Holy crap people, Christmas is NEXT weekend! I personally am making a valiant attempt to not panic: over presents I haven’t yet purchased, holiday travel, holiday family plans… and/or things I haven’t done or said yet this year.. oh god. My strategy thus far has included eggnog… lots of eggnog… holiday shopping for myself, and keeping up with the usual farmers market-pickling routine. Year after year, especially this year, I’ve heard a few friends and family members mention, “Erin, I don’t know what to get you from Christmas this year.” My first thought is, “duh, shoes!?” followed by my second thought, “duh, have you tried typing pickle in to an Etsy search!?” I assume that because you’re reading a pickle blog that you’re the one in your group of friends that always receives silly, novelty pickle items during the holidays. I admittedly have three.. cough four… Christmas pickles currently hanging from my table-top tree (thank you ex.’s mom).
It is pretty amazing the things you can find if you Etsy search pickle gifts. A simple search returned: pickle pen (cute?), pickle pipe (yes, please), pickle necklace (kinda odd), pickle bottle opener (scored one of these this year!), pickle hand towels, pickle flavored chap stick (eww). Anyways, you get my drift.
Two and a half weeks since I’ve canned and apparently I’ve returned to newbie status of breaking jars! Breaking the bottom off of quart jar is not only inconvenient in that you risk the loss of your pickled veggies, but also because this ill-fate forces you to dump your canning water before processing the remainder of your jars. So it goes… plus, it’s a good reminder that just because I can all the time, doesn’t mean I’m a canning badass that can rush or skip steps. On the topic of not canning for several weeks, comes the struggle of trying to keep up the local and in-season integrity of this here blog. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a year round weekly farmers’ market, awesome for you (cough… CA, MD… and all the other places I’ve lived). Here in seacoast New Hampshire, the local farmer association switches off the bi-weekly location of the market. With the holidays, snow, etc. I really haven’t had the access to local, fresh, and in-season goods.
This past Saturday, bright eyed and bushy tailed, we made it to the Exeter, NH location of the market. After several laps around the high school lunchroom, I decided these Brookford Farm squash and parsnips (recipe later this week) were good post-break pickle ingredients. I feel that with winter root (and non-root) veggies, that pickling flavors become a bit tricky. No longer does ones have access to fresh and local herbs/seeds. Last winter I put up some ginger pickled butternut squash, being somewhat un-familiar with squash varieties, Keith suggested that I use carnival squash as it exhibits a sweeter flavor than it’s butternut cousin. People always assume that I have a well-thought-out plan when thinking up recipes. Quite the opposite really, typically the way things go is 1) wander aimlessly around the market distracted by everything and everyone, 2) pick whatever is in season, 3) get home and muse over the ingredient for a day or two, 4) open the spice drawer, and finally 5) hope that the resulting canned good is amazing, which I confess isn’t always the case. I knew I wanted to do something sweet and spicy, yet simple, with these carnival squash. Garam masala + brown sugar + hot pepper = weirdly perfect. Enjoy these masala habanero pickled squash wedges as is or serve them as a sweet side to any Indian main dish.
Happy Halloween! I may or may not be dressing up as a pickle tonight (check FB or Instagram for photos). Don’t worry I’m all dill pickle guys (sweet pickle? scoff…). I’m actually in Freeport, ME at a science meeting today sans gherkin costume… the chick with the ears and tale apparently didn’t get the memo. Even though I typically wait till the night before or the day of to pull together a planned out costume, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I’ve never really been one for risque costumes but more huge and obnoxious or costumes that I can incorporate in with my bicycle… or both. The plan for this evening is to attend the Portsmouth Halloween Parade and then to scoot over to the Polish Club in Newmarket, NH for a night of blues and mandatory dancing. What are you all up to on this witchy day?
Until recently I had only ever seen garlic scapes used as an addition to flower bouquets. I was quite pleased to learn that scapes have so much more to offer than just aesthetic value to hipster brides’ smelly wedding bouquets… 🙂 As local chefs have been up to their ears in scapes for several weeks now, it appears as if I’m a little behind on the whole edible garlic scape fad. Garlic scapes are the shoots/stalks that grow from hardneck Rocombole varieties of garlic. At the young and tender age of 1-2 months, scapes look like curly green stalks with tightly closed buds on top. I don’t know about you, but I think scapes look alot like the creepy mechanical bug that burrows itself into Neo’s navel in the Matrix. Scapes are typically harvested in early June to avoid any nutrient loss from the eventual harvested plump garlic bulbs.
I acquired these local serpent beauties from the Wake Robin Farm stand last weekend at the Portsmouth farmers’ market. Having absolutely zero ability to correctly eyeball the number of jellybeans in the jar, I winged it and purchased a pound and a half of scapes. This yielded three VERY packed pint jars of asian pickled garlic scapes. I just finished my last jar of oh so tasty pickled edamame so I figured a similar brine with a bit more heat would work nicely. Use these pickled scapes atop a salad, in a hummus, on a pizza, or eat them straight out of the jar (caution: this may or may not be the best life choice before a date).
Once upon a 2013 Christmas morning, resided a small, yet glowing, and almost sparkly pumpkin addressed to none other than “Putting Up with Erin”…. In addition to my gifted pumpkin, I also received a programmable crockpot specifically put on the list for the purpose of making pumpkin, apple, and pear butters. Combine, program on low, go to bed or forget about it for 8 hours and voila you have a butter plus an amazing smelling kitchen.. why not?! I remember the first time I was convinced to take a break from peanut butter (gasp) and instead try pumpkin butter on my toasted english muffin breakfast.
Unlike most items on this blog, pumpkin butters cannot be processed via home canning methods. What? Why? I too was a bit surprised as I failed to notice the USDA warning before I started preparing this butter. When low-acid pumpkin and squash flesh is cooked down into butter it becomes very dense meaning that the heat produced in a canner has a hard time penetrating the inner contents of the jar putting the goods at risk for bacterial growth. To safely keep/store pumpkin butters you can refrigerate in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks or freeze up to a year before use. Enjoy!
© 2017 Erin A. Urquhart All Rights Reserved.