Make Half-Sour Pickles

Have you ever had one of those delicious pickles from a Jewish Deli and thought it was the best ever? Good chance it was a Half-Sour Pickle!

Half Sour Pickles are some of my favorite pickles. The best part is they are ready to eat only a few hours after making them.

Guaranteed they won’t be around for long!

As they age, they move into full sour pickles but that’s just because the cukes get to stay in the brine longer. Honestly, they never last that long in my home.

Half-Sour Pickles

  • Servings: 1 quart
  • Time: 30 minutes or less
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

These are considered a “fresh” pickle

  • 1 quart wide mouth canning jar with new 2-piece lid. Sterilize the jar in the dishwasher, NOT the 2-piece lid
  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers, cut into spears or leave whole if desired
  • Ingredients for Half-Sour Pickles
  • 1/4 oz dill sprigs
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • For the Brine:
  • 32 ounces water
  • 3 ounces salt- use a scale and weigh it!
  • 4 ounces white vinegar

Boil 1 quart water. Place the 2-piece canning lid in a mixing bowl; pour boiling water over the canning lid; set aside until ready to use

Place the dill, garlic, and bay leaf into the bottom of a 1 quart wide mouth canning jar. Pack the cucumbers on top.

Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a boil, pour directly over cucumbers. Place the canning lid on the jar, turn upside down and cool. Refrigerate. Allow pickles to steep 24 hours before eating. The pickles will change from half cured to a fully cured pickle the longer they sit in the brine.

They are good until they are gone, which won’t be long.

Place seasonings in clean, sterile jars

Pack cucumber spears into jars

Pour boiling brine into jars; fill to top

Secure lids and allow to cool

Adding dried onion flakes and jalapeno slices to the seasonings will add flavors as well. If you like your pickles spicy, try it.

This brine can also be used to pickle an excess of jalapenos and zucchini spears can be substituted for cucumbers if you like.

This is a quick and easy pickle. Try making some soon.

There’s nothing quite like a fresh pickle along side a sandwich or any kind of  charcuterie.

Enjoy!

Related Articles:

A Pickling Primer

Pickled Beets

Pickled Cauliflower

Pickled Turnips

Sweet Pickle Chips

 

 

Quick and Tasty Summer Lunch

This quick and tasty summer lunch is fresh out of the garden.

Who can resist this?

Quick and Tasty Summer Lunch

Quick and Tasty Summer Lunch

The tomato is of an heirloom variety that has a purple top and green bottom that slowly turns red as it ripens. It is the sweetest tomato I have ever tasted! I have no idea what the name of it is so if you know, Please let me know in the comments!

The cucumber was cut from the vine just minutes before it was sliced for the plate.

On the way in the door, I stopped and pulled a scallion and a few basil leaves.

Freshly pulled scallions

Freshly pulled scallions

I added some pickled cauliflower for a fermented food aspect and whole grain flat bread crackers.

Fresh and Pickled cauliflower

Fresh and Pickled cauliflower

 

Add some cheese and nuts if you want some protein.

One Delicious Bite!

One Delicious Bite!

Related Articles:

Pickled Cauliflower

Appetizing Cheese Board

Make your own goat cheese at home

Farmers Market Visit

Garden Fresh Vegetables

I was out and about yesterday and when I came home, I found this on my doorstep!

Garden Fresh Vegetables on the doorstep!

Amazing garden fresh vegetables just picked from the garden a couple of hours earlier.

These vegetables were grown from the seed, mulched and grown totally organically by Robert’s sister, Shelton, who lives in Boone, NC, up in the mountains.

This explains why she still had broccoli! I was overjoyed at the bounty:

Russet potatoes, garlic onions, red onions, broccoli, green and purple peppers, tomatoes and what looks like a purple tomato, green beans, red cabbage and green cabbage; it is an amazing gift.

Bountiful Garden Goodness

Bountiful Garden Goodness

We had just bought corn, kale, collards, arugula and spinach at the farmers market so we will be eating quite good this week.

Thank you Shelton!

These were just in time for  a cold day in July, needless to say, I made some amazing vegetable soup.

Garden Bounty Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: about 1 gallon
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TIP: Cut all the vegetables about the same size. Use different shapes for visual interest. Remember everything needs to fit on the spoon, not hang over.

