So We Had These Two Cucumbers

The last from the garden. Something special had to be done with them. But what? I’ve fermented some delightful sour pickles, but there were just two of these.

What to do? And then everyone’s favorite uncle mentioned Kimchi cucumbers over on the book of face. I was intrigued. That recipe sounded pretty good, but I’m not very good at following directions. Besides, I wanted something a bit more pickle. And then I found this. With a bit of a tweak here and a substitution there, we get this.

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Obviously, we didn’t have 6-8 Korean cucumbers, we had 2 cucumbers from the garden. We didn’t have any Korean red pepper either, but we did have some bhut jolokia flakes. And Oops! Apparently we didn’t have any onions in the garden either. Oh well.

I cut the ends off the cucumbers and cut them into approximately 2 inch sections then quartered them as the recipe instructed. I salted them thoroughly and let them sit for 2 hours. It’s odd, but you have to wilt your vegetables in order for them to be crunchy once the fermentation is complete.

While the cucumbers were resting in the salt, I minced the garlic and mixed up the paste. Once the cucumbers were ready, I spread the paste over the spears and crammed them into a mason jar. Then I poured filtered water into the bowl where I’d mixed up the paste, swirled it around, and poured it over the cucumbers in the jar. Always be careful of the water used in a fermentation process. You run the risk of killing the beneficial bacteria if there is any chlorine in your water. Most cities chlorinate the tap water. You know, to kill bacteria. Generally a good thing, but when you are encouraging Lactobacilli, chlorine is not your friend. I topped up the jar with more filtered water and put the lid on loosely. You don’t want any outside air getting in, but there will be some gas that needs to escape. Ferments burp. Then I left it out on the counter for 12-18 ish hours.

From there, we stuck it in the fridge. 5 days later, we had delicious crunchy kimchi pickles. Each bite was bright, cool cucumber followed by the slow burn of the bhut jolokia. Oh yeah, definitely doing this again. Next time, we’re going to try slicing the cucumbers.

So, Now Do I Need A Manufacturing License?

I have, on occasion, at least attempt to manufacture organic silencers. Alright, so I tried and failed, but here are a couple of organic silencers (I know, suppressors. Geez!) that I got from a coworker.

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There wasn’t even a background check! The horror!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’ve lost my mind.

Jen. Um. Those are squash, not silencers (suppressors)

I thought so too. Until I read this.

Investigators say a person suspected of robbing a Charleston County gas station used a squash to silence shots fired at the business.

Personally, I like my silencers lightly sautéed in butter. Or deep-fried. Or grilled.

We’ve got to crack down on the scourge of organic silencers! Think of the children! These things just grow on trees vines!

A question for the peanut gallery. So does the BATFEIEIO* confiscate this one? Seems like taking it to the band saw of wanton destruction** would be kind of excessive. Not that the BATFEIEIO would ever do anything excessive.

*I will be eternally grateful to Tam for that one

**Feel free to use that as your next RPG weapon

Green Tomato Bacon Pie

So I mentioned teased you previously about a pie we made from our green tomatoes and bacon.  I promised to share something recipe like. And then I didn’t for like ever.  Or at least, an eternity in internet time.

So now, I make it up to you by making you hungry. Yes, this is about as close as I get to actual recipes. There are no measurements and next time I make it, it will be different just because I am also incapable of following a recipe.

First, fry up some bacon.  A lot of bacon. I used a 48oz package of bacon ends and pieces. And because I live in a house where we love our bacon, much of this got eaten during this phase.  I believe 1.5lbs to 2lbs was left to go in the pie. If you can cook bacon without grazing and keep the rest of your household from grazing, you could probably just cook enough for the pie, and I stand in awe of your willpower and fear your iron fist. All of this went into the food processor once it had drained. If you substitute some kind of store bought bacon-bit abomination here, Cthulhu will rise from his slumber and bitch slap you.

Maybe not, but you really shouldn’t risk it.

Now, take some green tomatoes and half a red onion and saute them up in the bacon grease. Next time, I’ll probably throw a jalepeno or something in there. Nothing too hot. Don’t want to overwhelm everything else. Besides, I’ve got this if I want more heat once it makes it to the table.

