Pickle Mania!

Happy National Pickle Day!

I’ve been pickling and fermenting a lot of veggies lately. This past weekend I made my own Kimchi (recipe to follow later this week).

I think I have finally discovered the perfect combination veggies, herbs and brine to make the perfect pickle (or at least come pretty close to perfect). Here it is:

3 cups water

1 cup aged white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper corns

handful of dill (a few whole sprigs)

3 big garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

5-6 Kirby cucumbers (or as many as you could fit into a large mason jar) or 3/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed

Boil the water, vinegar, and salt together in a small pot until the salt is dissolved, allow to cool to room temperature.

Slice the Kirby cucumbers into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Pack the jar with the dill sprigs, whole peppercorns, smashed garlic, and pickle rounds or green beans (or both!)

Pour the brine over the ingredients – fill the jar up to the top. Screw on a clean lid and band and place the jar in the refrigerator for at least a day. This makes enough brine to fill two large mason jars, just make sure you buy some extra cucumber or other veggies.

You get awesome pickles!

Use the same brine and experiment with other veggies and herbs. Try these other combinations that I think are awesome:

carrots, basil, and garlic

asparagus, purple basil, and sweet onions

okra and garlic

cucumbers, fennel fronds, garlic, and dill

yellow wax beans, dill, and garlic

yellow and green beans, parsley, and sweet onion

Happy pickling!


Make your own soda

I’ve made my own ginger ale a few times now. It’s surprisingly easy to make your home-made soda.

Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have some proper bottles to put your soda in. You could bottle the soda in regular beer bottles if you have the equipment.You’ll need clean beer bottles, caps and a capper that you can get at your local home brew shop. If you’re in the Lancaster area try Mr. Steve’s Homebrew or Lancaster Homebrew. There are also tons of places online to get home brewing supplies.

I like to use swing top bottles that have a rubber seal. It’s easier than bottling using caps and the bottles that I use are clear so you can see the soda.

The first step is to make a ginger syrup:

12 oz. fresh ginger root

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup water

Remove the skin from the ginger root, cut it in small pieces, place it in a food processor and shred the ginger until it is very finely ground up. Place the ground up ginger root, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of water in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil until the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat off, cover the pot and allow to steep for one hour.

After an hour, the syrup should be cool enough to handle. Use a piece of cheese cloth to strain the syrup into a clean jar. Squeeze any juice out of the left over pulp that you can by twisting it in the cheese cloth.

You can use this syrup for more than just the soda. You could mix a little bit into your maple syrup to serve on top of waffles. It’s nice to add a little on top of vanilla or honey ice cream, or if you have an ice cream maker… you can use it to make your own ginger ice cream. Mixing it into fruit salad can add a new twist to a simple dessert. You can use it in anything where you would use simple syrup, great for cocktails!

To make the soda:

To a clean 1 liter bottle, add 6 oz. of the ginger syrup and a pinch (about 20 granules) of champagne yeast. You can find champagne yeast at the home brew store for pretty cheap, you can also use bread yeast if you really can’t find it but I do not think it works as well.

Fill the bottle up to the bottom of the neck with filtered water. It’s important to leave a little space so you don’t have too much pressure build up in the bottle. Once the yeast starts working, carbon dioxide gas will be produced. Leave the bottles at room temperature for 48 hours. After 48 hours you can place your bottles in the refrigerator. The refrigeration will stop the yeast from producing carbon dioxide.

I have read a lot of warnings that bottles can explode if you add too much yeast, leave it at room temperature for too long, or fill the bottle too much. I have never had this happen to me, but just be aware that it is a possibility.

You could make a great Dark and Stormy with your home-made ginger ale or a very simple ginger and whiskey cocktail.

Just add 1 oz of good quality whiskey to 8 oz of ginger ale -simple and delicious.

If you like the rooster glass, they came from  pier one imports.  I don’t think they have them any more but you could find similar ones here.  I received my rooster glasses for my birthday one year from one of my very good friends. They are a perfect size for making a small mixed drink or serving up your morning glass of OJ.

The Fridge

It’s Friday! I’m going to make a recommendation for a great place to grab a few drinks if you are in the Lancaster area.

If you like good beer, you should stop by The Fridge! I’ve been there a few times so far, and I’m headed there tonight…

They make some fancy pizzas and they have an excellent beer selection.

