Preserving the Harvest: Garlic Dill Pickles

I love pickled anything! Often I am throwing together a quick pickle to add to a poke bowl or salad. And when it comes to pickles, you can’t beat the classic Dill Pickle.

When my cucumber plants start booming, despite my love for the green fruit, I can’t keep up. Cue the canning equipment, vinegar, and salt. Pickles are an easy way to get introduced to canning, as they are done with a simple boiling water method, require few special tools, and are high acid; botulism doesn’t stand a chance!


One of my favorite resources for canning recipes, besides the thoroughly National Center of Food Preservation recipes, is the Food In Jars book and blog. I’ve posted in the past about making refrigerator pickles, using Marisa from Food In Jars as a resource, she really is an expert.

See her original recipe and post here. This post is made for the beginner, so it goes into detail with each step, unlike linked post which assumes basic canning knowledge.

This recipe can be modified to any harvest size. Because of that, I won’t specify how many cukes you need, but will give per jar instructions. Also, any extra brine can be used to make refrigerator pickles of any veggies in your fridge.

If you are unsure about any of the materials/ingredients, clicking on the links will bring you to an amazon product as an example. Also, if you choose to purchase, my site may receive a portion of the sale. More info at advertising disclosure.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Materials:
-Large pot (enough space to cover your jars with 1 inch of water)
Pint Canning Jars and Lids
-Pot for brine
-Small saucepan for lids
Jar lifter
-Towels
Canning rack or towel

Ingredients:
-4 cups vinegar
-4 cups water
-5 Tbs Salt (pickling, sea,… as long as there are no anti-caking agents or added iodine)
-Cucumbers (ideally pickling, but you will still get decent pickles with firm garden variety)
-1 tsp per jar
-1/2 tsp per jar Black Pepper Corns
-1 to 2 Whole Peeled Garlic Cloves per jar

Directions:

  1. Place un-lidded jars into pot (if using rack, put in now) and fill with water just covering the lips. Bring to a boil while you prep to sterilize jars. (Because the processing time is 10 minutes, they don’t need to be fully sterile, it is just a good habit to get into).
  2. Take a medium pot and add vinegar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then simmer while you finish prep.
  3. Place sealing lids into small sauce pan and cover with water, bring to a simmer.
  4. Wash your cukes and place on a clean cutting board. Slice 1/2 inch off of the blossom end and save for your salads (including blossom ends creates mushy pickles, yuck!)
  5. Cut into desired shape. I like spears because they are easy to pack and coins because they go well on sandwiches. Mix it up jar to jar.
  6. Put down a towel for the jars and have your spices, brine, and prepped cukes ready.
  7. Use the jar lifter to lift and dump the hot water back in the pot (when done, there should be enough water to cover 1 or more inches above lids when you place the jars back in). Put the sterilized jars on the towel.
  8. Add spices and garlic to bottom of each jar. Then firmly pack (without damaging) the cucumbers into the jar leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  9. Pour brine into jar to cover cukes leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  10. Use lid lifter or a fork to remove softened lid and place on wiped rim, screw band to finger tight (too tight and the air can’t escape)
  11. If not using a rack, place a kitchen towel in the water bath to line the bottom of the pot. Carefully place jars on top of towel or rack. Return water to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove jars and place on a towel to sit undisturbed for 12 hours. Check to make sure the cooled lids are sealed (no movement of the lid “button”). Remove bands and store up to a year.*

*if jars don’t seal, you can store them in the refrigerator

Happy Pickling!

 

 

Coconut cherry granola 

Granola is fantastic, especially quality granola. Yet, for whatever reason, it is one of the most expensive things to buy and the cheapest thing to make. It probably has something to do with being the iconic foodstuff of homesteading life (have you ever been labeled “crunchy” or “granola”?). Sometimes, as frugal as we try to be, we can be suckers for a locally made label. No more!

The other day, I was thinking how I didn’t have enough snacks in the house. I knew I’d be whipping up a batch of Homemade Laura Bars in the near future (watch for that post), but that day’s project was to be some fancy granola.


And so I went to the cabinet to start my kitchen sink method that is granola making, and came up with this lovely Coconut Cherry Granola recipe, filled with 3 types of grain, seeds, and dried fruit.

