Friday, July 29, 2016

Welcome CoCo's new babies!

Well we try to plan these things but nature knows best.  After watching CoCo closely for two weeks without babies I decided to give her a rest - we adults just didn't figure out the right daddy or the right due date.  But Wednesday when I arrived home from work there were two new kids JUST born.  After just a day and a half they are out exploring the barnyard
new family



Friday, July 22, 2016

Sweet and sour pickled onions

Pickled onions on a burger

What is summer without pickles?  And why not pickled onions?
I have made pickled onions before but this is a recipe that beats the first one.  They are ready in the fridge after 48 hours or you can go through the canning process and keep them in the pantry until needed.  I started with a recipe from a book I love called   Food in Jars  Then I made it my own

mise en place

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cups sugar
2 TBS pickling salt
3 pounds red onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder ( red pepper flakes or cayenne)
3 sprigs lavender

Combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, sugar and the salt in a pot over high heat and bring the brine to a boil. 
Add the sliced onions to brine and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer briefly to soften onions.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining spices in  a small bowl and stir to blend.  Add the spice blend and the lavender sprigs in to sterilized jars,

Using tongs, evenly divide the onions among 3 pint jars.  Pour hot brine into each jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Continue typical canning directions or place in fridge for 48 hours.

Canning directions:
Sterilize glass jars and rims and flat lids for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Be careful not to touch the jars or rims with bare hands.  After filling jars and leaving headspace gently tap the jars on a towel lined counter top to help loosen any bubbles before using a wooden chopstick or utensil to dislodge any remaining bubbles.  Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.  Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes
Let these pickles cure for at least 48 hours before eating

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Channel Islands, Santa Cruz Island day trip- National Park #2

My childhood friend Dee and I have decided to visit a National Park each year.  Last year we discovered Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. This year we decided to visit a National Park unspoiled by hotels, snack shops and flushing toilets: The Channel Islands off the coast of California.  My cousin, Laurie, joined us. There are four islands in the chain that are part of the National Parks.  With the storms of Winter only 2 are reachable so we took a chance on Santa Cruz Island.  If you're lucky you can see this island on your way North on Hwy 101 from Ventura.  It's the island that Cabrillo had to navigate around to find the mainland and settle in Santa Barbara for you Californians who studied our history in 4th grade.  Our destination Scorpion Bay - 25 miles off the coast.

Boats docked in Scorpion Bay harbor
On to the skiff

The pier was out so we were forced to do a beach landing by skiff.

And off of the skiff.  Harder than it looks
hike up the trail

But when we reach the top:

There are a few species on this island that evolved away from any influence.  The island fox is adorable.  With no predators there is nothing to fear.  These guys are almost a little too friendly.  They behave somewhat like a little dog and a little like a cat.
Island fox

And the tiniest of bugs and lizards:
Golden lizard

Yes and all three of us sexagenarians survived the island too
Thanks for a fun day Dee and Laurie

Watermelon ginger limeade- Ahh! refreshing on a 95 degree day

It's hot today!  So watermelon limeade  should hit the spot.  I was tempted by this recipe in last month's Epicurious by Emeril Lagasse  and then had some new ideas.

Mis en place

1quart watermelon juice  (1 small watermelon- made about 1 .5 quarts of watermelon juice)
1 cup lime juice
1/2 inch grated ginger
Agave nectar- to taste
lime slices
crystallized ginger pieces
sparkling water
tequila for later in the day

Cut watermelon into about 1 inch squares and place in blender a batch at a time. Use fine mesh strainer over a bowl to separate the pulp.  Grate about a half inch of a piece of ginger.  Add the lime juice and the ginger to the watermelon juice and stir.  Add the Agave nectar (or sugar) to taste.  I used less than 1/4 cup for the whole batch.  Choose a glass; add ice and rub the rim with a lime slice.  Then rub the rim a second time with the crystallized ginger.  Pour the limeade into the glass.  Add sparkling water for daytime or a shot of tequila at 5 o'clock!