Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pioneer Day Pickles

Happy Pioneer Day to all our Pioneers in Utah. In honor of the Pioneers who trekked across the country to settle in the Salt Lake Valley - Zion - on July 24, 1847, I'm going to do some "preserving." The Pioneers were an industrious folk who bottled/canned/preserved lots of food items. I'm not going to be complicated or require that you have any special canning/bottling supplies, but instead offer up a simple recipe from our dear friend Bunny. Essentially, you buy dill pickles at the store - rinse off the dill pickling juice, and re-pickle them using Bunny's secret sweet pickling concoction. Let's get to it:

Bunny's Low Carb Sweet Dill Pickles
24 oz bottle tiny or baby whole dill pickles (not the garlic type)
3/4 cup water

3/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) pickling spices

1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) kosher salt

10 tablespoons single-sugar-equivalent sweetener -

now this is where it gets a bit dicey. The single equivalent meant that if you are using the Splenda that is "measures just like Sugar" then you use 1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons of that sweetner. If you use single serving packets of Splenda, then you want to use the equivalent of 10 Tablespoons of Splenda, and that equates to 15 packs of the single serve (steal them from Starbucks) packets of Splenda. Bunny explains that the "measures as sugar" is puffed up with extra additives for measurement purposes - while the single serve Splenda is the "equivalent" of 2 teaspoons of sugar. Are you with me? Bunny recommends Splenda, and says: "DO NOT USE Equal because Equal loses its sweetness when heated."

Dump pickles into a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Repack pickles in jar.

(If you feel that your baby dills are a bit on the "large" side, you will want to chop them in half before repacking into the jar - this is a secondary pickling process and in order for it to properly re-pickle, you want a larger surface area to absorp the yummy goodness of the sweet pickling conconction.) Combine remainig ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a full boil.

Carefully pour hot liquid over pickles in the jar. Allow to cool, then replace lid. Shake jar to distribute pickling spices, then place in refridgerator. Refrigerate at least one day for flavors to develop and to "re-pickle."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Greek Pasta Salad

Nothing says "Happy Birthday America" like a Greek Pasta Salad. Oh, that and beer-boiled brats, burgers, salmon burgers, cole slaw and corn on the cob. So that's what we served at our annual 4th of July Barbecue on the roof.

I KNOOOOOWWWW - in the words of Craig Fergueson - I have been neglectful of the Blog, and I have no excuse, other than I've been horribly busy -not that THAT is an excuse to neglect you, my 23 followers (and those others of you who really DO follow, but for some insane reason are embarrassed to admit it and sign up as a "follower" - and you know who you are....
Here's the installment that I thought about weeks ago, but am just now getting around to publishing:
Also, please note my caveats: 1) I had intended to take photos of ALL of the food that we enjoyed, but alas, I did not - I did concentrate on the Greek Pasta Salad, and after the fact - it was DELICIOUS! 2) I made a batch that was obscenely large, and probably was overkill, so I've tried to reduce it to a sensible size in this post (mine was double what I'm going to list for ingredients). 3) I initially prepared the "suggested" amount of dressing, but after I made it, I felt that the pasta salad was on the dry side, so at the suggestion of Bunny, I made an additional 1/2 batch of dressing - and the result was oh so tasty - so I'm going to "one and 1/2" the suggested amount of dressing. 4) I kind of eye-balled the measurements - so don't feel tied down to precision - Are we all on the same page?..... Good - now for the ingredients:

Salad Base:

  • One box/bag 16 oz. Rotini pasta (those are the spiral kind - and for fun and my HUGE pasta salad, I used a 16 oz box of regular spirals and a 12 oz box of rainbow rotini).
  • 1 cup diced pepper (green, red or yellow - I used a fresh green Anaheim pepper from Kenny's garden).
    1 medium chopped red onion
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup chopped, pitted Kalamata Olives (I just kept adding more because they were such a delicious addition to the salad).

  • 1 large "hot house" cucumber - sliced, with the larger seeds sliced off (quarter the cuke, then skim the seeds off each quarter with your knife).

  • 16 oz feta cheese - crumbled (pay attention to the price - at my store the pre-crumbled was on sale and was less per pound than the chunk feta).
  • Bring large pot of water, sprinkled with a dash of salt and splash of olive oil, to boil; stir in dry pasta - cook according to directions - 8 to 10 minutes, till tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water - then set aside.

    Chop all your yummy vegetables, and set those aside as well.

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup "Greek" style low-fat plain yogurt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (I used the pre-minced - bottled garlic)

  • Salt and Pepper, to taste.
  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together until smooth.

    In a large mixing bowl, pour 2/3's of the dressing over the pasta and stir thoroughly. Next, stir in the chopped veggies and 1/2 of the feta cheese - mix well.

  • Finally, stir in the remaining dressing and the remaining feta cheese -mix/toss well.
  • Chill until it's time to serve! This pasta salad can be made one day in advance - how convenient is that?! If you make it early, save a bit of the dressing and some of the feta to "refresh-toss" it just before serving - no one will be the wiser.