Posts tagged #DIY

Liquor: Rosemary Gin Rickey

Two cocktails in a row, woot woot! Yeeeaaaaaah buddy, I've been breaking out of my wine-only rut and am back to experimenting with the cocktail shaker. I think I got stuck in between ginger flavours and tequila for awhile, so I'm excited to have something new to present to you: a Rosemary Gin Rickey, from photographer Elizabeth Morrow. You can find the original recipe here.

Rosemary is a tricky ingredient, for me. It can be overwhelming at times, a strange combination of woody and floral fragrance and taste. I was intrigued to give this a try, and let me tell you, I am a full-on fan. The rosemary simple syrup is just subtle enough to that you only get a TASTE of rosemary, and the garnish of fresh rosemary provides the perfect whiff as you sip. As I noted before with the Pimm's Cup, in many cases, a cocktail garnish is NOT optional!!! A garnish serves the very important purpose of stimulating your sense of smell, which is of course closely tied to your sense of taste and part of the whole experience of a cocktail. A garnish is a complement to the drink. USE IT. 

Serve like so for effect, but of course, drop that baby tree into your drink before taking your first sip. I can't believe I actually have to tell people that, but there you go.

First, you must make the Rosemary Simple Syrup.

What You Need
makes 1 cup of simple syrup; scale as necessary

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

What You Do
1. Making any simple syrup has the same (simple, hah) process: combine 1 part filtered water to 1 part sugar (usually white granulated) plus your flavouirng agent. You may recall we've used one before with before with the smashing Lemon Ginger Martini, with the original recipe being explained in the Carlos O'Brien. So all you do here is combine the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to make sure the sugar doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Let it boil for 1 minute such that the sugar is completely dissolved, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for 30 minutes, drain out the rosemary sprigs, and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

I absolutely adored the light, baby-spring-green colour the simple syrup wound up having (not evident in the photo above, unfortunately). You also eat with your eyes, after all! Onwards we go.

Rosemary Gin Rickey
makes 1 drink

What You Need
1 ounce rosemary simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 ounces gin
club soda (I always prefer tonic water) to top off
spring of rosemary + white granulated sugar for garnish

What You Do
1. In a cocktail shaker over lots of ice, combine the first three ingredients. Shake for 30 seconds until the shaker is frosty. Pour into a highball glass over ice and top off with bubbles to your desired strength. Moisten a sprig of rosemary with water and roll around in some white sugar to give it that pretty, frosted look.

Oh, and hint hint--this would be a fantastically complementary pre-dinner cocktail for that Short Rib Ragu.
Posted on March 21, 2014 .

Lagniappe: How to Boil an Egg

Today's post is an instructional one, since several of my recipes recently have called for hard or soft boiled egg of some sort and I've been eating a lot of them, too. In fact, I recently discovered that it is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUSLY POSSIBLE to make egg salad without any mayo whatsoever. Yep, just do a half-and-half mixture of plain Greek yogurt and avocado, mix in an acid of your choice (I dig Dijon mustard) and salt and pepper, and you've got yourself a fantastically light green, rich, lean egg salad. If you hate avocado (you're wrong) and simply have to have your mayo, at least do a 50/50 mix of mayo and Greek yogurt. I promise you will not notice the difference, and you'll have just cut your calories in half: one tablespoon of mayo has 90 calories, one tablespoon of Greek yogurt has 17 calories. Don't say I never did anything for ya!

 Photo from Bon Appetit, credit Danny Kim

Anyway, back to boiling eggs. Everyone has their own way of doing this and everyone's so sure they're right, but I'm pretty sure I'm the MOST right. You'll notice I reference "piercing" the eggs--this is SOP in South Africa and Europe but I find it's not as well-known here. Y'all are at a disadvantage! Piercing the large end of the eggs make the shells less likely to crack during boiling, and I think it makes them infinitely easier to peel, too. I use a gadget like this one, but you can also just use a pin or a needle.

