot, onion, diced celery, shredded or diced radish – mix it up with some mayo and spread it on your favorite bread.
Also not pictured: Another of my favorite summertime dishes is sliced cucumbers covered in a sour cream, dill and garlic dressing.
Last week our young hens began laying as evidenced by the tiny egg(s) my husband collected. First time layers usually lay a few tiny eggs before they begin laying regular size eggs. Inside the tiny egg is mostly or all egg white (there might be a small speck of yolk as well.)
The hens beginning to lay was kind of bitter-sweet as we lost one of the young hens to a prolapsed vent. Apparently, the egg she was trying to lay was too big for her. We are now down to just 5 of the 12 hens that started out as baby chicks this spring. Farming can often be heartbreaking.
Thanks for stopping by and I wish you a beautiful day.
Hello and Welcome! Good News – We got rain 🙂 I’m guessing somewhere around 2 1/2 inches between Wednesday and Thursday. The gardens, the lawns, the trees – everything needed that rain. So while we get at least a few days off from watering let me tell you about some of the preserving we’ve been doing.
Dill pickles – It’s been many years since I’ve made dill pickles using the water bath (canning) method. In more recent years I have fermented pickles and made refrigerator pickles, but both take up space in the refrigerator, so I decided to try canning dill pickles again. One of the reasons I had not canned pickles recently is because they tended to get mushy. I did some reading about making crisp dill pickles and one of the suggestions was to use distilled water since the chemicals (chlorine) added to water can cause the pickles to become mushy. I canned three quarts of dill pickles so far using distilled water. I also used our home-grown dill and garlic. We will try them in a couple weeks to see how they turned out.
Bread and Butter pickles – Yesterday I made bread and butter pickles – a tried and true recipe from the Ball Blue Book. The yield was 5 pints and my husband, who loves these pickles, is thrilled.
Cayenne – Another recipe that I found in the Ball Blue Book was for red hot sauce. Hot sauce is not something we use a lot of, but my husband likes to add a few drops to certain foods. The recipe that called for two quarts of tomatoes and about 24 cayenne peppers made two pints of sauce. That will likely be enough to last us through the year.
Cayenne plants tend to be heavy producers and somehow we ended up with a bunch of cayenne plants this year. Rather than use the dehydrator to dry then We decided to string them and hang them to dry. I think I have some daughters that will appreciate a string of hot peppers. Once they are dry they can be used by adding a whole pepper to a pot of chili or similar dish or they can be ground in a spice grinder or food processor to make red pepper flakes or crushed red pepper.
Notice they are turning red (continuing to ripen) as they hang.
Jalapeno and Banana peppers – Thus far I used banana and jalapeno peppers to make poppers. I have several packages of these in the freezer. They freeze well and can easily be cooked up in the oven or microwave. If we continue to harvest a lot of these, I might make up a batch of pickled peppers as well.
Bell peppers – Tuesday night I made stuffed bell peppers for dinner. I also made an additional five packages of stuffed peppers to freeze for future meals.
In past years storing potatoes has been a challenge for us as we don’t have a root cellar so we must try to eat them before they go bad. This year we decided to experiment with dehydrating them. My husband peeled and par boiled the potatoes than sliced them in the food processor to get and even thickness. The took about 4 hours on 140 degrees to dry to a crispy texture (much like the potatoes you would find in a box mix of au gratin potatoes). We then vacuum sealed them.
I have found directions for rehydrating them, but we have yet to try it. I will let you know when we do.
Of course not everything we harvest is being preserved. We are enjoying fresh vegetables daily. I do plan on writing about some of our garden meals but soon, but I don’t want to drag this post out too long so I’m just going to share a recipe I came across that we are REALLY ENJOYING.
I still have several jars of applesauce that I canned last year and wanted to use some up, so I decided to look for an applesauce cake recipe. I found this recipe for Land o Lakes Applesauce Spice Cake. I omitted the pecans in the recipe as I didn’t have any on hand. I also cheated and used a can of store bought frosting. Even with these changes this cake turned out sooo good.
Click here to learn more about my “55 Things” and here to view previous posts in this series.
We have cucumbers coming in fast and furious so it is the perfect time of year to enjoy a cucumber salad with very fresh ingredients.
To make my cucumber salad I simply peeled and sliced three cucumbers and dressed them with my Garlic Dill Dip (recipe below). For three cucumbers I cut the dip recipe down by half.
Garlic Dill Dip – 1 pint of sour cream (you can use low fat or whatever you prefer) add several cloves of fresh, minced garlic, 1 or 2 tbsp. of dill either fresh of dried, and about a tsp. of sea salt. Mix all ingredients well. It can be eaten immediately, but the flavor improves if it sits for at least 15 minutes before eating. (I love this for potato chips, Fritos, or as a veggie dip.)