Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getting There, Rabbit

Who-wee kids, we are rounding the corner on the final lap of our summer insanity. We drove up to West Virginia for the family reunion last weekend, which puts our butts in the car at a whopping 30 hours in just over a week. All completely worth it, and I say again: read aloud in the car, your road trips will fly by. West Virginia was a breathtaking palette of greens. Like every flippin' green your brain can handle. We picked red and black raspberries in a generously cloudy morning, swam in the river, ate way too much incredible food (my uncle Patrick and my Granny each managed to bake The Most Amazing Cake of the Year), played some wiffle ball, set off a few fireworks, and just soaked up the crazy and brilliant crew of people that make up my family.

We came home to cucumbers. Like ten pounds of cucumbers, no joke. I am always curious about how gardeners choose what to grow. Some tackle it from a financial angle - what do they buy the most of or what is the most expensive to buy at the grocery store. We do a certain amount of that, in particular in the leek department. Some go for the items that really taste much, much better when grown at home and picked fresh. I know this is really everything, but things like asparagus are legendary for being an entirely different experience when eaten fresh. And then there's your folks who grow what works for them. And I have to say, if that is how we chose our garden we would have to turn the whole thing into a cucumber patch. We stick the seeds in the ground, lazily train them up a lattice, and after a few single cucumbers here and there we are suddenly The Cucumber Pushers. I don't even ask people any more; just yesterday I walked up to my neighbor who was on his cell phone and put a bag in his hands full of cucumbers. No need to thank me! Anytime! U-pick! Anyway. In the middle of fobbing off cucumbers we also made some pickles. Since we're leaving for Oregon in a few days, these are vinegar pickles. Salt pickles are coming soon. We used this recipe, with a few modifications (way less sugar, more spice) and some homemade pickling spices. The pickling liquid tasted so good, both B and I kept dipping a spoon into it when we walked by. We pickled three big jars and now we the wait, don't worry I'll report back.

Also, can I confess that I really love epicurious? I have reached a point in cooking and baking where I only want to make things that have been either made by someone who has reliably excellent taste or things that have been commented on by 40 people each offering up their adjustments and opinions. Nothing sucks worse than over salting your casserole, you know? Anyway, I was trolling around on it because we continue to have more chard and kale than you can shake a stick at. Seriously, I have been leaving greens all over the country lately and we still can't keep up. We actually only planted about five plants of each, since last summer I did full rows and realized that greens are not a daily thing for us in the summer. But they are all so huge! So anyway, I just found a half dozen excellent sounding recipes on epicurious that each call for 1-2 pounds of chard or kale or both, so I am a happy lady.

Last up: our garlic crop is about 75% harvested. Interestingly enough, the softneck variety (Susanville) has been the size queen of the bunch (that big one up above is about the size of my fist) likely because it was a cold winter, but while the hardnecks are smaller, their cloves are still very large. While noodling around researching garlic at one point I came across this, which, you know, just made me giggle out loud (Christopher Kimball is the Cook's Illustrated guy). So there you have it. Lucky us, because we have about a zillion hardnecks ready for the eating. I will take another picture when we are allowed to clean them up after curing them. I was initially not that excited about growing garlic, but my gardening gal Jenni talked me into it and it was so fun that we're going to do some overwintering onions this year too. Did I say here already that B dug another whole bed, a fourth long one? Love that man.

Ok, that's the news. B's mum is coming for the weekend and then we're headed to Portland to help these people get married. Be well out there.

P.S. These are really yummy. Simple, but yummy - I like baked things with yogurt in them. Next time I'd put some toasted pecans in there...


Sarah N. said...

You're the second friend this weeks who has made the chocolate yogurt snack cakes! I've got to try them. I'm pulling out my grandma's pickle recipe to study before planning a u-pick raid on your cucumbers :)

queenbeehoney said...

Ok. Questions: Did you use white vinegar in the pickles like the recipe says? And do the cucs have to be pickling ones or will any old kind do? And do you really have one of those darling little muffin tins like she shows on her recipe for the yogurt snacks? Or can you just dollop them onto a cookie sheet instead? Inquiring minds want to know. We had your greens tonight with shitaki mushrooms, red peppers and white onions with a bit of ume vinegar along with that poor roasted chicken that was loitering in the frig when you were here. Very yummy, except I didn't brine the bird. What a difference brining makes. I'd be raiding your garden if I were there!

Heather said...

Sarah, girl, I will keep you posted on the cukes. You have to trade me for your favorite pickle recipes though - I'd really like to find one that is a "real" canner - all of the ones we've dabbled in so far are "eat 'em in two months" pickles.

Mum, yes, we used white vinegar, is that bad? And yes, you need muffin tins, but they don't have to be darling. Or you could make a cake, no problem. Yay greens!

Alan said...

Hey Heather,

Been out of the blog world for more than a month. Sounds like your adventures are continuing at their crazy pace. WV is only a few hours from us (at least the north western parts of WV.) If you are ever road tripping again in the summer you should come up. We had a pretty kicking time at the Coshocton Dulcimer Days a couple of weeks ago. JJ even performed. Could have used some more banjo.

Hope you have fun with the pickels. That's what we are doing now too.

Heather said...

Hey Alan! Nice to see you around again; I was actually just wondering about you the other day, how your projects and kiddos are and such. Sounds like you four have been having a great deal of fun this summer (oh, the bunnies are so durn cute). I would love to visit your farm and family sometime, thank you for the invitation! And let us know how the pickling goes!