Dill Pickles

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You may use as many cucumbers as you have. I had to do the batch of vinegar three times to have enough to make the pickles. This is just a guide to making dill pickles so you can adjust the ingredients to suit yourself as long as you can it properly.

Ingredients

4 lbs cucumbers

14 cloves of garlic, cut in halves lengthwise

1/4 c. salt

3 c. distilled vinegar (5% acidity)

3. water

12-14 sprigs of fressh dill

peppercorns (whole)

Method

Sterilize jars and lids.

Wash cukes, remove 1/2 inch of the blossom end.  Cut in quarters lengthwise.

In a saucepan combine the garlic, salt, vinegar and water. Scoop out the garlic and use in jars as described in next step.

In the bottom of each jar (and I’ll give you a range depending on the size of the jar), put 3-4 pieces of the cut and boiled garlic, 3-5 peppercorns, 2 -3 sprigs of fresh dill.

Pack jars with the prepared cucumbers.

Pour hot vinegar mixture into jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Slide a knife along the inside of the glass jar working it up and down to remove any air bubbles.

Place jars in a canner,  but allow enough room so that they don’t touch each other.

Cover completely with hot water and bring to a rolling boil. This is when you’ll begin timing it. The jars need to boil for 10 minutes. When they are done, remove from canner and place on a towel or hot pads on the counter.

You should start to hear popping noises as the lids dip and seal properly.

Put any jars in the fridge that have unsealed lids and use those first.

Label and store in a cool place.

 

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Don’t Phone Me!

Anyone who knows me knows I hate talking on the phone. I’d much rather go and visit someone than to sit there with a phone to my ear.

One of my pet peeves is people who text while visiting me or while we’re having a meal (not to mention texting while driving)! It really irritates me and as far as I’m concerned, it’s bad manners. Sometimes, I think, well…if you want to text Joe Shmo while you’re here to visit me, go visit him instead. Don’t waste my time! I just think it’s inconsiderate. It angers me and I want to say something like, “Are you going to be long on that phone?” but I don’t.

I know I sound grumpy and old-fashioned, but I also know I’m not alone in this. I just heard about a restaurant in LA, California called “Eva” that offers a 5% discount to its patrons if they turn in their phones before their meal. I’ve seen families in restaurants eating a meal while their children are texting their friends or playing games on their  phones. and they’re not engaging with each other at all. No wonder people are losing the art of conversation. What is the family coming to?

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?!

Very well, thank you! It doesn’t seem all that long ago that the Hubster planted little vegetable plants in our raised garden bed in the backyard. I always tell him just to get three or four plants and that should suffice but he never listens. He always wants to experiment. This year, he planted many varieties of tomatoes. I made tomato sauce and it looks like I’ll be making it every week.

Now the garden is producing so much that we’re giving it away by the bags full. Our neighbours come and take whatever they want and when friends drop in we don’t let them leave unless they have a bag or two of fresh produce.

Every day, there’s a huge yellow bowl on my kitchen counter with fresh vegetables. I am not complaining, mind you, but there’s only so much we can eat. I feel like getting bags of vegetables and hanging them on the doors of unsuspecting people.

At least, this year, he chose “normal” vegetables. In the past, he has planted unusual edibles which we couldn’t even give away. Most of our neighbours and friends didn’t know what to do with okra, monkey toe beans (aka yard long beans), Chinese eggplant, calabash, etc.

On top of everything, I get strange requests like…”can’t you find a way to pickle zucchini?”

The good thing about it though, aside from it being a healthy way of eating,  is that every week, my grocery bill is cut in half. When I go shopping and see the price of fresh produce I thank my lucky stars…and my Hubster!

World War Bulge…

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I read an article today about “fat camps” in China. For some reason, I find that rather shocking. Perhaps it’s the introduction of fast foods into their diet or perhaps it’s a more sedentary life style but the camps are cashing in on it. Reuters reports that for $4,696 (for a six week program), they get “get balanced meals and exercise for six hours each day. The regimen includes weight training, running, yoga and football.” Wow! Six hours of exercise! Imagine that!

Well, I started my own “fat camp” in June. Don’t worry. I’m not about to exercise for six hours a day. But, I found a site that tracks food intake breaking it down in ways that I can adjust. For instance, I can choose to track the amount of sugar, cholesterol, salt etc. I can record my physical activity and even the amount of water I’m drinking. It allows me to record, weight, measurements and even allows me to make any personal comments I want regarding that particular day. At first, I thought it wouldn’t work because I’ve tried so many diets and I’m not very good at sticking to an exercise program. I start something and then can’t stay motivated enough to continue long term. The fitness site allows you to chat with others about your progress, add friends, and even gives you charts so you can see your own progress. I haven’t taken advantage of the social aspect of it because quite frankly, I find it embarrassing that I’ve let myself go. I do have hyperthyroidism but I don’t blame that at all. I am not a big eater nor do I eat the wrong foods. The odd time I like to have a treat but I’m human, after all. Exercise. Therein lies the problem. I’ve led a sedentary lifestyle for decades. This summer I wanted to change that if even for the summer. With the fitness site, MyFitnessPal, and a 45-60 minute walk five times a week, I’m happy to say that I’ve lost ten pounds as of this morning!

Actually, what the website has taught me is how to prepare the foods I enjoy but just with a few minor changes to produce a calorie deficit by the end of the day. You might think that ten pounds since June is a very small change, but to me, it’s a small victory because I haven’t been successful in budging that scale in years.

I’ll continue to fight World War Bulge….