If you are missing any ingredients feel free to follow my amazon affiliate links. If you choose to purchase, I get a small commission to help run my site at no cost to you.

Ingredients:

 

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F
  2. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl
  3. Warm the coconut oil and brown rice syrup in a Pyrex measuring cup or other microwave save bowl
  4. Drizzle in warmed mixture, taking breaks to stir (be sure to mix thoroughly, or the small seeds and grains will fall to the bottom and not be incorporated)
  5. Line a baking pan with parchment paper
  6. Pour mixture into prepared pan and use another sheet of parchment paper (or oiled hands/spatula) to compact firmly
  7. Bake for 20 minutes
  8. Remove from oven and press again with a spatula before setting pan aside to cool for a 10 minutes
  9. Lift parchment paper out of pan and place on a cooling rack, cooling until room-temp
  10. Break up the granola and store in a air-tight container.

*Substitutions for brown rice syrup include local honey, maple syrup, or other liquid sweeteners. Note, the flavor will be different.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy this and any other granola, is taking sliced apples spread with peanut butter, and dipping them into the granola crumbles.

Enjoy!

And So It Begins

Here we are, my new blog.

It has been a while since I’ve ventured into the blogger-sphere. Years ago in my Hawaii hometown I kept a blog on my garden at called “My Kailua Garden” and another on recipes crafts at “Kreative in Kailua”, but college and health issues got in the way of those ventures.

That is not to say I have been sitting idle in the least, I have been arm deep in the dirt and homestead activities since, I just haven’t written it down. I’ll be combining my old content and finally getting to writing some new posts.


I missed blogging, so now, as I go to school in Durham, NC, I’m ready to help others with small spaces and busy schedules to get back to mother earth and start homesteading. Like the cucumbers above, I am excited to grow out this venture, and hope you are excited to journey with me.

For more on me, don’t forget to swing by the about me page.

Chai Meringue Christmas Trees

YUMMY! I love meringues! Fast and delicious. When you nee to make a whole lot of cookies for Christmas or gifts, even better!

Chai is one of the new “it” flavors, so me and all my friends being teenagers are in on the craze. I took my go to meringue recipe and made it CHAILICIOUS.


Then in honor of Christmas, I had to follow a pintrest idea and pipe them into Christmas trees!

I will definitely do a complete fail-proof meringue post in the future with an plain recipe to play with, but I’ll try to outline key points here too in italics.

Here is what I came up with:

(I doubled the batch, but one batch makes about 60 small meringues)

Recipe:
-2 egg whites
-1/8 tsp vinegar
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 bag
-sprinkles (opt)

Instructions:

-Preheat oven to 225

-Separate eggs and place in clean oil free metal bowl with vinegar and salt

– take eggs out of the fridge and let come to room temp (can speed up by placing in bowl of warm water for 5 min)
Its impt. to get them to room temp because they whip bigger

-Begin whipping at med-slow speed, moving to med and beat until soft peaks formThis will take 5+ minutes
*it is crucial that you resist the temptation to beat at high speed, if you go too fast you will get crumbly whites and it won’t get voluminous. 

-When soft peaks form, increase speed to med-high and begin to slowly add sugar (sprinkle in gradually) and beat about 5 minutes until glossy with stiff peaks (see picture)

-Place into a piping bag or a large ziplock with the corner snipped and a piping tip placed on (if not making trees or shapes, no need for a tip)-Mix in vanilla extract

-Mix in chai by hand by folding with a spatula so not to deflate your meringue

-Pipe in small spirals on sheet lines with parchment paper with 1 in spacing

-decorate with sprinkles 🙂

-Bake until dry for ~90 min

-Remove from oven. I lift the parchment paper up off hot sheet so they cool faster (working against humidity) and remove/peel the cookies off when bottoms cool

-Cool and package in air-tight tupperware or freezer-ziplock (if you live in Hawaii or somewhere humid: as soon as they are no longer warm… package)

Anyone can make meringues 🙂 I wish you luck 🙂

Ribbon Candy Adventure (Homemade Ribbon Candy)

