Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Joys of Summer: Pecks of Pickles!

My "sun dills" are out on the deck sitting on the table, curing and will be put in the fridge on Saturday. 

GARDEN UPDATE:  We are finally starting to realize some reward for our work in the garden.  When first put in, the weather was cold, and very, very wet.  Then we seemed to have about a month of fair weather, and now, it is VERY hot and VERY dry.  It's difficult to keep two good-sized gardens watered, but so far we've been able to do it, thank goodness for a well.  

We are starting to harvest; zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and the potatoes and the onions are just about ready to dig, meaning we may get a second crop in on that same spot.  I have also been getting a TON of peppers, we plant several varieties so we can use them in canning, so a lot of those have been washed, cored and chopped to keep in the freezer until the tomatoes are ready to come in and be processed.  Meanwhile, we can eat as much fresh of all these items as we want.  Summer is truly a wonderful season!

I am making pickles with some of the cukes, I rarely make canned pickles for the shelf, I am more inclined to make these for the fridge, I have better luck with them for some reason.  Today I am sharing a pickle recipe that I can make when I save the pickings for two or three days at a time.  I thought you might like it.

Do you have some cucumbers, but not enough for a whole canner full?   You can make sun dills!  I enjoy making these and better yet, we love eating them!  

But I can do a batch of these sun dills several times a summer.  
They actually turn out tasting better than any canned pickles I've made.

First you'll need a jar with a screw-on lid, this recipe is for a gallon.  I used these half-gallon jars, bought for me by my husband at the hardware store.  A half-dozen of these jars are priced under ten dollars. They work out well, because the half-gallon jars fit into our fridge much more easily.  I'll just put them back into the cardboard case when I'm done and use them again next summer.

The flavor of these pickles is an excellent garlic-flavored kosher--better than your best refrigerated dill at the grocery store.  A deli-dill pickle.  And they have crunch...brought on by those grape leaves!


Two half-gallon jars or a one-gallon jar with screw-on lid
Wash pickles, cut out bad spots and leave whole
Grape leaves:  2-3 for each layer, washed
Fresh dill, washed (use generously!)
fresh garlic toes
About forty-fifty pickling cucumbers, or enough to fill a gallon jar, packed tightly

In the bottom of the jar start with a layer of 
Heads of DILL,
1-2 garlic cloves,
Then PICKLES (I use small to medium picklers for this, NEVER large ones.)
Take the pickles halfway up the jar and then start over again with the grape leaves, dill, garlic, and end with the grape leaves on top, under the lid.

Then add this solution to the jar when it's stuffed with the pickles, dill, grape leaves and garlic cloves: 

6-1/2 cups water
3-1/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 c. Kosher salt
stir to dissolve salt and pour over and then seal the jar and set out in the sun for a week, turning once daily.  Refrigerate when done and ENJOY!

AND...for those cucumbers that get forgotten and picked too large, and are TOO BIG for being cute little dill pickles, there's this recipe for the fridge for a nice quick sweet/sour pickle to serve for dinner the next day, something quick and fresh.

7-8 pickling cukes
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper
1 T. Kosher salt
2 t. celery seed
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. white vinegar

How about YOU?


[pek]  Show IPA
a dry measure of 8 quarts; the fourth part of a bushel, equal to 537.6 cubic inches (8.81 liters).
a container for measuring this quantity. Abbreviation:  pk, pk.
a considerable quantity: a peck of trouble.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Is it MONDAY AGAIN?! A Country Boy...

This adorable kid...!
I hope you don't mind, but I had to show these.

These are his one year old photos, taken by his mommy--using the washtub she had bought after the tornadoes came through, so she could do laundry with no power.  

It now has other uses! 

She just put the little tyke in it on his first birthday---sittin' out by the garden fence.

Now Jamie probably wouldn't choose these particular shots to show off....but NANA LOVES THEM!

His face is so full of expression, I just love it!  

Look at that little mouth!  

He's a character.

And, one in his wagon, of course.

I thought he might make you smile today, too!

And now for just a plain old sweet one...

Can you say "Awwwwww...!"?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Magic of the Ordinary: Waking up to Breakfast

It's Saturday morning and no one is awake but me.  

I'm humming along to country music playing on the kitchen radio.  

Even the dogs are sleeping in.  It's been a long week.

I love the magic feeling of knowing that the smell of bacon sizzling on the stove is going to be their wake-up alarm this morning, instead of the harsh sound of a beep or a bell.

This is one of the priveleged feelings known to a mom--maybe because I know how much I loved waking up to that smell.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Kitchen Bling: Spatula Bouquet

Popsicles?  Lollipops?  Nope, they're silicone spatulas!

I was hurriedly buzzing down the aisle at our local chain grocery store the other day, searching for lemon juice.


These beauties reached out and grabbed me and threw themselves into my cart.

I didn't even check to see what they cost.

Which is so unlike me.

But they had to  come home.

Because they match my favorite mixing bowls.

You know, I'm not one for manicures, pedicures, (unless I do them myself!) and I am not one to wear a lot of   matchy, matchy bling.

But my kitchen?

I like my kitchen to be filled with color.

It's where I spend most of my time.


And these lovely refrigerator magnets also jumped in the cart, just what I need to motivate me to a total fridge surface makeover.


You hadn't heard of a fridge makeover?

