Monday, August 27, 2012

pickle day

The other day I ordered 20 lbs of pickling cukes and dill from the fruit stand and then promptly forgot about it. When I ordered them, we talked about having them ready for delivery this weekend. On Saturday, after the boy had swimming and a play date, we stopped by the fruit stand on the way home. We bought peaches and nectarines, mini cukes and tomatoes, corn and strawberries and eggplant. I forgot about the pickling cukes and so did the fruit stand guy. He called me later so I swung by later and picked them up. The dill scented the car all the way home and then filled my kitchen with dill perfume once I hoisted the pickles and dill into the kitchen. I started washing cukes to make bread and butter pickles as I remembered them taking a while, what with the slicing of the cukes and onions. I allowed 7 lbs for bread and butter pickles, mainly on a friend's recommendation - as she says - "these pickles rock". She told me the story of how she served them to her mum for lunch one day and her mum said " I'm not really a pickle person". She was convinced to try them because of the whole "they rock" thing and ate lots. So this recipe converts non-pickle people. The rest went for dill pickles, my husband's favorite.

I ended up prepping all the bread and butter pickles

and canning about half of the dill pickles and then I ran out of vinegar and energy. So bright and early Sunday morning I went and bought white vinegar and proceeded on with finishing the dill pickles and then processing the bread and butter pickles. I had one casualty - one jar of dills broke in the water bath (sniff) but I have an impressive array of pickles on the counter - periodically one pops. Such a satisfying sound when canning.

Bread and Butter Pickles (from here)

~ 1 lb of pickling cucumbers, scrubbed
1 medium onion
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 c. apple cider vinegar
1 c. sugar
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric

Slice cucumbers and onions very thin and layer in a bowl with the salt. Nearly cover with ice cold water and set aside in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Drain. Rinse well and drain. Prepare the jars.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil stirring the dissolve the sugar. As soon as it boils add the cucumber mix and bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat and spoon into the prepared jars allowing for 3/4 to 1 1/2" of headspace. Pour the pickling liquid over the pickles, evenly distributing the seeds. Cap and process in a water bath for ~ 10 minutes.

this truck appeared curtesy of the boy - he decided it didn't belong on his construction dig in the back yard

Monday, August 20, 2012

a few days away

Last week we spent a few days away, missing most of the heat wave, or what passes for a heat wave, that hit our parts. We had sunny, breezy, cool days by the shore, with fog and mist. Perfect for us.

happy boy

looking for marine life - preferably sharks!

wading in the surf - the water is a bit chilly

A steam train in Garibaldi, OR

the view from the steam train

inside the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum

early morning on the beach

what you see when the tide goes out

Saturday, August 11, 2012

dals - our way

my salmon supper plate
 I generally have a rule for myself. No new cookbooks. That I break this rule all the time is neither here nor there. The rule exists to stop cookbooks from taking over the laundry room, where they line up on the counter. I started out by thinking this book wasn't really for us. I don't know why but given our boy's issues with food, I still can't envision the day when we sit down and eat something that resembles the same thing for everyone at the table. But I picked up the book at my local bookstore and it fell open to a recipe I thought I would like to try. So I bought it. And so far I've made about 10 things from this book. Which means it is already one of my favorites. Jenny is a delightful writer and I so related to the school guilt chapter and many other things she writes about. One of my favorite passages is where she arranges her commute in time so she will see the last half of her girl's tennis lesson only to be told that she should have been there from the beginning. I've been there. Occasionally I manage to pick my boy up from school, only to be told that I should always pick him up and oh by the way, also drop him off.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband wasn't home for supper so I decided to cook salmon for the boy and I. I used the BBQ salmon recipe from Dinner: A Love Story and adapted it. Ok - I didn't have hoisin sauce so I used teriyaki sauce instead. But it was delicious. I loved it. The boy, typically for him. after saying he would love it, didn't even try it. Oh well. I loved it enough for both of us.

the boy's salmon supper plate
I also loved the campfire potatoes I served with my salmon.

becoming a runner

It feels so presumptuous to even write that. But that is what I am doing. Or trying to do. I recently joined this online group. I love the name. In school I was that girl, the last one picked for teams usually, who panted her way around, trailing everyone else badly, with my short legs and chubby frame. And at the end of gym class, I always had a glow-in-the-dark red face. Always. I managed in high school, to be one of 8 girls to letter in sports (it is still shocking to me) by playing on the school's field hockey team, playing intramural volleyball and basketball, managing the school's girl's basketball team and competing in track and field - my disciplines were shotput and discus throwing although my coach tried to convince me to be a long distance runner. I hated running in school and for most of my life. I never felt fit enough, never felt natural and never felt the high that others talk about. When I was in my twenties a friend and I trained for and then ran a 10K race and thanks to my slow pace, we came in last. I gave it up. A knee injury (partial acl tear) sustained playing tennis made me even more reticent when it came to sports. And recently, my only activity has been the occasional walk. My doctor wants me to be more active and I want to be more active. I want to be able to run around with our boy, play soccer in the park with him. So when the ads for this year's CIBC Run for the Cure started, it was already percolating in my head that I could/should do something about it this year. As in, get out there and do it. Raise money and run in mum's memory. And then Dara posted about the Red Faced Runners and posted their version of the C25K program (Couch to 5K). So I joined the group and signed up for the 5K, bought running shoes and socks and started the program. I started slowly - it took me 2 weeks to do the first week's schedule. Mainly as I struggled with how to fit in training into my schedule. I've run in the afternoon, with my boy playing on a nearby playground and I don't like running late in the day. So far what works for me in early morning. During the work week this means hauling myself out of bed at 5AM so I can do the run, shower, do morning prep routine and the morning commute to be at my desk by 7. The mornings are getting darker but so far the weather has been fantastic so I'm hoping that by the time the rain starts, it will be habit enough so I will still have the umph to go. This morning I did the last workout of Week 4 - a repeat of Thursday's run as I didn't complete it on Thursday and I managed the whole thing this morning. So I'm surprising myself. So maybe at the end of next week, I will be able to run the 22 minutes. I can. I will. And after the 5K, I'm hoping to continue with running - 20 minutes 3 times a week so I can say, I'm a runner.

Monday, August 6, 2012

in a rut

I was in a bit of a cooking rut this week - and what I ended up cooking, and what we ended up eating was mostly a riff on this recipe that I found in Bon Appetit this month. Now I'd love to be in Tuscany, eating the lovely food profiled in the article but as I'm not, this had to do. We had it pretty much as written last Sunday night,

along with some tacos. Mine were salmon, my husband's were chicken. The following night, I still had zucchini and potatoes along with some corn, so I made the same thing with corn added and served alongside sausages. A couple of nights later I still had potatoes and corn and a big bunch of kale, so I made it into a hash and put poached eggs on top.

Potato and Kale hash with poached egg (inspired by Ruth Rogers in Bon Appetit)

6-8 small new potatoes, diced
olive oil
1 medium orange pepper, diced
1 bunch kale, stems stripped off, slivered
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
4-6 large button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme

Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a large saute pan, and add the potatoes. Let the potatoes sit for about 3-4 minutes and then turn. Cook for another 5 or more minutes, until tender. Remove the potatoes to a bowl.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan, add the peppers, mushrooms, garlic and kale and saute until tender. Add the corn kernels at the last minutes and move around the pan to heat up. Add the thyme. Add the potatoes back in and let meld together for a minute or so. Keep warm while poaching the eggs. Serve the hash with a poached egg on top of each serving.

It's a pretty good rut to be in.