Pickled Gherkins

Summer is preserving time, from making chutney & passata to pickled cucumbers and making jam. I have thankfully been given some jars, so I am back on track to get bottling. When I saw Quekes (baby cucumbers) on special I knew I had to make some more Pickles.

My dear friend Niina sent me Moomins Cookbook: An Introduction to Finnish Cuisine available here and I have made a couple of things from it, one of the best by far is their recipe for pickled gherkins.

Our kids love gherkins, as do we, they make a lovely addition to a Ploughman’s lunch, a quick easy pre dinner nibbles, or as an addition to lunch boxes. We can get them very cheaply here in Australia from tiny baby cucumbers the size of your kids fingers to the large Polish ones. However if I make them myself I know exactly what’s gone into them and there is nothing quite like home made in my opinion.

For this batch it almost seemed to take longer to get the sticky goo off my jars than it did to make the actual pickles. Then you just let time take it’s course and in about a month or two we’ll be enjoying our very own pickled cucumbers.

I think you’d be able to use this recipe as a base for other pickled vegies like carrots, cauliflower and onions as well as bread and butter cucumbers.For the amount pictured I double the recipe and had exactly the right amount of liquid. I leave out the horseradish, black current leaves (as I don’t have any) and the dill because it makes my nose itch to the point where I would gladly remove it from my face. You can make it to suit your tastes as well.

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You will need:

Some large glass preserving jars or smaller ones if you’re planning on slicing the cucumbers or gherkins.

Firstly wash your jars in hot soapy water and allow to soak to remove the labels and any goo from the labels. Once they’re clean, rinse well and place on a tray in the oven and heat for 10 mins at about 180 degrees Celsius.

1 kg of Gherkins or baby cucumbers

For the stock:

300ml of water

200ml of wine or apple cider vinegar

160g of sugar

1 1/2 tbsp salt

Seasonings:

1 tbsp allspice berries

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp whole cloves

1 tbsp sliced garlic – optional

1 tbsp freshly grated horseradish – optional

For the jar:

2 dill flowers

2 black current leaves

Wash the gherkins well and cut them into slices.

Layer the slices in large sterilised jars together with the seasonings. If you like mild gherkins leave out the garlic and horseradish (as I mentioned above I only leave out the horseradish and they’re delicious, not to spicy at all).

Simmer the ingredients for the stock. Allow to cool, then pour enough stock into the jars to cover the gherkins. Close the lid tightly and store in a cool cellar or pantry (dark cupboard).

I doubled the quantity of stock based on how many cucumbers I had, I also poured hot stock over the cucumbers and microwaved each jar for 30 seconds in order to get the stock hot enough to create a vacuum when you put the lid on. Some people say you don’t need to worry, but I prefer to ensure the jars are sealed properly. Plus I like hearing that little click that happens when the suction forms. Yes you can call me crazy :D.

I hope you love these as much as we do. It’s a little taste of Finland, Thanks to Niina and the Moomins!

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Butterfly Salad – using up your leftovers

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Christmas has come and gone as too has New Years Eve and we’ve had lots of left overs in the fridge. Our kids are spending almost every day in the pool and that will definitely be the case for the next week as we head into a week of between 30 & 40 degrees Celsius. I decided yesterday the best way to ensure they eat dinner was to feed them by the pool so I made up a salad of diced cucumber, tomatoes, feta & lettuce dressed with a little balsamic vinegar, sliced some yellow & red capsicums (bell peppers) and cooked up some of the leftover veggies in the fridge like asparagus, add to that some BBQ sausages & lamb chops from the night before and voila you have a salad which was demolished quick smart! Although the asparagus was fed to Daddy 😀 all round though a colourful tasty combination.

Dinosaur Salad

We were watching Peppa Pig the other day, Sophia loves her and every time she says Peppa Pig she snorts like a pig which is hilarious – to me anyway 🙂 – So Peppa’s brother George wouldn’t eat his salad which Grandpa Pig had grown in his own garden, so Grandpa Pig tore up the pieces of lettuce and made a dinosaur with it and cucumber & tomatoes.

Soph & Zachie thought it was great and tonight we had a go at it as well. I have found that a sure fire way to get the kids to eat is to get them involved in making the food. Tonight was no different. Zachie had grazed all day so wolfed down this salad followed by a bowl of weetbix, another great alternative to dinner when you know if they don’t eat something they’ll be up through the night!