Have you ever tried pulling sugar? I don’t mean taffy, but real hard sugar candy. I did over the holidays and it was quite the experience.
My Grandfather loves ribbon candy. It is a Christmas tradition he grew up with, and today that tradition seems to be disapearing and the candy is becoming harder to come by. This year I decided that I would make some for him as a Christmas gift (he is quite hard to find gifts for). I followed the instructions from this site: http://candy.about.com/od/hardcandyrecipes/r/ribbon_candy.htm and went to work.
(If your going to try this, definitely look at the site, they have step by step sugar pulling instructions with pictures.)
I practiced in the days prior with itty bitty batches (1tbs in place of 1 cup proportions unflavored) I would recommend trying this with maybe a bit more (2 tbs/cup or something) because it is quite helpful to practice the twist and pull, but my itty batch made a tad to little and the candy would cool and behave naughtily. It is good to know that more is easier to work with, so don’t be discouraged.
I ended up making 3 different colored solid ribbon candies instead of a striped one after I realized I was still in the learning phase and wanted to make pretty candy. For a first try you may want to do the same. The advantage is when you mess up/have too little to make another ribbon you can add it to a clump of the same color and put it to warm in the oven. Redos! 🙂

You need:
-3 cup sugar
-1 cup corn syrup
-1/4 cup water
-1/2 or 1 tsp (depend on taste)
-food coloring red and green
– (impt!)
-a loving friend to help shape

Preheat oven to 200. Lightly grease 3 (4 ideal, but who has 4?) cookie sheets.

Mix all ingredients except coloring in 2qt pot and stir until steady boil over med heat. Stick in thermometer and don’t stir. Let boil and heat until reach soft-crack at 285.


Pour 1/3 mix on a cookie sheet and stick in oven

Pour next 1/3 on another sheet, add sprinkle few drops green       food coloring on top, and stick in oven

Pour final 1/3 on granite slab if have (or cookie sheet) and let sit momentarily till form very thin skin (happens fast). Use bench scraper or a butter knife to “work” and cool sugar (see website for instructions)

Once cool enough to handle (still hot) use gloves lightly greased with cooking spray to pull and twist candy (PLEASE SEE WEBSITE, PICTURES SUPER HELPFUL to the beginner!)

How start pull

Pull into 2 inch wide log and stick in oven

Here is where I stray from instructions a bit:
Once repeat with all colors, you will have 3 big logs and some will probably be all melty and you may need to re-work them. Since I did single colors, here’s how it went:
-take greased cooking scissors and cut of chunk (2-3 in long) and begin to press/pull out flatter into ribbon, be consistent with pressure and slip to end when pulling. Hold with one hand, pull with other (Like 1st picture)

*remember that as the ribbon gets longer it will thin in width. If you don’t monitor it, you will get 1/2 in wide ribbons ans need to redo by reheating.*

Continue pulling out over “working tray” until long, THIN, and ribbon-like. Your loving friend (thank you Mom) will snip a length (~10-12 inches is good) and shape it. Here is a good video with a slow how-to shape toward the end (don’t worry you have more than the quoted 8 sec to shape xD )

Good mid-pull shot (sorry it’s blurry)

Once the candy is set enough, move to a drying rack. When totally dry, put in covered container (if you live in Hawaii like me and it is always kind of humid, so this during the process every so often so your sugar babies don’t become sticky)

Work through all your candy. You will get better and the last ones will be BEAUTIFUL!

Some tips:
-When you have a baby chunk in hand from pulling, you can reheat it with another clump and pull later (don’t stress over pulling itty clumps)

-As you get better try pulling with more candy. It moves faster but is overwhelming at first

-Be sure you work/pull/twist well in the beginning. In my green batch I had a much easier time because it was worked the best. It pulls easier and moves easier.

-If you have ever pulled a ceramic handle, this is exactly the same except keep your fingers pressed so it stays flat
(you could probably learn pulling from ceramic videos if you get stuck now that I think of it, there will be more out there)

Good luck to you all!
Homemade ribbon candy IS possible for even beginners despite what some sites claim (if a 17 year-old did it, can’t you?)

Home Made Heath Bars

Heath-bars are my brothers top favorite candy so I made these as a gift. They are good for your soul. I did have to get rid of the small tidbits that fell off and were un-gift-able. Oh My Goodness. Heavenly.

