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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sweet Stick Pickles

Sweet Stick Pickles

When I was quite little I remember my Mom brining cucumbers for sweet pickles.  She had a big 5 gallon crock that she used, and I just remember watching as she checked under the weight.  I did NOT like the smell of those brined cucumbers, nor did I like the sweet pickles once they were made. (I did love the beautiful crock she used though!)  I loved dill pickles!  I married a man who loves sweet pickles.  I had no desire to learn to do sweet pickles like my Mom did when I was little!  My mother-in-law (Shirley) had a perfect solution though as she had a recipe for these easy Sweet Stick pickles.  Shirley got this recipe from her mom Mary, who got it from her friend Mae.  I love these shared and handed down recipes.  The syrup on these tastes almost the same as the one used for the Bread and Butter Pickles I posted a few years ago.  You do need an afternoon to do these as they have to sit in water for 4-5 hours before being processed.

These could be done in just half a batch if you have fewer cucumbers.  If you have a lot of cucumbers to use or if you don't want to can pickles, I have shared several other pickle recipes that I'll list below (just click on the provided link to find them!).

Sweet Sticks

Several medium sized pickling cucumbers (I'd guess about 3-4 per pint that you want to do though that could be a high estimate - the syrup will fill at least 12 pints)

Wash and cut into sticks that will fit into pint jars.  Place in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover all the cucumbers.  Place a cover over the top of the bowl.  Let sit 4-5 hours.   Drain and pack solidly into clean pint jars (wide mouth or regular).

Vinegar Syrup

In a large pot mix:

3 T. salt
6 C. sugar
3 3/4 C. cider vinegar
4 1/2 tsp. celery seed
4 1/2 tsp. turmeric
3/4 tsp. mustard seed.

Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Pour over cucumbers in jars, process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Joy's Notes:   This is an old recipe and I'm not comfortable with only 5 minutes of process time so I do 10 and it doesn't seem to affect the firmness of the pickles.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pickled Beets

Pickled beets are one of the most colorful additions to a relish tray that you could ask for!  I like sliced pickled beets on salads.  I like them as a side for a holiday or special occasion meal.  I can eat store-bought pickled beets, but I MUCH prefer home canned ones.  These are easy. 

I got this recipe from my Mom.  I remember her making them for several years.  Turns out it is my sister-in-law Lanette's recipe. (The very same Lanette of Lanette's Cinnamon Rolls that I've posted a few years ago!  YUM!  You can trust Lanette!)  It is not spicy, which I love, and couldn't be easier.   Golf ball or smaller sized beets are nice for these if you want them whole, but I quarter, sixth, or cube if my beets have gotten too big.   The syrup recipe makes enough for 2-4 pints depending on how tightly you pack the beets.  


Lanette's Pickled Beets

Freshly picked beets.  Cut tops off leaving about an inch of stem.  Wash to remove dirt.  Place in large pan and cover with water.  Bring to boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  Remove from heat, set in sink and let cold water run over them until they are cool enough to handle.  Slip off skin and place in jars (cutting if necessary).

Add 1/2 tsp. of salt to each pint of beets (I sometimes use jelly jars and just add 1/4 tsp.)

In saucepan, place 2 C. cider vinegar and 2 C. white sugar.  Bring to boil.   Pour syrup over beets.  Place prepared lids and rings on.  Process in boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes.

Joy's Notes:   Be sure you label these!  They look an awful lot like grape jelly.  I promise they will not spread on toast or pbj's very well at all!  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

It has been rainy and cooler here the past few weeks.  Odd for August in Idaho.  Today felt like a "soup day" as soon as we woke up to clouds and a drizzle.  I remembered I had a ham bone in the freezer from a ham we used last winter so Hearty Ham and Bean Soup was a great choice!

This is another dish where guidelines rather than a "measure exact" recipe are used.  My ham bone was large and very meaty and I planned to feed 9 of us and have leftovers so I used an 8 quart pot to begin with.   Sometimes I use dry beans and sometimes I'm in a hurry and used canned northern beans.  Today I planned to be home most of the day so I chose dried beans to work with.  I've had these beans for a good 15-20 years.  Sometimes when I've kept dry beans that long it takes forever to re-hydrate them (and I didn't think of this last night so I didn't have time to soak them over night!) but with the pressure cooker, these softened up nicely!  I wouldn't recommend storing beans that long, but if you have some in your pantry and they still look good, give them a try before tossing them out!

I like to serve homemade bread with soups but ended up not having time to make fresh loaves today so we just had saltine crackers (and some of us had those spread with butter just like the old days! - That may deserve a post of its own one of these days!).  Cornbread or French Bread would have been lovely though!

