End of Summer Pickles

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Hi, this is our last food post of the summer! Honestly I’m pretty relieved. Having a garden has been fun but I’m overwhelmed by the abundance of the harvest. I’m doing what I can to salvage my tomatoes and cukes but there’s just so many! Once I have more mouths to feed this should be easier. Anyway. I’m really looking forward to some cozy ass recipes for this fall and winter. For now, I’ll let Addie tell you about pickles:

Basic Refrigerator Pickles

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At this point in the harvest season, it’s easy to become fatigued by all of the fruits and vegetables you have coming in in your garden. Taking small easy steps for preservation can save you the heartache of having to toss the veggies you just couldn’t consume before they’d spoiled (which has happened to me more than once this summer). There are tons of preservation techniques to give a new life to your fresh produce, but pickling is probably one of the easier ones. I’m advocating here for quick refrigerator pickles, which are super easy and nearly fool proof because you don’t have to deal with the sanitizing and sealing that goes one with true canning and pickling for shelf stable pickles. It also means that if you want pickles with dinner tonight, make these in the afternoon, and they’ll be ready. 

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Basic Brine

Ingredients
– 1 part sugar
– 2 parts water
– 3 parts vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)

Method
Bring brine to a boil in a sauce pan. Pour over vegetables and any pickling spices while still boiling hot. Make sure to fill container so that vegetables are completely submerged in the pickling liquid. Weight down with a plate or a bowl so that vegetables stay submerged. Wait until liquid has completely cooled to before putting lids on containers. Once cooled and lidded, put pickles directly in the fridge. Pickles will keep in the fridge for about 6 months. Use your best judgment, but I used 2 cups sugar, 4 cups water, and 6 cups vinegar for three quart-sized mason jars worth of vegetables.


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Cucumbers

Cucumbers are the obvious pickle, and by now I think most people know what kind of cucumber pickles they like. Sweet, dill, spicy, you can probably easily judge what types of seasonings and spices you’d like to add to these before pickling. Here is what I used that really almost encompasses all three flavor profiles:

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Chili Flake
– Whole black peppercorns
– A few small slices of jalapeño
– Dill
– Basil
– Curry Powder
– Fennel Seeds

PICKLES-9If you want to really highlight the sweet, add some whole cloves and cinnamon stick. If you want spicier, add more jalapeño. If you want a little bit more straight dill, just go with garlic, peppercorns, dill and salt.

I sliced my cucumbers thinly, so they would pickle a bit faster. Spears work well, too. I grew pickling cucumbers in my garden, but other cucumber varieties will work just as well.

These pickles will be ready to snack on within about 30 minutes of sitting in hot brine.


Green Beans

Green beans are a great thing to pickle because they are so crunch and snappy. They are truly an abundant crop, so they beg to be preserved in some fashion. The only disadvantage is these may end up taking a little longer if you’re looking for a strong vinegar flavor. You can use these the same way you might use any other pickled veg, but mine will be reserved for snacking, cheese plates, and chopped up in potato salad.

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– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Chili Flake
– Whole black peppercorns
– A few small slices of jalapeño
– Basil
– Fennel seeds

Make sure to trim beans before pickling, and cut in half it they are especially long. You want to make sure they will all fit underneath the brine.

These will have a milder flavor right away, but will become more vinegary as they sit.


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Jalapeños

This is one of the best ways to preserve these peppers. It’s great to have pickled jalapeños on hand for tacos/nachos, chili, bloody marys. They will still be pretty aggressively spicy, so use these only in the same way you would use jalapeños raw.

– Salt
– Thinly sliced white onion
– 2 large cloves garlic
– Basil

Slice jalapeños thinly for the best effect. This will make for easier use in the long run. I had some jalapeños that did not come in too spicy in my garden, but when they share the same brine as really hot jalapeños they will pick up their heat.

These will still be pretty hot right away, but will mellow out and become a bit more complex as they sit.

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Fall Wardrobe for Baby

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Bears! Trees! Beers in trees! I had the most fun getting Alex’s clothes for fall. Spring was fun. Summer was really fun. But I think my personal feelings about fall (that it’s the best) helped. I’m also jealous of this collection of clothes. I want to wear them. I also got really nostalgic for this time last year when I was getting in deep buying baby clothes and getting excited about buying all this cute stuff. I went nuts and kinda just impulsively bought a ton of stuff that didn’t have a focus one way or another. I know that sounds silly, and I should be like “but it doesn’t matter!” but honestly it does matter to me. Ha.

