Monday, July 19, 2010

Fermented Dill Pickles in a Crock

  • 4 lbs. 4" pickling cucumbers
  • 2 T Dill seed or 4-5 heads fresh or dry dill weed
  • 1/2 C Pickling salt
  • 1/4 C Vinegar
  • 8 C Water
  • 2 Cloves garlic (optional)
  • 2 t Whole mixed pickling spices

Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16" slice off the blossom end. Leave about 1/4" of the stem on the other end. Place half of the dill and pickling spices on the bottom of the crock. Add cucumbers, remaining dill and spices. Dissolve salt in vinegar and water and pour over the cucumbers.

Store where temperature is between 70 - 75 degrees for about 3-4 weeks while fermenting. Avoid temperatures above 80 degrees or pickles will become too soft during fermentation. Check container several times a week and remove surface scum or mold.

If pickles become soft, slimy or develop a disagreeable order, discard them. Pickles can be stored in the crock for 4 - 6 months if refrigerated and scum and mold are removed regularly. A better approach is to can them.

I first found this recipe at the Clemson Cooperative Extension. Although the link isn't valid anymore, I'm sure if you search the site you'll find that recipe as well as some other great ones.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Italian Sausage Soup

Tonight, I posted on Twitter that I was making Italian Sausage Soup. I didn't expect a response, but surprisingly a few people replied and one, @MadeInLowell even requested that I share the recipe. Her request made me feel so special I just had to share.

I first tasted the soup in a restaurant and loved how the tomato, spinach and sausage flavors backed by the fullness of the rice, combined for a hearty stew. The recipe I'm posting here is one that I created myself, not found in a book, so the measurements are approximate. Feel free to customize it as you'd like with your own special touches. Enjoy.

  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 med. onion (chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)
  • Olive oil (about 2T- to saute onion and celery)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (diced)
  • 1/2 cup rice (I use brown rice)
  • 1 can tomatoes (I use a pint of tomatoes that I preserved myself. 1 pint = 16 oz so I think you'll be able to get a can of about 14 - 16 oz. This can be seasoned or regular)
  • 1/3 can of tomato paste
  • 2 T basil (I use frozen basil ice cubes that I made from my garden)
  • beef broth (I used 32 oz. carton, sometimes I combine it with seasoned chicken broth too)
  • bag of fresh baby spinach
  • shredded mozzarella cheese to add on top
In a soup pot, saute onion and celery in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and sausage. Break up sausage as it cooks so it's bite size. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and beef broth. Cook on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes (while the rice is cooking).

In a separate pot, cook the rice (you can use chicken broth, beef broth or water).

Add cooked rice to larger soup pot, along with the basil and spinach. The spinach will wilt in just a few minutes. Add more liquid as needed to get the thickness you'd like. Spoon into bowls, add cheese and let it melt on top.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Social Media Stole My Sick Time

Ok, so it’s not just social media that I blame for stealing my sick time, but the whole state of connectivity in general. Even though I love the ease of use of technology, I also resist it.

In November of this year, I needed an orthopedic surgery. I scheduled it, made plans to be out of the office, and stocked up on soup and toilet paper. You know, the things you don’t want to run out of when you’re on crutches and can’t stand at the stove for an hour or drive to the store?

I was ready to rest, recuperate and heal. Maybe even watch a little daytime TV in a mindless vegetative state to speed the healing process. But that just wasn’t meant to be. Nope, instead I was more productive than I’ve ever been due to the widespread accessibility to technology.

In the course of two weeks, I finished reading three books on social media which I had ordered online (CrushIt, Inbound Marketing, and Socialnomics). Every day I dialed-in to my company’s computer network. Stretched out on my couch with my leg elevated, I clicked away on my laptop through my own wireless network to check and respond to client emails and made phone calls to clients when needed.

I logged-on to Instant Messaging so I could converse with colleagues about ongoing projects. I updated my LinkedIn contacts, uploaded a video to Vimeo from a discussion I led at PodCampNH called "I Drank the Social Media Kool-Aid, Why You Should Too" as well as the presentation notes to SlideShare. I wrote a company blog post, Tweeted about it for myself (@dvautier) and the company (@ActiveEdgeTeam). I shared it on my Facebook account with my friends and also updated my company’s Facebook account to promote it. Hell, I even watched the full series of tutorials on the Google Analytics support website and coordinated a new client meeting for the week I returned to the office.

My two weeks of resting, recuperating, and healing away from the office on sick time evaporated. It was simply gone. There was no sick time. If I thought about it, I suppose I could maybe blame some of that fact on me. That I wanted to get some things accomplished, wanted to learn and contribute and stay connected.

