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how to make pickled dilly beans

It’s always a treat for me to harvest from my garden all the ingredients I need for a recipe, in this case beans, dill, and garlic. As I said previously, I was pleasantly surprised that there was something in there I could use already. Planting late has made me envious of everyone who actually planted on time because they were harvesting things a month or so ago. The garlic I used wasn’t quite ready, but it was fine for what I was using it for.

I did the canning the other day when it was nearly 40°C/104°F outside and nearly 30°C/86°F inside. The canner sure heats up the place, but it was worth it.

Here’s the recipe I used, the same one I used last year:

Ingredients:
2 lbs beans, trimmed (I used green ones, but any colour will do)
2½ cups white vinegar
2½ cups water
¼ cup kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic
4 heads dill weed (I never plant this stuff, it just somehow grows every year)

Method:
1. Boil/sterilize jars and lids, four to five of each, for 10 minutes (I just do it in the big canning pot).
2. Combine vinegar, water, and salt, and bring mixture to a boil.
3. Add ¼ tsp cayenne, 1 garlic clove, and 1 head dill weed to each jar. Pack beans lengthwise, leaving about a quarter inch headroom.
4. Pour boiling mixture over beans, leaving a quarter inch headroom.
5. Be sure to wipe jar rims, as they need to be clean to have a good seal.
6. Cover each jar with a sterile lid and secure lightly with a ring.
7. Lower the jars into the canner, making sure there is at least 1-2 inches of hot water covering them.
8. Cover pot, bring water to a gentle boil, and process for 10 minutes.
9. Remove jars from pot, and cool on a towel or rack. Allow the jars to cool for 24 hours in a draft-free environment.
10. Check that the jars have sealed. If you can push down on the lid and it springs back, the jar has not sealed. It can be re-processed with a new lid, or refrigerated and used soon.

Let beans sit for a week or two before eating, to let the flavours do their thing.

As I write this, I’m trying to resist eating a whole jar. I just ran out of last year’s dilly beans, so this is perfect timing. Now I just need some vodka and some clamato juice for the beans to go in, and I’m set.

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filed under: The Garden Project

dahlia

So, this year I planted my garden much later than I usually do. I had planned to do it May Long, but was up to my eyeballs in design work. I didn’t get my head above water till the end of June, at which point I planted slowly because I was completely burned out and planting seemed an insurmountable task, even though my garden really isn’t that big.

I didn’t bother with carrots, red onions, or green onions this year. By the time I had everything else planted, I just didn’t care any more. I’ll save the seeds for next year. I did plant yellow onions, but the row is overgrown with weeds I don’t feel like pulling. Next year when I plant them, I’m covering the seeds right away with mulch rather than waiting till they’re up to cover them. They’re strong, they’ll make it.

I’d planted seedlings inside: cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and zucchinis. The cucumbers, pumpkins, and zucchinis all tanked. Two peppers survived, and, surprisingly, most of the tomatoes survived. I put the tomatoes in pots and put them in the yard, assuming they’d die like everything else. They did not. At this moment, every one of them has little tomatoes growing.

tomatoes

I plan to plant only peppers and tomatoes indoors next year. The others are just not worth it and will be planted directly into the soil. One of the main reasons my seedlings don’t thrive is because we do not have any south-facing windows and therefore they get direct sunlight only a couple hours a day. I bought a couple cucumber seedlings but they’re barely doing anything. I’m hoping for home-grown pickles this year but I’m not keeping my hopes up.

I didn’t bother buying a zucchini plant since I still have a crap-ton of zucchini in my deep-freeze, but I did buy a pumpkin plant after I planted seeds straight into the soil and they didn’t seem to be coming up. Noah’s a huge pumpkin fan, so I just had to plant them. It turned out that one of the seeds did come up and so I have two different kinds. One for pies, and one that produces pumpkins that can be up to 100 pounds.

pie pumpkins
gigantic pumpkins

Other things that tanked? My kale and my potatoes. Because my garden apparently doesn’t want me to have home-grown boerenkool this year. My kale was eaten by some sort of bug I couldn’t see, and my potatoes were eaten by potato beetles.

potato beetle

I was told last year that marigolds kept potato beetles away, but even the potato plants that were entwined with marigolds got potato beetles. I don’t even know if I’m going to bother next year unless I have a fool-proof cure. I picked the beetles off and they came back. I cut down all my potato plants and burned them, and the beetles came back. The plants grew back and I picked off the potato beetles daily and they still became too much to handle. I’m going to dig them all up to make room for the pumpkin vines that are taking over everywhere. The husband of a friend of mine is a … whatever it’s called when someone knows all about things that grow. He said that they’ll keep coming back and are impossible to get rid of. So I’m hoping for a miracle.

