Adventures in Canning Part One: Bread and Butter Pickles

This time of year there are just so many cucumbers from the garden.  It’s a good thing these pickles are so yummy.  I didn’t think I liked bread and butter pickles until I had these fresh homemade ones.  I love these!  We used a spice mix we bought in the grocery store and the recipe on the box.  They turned out great.

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To can the pickles for longer storage you need to first sterilize the jars by washing them well in hot water and soap.  Then, pack the jars tightly with the recipe and leave 1-2 inch headspace at the top.  Next, you take a non-metal utensil and remove air bubbles by poking it all around the inside of the jar.  After that, you put on the lid and ring and put into a pot on the stove filled with water.  You want to make sure you have at least an inch of water over the top of the jars.  If you don’t you can turn them on their side but you can’t fit as many jars in one pot that way.

Once the water starts boiling set a timer for 15 minutes and keep the water boiling.  After your 15 minutes are up, you’re done.  Carefully remove the jars and let them cool down.  Once they have cooled down, you can label them (date and what’s inside).

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Cucumber Basil Smoothie

I have a basic recipe fort smoothies that I embellish on with various things (such as dandelion leaves).  I use frozen strawberries, a banana, and kefir and then add other ingredients as desired.  This time I used cucumber and basil.

Cucumber Basil Smoothie

4-5 slices cucumber

1 full banana

2 leaves of basil

a handful of frozen strawberries

about 1/2 a cup kefir (don’t bother measuring, just know more kefir = more liquid smoothie)

Blend.  Enjoy.

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It was really good.  Very cooling on a summer day.  There was first the taste of strawberry and then the after taste of basil.  The cucumber adds a bit of froth and coolness to the smoothie.

Veggie Spring Rolls

I was inspired to make spring rolls with edible flowers in them.  I wanted the brightly colored petals to show through the thin rice paper wrapping and look really cool.  But I have no patience and no edible flowers in bloom now.  So I made spring rolls anyways.

Spring Rolls

package of spring roll wrappers (these are made from rice paper and even though they seem intimidating, they are really easy to work with)

carrots

green onions

bell pepper

cucumber

cilantro flowers (or another edible flower if you have it!)

sriracha hot sauce

ground peanuts (unsalted)

warm water

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Slice the vegetables into thin sticks.  I think it’s a julienne cut.

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Next, you’re going to take a shallow dish (I used a frying pan) and fill about half way with warm water.  You want your dish to be large enough for the spring roll wrappers.  Take one of the spring roll wrappers and immerse it into the water.  it will take about 30 seconds and the texture with change significantly.  It will become much more flexible, almost like fabric.

When this has happened, remove the wrapper and place on top of one of your hands.  The wrapper will stick to itself, but you can gently unstick it if needed.  Place your flower(s) on the wrapper first so they will be seen best from the outside.  Then put the vegetables in a line in the middle of your palm (and the wrapper), sprinkle some ground peanuts and put a little hot sauce.  Now you’re ready to wrap it.  Fold in one side, then the other, then the bottom, then roll the whole thing up from the bottom.  This is much easier to keep in your hand and not on a plate, but I put it on a plate for the photos.

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That’s it, all done.  Serve with more sriracha hot sauce for dipping.  You can use any number of things for filling.  Shredded meat, shrimp, noodles, leafy vegetables, really any vegetables, various herbs, sprouts.  Use your imagination.