Soup Ingredients

Soup Ingredients

  • 1/4 green cabbage, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 3 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 10 green beans, sliced
  • 2 broccoli crowns, separated into florets
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 cup lima beans
  • 1 ear of corn, cut it off
  • Enough water to cover the vegetables
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 Tablespoons salt, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 splash Texas Pete Hot Sauce

Chop it all up, sweat (cook without browning) the onions, carrots and cabbage, once these vegetables are tender, add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer until the vegetables are done. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup for a chilly day in July

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup for a chilly day in July

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Slathered in Blueberry Sauce

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Slathered in Blueberry Sauce is delicious and nutritious although not diet food. This dish came to me while trying to use up some things to make room in the refrigerator.

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Blueberry Syrup

French Toast Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Blueberry Syrup

I make 95% of the bread we eat and typically use lots of grains in the loaves. We buy organic eggs from the farmers market and the blueberry sauce is made from a batch of berries I bought to make a pie but never did. So instead of the berries going bad (I couldn’t believe no one ate them!) I made a sauce. The recipe is below and is very simple.

Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast with Blueberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 20 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 4-6 slices of good quality, nearly stale bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg (fresh ground is best!)
  • 1 tablespoon oil or just enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  • 1 ounce of fresh plain goat cheese for each serving

Mix all the ingredients, except the bread, in a flat pan. Place the sliced bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat. Let the bread sit in the mixture so it can soak it all up.

Heat a pan large enough to hold all the slices, place the soaked bread in the hot pan and cook until each side is golden brown.

Place the French Toast on a warm plate, immediately spread the goat cheese on one side of the bottom slice, top with another slice of hot French Toast.

Pour Blueberry Sauce all over and serve.

Now if you wanted, you could whip some honey and cinnamon into the goat cheese before spreading it onto the French Toast. It would put this dish completely over the top!French Toast stuffed with Goat Cheese

This is soooo good! And made with whole grains so you will feel full and had great energy all morning.

Like I said, not diet food, but whole, real food.

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy every bite.

French Toast stffed with Goat Cheese

Blueberry Sauce

  • Servings: Varies
  • Time: 30 minutes or less
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 pint of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup waterIMG_9355
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of cinnamon or zest from 1/2 lemon (Optional)

Wash and pick through the blueberries. Discard and soft, moldy or squished berries, leaves, stems and twigs. Combine everything into one pan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until its thick. If you want the sauce smooth, put it in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to the desired consistency. I like mine to have a few whole berries left in it. You can always choose to put some fresh berries with it when you serve it too.

This sauce is great on this decadent French Toast and over pancakes, ice cream and even over grilled salmon. Treat yourself and try that one!

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Wings

A healthier Buffalo Chicken Wing is totally possible. Avoid deep-frying and a butter loaded sauce and you can still have a Buffalo Wing that satisfies that craving.

Plate of wings The secret is to get rid of the fat by boiling the wings first, then broiling or grilling them to crispy perfection.

Don’t forget the celery and bleu cheese dressing either! You can make a lower fat version by using plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, a good quality crumbled bleu cheese, a dash of garlic powder and a splash of Worcestershire Sauce.blue cheese dressing

The “Buffalo Sauce” which is typically full of butter, can be made using a non-fat chicken stock, lemon juice and, of course, your favorite hot sauce. Being a North Carolinian, I use Texas Pete, a good North Carolina brand.Wing Sauce

Ready for the recipe?

Healthier Buffalo Chicken Wings

  • Servings: about 2
  • Time: 30 minutes or less
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Wings!

1# Chicken Wings (I prefer Organic), flat pieces or drumettes

Place the wings in a large pot, cover with cold water. Place over high heat, bring to a boil. Add salt, garlic, herbs de Provence or whatever seasonings you like.

Once boiling, boil the wings for 10 minutes. Drain.

Pre-heat the broiler on high for 5 minutes.

Line a broiling pan with foil. Place the drained wings on the pan. Place under the broiler for 6 minutes. Watch carefully. Once browned, turn the wings over and broil again for another 6 minutes or until brown and crispy on both sides.

Toss the cooked wings in Buffalo Sauce.

Serve with Bleu Cheese Dressing and Celery Sticks.

For the Buffalo Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Texas Pete Hot Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons non-fat chicken stock
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

Place the ingredients in a small sauce pot and warm. Toss the wings in some of the sauce; serve the remaining sauce on the side for dipping.Dip the wing!

IF you must have the Buffalo Sauce with the butter, consider using Kerry Gold Butter or another butter made from cows who actually graze on real grass, not some sort of “cow chow” product.