Now I do have to confess that I have no issue at all with getting either of our kids to eat salad, they love it and would quite possibly eat only salad, some nights it’s a fight for who gets the most.

My dear friend gave me her wonderful garden salad recipe and it’s a staple in our house even through winter, I love salad in preference to vegies any day as does Hubby, which is probably where the kids get it from as well.

If you struggle to get your kids to eat salads or vegetables or just want to make it a bit more fun, this could be the way… stay tuned for a Semi Trailer styled salad soon.

Dee’s delicious Salad

You will need for 2 adults & 2 kids

1 tomato diced

1 decent sized Lebanese cucumber peeled, forked & quartered

4-6 coz lettuce leaves, rinsed and chopped

100gms of danish fetta, crumbled

dash of balsamic vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well and serve. We do also add avocado &/or olives on occasion too.

Home delivery Fruit & Vegies

A few weeks ago we had lunch with a friend when her box of fruit & vegies were delivered to her door, looking at what was available all freshly picked and packed got me thinking… With 2 small children, one of whom has taken to questioning every purchase we make at the supermarket and constantly saying we need this, we need that has started to wear a bit thin with me, add to that working part time as well and feeling a little like there are not enough hours in the day I decided that I’d give the home delivery option a go.

I love going to the market and hand selecting our fruit and veg and I think I will still do that but this option gives us more than enough fruit & veg for the week, it’s seasonal which is fantastic, it’s organic – even better and compared to organic prices at the market it’s very reasonably priced. It will also ensure that we actually only buy what we will use for the week rather than having too many of something or another and things going off in the fridge before we can use them.

I have noticed that even though it’s only 2 days a week that our children are in child care they don’t seem to be eating as much as what they would have done if they were at home all week, that an by the time my working week finishes it’s Thursday which is normally the day I head to the Preston Market for a shop.

Anyway, after our box of goodies was delivered yesterday I made spaghetti bolognaise with organic carrots, celery & onions. Zachie ate a pear & an orange both of which he said were Delicious Mummy! So I do think I am on a winner, I just need to remember to let them know – no broccoli or cabbage, that’s the great thing about this service you can say I don’t want Chinese greens, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, chard, silverbeet etc (all of the things we aren’t really fans of or wouldn’t use in day to day cooking.)

I will still head to the market today to buy cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh bread etc but give or take a few items (which you could add to your order) we’re set for the week! Happy days people!

You can check out Victoria Organic Delivery here if you live in Melbourne or even Victoria as they deliver it seems to most places.

We got 6 Apples, 5 Bananas, 3 Zucchini, 5 large Potatoes, 4 Pears, 3 Onions, 1/2 a bunch of celery, 3 heads of broccoli, 1/2 a cabbage, 6 mandarins, 4 oranges, a bag of gourmet lettuce, 3 kiwi fruits & 2 avocados.

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the cabbage??

Sweet Corn

Corn, we love the stuff – you know it’s in so many things in many different forms, but we like corn au naturale or popped as in popcorn. Autumn in Melbourne is gorgeous – no doubt about it, the mornings are cool & crisp and days for the most part a glorious sunshine, although having said that undoubtedly the weather will change in the next 10 mins and then change again as most Melburnians know. Autumn is also bring us a change in what’s available and in season at the market, corn is on that list! Yay!! For a list of seasonal fruit & vegetables click here.

Fresh corn is one of those things that you can use in a lot of other things like fried rice, corn jacks, on the barbeque, in salads, the possibilities are almost endless, we as I said like ours plain and simple.

I usually cut our cobs in half and everyone gets a half each as I’d usually serve it with other things as well, but tonight Sophia kept opening the fridge and pointing to the corn with a bit of an err err (she’s still on one to two words at 1 & 1/2 years of age) she’s definitely able to get across to us what she wants.

So corn on it’s own is what they had for dinner. Husk your corn and remove as much of the silk as you can, place them in a pot that is large enough to fit them in, cover with water and bring to the boil, boil for about 5-8 mins. Don’t add any salt to the water as this causes the corn kernels to go tough, you can add it later if you like.

That’s it.. simple, quick and easy and for kids it’s really a meal in its self. You can of course add butter, salt & pepper, even Lime juice which comes highly recommended.(thanks Liesel) pretty much anything else you fancy.