Melinda's Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce

Why yes, that is Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce. And yes, it will rock your world.

Sorry for the fuzzy picture. Hard to focus with the world rocking like that.

Anyway.  Once that is reasonably sauteed, turn down the heat and spread it all around the edges of the giant frying pan.

Um…okay.  Why?

Because now you’re going to throw some garlic in the middle to roast it.  Like so.

Adding the garlic

Roast it, sear it, you know-apply heat to the garlic and make it smooshy

So you know, your house will smell delicious at this point.

While the garlic is becoming more deliciouser, make a bacon mat on some foil.  We used a pound of bacon strips.

A pound of bacon woven into a mat is a beautiful thing.

You should also be applying bourbon to the cooks at this point. You’re also going to need to shred up some cheese.  We used swiss and mozzarella.

Smoosh up the garlic and mix it up with your bacon pieces, tomatoes, and onions. Put all that stuff in the pie crust.

Then smear some mayonnaise all over the top of that. Don’t use Miracle Whip. That stuff is a sin against nature.

Your cheese goes on top of the coating of mayonnaise.

Mmm. Notice the granite mortar and pestle back there? Perfect for smooshing up the garlic

It should be a fairly thick layer of cheese.

And now for the application of the bacon mat.  You built it on foil so that you can just flip it onto the top of the pie.  See.  Always thinking.

Bacon mat. Bacon mat. Bacon mat. Bacon mat.

Get it all tucked around nicely and roll the pie crust around the edges.

Mmm. We sprinkled a little Kosher salt on this bad boy. psst. This does not make it a Kosher dish.

And into the oven it goes! Bake it until the bacon on top is crispy. What comes out will be a thing of beauty.

This image goes to 11. Click for higher resolution drooliness.

Oh yeah. This will make you fat. Your arteries will clog from the smell.  But man, oh man, what a way to go. The waist is a terrible thing to mind.

Get In Mah Belly!

Yeah, while everyone else brings you SHOT show, I bring you bacon.

Also, Epic Pie time because of Bonnie‘s timely FB post

But I’ll never match the pony blogging prowess of Erin.

2012

Here we are at the beginning of the last year.  Well, if the Mayans were right anyway. Or, at least the people that actually believe that the Mayans were predicting anything.  Honestly, I think they were carving away and decided that sometime between when they were chip chip chipping away and the year 2012, someone would have an opportunity to go ahead and update the thing.  Or that maybe, just maybe, we’d figure out another way to mark the date.  That’s it! They actually foresaw that nifty touch screen gadget hanging out in your pocket!

Where was I?

Right, new year.  Sorry, I do not resolve to avoid tangents.

I’m not very good at resolutions anyway. But I do have a couple of goals.

Last year, the kind folks at Emergency Seed Bank were awesome and sent me one of their boxes of seeds.  I have not been very good about telling you about them.  But seriously, I cannot recommend them highly enough.  We had the hottest summer in recorded history.  The drought was epic.  And of course, we’ve had a few freezes by now and I have bright green spinach growing in a pot in the back yard. My thumbs are not green. Not by any stretch of the imagination.  And yet, just yesterday, I harvested some cabbage to experiment with a recipe of my own creation (Jenchi-it’s kinda sort based on a few Kimchi recipes, but I actually pickled it.)

Hmm. If you eat ham for happiness, black-eyed peas for luck (Tried, but Fergie just wouldn’t consent to being put in the smoker), and cabbage for cash, does pickling cabbage mean something good for my savings account?

Really, the only negative thing I have to say is my problem, not theirs.  I just don’t have enough land to plant everything that they sent.  But that just means we will be planting different veggies this spring. Thankfully, the Emergency Seed Bank comes with instructions because I haven’t the slightest idea what I’m doing out there in the garden.

Which brings me to a goal for 2012. I am going to get closer to my food.  This year, I intend to grow more of my own vegetables.  I am going to learn more about canning and preserving them.