For the Bleu Cheese Dressing:

Crumble 1/4 cup good quality bleu cheese into 1 cup of plain non-fat Greek style yogurt. Adjust flavors with a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, garlic powder and a sprinkle of chopped parsley, if desired.

wings on a plate

Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

Before the violets go away, be sure to try this lovely Wild Violet Lemonade!

I was browsing blogs a coupe of weeks ago and found the amazing recipe for Wild Violet Jelly and decided I needed to go on a wild violet hunt.

The violets had to be picked well away from the road and not where dogs do their duties. I found a lovely spot with so many violets I picked an entire quart of them in no time at all.

Drying wild violets to prepare for steeping

Drying wild violets to prepare for steeping

I can’t help but fall in love with this color!

So, to prepare for the wild violet jelly, the flowers need to be rinsed and steeped like tea. Use the same amount of water as you have violets. Measure by volume, not by weight because violets hardly weigh anything at all.

Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

I had a bit left over tea from the jelly recipe and I wondered how it would taste as a “lemonade” so I popped some ice in a glass, filled it about 1/4 full of lemonade and added the strained violet tea, garnished with a slice of lemon and Wow! It makes a fantastic drink!

 Wild Violet Lemonade

Wild Violet Lemonade

Now, I’ve got to go harvest more violets so I can freeze the tea for later use.

Steeped Wild Violet Tea; see how deep purple it is? Add lemon juice and it changes to bright pink.

Steeped Wild Violet Tea; see how deep purple it is? Add lemon juice and it changes to bright pink.

Don’t you just LOVE the color?

It changes from deep royal purple to a bright pink when you add lemon juice.

If you want to know how to make Wild Violet Jelly, Follow this link to Prairieland Herbs.

Gleaming jars of Wild Violet Jelly

Gleaming jars of Wild Violet Jelly

 

 

The Potato Chip Contraption

 

The Potato Chip Contraption is a nifty thing I picked up this past weekend.

Many of you know I am advocate for eliminating processed foods. My mantra is ” If it has to be processed, process it yourself.”

It’s amazing though how easy it is to “forget” that when it comes to potato chips.

I/we really like them.

A lot.

So our chip bin has been a bit sparse since I began to process all of our own foods.

I’ve been thinking about deep-frying and not being very attracted to using all that fat at home, especially for potato chips.

Because, you do know that you’d just have to make fries too, since the oil is hot and the potatoes are out. And you want to make the most efficient use of all resources. It is also highly possible that some chicken wings may have to follow.

It just makes sense. Right?

I wandered out of the house last week, just to get out for a while.

I found myself in a kitchen store, imagine that.

When I saw this handy thing, I thought “Well, Hello Chips!” It was less than $10 so it came home with me.

The Potato Chip Contraption

The Potato Chip Contraption

I love it!

From the top to the bottom: Hand guard, slicer, chip rack, serving bowl

The 4 pieces of the contraption

The 4 pieces of the contraption

Homemade Potato Chips Not fried

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: simple; contraption required
  • Print

1 Potato Chip Contraption

1 russet or Yukon Gold potato

Light Drizzle of oil

Seasonings of choice: salt, pepper, garlic, onion etc.

Method:

Take a potato; wash it. Peel it, if you want. I like the peel and it carries nutrients too. I recommend just a good scrub.

Hold the potato with the hand guard if you want, I don’t use it, but if you’re not sure, use it. The blade is really sharp.

Slice the potatoes into the bowl

Slice the potatoes into the bowl

Slice the potatoes into thin slices. I find it works best to make small round slices rather than long oval ones. Why? They fit better on the contraption.

Drop the potatoes into a separate bowl, drizzle with a few drops of oil, then season.

Sliced 'taters

Sliced ‘taters

Place each potato slice into a slot on the chip rack; filling up the rack. This will use about 1/2 of a potato which is a perfect one portion size. It takes 24 slices to fill the rack.

Line the potato slices up on the rack

Line the potato slices up on the rack

Place the rack in the microwave and cook the potatoes for 3-4 minutes. Timing will vary. These took 4 minutes, but other batches took less time.

Check them, if you see potatoes turning brown, get them out as they are done!

Turn the chips out into a bowl and serve. Be careful because they will be hot at first. Remove them from the rack while still warm because if you let them cool, they become very crisp and break when you try to remove them. So work fast!The Potato Chip Contraption

Here’s what I love the most about this contraption:

  • Crispy chips NOT deep-fried!

