Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All sinus suffers welcome

Cucumber relish and more zippy zucchini

       There's been more pickling today, mainly because the garden just won't stop producing zucchini and cucumbers. So, four more bottles of Zippy Zucchini Relish (recipe here) and five bottles of Wallace's Cucumber Relish. I've tried this one before, with rather poor results; it was quite watery, not like a relish at all. But all this zippy zucchini has given me ideas, so today I chopped the cucumbers in the food processor, and strained them for a very long time through a piece of nylon curtain sheer (it's what I prefer to cheesecloth, which is quite sleezy to my mind, and not up to the job at all) and then squeezed out as much moisture as I could.  I brought the vinegar-and-sugar mix to a boil first, dumped in the cucumber and simmered it for 15 minutes. Then I added cornstarch (1 T to 1 T water) and cooked it for another 5 minutes. These ones will be thick. The recipe calls for 7 cucumbers (I used 10 because that's what I had), chopped and drained. Syrup is 3 cups white sugar, 3 cups white vinegar, and a teaspoon each of celery seed and mustard seed. Easy peasy.
"Icicles" on left, cut up ones on right
      The Icicle Pickles were bottled on Sunday - the 14 days being up at last - and it made quite a big batch, as I suspected.  I tried to arrange the "icicle" ones in the jars so they will be straight when they come out. Some were too long, and others too floppy, so they went into a tester jar for later (it's in the background up above). After all of this I am really hopeful that they will live up to my expectations! And my memories of having them at church suppers & the like.
     I actually bought more pickle jars at Value Village yesterday - I thought a dozen for $6, but it turned out that one wasn't a canner jar so I only got 11. I bought more seals and looked for a box of seals and rings, to no avail - everywhere I went, they were sold out. I've been robbing them off the jars in the pantry - I keep dry ingredients like rice, lentils, cocoa etc. in jars so I have a bit of a supply there. If all else fails. I have plenty of the wide-mouth seals and rings, but almost none of the jars, so they aren't much use to me.
     I should note that I have been using the Bernardin Pickle Crisp in everything - apparently it has a best-before date so it won't last forever, and when it goes by heaping 1/8 tsp. per jar it goes a long way. No results to share as yet.
    I have found a recipe for salsa that takes 7 pounds of tomatoes, as well as zucchini! But I think I shall have to amass some more jars before I can tackle that one. And then surely that will have to be that. Until chutney season, of course, but that's a more winter-ish activity.
     We are expecting rain, and then later this week, cold weather - I should be outdoors, probably cutting the grass like the neighbours - or battening down the greenhouse. Not on the computer, at least!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Glory of Gladioli

This one got knocked down by the rain.
       Not much to add after yesterday, except that I am going to be outdoors! all day because the weather is so glorious. I bought some bags of sheep manure at Van Kampens yesterday, so I shall do some planting, and probably mulching, of newly planted things. Weeding continues to be easy because of all the moisture in the soil. So there will be weeding - as well as harvesting.
     I've been enjoying the gladioli - planted out not that long ago, after being started in pots in the greenhouse - the last time I looked at them up close there were no signs of blooms, and I was resigned to just building up the bulbs for next year. And then, the other day, I noticed colour! in the bed, investigated, and found two peach ones blooming, with a couple of these darker ones ready to go. Of course, when the rains came it bashed down this one, so I brought it in and am enjoying the blooms up close. The little bedding dahlias I planted in the new bed by the west side of the house are doing really well, too - the white more than the burgundy, but still! I picked a few earlier in the week, and noticed that one of the white ones was looking really dark in the centre - yuck! Earwigs! I stomped on it, hard, and checked the others carefully, but it was the only infested one. So they are residing in a nice bowl in the house. Not much for stems, these bedding dahlias.
     Fred was planning to take the day off today, so there was to have been carpentry, but he has a special event on Saturday (I work, so that doesn't matter) so he has to go in. He may take Monday - however I forgot to check next week's schedule when I was in last night, so with *my* luck I'll be scheduled to work on Monday! We are planning to insulate the garage, which may just give us the root cellar my fond heart desires. We've been clearing up in the garage, and built some lumber-storage units on the walls, to free up the floor a bit. And once we insulate, we can get on with hanging some of those surplus kitchen cupboards, to store even more of the stuff which has been accumulating in there.
     I finally cut the doors for the linen cupboard last weekend, and it looks like it should be quite do-able to just make them smaller by a bit.  I just cut the top and bottom frames at the outer corners, and the panels popped right out.  I wish I had sharper tools is all. The bits have to fit back very smoothly in order for them to be glued properly to take all the strain of hanging as doors, particularly on the hinge side. However, on the plus side, I think we have a couple of those square hammered knobs from the kitchen left over, which will look very nice on them. When I get them glued up and installed, that is. Hmmm, some carpentry content after all!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More pickling, and a bit of carpentry work, too!

