I'm on another culinary bender.
I cook and craft when I'm stressed. It's safer and healthier than drinking.
My Father passed away July 1st, exactly 14 weeks after my mother died. My sister was the main caregiver and is an amazing person. I live half way across the country, and last saw them right before my mother died.
My kids were off at camp when he died. While picking them up I stopped at a roadside farm market and bought 5 lbs of blueberries and several pounds of pickling cucumbers. I needed to cook.
Cooking to Cope. Should be a separate blog, eh?
I've made about 10 pints of blueberry preserves since that first disastrous episode of "scalding while sterilizing." I'm big on alliteration today.
(see previous blog post on Blueberry preserves)
Since then, I've learned a few things:
1.) The canning rack will sit up on it's handles on the sides of the canning pot and so I don't need to reach deep into the pot to take out my sterile jars. There is less risk of dropping them and splashing myself with boiling water.
2.) I have two different types of jar tongs. I can grab a jar sitting on its side easily without dropping it.
3.) I use a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature of the jam
4.) I use a very tall pot to cook the jam so it doesn't foam up and boil over the top
I've always wanted to make pickles. As a child, one of my favorite memories was going to Ernie's deli in Rutherford, New Jersey. He had a barrel of sour dill pickles behind the counter. My sister, friends, and I would save up to buy a pickle (25 cents each pickle) and have Ernie slice it up into the requisite number of slices. We amused him to no end. Most kids bought chips, cookies, gum, and candy.
We bought pickles.
I miss them. I can't get really good sour dill pickles in a barrel easily here in Chicago.
Yes, I miss my parents too, even with all the baggage, and this is a way to remember my childhood and cope. A weird substitute?---- Yes. I'm not apologizing or explaining.
SO, I purchased perfect pickle cucumbers at the grocery store and decided I was going to try my hand at making CANNED pickles. I read a bunch of recipes and made a batch of bread-and-butter pickles and a batch of garlic dill pickles.
|Bread and butter pickles|
The bread and butter pickles were AWESOME.
The dill pickles were good but they were soft, and not exactly what I was looking for.
Next, I made refrigerator garlic dill pickles with other vegetables as well as cucumbers. My favorite pickled vegetable turned out to be the carrots. They were similar to Lalo's Mexican Restaurant's pickled veggies. I've also tried pickled cauliflower and I'd like to try pickled peppers.
The refrigerator pickles were close to what I was jonesing for, but no cigar. They were crisp and garlicky, but not the same as the sour dill pickles in the barrel from Ernie's Deli.
So I've taken a plunge and have purchased a fermenting jar.
I've been reading all about making fermented sour dill pickles and since the weather's going to be cool next week, (Thank you Polar Vortex-the weather pattern that just keeps on giving) I think this is as good a time as any to make them. If the weather gets too warm, pickles ferment too quickly and go bad.
Wish me luck.
I hope I don't give myself Ptomaine poisoning.