Category: coriander

Garden vegetable quick pickles.

Quick garden vegetable refrigerator pickles.

It’s nearing the end of a quiet, still, warm summer day. Its just about 5 p.m. The birds are still chirping, and it’s still light out, but the light is diffused; not so strong as it was just two or three hours ago. Everyone is just getting home from work or the beach, and kids are just pulling up on their bikes after a day out with friends.

And me? Well, I decide to make pickles.

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A time to plant, a time to sow.

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Yes, I know, you’re all in “fall-mode” already. Me too. It’s hard not to be when Halloween has infiltrated every store & every blog (or Pinterest page) is pushing pumpkin desserts! And I’ve got those coming for you, too. But first there’s still some wrapping up to do when it comes to summer. Namely the garden.

Every year at this time, I start to dry my herbs. They continue growing until mid to late October, usually, unless it gets very cold at night very quickly. As do the peppers, sometimes. But the herbs usually get so large midway through the summer, that I end up cutting them back in late July and using most of them fresh (or freezing them). The rest I dry and add to my dried herb jars. Then I cut them back again in September. Drying fresh herbs is one of the easiest things to do, as is freezing them, and if you grow your own herbs I strongly suggest you do it! For cilantro, I suggest freezing it in olive oil. Basil is also good that way, as well as rosemary. You can freeze them in water, too, if you prefer. As far as drying them, there are, of course, quite a few different ways to do it… but this is what I do. I bought little jars from Ikea to store them in, but small Ball jars work too, as do cleaned out baby food jars. All you have to do is cut your herbs and give them a good shake outside to evict any unwanted tenants. Not cilantro, though, dried cilantro tastes nothing like fresh and it’s not really worth it. You’re better off freezing that. Anyhow, cut ‘em down and give ‘em a a shake or two… then give them a good rinse and let them dry overnight on a paper towel or clean dish towel. The next morning, tie the ends of each herb together to create a bunch, and tie with soft twine (or use a small rubber band). Place them in a brown paper lunch bag that you already labeled and “hang” them in it, gathering the top of the bag together around the bottom of the stems and tying it. Then hang the bags or place them in a cool, dry place for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, you’ll have dried herbs (if not, let them hang another week, there shouldn’t be any moisture left in them). Take them out of the bags and gently tug, pull or scrape the leaves of the herbs off the stems with your fingers. You can crumble the basil, oregano & parsley at this point, if you wish. Place them in your jars and label. Or, if you have non-edible lavender, use it in a sachet. All done!

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Anyway… as you might have guessed, this is the last garden post of the season. Sad, yes. But each year it comes whether we like it or not. The good things far outweigh the bad: the fresh veggies that start to come in record numbers, the fresh herbs that grow like crazy, and the delicious meals, sauces & salsas that can come of them all.

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Except this year.

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This year I was lucky to get 8 Cajun Belle peppers, 4 SuperTasty Hybrid tomatoes and 1 Green Zebra tomato. That’s it. Of course, my herbs were huge and I got tons of use out of them all season, not to mention the pesto I’ll be making & freezing because my basil is taking over a small country. But my vegetables were not at all what they have been in the past. Why? I don’t know. The weather, maybe? I know the country is having the worst drought in two decades. But here in NY, it was a pretty wet summer (wetter than usual), but that flip-flopped from very very hot to very very wet almost constantly. The plants barely had time to dry out and recover from one storm by the time another one hit. Though really, I’m not sure. Maybe it was the crazy wind with all those severe thunderstorms (& tornadoes! WHAT?), maybe it was the really bad heat in between all that, maybe it was just me. My mind has been other places this summer, and I haven’t been as anal-retentive about keeping up with the gardening. I noticed some funky curly leaves on the tomatoes and I never even did anything about it. I haven’t weeded or used any fertilizer/plant food at all either. And maybe it was the fact that I chose heirloom tomatoes, not hardier disease-resistant ones this season. But regardless, no matter what the reason, that’s all I got so far. The “mystery plant” died sometime in mid-August, so I guess I’ll never know what it was (glad we weren’t taking bets!). Now my peppers & tomatoes will probably keep growing for a few more weeks, or at least until it gets too cold at night, but I doubt I’ll get much more out of them. Of course, if I end up with anything else, you’ll all read about it for sure. But basically, that was my bounty of 2012, and I was lucky to get it.