Well, it is something sorely needed here, as I still have Christmas card photos up there and things that amuse and fascinate me, and I really need to declutter and clean that door.

These magnets will give me the motivation.

(They also double as recipe holders when flipped upside down.)

SO, caution thrown to the wind, I splurged and decided I'd have to go back and get another set of these spatulas for a birthday gift I'm giving that involves a jolly, bright red Pyrex bowl...shhh, don't tell!

(Spatulas found at Kroger and were around $10.  They can also be found HERE.)

**********  Have a happy day!  ***********

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Happy Place

We took the winding road to our "happy spot" in Northern Lower Michigan last week.

It is located on the map of Michigan in what would be the tippy top of your "little finger" if you held up your left hand, palm down.  (Michiganians often use their hand for the "mitten" part of our map.  Ha!)  

This is a little-used but very beautiful place that we've grown to love more than anyplace in this great big State, that we've been.  

Yes, even Mackinac  Island, the holy grail of tourist stops in Michigan. 


Because there are no frantic tourists here, no fudge shoppes, no tourist traps.

It's just a place to be appreciated for what it --so simply-- is.

The Leelanau Peninsula affords many, many views as beautiful as this.

North and South Manitou Islands off in the distance give our gaze a place to rest, in the endless looking  body of water that is Lake Michigan.

We found a beach we had almost completely to ourselves, and could see no one for miles and nothing but this scene for our eyes to feast upon.

Our car was left up on the high shore above us and we walked down the bank to the beach,  every care just melted away with the rhythm of the waves.

We decided we'd rather be here than just about anyplace we can think of.

(I just want to say this, and I hope I don't offend, but this is how my mind works; and I tend to be very independent in my thinking...but this is something that has bothered me for a LONG time...
Here goes...

Some people think that DISNEY is the happiest place on earth.
I have to respectfully disagree because I just can't appreciate plastic, manufactured beauty like I can this beauty put here by the Creator.  

Disney causes me stress and is far from relaxing, we tried it:  ONCE.  Never went back.  Not apologizing for that.  I always think of all the natural beauty that people will drive right past -- like those from Michigan that go straight through the Smoky Mountains and don't stop to see that incredible National Park--without even stopping to look at what GOD put there for them to see--to get to Florida to pay good money--all just to see the plastic creation of Walt Disney!  It makes me shake my head.)

Okay, I feel better now.

Approaching the turquoise sparkling waters is exciting in itself.

One of the Manitou islands seen from a distance, this part is called "whale back"...

Seen only as a dot in the distance, I put the zoom on to catch a photo of this gigantic freighter, always a thrill to see no matter what.

SO with out quilt in hand, we descend the bank and walk to the beach, and spread it out, plop down, and drink it in.

No Sea-doos, speedboats, nothing to look at but what God made.
No sharks, jellyfish, or anything to worry about hurting us in the fresh, blue waters.

So, where is YOUR happy place located?

I'd love to know!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creative Uses for Vintage Finds: Enamelware Pail

Nothing says "farmhouse" like enamelware.  Especially red and white enamelware.

My heart gets to beating faster when  I spy a piece of enamelware ... and this is the first red and white large pail I've found. 

I love them simply because I know the new piece is going to have a nice long life at my house and serve many purposes for me.  I think this was $8.  What a bargain. 


I also really like knowing and imagining the history this pail has, and how it may have been used when it was new, where it may have been purchased.  The general store?  The hardware?  Maybe even the peddlers wagon?  Yes.

  It's come a long way from where it used to be.

I admire how well it has aged.
How great it looks.
How well it is made:  MADE IN THE USA!

Can I say that about any bucket I've bought new? 
Nope.  The closest I can come is galvanized buckets.

This beauty currently holds some dishtowels; and is doing a mighty find job of it.  I'm sure when the garden produce starts coming in, I'll be swinging this pail all the way back to the garden.

When I do my canning, I'll be scalding tomatoes and putting the skins in this bucket.

In the fall, it might find a nice pumpkin plopped on the top rim.

In the winter, it might get used for decorating for Christmas...

The possibilities?  They're endless.
(See more enamelware in this post.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cherry Basket Farm

This place stops traffic on the M-22 highway near Omena, Michigan, a tiny burg on the Leelanau Peninsula...and it's no wonder people like me hit their brakes, do a "U" turn and take the photos...  

Rows of beautiful cherry trees...planted upon the rolling hills, all within sight of Lake Michigan's shores.

And the barn ... the BARN!

I looked up the name "Cherry Basket Farms" on the sign posted near the driveway...and discovered it's a party barn!  

Weddings and special events are held here.  

Oh.  My.

And here is the website...what a dream!  
Enjoy the images on their website of weddings in their gallery.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Love.

What's to LOVE about summer?
Blue skies.
Warm waters.
Green grasses.
Waving weeds.
Crops growing in neat rows.
Orchards are full of ripe fruit.
Farmer's markets.
Flip flops.
Fresh produce from the garden.
Grilled meals.

What do YOU LOVE about summer?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seeing Red--on Leelanau

Today, my fifteen-year-old son and I did one of our favorite things in one of our favorite places...

We meandered.
The back roads.

We went to the Leelanau Peninsula and wandered.  
And stopped, and turned around, and shot some images.

And did so again, and again, and again.

We like red.

Do you?