Nah, instead I’m just going to blame it on Social Media and technology. After all, I never had this problem before portable computing, instant messaging and cell phones.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Creating a Gourd Bowl

I always find it relaxing and empowering when I have an opportunity to create something. Whether it's fine works of art (OK, so I may not be capable of real fine art) or just a project that takes some Yankee ingenuity (much more my style), creativity is a powerful thing.

This weekend, I created a gourd bowl. I've made gourd bowls before, but each time I choose a gourd to work with, it ends up being a very unique and interesting endeavor. Although I know that I'll end up with a gourd bowl, but I seldom have any idea what it will look like until I start working with it.

On this gourd bowl project, I decided to take photos along the way so you could see what happens during the process. It's fascinating to start with just a dried gourd and end up with a beautiful and decorative piece of craftwork.

The photo slide show is available on Flickr or by clicking the photo.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Community and Reach of Twitter

Having recently had orthopedic surgery I was unable to drive the hour from Southern NH to get to @BostonTweetUp's first MegaTweetUp held at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center (NERD) in Cambridge, MA.

My solution. Ask my
Twitter community for help.

When you talk about instant gratification, Twitter is it. Not only can you find nearly any resource you'd like, you can find it almost instantly. To adapt a phrase from Tina Turner's song Proud Mary, "The people on Twitter are happy to give."

That's what happened for me when I put the word out on Twitter that I needed a ride to the event. I tweeted to MegaTweetUp event organizer @JoselinMane that if I could find a ride, I'd be there. Joselin retweeted my request which was then retweeted and responded to by a few others (@CMajor, @bschwartz @AGirlMustShop @girlgamy and @WayneNH). In fact, my tweeps were out there asking their tweeps on my behalf using the power of their own networks.

Some of these people I knew and had met in person, others I had never met before either in real life or on Twitter, but yet all were willing to give me a hand. As it turned out, @AGirlMustShop, someone I had never met before and who worked in the same town where I live, was kind enough to pick me up for the ride to the event. My neighbor and fellow Tweep @WayneNH drove me home.

An interesting note about both my rides. As it turns out @AGirlMustShop is a very successful blogger, an area I have wanted to explore in more detail. She also freelances as a writer, which I'm just now sourcing for a client of mine. How fortunate. @WayneNH and I had previously met at a Forrester Research TweetUp in Boston, where we learned we were neighbors. Not only do we live in the same town, but we literally live across from each other with only a small duck pond and a few trees separating our back doors. He's also a huge resource on online statistics.

The sense of community and incredible reach on Twitter never ceases to amaze me. Not only did I find a ride to an event that I really wanted to attend, but I met a new interesting tweep and got to reconnect with a friend and close neighbor. The event, by the way, was awesome.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I Drank The Social Media Kool-Aid, Why You Should Too

In November of this year, NH hosted it's first ever PodCamp NH, held at the New Hampton school in New Hampton, NH. At this inaugural event I was fortunate enough to be a session leader to discuss some of the topics related to how communication has changed and how Social Media fills the new communication style. The topic discussed in my session was "I Drank the Social Media Kool-Aid, Why You Should too."

You can view the session either by video or reviewing the slides on SlideShare. Hope you enjoy the conversation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Canning Tomatoes for Fall Harvest

Ahh, Fall. The air gets cooler,
the trees change color and its time to get down to the business of putting up some preserves for the long winter.

Every Autumn, I pull out the pressure canner that my Mother handed down to me. She used it to can vegetables from my Dad's garden when I was kid. I drive to McQuesten Farms, my favorite pick-your-own farm to collect about two bushels of tomatoes. Most are the Big Boy variety which I preserve, but I also pick about 1/2 bussel of the smaller, meatier Romas to make sun-dried tomatoes.

I try to put up enough tomatoes to last me through the chilly months of winter. I thoroughly enjoy the rich, ripe taste of home canned tomatoes. They taste so much better than the store bought version whose consistency and flavor is more reminiscent of cardboard than the authentic red fruit.

Since not many people preserve their own food anymore, I often get questions about how to do it. One year, a former herb student of mine even helped me with the whole process just so she could learn how to do it for her own family.

So, to answer the question asked so often by so many, I finally decided to take photos during my weekend of canning and have made them available as a slide show on Flickr if you're interested. If you want to see the description of each step, click on the 'show info' button in the upper right hand corner when you are on the Flickr site. I hope you enjoy the process.