Friday, August 28, 2009

Homemade refrigerator pickles

It's been a couple weeks since I made my own refrigerator pickles. And I can say, after consuming a few spears, that I am now ready to share with you the recipe I used and my (rather painful) experience.

I love love love pickles (dill, garlic, spicy...I'm game. As long as they are not sweet. Get that crap away from me). I happened upon a beautiful batch at the farmer's market and thought, " hard could it be to make my own?" I mustered up some adventurous spirit, grabbed several pickling cucumbers (and fresh dill) and began my recipe search.

I thought this recipe sounded the best for what I wanted - just a simple, easy to prepare dill pickle. I didn't want to mess with all the canning intricacies, so the "refrigerator" version was perfect. After reviewing ingredients, I had almost everything on hand except for mason jars and pickling spice mix (you can buy this pre-made. I thought it would be a safe bet for a first-time pickler).


Well, the pickling spice mix proved to be an endangered species. According to some knowledgeable pickle-making people, this stuff sells out early in the season and isn't restocked in the grocery stores.

Alright, a little bump in the road but nothing I couldn't handle. I would make my own spice mix (as provided in the recipe) and go from there.

On a warm, Wednesday afternoon, after putting Peanut down for her nap (both important points to the story), I got to work. Here is the recipe in its entirety (my comments are in red italics).

Refrigerator Pickle Spice Mix Recipe

Ingredients You Will Need:
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
⅔ cup fresh dill weed (packed tight)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Combine the spices together just before making pickles.

Refrigerator Pickle Recipe
Ingredients You Will Need:
3 cups white vinegar
Pickling spice mix listed above
Sterilize your pickle jars by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes.
I ran the jars and their lids through the dishwasher. This seemed to work just fine for my purposes.

Wash the cucumbers, and then soak them in an ice water bath for two hours.
Not wanting to wait 2 whole hours, I buried them in a lot of ice - and a little water - and cut the time down to one hour.
After two hours of soaking, slice the pickles into either quarters or in slices, depending on how you like them. I wasn't sure which to go with, so I did a couple whole pickles, some spears and some slices. All in all, a total of 5 (big) pickles.
Bring 3 cups of vinegar to a slow boil in a glass or coated metal pot (do not use a metal pot, as it will react with the vinegar) and add spice mix listed above. Mix well.
It was a warm day, so the A/C was on. What does this mean? A/C on, windows closed...and dear jebus, it was the wrong thing to do. If you learn anything from me ever in your life, please note that VENTILATION IS ALWAYS YOUR FRIEND. Boiling vinegar is one thing, but adding mustard seeds, peppercorns and dill...Instant.Searing. Eye. Pain. It's like chopping up a fresh onion - except you pour the onion juice directly into your eyes. Yeah...that kind of pain.
And Peanut was sound asleep and far away from the toxic fumes. So, no worries there.

Pack the cucumbers into the jars as tightly as you can (yes, pack 'em in there as best you can. They will float), and then pour the simmering pickling mix into the jars on top of the pickles. Cover the jars, and let the jars rest for a few hours, until the pickles reach room temperature. Then, put them in the refrigerator, and leave them for one week before eating them. I'm very impatient and didn't think I'd make it a whole week without cracking a jar open, but by Saturday I had forgotten all about them. It wasn't until the next Thursday that I remembered and ran to our spare fridge to try them out. See what happens when a Mom Of Very Little Memory makes pickles?
(sorry about photo quality...taken with my cell phone)

(and that dark spot is a big hunk of dill. I think next time I'll put that part in the jar first, then the pickles)

* * * * *

I am stating for the record that I could have made some mistakes while prepping this batch. Heck, I was half-blind most of the day. So, you may get an entirely different type of pickle out of this recipe. Who knows. But I will say my batch are not mild pickles. Fortunately, I like the sour punch-you-in-the-face flavor these pickles have, so it all turned out OK for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thank you, Chex

I am in the process of writing up a recipe post about homemade refrigerator pickles (for those that follow me on twitter, this is old news). In the meantime, I thought I'd share a picture of what I woke up to yesterday morning:

8 boxes of Chex cereal (8th one not pictured as it is on the counter, already opened).

Why do we have so many boxes?

1. Buy 8 boxes of General Mills cereal, get $10 off and 2 coupons for free gallons of milk ($3.25 value each).
2. Up until recently, only their Rice Chex were gluten free. Now, they offer Honey Nut, Chocolate, and Strawberry Chex...all gluten free. For my husband who is stuck eating bland cereal all the time*, this is a major breakthrough.

