Tag Archives: homemade

“quickling” – the gateway pickling method | paired with frog’s leap chardonnay

Quickling.  It has become a favorite activity {and all-around awesome word!} here at my house this summer.  You need not let your vegetable harvest go to waste, simply because you feel you do not have the time, space, or know-how to preserve or can your garden goodness.  Quick-pickling, or as I affectionately call the process, “quickling,” is easier and faster than driving down to the grocery to purchase a jar of mediocre, store-bought pickles.  And it is simply more tasty and rewarding!

I hear your hesitation, “I don’t know how to can, and I don’t have one of those fancy pressure cooking devices…”  Well, the process of making refrigerator pickles is simple and does not require a large stockpot or a pressure canner.  “But I only have a small amount of vegetables on hand,” you argue.  Quickling solves that dilemma because you can make a small batch of brine to suit your present demand.  I put off pickling for years because I thought the process was daunting.  If you are a beginning preserver, the quickling process will initiate you beautifully:  simply heat, mix, and pour.  And, if you are a seasoned pro, quickling, as you know, is an excellent time-saver, when you want to quickly preserve and readily enjoy.

I picked these Kirby cucumbers from the garden first thing this morning, when they were at their prime for taste and texture.  I have also heard to pickle or preserve your picked produce {by the way, this sentence was sponsored by the letter, “p”…} as close to the time you picked it, so that its optimal flavor is captured.  I sliced each one, depending upon its size, into either halves or quarters, making sure to cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.  Cutting off the blossom end ensures that an enzyme, which causes sogginess, is removed.

I also avoid commercially bought pickling spices and choose to make my own.  This particular recipe is quite simple:  the spicy, dilly, garlic notes shine through.  I snipped a few cayenne and Thai peppers, several bay leaves, and some fresh dill seeds and flowers.  Some black pepper corns and garlic cloves completed my blend.  Feel free to add other spices, such as coriander, mustard seed, ginger, or even juniper berries.

Spicy Garlic Dilly Quickles  –  adapted from Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars and the amazing blog of the same name

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, sliced with ends removed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher or “pickling” salt
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in halves (2 cloves per jar)
  • 3 spicy peppers, sliced in halves (one per jar or use 1/4 dried pepper flakes per jar)
  • several fresh dill seeds and flowers (or 1 teaspoon dried dill seed per jar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper corns (1/2 teaspoon per jar)
  • 3 bay leaves (one per jar)
  • 3 medium-sized or pint Mason jars (really, you can use whatever size you have on hand, and I have found that regular-sized mouth jars keep the pickles in line better)

Steps:

  1. Wash and slice the cucumbers into quarters or halves, depending upon the size and your preference.  Cut off the blossom end of each cucumber.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  3. Add spices to each jar.  Squeeze the cucumbers in as tightly as possible, without damaging them.
  4. Pour the brine liquid into each jar and leave about 1/2 inch head-space at the top of the jar.
  5. Tap the jars carefully to release any trapped air bubbles.
  6. Cover with lids and let cool.  Once the jars are cool, place them in the refrigerator and let them sit for at least two days before you enjoy them.  These pickles will keep in the fridge for up to a month, but I am sure that you will enjoy them long before they spoil!

I am super excited to try this batch of refrigerator pickles in a couple of days.  Be sure to keep these pickles refrigerated at all times, for they are not shelf-stable like pressure-canned pickles.  You can also adapt this recipe for other vegetables that you may have on hand; however, if you decide to quickle tougher veggies, like carrots, beets, or asparagus, blanch them for one minute, so that they are able to absorb the pickling flavor more readily.  This afternoon’s garden chores also included harvesting sage leaves, basil, and parsley.  After writing this post, I will be washing, sorting, and clipping the leaves to place in the dehydrator for the dried herb blend.  And an herb-clipping session like this can only be enhanced by a refreshing glass of California Chardonnay!

The wine  –  Frog’s Leap Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2011

  • On the eyes – pale straw with golden reflections.
  • On the nose – bright citrus with notes of apricot, wet rock, and faint spiced vanilla.
  • On the palate – dry and crisp mouth-feel, with notes of stonefruit, lemon balm, and green apple.
  • On the table – pairs perfectly with an afternoon of gardening or halibut, oysters, or roasted chicken breast {that’s for tonight!}.
  • On the shelf – about $25.
  • On the ears – paired with Wild Nothing’s “Counting Days” from the Nocturne album.  This lazy and dreamy shoe-gaze track captured my sunny, toasty afternoon perfectly.  Through the wispy vocals and hazy keyboards, I can almost see myself driving past an open field with the windows down, hands outstretched the window on a sun-drenched afternoon {while someone else is holding the wheel, of course!}.

