Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Me and the Kitchen

Today, the kitchen and I got along very well. I walked in there at about 1000, and didn't really leave, well, until about an hour ago. I made birthday cake, frosting (yep, we do that stuff from scratch around here; I can't remember the last time I bought a cake mix - the school is collecting box tops and when I asked where to find them, I learned they are pretty much only on things we don't eat; guess we won't be of much help on that front...), a custard base for the ice cream we'll be doing tomorrow, and bottled four jars of pickles. I also managed to work up a dinner in there, although that almost didn't happen. It was only the thought of how gross the chow hall food is that saved me.

It's the pickles I'm most proud of. Even thought I won't be able to find out if they taste good or not until Saturday. It really wasn't too hard, actually. Just cut up some cukes (I didn't have any that were the right size to do whole), salt them, let them sit for a couple hours, rinse and dry. Then boil a vinegar/water/pickling spices/salt combo, cool for a bit, pour over the cukes, let sit until cool, then pack it into jars. Put them in the fridge and you're done!

I realize as I finished typing that out that it might seem like a lot of steps, but it really wasn't. Mark Bittman's cookbook had the recipe I used (have I told you lately how much I owe my cooking to that man? Oh, and he's a runner, too! Totally has a column on Runner's World. Yeah, I'm completely hooked now.). Here's a couple pics of the process:

The cukes hanging out in the brine.

The finished product right before they went in the refrigerator!  If you're wondering, yes, every one of those jars are recycled. The nicest thing about pickles is that you don't really need canning jars for it since they are just going in the fridge. You could can them, but I have zero experience with it, and no equipment. Shipping canning jars over here is so not in the budget, ha!

Next up: making freezer jam with frozen fruit. Yes, I realize this isn't the most economical way of doing this, but we can't buy anything here without high fructose corn syrup in it. I have bought it from someone here, but it's pretty expensive; about 6 bucks for a half pint. Even using frozen fruit is going to be cheaper than that.

I am hoping to get some mangos and try my  hand at those, but they aren't quite in season yet. I'll have to keep my eye out for any other fruit that might work when we make our weekly trip to the produce guy at the front gate. He had bread fruit last week, but I wasn't feeling daring. And, really, I had no idea what you would use that for... I'll have to do some research and maybe give it a try this week.

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