A new-to-me item I planted this year is tomatillos. My Mexican friends grew them last year so this year when I was buying seedlings and saw them, I picked one up. I have no idea what they taste like, but I’ve already been given recipe ideas and I’m stoked to try them.

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you missed it, the method of gardening I use is called Back to Eden. My friend Jessica introduced me to it four (?) years ago and I’ve used it for the past three years. I really love it. It’s hard in the first stages, as seeds need to be planted in the soil and then covered when they’re up, but after everything is up and covered, it’s very low-maintenance. Very little weeding, very little watering. It’s fantastic. If you’re interested, you should watch their film. (It’s free.) I’ve seen it three or four times already and I’ll likely watch it again before next spring.

One of the benefits is that weeds are extremely easy to pull out. No digging, no leftover roots. (Ok, sometimes there are leftover roots, but not often.)

dandelion

The two things that have been growing well aside from pumpkins and tomatoes are corn and beans.

child of the corn

The corn is only about a foot and a half tall but the beans have come up wonderfully and have already been producing. I picked a big bowl of them yesterday evening.

beans
dill

I’m planning to turn them into pickled dilly beans this evening. Dill grows wild in my garden, the only weed I like. I’m hoping some is still around when (if?) my cucumbers are ready to be picked. I have garlic growing, but it’s not quite ready to be harvested. I checked one out the other day, but it was much too small.

I’m excited for what is to be harvested, and hope some things exceed my expectations. I also hope I can plant earlier next year. Like, before July. I take a walk through the garden every morning to see what has produced or what has grown. It’s one of the highlights of my day.

It’s supposed to “feel like” 39°C/102°F this afternoon and I could not be more stoked. Here’s hoping heat is what is needed to make the slower plants grow. Give me heat waves or give me death!

title: chasing cars by snow patrol

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filed under: The Garden Project

Grace in Small Things #8

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So, I was drafting a post about why Robin Williams’ death hit me so hard, but it was just too difficult to write without completely losing it. Because he didn’t die of suicide, he died of depression. Because depression can kill. It nearly killed me. Twice. So instead, let’s find some grace in small things, shall we?

(Though if you’re looking for more about depression/suicide from someone who’s actually been there, here and here and here and here and here are a few links I recommend.)

Anyway!

1. Light.

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2. Heat.

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3. Introducing my kids to Hook.

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4. That Preston still calls popcorn “hot porn”.

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5. The hope of better days.

Schmutzie created Grace in Small Things to wage a battle against embitterment.

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filed under: Blog

Grace in Small Things #7

all of us

1. Holiday Mondays. We went to Lake Diefenbaker on Monday, which was the first time all five of us have been at a lake at the same time. Here’s the thing: we don’t get out much. Between Noah and me, we work seven days a week. It’s hard to take family day trips on Saturdays, our only unscheduled work-till-it’s-done day, because it means leaving for work later and therefore working till the wee hours of the morning. Holiday Mondays are the only day we all have off. It’s wonderful.

The kids and I have been to Pike Lake (awful) and Memorial Lake (we like it), and before Preston was born the four of us visited Madge Lake (it’s ok), but Lake Diefenbaker is by far our favourite. I’m aiming to visit a few more surrounding lakes before school starts.

by the bridge

2. An unexpected family outing. I was supposed to work last night, but ended up not having to go in. We then found ourselves with a rare free evening and took advantage of it. We went for a walk DOWN BY THE RIVER. (Sorry, I can’t think/talk/write the words “down by the river” without Chris Farley’s voice in my head.) Again, we don’t do these things often enough. Usually we just head to the back yard and turn on the sprinkler under the trampoline. But we headed out. I think it was good for us.

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3. Reminding myself that everyone’s life isn’t as perfect as they portray it to be on Facebook. It’s better to post positive things than complainy things, right? But if we only share the positive and never the negative, things get confusing. I wouldn’t call it jealousy as much as a desire to be as happy, as full of joy, as what is being portrayed by others.

As someone who struggles with mental illness, it helps me to focus on the positive rather than the negative (thus the Grace in Small Things posts), but when the former is all that I portray, it seems kind of disingenuous, doesn’t it? It’s not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but letting myself fall into a pit of self-loathing and not being able to get out of bed in the morning doesn’t help anyone. I don’t know. There’s no easy answer to it, is there? Except to step back for a bit. And remind oneself that the internet doesn’t always portray real life, as much as we sometimes try make it so, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

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4. The kindness of a neighbour. I posted this on Facebook already, but in case you missed it, here’s what happened: Our neighbour, an older man, is a collector/seller of antiques. Preston loves saying hi to him and is always looking to talk to him. As I was leaving for work yesterday morning he told me that he had something for Preston and he’d dig it out and give it to Presto later that day. When we came home, I found this dog on our doorstep. Preston LOVES it. The neighbour came out into his yard a moment later and Preston got to thank him. Highlight to his day. Presto’s been pulling it around ever since.

