A Good Year for Cucumbers and Other Rural Trivia

an explosion of cucumbers 

Of course, we'll be canning pickles over the next few weeks.  Since I don't have my canning jars yet, I decided to make some refrigerator dill pickles today, utilizing some saved spaghetti sauce jars.  I'll let you know how they taste after they "cure" for the required 10 days, but in the meantime, here's the standard recipe from Allrecipes.com with my variations noted.

Spicy Refrigerator Dill Pickles
(12) 3-4" long pickling cucumbers
2 cups water
1-3/4 cups white vinegar
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 cup white sugar
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/2 tbls. coarse salt
1 tbls pickling spice
1-1/2 tsp dill seed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 sprigs fresh dill weed

My variations:
I used (6) 6" long tendergreen burpless variety cucumbers.  Since my dill plants were decimated by the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars (see pics here), I no longer have any fresh dill; yes, I allowed them to stay and I was rewarded the other day when I saw a black swallowtail butterfly!  I used the 5 tsp of dill weed I had in the pantry, plus I salvaged dill seeds (1 tbls.) from my dried up dill plants.  I reduced the 1/2 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon, as I personally do not care for sweet pickles. I used sea salt and I made my own pickling spice (recipe below).  We had two small jalapeno peppers in the garden, so I chopped those up in lieu of dried red pepper flakes.

If you decide to visit Allrecipes.com and read the reviews, you'll find you can alter this recipe according to your tastes, and it will turn out just fine.  I'm excited for the 10 days to fly by so we can taste these.

1. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers (I did a combination of spears and slices), water, vinegar, chopped dill, sugar, garlic, salt, pickling spice, dill seed and red pepper flakes.  Stir, and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the sugar and salt dissolve.

2.  Remove the cucumbers to three 1-1/2 pint wide mouth jars, placing 4 cucumbers into each jar.  Ladle in the liquid from the bowl to cover.  Place a sprig of fresh dill into each jar, and seal with lids.  Refrigerate for 10 days before eating.  Use within 1 month.

My yield: Two quarts of spears, and one quart of slices.

Pickling Spice
1 crumbled bay leaf
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
dash turmeric (I didn't have any)
dash cinnamon
Makes approximately 1 tablespoon of spice.

Or to save money, buy your pickling spice in bulk from Monterey Bay Spice Co.  I get quite a few of my spices from them, since spices are so durned expensive in those little tiny bottles at the grocery store!!  Here's a link to their pickling spice, which is made without salt, and while you're there, browse around the other spices and teas. I think I'm going to get some of their pickling spice and their dill weed too.

So, what else are we going to do with all our cucumbers, you ask?  Wellllll, hubby wants to make the Christmas Red Pickles that his mom used to make, so he'll be starting that process on Sunday (it's rather time-consuming).  I found his mom's recipe at Allrecipes.com also... the exact same recipe!

Also this weekend, I'll be making one of my favorite summertime treats, Dilled Cucumbers.  Chilled with sliced cucumbers, sour cream and green onions, it's absolutely divine for a cookout.  I'll post pics and the recipe after I make it on Sunday, along with pics of hubby's red pickles.

Of course, we'll both be taking some cucumbers to work for our fellow employees to enjoy.  :-)

Garden Bounty: the last of the radishes, one tomato, 
a jalapeno pepper, and some cukes!

Here's some additional photos of note
around the ole ranch in the last week or so...

 A gathering storm...

the resulting rainbow...

a black-eyed susan (my namesake)...

our neighboring longhorn...

and another gathering storm at sunset while I'm at work.

And click here to see how adorable my little
granddaughter Leah is at 1 month old!!

No-Name Kitteh Has a Name!

Hubby and I both loved many of the names you submitted, my bloggy friends.... but it seems we keep calling her crazy cat (because she is!) and so her abbreviated name shall be CiCi. Or CeeCee. You know, just a more creative take on plain ole C.C.

{I'm still going to draw a name for the strawberry jam....
I'll announce a winner in a few days!!}

under the bed, stalking Tori

It's a month today since I picked her up by the side of the road. She's growing like a weed... I'm always amazed at how quickly kittehs and puppehs grow into adult pets. You really have to take the time to appreciate and play with them while they are little because those days sure fly by.

where did Tori go??!

