Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Kitchen Sunday

Well I almost didn't make it to the kitchen today for my "Sunday's in the Kitchen" routine.  Felt very tired today and had no desire to do anything.  I sat on the porch the entire morning drinking tea and reading.  Had some lunch then took a nap!  I actually never got out of my pajamas!  I guess it was just one of those days where my body needed to rest.

Really we've been through the ringer this year.  Mike being diagnosed with cancer back in April has taken our family to hell and back.  Though we're not out of the woods yet, things are definitely getting much better as Mike gets much better.

And I started back to school at the beginning of August.  Isn't just like me to decide that I can be superwoman?  Be a caregiver to my husband, mom of 2 teenage girls, chef, maid, chaueffuer, nurse, student, financial advisor, gardener, butler, servant, slave.  Learning to balance all my "hats" in life is integral to my health, so resting when my body says rest is important! 

So I didn't get to the apricot macaroons I had planned to bake (I'll do them tomorrow).  But I did get those garden cucumbers pickled and jarred.  They look awfully pretty in the jar!

Refrigerator Pickles

2lbs cucumbers, sliced 1/2 in thick
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced 1/2 in thick
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 in thick
Sea salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed

In a colander set over a medium bowl, toss cucumbers, onion, and celery stalks with 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Set aside to drain, 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.  In a small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, and mustard seed; stir until sugar is dissolved.
Divide cucumber mixture among clean jars or airtight containers, and pour vinegar mixture over.  Refrigerate at least 8 hours (or up to 2 weeks).

Another version which is much more healthful in that it contains no sugar or vinegar is the lacto-fermented pickles from Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions.  These pickles create beneficial bacteria which is good for your gut and a fun way to get your probiotics instead of in an expensive pill or from gallons of yogurt.

Pickled Cucumbers

4-5 cucumbers
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp sea salt
4 tbsp whey
1 cup water (filtered if possible)

Wash cucumbers well and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumber, adding more water if necessary to cover the cucumbers. The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

So your probably wondering, "What in the world is whey?"  Whey is the yellow liquid that separates from milk.  Think of Little Miss Muffett eating her curds (the cheese) and whey (the leftover liquid from making cheese).  To make whey, get some raw milk from the health food store.  Pour it into a glass container, cover and let sit for 1-4 days until the curds and whey are separated.  Strain and you have whey!  If you aren't able to make whey, use an additional 1 tbsp of salt in the recipe.

Enjoy your cucumbers, savor the summer harvest and of course, get lots of rest when your body needs it!