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.