Pickle Success

The other day, I decided to make some pickles…. I just threw some salt and pepper in a pot with water and brought it to a boil. I stuffed some sliced cucumbers, dill, and garlic in a jar. I poured the hot water into the jar and stuck it into the refrigerator. The next day…

PICKLE FAIL!

Ugh – They were gross… really, really salty. I definitely thought about my method a little more before I tried again.

Needless to say… my next batch was very well thought out. Here’s how I made my brine:

3 cups water

1 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

I got my cucumbers from the Lancaster Farm Fresh stand at central market.

One jar included pickling cucumbers, dill, and smashed garlic cloves.

Another jar included a sliced lemon cucumber, sliced small white cucumbers, smashed garlic, and dill.

The last little jar included the left over pickling cucumbers and some sliced red onions.

I boiled the brine and poured it over the cucumbers in each jar. I screwed on the lids and left them in the refrigerator for at least one day…

…PICKLE SUCCESS!

I am proud to say that these pickles came out splendid! I think the small white cucumbers made my favorite pickles. The pickles with pickled onions were Dan’s favorite. He suggested making relish out of them, which I think is a great idea. The pickle and onion mixture would be a great topping for a hot dog, perfect for summer.

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Fresh Summer Salsa

I have an abundance of tomatoes lately and I love salsa. I gathered all of the ingredients to make my fresh summer salsa. There are so many veggies available right now that every ingredient in this is local. Yes, even the garlic is local! This recipe is both green tomatillo salsa and tomato salsa in one. It makes a lot so it is perfect for parties. It’s also super quick and there’s easy clean-up because I make it in the food processor.

Green Summer Salsa Base:

1 jalapeno pepper

1 small red onion

1/2 cup packed cilantro

3 cloves garlic

3 mini bell peppers – yellow, red, and orange (I like to add these for a hint of color and sweetness)

1 lime, zested and juiced

5 medium sized tomatillos, husks removed, washed and quartered

salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in the food processor (you might have to do it in batches depending on how big your food processor is) and pulse until all the ingredients are chopped. Here’s what it should look like:

You can eat it just like this, as a green tomatillo salsa. You can also use it as a base for other salsas. It’s really good stirred into chopped mango for a sweet salsa or stir a little bit into mashed avocado for a guacamole upgrade.

To make Fresh Summer Salsa:

Pulse 3 big (~ 1.5 lbs) red tomatoes in the food processor, working in batches if you have a smaller food processor.  If you’re from Lancaster, I recommend the Jet Stars from Washington Boro that I wrote about a few days ago. Mix your tomatoes with about half (~1 cup) of the green salsa base from above. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. It makes about 4 cups.

Washington Boro Tomato Festival

One of my favorite things about summer is tomatoes. You really can’t get anything better than a late summer tomato. They always have amazing color and flavor that just can’t be matched any other time of year. My favorite place to get tomatoes is the tomato barn in Washington Boro, Pa.

I went for a ride the other day to pick up their famous Jet Stars. They claim to be “the sweetest tomatoes on earth” and I believe them. They are sweet, juicy and that bright red that reminds me of the fourth of July. I love seeing the tomatoes and other veggies all lined up together in the barn. I couldn’t help taking some pictures.

I always end up buying the “seconds” tomatoes. They aren’t perfectly round and they have some lines across the bottoms that I guess make them less desirable. I kind of like the messed-up look to them and for some reason I think they taste better. They look like a lot of heirloom varieties that grow in all funky sorts of shapes. They are also cheaper… you get a big flat box for $5!

I am going to use most of them to make sauce and salsa… I think they have character.

I noticed that the Tomato Festival was this Saturday! So of course I had to go, it’s one of my favorite events of the summer. There is something about eating a tomato sandwich on a grassy hill across from the Susquehanna river that makes it taste like no other tomato sandwich that you could ever make at home.

 

Jet star tomatoes, squishy white bread, lettuce, onions, mayo = the tomato festival sandwich.

I don’t know how I love these so much. I don’t normally eat squishy white bread or mayo… it must be the magic of the river or something.

Lancaster Central Market

It seems fitting to begin this blog with a post about Lancaster Central Market. The market is my main source veggies. I avoid buying produce in the grocery store as much as possible because I have this great source of local foods right near my house. I go down to the market at least once a week and I usually base my dinners on whatever is in season.

The market is at its peak right now with fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the farms of Lancaster. I’ve been lucky to go more frequently since it is summer and I have my weekdays free.

I chose some yellow wax beans for a pasta dish from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative today. I love this stand! It always has great food. They only operate from spring to fall but everything they have is local and organic. I also picked up some green tomatillos and jalapenos because I bought a bunch of Jetstar tomatoes earlier in the week from the Wahsington Boro Tomato Barn (more on Jetstars tomorrow). I have a plan to make fresh salsa later.

One of my staple items that I always pick up is a dozen of free range eggs. I love how bright yellow the yolks are and I think they taste better.  I was tempted to buy the duck eggs that I saw at the Farm Fresh stand but I wasn’t too sure about it…maybe next week.

Some of my favorite flowers are coming into bloom right now. I was happy to see the sunflowers this morning.

I decided to take a bright pink and red bunch of zinnia home with me to brighten up the kitchen.

It was a great morning at market!