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.

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