Wilstershanks

5. Visiting old friends. Bobbie and I went to elementary and high school together, and at the graduation ceremony, we coincidentally walked down the two aisles at the same time, each with a baby bump under our graduation gowns. Teen pregnancy, FTW! We lived a block away from each other after having our babies, before she moved way up north. I drove to and from Red Deer a couple times a few weeks ago to drop Kaylie off and pick her up, and got to see Bobbie on both trips. It was a blessing to me. Thanks for letting me invade your house, lady.

Schmutzie created Grace in Small Things to wage a battle against embitterment.

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filed under: GiST

I gotta remember to forget you

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On Sunday afternoon I drove Liliana to camp. She’s been looking forward to going to camp since she’s known what camp is. Every year when we drive Kaylie to camp, Liliana asks, “When do I get to go to camp?” This year she finally got her chance.

As she and I were driving to there (a three- to four-hour round trip), I told her some things about how camp was going to go. About how she was going to sleep in a cabin, and how her cabinmates were going to be like her family. She was BLOWN AWAY. “I get to sleep in a cabin‽” And about the tuck shop and the swimming pool and the horses and all that. She was genuinely shocked about these things. Maybe we’re horrible parents because she knew absolutely nothing about what happens at camp? I don’t know.

She’s never spent the night away from us or Noah’s parents. Never in her seven years. I wasn’t worried about her, though. I do not think there is a more out-going person on the face of the earth. She was bouncing off the walls at registration. It was like she was a neglected puppy someone had just come home to. Walking into her cabin wasn’t much different. She also saw a friend from church, which she was stoked about. She threw her stuff on her bunk, gave me a quick hug, told me it wasn’t going to be the same without me, and said it was ok for me to go now. Alrightythen.

When I went back yesterday to pick her up, I saw parents coming from the cabins with their kids and their kids’ stuff. I deduced that I was to go to Liliana’s cabin to get her, rather than to meet her in the chapel for the parents’ show thing like I did when I picked Kaylie up. But nobody was in her cabin. I walked back to the chapel to find an in-tears Liliana with her cabin leader. She’d thought I was late and that I’d forgotten about her. Whoops! With Kaylie, the kids sat with their cabin and I didn’t see her till they dismissed everyone. Not the same this time around. Liliana was right upset with me. “MY CABIN LEADER SAID YOU’D KNOW TO COME HERE!”

She sat with me during the parents’ show thing. The speaker had talked about Joseph during their chapel times and asked the kids what they learned from his talks. One kid piped up, “Don’t kidnap!” I was shocked that it wasn’t my kid who said that.

As we got to the van, I asked her if she’d missed us or if she was good with being away. She said she was good, and that she’d almost forgotten about us. Noted. I expected her to fall asleep on the way home, and looked back to see her nodding off about 10 minutes into the drive. Moments later she was wiping tears from her eyes. I asked her what the matter was and for the next while she said variations of the following, while sobbing:

“And now I have to stop thinking about them (her cabin) and think about other things!”

“I’m going to forget about my cabin leaders! I don’t even have their photos in frames so I can remember what they look like! I don’t want to forget what their faces look like!”

“They’re all my family and I don’t want to forget about them and I’ll have to go through Christmas and all the other holidays without them!”

“There are no pools in Saskatoon like the camp pool!”

I then remembered about the keepsake video I’d bought that has photos and videos of her days at camp. I put it in for her and she watched it for the remainder of the drive. It seemed to calm her down a bit. Until we walked in the door at home.

“It’s quite obvious that I miss them more than I missed you guys!”

“I wish I was still at camp because I was having so much fun that I didn’t miss you guys! I didn’t think of you at all! I forgot about my family! Is that bad?”

“Maybe we should make our house more like camp because I’m used to camp!”

“I feel like I live in a barn and I’m just visiting here!”

We should really start teaching her about tact, and about being mindful of others’ feelings, but oh my word, we could not contain our laughter. But not in her sight, as that would have set her off even more.

She had calmed down by the time this morning rolled around. She didn’t want to unpack her suitcase until Noah told her that unpacking it was part of camp. “Oh! Ok!” I think we’ll use that for everything she’s asked to do.

She asked if next year camp was going to be only three days again. I informed her that when she’s eight, she can go for a whole week. She was pretty stoked about that, but said it would be better if it was all summer.

Needless to say, she’s counting down the days till the summer of 2015.

title: remember (to forget you) by weird kids

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filed under: Blog