Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pucker up! It’s pickle time.

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Pucker up! It’s pickle time.

This year I planted some heirloom tomatoes in my side garden, I got three old germans and three plants of which I forgot the name of (if I remember I promise I will let you know). I tried to hang one of each upside-down in buckets, but after about a month of limited growth I flipped those babies right-side-up and staked them and they were just fine. I digress.

photo credit: midsummernightmeadows.com

Those plants were fruitful. I gave up pruning them after a while because it didn’t seem to affect the amount of fruit I got. I always got a lot. A ton

photo credit: gardenstuff.com

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I had *gasp* too many tomatoes? This is when I realized that I needed to do something with them. I canned a lot of smooshed tomatoes (not really whole and not really crushed) for sauces later on… but I had baskets full of green tomatoes. I couldn’t leave them on the vine with the threat of frost here in the mountains, so I harvested (I only say it was a harvest because of the ridiculous amount coming from my tiny side garden).

photo credit: howtotomato.com

Now, I am from the north, and I’m not a HUGE fan of friend green tomatoes… but I made them anyway. Marinated in buttermilk and tossed in seasoned breadcrumbs and right into the pan. They were yummy. But I could not, would not, make fried green tomatoes until december. I needed a more drastic approach.

Pickles.

I love pickles. Anything pickled I’ll eat (within reason people). I like throwing pickles in braised meat dishes, on fish, and in bloody marys. YUM.

I’ve never made a pickle before. Refrigerator pickles don’t count. So I had to do some research.

I consulted Food In Jars and the recipe they posted for small batch green tomato pickles, and also a basic brine recipe from my Ukrainian grandmother. I obviously did some tweaking, but pickles are pretty easy to make, and whatever herbs/spices/vegetables/fruit/etc you wanna throw in there…you can.

*If you are canning these for storage please consult the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and read their canning guides for processing times and safety tips. You cannot be too careful. I’m serious. Please don’t make your families sick.

My recipe is as follows… it is not precise because when it got down to it I was throwing a lil bit of this and a lil bit of that into the jars…

2 lbs. green tomatoes                             1 cup water                                              1 cup white vinegar

3 tsp pickling salt (it needs to be pickling salt because it has no additives that will mess up your pickles)

2 tsp peppercorns                                    4 garlic cloves (or as many as you want, i love pickled garlic)
optional: 4 tsp dill or dill seed, 4 bay leaves, a bunch of mint leaves, a few green onion shoots, 2 tsp chile flakes, 2 tsp celery salt, etc. (if you need to clean out your spice rack – now is a good time)

1) weigh and wash tomatoes. let them dry in a colander while you’re getting other stuff set up. wash your hands too.

(weighing them will help you determine how much brine and schtuff you need.)

2) start your big ol pot of water (or pressure canner) to a boil so you can sterilize the jars & then process the pickles.

3) start sterilizing your jars. and lids and rings. and tongs. AND EVERYTHING that will be touching the brine or the pickles. Stick it all in the boiling water for a minute or so. (do not stick your hands in boiling water though)

4) assemble all your ingredients. get anything out and ready that you might want to use because you don’t want to be searching the cupboards once you’ve gotten started. if you’re feeling like an overachiever make a mise-en-place and pre-measure all the ingredients so you just dump it all in when it’s time.

5) prepare your tomatoes:

for little tomatoes: (grape sized) leave them whole

for medium tomatoes: (about the width of the jar) slice them (they will be sooo pretty)

for larger tomatoes: (larger than the width of the jar) cut em up! make half moons or something.

6) make the brine. combine the water and the vinegar and the pickling salt and get it to a simmery boil.

7) with STERILIZED tongs, or a jar-grabber (also sterilized) take a jar out of the boiling water & set it on your work space.

8) throw some of those herbs and spices in there.

9) throw in some tomatoes.

got some onions and/or other stuff? throw it in! and more herbs/spices!

add tomatoes until you’ve got them right to the bottom of the lip on the jar.

10) fill jar with vinegar until you’ve got about 1/4 inch of space from the tippy-top of the lid

11) with those STERILIZED tongs/grabber get out a lid and a ring and place the lid on the jar and the ring around the lid

do not tighten that lid too much (i heard that if you put the death grip on the ring it might cause the jar to burst..that would suck)

photo credit: sandiegofoodstuffs.com

12) put the jar back in the boiling water for as long as the canning guide said to (I did around 15 minutes to be on the safe side)

13) take the jars out of the water and set them out for a day (don’t mess with them) after a while (if you’re around) you’ll hear the cans popping.

Or you’ll see that the lids look a little convex- that means they are sealed.

You can also test this by pushing on the seal, if it pops back up… it’s unsealed. if not…you’re good to go.