Also, I will be making my first ever hunting trip in the next few weeks.  With any luck, I will be able to eat something that I have personally killed.  I’m excited/nervous/anxious and very much looking forward to it.

I’ll be trying to review some more products and hopefully have some giveaways for you too.  I’m currently reading Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun  (Kindle Edition is here) and should have a copy for giveaway as well. I am enjoying it so far. I also received word this morning that I’ve got a CD on the way, so that should be fun.

So tell me, is there anything you’d like to see on these pages in the coming year? No promises, but I’ll take requests into consideration.

So We Made Pickles

Hopefully.  They are cooling currently.

I should back up.  The summer in Oklahoma was not exactly fantastic for gardens, and yet, my pear tomatoes rocked. And then we got frost. So there were a lot of green pear tomatoes hanging from dead vines.

le sigh

But I hear there are great uses for green tomatoes.  They should make lovely pickles.  Right?

Some garlic and surprisingly pathetic onions (they looked awesome earlier in the year) and some previously smoked ghost peppers should make for something tasty.

On Friday, I hunted down a grocery store employee to tell me where they kept the canning jars because dammit, I’m gonna do this right. Maybe. I’m gonna try anyway.  I sterilized them in the dishwasher.  Google said I could.  I pre-boiled the garlic in some salt and rice vinegar. We prepped the onions and tomatoes and garlic greens (surprisingly tasty) in some brine.

We are ready to go.

FYI-If you put smoked ghost peppers in the bottom of your canning jar, don’t sniff deeply.  Just don’t. We decided that only 2 of the 4 jars should get peppered.

Ooh! Lookie! We’ve got smoked Kosher salt.  We should use that.  It went into one of the mild jars and one of the insanity jars.

Wish us luck on our maiden voyage into canning/pickle making. Nothing exploded, at least there is that. Pics and after action report in two weeks.

Reaping What You Sow

As most of you know, we’ve been trying our hands at a decent sized garden this year.  The folks at Emergency Seed Bank were kind(or possibly, insane*) enough to send me a sample.  I read through the materials and carefully picked out which seeds to plant in my 110 square feet.  I carefully masked my my very non-green thumb and tended them lovingly and faithfully.  We dispatched the rabbit, but not before he chowed down on almost all the beets and spinach.  Thankfully, the radishes survived his noshing.  I’ve poisoned mice for eating my green bean plants and (hopefully) chopped up a mole with a shovel for eating most of my carrots.  And today, in spite of the heat and drought, I have a healthy crop of parsnips, beautiful heads of cabbage forming, romaine that is over two feet tall (actually going to seed!), and nice chunky tomato vines (the pear tomatoes** are producing like crazy).

This has not been through any particular skill on my part.  It has taken hard work and perseverance, but the harvest will be worth it.

When we sowed the seeds into our garden, we looked upon our work with pleasure.  That very night, the tree to the east of the garden sowed its own seeds on the damp and fertile ground.  As with the seeds we placed intentionally, they took the opportunity to germinate in the nutrient rich soil.  We have had to work diligently to remove these sprouts once they reach a maturity level that displays their true character.  We’ve plucked them out before they have the opportunity to thrive.  If we didn’t, they would rob our crops of nutrients and crowd out their root systems.  We intend to reap the good food that we have sown, not feed opportunistic, worthless trees (most trees are not worthless, those in my garden are).

I was thinking about the current state of the world while working in the garden last night, as I often do.  It exists as something of a buffer or a preparation for things that may come.  So while I carefully patched up a tomato vine where it was damaged by the storm, I thought about the things we cultivate.  I provide good soil and water in the hopes of a successful harvest.  I defend my garden against threats from the local wildlife.  And I pluck out those things I do not wish to reap from my garden.  During this drought, I’ve ceased to water my lawn.  I tell people that if I can’t eat it, I’m not watering it.  And it shows.

We’ve all watched the seeds of entitlement blossom into violence in London.  In the once Great Britain, they have cultivated the things society needs the least.  Those that draw only from the nutrients and life blood of the community without giving anything in return.  They’ve enabled the weeds to overtake the crops by not plucking them out before they became threats.  Instead they’ve taken root and are working to destroy the source of their own sustenance.

