Monday, July 18, 2011

Mmm...Mmm...Sweet Pickles

One of the first things I tried to row when we moved to the country 8 years ago was cucumbers. Little did I know, six cucumber plants would yield enough cukes to feed a small army and since I was totally ignorant to any type of preservation methods at the time, I gave what I wasn't able to use in my restaurant away. Needless to say, I gave away BAGS and BAGS of cucumbers and learned that 3 plants would provide enough cucumbers for just about anyone.

Fast forward a couple of years, I met a wonderful woman who would become my best friend, Charlene J...a.k.a. Charney.  Here I was, this New York, Italian gal transplanted to the country and about as green as they come. Charney took me under her wing and started teaching me all things country. I taught her a few Italian tips and tricks and she made sure that I'd fit in here in our small country town. I don't get to spend as much time with Charney these days, but she is still my most precious friend and I try to expand on the things she taught me over the years. The most important being how to can fresh tomatoes. How can ANYONE who  has ancestors who come from Italy, ever make sauce without fresh canned tomatoes?  I will forever be gratful to Charney for that lesson and for inspiring me to expand on my canning talents.

So, fast forward again to Garden 2011. I planted 4 cucumber plants, the kinds used for pickling and while the plants took over the "vining plants" section of the garden, I set out to find a scrumptious sweet pickle recipe for my husband. He likes sweet pickles. So today I'm going to share my first Sweet Pickle Canning experience with you.   Here we go...

Quick Sweet Pickles

May be canned as either strips or slices. 
8 lbs of 3- to 4-inch pickling cucumbers
1/3 cup canning or pickling salt
4-1/2 cups sugar
3-1/2 cups vinegar (5%)
2 tsp celery seed
1 tbsp whole allspice
2 tbsp mustard seed
1 cup pickling lime (optional - for use in variation
below for making firmer pickles) 

YIELD: About 7 to 9 pints 
PROCEDURE: Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch off blossom
end and discard, but leave 1/4 inch of stem attached.
Slice or cut in strips, if desired. Place n bowl and
sprinkle with cup salt. Cover with 2 inches of crushed
or cubed ice. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. Add more ice as
needed. Drain well. 

Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, allspice, and
mustard seed in 6-quart kettle. Heat to boiling. 

Hot pack -- Add cucumbers and heat slowly until vinegar
solution returns to boil. Stir occasionally to make sure
mixture heats evenly. Fill sterile jars, leaving 1/2-
inch headspace. 

Raw pack -- Fill jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add
hot pickling syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust
lids and process as below or use the low temperature
pasteurization treatment described on page 5. 

Variation for firmer pickles. Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/6-
inch off blossom end and discard, but leave 1/4-inch of
stem attached. Slice of strip cucumbers. Mix 1 cup
pickling lime and 1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon water in a 2-
to 3-gallon crock or enamelware container. CAUTION:
Avoid inhaling lime dust while mixing the lime-water
solution. Soak cucumber slices or strips in lime water
solution for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove from lime solution and rinse and resoak 1 hour in
fresh cold water. Repeat the rinsing and resoaking two
more times. Handle carefully because slices or strips
will be brittle. Drain well. 

Recommended process time for QUICK SWEET PICKLES
in a boiling-water canner


                     Process Time at Altitudes of            

Style      Jar       0-          1,001-       Above          

of Pack    Size      1,000 ft    6,000 ft     6,000 ft       

Hot        Pints or  5 min       10           15             


Raw        Pints     10 min      15           20             

           Quarts    15          20           25             

STORAGE: After processing and cooling, jars should be
stored 4 to 5 weeks to develop ideal flavor. 

VARIATION: Add 2 slices of raw whole onion to each jar
before filling with cucumbers. 

I found this recipe at:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Treasures

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

What a FANTASTIC 20 days we had with Ashley! She's off to Japan now and we got a call last night letting us know she arrived safely and so far, she LOVES it! Wow! What an adventure she is having and I just can't wait until we've saved enough to go and visit, We're hoping for next spring or early I get to look forward to an adventure of my own too! What's going to make it even more exciting is the fact that ALL of us are going! Louie is just beside himself with excitement! He's already announced on his Facebook wall that a trip to Japan is coming up!

The Washam Men - Louie, Kyler, Uncle Pat & Mike
Fourth of July weekend was extra, super, special this year. Not only was our Sailor home for the holiday, Mike's brother and his family came too! It's the first time we've had his family here and it was absolutely perfect. We had an AMAZING 4th of July complete with a massive BBQ buffet and our own fireworks display which was twice the size it normally is because Uncle Pat added 3 Holy Moley fireworks to the 2 Daisy Cutters we usually get and a box load of little stuff like roman candles, bottle rockets and all kinds of other stuff that explodes into delightful displays. The mountain was all lit up as others were doing the same thing we were. I have always said that our driveway is the best seat for watching fireworks, we see displays for miles around us and we don't have to deal with the traffic when it's over!

last night I went out to visit with the chickens, the girls are getting big and I'm pretty sure we got one rooster in the bunch, we can't tell yet, but it sounds like one of them is trying to crow. One rooster and 18 hens, he's going to be awfully busy! Bwahahahaha.... The coop is right next to the garden and I was delighted to see that my tomato plants have literally EXPLODED with tomatoes! I have no less than 500 Roma tomatoes growing with a thousand yellow flowers promising more! The cukes are PERFECT and so far I've got about 20 of which I'm going to pickle tomorrow into sweet pickles for Mike and the next batch I'll do dills. The corn is 4 feet high, the pumpkins are going wild and even after the wash out rain that took all my sunflowers I've got 4 mammoth sunflowers growing! Hey, it's better than none and I would have LOVED to see two full rows of those big beauties...there's always next year and I can still enjoy the 4 that survived!  The watermelon plants are doing great and I got my beans, peppers, fennel, and Jalapenos and banana peppers planted.  I love going out there and finding the veggies ready to pick and the strawberries are flowering again for a second crop... THESE are truly treasures! I love the fact that it's all grown right in my back yard with no chemicals or pesticides. For about $30 I have HUNDREDS of dollars worth of fresh produce.

One of our favorite summer time foods is Fried Green Tomatoes. We had them for 4th of July and they disappeared along with the fried pickles. Both of these dishes are southern specialties and family favorites. Growing tomatoes provides us with an endless supply of green tomatoes and I'm planning to can a few jars of pickles just for frying... If you've never tried a fried pickle and you like pickles... YOU GOTTA TRY THEM!!  They are SCRUMPTIOUS!  I've included a recipe below for you. It's my own spin on the classic...I just modified mine a bit. You can use this same coating for the pickles, just get a jar of dill pickle slices (the ovals work best) and serve them with Ranch dressing. Mmmmmmmmmm

Fried Green Tomatoes


  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • Dash garlic powder
  • Dash (or more to taste) of cyanne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying


  1. Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends.
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
  3. In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels.