Friday, July 29, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
• Produce must be fresh when pickled. Avoid using waxed supermarket produce.
• Scrub food well. Be sure to remove and discard a 1-1/16-inch slice from the blossom end of fresh cucumbers.
• Use canning or pickling salt (not iodized table salt, sea salt, kosher or any of the others I am not remembering to name!). However, non-caking materials added to table salts may make the brine cloudy. Flake salt varies in density and is not recommended for use.
• For the best results, use white distilled or cider vinegars with 5 percent acidity.
Pickling is preserving foods in vinegar (or other acid). Vinegar is produced from starches or sugars fermented first to alcohol and then the alcohol is oxidized by certain bacteria to acetic acid. Wines, beers and ciders are all routinely transformed into vinegars.
Pickling may have originated when food was placed in wine or beer to preserve it, since both have a low pH. Perhaps the wine or beer went sour and the taste of the food in it was appealing. Containers had to be made of stoneware or glass, since the vinegar would dissolve the metal from pots. Never ones to waste anything our ancestors found uses for everything. The left over pickling brine found many uses. The Romans made a concentrated fish pickle sauce called “garum”. It was powerful stuff packing a lot of fish taste in a few drops.
There was a spectacular increase in food preservation in the sixteenth century owing to the arrival in Europe of new foods. Ketchup was an oriental fish brine that traveled the spice route to Europe and eventually to America where someone finally added sugar to it. Spices were added to these pickling sauces to make clever recipes. Soon chutneys, relishes, piccalillis, mustards, and ketchups were commonplace. Worcester sauce was an accident from a forgotten barrel of special relish. It aged for many years in the basement of the Lea and Perrins Chemist shop.
• For crisper pickles, put the vegetables (whole or sliced) into a wide bowl and spread a layer of pickling salt on top. Cover and let sit overnight in a cool place. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the vegetables before pickling or canning as usual. Or, use Pickle Crisp made by the Ball company or, do it like our grandmother's did.... add a grape leaf to the jar.
Some historians believe that food preservation was not only for sustenance, but also cultural. They point to numerous special occasion preserved foods that have religious or celebratory meanings. In America more and more people live in cities and procure foods commercially. They have been removed from a rural self-sufficient way of life. Yet, for many, a garden is still a welcome site. And, annually there exists a bounty crop of vegetables and fruits. It is this cultural nature of preserved foods that survives today. Interests have shifted from preserve “because we have to”, to “preserve because we like to.” I am one of those who like to.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Once everything is collected I will be canning into the late night hours (cooler than).
I got a load of cucumbers waiting for me.
Will post pictures later.
Hope to be hearing lots of ringing pings as the jars seal.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
This diver swimming with this whale shark almost got sucked up as the whale was skimming the water feeding on plankton off Isla Mujeres, Mexico!
The shark, which is the sea's largest fish, is actually vegetarian. The relieved diver escaped from the encounter unscathed and continued to enjoy the presence of the incredibly docile animals.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days: the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.
The rising of Sirius does not actually affect the weather (some of our hottest and most humid days occur after August 11), but for the ancient Egyptians, Sirius appeared just before the season of the Nile’s flooding, so they used the star as a “watchdog” for that event.
Since its rising also coincided with a time of extreme heat, the connection with sultry weather was made for all time. And, just how hot is it where you live?
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Since these were taken last weekend there has been significant growth in the garden. Daily I am watching plants reaching for the sky.
The weather has been absolutely perfect with warm sunny days and rain about every third day or, so. Not enough to flood everything and cause damage... but, enough for the needs of the plants.
The radishes are from a second planting. The first planting did poorly and I was told even though we were into our hot weather with the second planting, to plant the seed one inch deep instead of the 1/4 inch they are usually planted. Well the old gardeners were right. This crop has been prolific and sweet as can be. Not bitter at all.
And, the black raspberries.... I am freezing all I can for eating during the winter months. That is if they can make it to the fridge before I eat them out of hand or, in some yogurt. Yum, yum.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Turn your leftover soap slivers into oatmeal soap! Gather ingredients: 1/2 cup regular oatmeal, 1/2 cup small soap pieces, 1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil, and 1 tablespoon water. Put the soap slivers into a plastic bag and pound them into small chunks. Put the chunks into a blender, add the oatmeal, and pulse until grainy. Pour into a bowl and add the oil and water. Mix with your hands, removing any remaining bigger chunks of soap. Shape the mixture into a ball and let sit until hard, about 2 hours. Be sure to wash the blender thoroughly to remove the soap residue.
Courtesy of Old Farmer's Almanac
Monday, July 4, 2011
Happy happy happy 4th of July to all my American friends and family.
I hope you are enjoying the day with parades, family picnics and BBQs. Topped off with a spectacular show of fireworks. Oh boy and do I wish I could be there with you!
Hugs from Canada.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
It's been another beautiful day here. What was even better was I got let out of school (oops, work) early. I came home to play in our beautiful garden.
I picked a few radishes and a few fingerling carrots to add to tonight's dinner. I love being able to go and pick and see what my mind comes up with for a side dish.
Oh and DH is shucking the peas he picked this morning. Those are going to be blanched and frozen for eating this winter. Yum, yum..... I can hardly wait to taste their unique freshness in the dead of winter.
The pictures of the garden were taken from the roof... obviously. You'll see the gardening boxes and then as he moves the camera you will catch the small and scattered in-ground plots which are all over the back yard. But, hey... as I drive around this area and look to see what others are growing, well their gardens are relatively small compared to what we are doing.
These pictures were taken about 3 days ago... and since that time, we need to take more to show the growth occurring with this great weather we are having.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Happy Canada Day to one and all. Even to those who aren't of the Canadian persuasion.
Julius Caesar named July after himself when he reworked the old Roman calendar. (Ironically, the change went into effect in 44 B.C., the year Caesar was assassinated.)
July is the warmest month on most of the continent. Sweet corn—knee-high by the Fourth of July, with luck—thrives now, and an attentive gardener literally can hear it growing. All you have to do is just listen for a creaking sound. I told my 7 year old friend, Isha, this and she thought for sure I was pulling her leg.
And poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver note in the streamlet’s throat
Has softened almost to a sigh.
It is July.
–Susan Hartley Swett (1860–1907)
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