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I also had fun picturing Alex wearing all these little clothes at daycare and being the Best Dressed Kid. But also things like his BIRTHDAY and Thanksgiving. Going apple picking and cozy weekend walks. Spring is great and traditionally has a newness about it, but I think fall has a similar feel. It’s a refreshing season.

Anyway, I went nuts with H&M and Zara this time around. They got such great, cute, affordable clothing. I couldn’t help myself.

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Parka, Collared Sweatshirt, Night Sky Sweatshirt
Striped Shirt, Grid Bodysuit, Striped Hoodie
Bear Romper, Bears Bodysuit, Constellation Tee
Tree Leggings, “Suit Trousers”, Trees Pant
Lined Sneakers, Pom Hat, Boot

(bear sweatshirt above part of a Carter’s set from Target)

I’m Glad I Spent it With You

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Photos by kaley from kansas

My time as a stay-at-home-mom is over! (for now)

I’m sad and relieved, scared and excited. Motherhood is like that. Warring feelings at every turn. Putting Alex in daycare was an inevitability, but we always thought it’d be in November-ish, after his first birthday. When Alan texted me in July that there was a part time spot open in September at our first choice day care, I was instantly conflicted. It was sooner than we thought. I felt I was just getting this SAHM thing down pat. I was thinking about the kind of summer I was having with Alex: fun! walks, music class, swimming, the zoo, etc… I would miss that so much. But we really wanted in at this daycare. So we said yes. And besides, it was only 3 days a week. That would be a good transition. But then recently they had an opening for full time, and we took it, not knowing what my work situation would be yet, but knowing it would open me up for much more work.

I have to say, not having a job to go back to but no longer having a baby to take care of solo is like the ULTIMATE sad-Caroline scenario, similar to how I felt before Alex was born. I feel as though I lack purpose. And trying to re-enter the workforce after so long is presenting challenges already. I’m trying to remain positive, knowing that this will be a really good thing for our boy, and a good thing for mom and dad too. I don’t really think women are meant to be sole caregivers for long stretches of time. I hope you won’t judge me when I say taking care of a baby is fundamentally boring. He’s wonderful and we’ve truly had some fun together, and I don’t regret any of it. But I’m ready to get back to doing adult things, and he can play with kids his age all day… in a padded room where he can’t break anything (lol).

I got some photos taken of us to commemorate this special period in my life with Alex. He’s my first baby, the one who made me a mom, and every day my heart breaks over how much he’s becoming NOT a baby anymore. Sweet Alex. Can’t wait to keep going on these journeys with you!

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End of Summer Salads!

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If you’re like me, you started a garden for the first time this year, and it was more successful than you ever could’ve imagined, and you also get a CSA, and now you’re like “what the hell do I do with all this?”

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of salads. Must be something wrong with the types of salads I usually have. It feels like they’re always too dry, and it’s difficult to mix everything up. When Addie came over and announced she was going to make just salads for this post, I was not 100% on board. She assured me that I would learn some ways to use up a bunch of vegetables, notably tomatoes and cucumbers (guys, help me, I have TOO many cucumbers).

I need to give salad more credit. We all could probably use more veggies in our diet, and these are a terrific way to do so. They’re also super quick and easy. I’ll let Addie take it from here.


Macerated Tomato Salad

When I was growing up, I hated raw tomatoes. I was probably eating out of season tomatoes that had been kept in the fridge. I remember the first time I had heirloom tomatoes in peak summer, I almost felt embarrassed for being so proudly against tomatoes my whole life. They’re delicious! And treated properly, they’re like candy. This “recipe” is how I like to treat my large heirloom tomatoes. They’re too lovely to be turned into sauce, or baked (I still don’t care for baked tomatoes-too sour). The flavor is really more on the sweet side thanks to the copious amounts of balsamic vinegar, so it could be appealing for tomato lovers and haters alike.

