Tag Archives: summer

garlic dill pickles

As I continue my foray into the world of food preservation, I knew that I wanted to make pickles. Previously, I have made quick pickles like pickled red onions for sandwiches or lightly pickled radish slices, but this year was the year that I would put up enough cucumber pickles, dilly beans, and other vegetables to snack on all year until next summer.

We are still growing a lot of cucumbers here in Seattle and will continue until the first frost. While there are lots of variants on cucumber pickles, I wanted to can some classic garlic dills first. Once you commit to the idea of canning, everything for this recipe/technique is super simple. For cucumbers, you can cut them into spears (shown here) or chips. Chips are easier to fit into pint jars and absorb the brine faster. To streamline thins even more, you can purchase a pickling spice mix instead of purchasing lots of spices separately. However, most of these spices I usually have on hand anyways. Feel free to play around with the spices or add some herbs or red pepper flakes for some heat.

My favorite canning blog Food in Jars has been enormously helpful as I learned to can. She shows you that you don’t need a huge amount of space or produce to start preserving and i can definitely vouch for that.

Garlic Dill Pickles

Adapted from Food In Jars

Note: If you don’t want to process any jars, you can just turn these into refrigerator pickles. If so, you can use regular sea salt or kosher salt instead of pickle salt, let them cure in the refrigerator for at least a day and eat within a month.

Makes 8 pints

2 generous quarts of pickling cucumbers, washed, trimmed, and sliced into shape of your choice.

4 cups vinegar (I used a combination of apple cider and white vinegar)

4 cups water

4-5 tbsp pickling salt

about 16 cloves of garlic, peeled maybe halved if large

dill seed, black peppercorns, pickling spice mix, red pepper flakes, or herbs or spices.

Sterilize your jars. Since I do not have a dishwasher, I usually bring them to a boil in my canning pot. When the water is boiling, I add the rings and lids and turn off the heat. Meanwhile, bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a simmer in a saucepot. Taste to see if you need more salt or not.

Pull out the jars and place two garlic cloves in each jar. Sprinkle in 1 tsp of dill seed, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp of peppercorns, or about 1.5-2 tsp of pickling spice per jar. Sometimes I add a sprig of thyme or rosemary, maybe a bay leaf, or a few slices of green onion to the bottom. Fill the jars up with the cucumbers. Pack them in tightly! Pour the hot brine over the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and place them back into the water bath. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Start the timer AFTER the water comes to a boil. After 10 minutes, remove the jars and cool on the counter. Listen for the pings! and check for seals when jars are cool.

If making refrigerator pickles, just skip the water bath and store in fridge once the jars are cool.

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summer squash gratin

After our trip to the u-pick vegetable farm over labor day weekend, we came home with 10 pounds of summer squash and zucchini. Summer squashes seem to be priced somewhat high here in Seattle so I haven’t had the chance to get tired of my usual ways of preparation. Gratins are a good way to use up lot of vegetables, especially if you like crispy breadcrumbs and melty cheese. I really liked this recipe because it added flavor with a salsa verde and not with lots of cream or butter. The only unfortunate part about this recipe is the amount of dishes involved to make seemingly one dish (food processor x2, mandolin, colander, several bowls, a small skillet), but the results are so tasty that I wouldn’t mind making this again at all.

 

 

Summer Squash Gratin

adapted from food52

note: I didn’t have any gruyere on hand and instead used some soft goat cheese (chevre) and delicious goat gouda. The gouda is not super melty like gruyere, but I really liked the combination of the pillowy soft goat cheese with the sharper, earthier gouda.

Also, I used a bigger gratin dish to accommodate more squash and more crispy topping, but the recipe recommended using a 9″x9″ pan.

2 pounds summer squash/zucchini, thinly sliced on that mandolin

1.5 c fresh breadcrumbs (i used whole wheat)

2 tbsp butter

handfuls of your cheeses of choice; i used goat cheese and gouda

small handful of capers, roughly chopped

sprinkle of thyme leaves

salsa verde:

1 stem of oregano with the leaves stripped off

1 stem of mint with leaves stripped off

1 large bunch parsley, destemmed

small handful of basil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 hot chile pepper of your choice, seeded

1 tsp miso paste (i use this a lot for some umani)

1/2 large lemon, both zest and juice

olive oil

Toss the sliced squash with a generous pinch of salt and set to drain in a colander, about 10 minutes. Drain and shake off excess moisture.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small food processor, make the salsa verde. Combine the herbs, garlic, chile, miso, and lemon juice and zest. With the processor running, stream in the olive oil until smooth. Sometimes, in order to save some money and calories, I use a bit of veg broth, but don’t tell anyone! Season well.