Happy sipping, gardening, and quickling!

peach + mint mojitos

I am realizing that if I wait for the “perfect” time to sit down and compose a post {or do anything, for that matter}, that moment may never happen.  Well, here I am – another cocktail post, and another day closer to a finished kitchen!  The kitchen is still unusable, so that means donating surplus vegetables to friends, still washing dishes in the bathroom sink, and striving to make the fastest and easiest-to-clean-up summer treats.  We have done a lot of eating out lately, and I am actually ready for a full-on cleanse of some sort very soon.  I have found that simply selecting a glass, grabbing my muddler, and making a trip to the garden or the store have made some of the most delicious summer cocktail moments of the summer…nice respites in the midst of some serious chaos.

Ingredients for the It’s All Just Peachy Mojito

  • 1 peach, pitted, and sliced (into, maybe, ten pieces)
  • juice from one lime
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1-2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 1.5 ounces rum (spiced or white – I used 10 Cane, one of my favorites)
  • club soda

Steps for making the It’s All Just Peachy Mojito

  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the peach slices, lime juice, raw sugar, and mint leaves.
  2. Pour in rum and a few ice cubes.
  3. Shake the tin to incorporate.
  4. Pour into a tall or “collins” glass.
  5. Top with more ice.
  6. Finish with soda water.
  7. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
  8. Sit back, deeply sigh, think of something you’re grateful for, and take a long, slow sip.

The spearmint and peppermint were sourced from the backyard garden today, and the peaches were picked a day ago in Palisade, Colorado, where the peaches are in season.  I love the fruit from Ela Family Farms; I have been enjoying their produce for several years, here in Colorado.  If you need to find a farmers’ market or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in your state, check out Local Harvest.  I found the very first CSA I subscribed to, back in 2008, on this very website.  My life was never the same.

So many bartenders and mixologists deride mojitos and other muddled drinks because of their cumbersome nature, when, in fact, these drinks have so much flavor and character!  Bring on the muddling and get rid of some pent-up stress!  Speaking of ridding oneself of stresses, we finished laying the floor tile in the kitchen this afternoon.  The process took over six hours.  Tomorrow, we grout and clean up the excess mortar.  I am beyond excited!!!  I just realized that I have never taken a photo from or of my kitchen for this blog; I would always shoot outside or seriously crop.  A detailed before-and-after post in the near future is necessary for some perspective.  Closing with some shots from this week’s garden and tonight’s kitchen…

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smashy, smashy | renovations + cherry bourbon smashes

I won’t even begin to count how many days we have been renovating our hallway, kitchen, living room, and dining room areas.  If you have ever owned an old home, you know that once you start repairing a portion of your home, another dilemma arises.  You can choose to ignore the problem and cover it up, or you can take the extra time, money, and loss of sanity to fix it.  We chose the latter.  Washing dishes in the bathroom sink, drying dishes in the living room on boxes, sorting herbs on a cluttered and dirty back porch, finding stray forks in the laundry basket, and brushing debris off every exposed surface are just a few of our daily chores and challenges.   We have carved out actual pathways around the dusty stacks of our personal belongings.  From the looks of our house, I think I can officially declare myself a likely candidate for the show, “Hoarders.”  All of this stress and commotion calls for a cocktail…

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don’t fear the pink

Pink…

What words come to mind, when you see this color or hear its name?  What associations, emotions, pictures, people?  I see beautiful sunsets, gorgeous azalea blooms from my home state of Florida, Sunday dresses, spring ties, sprinkled cupcakes, seersucker suits, brightly colored parrots, a singer by this name, ripe strawberries, and, of course, flamingos.  Not to mention delicious rosé wine, my subject of choice today.

After having coffee this morning, with a wonderful friend and colleague within the wine industry, I felt compelled to mention a few things on “pink wine.”  We shared stories of how “pink” wines are perceived within the wine-consuming crowd.  As kismet would have it, I had a half-finished bottle of rosé in my fridge, an evening off, and another new book to begin reading.  At 11:00 this morning, I was already imagining a summery beet salad and some goat cheese to pair with my chilled wine.  I constantly question why anyone would limit their enjoyment or palate because of preconceived notions of what a color means to them.

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last year’s lavender | DIY lavender bath salt soak

One good thing about the process of cleaning out and renovating a house is that you come across a lot of misplaced items that you had been searching for.  You also come across a lot of excess junk and unwanted items, and that sends you on a clean-out-and-simplify quest.  At least that is what it does to me!  Our kitchen is an empty room, as of last night.  We ordered our tile, tore down the old cabinets, and moved everything in the kitchen to either the living or dining room.  Everyday life becomes a little trickier to navigate, and finding what you need, at the moment you need it, is next to impossible.

I did manage to come across a bag of dried lavender from last season’s garden.  It was an unintentional find, but as soon as I opened the bag, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath, I knew that I had to capture the fragrance and make something…despite my kitchen being a complete disaster.  A sea salt soak sounded just about perfect, and it is so easy to make – no recipe needed.

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