A Properly Pickled Pantry

Canned Dilly Beans

I’ve been thinking about my pickled pantry a lot lately, upon learning that one of my co-workers doesn’t like vinegar, which apparently extends into the realm of pickles, anything fermented, and most condiments. I’ve been craving sauerkraut, pickled beets, dilly beans, and pickled onions daily since this discovery. My mind is reeling; I can’t imagine not enjoying the satisfying crunch of a homemade dill pickle in the dead of winter, or piling a hot dog with tangy-sweet sauerkraut on a hot summer day. I’m salivating just thinking about it!

I thought it wouldn’t be until mid winter that I’d be reaching for the first jar of pickled goodness preserved from the garden, but those dilly beans were just too darn tempting after all the pickle talk at work, and I found myself finishing off my second jar last week.

They were so tasty — crunchy with a bit of a zing that left me happily drooling for more — that I rummaged through the cupboards to count how many jars I have left to get me through winter.

And the grand total is….

Three. A measly three jars of pickled green beans. Plus a jar of basil beans I canned on a whim. And, two weeks into December, so begin the calculations and planning for next year. Because I demand more beans! A whole shelf of ’em!

Not to mention, a basket of home-canned goodies would be a hit at a holiday white elephant gift exchange, but I don’t have nearly enough foodstuffs to give away. So, I’ll need to grow enough beans to line a whole shelf, plus extra for gift giving.

Cool, I can do that. Right? (I’m sweating slightly just thinking about it.)

Salute to Sourdough

Fortunately, the 2019 seed catalogs have slowly started trickling into the mailbox, so I don’t have much time to fret and agonize over it since I can start planning a little bit!

At the moment, I’m anticipating sowing lots of green beans, cabbage, cucumbers, and beets to ensure a properly pickled pantry in 2019 that will — hopefully — get me through the winter and into the spring of 2020, with a little extra for gift giving. My biggest goal for the next growing season is to preserve enough pickles that I won’t have to buy a jar from the store for a whole year. Because we sure do love pickles in the Osborne household. (This year’s goal was the same but with jam. So far, so good!)

In the meantime, I’m off to pickle some eggs in the refrigerator to satiate a craving that’s been driving me wild for weeks, and maybe curl up with a seed catalog or two. Have a good week, everyone!

Playing With Dirt

When I start to feel overwhelmed is when I most often need to stop what I’m doing and go play in the dirt for a bit. This last weekend was the last “free” weekend I had before three consecutive weekends of large commitments (which means three straight weekends of no time in the garden). This introvert is already feeling a little worn at the seams, and I’m trying not to let the stress swallow me.

My “free” weekend wasn’t really all that free, and it hardly afforded much time to decompress in the garden — it consisted of a lot of shopping and baking for my sister’s bridal shower, which is my first big commitment this coming weekend. I’m excited for sure, but, wow — planning an out-of-town party is exhausting. Especially when you’re an overachiever and insist all the foodstuffs are homemade. I’m lucky we have a spacious chest freezer, otherwise I don’t know how I’d manage!

My lovely bride-to-be sister requested lemon-blackberry cupcakes, so I made two dozen homemade cupcakes, plus homemade lemon curd my that mom and I will fill them with before frosting with blackberry buttercream. I also made sourdough bagels (one more batch is in the works) and two loaves of peanut butter bread. The leftover lemons were just enough to make a pitcher of lemonade for Jordan and I to enjoy in the evening, which was a very nice treat indeed!

In the evening, once the heat of the day had cooled slightly, I was finally able to grub about in the garden. My first dahlia is about to burst into bloom, the beans are going strong, the peas are shooting up, and the pickling cucumbers are just coming on. Summer is flying by in leaps and bounds, the garden relishing the sudden heat July has brought. I haven’t gotten to take a weeklong staycation like I’d hoped, but there’s always next year.

I’m starting my mornings slower these days, trying to soak up as much summer growing time as possible — cooking oatmeal on the stove while tending to my seedlings on the porch as the sun peeks her face through the trees. I so enjoy seeing how much they’ve grown each morning. And there’s canning to look forward to — pickles and kraut and apple sauce and peaches. My heart is very full these days, and even though I feel stretched a little thin, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Recipe: Grandpa’s Spicy Mustard Sauce

In my last post I mentioned making spicy mustard, and I thought I’d share the recipe with you!

My grandfather made this mustard sauce all the time, but it wasn’t until after his passing that I received the recipe from my mother. My grandfather, whether he knew it or not, had a huge influence on the lifestyle I aspire to live. A hard worker, lover of all animals, and a good cook, it was always a treat to visit him at his farm. And it was an extremely special treat to receive a small jar of his spicy mustard on the way out the door!

I’m not kidding when I say this mustard sauce is great with everything. It’s sweet with a little bit of a kick when you least expect it (much like my grandfather). It’s a great dipping sauce for soft pretzels, fries, chicken nuggets — you name it. And it’s my not-so-secret ingredient in my homemade hamburger patties.

This is a two-day process, but, like most things that take a few days (sourdough, for example), it’s worth every minute of waiting.

You will need:

  • 4 oz. can of dry Coleman’s mustard
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • a dash of salt
  • 1 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
  1. Combine the dry mustard and the white vinegar in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next day, beat the eggs and sugar. Add salt.
  3. Add in mustard/vinegar mixture, stirring well.
  4. Cook in a double boiler, stirring occasionally and scraping sides, until sauce thickens — about 40 minutes.
  5. Cool and mix in mayonnaise. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 1.5 pints.
Spicy mustard and sourdough soft pretzels — a match made in heaven.

I’m not sure where my grandfather got this recipe, so I make no claims about it being an original Grandpa Buck Creation™. It’s simply a recipe I enjoy and provides me with fond memories. If you know where it came from, please leave me a comment!

~ Enjoy! ~

Marge’s First Cast Iron Skillet

Do you cook with cast iron? For a few months now I’ve been keeping my eye out for cast iron cookware at the thrift stores I frequent, and this week I finally lucked out!

I got this nice “little” skillet for $8 — a very good price for a cast iron piece that isn’t covered in rust. I’m not sure what make it is/how old it might be since it’s unbranded (except for “8K” stamped underneath), but I intend to find out!

That early evening light makes my heart sing.

I’ve also never cooked with cast iron before, so I’m really excited to clean/season this skillet and give it a go. I’m thinking pork chops are in our future, or maybe a nice pancake breakfast!

My only hesitation about using it is the resulting grease splatter since it’s lidless—you’ve heard me gush about my beautiful vintage Frigidaire range. My husband will tell you I’m very anal about keeping it clean, and grease is not fun to wipe up. But it seems like nearly everyone raves about how great cooking with cast iron is, so I’m gonna give it an enthusiastic try.

Do you have any tips for seasoning or cooking with cast iron? A favorite recipe?

Wish me luck!