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

1 ham bone
2 C. dried great northern beans or 3-4 cans of great northern beans, mostly drained
1 large onion, diced
3-4 large stalks of celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced

Sort through dry beans to remove any irregular pieces or dirt/rocks. Place in colander and rinse.  Place in large pot and cover with a couple of quarts of water.  Bring this to a boil and then turn heat off, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.  If you check it during this time and the water has been mostly absorbed, add enough to cover beans again, bring to a boil, and then turn off and continue timing for the one hour.  Once beans have done this quick soak, bring to a boil and then turn to simmer for another hour or until beans are almost tender. (this can take 2-3 hours if the beans are older and extra dry)  Add ham bone and vegetables to the pot and enough water to cover all.  Simmer 30 minutes or so until the flavor from the ham has infused the broth and the ham is falling off the bone.  Remove bone and meat to a plate to cool.  Pull ham off the bone and shred into small pieces.  Add back into the soup.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with bread or crackers.

Joy's Notes:   If you are not using dry beans, start with simmering the ham and vegetables in water until the ham is ready to fall off the bone - add the drained, canned beans and then add meat back in.  This freezes and re-heats really well!  If you don't have a ham bone, you CAN use a piece of ham and simmer.  It doesn't give as nice of a flavor though.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Creamed New Potatoes and Peas

Our garden is finally coming on nicely!  One of the things we look forward to the most from our garden is creamed potatoes and peas.  My Mom used to make these a few times every summer from the first digging of potatoes and the first nice picking of peas.  Mom never had a measured recipe and neither have I, however, my kids and others have asked several times how to make them so this last time I made them I measured ingredients so I could write a recipe. :)   This should be more helpful than "add more milk until it's the thickness you like" or "until it tastes right".

If you don't grow a garden or have access to a nice farmers market, you could use small red potatoes and frozen peas and have a dish that is still tasty.  It isn't nearly as wonderful as fresh from the garden, but it is still good.

Creamed New Potatoes and Peas

3-4 lbs. of new red or gold potatoes
2 C. freshly shelled green peas

Wash potatoes leaving skins on. Cut potatoes in halves or quarters so they are large bite sized pieces.  Rinse peas.    Put potatoes in a 4 quart pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.  Add peas and continue to cook until  potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Poke a large potato piece with a fork to see if it's done.   Drain put back in pan.

While potatoes are boiling make sauce.

Cream Sauce

1/2 C. salted butter
2 C. heavy whipping cream
2 C. milk
1/4 C. cornstarch
1/4 C. water
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

In medium saucepan, melt butter.  Add cream and milk and start heating over medium heat.  In small bowl mix cornstarch and water until smooth.  Whisk into the cream mixture and continue to cook, stirring constantly until bubbly and thickened.  Be careful!  It spits and splatters!  Add salt and pour cream over cooked peas and potatoes.  Serve immediately!

Joy's Notes:   This is a LARGE batch.  I fed 9 people with seconds and a few leftovers.   Would be easy to cut in half.   IF you are planning to need to reheat these after they've been refrigerated you need to replace half of the cornstarch with flour.  Mom always used flour but I find it easier to keep the lumps out with cornstarch.   However, cornstarch will break down and the cream will be runnier when reheated.  The flour seems to stabilize it nicely and still make it easy to make a lump free sauce.  IF you like a thicker sauce use 1/3 C. of cornstarch and 1/3 C. water.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cinnamon Chip Bundt Cake

Need a quick and easy cake to take to a summer picnic, easy dessert for company, or a delicious afternoon snack at home?   This cake is easy and convenient to make.  My 13 year old daughter has been making this cake in several variations for more than two years and can do it my herself now.  She tried this with the cinnamon chips this past week and we all loved it!  The cinnamon and glaze make it a great breakfast cake.

If you've never used cinnamon chips before, they are mini chips that melt into whatever they're baked in.  If you live near me, I can order these for you through Alison's Pantry.  Otherwise you can order them from King Arthur Flour and even on Amazon (of course!).   Click THIS LINK to see what they're like.  Unlike chocolate chips, they are not good for eating straight out of the bag, but they are a delicious addition to muffins, breads, cakes, and other baked goods.

Cinnamon Chip Bundt Cake

1 pkg. white cake mix
1 C. sour cream
4 eggs
1/2 C. oil
3 ounce (or larger) pkg french vanilla pudding mix
3/4 C. cinnamon chips

Mix cake mix, sour cream, eggs, oil, and pudding mix together until smooth.  Stir in cinnamon chips.   Grease bundt pan and pour batter in evenly.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. (in my convection oven we did 325 for 40 minutes)  Remove from oven and turn out onto a large plate.   Let cool 10 minutes or so and then drizzle with the glaze.


2 1/3 C. powdered sugar
1/4 C. water

Mix well and drizzle over top of cake while still slightly warm.

Joy's Notes:   This seems to stay moist and keep well on the counter for a few days if covered with plastic wrap.