Cool as a cucumber

Who am I kidding?

Life has gotten a little overwhelming these days, and so has my cucumber patch.  Back in July I planted two cute little cucumber plants, that have proceeded to take over the rock in front of them (meant to divert them from growing into the grass, the fence, the neighbor’s side of the fence, and a big lady statue that came with the house.  As a result, we’ve been eating cucumbers every day since late July and making lots, and lots, and lots of pickles.  Basically, friends and family can expect pickles as  Solstichristmakwanzukah gifts and we will still have enough to get us through the winter.

I’d love to say that I’m thriving in the excitement of the 58 hours of work, home renovations (we plastered and painted BOTH bedrooms last weekend), and part-time freelance dance gigs.  Generally speaking, I crave a busy schedule and function better when I have plenty of things to occupy my head space. 

But I think last week I realized what my limits are.  When you can’t find the time to go to the dentist, brush your hair, or feed your cats, maybe it’s become a bit too much. 

If I’m to be my best self, all the time, I’m going to have to figure out what the balance is between busy and TOO busy.

I guess you have to experience the extremes before you can find that sweet spot where you have enough things on your plate to feel important, but also enough time and energy to putts around at home and pick cucumbers.

Say Pickles!

‘Tis pickling season! You know it’s come when you see mass quantities of Ball jars on sale everywhere. How fortunate are those who have such an overabundance of home-grown vegetables that the only way to deal with them is to pickle and can them? With fresh inspiration from the edu-tent at the Glenwood Sunday Market, and the fortuitous acquisition of a bounty of cucumbers (from a location which I wish not to disclose at this juncture…), I shall pickle.
After making a seriously good batch of refrigerator pickles (bread and butter, of course), I’m left with a sinking feeling. Do I put them in a hot water bath until the jar lids make that popping sound? Do I simply put on the lid and store in the fridge? Dear me, I can’t remember! I choose hot water bath. However, after noticing a slight sediment that has formed in my pickle jars, and confirmation from GSM’s pickling expert Toni that they needn’t be hot water bathed, I have serious regrets. I hope that six months from now, when I crack open that jar in the middle of a Chicago blizzard, that that my dear pickles that tasted so yummy this morning don’t disappoint…. or give me a case of botchulism.
Want to try it yourself?
Easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles (courtesy of grouprecipes.com)
8 small pickling cucumbers, washed (not peeled), and very thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
4-1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed dry red pepper flakes
1/2 celery seed (in my case, optional)
Directions:
1-Combine all ingredients in a soup pot and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally

2-Boil one minute, stirring frequently
3-Pour mixture into a large bowl, cool to room temperature
4-Cover and chill overnight before serving
5-Spoon into jars with tight fitting lids and refrigerate for up to four weeks…. (jury is still out whether or not you can use hot water bath to extend shelf life and seal jars. I’ll let y’all know when I crack them open in a couple months).