  • I love to eat good chips and not support processed food manufacturing.
  • We eat fresh chips, not old ones.
  • We get to eat chips without a lot of added fat and we control the salt and seasonings.

Ever read the ingredients on the “Salt & Black Pepper” flavored chips? . . . just saying. . .

Just in case you get a wild hair on and make a bunch of chips, here is a link to:

Potato Chip Cookies!

Crispy, home made potato chips

Crispy, home-made potato chips

 

 

 

 

Pita Bread From Laurel’s Kitchen

The other day I was reading about a basic bread recipe in one of my favorite old cookbooks Laurel’s Kitchen. She suggested to make one loaf from half of the batch of dough and then make about a dozen pita breads out of the other half.

Puffed Pita

Puffed Pita

My curiosity was peaked. I’ve taught how to made pita bread in the bakeshop classes before, but I never considered making them at home. So, I though I’d give it a try.

I divided the dough into 12 round smooth balls, rolled them out and baked then on the hot pizza stone.

Dough balls for pita

Dough balls for pita

Here’s the recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen, not quite verbatim.

This is half of the original recipe since we aren’t making an additional loaf here today.

Pita Bread

  • Servings: about 12
  • Difficulty: moderate to skilled
  • Print

  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups warm water (not over 110°F)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Mix the dry ingredients, make a well in the center of the bowl. Mix the wet ingredients then pour them into the well made in the dry ingredient bowl. Mix on low-speed in a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook  until everything comes together.

If the dough seems too dry at this point, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach  the desired consistency. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour.

The perfect dough will feel slightly sticky, not firm and clay-like.

If kneading by hand, knead for 20-30 minutes. Using the mixer, knead on medium speed for 8-10 minutes until the dough in elastic.

Oil the surface of the dough, cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F, place a baking stone (if you have one) on the bottom shelf. Remove all other shelves before you heat the oven.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough into 12 or so smooth round balls. Cover and allow the dough to rest in a draft free area for 10 minutes. Laurel claims this step is essential.

Starting with the first ball made, roll out 2 or 3 balls into a disk “about the thickness of a good wool blanket” or 1/8 of an inch thick. The circles should be about 6″ around.

Roll to a thickness of a heavy wool blanket

Roll to a thickness of a heavy wool blanket

If using a heated baking sheet, place 2-3 dough circles flat onto the hot stone. Move quickly to retain heat in the oven, but don’t get burned either.

Quickly shut the oven door and set the timer for 3 minutes.

Turn on the oven light and watch the pita bake.

At 1 minute they look like Mrs. Douglas’ hot cakes on Green Acres; the next minute the magic happens as the dough begins to puff up like a balloon! It’s fun to watch! Let it cook through the third minute. The dough is done when the bottom side is lightly brown and the top side slightly moist, but not shiny wet.

Poofy Pita!

Poofy Pita! I flipped these over so you can see the brown on the underside. Don’t let the top get brown or the bread will be too crispy.

Don’t let the pita get golden brown on top too or else the pita will dry out and be crispy instead of flexible and all foldy like.

The key is to be sure the dough circle lay flat on the stone or the baking sheet, whatever you use.

Cut the pita in half and you’ll see the perfect pocket for stuffing!

My favorite pita sandwich is a couple of slices of roasted chicken, turkey or ham filled with chopped salad and drizzled with Italian dressing, top with shredded cheese.

The chopped salad has lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, radishes and shredded carrot in it, cut so it fits easily into the pocket pita.

Try it if you want, I sure had fun!

We’ve had pita sandwiches of all kinds, pita pizza, and toasted some for pita chips to go with the guacamole.

If you make them, be sure you watch them rise. It really is like magic!Baked pita

A word about Laurel’s Kitchen: The New Laurel’s Kitchen is a vegetarian cookbook published in 1976. It was one of my favorite books when it came out. I have literally worn out 2 copies and am working on a third.

A Pile of Pita

A Pile of Pita

Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream

Cashew cream is easy to make, tasty and versatile. Use it to replace cream and sometimes ricotta cheese in many recipes.

The consistency can be controlled by the mount of water added when pureeing the soaked cashews.

Here’s how to do it:

Make Cashew Cream

Using raw cashews, not toasted or salted, soak the nuts over night in 2 times the water. (1 cup raw cashews to 2 cups water)

It is best to soak over night or for 3-8 hours.

