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 youngest daughter LOVES vinegar potato chips and I spotted this recipe some time ago on a blog that I follow, Lucy’s Friendly Foods. I am a popcorn hound and had to try it. If my daughter, Sarah, liked it, it was a winner.
I’m happy to report we both liked it! The reduction of the balsamic vinegar had a delightfully sweet, and salty, taste. A nice, lighter, change from the traditional (and always yummy) buttered popcorn.
SALT AND VINEGAR POPCORN
12 cups popped corn
4 tablespoons dairy-free spread
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
- Pop the popcorn.
- Melt the dairy-free spread in a saucepan. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
- Simmer for 3-4 minutes to slightly reduce the vinegar.
- Pour over the hot spread/balsamic mix.
- Stir well and serve immediately.
Adapted slightly from: lucysfriendlyfoods.com
Summer and watermelon go together like Mac and Cheese.
When the weather is scorching hot…
a chilled slice of watermelon hits the spot.
As a kid we would take a half slice of watermelon outside and let the sweet juice run down our chins and arms. Seedless watermelons were unheard of so a little ‘seed spitting’ was in order, too! Mom probably had to hose us down before letting us back in the house.
My Mother would always eat watermelon and canteloupe sprinkled with salt. I prefer my watermelon naked but daughter, Sarah, and her friends introduced me to TAJIN fruit with lime seasoning a few years ago. From the moment I tried it, I was hooked and it has become family favorite. The combination of lime, salt and a little kick with the sweet juicy watermelon is delectable.
I find TAJIN at Walmart and sometimes at the local grocery store in either the fruit section or ethnic foods section.
Give it a try. I think you’ll be hooked too!
Brussel Sprouts did not make their way into my kitchen until last year. My early experiences with Brussel Sprouts left me scarred..they were always very bitter and tough. My older daughter, Megan, set out to convert me starting with roasted Brussel Sprout chips. From there I graduated to roasted Brussel Sprouts and NOW, I make Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts.
The tender Brussel Sprouts, purchased at Costco, are delicious roasted and the balsamic vinegar/olive oil glaze allows the sprouts to roast to a luscious golden brown. The final product is a taste bud party!
BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS
3 cups brussels sprouts, washed and sliced in half
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoon olive oil
fresh ground sea salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Slowly add the olive oil until the well blended.
- Put the brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle the oil and vinegar mixture over the sprouts and gently toss to coat.
- Bake for 25 minutes, turning once. Sprouts are done when they are lightly browned.
My Mother was an avid gardener growing lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, squash, green beans, peas, sweet corn, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, etc. The rich top soil of Iowa made for a prolific harvest each year. She would can and freeze vegetables and fruit for the family to enjoy all winter. Our farmhouse basement ‘fruit room’ was a treasure trove of pickles, canned tomatoes, relish, vegetables, soups, etc.
One of my favorite summer side dishes was my Mother’s cucumbers and onions. The recipe is simple, not written down, but made from memories in that Iowa farm kitchen.
CUCUMBERS AND ONIONS–Mom’s Style
Peel and thinly slice cucumbers and sweet onion. Soak in cold, salted water for 30-45 minutes. Drain. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, dash of milk, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cucumbers and onions and serve immediately.