So, we'll be eating a lot of cereal in the days to come (I've been told that a bowl of Chocolate Chex makes a nice dessert option).


* Yes, there are flavorful gluten-free options out there for cereal, but they require a trip to the health food store and cost more. It's nice to have a mainstream option.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


There's nothing I want more than to vent about the experience I just had and name names. But a) I don't want to get involved in some crazy defamation lawsuit and b)I don't feel I should give them free press (even if it is bad). So, here is my experience with a certain car facility whose repair shop we use because it is part of our warranty.

I just spent 2 hours waiting for a car repair. 2 hours for something they told me would take 30-45 minutes. 2 hours of waiting for the lone technician to come back from lunch (a half hour after my appt time), take the 30 minutes to replace the damaged seatbelt, and then wait for our warranty's approval...and approval I ALREADY spent 2 hours waiting for a few weeks ago. So, for those keeping score, that's 4 hours invested in a repair that took all of 30 minutes.

I won't fault the technician. He was the only one into today (the other called off) and he had a repair that ran late, hence the late lunch. I've been in a similar situation at work before. Totally cool. But for Pete's sake, how hard is it for someone to make a quick phone call to me and say, "hey...we know you have a 1pm appointment, but here's what's going on." Give me the opportunity to reschedule.
No...the receptionist says, "I didn't know that the mechanic went on lunch until just now...[blah de blah explains the situation] so I don't expect him back until closer to 2pm." Did I mention I had been waiting for quite a bit at this point?

I am partly at fault for not voicing my anger at the wait the first time. Maybe they just didn't understand how upsetting it is to sit around a waiting room with a 1.5 year old to be told "yep, it's covered under the warranty. Let's get the part ordered and have you come back in."

Why, I ask, did I have to sit there to be told it was going to be approved? Doesn't anyone know how to use a telephone?!

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

A few weeks goes by, anger subsides. I am quickly reintroduced to Anger today when I am told (after noticing my car sitting in front of the window all by its lonesome - a good 30 minutes after I was told the technician would start working on it) the repair is done...but now they are waiting on an approval from the warranty company so they can close the ticket.

You have got to be kidding me.

I think my aura of Anger must have carried over to the other workers, because along comes Mr. me an "update." I use that term loosely because not more than 5 minutes before I went to the receptionist myself to figure out why my car was sitting there and I couldn't take it home.

It is now nearing the 2 hour mark. I am about to raise a good deal of hell in this place. I've done all I can to entertain and feed the child, but there is no denying she is well overdue for a nap. I just want to pay and go home.

Finally, Mr. Consultant calls me over and says that he'll settle up my bill for me with a manual receipt...since, you know, I had been waiting there for so long and they had already received the approval once before.

Ok...hang on a second. You mean to tell me you could have done this manual receipt an HOUR ago?!

[I swear I felt steam shoot out of my ears]

Upon discussing my displeasure with this whole situation, Mr. Consultant tries to justify today's wait with "well, if we don't get the approval, the mechanic doesn't get paid."


* * * * *


I'm done.

I'm home, child is napping, and I'm listening to the soothing sounds of Joshua Radin.

Serenity NOW!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ridin' the waves...

I'm usually one who embraces change. However, this time around the change that is happening is huge and throws my head into an angry sea of mixed emotions. And when my brain is swimming, I need to talk...or blog.

After taking the first 3 months of Peanut's life just to be with her, I returned to the work force part-time. Once Christmas hit (and with that, our awesome childcare) we decided I should be the stay-at-home parent.

Now, after nearly a year of 24/7 mom time, I will be working outside of the home again - full time (ok, so it's not 100% definite yet, but it's pretty close). If it weren't for the specific opportunity I've been presented, I wouldn't have given it a don't think this is something we HAVE to do.

Peanut is a toddler now. She is growing increasingly independent, she loves being social and would benefit from a group setting. Also, ShankRabbit will be dropping her off and picking her up from daycare each day, so she will get a lot more one-on-one time with daddy, which is awesome.

There are just so many positives to this new situation that the "other stuff" seems so insignificant...but they are still there. I won't even list them because I don't want to dwell.


I just have to come to grips with letting my "baby" go...letting her grow and develop into the lovely child she is quickly becoming. Just yesterday she learned how to carefully dip her french fry in ketchup and take a bite (after a few rounds of just licking the ketchup off, she figured it out). We visited a potential daycare facility this afternoon and she was there only 5 minutes before she wanted nothing to do with us and ran off to play with the toys and other kids.

