This was dreadful and terrifying. So I cannot comprehend the horror of what other families are enduring tonight. I am so grateful on one hand and so sad on the other. Please pray for the hostages and their families.
So this is what I had ready to before all of this...
This post is an interesting mix of pickles and kindness!
We had another week where evenings were dominated by talk of what had happened in the day with our random acts of Christmas kindness. Some were random, others not so much as they were planned beforehand. But they all added up to a lovely week. The highlight winner was again the nursing home. This time Andy took a trip over there. He was armed with a bag of shortbread, chocolates, cards, bon bons and things. He is a good guy to visit a nursing home but he is the one who started this and knows all these people and counts them as friends. When he got home he was beaming. He said it was wonderful. He felt great. They were all so happy to see him and couldn't believe we would give them little Christmas gifts. I am continually amazed how even the littlest things seem big to these elderly and lonely people and how lovely they are.
Last week I mentioned easy refrigerator pickles. To me pickles seem to be a bit of a man thing. Andy loves them. I don't mind them... and a couple of my friends have said the same thing, their husbands go mad over them. Anyway they are very useful. Useful because you always have things to add to cold meats, hamburgers (pickles are so good in hamburgers) and with platters of cheeses, BBQ meats, as a side with a curry etc.
Pickles and other preserves are impressive! I have found people amazed I make jam. To a lot of people any preserve making is just legendary. They apparently don't know how easy it is. But this makes them good gifts!
When you have too many cucumbers or onions or whatever making these pickles gives you another couple of months to use them. So this can be a major saver. Also if you have lots of something ready in the garden or like me a bag of bargain cucumbers you can use them all up.
These are so easy it is ridiculous. I learned this from Jamie Oliver. His series called Save with Jamie had some fantastic ideas.
Anyway this is what I do but I learned it from Jamie. Not in person unfortunately.
You need vegies that have crunch. So onion, cauliflower, cucumber, capsicum, beetroot, beans, celery, cabbage... anything with a crunch.
You can do a jar of all one thing or layers of different things. It looks flash if you slice things up nicely ie diagonally or with a crinkle cut knife or in chunks or something like that. Some things work as slices others need to be chunks ie cauliflower.
I have a slicer dicer that so quickly slices things up. It is so fast! Plus it has different attachments so I can quickly change and do different cuts for different things. I got it for $20 in a cheap shop after seeing them for $100 online.
You need clean jars and they can have lids or you could use cellophane jam toppers.
Simply cut up your vegies and layer them in your jar. I pack them in pretty well.
Then sprinkle in some things for flavour. You don't have to but it makes it more interesting. Here I sprinkled in mustard seeds. But do what you like... herbs, spices, chilli...
In a big jug mix 1 mug of water (I use boiled water from the kettle when it's still warm) with two mugs of vinegar. It can be white wine, red wine, cider or malt vinegar. Add 1 heaped tablespoon of sea salt and one of sugar. Mix until these dissolve. Pour this into your jar to cover your vegies. Keep in fridge.
The water/vinegar proportions are just 1 to 2 so if you need a lot of liquid use one jar to two jars or whatever is an appropriate amount. However keep in mind the tablespoons of sugar and salt were for a mug and increase those proportionately.
That's it. You just made preserves. Put a date on the jar. You have two months to use them. If you always wanted to make preserves but thought it was complicated you will feel pretty pleased with yourself!
I have to say I love the onions. Sliced onions are so good this way and I will now always keep them as when I cook a steak or burger I just bung some of those on top and it's so handy!
You can use them straight away but if you leave them a few days first the flavour will develop.
The leftover liquid is ok to use as part of your dressing, just use it as the acid part sometime.
They look very cheerful in your fridge. And so useful.
I have chillies and capsicums coming on in the garden and will watch for bargain vegies especially onions after Christmas. My Dad would love jars of sliced onions so I will do some for him. The plough mans lunch of chunks of roast meat, cheese with some of these would be his idea of perfection.
I would think it will be a busy week for us all. Over the weekend I did lots of wrapping and things to try and get ahead of everything that needs doing! I want to have time to enjoy and cherish the time. And we are helping get my daughter and husband moved on Saturday into their new home for Christmas.
Have a wonderful week! xxx