I'm majorly ADD. And it's not a bad thing. Sure, it made high school and college a bit more difficult - you could be the smartest person in the world, but if you can't remember where you stashed your notes or that there's a test tomorrow, you're out of luck. In fact, my brain's peculiar chemistry is a blessing much more than it is a curse. My brain works at about 100 mph most of the day, ideas popping up at the strangest times. Sunday I burst out of bed at 5 am and drove up to the store studio and worked on a quilt for about 3 hours just because the motivation struck me - NUTS. Yesterday, I tilled 6 bags of compost and four bags of expanded shale into my spring veggie bed, then decided to run by Home Depot and pick up materials to build this year's tomato cages (wire concrete reinforcing panels), made a batch of homemade "Super Granola", pickled beets and cauliflower, then finally before collapsing into bed, potted up my lettuce seedlings. It sounds like productivity, but it's really just my nervous unfocused energy needing somewhere to be channeled.
I did however come up with some pretty fun recipes last night. If you share my pickle obsession, you know that it's impossible to have too many pickled foods in your refrigerator at any given time. My latest market discovery is Harold's "Texicun Gormay Purdy Hot Pickles" (yes, that's how they spell it). The most delicious - and hottest! - pickles you've ever had. Yum! Inspired by those delicious pickles and a sale on cauliflower heads at Whole Foods, I came up with a pretty good refrigerator pickle recipe. I've made pickles before, but I've struggled with the perfect brine solution. Last night's invention had the right blend of saltiness, sweetness, and tartness. It's a flexible recipe so if you try it, feel free to add more sugar or less salt. I like my pickles salty, so my ratio pleased my tastebuds.
4 cups of water
2 cups distilled vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs mustard seeds brown
1 tbs celery seeds
1 tbs fennel seeds
1 tbs white peppercorns (black is fine if you can't find white)
2 peeled garlic cloves
red pepper flakes to taste (I put in 1 tbs because I wanted it spicy)
dill seeds or fresh dill
8 cups of mixed vegetables
(Great pickling vegetables include beets, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, okra, bell peppers, jalapenos, small onions)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut vegetables into bite size pieces and add to boiling water. Let boil for one minute then turn off heat and let sit while you prep the jar and the brine.
Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-to-large pot. Add the vinegar, salt, sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Into a large resealable jar, add the garlic, dill, and all of the seeds. Drain the vegetables and add to the jar. Pour the hot brine over the contents to within one inch of the top of the jar. Allow the jar to cool completely on the counter before sealing and putting in the refrigerator. Depending on how big your jar is, this could take up to 8 hours or overnight. Once completely cool, seal the lid and put in the fridge.
The best flavor will develop after one week in the fridge. I usually can't wait this long and start sneaking samples as soon as a few hours of sealing! Every once in a while, turn the jar over a few times so that the spices and brine are evenly distributed.
NOTES: You can easily make more brine if you have more veggies and a larger jar by using the same ratio of water, vinegar, salt and sugar. As mentioned before, add more or less salt and sugar depending on your tastes. Taste the brine before pouring over vegetables and adjust flavor as necessary. Too salty or tart? Add more water. Not sweet enough? Add more sugar. Just make sure that the sugar and salt is completely dissolved before pouring over veggies.
Refrigerator pickle jars normally don't require the same amount of sterilization as pickling for long-term, room temperature storage, but just to be safe, it's a good idea to run your jars through a cycle in the dishwasher with hot water and heated dry settings. I find this method easier that boiling the jars if you don't have to.