Here’s some of the pizza’s the have featured in the past two months:

Every pizza I’ve had there was great! If you want the best selection, get there early. They make pizzas until they run out of ingredients then they are gone for the evening. It’s worth making a trip in a little early to get some.

They have some great beers in the giant fridge that they have in the center of the place. You could drink any one you want while you are there or make a mixed 6-pack to take with you. They also have beers that are not refrigerated to take home. It’s a big selection.

Last month Dan and I shared this gem:

Duvel Triple Hop, excellent beer! perfect to share, it’s pretty strong but super smooth… It’s a little dangerous for the afternoon.

Last Friday I went in with Dan to have some drinks. We shared some of the daft beers. They always have great beers on tap that are constantly changing. You could also fill a growler to take home with you or drink while you are hanging out.

Here’s the beers we tried last weekend:

471 Small Batch Double IPA from Breckenridge

Autumnation from Sixpoint

Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Red Ale

Extreme Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout from Rock Art

All were good, I don’t have anything bad to say about any of them. My favorite was the Autumnnation from Sixpoint. It was kind of pumpkin flavored but not too strong, and a little hoppy, a great fall beer.

The draft beers are constantly changing. Check out the Fridge’s Facebook page for updates!

NOLA Eats – Po’Boys for Sandwich Wednesday!

I started looking through some of my vacation photos this week and it’s been making me miss summer. I never finished blogging about my week in New Orleans. I was really on the go with no time to hang out at the computer. I’ll be sharing some more vacation posts this week, just because I’m kind of missing summer…

I ate a few Po’boys throughout the week. After our day at the Audubon Zoo we stopped at Mahony’s, one of Dan’s favorite spots.

In addition to being all talked up by Dan, Mahony’s has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. Dan keeps telling me of this Pork Belly and Pepper Jelly sandwich that they make sometimes… if you’re lucky enough to be there when they have it on the menu.  He claims that it is his favorite sandwich ever. That’s a big claim, to say a sandwich is your favorite sandwich of all time. So I was excited to try this elusive sandwich… no luck the day we were there – it’s a special they rarely have, Dan must have gotten lucky last time… or is he making it up? We will never know.

I ordered the grilled shrimp and friend green tomato po’boy with remoulade sauce, along with super skinny fried onion rings.

It was good, I was stuffed by the time I got to the end of it. The shrimp was cooked well and not over done. The Fried green tomatoes were great and it had remoulade sauce spread on it. I think it probably could have used a little more remoulade.

Dan got the cochon sandwich with creole cole slaw. I have to be honest… this was the superior po’boy. They meat was cooked perfectly and the cole slaw was creamy and delicious. It was very well-balanced. yum.

I ate my second po’boy at a restaurant outside of New Orleans in a way smaller town called Lafitte. It was on the way back from our awesome air boat ride through the swamps where our boat captain feed marshmallows to the gators.

The restaurant was called Restaurant des Familles because it was right on the Bayou des Familles. It doesn’t look like much from the front but it was actually a pretty fancy restaurant inside. The whole back of the building is a wall of windows that’s right up against the water and you can gator watch while you eat.

I started with a cup of Gumbo.

And then I had the fried catfish po’boy.

It was pretty awesome.

I think I had a pretty good po’boy experience while in Louisiana. There are a bunch of places that I didn’t get to go to… so I already have my sandwiches picked out for my next visit!

Sandwich Wednesday! – Italian Filone

Sandwich Wednesday! Why? Because Wednesday is right in the middle of the week, sandwiched!

For my first Sandwich Wednesday I’m featuring my Italian Filone.

This is another photo taken by Jason Bleecher. I think he made this sandwich look extra good!

Filone is a type of bread that is like a big fat baguette with crusty outside and soft inside. I stuffed it with Italian meats from Mandros Imported Foods. They have the best selection of cheeses in Lancaster – if you’re from around Lancaster, you have to stop in and try some! They also have awesome salami.

The Sandwich starts of with an olive tapenade made with kalamata olives, capers and roasted red peppers. I layered on capicola, mortadela, genoa salami, and provolone cheese.  It’s topped with spring mix and red onion. I hollowed out the top to the bread so that all the sandwich filling could fit inside.