Wednesday, September 17, 2014


When I was a little girl I watched my (very German) Aunt Welentina Ezlinger make pickles in her basement. I climbed up on a stool and watched her line up the hot jars and put "seeds" in each one. She then packed the jars tight with cucumbers from her garden and poured a hot vinegar liquid over them. That was almost 60 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so impressed!! I think of her when I make this recipe.

We love these bread and butter pickles!! They are fresh and bright tasting and are worlds better than commercial pickles!!

4 cups water
1/4  cup pickling salt (not regular salt)
10 large pickling cucumbers
ice cubes (I use 2 trays of ice cubes)
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Wash the pickling cucumbers and slice them into 1/8" slices (I cut mine just a tad thicker than 1/8").
In a LARGE bowl, mix 4 cups water and 1/4 cup pickling salt until well dissolved. Add cucumbers and ice cubes and gently swirl, making sure the slices are all submerged.  Let cucumber slices soak for two hours.
After 2 hours, drain the cucumbers (throw away the liquid) and rinse completely with fresh water (I rinse mine 2 or 3 times).
In a large/deep pan, mix 3 cups sugar, 2 cups water, 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons mustard seed and 1/2 teaspoon celery seed. Bring this mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat to LOW and put the cucumber slices in. Stir gently and let the cucumber sit in the hot liquid until they are all hot (but not cooked). Don't let the cucumbers boil.
Remove the slices from the hot liquid (with tongs) and pack directly into sterilized PINT size mason jars (pack as many as you can get into the jars...pack tightly).
When the jars are all packed with cucumber slices, bring the pot of vinegar liquid back to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour into the jars of cucumber slices, to within 1/4" of the top. Run a CLEAN knife around the sides of the jars to remove any air bubbles.
Wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean moist towel and screw on the two piece lids.
If you are going to use these pickles within 2-3 months, you can just keep them in the fridge at this stage.  If you want to keep them for a lot longer or if you want to store them in the pantry, you'll have to process the PINTS immediately in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Whether you keep them in the fridge, or put them through a hot water bath, you will have to let the cucumbers "pickle" for 2 or 3 weeks before you eat them, gently "shaking" the jars once a day.


Saturday, September 13, 2014


These cookies are WONDERFULLY SOFT, rich, flavorful and easy to make. The recipe makes about 3 dozen big 4" cookies and if you store them in an airtight container, they will stay soft and chewy (they are totally addicting!!)

Soft Coconut Drop Cookies are PERFECT lunch box cookies, bake sale cookies, potluck cookies or "anytime cookies". They are delicious.

1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (lightly packed)
1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Cream the shortening, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between each egg.

Add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, coconut and nuts (if you are using nuts) and beat until well mixed (batter will be thick).

Take a well rounded tablespoon of cookie dough batter and roll it into a ball. Place on a greased cookie sheet spaced 3" apart (I use parchment paper instead of greasing the pan). Bake at 350° for 11-14 minutes (my electric oven takes a full 14 minutes). Leave the cookies on the cookie sheet a minute or two before you remove them.

After they are cooled, store the cookies in an airtight container.

Note: Recipe calls for butter flavored shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco). I'm sure they could be made with butter instead, but they will bake differently and probably spread out a lot more. I also don't think they would stay soft and chewy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


We have already had frost a few times this fall and the yellow leaves are starting to fall; that means its SOUP time!! This recipe is a wonderful use for all of those extra garden veggies you have this time of year. Tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, onions, celery and anything else you can think of to add to the soup; this recipe is very versatile (and yummy).

1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes (I used a ton of cherry tomatoes)
1 (15 ounce) can ro-tel tomatoes with juice (I use mild)
4 cups beef broth  (not bullion)
1/3 cup uncooked barley
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon)
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 can rinsed and drained kidney beans (or your favorite bean)
pinch of red pepper flakes if you like heat (optional)

Spray a large soup pot with vegetable spray and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until the onions turn soft and a little sweet.

Put the undrained can of rotel tomatoes

PLUS the two fresh tomatoes into the food processor and blend until smooth, then add to the pot.

Add everything else to the pot and simmer SLOWLY for 45 minutes, that's it; just stir it once in a while.

I'm SURE this could be easily done in the crockpot as well.