Wool & Flax

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm in a Pickle

Okay, okay, I'm not in a pickle, but I love pickles, and after years and years of wanting to make my own, I finally made a quick version this past week.  Some background is needed, I think.  My Aunt Ann & her mother, Virginia, canned the most heavenly pickles I have ever had.  Virginia was part of The Oakdale Club, and while they produced many quilts during their time, they also produced some mighty delicious food.  The ladies of the Club compiled their many recipes into a cookbook that sits in my cabinet today (Virginia gave me a copy she used).  I refer to this cookbook all the time, and many of my family's favorite recipes come from the pages of this precious book.  One of the recipes in this cookbook is for pickles - the ones Ann & Virginia would make.  They picked their own cucumbers from Virginia's garden, and I've never seen anything like them.  Whenever we would go to visit them in Statesville, I would look forward to enjoying those pickles.  Ever since I had those, I've been a bit obsessed with pickles.  They are a food I crave on regular basis, and I can put down a jar in no time. 

Since I haven't found any perfect pickling cucumbers, but our CSA box has been loaded down with larger cukes, I decided to try to find a quick recipe to satisfy my desire to make pickles.  I found a great recipe, and tweaked it only the slightest bit to remind myself of Ann & Virginia's pickles.  They turned out pretty good.  I think Keith was shocked.  And that's why I love to cook. 

Quick Pickle Recipe
1/2 C white or cider vinegar (just eyeball it)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp whole mustard seed
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 TBSP chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill
1 bay leaf
4 kirby cucumbers, sliced about 1/2 inch thick on an angle
optional: 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, pierced with a knife
Heat small saucepan over medium high heat. Add vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, salt, and garlic to the pan and cook until it begins to simmer and the sugar dissolves. Toss the dill, bay leaf, jalapeno (if using) and sliced cucumbers together in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the simmering liquid over the cucumbers and stir to evenly coat. Allow to cool to room temperature or chill before serving.

In other food-related news, apparently mango juice makes for a very posh hair styling product.  At least that's what this goober tells me.  You too can look like THIS!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Garden Gazpacho & a Treat (of course!)

So the whole computer issue has really slowed me down in blogging.  It's frustrating, really, but that's okay.  Here I am again.  This past week I found myself needing a good recipe to use several veggies from our CSA.  Our fridge is a pretty good size, but each week when we get our box, I wonder where on earth I'm going to store all these things!  So I needed to move some produce.  I settled upon an easy, healthy, no-cook gazpacho.  I basically used Ina's recipe, but added/changed some things.  CSA items used:  2 regular cukes, 1 green bell pepper, 2 cloved of garlic, and about 5 large cherry tomatoes.  I also added a splash of Worcestershire sauce, and garnished with cilantro and lime juice.  This soup definitely gets better with age, but it was really lovely and refreshing on a hot summer night.  And we ate this with some nice crusty french bread.  YUM.

Since we were going to have such a healthy dinner, I decided we needed a treat for later.  That's fair, right?  So I perused countless blogs and other food websites thinking about what I'd like to make.  Then I saw it.  From Lexington's own BraveTart.  City Slicker S'mores.  Yes, please and thank you.

For about the past 3 months, I've walked past the s'mores "stand" in Kroger.  They have it all there for you: the Graham crackers, marshmallows, and choclate bars.  They stare at me every time I walk past.  And there's no getting around this particular area.  I have to walk past.  But I've been trying to be "good."  But not eating some delicious s'mores doesn't mean I haven't thought about them.

So when I saw Stella's recipe, I knew this was my chance to actually make something totally from scratch that I would really enjoy.  I didn't actually use her recipes (at least, not exactly), because she weighs everything out, and that was just going to take too long that day.  So I chose this Graham cracker recipe and Alton's marshmallow recipe, only with the addition of liquid smoke.  I need to do a better job with the Graham crackers.  I don't think I rolled them out thin enough.  Truthfully, I should've had a ruler/measuring tape out and figured out exactly what 1/8 inch looks like, but I was in a hurry.  They were tasty, but not perfect.  Honestly I'll probably try BraveTart's recipe next time.

I've made marshmallows several times before, but I think this was my best batch.  They were delicious.  I should've added a couple more drops of the liquid smoke so that the flavor would have been a little more distinct, but I was SCKEEERED to have my marshmallows taste gross.  They do require effort, after all!  If you've ever wanted to try to make your own, please do.  They don't compare to what you get in the bag.  And they're easy (if you have a stand mixer, that is).  I can pop these things like candy, I tell ya!

Anyways, back to the S'mores.  I also made a simple chocolate ganache of semi-sweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream.  I assembled them and heated 'em up in the microwave for about 7 seconds (10 was too long, I found out) to get that warm, gooey mess that screams S'MORES!  You can't eat these puppies without utensils and some napkins nearby.  But I'd say they were worth the mess.  Keith didn't complain either.

I'll say it.  I want S'more...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Not enough time!!!

So my computer was only able to be used for the weekend, and then I had to bring it back in to our IT guys to have it worked on some more.  Apparently dropping a computer can cause quite a few "hiccups."  Go figure.  Anyways, over the past few weeks I've had quite a few things I've wanted to blog about, but I haven't been able, because of my lack of working computer at home.  So, I have lots of things in my head, but of course, not much time, to post.  I'm sure you all need a tissue because this news brings tears to your eyes.  Basically I just wanted to let my 1-2 readers know that I'm here, and will post more soon. 

On a side note, I was just discussing with my mom that there's just not enough time in the week!  I mean, maybe if I didn't come to work 4 days I might be able to start checking off the plethora of baked goods, yarn projects, etc, that I want to tackle....not to mention that laundry that seems to continue to pile up!  I participate in this awesome knitting & crochet community called Ravelry.  This place is an addiction, for sure, but it's also a great resource.  I've been adding projects to my queue, and I'm suddenly beginning to feel overwhelmed.  It's hard to know which project to start first, or what I can wait on until later.  I realize it's only July, but in my mind, Christmas is right around the corner, and I have gifts to make!!!  This is the same way with baking.  I'm sure Jan knows my pain all too well.  There are so many recipes I want to try, and I just don't know where to begin! 

All of this to say, maybe I'll decide to tackle my baking queue soon - so be on the lookout for some yummies!!! :)

...well, that is if I get my laptop back..... :)

Ooh, just realized I can post a gratuitous picture of one item I've been able to check off my queue:  Chevron mitts.   Can't wait for my hands to be all toasty roasty in the winter!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I know it's been a long time since my last post.  I had a little computer mishap, and I haven't been able to get to my pictures or anything for a while.  The computer, while on its last leg, is in working condition again, so here we are again!

Last weekend the boys, my parents and I headed out to Reed Valley Orchard for their annual blueberry festival.  I've been wanting to go for YEARS, but for one reason or another just haven't been able.  I've had this thing on my calendar for about 5-6 months now, and there was no way I was going to miss it again.  The weather was perfect and the blueberries were extraordinary. 

The best part about the morning was picking blueberries with Graham.  He caught on immediately, and I've honestly never seen anything more adorable.  He was grabbing them off the tree and putting them in his mouth so fast I couldn't keep up!  Thankfully we did manage to come away with quite a few berries still in our buckets.  It was such a special day.  Below are some of my favorite memories.

 Enjoying the pancakes

Picking his own blueberries

Going for the big loot

Mouthful of blueberries

Enjoying the harvest - Blueberry buttermilk scones