So in other words for a very special treat, try these.

Thank you BHG.com for your reliable and easy recipe. No fail for those who have never made candy 🙂


I split it into lots of baby steps, but really it takes like 30-40 minutes in total and is a breeze. I just don’t like to search in my recipes.

Recipe:

Makes 1-1/2 lbs (48 servings according to BHG, I didn’t count)

Instructions:

1.         Line rimmed cookie sheet with foil, folding edges over sides.

2.         Sprinkle 1/2 cup nuts on pan

3.         Butter sides of heavy 2-quart saucepan using one of your sticks of butter. Add butter to pan and
melt. Add sugar, water, and corn-syrup and bring to boil over med-high heat. STIRRING
CONSTANTLY

4.         Reduce heat to medium, keeping steady boil, and insert candy thermometer (still STIRRING)
until you reach 290 degrees (watch carefully at 280 to keep from burning) ~about 15 minutes

5.         Candy should be golden brown. Remove from heat, take out thermometer, and pour over pan as
evenly as possible, spreading to fill holes if needed with knife or metal spoon.

6.         Let stand for a minute (until top is firm) then sprinkle chocolate chips over warm candy. Let sit
for 5 minutes, then spread melted chips over top (have faith, it will cover it all and will melt)

 

7.        Sprinkle with last 1/2 cup nuts and pop in fridge to harden.

8.        When hard, remove from fridge, lift/peel from foil, and break into pieces (if some are too small,
not a bad time for samples 😉  Place pieces in tightly covered airtight container (layering
parchment paper between layers is not a bad idea).

Storage: I store mine in the freezer b/c one, its humid here and candy loves to get sticky, but also frozen candy tastes better and always has a crunch. (fridge works too) BHG.com just says store tightly covered, so i guess you can store counter top, but I can’t vouch.

*If you need to toast your nuts, chop and measure, then toast in oven at 350 until golden brown. Watch them! They go fast (2-4 min) and will burn!

Lacey Cookies

These are crisp, toffee-like, moldable, and FAST. Most of all, my family is obsessed with the ones at Whole Foods (filled with chocolate like a sandwich) so I thought I’d better learn how to make them.

Well, here’s what I found. See inspiration recipe here.

4 ingredients. 5 minutes. Bake. Mold. Done.


Super fast and easy. Besides leaving them out too long in humid weather (which you don’t do with any cookie) and letting them get sticky and un-crisp, these are fool proof. It makes the process much faster if you pick up the parchment paper off the hot cookie sheet when getting them to firm up and set. (also frees up the tray for another batch, why only make one?) These spread 2.5 inches across and look super impressive (no one needs to know how easy it was)

Total time ~15 min when you get the flow.

Makes ~12 cookies

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Honey (preferably local honey)
2 Tbs Whole Wheat Flour (or alternative flour)


Directions:

-preheat oven to 375

-mix butter, sugar, and honey in a small saucepan and melt and mix –>

-remove from heat and whisk in flour of choice

-drop teaspoons of batter onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet 3 inches apart

-bake for ~6 min (or until bubbly, spread out, and golden brown in color)
*they need to hit a certain temp to crisp up, so you want to see lots of bubbles and deep        caramel color. when they dry they should be slightly holey, not a solid puddle*

-when set enough to pick up, mold into shape wanted and let set some, then place on drying rack or place directly on rack for flat cookies
  Shape ideas:
– tubes like I did around a wooden spoon handle –>
– mini cone shapes (top with ball cookies, meringues, or other filling for mock ice-cream cone)
– bowls (for desserts), mold over bottom of cupcake pan or other bowl shape
– tacos
– wafer (flat, can fill with chocolate or other fun things or top with fruit and whipped cream)

-let set and dry, then place into airtight container

-if filling with chocolate see below update

*(don’t let sit out in super humid weather for too long, will get sticky and un-crisp)