Soak the cashews

Soak the cashews

Next drain the nuts, add them to a high-speed blender and process for 3-5 minutes or until the consistency is where you want it. Add clean fresh water to thin it out. If you want a ricotta consistency, use just a little water, for cream like, add a bit more.

A good high-powered blender is strongly suggested for this in order to really get the cream smooth. I used both a Vita Mix and a Ninja blender, both worked just fine. I have not tried making it in a food processor just yet.

Add water to get the desired consistency

Add water to get the desired consistency

Finish with a pinch of salt and a few drops or so of fresh lemon juice.

With the cashew cream, I made a cashew Mac and Cheese.

Take cooked pasta, toss it with cashew cream, a bit of shaved Parmesan and a few scallions and parsley. I filled a few small side dishes and warmed them in the oven and topped with fresh cheese shaving to serve.

If you wanted to keep this dish vegan, you can use vegan cheese, but to me vegan cheese isn’t “real” cheese, so I use just a touch of the real stuff.

Simple enough, huh?

Other suggestions to use Cashew Cream:

If using as a substitute for dairy cream on the stove, stay with it as it will thicken much faster than regular cream.

Make creamed corn or spinach, a creamy broccoli soup or use it thicker and add chipotle peppers to top tacos or other Mexican dishes, use it to top baked potatoes. It can even be whipped to make a cashew whipped cream.

And, if you have any left over, freeze it; or make ice cream!

It is so versatile and handy to have an alternative to real dairy cream.

Yummy! Cashew Cream!

Yummy! Cashew Cream!

Almond, Date, Cranberry and Lime “No-Bake” Cookies

A Morsel of Almond Date Cranberry Lime Cookie

A Morsel of Almond Date Cranberry Lime Cookie

Almond, Date, Cranberry and Lime “No-Bake” Cookies are a real treat!

They are a “no-bake” cookie which puts them in the raw category; they are no sugar, eggs or butter so they also fall into the vegan category. With all natural ingredients so they also fall into the healthy foods and nutritious category.

Personally, my favorite category for  these morsels: Delicious!

Keep in mind some people might be put off thinking they are eating a raw cookie. So change the language and present these delicious morsels.

NOTE: Don’t fall prey to marketing ploys and think that because the label claims “healthy, all-natural or nutritious” does not mean low in calories! Learn to read a nutrition label and compare information.

Here’s the recipe for the cookies. It’s pretty much put it all in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms. Have fun!

Almond, Date, Cranberry and Lime “No-Bake” Cookies

  • 2/4 cup pitted Medjool Dates
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crunchy almond butter
  • 1 generous Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice from 1 lime
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a dough forms. Leave some nuts chunky for a cookie that has some crunch.

Taste the dough and see if it need adjustment: a bit more salt? More vanilla or lime?

Form the dough into about 18 balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with a fork.

That’s it.

Flatten the dough balls with a fork; like you would peanut butter cookies

Flatten the dough balls with a fork; like you would peanut butter cookies

The texture is kinda like fudge but in a much better way. If you leave some nuts slightly chunky, your cookie can have a crunchy texture too, but if you want a smooth cookie, pulse until smooth.

You can choose to roll the cookies in coconut, chopped nuts or cocoa with a dash if cinnamon if desired. Use peanut butter, cashew or almond butter with cocoa in it. I guess in a pinch you could use Nutella but the point here is to avoid added sugar and processed foods in delicious ways.

(OK, so now I have to make another batch using the cocoa!!!)

Most people would never realize these are considered “raw food” but they are.

These certainly aren’t low in calories but the sure supply great nutrients: Potassium, fiber, iron, B-6 and magnesium and vitamin E.

Just a note, you can leave the coconut oil out but it adds so much, I would use it.

Oh, and don’t bake these beauties for any reason! If you try, all that will happen is the oils from the nuts will leak out and leave you with a rather unpleasant mess. So if you want  a baked cookie recipe, use another recipe, not this one.

Hopefully you make your own vanilla extract, if not, go get ya some vanilla beans and some 100 proof vodka and make some!

Click this link: Perpetual Vanilla Extract

Please make a batch of these and let me know how you like them and how they go over with friend and family.

Raw Almond Date Cranberry Cookies  Rather than "raw" let's call them "No Bake"

Raw Almond Date Cranberry Cookies
Rather than “raw” let’s call them “No Bake”