I came home to find all my jars sealed. If they aren’t seal you can try to process them again with a NEW lid (rings can be reused) but I’d just put them in the fridge.

14) eat your pickles.

give them some time to pickle, but holy cow are they yummy.

15) share your pickling recipes and stories with me.

Gorgeous and Fun Place Card Ideas

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Why go with boring old folded card stock for your place cards?

These ideas much more creative. Pick a style that goes along with your theme, the decor, or something that suits the individual guest (then its something extra for them to take home).

These are from Timeless Paper… on etsy. I love etsy by the way. You can find some neat stuff just browsing around.

like this… or really creepy stuff…. like this…

Anyway, these ones are perfect for a holiday party…

These were featured on Hostess with the Mostess …another great site for ideas.

There are just too cool.

Another fun idea featured on style me pretty… that actually IS just a folded piece of cardstock! Definitely DIY

heart name cards

another DIY idea from mint love social club: she gives you step by step instructions as well… very easy and really fun. If you can find interesting pictures of everyone its definitely an ice breaker. You could also use baby pictures if you could find them, everyone likes looking at babies!

DIY polaroidsV

A special keepsake is a great for place cards, like these compasses from Laura Hooper Calligraphy featured on the Southern Wedding Blogcompass place cards

Laura Hooper also does really cool maps that you could use in your invites instead of directions, or for some extra favor in an invite.

If you have a steady hand you might try learning calligraphy yourself. There are many different kits out there to try. My uncle is a master of calligraphy & even when he is sending something simple he uses calligraphy for the labels and it makes receiving everything seem like a little gift. You’ll save a lot of money too.

From the queen of crafts herself, Martha Stewart, these parasol place cards and twirled heart are adorable!

I love the idea of putting love quotes inside the “fortune cookie” place cards, or really personalizing things by writing special notes to guests. The luggage tags are awesome because it’s something your guests can use again and again and always remember your special day.

Martha, of course, has tons of ideas…

Place cards are something that are pretty easy to do yourself and put your personality into. Plus, their a smaller detail that if you mess up a bit it wont matter.

Amazing Organic Farm Wedding~

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organic farm wedding pic. american gothic

This wedding is RIGHT up my ally!

This organic farming couple from massachusetts planned, hosted, and cultivated almost everything for their big day! The ULTIMATE DIY wedding.

organic farm wedding. watermelons!

The bride, Sarah, describes preparing the ceremony location on their farm for her big day:

In the spring, we planned and planted a garden there, in a semi-circle, to be the backdrop of the ceremony. We used plants that would be in bloom for our wedding date in September, and every week of the summer went up to weed and water and fix things together.

Ceremony Space

Brides-to-be take note: grow your own flowers for your wedding! You’ll save money, the environment (not shipping flowers from the other side of the world), and you’ll enjoy them so much more! Just think, you’ll get to see those flowers grow from buds into full bloom, enjoying them for weeks and not just one day. If you don’t have the space…send your bridesmaids, mom, mom-in-laws, aunts, grandmothers, and whomever else has space some seeds with their invites, you’ll get the benefit and they’ll really feel apart of your special day.

Grow your own flowers! They will make you smile!

 

One of the major tenants of any successful marriage, for me, is community. The bride sums up my thoughts about this precisely:

I think weddings, in many of their facets, are a celebration of community, and an affirming of community. For us it was very important to source the parts of our wedding from people and farms that we care about. In so many ways this is strengthening.

Community

This couple is amazing! Working together everyday, growing food for their community while nourishing their love for one another.

Kissing in the Kale!

Be sure to check out Style Me Pretty for more amazing wedding ideas! They’re one of my favorite wedding web-sites.

And how gorgeous are these pictures? Kudos to Studio Foto!

just married

 

And be sure to check out Red Fire Farm if you’re in their neck of the woods.

redfire farm

 

While you’re at it, check out local farms in your area. Farmers are nice people. Even if you live in a city chances are there is at least a community garden around where you can get your hands dirty.

go meet a farmer!

 

Hello World! How do ya do?

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Welcome to my blog!

I’ll regularly be posting about life on a farm in western north carolina: cooking, canning, gardening, crafting, and adventuring. Soon I’ll be leaving this little farm to start my own (I think) back home near Buffalo, NY.

This blog is called june ever after because I’m working to make my own happily ever after…not waiting to find it. I have my prince charming, looking for the perfect castle, and hoping a fairy godmother shows up one day to tell me I’m on the right track.

I hope I can teach you all to do some neat stuff, or at least introduce you to something neat. I also hope you guys can teach me as well! Please use the comments box so we can chat. Add to my recipes, tell me something looks ugly, ask me questions, and tell me if I’m a goober. Seriously.

I hope you enjoy!

junebug