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But it was still worth it. Each tomato or pepper is one more tomato or pepper I didn’t have to buy.

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I cut those last three peppers off before they matured, because I wanted to use a variety of peppery heat in a dish I was making. The green tomato took forever to finish growing, it wasn’t done until last week. And the SuperTasty’s? Ugh. They were a struggle all season. Like I said, I could probably take some of the blame, if not most- I wasn’t 100% invested this year. But the weather was downright bizarre, so I’m just going to use that as my excuse. In all my years of having a veggie/herb garden, this is the first year my bounty was pathetic, so I guess I should be thankful. And the best part? Using fresh tomato slices from my own plant, and fresh oregano to make a fantastic light hot weather dinner: a tomato feta open-face sandwich, using one of my SuperTasty hybrid tomatoes & both kinds of fresh oregano.

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I feel almost silly for writing up the recipe for this, it’s so easy, but epicurious.com did too, so I’m in good company. This is a good way to enjoy the fruits of your garden on a really hot, sticky late summer night. Or a slightly warm early fall evening.

TOMATO-FETA OPEN FACE SANDWICH (from epicurious.com)

Ingredients:

  • Thick slices of white bread (Pullman loaf is ideal)
  • Olive oil (good quality oil meant for eating)
  • Tomato slices
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Slabs or crumbles of feta
  • Fresh oregano

Directions:

  1. Lightly toast thick slices of white bread, then drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Add tomato slices, salt and freshly ground black pepper, slabs of feta, fresh oregano, and more oil.
  3. Eat!

I bet this sandwich would look delightful with different colored heirloom tomatoes, and it would probably be amazing with blue cheese or Gorgonzola crumbles too. Noms.

Playing in the dirt.

I thought I’d do a quick little update on the garden while things were a bit slow around here due to today’s excessive heat & sunshine that’ll blind you.

(Alright, I’m lying. It’s not that slow around here, nor is it that hot – it’s around 91° F, which compared to our 101° temps last week is nothing. I just wanted to do a garden update. Whatever.)

And so I’ll begin this written portion of the program by saying that while every other woman in the country (seemingly) is squealing in excitement for the final film installment of The Twilight Saga and/or reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I’ve been gardening, cooking, baking, canning, beaching, grilling, strolling, sunbathing, and generally enjoying the outdoors. Not that there’s anything wrong with the aforementioned activities. I’m just saying. Summer goes by quickly, folks. Enjoy it while it’s here! The winter is loooong.

But right now, it’s pretty much hotter than hell most days. That sun I photographed above beats down relentlessly (when it’s not pouring rain & thundering, oh the joys of high humidity!) on everything making the sidewalk so hot I could fry my peppers outdoors. This poor little guy was one of the (probably many) casualties of the heat. I call him The Jesus Lizard, because a few weeks prior, I found a lizard laying in quite the same position, and assumed him dead. Yet when I went to brush him off the walkway into the flowerbed (I don’t know why, my version of a lizard burial I suppose) he flipped over and scooted away. This time… however… he was 100% definitely dead. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is that very same lizard. So of course, what else would I call him but the Jesus Lizard? Somewhere, many other lizards are awaiting his second coming. Until then, rest in peace little dude.

The heat is no joke. This is why they tell you to check on the elderly & young’ns and make sure your pets have plenty of cold fresh water. Anyway… let’s get back to something pleasant: my container garden! Prepare for lots of photos.

Cajun Belle pepper

Green Zebra heirloom tomato

SuperTasty Hybrid tomato

Herbs; dill, cilantro, rosemary

Oregano

Variegated oregano

Mint

Rosemary

Lavender (not edible)

Basil

The “Mystery Plant”

So yeah. That’s pretty much that.

The interesting thing is that “Mystery Plant” there. Whatever it is, it’s a plant from last year that I thought was just dead wood. However, I failed to remove it from the pot at the end of the season in October, and the tag that told me what it was went missing over the winter. So I was surprised to see that there was green life coming from the dead-looking brown stalk a month ago, and I decided to leave it and see what came of it. It’s gotten bigger, with more green growing, but I’m not 100% sure what it is. It’s possible it’s my Habanero plant, or it could be a Bell pepper. It’s definitely not a tomato, and I doubt it’s an eggplant. But I guess we’ll see, right?! Whatever it is, it’s a pleasant surprise, and a testament to life and nature. It’s so true what my grandma used to say: where there’s life- there’s hope! Except for Jesus Lizard, that is.