Toss the sliced squash with the salsa verde in a large bowl. In a small skillet, brown the butter and toss in the bread crumbs. Butter the gratin dish and layer in the prepared squash. Sprinkle with capers and thyme leaves. Dollop on the goat cheese, if using, and sprinkle on the firmer cheese. Finish with a layer of breadcrumbs. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the squash is tender, cheese is melted, and the breadcrumbs crispy.

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Bellingham, Washington

Over Labor Day weekend, we took a jaunt up to Bellingham, a small college town about 2.5 hours north of Seattle. Bellingham is the sort of town where you can find a feed store with baby chicks on the main street downtown and community yoga space next to a hot glass studio, down the block from a microbrewery. We stayed at a cheap hotel, visited the farmers market, and ate a lot of ice cream. The weather was HOT for the northwest, and perfect for the “last weekend of summer,” which doesn’t really exist if you are unemployed, haha. As with most places in the PNW, the food is really great, especially at the end of summer with all of the locally grown ingredients coming in. In addition to eating and drinking local beer, we visited the Whatcom Museum, the county’s history/art museum and looked at Victorian clocks and Elizabeth Colburne woodcuts. If we had another day, we would have taken the ferry out of Lummi Island, but instead, we drove out to Ferndale to Boxx Berry Farm and Half Acre Farm and proceeded to pick 20 pounds of the most delicious blueberries and nearly a bushel of green beans. All in all, a great trip!

The most picturesque barn in the northwest.

I really enjoyed running here, out of an urban setting, with lots of trails and beautiful waterfront to keep you entertained. If I decide to do an early fall marathon, the Bellingham Bay marathon looks great with its scenic course and smaller size.

Some highlights:
Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro– It seems like the whole town comes to hang out here, with live music, Fish Fry Fridays, and local college students both working and eating here. Pretty tasty beer here, also.

Mallard Ice Cream– My favorite place in town! Super fresh, local, slow churned ice cream in both traditional and interesting flavors. I also had the dairy free coconut ice and it was amazing. Other flavors I wished to try include blueberry lavender, basil, and anything with chocolate.

La Fiamma– Solid, tasty, wood-fired pizza next to the farmers market. Very, very tasty!

The Copper Hog– A gastropub with a kitchen open until 1am! In a small town! This place has a great rotating selection of local taps. I had a Burnside Brewing Oatmeal Pale Ale, a small brewery from Portland, Oregon. This was my favorite beer that I tasted all summer. Oats! in my beer!

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apricot blackberry jam

Summer after summer, I have wanted to start canning. I didn’t want to can in our small kitchen here in Seattle, afraid that it would be too messy or there would not be enough room to work. However, all of these worries were uncalled for and I have been making lots of jam and pickles this summer. One of my favorites so far is this apricot blackberry jam, which, I think is better than apricot or blackberry jam. I used half apricots and half black diamond blackberries with a split vanilla bean and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. I also prefer to make a low sugar jam and, as a result, need to use a commercial pectin to thicken it up a bit. There are some rules that you need to follow if you want to actually can, be sure to read some general guidelines from the ball canning site or book.

I have been baking the jars to process them, instead of using the traditional water bath because my biggest pot is not quite big enough to accommodate standing pint jars with an inch of water on top. This method definitely is much easier and less intimidating, but I found the results a bit less reliable than the traditional water bath. Whichever  you chose, you will hear little “pings!” as the jars cool and the lids get vacuum sealed.

Preserving is much easier and less intimidating than most people think it will be. You don’t need to can 20 pounds of fruit in order to can. All you need is a couple pounds of apricots and berries to stretch the August into winter.

Apricot Blackberry Jam

2 cups mashed apricots (about 1 pound)

2 cups mashed blackberries (about 1 pound)

2/3 cup apple juice or white grape juice

1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or sugar

1/2 large lemon, juiced and zested

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

low sugar commercial pectin (i used the ball low sugar pectin, 3 tbsp)

Prepare the fruit. Pit and slice the apricots, no need to peel. Rinse and mash berries and apricots together. In a wide mouthed pot, like a dutch oven, Combine the apple juice, mashed fruit, lemon juice and zest, and the split vanilla bean and bring to a boil, constantly stirring. I usually cook this down until the juices are a reduced. Stir in the pectin and bring the jam back up to a boil. Stir in the sugar and boil hard for about a minute. If you wish to process and can this jam, follow the standard process. If not, spoon into clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator (eat soon) or freezer.

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