It's simple! Place the pierced eggs in a medium sized pot and cover with cold salted water. Use a big enough pot so that the eggs can have room to move, and enough water such that the eggs are covered by at least an inch. Cover and bring to a boil. The SECOND it comes to a boil, start the timer for 1 minute. After 1 minute of boiling, remove the pot from the heat and let sit, covered, for 12 minutes. When the 12 minutes are up, immediately dump them into a bowl of ice cold water to shock them. This instantly stops the cooking process. Wait 'til they're fully chilled, and peel. Dunzo.

Soft boiled eggs are a bit trickier. That was my favourite breakfast as a kid: soft boiled eggs with little toast soldiers for dipping. I'm 23 years old and that is STILL my most comforting breakfast! The way I like them, with very soft yolks, is to bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Pierce the eggs and lower them gently into the water with a slotted spoon. Boil for 5 minutes, then shock with ice water. "Decapitate" them (slice off the top 1/3 with a sharp knife) and serve in an egg cup with sliced toast for dipping.

There's also an in-between egg, the kind that's served on top of soups, sort of a medium. It's the exact same instructions as a soft boiled egg, but you cook it for 7 minutes instead of 5.

Bon Appetit has the most amasing visual graphic here, if like me, you like pictures. And it is because they have this lovely graphic that I don't have to bother with taking my OWN multiple egg pictures. Everybody wins.

Bon Appetit!
Posted on March 1, 2014 .

Lekker: Raspberry Chia Jam


Did I just throw you back? Back to the days of infomercials, before TiVo, back before I discovered my black thumb and I thought I actually stood a chance of keeping one of those things alive? Look, you can even get one of Barack Obama and if THAT isn't just a *shade* on the nose I don't know what is.

Anyway, so apparently chia seeds are a thing OUTSIDE of the infomercial world, even though the red squiggly line underneath it is telling me Blogger disagrees. Shut up, Blogger. People are actually eating it, and as I'm always game to try the latest food trend to see if it's hipster bullshit or actually delicious, I picked some up at Trader Joe's last weekend.

First things first: they are teeny tiny light gray seeds that look like fleas.

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but it's TRUE! I figured we could just get that out of the way, dry heave quickly, and move on.

Moving on, the thing that intrigued me most about these flea-seeds when researching them online was their gelatinous properties. That is, if you mix them with a bit of water and let them hang out, the high content of fibre creates a gel-like substance making this a PERFECT substitute for pectin AND gelatin! That is a bizarro and freakin' cool quality, and a big deal for two reasons. (Normal people don't get excited about this kind of thing but I do so bear with me because I'm about to drop some knowledge on you.)

First, pectin. Pectin is the substance that makes jams and It's a thickening agent found naturally in the cell walls of plants that makes homemade jams gel to form a nicer spreading consistency.

Second, as a substitute for gelatin, chia is the BOMB. Do you know what gelatin is? It's the stuff in Jell-O and puddings and so on that's derived from collagen. Collagen is the stuff being shot into celebrities faces to make them look younger so that's probably where you've heard about it, but it's naturally found in skin, ligaments, bones, and tendons and you render it out by...boiling it. Seriously, it's true. Jell-O is artificially coloured boiled pig skin and cow skulls. Yummy! Who's hungry?

No, that's disgusting shit and you shouldn't be eating it. You think they make sure the skin is all nice and clean before they boil it? HA HA. If that doesn't sound like some insane Hannibal Lecter type shit to you, then perhaps you deserve what you're eating.

Sidebar: I'm not a fan of things with Jell-o and pudding-like consistency in the first place. It confuses me. I don't know how to eat it. Chew it? Swallow it? Gum it? Smush it through my teeth? No, just no, I prefer my foods to have a more defined identity, thanks. But, for those of you who ARE octogenarians and like that stuff, congratulations! Chia seeds are your new friends.

Back to pectin. I've been tinkering around with jams and marmalades for about two years ever since I spent Boxing Day one holiday with my Dad and friend Brenda trying to make calamondine marmalade. For the life of us none of us could remember/figure out what to use to actually make it JAMMY instead of a runny, sugary mess, and looking back...I have no idea why none of us Google searched it. (I blame the Cinzano day drinking.) Pectin was the answer as we've just learned (were you paying attention?) but since I'm always looking to add nutritional value to anything I make whenever possible, chia seeds STOMP pectin in that department--much like I fervently hope DMX will do to George Zimmerman in short order.

CHIA SEEDS: Fibre! Vitamins! Sustained energy! Superfood! You're not listening anymore and it doesn't matter; here's one way you can introduce it to your diet AND pat yourself on the back for making your own homemade jam. It's so easy and I guarantee it will impress the shit out of your overnight guest when you serve them homemade jam on waffles next-day. See: possible Valentine's Day Morning After breakfast. If you're lucky.

Raspberry Chia Jam
makes about 1/2 to 3/4 cup finished jam

What You Need
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup raspberries (or blueberries if you want blueberry jam, or blackberries if you want blackberry jam, see how this works?)
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar, more or less, to your tastes

What You Do
1. In a small bowl, mix the chia seeds with the water and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then they'll look like this!

2. Then in a blender, Magic Bullet, or in a small bowl using an immersion blender, blend everything together. That's seriously it. No dicing, no cooking, no heat, nothing. NEVER have I had such a cool DIY project with so minimal effort. If only there were someone to impress on Valentine's Day morning.

Gentlemen! Now auditioning.
Posted on February 5, 2014 .

Lekker: Ho(me) Made Butter

Yup, this past weekend I attempted making homemade butter for the first time, because as my best friend Ghost points out, I HAVE WAY TOO MUCH TIME. It's true. But, it keeps me "off the streets and off drugs" or twerking or whatever it is that normal people do at 11 AM on a Saturday morning. I have no idea, because I am busy making butter at that time.

I feel like every kid basically made butter in a jar at some point during their "colonial America" studies or whatever; I just have no memory of doing it. I prefer to ignore the things I may or may not have blocked out of my memory.

Anyways, I love trying new things and thought I'd give it a spin. It was fun, and you get to have that moment of pride right at the end, like "Holy crap! I just made my own butter! Someone hand me a goddamn floral bonnet." And, you get butter at the end of it. Who doesn't love butter? I suppose this would be a fun activity if you had some of those tiny humans you created around that needed to be entertained--but those frighteningly honest little people scare me--so I do not have any.

Now, some people get all excited about making their own butter because you know where it comes from, and it's free of artificial preservatives, etc etc etc but I hate to burst your bubble--that's not entirely true. If you do like I did and just use store bought heavy cream, you STILL don't know where it's coming from. It's still coming from the store and a bunch of anonymous cows, you're just adding an extra step in there. If you REALLY want to have complete control over your butter like that, check out a farmer's market for some heavy cream. In that I do not even have control over my own hair, I am not too concerned about my butter...but you do you.

All you need for this little project is a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer (my preference, because I like things to be more hands-on when I cook), a large stainless steel bowl, a strainer, and about 20 minutes. Oh, and ingredients, I guess.

Homemade Butter
makes about 1 cup of prepared butter

What You Need
1 quart heavy whipping cream, as fresh as possible, organic is always best
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Now, let's talk for a minute. All of the tutorials I found online said the cream should be as cold as possible, so I stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes before I started. They all said it should take about 9 minutes of beating for the cream to "break", but after 15 minutes and no dice I was getting frustrated and didn't know what was going on. So I left it sitting on the counter for about 20 minutes and did other things, came back to beating and voila! Instant success. I believe it needed to warm up a little, so consider that a head's up in case you run into the same problem.

What You Do
1. In a large stainless steel bowl, pour in your heavy cream. Using an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer if you have one) beat on high for 9-15 minutes until it "breaks." Since it's cream, here are the stages you will go through: first, you will be beating a heavy liquid on medium-high speed. It will splash everywhere and be a sloppy mess. Oh well. Then you'll start getting more of a whipped cream consistency. Nice! But don't stop. Keep going and it'll get thicker, and thicker, and bigger, and bigger (giggity) until it starts to collapse and get gritty and curdle-y. That's when it start's to "break", and it'll look like this:

Super gross right? It'll start splashing even more at this stage, but at that point you're basically done.

2. Place the strainer over a second bowl and strain out all of the buttermilk. Knead the butter with your hands well to get as much moisture out as you can. I would suggest that you strain it again through a fine mesh cheesecloth, because every time I thought I was done I turned around and more buttermilk had appeared.

3. Place in a bowl and stir in your salt with a fork. Tadah! Buttah!

I'm not going to tell you how to enjoy your butter because if you don't know how to do that at this point in your life you need help. BUT, this particular batch I divided up and whipped in some chopped fresh parsley and lemon zest to make a compound butter that I plan to use on top of sizzling steaks or grilled chicken breast. This stuff keeps beautifully in the freezer for up to two months (well wrapped in cling wrap and then alu foil) or in the fridge for a few weeks. IF you can keep it around long enough--AND THAT IS WHY I WON'T BE MAKING BUTTER AGAIN FOR A VERY VERY LONG TIME. Because I have no self control. Neither with butter, nor with boys.

Posted on November 7, 2013 .

Lekker: Sweet Potato Chippies

In my pursuit for ANY excuse to use my lovely new mandolin (I do so love new kitchen toys...oh, classic orange Le Creuset, how I lust after you...) and after a bumper crop of massive sweet potatoes in the back garden over the weekend, sweet potato chips seemed like the logical answer. I was pleased at the fact that there's no oil or fat of any kind involved, so these ACTUALLY ARE healthy and delicious. How's about them apples?

Or, you know, sweet potatoes. Whatever.

You don't need a mandolin to make these of course, you can just focus on slicing them as thinly and evenly as possible. If you do use a mandolin, I used mine on the thinnest setting at 1.5 mm. 

Sweet Potato Chippies
makes enough for 1 person to snack on; scale up as desired

What You Need:
 2 medium sweet potatoes--that's it!

Optional, to make Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips:
Rice vinegar
Sea salt

Yes, I made these into salt-and-vinegar sweet potato chips. You could just salt them if you like, or do salt and dried rosemary, or play around with cinnamon instead. Feel free to experiment!

What You Do
1. Preheat your oven to 425. Peel and slice up your sweet potatoes. Lay out on a baking sheet lined with foil with no overlap but squeeze as many as you can on there. They'll shrink down in cooking.

2. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp. I had them go to I think 18 minutes, and that was a little long because a few of them turned purple in spots, which later became black--and as I discovered to my misfortune, those spots are really bitter and gross. So! Probably stick closer to 15-16 minutes and check every minute.

3. Remove from the oven, and don't touch them! Let them cool for a few minutes so they can unstick themselves from the foil. If you try to pick them up right away they won't release properly and you'll be sad.

4. Optional step: If you want to flavour them, once they're cool throw them in a paper bag and shake 'em up with whatever seasonings you're interested in. I sprinkled rice vinegar over them and salted to taste, then shook them up until lightly coated and then laid them back on the baking sheets to dry out.

I threw these into a bowl and sat down to watch the Lightning-Devils hockey game (*sob* my Lightning lost, though) whilst snacking...and then suddenly, two giant sweet potatoes had disappeared into my belly. Nom nom those complex carbs, bitches!
Posted on November 1, 2013 .

Liquor: Halloween Candy Corn Martini

I started this little project about a week ago, but because I can't count (apparently), by posting today I'm not giving YOU enough time to try this recipe yourself. Seriously, I fail so hard. The only reason why this takes 5-7 days is because you're doing your own infusion of candy corn vodka--MAYBE you could find a version in a liquor store? I mean, it's seasonal and god knows they flavour vodka with EVERYTHING these days (maple syrup, anyone? how 'bout butter? Swedish fish?). It was super easy to make, though, so if you have any extra candy corn left over from Halloween this week, do have at it! (The candy corn alone was difficult to find; for some reason I had to go to three different stores to find it and even then I almost had to fight this woman off for the last bag. Lady, I WILL have my candy corn vodka--this is not amateur hour!)

If you don't like vodka, you probably shouldn't make this. And we also probably shouldn't be friends. Now, if you don't like candy corn, well...I was worried that I would wind up with a sludgy sickly sweet mess, but I was wrong! The vodka absorbs the buttery taste of candy corn plus the iridescent orange colour, but leaves a lot of the tooth-aching sweetness behind. It really was very mild.

To make the candy corn infused vodka you'll need 2 parts vodka (I used Absolut) to 1 part candy corn; so, 2 cups of vodka and 1 cup of candy corn. I wasn't sure I would like it, though, and I'm the only vodka drinker in the house, so I halved it to 1 cup of vodka and 1/2 cup of candy corn. Throw into a clean Mason jar and stow away in a cool dark place for 5 days.

Bonus: doubles as a Halloween decoration. Sort of. If you're reaching.

When your five days of infusion are up, it's time to strain the vodka. Look! All the candy corn disappeared! 
Dudes, it was SO GROSS looking the first day--the candy corn had dissolved into these ghostly, floating tendrils of white that looked like snot floating in the vodka. 

Never fear. Shake up the jar, and then strain it through cheesecloth (fold over a few times to make it a tighter strain) into another glass or bowl. I found the easiest way to do this was to rubber band the cheesecloth around the mouth of a drinking glass and pour the vodka slowly through that. The cheesecloth caught everything and left only clear orange vodka behind. Presto!
Cheers to Mondays, cheers to candy corn, cheers to being holiday-specific drunk!

Candy Corn Martinis
makes 1 decently sized martini

What You Need
1 1/2 ounces candy corn vodka
3/4 ounce vanilla vodka (I used Absolut Vanilla)
1/2 ounce white vermouth
3 dashes Angosturra bitters

What You Do
Shake over ice in a cocktail shaker and serve.

Look, I failed on multiple levels with this little project, because I had intended to line the rim of the glass with Pop Rocks all cute-like. But do you think the four different stores I went to had Pop Rocks? NO! Do you think the fifth store had RED STRAWBERRY Pop Rocks? Of course. Because, that's what Mondays are just like.

I finally got home and thought OK, I'll make a compromise and edge it in green decorating sugar that I have on hand. So I open the drawer and--hahahahahahaha. I only have red sugar left. At that point I decided I just wanted to get the damn vodka inside me as soon as possible, so I chopped a candy corn in half and quit at life for the night.

Lekker: Spicy Claussen Knock-Off Pickles

A few weeks ago I attempted pickles for the first time and wound up with some nice (though a little bit too sweet for me) Bread and Butter Pickles. As I raved in that post, though, Claussen Pickles are my absolute favourite because since they are cold brined with no cooking, they are crisp and crunchy unlike the usual sad floppy pickle. (No one likes a floppy pickle, guys.)

I really wanted to figure out how to recreate those at home and looked online for some recipes, but ultimately decided to just wing it on my own. Some people online had trouble with mold, or with "fuzz" appearing at the top of the pickles. My Bonus Dad Harry warned me that he'd heard that garlic goes blue/green when put into vinegar raw, but I didn't have that problem either. It was just easy, and great!

Now, I will say--these are SPICY. These are not like the classic Claussen Dills. Tonight I'm going to change up the vinegar/water ratio (because even for me it was just a tiny bit too vinegar-y, though my girlfriends said they were really good) and tone it down on the red pepper to see if I can get a little bit closer to perfection. That's why I consider this recipe to be a "working recipe", because I will update it as I refine. If you like spicy, though, you will LOVE these--housemate TB absolutely raved, saying he can never find a pickle in the store that is as spicy and crispy as he likes.

