Q & A time: why aren’t my pickles crisp? … and more!

Why aren't my pickles crisp? And other burning questions- answered!

You probably thought you were so smart. You looked everything up, or bought a book. You sterilized your jars, you made sure to boil your brine, and you washed all your produce thoroughly. You used your canning rack & processed them, and proudly went to open a jar a few months (or days) later and…

Limp pickles. Gross, limp, soft pickles.

I feel your pain, and I’m here to help.

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Peanut butter affogato with dark chocolate covered espresso beans.

Peanut butter affogato- aka peanut butter ice cream drowned in coffee.

Even though it’s summer, it hasn’t been that warm, really. Not many days over 90° F, if any. Not that I’m complaining. Because it’s warm enough. And frankly, even being this cool it was too hot for ice cream, since every time I have it it starts to melt ASAP.

But it’s worth it. So I figured out the best way to have ice cream, and let it melt. As a matter of fact, it’s perfectly acceptable for it to melt: affogato.

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Birthday girl, party of one.

It'd my birthday!

Hey y’all- it’s my birthday! And holy crap... I’m 33 years old.

Last year at this time I was preparing to turn 32. I was newly engaged, looking at houses to buy, and my hair was short (& blonde). Now I’m 33, my hair is chin length & dark brown with bangs, I’m planning our wedding… and whattaya know? We’ve got a house.

Which is weird, ’cause I still paint my nails with glitter polish, wear bandaids with cartoon characters on them & feel like I’m 16. Anyway. In honor of my upcoming birthday, I thought I’d do a recap of The Life List.

So here are the original 32 things from last year’s life list, with one added for this year’s birthday. I haven’t really accomplished much on this list yet, but hey- gives me something to look forward to, right? And of course, cupcakes. (more on them later)

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Raised garden bed DIY project!

How to build a DIY raised garden bed!

As you might remember, I love gardening. Every summer I typically do container gardens. Not for lack of gardening space, but because the best spots were taken by other things, and I never had the time nor frame of mind to really tear down and build up, so to speak. I do love container gardens for many reasons, and a raised garden bed is pretty much just a big ol’ container garden!

But this year a few events worked in our favor & some great spots were open. So my woodworker Jay decided to finally build me some raised garden beds! What a great early birthday gift. And it turns out, it’s actually a super easy DIY project that you can make in one weekend.

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Ail je ne sais quoi; or “garlic I don’t know what.”

French pickled garlic with herbes de provence.

Garlic. The most potent flavor packed into the teeniest package nature could possibly create.

It’s amazing isn’t it? The things you can do with garlic. The possibilities are endless. Roast it, sauté it, bake it, slice it, crush it, mince it, puree it, whatever it. Clearly, the only thing I can’t do with garlic is write a decent blog post about it. No, really. I have no idea what to write about this. True story.

Usually I just blabber so much I have to stop myself before I write a novel, but for this post- nothin’. Its not that I have something against garlic- I don’t, I love garlic. But I just really have no idea what to say. So with that in mind… I’ll just make up a story. Pretend you’re at your summer house in Provence. Yeah, that Provence (in France). It’s a warm summer day & you’re hosting an outdoor dinner party this evening.

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Pseudo-Dutch potato salad.

Pseudo-Dutch potato salad recipe.

It just so happens, I am part Dutch. Not Pennsylvania Dutch, just Dutch. From the Netherlands. Land of the wooden shoes. I’m many things actually- but yes, Dutch is one of them. However I’m not a big fan of potato salad (Dutch or otherwise). I come from a family who LOVES all kinds of mayonnaise-dressed carbohydrate salads; macaroni, potato, etc. And coleslaw too. I did not inherit the love.

But ’tis the season to have barbecues, picnics and eat outside in general. And those usually include a type of salad; be it made with lettuces & greens or potatoes, macaroni or eggs.

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Growing celery indoors!

Growing celery from scraps!!

Last year I talked about how you can grow your own garlic from cloves you already have, even inside. It was insanely simple and in the spirit of being green & the popularity of composting/reusing kitchen scraps, it’s one of my most popular posts.

This year I decided to expand on that & show you how celery is extremely easy to grow, as well. Yes- even indoors! I promise. It might not be quick or give you instant gratification… but in 6 months you’ll have tall, fresh celery. And you can certainly use the stalks before that; the 6-month mark is just the thickest, tallest celery (think of the kind you see in the supermarket or farmer’s market).

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