It should come as no surprise.  They provided food, water, and care without expectation of production.  They’ve robbed the individual of the means to do the plucking of the weeds of their community.  No one should be shocked that they’ve become invasive and over-grown.  Once allowed to take root, it is only natural that they would want more.  And why not?  Why not redistribute that which can be taken so easily?

Take note, thoughtful readers.  Similar seeds have been sown around us, and there are those who would rob us of the means to fight back.  We are not immune.  We must be prepared.  Like weeds, they will find the cracks.  They are invasive, and they will spread if we are not diligent.

*Seriously, if I can make this stuff grow, you can too.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.  

**In the interest of full disclosure, the pear tomatoes were purchased as plants from Lowe’s.

Salad!

On Sundays, we generally get together EvylRobot’s family for lunch after church.  Everyone contributes something to the meal and we just hang out and enjoy the family fellowship time.

This Sunday, we brought 2 extra giggly girls, some NerdBeer of AtomicNerds fame (BTW-Stingray, Dad-in-law was impressed and enjoyed the fruits of your labors), and a delicious salad from our garden.

Yes, the very same intimidating garden grown from the seeds so generously provided by Emergency Seed Bank.  Radishes, spinach, and romaine – oh my!  All have thus far survived the inept gardening skills of yours truly.

Okay, not everything survived, I must admit.  The Swiss Chard I was so proud of that started this adventure?

Um…

Well…

I waited too long to transplant it to the garden.  The book said to move it in spring.  I got distracted.  And it got too warm in my back bathroom and dried out.  I will do better with this one next year.  I still have more seeds.

And in case you are wondering how on earth it got that warm in my bathroom.  Well that was another stroke of not quite brilliance on my part.  I saw all these nifty warming trays for starting seeds and thought, “Hey! That looks like a good idea.”  Note to self, Jennifer is not an adept gardener and should stick to the instructions in the book rather than get creative.  I killed my first batch of jalepenos and green peppers by cooking the seedlings.  Oops!

But hey, that’s all that I’ve killed.  All the seeds that were sent to me have sprouted and most survived the invasion of the bunny as well.  Only 2 beets seem to have evaded the bunny, but still, there is food growing my backyard!  Plants that I haven’t killed.  Really, this is exciting.

There are beets, romaine lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions, parsnips, green beans, peas, spinach, and green peppers actively growing in my backyard.  And those are just the seeds provided by Emergency Seed Bank.  In addition to that, we’ve got 5 habanero plants that we purchased at the hardware store along with 5 heirloom pear tomatoes.  There are also several tomato plants started from FarmFam seeds.

Things I’ve learned so far:

1. It is good to have things planted in nice neat carefully spaced rows rather than haphazardly in a given section.

2. If the tree at the edge of the yard happens to drop seeds into the garden, you will be pulling trees out of the garden all summer.

3.  Rabbits like spinach, radish greens, and beets.  Also, garden fed rabbits are tasty.  That’s right self-righteous vegetarians, cute fuzzy animals died for your salad too. (Links go to pictures that some may find disturbing)  Who knew that meat would come from a vegetable garden?

4. Stepping stones would be helpful in wider sections of the garden.  Although, stretching out to get the weed 3 feet from the edge is a great ab workout.

5. Holy smokes!  I like peas!  I’ve never liked peas.  They’ve always been nasty, slimy things that the mean lady at daycare forced me to eat.  But from my garden they are sweet, crisp, and delicious. Also, I’m ridiculously entertained and wonder what a certain princess would think of the peas growing up the headboard of the flower bed.

Whimsical Flower Bed

6. Seeds should be started in something deeper than Weber drip trays.

7. Soaker hoses rock.

8.  I am totally impressed with Emergency Seed Bank and highly recommend them to anyone interested in starting down the gardening adventure.

The Emergency Seed Bank provided one seed bank for me to plant and write about here.  All gardening ineptitude is my own.  They tried to give me instructions.  And yet, they’ve grown in spite of me.  All information provided here is from my own personal experience.  They provided seeds for me to write about but my endorsement of their product is my own.