I know that pickling is all the rage in the real food movement. And, it should be, because eating pickled things can be pretty delicious. One food I don’t get excited about whether pickled, roasted, or any other way I’ve tried to like them is beets. However, my mom enjoys a pickled beet. She also enjoys a pickled herring. I think the people of Norway must need to have needed to preserve food all through the winter and pickling became a way of life for them. Apparently, that taste passed its way down through the generations and my mom achieved it, but it’s either skipping a generation or my taste around beets and pickled beets has not been acquired yet.
This summer at the farmer’s market I saw some beets the same weekend I was planning to do some canning, and I knew that it was meant to be. I picked up 3 or 4 beets and decided it was time to make some pickled beets for my mom’s birthday. Now that we’ve celebrated the birthday, I can post this and not ruin the surprise (are you reading this, mom?). I used one of my three favorite canning cookbooks to put this together: Canning for a New Generation. The big reason that I like these cookbooks is that they generally make small batches of food, so it works out in terms of not having tons of cans to eat throughout the year.
This year’s garden harvest has included a number of cucumbers, and coming up will be some great acorn squash, brussels sprouts, and other yummy vegetables. One Saturday, as I was picking up ground cherries and cucumbers, I spotted a rogue zucchini. It was HUGE. Literally, the size of a small child.
After a zucchini gets to be about 10 inches long, my belief is that it is only good for baking. So, I embarked upon recipes for baking. I made my favorite, Carrot Zucchini Cake, and then was scouring cookbooks and other recipes, looking for the perfect zucchini recipe.
A friend of mine had purchased a cool-looking recipe box, filled with recipes.
As I was paging through the recipes, looking to see what delights were in there (a lot of molded gelatin concoctions), I came across this recipe for Zucchini Bread:
Doesn’t this recipe scream to be baked? Especially if I had all needed ingredients in the house? So, I went to town, making this twice, in addition to the cake, and finally used up all of the edible portions of the zucchini. Then, of course, I brought them into work to share with my coworkers.
When I started cooking dinner for folks on occasion, I found myself experimenting with ingredients I had never before used. Sometimes this was something that I couldn’t find in my small Minnesota town. Other times it was something that was present, but hadn’t been part of our regular menu. This recipe for rosemary-roasted potatoes with goat cheese caught my eye as I was intrigued by the use of goat cheese. One of my guests enjoyed this recipe mostly because they liked hearing my Minnesota accent come out with an elongated oooooo in the goat and the shortened ee in the cheese. With that in mind, here is this recipe, originally from Cooking Light.
This likely isn’t a surprise, but sometimes I like to do things in the most complicated way possible. Okay, maybe not the most complicated way. Let’s think about it in terms of learning more about the process before I skip to the shortcut. Sometimes the shortcuts are perfectly valid and truly time-saving. Sometimes they aren’t all that cost effective and there is something to be said for the process.
When I wrote my admissions essay for going back to school to earn my doctorate, my essay was about learning about how process-oriented I can be. Specifically, it was about quilting. How I appreciate the time-intensity, the focus, the steps that need to be taken. I think that’s also why I like cooking and cooking new recipes. I like to learn the steps necessary. I joke that I don’t always care about the finished product. That’s not really true, but it can sometimes seem like it.
So, when I decided to do some canning in August, I decided I should also make my own pickling spices, rather than buy the blend at the grocery store. This was definitely not a cost-effective strategy (although if I used the entirety of the ingredients, it might become cost-effective), but I appreciated throwing this simple mixture together and knowing what was included in my pickling spices. I found this recipe in Food in Jars.
Wilson’s Apple Orchard let us know that they had peaches from Michigan in August and it was the weekend I was planning to do a bunch of canning, so I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase some peaches and try this recipe I had flagged in Preserving by the Pint, one of the books I have about canning. What I love about the cookbook is that it makes small-batch cans, which works well for someone like me who has a small garden that I supplement on occasion with purchases from the farmer’s market or local farmers. This made three half-pint jars of bbq sauce and I can’t wait to make some pork on the grill to finish with this sauce!
One Thursday afternoon I found myself walking through the Mount Vernon Farmer’s Market after having looked through Canning for a New Generation and I remembered the recipe for Whole Jalapenos with Honey and Allspice and I knew I needed to try making these delights. So, I contacted one of the farmers at the market and they were amazing and put together a little box of jalapenos for me. Because I am essentially the luckiest person in the world some days. That weekend, among the 25 jars of various canned items, I found these pickled whole jalapenos.
I was looking through some recipes and started coming across some muffin recipes that looked absolutely delicious. Combine that with Wilson’s Orchard sending out an email saying that peaches were in season and at the orchard and I knew that I needed to make this recipe I found in the Catholic Daughters Cookbook.
We also had a big project going on at work the week I made these and I wanted to make sure some folks felt appreciated for the extra work they were putting in to make it go as smoothly as possible. I was glad to be able to bring these into the office and share them with these folks putting in extra hours.