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Category: Food

Pickling Cucumbers

My homemade pickled cucumbers

When I was a kid I loved bread and butter cucumbers, but these days the bought ones taste just a bit too sweet for me.

But lately I’ve had a yen for some, and the other day I cracked!
I looked up a recipe on line and decided to make some myself.
Everything was already in my pantry, and I had three Lebanese cucumbers in the fridge just waiting to get pickled!

It was amazingly quick and easy — just slice and salt the cucumbers and onions (I only had shallots), and let then sit overnight in the fridge.
Next day spice up some apple cider vinegar, then add the cucumbers. The whole thing took about 15 minutes — including the slicing.
I used half the amount of sugar and they’re still a bit sweet for me, but very tasty.
I ate the results for lunch — still warm with grated tasty cheese on wholegrain bread. Delish!
I’ll be making this again.

Baking my own bread

I’m not a big eater of bread — I usually buy a good loaf, sliced up, and freeze it, and it lasts me a few weeks. But for some reason I’ve started making my own bread. I’m sure it will pass soon, but while it lasts, I’m having fun.

This is the first loaf I made, and the success of that encouraged me to try a couple of other recipes.

   

Today I tried a no-knead recipe, where you mix up the dough and let it stand overnight, then shape into a loaf, let rise for a couple of hours or until it’s doubled in size, then bake in a dutch oven or cast iron pot with the lid on. 

 

So this is the result — rye and wheat bread. It didn’t rise as much as I’d hoped, but the house smelled fantastic while it was cooking and the final bread, once I’d waited it to cool enough to cut and slather with butter, was the nicest yet. I’ll be trying this one again, for sure. If you want to try it yourself, the recipe is here.

Fennel

Anyone else like fennel? It’s in season now and I love it. It’s crisp and crunchy with a delicate aniseed flavor. I  usually eat it raw, in salads or to have with dips, but I don’t usually cook it.

Today I experimented with it in a “bottom of the fridge” dish — you know, the kind of dish you make out of whatever’s left in the fridge, before you go out and do a big shop.

Normally I discard the tough outer layers of the fennel bulb and the thick stems, but I hate wasting food, so I thought, let’s see how it works if I cook them. 

I sautéed a few chicken pieces and the chopped up outer bits of fennel, including the stems, in oil, added garlic, a chopped carrot and half a red pepper (because this is a “bottom of the fridge” dish, and that’s what I had.)  I added chicken stock and after about 10 minutes I tossed in some rice, to thicken it and let it absorb the liquid.

I have to say it worked a treat. It’s a simple and fairly plain dish, but the delicate flavor of the fennel comes through beautifully and compliments the chicken. You could add parmesan cheese and make it like a risotto, too. Or add some spices — I didn’t use any herbs or spices this time because I wanted to see how it tasted plain. 

Yummy. Chicken and fennel go together beautifully. The pic above is what’s left — that’s going in the fridge to be my lunch tomorrow.

I’m going to make fennel soup next, probably in combination with chicken (or chicken stock) and some other veggies. Because it’s soup weather here — cold and grey and damp.  And because I’m working hard on my latest novel, and when I’m stuck, chopping veggies and stirring soup often helps.

Are you a fennel lover or not? And do you make soup? What’s your favorite?