************************************UPDATE*************************************
So I made these again.
This time I used 1 1/2 Tbs of agave (in place of the honey) because I realized that last time I couldn’t read the recipe and used tsp vs. Tbs.  The result…… I think using tsp makes a crisper cookie. HOORAY FOR MISTAKES!
I also made a chocolate filling. (My bro is obsessed with chocolate)
Here is the ratio (it will make too much, so you may want to scale it down unless you have some fruit or other dipping goodies on hand)
-3/4 cup chocolate chips
-1 Tbs vegetable shortening
Place in microwave safe bowl and microwave for ~1 min
Stir and go again for 30 sec, Stir
Continue with 10 sec intervals until 3/4 of the chips are melted
Stir until all chips are melted
Spread/drizzle onto cookies and place into the fridge to firm up.
*use this ratio for any dipping chocolate 🙂
Sandwiches and tacos
(tacos are easier, fill and fold)
Chocolate
<3
  

 

Roasted Butternut Squash, Mushroom, Chickpea Salad

Oh. My. Goodness.
I just made this up for dinner and it was delicious! A few days ago we got diced fresh butternut squash from Costco (Ready to go! How great is that?) and I have been waiting for a good time to roast it up. Tonight was the night. I just got some mushroom kits from Fungi Perfecti  and started up my Pearl Oyster kit about 4 days ago. They grow FAST and are BEAUTIFUL!

I am so ecstatic to be able to have fresh gourmet organic mushrooms, and tonight was my first harvest. So… looking up the butternut squash salad recipe I just pinned on pintrest, I grabbed some guidelines and went to town. (see inspiration recipe here)
In here we have the yummy title ingredients, but also quick pickled beets for crunch and sweetness, and a scant few Plumamazins. If you have never had a Plumamazin (click link for info), they are delicious diced dried plums for salads, cereals, etc. They are higher in fiber than raisins and they taste yummy in salad as a nice sweet bite.

Recipe: 
Serves 3-4 (at least it does for my family)
Roasted Portion:
2 cups cubed Butternut Squash (~.5 to 1in cubes)
1 15oz can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 Bunch of Pearl Oyster Mushrooms (see photo for ~amt.)
Curry Powder
1 tbs. Olive Oil
Quick Pickle Beets:
1 beet thinly sliced
Lemon Juice
Vinegar
The Rest:
4 cups Salad Greens (I used beet greens, swiss chard, kale, and lettuce from my garden)
A few tbs. Plumamaizins or other dried fruit (a small sprinkling)
And anything else that you want to add 🙂
Instructions:
-Preheat oven to 400
-Put Squash, Chickpeas, Mushrooms in lightly sprayed lipped roasting pan. Sprinkle desired amt. curry powder over and toss with the Olive oil.
-Roast for about 30-40 min. Or until Squash caramelized slightly and chickpeas browned.
Before….
…After
Marinating Quick Pickle Beets
-In shallow bowl place sliced beets and cover with ~1/2 1/2 vinegar and lemon juice. Toss and let sit
-When Roasted Portion done, remove from oven, combine with greens, Plumasins, and drained pickled beets.
-Toss and enjoy with favorite salad dressing (I went with Amy’s ginger vinaigrette, but any lighter tasting dressing would be great)

ENJOY!


 

Spring Cleaning

Hey all!
Last week I was finally able to go in an rejuvenate my suffering garden (and my school stressed self). You’ve gotta love SPRING BREAK 😀
After the hard rain we had been having+my slight procrastination of garden upkeep, I had a ton of greens to harvest, grass to pull, old plants to pull up (it always makes me sad to see them go, but excited to see what will go in their place), and seedlings to transplant. Phew! Still, I love it!

All the arugula (this is a full sized towel!)

 

This is after the arugula harvest.

I went out one day and just harvested arugula (from a one foot square) and was up to my ears in the green stuff (My mom is in love with it, no complaints from her side). I ended up with three Safeway bags of the stuff.
*Important tip: when harvesting, use the towel to also COVER or SHADE your greens. I went inside and a bunch of my harvest was wilting at the bottom. I had to race to get it in bags with a damp paper towel and into the fridge.
Cut leaves + sun = :/

All of this from one cutting!!! I was stunned.