It's hard for me, but I think when all is said and done I'll be more happy than sad.

* * * * *
In other big news, our best friends (one of which was Peanut's nanny for a while) are moving 6 hours away in a couple weeks. My thoughts? LALALALALALALALA...I CAN'T HEAR YOU! Yeah, I'm taking the adult approach to this other big change...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random stuff

I'm all hopped up on productivity, so I thought I'd write a blog post (no, my BFF is not instructing me to write a post...nope, not at all)

First, I'd like to tell you all about the beautiful start to my morning. In half-consciousness, I hear a BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP (annoying yet? Because it sure was annoying the heck out of me). First thought - am I dreaming? No. Second thought - phone alarm? I certainly didn't set one and it was just after 7am - too early for ShankRabbit to wake up. Third thought - Smoke/Carbon Monoxide detector? Ohholyjebus, I'M AWAKE I'M AWAKE! Turns out, that wasn't the source. There's nothing like a little jolt of adrenaline to get your butt out of bed.

After about an ETERNITY (morning speak for 2 minutes or so), the beeping stopped. Followed shortly thereafter by the sweet, dulcet tones of a jackhammer.
(I later figured out that the beeping must have been the reversing sound of their work truck.)

This was all forgiven when I spied the guy manning the jackhammer do Michael Jackson-like moves trying to evade a bee. Quite comical.

After dropping the dear husband off at work, I took the long way to get on the highway. I wait at the light for it to turn green. I proceed into the intersection, ready to make a left hand turn, and I am greeted with the sounds of screeching tires and smoke to my left. Apparently, Mr. Pays-no-attention-to-the-road was about to speed right on through the red light...right into my van (well, technically, he would clipped the back end of a different car first, then me). I was very proud that the only thing to come out of my mouth was a very loud "OH CRAP!" I tend to go for more, uh...colorful words in the car.

Although my morning is not something I'd like to recreate, I'm more awake now that if I drank a whole pot of coffee. Let's give it up for adrenaline!

* * * * *

Joshua Radin just came up on my Pandora station. I'm happy-dancing in my seat right now.

* * * * *

I took Peanut to the Westown farmer's market yesterday. In addition to chasing pigeons and stopping to watch a juggler perform, she got a chance to bust-a-move to some live music. It was a lot more fun of a farmer's market than I'm used to - though my usual stop has more of a selection.
If it wasn't for the sticky heat and evil eyes from other mommys (apparently I was sitting a little too close to this mommy-groupmember's unmanned stroller. Hey lady, if you're going whisper and shoot glares for getting too close to your purse, then here's a thought: put it over your freaking shoulder and not hanging off the handle of your stroller! Didn't anyone ever tell you that if you make that face too much it might stay that way? Perpetually angry gofer is not a good look on you), we would have stayed longer.

* * * * *

Big, big changes around the corner. Lots of stuff to think about that I'm sure I'll share with you all soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Definitions from a Catholic dictionary

I'm going to bypass an actual "what I've been up to" post, because...well, there is an office/workspace to be cleaned with my name on it. And if I don't clean the space, I can't sew. And I'm so excited about my next projects I literally skipped to the car after purchasing the necessary tools. Fortunately, I could pass the skipping off as "entertaining my daughter" so I didn't look so much like a freak. You know, more than normal.

So, in honor of bypassing a real update, I thought I'd share a little religious humor I found in an old email-

Definitions from a Catholic Dictionary

Amen: The only part of a prayer that everyone knows
Bulletin: Your receipt for attending Mass
Hymn: A song of praise, usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation's range
Choir: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the congregation to lip-sync
Holy Water: A liquid whose chemical composition is H2OLY
Incense: Holy smoke!
Jesuits: An order of priests known for their ability to find colleges with good basketball teams
Jonah: The original "JAWS" story
Justice: When kids have kids of their own
Kyrie: The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava
Magi: The most famous trio to attend a baby shower
1. Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn't covered by an HMO
2. The Bible's way of showing us that holiday travel has always been rough
Pew: A medieval torture device still found in Catholic churches
Procession: The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the celebrant, and the late parishioners looking for seats
Recessional: The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass - led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot
Recessional Hymn: The last song at Mass, often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left
Relics: People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel and stand without prompt
Ten Commandments: The most important Top Ten list not given by David Letterman
Ushers: the only people in the parish who don't know the seating capacity of a pew