My Mother always grew a large garden and had a plentiful canning room in the basement with many types of pickles, tomatoes, corn, green beans, chicken, beef, peaches, pears, apples, jams. jelly, and more. What she didn’t can, she froze. I fondly remember the annual family gathering to pick, husk, parboil, cut and pack sweet corn for the freezer. How wonderful to enjoy this bounty during the long, cold Iowa winters.
This year I had a plentiful harvest of cucumbers. With the first hard freeze shortly after Labor Day, I had to pick most the produce, including many cucumbers. I made my Mom’s Easy Dill Pickle recipe and it didn’t disappoint. The addition of fresh garlic to the second batch will be a new twist!
EASY DILL PICKLES
Medium Cucumber, sliced into spears or slices
Optional: Peeled cloves of garlic
Wash medium size cucumbers and pack in canning quart jars. Add fresh dill to the top (stem and all). Place 1/4 teaspoon alum in the top of each quart jar of cucumbers.
Boil canning lids and rings in a separate pot.
Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. To each quart of liquid add 4 tablespoons salt. Heat liquid to boiling point. Pour liquid, while hot, over pickles.
Immediately place lids and rings on each jar.Let stand until cool. Check to assure lid has sealed. Let the pickles sit in the brine for a few days/weeks. Store in a cool place.
I’ve also made these pickles and just placed in the frig, skipping the canning process.
My Czech roots are precious to me and this week I enjoyed a hearty stock of Sauerkraut Soup. This recipe was one of two recipes my Mother made and she was given this recipe by our dear Bohemian friend, Blanche.
I understand that many families serve a Sauerkraut Soup as a traditional Christmas Eve meal but I enjoy it anytime!
After the rich, sweet treats of the holidays, the hearty sauerkraut soup was a welcome change allowing me to walk down memory lane once again.
1 pint sauerkraut (add extra caraway seed if desired)
1 cup finely diced ham
1 quart cooked and drained diced potatoes
1 quart Milk (more or less)
1 egg yolk
1 heaping tablespoon of flour
salt and pepper
dill weed garnish (optional)
Put enough water on sauerkraut to simmer slowly with ham.
When tender, pour milk over and a chunk of butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
Break egg yolk into small bowl and whisk.
Add flour and mix together.
Drop small pieces of the dough into the soup until cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
Add cooked, drained potatoes to the soup.
Heat until low boil. Serve or cool to serve next day. The flavor is even better the next day!
Our Book Club meets every other month and tries to match the pot-luck cuisine to align with the story. This month our book was ‘Sarah’s Key’. I loved this book! If you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. The story takes place in France during WWII. While food and cooking wasn’t the topic of the book, French Cuisine was the food du jour.
French cooking brings Julia Child to mind but I was looking for something light and fresh. I was delighted to find a French Green Bean Salad that was perfect!
FRENCH GREEN BEAN SALAD
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the beans and cook for 1 minute only so the beans are crisp tender. Drain the beans and put them in the ice water until completely cool. Drain the beans again, dry on paper towels. Place the beans in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion.
Pour enough dressing over the beans to moisten them well, reserving the remaining dressing for another use. Toss with the dill, season to taste and serve at room temperature.