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Refrigerator Pickles

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I had many jars of pickles ready to take to Saturday’s program. I have discovered the fun of pickling vegetables so you don’t have to spend large amounts of money at the local stores to buy those items so loved on antipasto trays.

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I’ve been all over the map in terms of the ratios I use to make refrigerator pickles. I’ve also used crocks in the past to make pickles. These I did put in the hot water bath in order to have them stay fresh longer, but I keep them in the refrigerator no matter how I make them. Thankfully we have a small beverage refrigerator under a counter in the laundry room. Lots of stuff gets stored there.

I like my pickles garlicky and sour. I use very little sugar, if at all. Sometimes I do buy pickling spices, but mostly I just throw in whatever is still in the spice rack. I use garlic (or once I used scapes). I use garlic powder. I use salt, pepper, mustard seeds, dill (fresh or dried, whatever is here). Sometimes allspice, whole.

I use a heavy vinegar mix. Two parts vinegar to one part water. Some people like one to one ratio. Figure on four to five ounces of mix for every pint jar. I boil it all together, and sterilize the jars in the dishwasher. A small pot sterilized my lids and seals. For refrigerator pickles, meant to be eaten in a few months, and never left out of the fridge, I don’t use the hot water bath for processing.

The jars above hold some of my shallots. Some sweet peppers. Dill pickles. I have also processed swiss chard stems. Zucchini. Beets in a mix that does include candied ginger and a cinnamon stick.

Be creative. Next I am doing another mix of yellow and red peppers.

Today though, we checked out the Whole Foods Market pickling “bar”.

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My husband picked out some of them to try. Caper berries? Green beans. How about carrots? All sorts of ideas.

The Birthday Dinner

OK, I already know I can cook better than most restaurants in the county. At least for 90% of the food available.

Today I easily made a feast. No real effort. Just good ingredients.

Starting with lobster.


Steamed lobster tails bought at Harris Teeter, and steamed here. Served with honey mustard butter.

Followed by sirloin tips from The Common Market in Frederick. Sides of tomatoes and potatoes. Tomatoes from Costco. Stuffed with basil and mozzarella. Potatoes from the CSA parboiled, then finished in the oven with honey mustard, onions, and mozzarella.


Served with a couple of lovely wines. One, the barrel select Chardonnay from Breaux. The other, a nine year old Merlot from California.


The rest of the white is in the fridge, waiting to be an aperitif tomorrow. The merlot. Later tonight will be dessert with some awesome dark chocolate bought at Roots.

This dinner, decadent as it was, was a fraction of the cost of going out. It took minimal effort to make. Fitting it in while watching the Ravens self destruct.

Seriously. Buy good ingredients. Make simple preparations. Serve with local wines.


One Slow Cooked Bargain Meal

Actually, it turns out there will be two meals out of the turkey made in the crockpot yesterday.

It all started with those turkey drumsticks from Maple Lawn Farm.


You can head out to the farm and pick up frozen turkey all during the year. The fresh turkey is sold for the holidays, but they have frozen packages and other specialties.

After bringing home those drumsticks, so I could vacuum seal some and save for soups this winter, I did keep two out to cook on Sunday.


I have two packages like these in the freezer. Each package cost approximately $2.33 as the six pack was $7.

You can’t beat that for making an economical meal. Throw some carrots, onions, celery, some stock (my last container from last year’s turkey), two drumsticks, a little water, salt, pepper, poultry friendly herbs like tarragon and marjoram, all in the crockpot.

Since the turkey was barely defrosted, and the stock was a brick of frozen goodness, I put the crockpot on high for six hours, then renewed it for another 3 hours. In the last hour, I added some wide noodles and a bit more water to thin it out.

We had it for dinner tonight, and it was simply wonderful. Really rich. So much flavor. It’s amazing and you can’t believe the entire pot probably cost $5-6 in total ingredients. We only had half of it, so lunch or dinner later this week will be our second meal from these drumsticks.

My husband and I both like the dark meat on turkey and chicken, more than we like the bland white breast meat. At Thanksgiving, my husband always takes a drumstick on his plate.

I suppose you could say we are crazy, eating turkey the week before Thanksgiving, but soup is so good on crisp fall days.

If you haven’t popped out to Maple Lawn after the holiday rush, you should. Even the frozen turkey is so much tastier than those butterball things.


The view from the front porch

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The view from the front porch

Sitting out and having coffee while watching the scenery