Friday, March 30, 2012

pickle experiment

I routinely buy pickled veggies from the grocery store and currently I have a jar of pickled okra, pickled peppers and possibly a jar of lightly pickled baby corns(though i may have gobbled those up) in the fridge. So, now that I've recognized my love of these crunchy, puckery treats and I'm trying to make my own, not to keep indefinitely the way we did when I was younger, but rather to eat immediately.

i love the old fashioned look of the swing top lid on this jar.

Just a couple of days ago, I tossed out a jar of brandied cherries that I had picked and canned back in 2004, the summer before I got married. As I watched them roll down the drain, I realized that I had totally missed out on enjoying that jar of cherries because I waited too long to eat them. I'm tired of throwing out good food(although I was deeply unconvinced of the goodness of those cherries with their browning edges) and so I've realized that I need to simply make what we can eat quickly, without saving it for years upon years, until it becomes too special to open and consume.

In my quest to make pickles, I realized that I did not have all the ingredients necessary, I was missing one of the most important things, pickling spices! So, I made my own, based on this recipe and then just added some black peppercorns and some juniper berries.

Once I had all my ingredients assembled, I followed this recipe for asparagus pickles, but found that I had lots of pickling juice left over so threw some baby carrots in a jar and then a few persian cucumbers in another jar and used the same pickling liquid for them. I hope these little experiments turn out delicious, but if they don't, they were just a last minute addition to my pickling experiment!

I love the addition of a lemon slice at the bottom of the asparagus jar. It such a pretty contrast with the green spears.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

tiny pink strawberry hat

I, not-so-recently, crocheted this little pink hat for my friend's tiny new baby girl. I had some fuzzy pink yarn that needed to be used up and I thought it would just make the cutest hat ever!

I added the strawberries for a little extra cuteness and to keep the hat from looking too plain. The strawberries are actually removable. I had originally thought to just make felt pins out of the strawberries, but was worried about a baby wearing a potentially sharp object like a pin, so I put buttons on the back of the strawberries and then buttoned them into the hat. The stitch holes in this hat were just the right size for the smallish buttons that I used and I figure that if the buttons get caught in baby's hair then they can be easily removed without the potential to poke her, like a pin back would(but hopefully they won't get caught and will be perfectly comfortable!).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

beet and chocolate yummy cakes

During my meatless month experiment in January, I found lots of great recipes in one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks(I actually have a lot of them), The Seattle P-Patch Garden's cookbook; I didn't, of course, have time to make them all during the Month of January, but I'm still working on some of the most appealing recipes, even now going into March.

One of the most intriguing recipes was for a beet and chocolate cake. I know that veggies and chocolate go together perfectly and I have know this for many years, but I still had never managed to make a beet and chocolate cake until today. It's really a brilliant idea and I love the Beet and Chocolate cake recipe in the Seattle P-Patch Garden's Cookbook.

I made a third batch and put the cake into adorable heart covered muffin cases instead of making a standard size cake(not that it would have made that large a cake from a third batch). This way of baking them makes the cakes cuter, therefore more delicious, but also means that I can freeze the little cakes and thaw them out more easily than if they were in a giant pan. If I can easily freeze the little cakies, I won't feel obligated to stuff myself with delicious chocolate cakes to keep them from going to waste(who says I won't do that anyway =)).

post posting note: After posting the photos and story about these cakes I realized that this book isn't for sale in bookstores anymore and is hardly available from amazon, so I think I'll include the recipe.

1 1/2 C cooked, peeled and pureed beets
3 oz chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 F

Melt chocolate, remove from heat to cool slightly. In a large bowl beat eggs lightly, add sugar, oil, vanilla, chocolate and beets, stirring well after each addition. In separate bowl sift together dry ingredients then add to chocolate mixture and beat until just blended. pour into greased 9x13 inch cake pan and bake for 35 min. Top with frosting, strawberries, ice cream, whipped cream, or any other desired topping.

I, of course, did not follow the recipe. I never end up following recipes the first time. I made a third batch and because I was out of canola oil, I used melted butter instead of the oil. I also baked the cakes as cupcakes for 20 minutes.

purple sparkle octo

I created this funny little sparkle octo for one of my newest and tiniest friends, Baby Ellie. She likes creatures with lots of legs and although Matthew and I brought her a stuffed octopus from England, I figured a San Diego baby needs a San Diego Octopus! Since So Cal girls are little bit flashier I decided to give this baby octo girl some sparkle by using a purple yarn that had silver thread woven throughout.

Also, when making creatures for babies, I don't like to use button eyes; I just cut out eyes from felt. Hopefully babies won't feel that impulse to pull them off because the felt lays flat against the toy.

see her cute little felt eyes?

I just love the way she turned out with that flashy, saucy look, so cute!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

spiced radish pickles

Last Tuesday, I made super quick pickled beets to spruce up the top of the open faced ham sandwiches that we ate on wednesday. I was so impressed with how they turned out that I decided to make some radish pickles this week. I'd actually planned to make the radish pickles last week but ran out of time.

As with the beets last week, I didn't follow a recipe. Instead, I just tossed together whatever sounded good for the radishes and I'll hope for the best.

If it turns out delicious, maybe I'll post the recipe =)