I did have one little casualty. A Cajun Belle fell off the vine prematurely. It was so cute, and so perfectly formed… but so tiny! So I tossed it into the grass for the local bunnies or my friendly raccoon family to nibble on.

My mint is struggling to come back full force, which kinda sucks- I have a feeling by the time it’s huge the season will be over and it’ll be time for me to cut it down and dry it. It’s turning brown slightly on the edges. Blah. I’ll update again once more things start to come around. Basil? For a while it wasn’t doing too well- it seemed to be shrinking. But now it’s better. My cilantro took a nose dive, though. My tomatoes are taking an extra long time, trying my patience, for sure. I lost two buds (one from each) in a bad thunderstorm that lasted over 12+ hours and it took forever for the other teeny buds to catch up. Ugh. Hurry up tomatoes!

At least I hope they get here before Breaking Dawn pt. 2.

Kidding.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

My name is a derivative of Mary, did you know that? It’s an old English form of the name. Fancier than Mary, but still the same name & the meaning (of the original Hebrew root name, Miryam, that is) ranges from bitter/bitterness, salty to rebellion, obstinacy. I’d like to think I’m not bitter, but salty… yes. I can be a bit salty at times. And rebellious? Totally. I’ll even admit to obstinate.

That doesn’t really have anything to do with gardening. Does explain the title of this post, though. And it explains partially why my grandmother used to call me ‘Rosie the Riveter.’ I grow my own veggies & herbs in the spring/summer, bake, cook, can my own pickles/jams/jellies/sauces/etc. I can sew. I am the modern Rosie the Riveter, I guess. I can fix anything, I can paint, I can repair almost anything or install almost anything. I think it’s important to be independent. Women who are the “damsels in distress” make me want to vomit. There’s a balance though. Yes, I like doors held open for me and I like things done for me. Yes, I like to be protected and feel safe. Yes, it’s nice when a man shovels the snow for me, carries the groceries or offers to climb the ladder to fix XYZ, etc. Of course I like that. But do I need a man (or another human for that matter) to help me do things? Not most of the time. I can handle pretty much anything you throw at me. And I think that there are a lot of women who agree with me, but there are also a lot who don’t, surprisingly. They need a man to change a lightbulb or hang a picture. It’s ridiculous. Get up off your ass and learn to do something. I just hate whiny little wussy women who don’t know how to do anything. I remember when I was 17 I had to tell my then boyfriend which was the transmission fluid in his car and which was the oil. And I didn’t even own a car myself at the time- nor did I drive!

Anyway. I digress. I definitely scaled back the garden this year. I’ve got the same amount of herbs that I usually do, but I only got two tomatoes and one pepper. I didn’t grow from seed, I bought baby plants instead to lighten my load, so to speak. And also because I missed the seed-planting boat. But like I mentioned last time, I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have to invest in it this year, so I did want to scale back. But half the herbs were already growing (chives, both oregano, mint & parsley) so honestly, how scaled back could it be? Not only that, but my freakin’ chives could’ve taken over a small country… let alone my oregano. I mistakenly didn’t prune them back last fall so this year they were ridiculous. Scale back? Right. In for a penny, in for a pound, so I bought a few veggie plants and called it a day.

And no. I don’t care if you think that it’s cheating that I didn’t grow them from seeds. I’ve got so much else going on, and I do this for fun. I can’t be Wonder Woman. Well, not all the time. So save your preaching & crap for a blogger who cares & who buys into it. I’m not sustaining my entire family to get through the summer. I’m just doing this because I enjoy it.

