Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Knee Deep In Cow Poop and Sliding Down Pee Falls

When I was a little girl, my older brother Lawson, sister Lynn, and the neighborhood kids and I would make a favorite past time on a snow day of going down to the local Dairy
The dairy responsible for my cow poop fetish.
 and slide down what we called Pee Falls with flattened cardboard.
Who would've thought cardboard has so many uses!
We would slide down the hillside of the pasture
Pee Falls!
and go straight onto a solid thick sheet of ice over Dog Creek. We would do this for hours, then have to walk the mile home in our frozen Pee Falls playing clothes.

 In Preparing my garden, in the Fall I always lay cardboard down to stall  weed growth and then cover with mulch and leaves. As a fertilizer, I use nothing but cow manure.
Cow Poop anyone?
Having the resources to get all the manure helps, but one thing I learned is that if you call and ask people who have farms, whether it is cow or horse most people will gladly give you some as long as you scoop and haul yourself.
Ok, so not Knee Deep, But Deep in Cow Poop!
If you choose manure as a fertilizer, you do not want to put it on HOT. When I say Hot, I don't mean seeing steam running from it, Hot is Fresh, just like what you would step in!

Usually you need to let it set for at least a year and then work it in your soil.

I wish I could endorse cow manure. I've known it from my early childhood years and it will be a forever friend! Your produce is just Bigger,
Prize Winning!

and just better! 

My Sliding down Pee Falls days may be over, but I'll be knee deep in Cow Manure anyday!

Be Blessed,
~The Duchess~

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pickle Relish

This last week I had a birthday and one of the greatest cards and gifts  I received was from my 14 year old son Clayton. I think he is beginning to understand my humor. Below is a picture of his birthday card and gifts to me.

A love of no comparison.

It's moments like these that I can relish in the thought of how much he knows me. He really knows me. 
Seeds of love from my son.

He truly gets it. He not only knows what my hobby is but he knows what he likes to eat and what I like to can. 
The tools to sow in love...
Ah yes, the love from a child to a parent. He truly was once my little pickle, but he has certainly grown into a fine young man!

Guess, I have my work cut out for me.

Be Blessed,
~The Duchess~

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Perfect Pickle in an Imperfect World

I love pickles! Sometimes, I just can't get enough of them. From an early age, I enjoyed the sour strong vinegar taste that only a dill pickle can give. Did I mention that I love pickles?

"Powered By Pickles"!

Whenever I am at a restaurant and order a burger, I always ask for heavy mustard and extra pickles. If my order arrives without extra pickles I simply ask for them on the side. My mouth is watering here, awaiting that sour pucker to savor.  One thing I need to mention here, is store bought pickles are just blah, but when I'm in a pinch they will suffice.

I started making my first pickles back in 1992 just after I arrived in Oregon.  They were okay, but by no means did they compare to the ones I make today, and that only comes with time and experience.

I think I have earned bragging rights on my pickles. OK, so, that sounds a little strong on the bragging rights, but ask any of my friends who have had them and I know they will agree.

Millions of Pickles. Pickles for me.

Pickles are my first love and were the first thing I learned how to can. They are so easy, so very easy even you can do them. However, the first thing you have to overcome in canning is that fear of what if something goes wrong. If something goes wrong, especially in canning, you can't always fix it, but you can definitely learn from it. There are 3  ways you can botch a jar of pickles and they are: 1. You didn't trim the blossom end all the way. 2. You didn't scrub them to get the dirt off. 3. You're vinegar solution wasn't diluted enough.
My beautiful Perfect Dill Pickles.. Do you see the Habernero's?

I like #3, because although I love vinegar, too much vinegar makes the cukes go soft. No one likes a soft pickle... the only way to rectify that one on a botched jar is just to bite into it and suck out all the juices fragrant with garlic and dill... and for the ones who like the spicy.. the habernero ones!  Yep.. I love pickles, anyway you have them. My favorite are Garlic Dill and Habernero Garlic Dill. OK, I think I am going to have to go eat one as I can't handle this mouth watering sensation in my mouth!

As I am eating my pickle...

 you can reflect on the Little Rascals Movie and the conversation between Porky and Buckwheat...

Buckwheat: "Do you like pickles?" 
Porky: "I think they stink"
Buckwheat: *crunch* "I love pickles"
Porky: "My momma makes me eat 'em"
Buckwheat: "I'm crazy about 'em"
Porky: "I'll sell you my pickle for a nickle"
Buckwheat: "How 'bout two cents?"
Porky: "Otay"
Buckwheat: "I have two pickles, I have two pickles, I have two pickles today, hey hey, Doo deck dee rayda boom wang bing biggles, I gets two pickles today Tayday!"

So, I got my pickle fix!!! I titled this blog entry, The perfect pickle in an imperfect world because in life there are many distractions, whether its on the news or in personal situations. Regardless, we live in a crazy world and at times nothing ever goes right. So, when you are down, I just want to encourage you to go eat a pickle, and if you don't have any, make them (when the cukes are in season), but make sure you have enough to last all year because if you are like me- with a insatiable pickle addiction, you will run out and then go through the horrible pickle detox!  

My Recipe for The Perfect Pickle!

Garlic Dill Pickles

Makes 7 Quarts

2 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
8 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt
14 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)I put way more garlic in than this!
8 dill heads (1 per jar) I usually put 2 dill heads...
1/2 habernero per jar if you want spicy! extra spicy slice the habernero and put both halves in. (Tip: Do not taste these as you are cutting them, take it from me, they are HOT!)

1 Grape leaf per jar, or 1/8 tsp Alum PER jar
Pickling cucumbers.

Wash and Cut Blossom ends.
In a large sauce pot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.
In a small sauce pan, have your lids and rings simmering.
Arrange jars on counter and put your spices to each each jar.  I always put 2-3 cloves of garlic per jar and a sprig of dill in the bottom and on top.  Pack the cucumbers firmly into the jars. You don’t want to damage the cukes, but you do want them packed tight.
Pour the brine into the jar, leaving ½ inch head space. Take a knife and slide around jar to remove any air bubbles.
Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes are up, promptly remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cool on the counter top. When the jars are cool, check the seals (by pushing/tapping on the lid).
Pickles can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Last but not least, you can go to youtube.com and listen to different pickle songs while you are busy in that kitchen!
An example is here!  

Be Blessed!

~The Duchess~