      On the long weekend (and at long last, as our new kitchen was completed last Christmas!) we installed the over-the-range microwave/range hood. We had taken advice from a much more experienced friend, NOT to carve up our new cupboards, but to cut through the wall stud directly behind the range, as the boards under the shingles will prevent the house from falling down when the stud is cut. Luckily, it turns out he was right! We started by just cutting the gyproc, and checking out the stud, and the electrical wire running UP the stud to the plug-in inside the cupboard. The wire was quite slack, so we carefully pulled it out of danger and examined the stud - actually, studs, there were two.

That's the outdoors!
      The next day we cut the studs, and the boards and shingles, and then started putting up the support plate on the wall - that was a bit of a job, as there was a difference in the dimensions at the wall, and at the cupboard face. We finally got it placed, though, and then had to make the hole bigger on the outside...luckily they gave us quite a bit of leeway in the size of the hole. It took us bits of all four days of the long weekend, but finally the unit is in and functioning. We're almost used to looking in the new location for the time, and I almost always head in the right direction to heat milk for my morning cappucchino. (Almost always.) The vent fan has been useful in my continuing pickle-making operations, as it takes quite a bit of the vinegar smell outside.
    The garden continues to be prodigiously productive, and I expect that this week's torrential rains (110 mm in two days! Thanks to TS Leslie) will mean a new lease of life for some things.
    I picked enough cukes this week to make quite a big batch of icicle pickles - 32 cups of peeled and cut up cukes, which are now soaking in brine in two big glass pickle jars. They stay there for a week! and then get various other things done to them, including a hot water soak for a day, a soak in alum for a day, and then a pickle bath for 4 days. These ones are the 14-day variety.  I discovered that I have some dessert dishes that fit exactly into the mouths of these jars, and they are easy to remove to give the cukes a stir, as I must do daily. Gosh! I hope these work.  I decided to do a batch of cut-up ones, and a batch of the traditional icicles, as they apparently make good cocktail-party fare. I am coming dangerously near to having to buy a box of pickling jars, which is amazing to me! As we usually have many unused ones (we always buy pasta sauce in the mason-jar type jars so we can re-use them, and I really thought we had a beyond-life-expectancy number of these). I may have become officially pickle-mad.
    We have given the Zippy Zucchini Relish a taste test, and it's quite pleasant, just a bit of heat from some dried chiles. And as the zucchinis continue to produce, I have made another batch of four jars. We simply can NOT eat more than we already do. And I've dehydrated a lot as well.

   I planted a "Hot Pepper Mix" of seeds from Veseys and now I'm reaping lots of peppers, but the big problem is I don't know WHAT I'm reaping. I recognize jalapenos, and I think the long yellowish ones are banana peppers, or maybe yellow wax peppers? But some of the others - they are green, long and thin, should I be letting them ripen to red? (Advice I got last night said you can use those latter ones red or green, which is good.) I have a pious hope that these might be cayenne peppers, so I am going to leave some alone to ripen. I hope I have enough time. I am trying drying peppers in the dehydrator, to make hot pepper flakes, or hot sauce, later. I think that the lobed small ones growing in amongst the jalapenos might be habaneros, as I always buy those to make hot pepper jelly. Maybe I will have my own this year!
All the peppers dehydrate quite well, I just put them in at night and the next morning they're crispy! I have the dehydrator set up in the garage, so there's none of the eye-watering vapours I've read about either. I should have enough dehydrated jalapenos to make salsa all winter, at the very least.