Then I went in to tackle some of the neighboring square. It was (and still is) full to bursting with Burpee’s Chop Suey Mix (look behind the harvested arugula to see it before any harvest). I just think of them as the purpose salad/stir-fry square. I only had one Kale plant in the square foot, but the leaves I harvested were enough to make a full gallon freezer bag of spicy Mexican kale chips 🙂

On another venture to the garden I continued to harvest from my stir-fry square. Wheedling through to cut out my tender bok-choy and Chinese cabbage. I can’t wait to have it stir fried with plum sauce. (I think that will be on the menu as tonight’s vegetable. hmmm…..)

The next day I went into my stir fry square, scissors in hand, towel at the ready. I needed to harvest some of the dominant green from the square (I don’t remember what it’s called so don’t ask. If you know, please share 🙂
After a full session of harvesting, I only really shaved a bit off the top (Round 2 this weekend!) Look What I ended up with! I needed to harvest more, but couldn’t fathom that I would use it if any more than this. This pile on my counter was over half a foot high! (Still, the torn off leaves are great in salad, and with stems they shine in stir fry. Easy to eat)

After all of my greens harvesting, I decided to make salad mixes for some of my friends to get it off my hands. I went out and picked some beet and radish greens, divided my mountain of arugula, mystery green, and separated it all into 4 very full Safeway bags. Three of my neighbors found themselves with a wonderful salad base, and we got a huge bag as well. (Though with all that is still in the garden I probably could have given away all 4 and harvested another for our salad….) Ours of course had extra arugula for my mom.

Not only did I Harvest all of this wonder, my Pineapples are growing!!!!!! Look! I never knew that they make flowers on their eyes (the body spikes), so pretty!

I also pulled up my cucumbers after a successful season of pickling and salads. In my next post I’ll show you all the fun things I put in their place 😉

Thanks for reading!

Refrigerator Pickles

Mmmmmm….. Cucumbers. One of my favorite fruits (yes they are fruit). Right now my garden is bursting with them. Especially Pickling Cucumbers! (If you haven’t tried growing them, they are a snap here in Hawaii, just be sure to keep them watered!)

At the start of my harvest I only had 4 to use, not enough to make a huge water-processed batch. So I looked up how to make refrigerator pickles! This was my first pickling endeavor, and it couldn’t have been easier or turned out better!
For today’s preserving needs, I turned to Foodinajar. A blog dedicated entirely to preserving and jar-foods! Take a peek!

I used her method for Refrigerator Dill Pickles with a few spice and ingredient adjustments. You don’t need to worry about changing up the ingredients, because they don’t need to be shelf safe, they life in the fridge!


My Pickles are longer than 4 inches, so I doubled the recipe and put them in 2 Quart jars. I used cucumbers of course, but also added some fresh picked hericot-vert (great for cooking with to add a tangy crunch like in one variation of my Zucchini-Noodle Pasta), and Baby Zucchini. I’m going to tell you a secret, you wouldn’t be mistaken to make an entire batch of only zucchini pickles. They are the best pickles I have ever eaten. My family agrees. Don’t get me wrong, the cukes are spectacular, but the zucchini are to die for! Also, the don’t forget to enjoy the pickled garlic, its great in cooking, to eat, or sliced thin in salad!

This recipe can be halved, it can also be packed in pint sized jars

Ingredients:

  • about 2 quarts of veggies   I measured using a 2 quart sauce pan, just pile in the uncut veggies and eyeball it
    • I used 4 5-in pickling cucumbers, 2 small baby yellow zucchini, and a handful of hericot-vert)
  • 10 cloves garlic peeled (~5 per jar)
  • 2 tsp dill seed per jar
  • 1/2 tsp each Yellow Mustard Seed, Crushed Red pepper per jar
  • 3 green onions (whites) chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tsp sea salt salt



Method:
  
Clean Mason jars with soap and hot water

Slice ends off veggies and cut into spears (be sure to take off blossom end of cukes, they make mushy pickles!)

Add cloves of garlic, green onions, and spices to each jar.

Bring water, salt, and vinegar to boil

Pack veggies into jars as tightly as you can without crushing them.

Pour brine into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head-space, and put on the lids

Let cool on counter until room about room temp (6+ hours or overnight)

Store in the Fridge and let set at least 2 days before enjoying!

Keep in fridge up to a month

ENJOY!!!!!