Monday, August 30, 2010

Tickle Me Pickled

Join me on my first adventure into pickling.  I am fairly comfortable with canning on general principle, but have mostly kept myself limited to jams, salsa, chutneys, and spiced fruits.  Therefore, I chose to have my first foray into pickling be on the simple side and opted for a refrigerated dill pickle recipe as opposed to the full blown canned pickles.  My recipe came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  It has served as my "canning bible" for several years now and has never let me down. 

This year we grew lemon cucumbers in the garden for the first time.  These are wonderful cucumbers that I had previously only enjoyed from the farmer's market.  They are great on sandwiches because they make a large round slice like a tomato and they are also great in salads.  They are so named because they are round and a pale yellow with small white markings/stripes.  I failed to take a picture of the lemon cucumbers before I attacked them with the mandoline, but here they are awaiting their brine bath.  The recipe called for 8 1/2 cups.  Thank heaven for mandolines!

While the brine was slowly bowling on the stove I placed dill seed, mustard seed and peppercorns in the mason jars.  The recipe had an optional ingredient of garlic cloves for this step, but I forgot my shopping list when I went to the grocery store and therefore forgot to get the garlic.  I reassured myself after I finished berating myself that the recipe did indeed state "optional" so they really can't be a deal breaker.  Right?  Guess we will find out.

Finally, all ingredients were ready to join the party.  The cucumbers have to marinate in the frig for at least two weeks before we can call them pickles and start munching.  There are then good to eat for 3 months.  I doubt they will last that long.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sock Nirvana

I did it! I knit my first pair of socks ever! While I have been knitting for years, I have always been intimidated to try socks.  I am not sure what I was a afraid of, though this pattern did not use the dreaded kitchener stitch, so I may still be in store for a sock horror.  The part I was always fearful of was turning the heel. When it came to the turn I just took a deep breath and followed the advise I give beginning knitters who shake when they think of venturing beyond the scarf...break the pattern down to one stitch at a time.  Don't try to figure out where you going or what all the stitches together are going to do, just trust the pattern (and yourself) and knit (or purl) one stitch at a time and let the magic happen.

Even while I was working I knew I was falling in love with socks.  They are portable, practical, great way to try new stitches, and they only use 100gr of yarn so you don't feel gulty splurging on yarn.  I have already started gathering or have been gifted some wonderful sock yarns that are lobbying to be the next pair of socks I knit.

Line up:  Ella Rae Lace Merino, Fall Creek Fibers Meadow Sock, Kollage Sock-a-licious, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, Fall Creek Fibers Powder Mill Sock, Cascade Yarns Heritage, and Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball