Cupcakes and Pickles

I honestly never meant for this to be a food blog.  But I seemed to have (re)discovered the fun of cooking and baking over the summer, in part because of the One Local Summer challenge.  I was the microwave queen – I regularly told people that I didn’t cook, I microwaved, and I got married so that I would have someone to cook for me (the husband, he really likes our kitchen).  Well I guess I can’t say that anymore, now can I?  There are two food related things I’d like to share with you today.  Maybe a knitting post later this week   🙂

DSC_3975_edit This is a sweet little creation, the Double Vanilla Cupcake.  Delightful!  There’s something so fresh and sweet about a good vanilla bean ice cream that I really enjoy and that translated 100% into this recipe.  I whipped these up last night for a friend’s birthday and they were a big hit.  We stuck them in the fridge to firm up the icing (it was REALLY hot today) and they came out just perfect, so much so that a chocoholic even rated them a 99 out of 100 (with chocolate being the unbeatable 100).  Not bad, if I do say so myself.  The real vanilla beans are what make these so delicious and I can’t imagine making them without the beans.  Oh and we had a little extra icing, so I need to find some graham crackers to make some icing sandwiches since that’s what mom did when we were kids and had some leftover icing from a birthday cake.  OM NOM NOM.

Lemon Cucumber Pickles!  That is, Lemon Cucumber, not lemon flavored cucumbers.  I promised a post about these, and here it is. I decided to go all out and got myself a pressure canner and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, commonly referred to as the ‘bible’ of canning and preserving. These pickles are the basic dill pickle recipe with the added garlic and were rather simple to make. Slice home-grown cucumbers, let soak overnight with salt and ice, boil pickling spice and vinegar, process filled jars in boiling water! It’s really that easy. The hardest part is waiting about four weeks for them to mature and marinate in the jars. They’re sitting on my kitchen counter, taunting me with their cheerful yellow rinds and mustard seeds, telling me how delicious they will be if I could just wait another two or three weeks. I’m not sure I have that much will power.

Introducing the Lemon Cucumber

I’ve taken to growing this peculiar little vegetable in the garden every year after finding a packet of seeds in Target (Thank you Martha Stewart).  I thought, Wow, that’s different, let’s give it a shot.  Well they grew like weeds the first year, but our soil wasn’t quite ready to support them, so I got a few, but the vines died off.  We tilled in a little compost this year and they’ve all but taken over the garden.

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They’re somewhere between baseball and softball sized usually and, when ripe, have a yellow skin that ranges from a very pale yellow to nearly orange. All the information I can find online says that they’re less bitter than traditional cucumbers and have more seeds.  Today, one little cucumber was destined to be a part of my sandwich, paired with some bison bologna, lettuce, goat’s milk feta cheese, and some rustic wheat bread.  DELICIOUS!  This upcoming week, we’re going to review the Zucchini, all week.  If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you understand the agony of finding new things to do with zucchini after you’ve already steamed it, fried it, and grilled it.  I’m going to try and do all the recipes using only local ingredients to go along with my One Local Summer challenge.