Tori is definitely her favorite playmate, and let me tell you, they play ROUGH.... I tried to capture some photos of them playing this morning. It's really hard to get a good photo of them, because they fly around the bedroom, with Tori chasing CiCi until she runs under the bed. I tucked the dust ruffle up under the mattress but it was still difficult to get active photographs. Finally CiCi ran under the rocking chair, so I did manage a few photos. (One of these days I'm going to get a video camera, but regretfully not before Miss CiCi is all grown up.)

oops, Tori has a lil bit of red-eye here...
or is that her devil-eye??

yes, even kittehs have bad photo days

Remember to take a few minutes, or hours,
and enjoy your pets this week!!!

Blog Post Update
What Miss CiCi was doing while I wrote this post..... 
notice the look of pure innocence.

But the evidence proves otherwise.

Invasion of the Cucumbers

We left extra room between the rows for the cucumbers (see July 1 photo below).  Seems it's still not enough room for them... they are invading the beans!!!  Next year, they will get their very own mounds away from the other garden veggies.  Hubby said he saw a cuke today, so it won't be long before we'll be canning dill and sweet pickles!

Tonight's storm clouds in the east are being backlit by the setting sun.  Here's a close-up of that cloud... click on the photo to see how interesting this cloud really looks!

That's all for now.... worked a full day and one hour of OT.... I'm bushed!!

G'nite all!

A Garden, A Kitty and Some Strawberry Jam

Thursday July 1, 2010

Tuesday July 6, 2010

Hard to believe what a difference only 5 days can make.  You can see the cucumbers have spilled out into the open spaces on either side of them (top, 3rd row from right).  Looks like we'll be getting cukes in the next few weeks or so, as there are yellow flowers sprouting everywhere.

Tomato and pepper plants are growing like crazy, and the radishes (row next to the tomato plants, left side of garden) are ready to be picked faster than we can eat them... and since I'm not a radish fan, that means they are getting sliced up into hubby's salad.  I picked about two dozen radishes last week and took them to work, but there's a fresh new batch just waiting to be picked right now.  Once the radishes are finished, we'll be putting in lettuce. YUM.

And here are some new pics of the kitten... she is growing so fast, as kittens do.  And she has NO FEAR of any of our dogs.  She loves playing with all 3 of them, but seems to favor Tori, probably because Tori reciprocates.  The kitten loves to run under the bed, and then lay upside down, halfway out from under the bed, grabbing Tori's nose and face, and batting at her.  It's absolutely hysterical to watch.  (And difficult to photograph!)

She is still quite nameless.  We contemplated Molly, but then decided not to use that name, as my son and daughter-in-law may still use that name for a future baby.  So we're not sure what we're going to name her now... any suggestions??!

How's this... if you suggest a name for the kitteh, and we use that name, I will send you one jar of my strawberry jam!

I hope that everyone is having a lovely summer so far... we've still got two more months of heat to endure.  Then my favorite season... autumn!!

Introducing my redbubble Website

So you're thinking...what is a redbubble???

Well, it's another website designed to allow artists to showcase and sell their creations. How is redbubble different from other creative websites that allow artists to sell their works? It's a community of artists who comment freely on each other's work and institute "groups" that fellow artists can follow or join.  These groups often offer tutorials on various subjects...there are forums to join...and many challenges to participate in.

The seed for redbubble was formed in 2006 by three creative souls in Australia who had a strong desire to bring print-on-demand to their country.  Think the Aussie version of Cafepress or Zazzle here in the States.  After too much thought, they realized they wanted way more than just another print-on-demand website, and so their final mission reads like this: 

We stand:
  • For artists.
  • For the work they create.
  • For the audiences they  inspire.
  • For the buyers they move.
We honour them, their work and their passions.
The creative endeavour should be shared joyously with others.
All should feel free to join in the show.

I must admit that I signed up for redbubble last year but didn't get serious about it until I recently sold 4 mounted prints of my Country Outhouse. Let me tell you, there is nothing like a sizable sale to get one absolutely motivated!! I am uploading more of my photography to the redbubble website and I'm also trying to join groups that are relevant and interesting to me.  I'm amazed at the diverse and beautiful offerings on redbubble... the artists are spread far and wide across the globe!

In the meantime, if you have a few minutes, check out my RedBubble website. It's currently a work in progress, but I'd love any feedback from my dear readers, good or bad.