Biting My Lip…

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I saw a job description for a job for which I’m partially qualified. I’ve always worked on the administrative level but this job is on the “executive” level. I’ve had nine years of experience in my field and I’ve studied while working earning three financial designations.  I believed that with those designations, doors would open for me. Yet, I’ve never thought to apply for an executive level job. I doubt my own abilities.

When I evaluated the requirements, I was thinking…I sort of have this qualification, I definitely have this one, not sure if I can do this job. There will be a steep learning curve. There will be kids just out of university applying for it too. They are more computer savvy and probably will work faster than this old brain and hands can. But, I’m not stupid and I do have a good work ethic.

I was really torn about applying.

I was looking at the screen biting my lip when I thought, let me ask my son what he thinks. He’s a young professional adult. I should seek his advice.

“Here’s the deal, honey. I have some of the qualifications. I’m not sure how fast I have to be on the job. I’m really nervous about applying.” I confessed.

“ok Mom. If you don’t apply, the answer will be “NO”. If you do apply, it will be a good chance to test the waters and practise your interviewing skills,” he advised.

“OK but what if I get the job and it’s too hard for me? What if I can’t go as fast as the other young whippersnappers?” I asked.

“Then you go to your boss and you say,”I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. What’s the best way for me to increase my productivity/ job knowledge?” Mom, no one can fault you for saying something like that. Don’t fear failure. The negative parts of our lives have value and will be important in finding success.”

Sheesh! When did he grow up and become so wise??

Anyway, I am feeling very nervous and stressed about it but I did apply.

Your thoughts?

.

A Wave is all it Takes…

I wanted to raid the dollar store today so my elder son took me for a ride. As he drove along, there was a town house complex and a car wanted to exit the complex and onto the main road. He slowed down and waved her to proceed in front of him. She made the turn safely and was on her way down the main road. No wave of thanks. Nothing.

Driving along, someone wanted to make a lane change. He backed off letting the man cut in front of him. Again, no appreciation shown and it bothered him.

“Mom, is it so hard for them to do a little wave, nod their head, make eye contact, smile …SOMETHING?”

“Honey, if you’re going to do someone a favour, do it because you want to and don’t expect anything in return.”

“I do, but you know what I mean, don’t you? When they wave, it makes me feel happy that I’ve helped someone to have a slightly easier day…but I feel let down when they don’t do anything in return,” he said.

I do understand his frustration. It really takes so little to acknowledge someone’s kindness

Get a Job…

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Since being laid off in February of this year, I’ve been trying so hard to get work. I’ve been searching the net, sending out unsolicited résumés, updating my résumé, applying for jobs, making contact with former employers and co-workers, using employment agencies, going to job fairs, upgrading my skills by taking courses, etc. Yet, no bites…not even for part time work. It made me wonder what is wrong with me! Along with struggling financially, the depression started setting in.

But, the other day, I was really trying to sort this out. I know that I’m not the dullest tack in the box and I do have a good work ethic. There’s nothing “wrong” with me. I’m doing everything I can. These are tough economic times. Perhaps I  need to think outside the box. I realized that the first thing I have to do is to get out of this funk I’m in. I have been going for an hour’s walk along the beach every morning to get some much needed exercise and to just enjoy being outdoors and with people.

Then, I decided that I should think over what I really enjoying doing. A few things came to mind: music, working with children, reading, and art. I applied to be a volunteer at the local literacy council and I got an e-mail back telling me that someone will contact me. I’m a bit apprehensive about starting this new venture but I think it will do me some good to get out there and give back to society while I continue the job search.

Wish me luck! 🙂

Salt Fish Fritters

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Category: Appetizers & Snacks
Style: Other
Description:
This is just something I whip up especially for unexpected guests. It’s quick and easy. I really don’t know the exact quantities because I don’t follow a recipe. I just add whatever I have until it looks “right” 🙂
Ingredients:
1 small package of deboned/ boneless salt cod
3 green onions
2 very small pickled green chili peppers (optional..if u want it a bit spicy)
1 egg
1/2 tomato, finely chopped
garlic powder or fresh crushed garlic to taste
black pepper to taste
salt, if needed, to taste
1 tsp. baking powder
1- 1 1/2 cup flour
water, enough to make a batter that’s a bit thicker than pancake batter
vegetable/canola oil for frying.

Directions:

Boil the salt cod. Drain. Add fresh water to the pot and boil the fish again.. Drain. Flake fish with a fork and set aside.Add chopped onion, hot peppers, tomatoes. Blend it all into the fish.Add baking powder, egg, garlic, pepper, and a bit of salt if needed. Mix.Add flour and water to form a batter.Heat oil ( maybe half-an inch deep) in an electric frying pan (or deep frying pan). Drop fish batter by tablespoons into oil and fry till golden brown on each side.Drain on paper towels. Serve.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

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Category:     Salads
Style:     American
Special Consideration:     Vegetarian
Description:A light and flavourful salad that’s easy to prepare.
 
Ingredients:
 
2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced very thinly1 onion (I used a common garden onion but you could use a Spanish onion), cut into very fine rings, and then cut in half6 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

8 tbsp. white vinegar

6 tbsp. water

Directions:

1. Layer cucumbers in a bowl, salt between layers and let stand 2 hours. Then rinse thorougly and drain. This keeps their moisture from leaching out into the dish making it watery. Also, cucumbers treated in this manner will take on more of the flavor of the dish while keeping their crisp, fresh taste and texture.

2. When you are ready to assemble the salad, combine the sugar, salt, vinegar, water and oil. Stir well until it’s all blended together.

3. Add onions.

4. Add cucumbers and toss everything until the cucumbers and onions are well coated.

5. Serve and enjoy!