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A note: This recipe is for tomatoes only without greens, but I often eat this served over arugula (which is abundantly in season right now and peppery and delicious!) or raw kale. If you’d like to serve over arugula, follow the recipe and top the arugula just before serving. The liquid that releases during the macerating will be the dressing. For kale, do a thin chiffonade and macerate the kale and the tomatoes in the same bowl together at the same time. SUMMER_SALADS-30

Ingredients

-Several large heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine are best, Valencia are great as well)
-A large handful basil
-1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh feta
-1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

Method

Slice tomatoes into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place in large bowl. Douse with balsamic vinegar-more than you think you need. About 1/2 cup for 3 large tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper and toss. Roughly chop basil and combine with the tomatoes. Let sit at room temperature to macerate for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes. Crumble the feta and chop the almonds to top the salad. Sop up remaining macerating liquid with bread or store in the fridge for salad dressing.

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Cucumber Salad

It’s the end of August and cucumbers have been exploding for some time. Every time I’ve gotten out to my garden, I have at least 10 I need to harvest. It feels irresponsible to use them in a recipe that doesn’t truly highlight them when you have so many. Creamy cucumber salads can be a little tricky to get right-if the cucumbers don’t release enough liquid before dressing, the whole salad ends up watery and flavorless. So with that in mind, I’ve been making a nice light vinegar based salad this summer and it’s such a perfect answer to the over abundance of cukes. Goes really well alongside grilled meats as a side dish.

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Ingredients

– 2 large cucumbers, half peeled
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar but red wine vinegar is more delicate if you choose)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake (or more, or less)
– 8 large basil leaves

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Method

Half peel two large cucumbers. Slice in half length-wise and chop 1/4 inch thick. Toss in a mixing bowl with vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add chili flake to taste. Chiffonade basil and and gently toss together, and serve immediately.

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Green Bean Niçoise Salad

Niçoise salads have many variations, but its fairly easy to spot one when you see one. Nobody really needs another Niçoise recipe, but here’s mine. This is the only salad that requires any actual cooking. It’s also the only one that could realistically be enjoyed as a main course, so it’s worth the minimal amount of effort. It’s hearty and satisfying for a salad, and all of the different briny elements make for an incredibly satisfying meal. I usually use greens as well, but I wanted to make the green beans the star. If I were making this earlier in the season, I would swap radishes for the Sungold tomatoes.

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Ingredients

– 1 1/2 cups Green beans
– 2 eggs
-1/4 cup olives (I use Kalamata olives simply based on personal preference)
– 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (such as Sungolds) halved
– 1/2 can canned tuna
– Dijon vinaigrette
– Microgreens (for garnish)

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Method

Hard boil two eggs. While eggs are cooking, prepare green beans by trimming the ends and then rinsing. If the beans are particularly long, slice in halves or thirds. Be sure to use beans that are a bit thinner, as opposed to more mature beans that can be a bit woody. Blanch the beans to take out some of the starch and set aside. Halve the cherry tomatoes and roughly chop the olives. Make Dijon vinaigrette by whisking together a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Compose the salad by placing the green beans in a bowl, and arranging the tomatoes, olives, halved eggs, and half a can of tuna on top. I like Wild Planet tuna which comes a bit more steak-y and a little less shredded. Drizzle dressing over the salad and top with microgreens (I used radish microgreens).

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Up North

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Last week we had a grand experiment called “Bring the Baby to the Cabin and See What Happens”. It turned out OK… In the the days before we left, Alex suddenly had issues getting back down to sleep after his middle-of-the-night feeding. I’m talking screeching and howling when I leave the room. This caused panic and concern in me, because 1.) we’d be sharing a room with him and 2.) we’d be sharing a cabin with 9 other people, so letting him cry it out didn’t seem like an option. The only solution I saw was that I’d have to be up with him, possibly for hours, until I could get him back to sleep in the most peaceful way possible. So that’s what I did. Every night I was up for at least an hour, usually more, confined to this tiny dark room. To be honest, it was hell. BUT. There were lots of good things about our trip. Time with grandparents, fresh air, the weather was leaps and bounds better than the forecast promised, plenty of lake time, beautiful sunsets, and so, so much more. And having so many hands on deck meant I could claim at least an hour or two of morning z’s.

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