Quick Pickled Vegetables

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I enjoy opening my fridge and having a jar of pickles starring back at me. It makes me smile. Sometimes I'll have just one green bean before I start cooking dinner, other times I'll fill a plate with cucumbers and have a pickle appetizer. Because a good, crisp pickle will cheer you up. 

I have officially stopped using recipes when I pickle. Instead, I look through my spices and herbs and add whatever sounds good. So far, it hasn't failed. I tend to keep to a super simple and quick cold brine, where I don't boil anything. However, I was reading one of my food magazines and saw a hot brine method, so here I gave it a try. 

In this version, I added the following - anise, juniper berries, fennel seeds, coriander, whole black pepper, red pepper flakes, salt, vinegar, water and garlic and brought everything to a boil. Then I filled my jars with my various vegetables and dill, and the hot liquid brine. Pop your jars in the fridge overnight and enjoy. 

The hot brine made for even quicker, quick pickles, but otherwise I didn't see much of a difference in taste. Ultimately, it doesn't matter which method you decide to use, as long as you pickle, all is good in life. 


Strawberry and Orange Mint Jam

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Jam makes weekday breakfast bearable. It's really the only way I'll eat yogurt or cottage cheese. And if I'm not eating yogurt or cottage cheese at my desk in the morning, then I'm probably not eating breakfast, which we all know is not smart. So as you can see, jam plays an important part in my diet. And it's also happens to be pretty easy to make.

On this fine afternoon, I noticed I had mediocre tasting strawberries in the fridge and decided to make up a recipe and see how things went. It is hard to make bad jam. It often only involves a handful of ingredients, in this case it was four. I picked orange mint from the garden, made a quick simple syrup, then cooked the strawberries in the syrup for about 20 minutes. That's it. I'm not kidding. It took about 35 minutes total. And this happened to be the most delicious strawberry jam I've ever had. That's right, HAD, not just made. The key here was that orange mint. That stuff is fragrant and tasty. Go out and buy some. It grows like a weed, smells delightful and takes strawberry jam to the next level!
Oh, and I got a new table runner I'm in love with at my very first Rose Bowl flea market.


Yogurt, Cucumber and Radish Soup

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I've had this soup so many times in the last several weeks, I've lost count. It is good for breakfast, lunch, second lunch (if you're into that sort of thing) and dinner. And if you're in the same boat as me, and your husband keeps bringing home baskets of cucumbers from his garden, then this is the best way to eat them.

(Here's a throw back, I have mentioned this refreshing soup on the blog three years ago! Oh, that granite counter top, how I do not miss you.)
Here's what goes into my version of this summer soup, or what has been going into the Summer 2013 version: cucumbers (I peel and chop, leaving the seeds in), radishes (a whole bunch), garlic (2 or so cloves for a large half tub of yogurt), herbs (I like a mixture of dill, tarragon, and parsley, but basil can be nice on occasion too), thenadd plain yogurt (I don't mess around with low fat or fat-free stuff) and water until you get the right consistency, which is completely up to you. Season with salt and pepper, cool it in your fridge for at least an hour, and enjoy! There's no exact recipe here, so you can play around with proportions until they suit your taste buds.
 First course at dinner.
Can also be enjoyed for breakfast; because when is it not a good time to eat yogurt? The answer is never. This stuff is good for you.