So, the tally this year is:

  1. Green Zebra Heirloom tomato
  2. Cajun Belle pepper
  3. SuperTasty Hybrid tomato
  4. Rosemary
  5. Chives
  6. Variegated oregano
  7. Oregano
  8. Mint (small, but still trying to come back!)
  9. Italian parsley
  10. Sweet basil
  11. Lavender
  12. Cilantro
  13. Dill

I wanted to grow an heirloom tomato for a while, so I went with the Green Zebra because it was different. The other tomato? Well I got it because I wanted a regular old red tomato as well. The pepper is supposedly sweet but hot, which has a nice sound. After the Habanero’s last year, I needed a break from the super hot peppers. I ended up with 800 Hab’s and I had no idea what to do with them all! I might break down & buy another small vegetable at the nursery before the season is over, because I’m crazy like that. I’m like the crazy cat lady but with plants. Remember my half-dead blueberry bush from last year? It died, by the way. Didn’t make it through the winter. But I can’t help myself, I go into a nursery and I see all those little plants looking all lonely…

At any rate, here’s some photos from when I first planted & cleaned up my little container garden. The two tomatoes first (Green Zebra left and Super Tasty right), then the pepper (close up) then the herbs- the first photo of those two has the two different types of oregano/cilantro/dill/rosemary and the Cajun pepper (while it was still just flowering), the last photo has the basil and lavender. Things have changed since then, so scroll on down and see!

I’m slightly concerned that I’ve read the Green Zebra tomato isn’t very disease resistant & also that aphids seem to love it. I hate to think that it’ll die or be a waste, but even if I get one or two tomatoes from it I’ll be appeased. Aphids love my roses too, for some strange reason more so my Intrigue & Queen Elizabeth, but so far this year I haven’t seen any. Here’s hoping they stay away! Yeah. I know. I’m dreaming.

As the last thing for this post, here are some of my flowers so far. They’re absolutely beautiful; clockwise from top left… Pansy, Rose, Dianthus and Petunia.

“I wish I had a nickel to buy a pickle.”

That was an old song my grandma used to sing when I was a kid. I always thought it was the silliest song I ever heard, but sadly I never asked her where exactly she heard it. I know she went to Salvation Army summer camp (which she HATED and refused to go again) one year with her brother, Tom, when they were very small in the early 1920’s. That is where they learned the famous song “Found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut just now…” but I don’t think the pickle song was learned there. As a matter of fact, I’ve only found one source on the internet that has it listed. It might be that she meant this song, if so, then the lyrics are really “My mom gave me a nickel to buy a pickle…” Hey, don’t laugh, Dean Martin & Ella Fitzgerald both covered that one.

I miss my grandma terribly. I think about her every day, as there’s always something that reminds me of her. But grief is a funny thing. I feel better about things when I’m busy or being constructive, so I decided to “turn my sorrow into treasured gold” and keep myself busy at the same time by making some pickles. My grandma loved my homemade pickles. When I say loved, I mean loved. She ate an entire jar by herself, and her and my mother split one on the 4th of July. That’s what I mean when I say ‘loved.’ She was waiting patiently to open her new jar of pickles, but they hadn’t fully fermented yet before she passed away, so sadly she never got to try them. So in the spirit of all that, I went out and bought some locally-grown, farm fresh cukes, and I came up with a generic pickle recipe using dill seeds, pickling spice, garlic and a little bit of hot pepper flakes. I know it may seem crazy to some, that I miss my grandma so I made pickles. But to me it makes perfect sense. I also made a recipe using some stuff from my garden- fresh dill heads & some coriander (cilantro) that had started to go to seed. Yep. Coriander pickles! Two pickle recipes in one post.. how lucky are you!

Yes, I realize I’m nuts. Don’t hold it against me.

Right after Nana died, there was a terrible heatwave- I’m talking 105° temperatures. It was too hot to breathe. Yet here I was, canning/jarring almost every day. Jams, jellies, canned hot peppers in oil, pickles; you name it, I canned it. So I started experimenting with recipes so I wasn’t making the same thing over & over… & that’s where the coriander pickles came from. And HOLY SHIT were they famous around here! But first, let’s just talk about the straight up “spicy” pickles. They aren’t hot, not at all, they’re just made with pickling spice & cumin so therefore they are “spicy.” It’s really just a basic pickle recipe, nothing fancy.

I clearly like to pack the cucumbers before I add the spices, haha… what a mess I make…

Pre-water bath; this time I made some pickle slices too, just to shake things up

 

MARILLA’S SPICY PICKLES

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice (divided into fourths)
  • cumin seeds (a dash per jar)
  • hot pepper flakes (to taste, I only used a teeeeeny weeny bit because I didn’t want these hot, just “spicy”)
  • 4 small cloves garlic

Directions:

  1.  Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. This prevents a “mushy” pickle, as the ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that makes them mushy. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal.
  2.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove hot jars from canner. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds, ¼ teaspoon pickling spice,a dash of hot pepper flakes and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers.
  3. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within ½ inch of rim (head space). Process 10 minutes for pint jars and 15 minutes for quart jars.
  4. Allow jars to sit for one week before opening for optimal flavor.

