Category: spices

Quick pickled giardiniera-style veggies.

IT’S SPRING! Oh man. Spring, how I’ve waited for you. Can we be best friends? Okay, maybe not, but can I at least try to jar you up and save you? Forever and ever and ever?! *siiiiiiigh* I don’t know, maybe winter just felt too long this year, maybe I’m just in an overly romantic mood since I’m only married for about, oh, 10 days… whatever it is, it feels so good to have SPRING here. It’s been an unseasonably cold spring so far, but this week it’s supposed to be in the high 60°’s F. Exciting!

Spring means summer is coming. Summer means sunshine, longer days, and veggies. Fresh from the garden.

Mixed vegetable giardiniera for spring.

A lot of people hear the word “giardiniera” and cringe. In Italian families, it’s often taken for granted and force-fed to you. It’s also most commonly found crammed flavorlessly into mass-produced jars in an aisle in the supermarket. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can take it back!

Not to get all Norma Rae, but for real. Giardinera can be a delicious and wonderful way to preserve and make use of any extra veggies you may have, or just ones you want to use to create a beautiful looking jar. Giardiniera means pickled vegetables, or pickled “garden” (giardino). It’s also known as “sottaceti”; or “under vinegar,” which basically leaves it open to a lot of interpretation. So you can use really any mixture of vegetables that strike your fancy. It doesn’t even have to resemble a traditional giardiniera!

Mixed vegetable giardiniera- or pickled veggies!

Is that not beautiful?

There is no reason it has to be flavorless, or boring, either. But I’ll get to that in a second.

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Tart, sweet & spicy apple rings.

Spiced canned apple rings.

You’re seeing apples everywhere aren’t you? They’re crazy this time of year. And when you live in a state like New York that’s known for it’s apples, you really see ’em everywhere. It’s almost as bad as pumpkin (which has already been popping up, too). And I’m sure you’re thinking, “I’M OVER IT.”

This recipe is a bit different than your average September apple-fare, however.

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Retro-style Indian “lime pickles.”

Retro-style Indian lime pickle recipe from a McCall's cookbook supplement from the 60's/70's.

Retro-style? Salad oil? Lime pickles? What the hell is this?” That’s probably what you’re thinking reading this recipe. And I don’t blame you, really. But you should get the backstory before you think I’m totally insane.

Because lime pickles are totally a thing, and this is indeed a vintage- or “retro”- recipe.

A few months ago on a really rainy, chilly, gross Friday night, Jay & I stopped in to one of my favorite thrift stores. There wasn’t much to get. I was a little disappointed. Until he found a stack of 1960’s/1970’s McCall’s magazine cookbook supplements! SCORE!

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Garden vegetable quick 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.

What can I say… it cures what ails me. If I’m stressed or worried or angry, making something helps. When my Nana passed away I basically spent the whole summer pickling. It just kind of helped with the anxiety & grief. Same goes for that weird unsettled feeling. And it just so happens sometimes on really nice summer days… I get unsettled.

Who knows why. Either way, there’s pickles.

Garden vegetable quick pickles- no canning!

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Martini pickles, Mr. Bond? Shaken… not stirred.

A couple of years ago, I made Molotov cocktail pickles with vodka. Before that I made maple whiskey/whiskey pickles & hop pickles. There was also a grilled pickle recipe I made a while back. Maybe I’m kinda known for making odd or unique pickles at this point.

So when the idea struck me for these I don’t think anyone was surprised.

See, in Russia, apparently it’s a thing to serve pickles with vodka. Not only that, but it’s a big process with shots of vodka, dill pickles & a piece of pumpernickel bread. I didn’t know this, which maybe I should considering Jay is part Russian. And very Russian at that: his great-grandfather fought in the Russian Army in the 19-teens.

Martini pickles!But at any rate as soon as I heard this little bit of information it got me thinking (just like how the idea of pickle backs got me thinking of whiskey pickles). First I thought of just adding vodka to regular pickles, then I figured why not go all the way…

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A pie for the ages: bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie!

I’m publishing this pie today, because I wanted to give you time to make it for Thanksgiving. I purposely didn’t post it too early, and I specifically waited until this date. I wanted to give you enough time to really absorb what you’re seeing. Then get up, go out to the store & get the ingredients you need to make this, then come home & plan to do so on/by Thursday. I felt it had to be done this way. So I’m giving you a few days, and I expect you all to make it. You must. Seriously.

It’s THAT good.

Don’t believe me?

Bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie, anyone?

It’s the pie to end all pies.

It’s a pie for the ages!

Bourbon. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. With toasted meringue. Toasted bourbon meringue, that is.

Sweet potato pumpkin pie with bourbon! And more bourbon in the meringue.

Say word.

A motherflippin’ bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie with toasted bourbon meringue! 

When I told Jay of my plans to make it, his jaw dropped open. And he doesn’t even really like pumpkin anything! I knew I was on to something. Although, in hindsight, it might have just been the mention of bourbon. Either way, I combined a few different recipes for a few different pies & came up with this: the holy grail of autumn piedom.

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I didn’t know what to call these, so how about ‘peppery orange ginger muffins’?

After a while, coming up with names for things gets old. And tiresome. And when I’m doing 600 million other things (like for example: painting 5 rooms, 1 ceiling & a hallway, refinishing hardwoods, installing new light fixtures, getting new appliances, redoing my bathroom- there’s literally NO walls just studs & insulation, and of course on top of all that figuring out what’s going on for Thanksgiving) I can’t really focus well enough to come up with a name thats either a) clever or b) makes sense.

See, there’s been a lot of work going on at the house. There are a lot of people working very hard- myself included. I need to have snacks & goodies on hand to feed the troops… or else they might revolt. And the revolt might include not finishing my house! So I try to throw together things that are unique and not just your average snack repeated over & over. Being that it’s been so chilly & windy, I thought a warm, spicy, gingery muffin would work. Then I’d post the recipe if they came out good. Which they definitely did.

Peppery orange ginger muffins. Or spiced orange ginger muffins with black pepper. Whatever they are, they're amazing!

So I just gave up.

Peppery orange ginger muffins it is!

They’re like gingerbread cake, but with orange to sweeten it up a little more. There are so many flavors going on in these, you’d think they’d be “messy” tasting, but they’re not. They’re right on target.

Side note: they came out so delicate & perfectly rounded. Not big or obnoxious or overflowing out of the pans. I don’t know why that is, but they’re good. And I guess it really doesn’t matter. So I eat two instead of one. Big deal.

Ginger muffins with orange zest, candied ginger & black pepper.

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