Spears and slices, slices and spears…

I used wide mouth jars this time. I know some people prefer regular mouth for pickles because they tend to rise a little, but I find it doesn’t matter if you pack the cucumbers well enough. And it really is necessary to pack them tight, because they shrink up quite a bit. I actually had 3½  pounds of cukes, and it filled the jars perfectly but the second jar of slices is a little short on pickles. Oh well! I always make that mistake, somehow & end up with one jar that has less than the others. I actually find I prefer wide mouth for pickles, because it’s easier to pack them tighter. But to each his/her own.

As far as the coriander pickles, it was something I came up with after noticing my cilantro had started to go to seed. I had tons of sprigs of it with little, round, green coriander seeds starting to grow and I had no idea what to do with them. I basically decided I’d use them & the dill heads in with a pickle recipe, and see how that turned out. Coriander is often found in pickling spice mixes, so I thought there wouldn’t be any harm in adding it. Although I know there’s probably a difference between dried, mature coriander seeds and young, green, fresh coriander. The recipe is very simple, being that it’s just off the top of my crazy head. Using an equation of 1 parts vinegar to 3 parts water and ¼ of the vinegar measurement in pickling salt. For example: 1 quart vinegar, 3 quarts water, 1 cup pickling salt. The measurements should match the amount/size of jars & pickles you’re using, obviously. Then boil the mixture in a non-reactive pot, meanwhile slicing your Kirby’s (or other pickling cucumbers) lengthwise after removing the “nibbly bits” on the ends. Pack the jars with the sliced cukes, adding one clove of garlic, 2 sprigs fresh dill heads (preferably gone to seed) and one sprig coriander that had started to seed. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture into each jar, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Place lids & bands on top and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Annnnnnnnnnnnnd you’re done.

This jar I added a bit of extra dill to in the form of dill seeds… just because the one dill sprig I had left was pathetic looking & small, as you can see.

You can see the garlic, coriander sprigs & fresh dill sprigs in the bottom there…

The fresh, green coriander seeds have a very different flavor than the dried ones. It’s a citrusy, bright flavor that’s a sort of cross between coriander and cilantro. If you can’t get your hands on them (which you often can at ethnic shops), then it might not be worth using the dried. I grow my own, so it’s easy for me to take advantage of these little green pods. If you have a cilantro plant, let it grow. Use those seeds fresh or dried, you won’t be disappointed. The taste of these pickles was so unique, you could really taste the taste of cilantro.

Cheese & rice, could I be any paler?

Also:

Coriander Seed is an important source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese. In holistic and traditional medicine, it is used as a carminative and as a digestive aid. Coriander seeds reduce fever, and promote a feeling of coolness.

-(source)

I love the color of these pickles. That’s probably from the reduced vinegar amount. If you want to keep them whole and not slice them, you might want to add a grape leaf and/or some alum to each jar. Those things help keep them crisp despite keeping the “blossom” ends on them. Also the garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. That is absolutely no big deal, nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic. Mine never has, but I’ve read it can happen, so just be prepared. Like I said above in the other recipe, I’d let them sit for at least a week to really get the flavors set but if you have no willpower, don’t worry- my father can’t keep his hands off them & always eats them before they’re “ready”, and not only does he not get botulism, he claims they taste wonderful. I have no idea, because I always wait until the jars are ready before I open them. I usually try and wait two weeks, really, just so they’re really all soaked in & stuff. But that’s just me.

I know, I’m crazy, I even tied them in pickle-colored ribbons to give away as gifts.

The coriander pickles are milder than regular pickles, due to less vinegar. Even with the garlic, they have a lemon-y kind of essence to them, very herb-y. Delicious and different, but more of an “artisan” pickle than a regular pickle. It’s not your typical Kosher dill or garlic pickle… it has a different twist. Not too different, I mean vinegar + dill = pickle. But it definitely has a unique flavor. And obviously, if you don’t have the Cilantro gene, then you are not going to like these.