I was happy with the way these turned out--they had the crisp crunch I was looking for and I don't see any reason why I would hot brine ever again.

Here we go!
 Pretty pickles in a pretty jar!

Spicy Claussen Knock-Off Pickles (Working Recipe)

What You Need
1 package small pickling cucumbers (these come in packs of six, usually, in a little Styrofoam carton covered in cling wrap)
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup filtered water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard seed
3-4 garlic cloves, minced roughly
1 handful fresh dill, trimmed of stems (I bought one of those tiny plastic containers of dill in the fresh herb section of the store)

What You Do
1. Wash your cucumbers well and dry. Cut off the stem ends and slice them into spears, then follow the directions for salting them as found in step 1 of the Bread & Butter Pickles recipe. Same concept--we're trying to draw out some of the water to make a crisper pickle.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water and spices. No heating required!

 Oh, I guess I threw my garlic in there too during this step. Whatever. It isn't rocket surgery peeps.

3. You'll need a large Ball jar or other type of jar with a tight fitting seal for these pickles. I keep forgetting to look what size my jars are because I'm disorganized and have the memory capacity of goldfish. If your 15 minutes of "salting" time for the cukes are up, you can pat them dry nicely with a paper towel and stuff them into the jar along with the minced garlic and the dill. You'll want them to have a LITTLE bit of room to move around so that you can shake up the jar every day.

4. Pour in the brine. For me, I discovered that I was about 2 tablespoons too short of brine because you really want them to be covered completely, so I added some brine from the original Claussen Pickles that I had in my fridge and voila! Put the lid on and tuck them in the fridge for a week. Every day I gave the jar a good shake and turned it upside down to make sure the garlic cloves and spices got nicely distributed.

That's it! My friend Tiny Bird exclaimed "I didn't know you could make your own pickles!" when she tasted them and I didn't know until recently, either, but this is so easy it's stupid. Once I can get this recipe down to my version of perfection I'll ever need to buy pickles again. Not that pickles are, like, insanely expensive or something--I am not making my life easier or cheaper by doing this,'s FUN!

This is what they looked like after a week in the fridge. Basically the same, but not so white in color.
Posted on September 17, 2013 .

Lekker: Bread & Butter Pickles

There are lots of reasons why I love to cook, to bake, and to futz around in the kitchen in general.

One is that I love to engage my mind by expanding my skill set and learning new things about flavour combination, technique, and food chemistry.

Two is that I like having a hobby that is productive of something, where I have something to show for it at the end of the day. Creating something (a dish) out of nothing (just "ingredients") to share with others is fulfilling, to me anyway.

Over the weekend I had some time to kill on a gloomy Sunday afternoon and a brand new mandolin that I was just itching to use, so I decided to refer to Reason #1 by attempting homemade pickles for the first time. I like these low-investment experiments because even if I screw it all up, all I've lost is a cucumber and some vinegar, so no tears shed. (Pshh, as if.) Plus, I *LOVE* pickles. Claussen Dill Spears are my all-time favourite; you find them in the refrigerated section because they're not hot brined like most pickles (and this recipe is) so they are suuuuper crunchy and bright and sharp in flavour. I've always asserted that these pickles are the best appetite suppressant out there. I don't know if it's the acidity of the vinegar or what, but whenever I'm feeling like I want to snack for no reason I just chomp on a few of those and I'm satisfied.

This recipe is not for those kind of pickles. Sorry to disappoint after all that raving, but I have no clue how to make those. Blame it on my ADD, baby. THIS recipe, however, is for a basic bread-and-butter type pickle that goes well on sammiches and could be further processed into a BOMB sweet relish. Up to you. You don't need to have a mandolin to make this, as long as you've got a steady hand with a knife and a good eye for making even slices. I, however, find using the mandolin very peaceful and way too much fun to the point that now I'm just looking around my kitchen for things I can slice, julienne, or crinkle cut. (But not my hand; I managed to slice off part of my finger by accident by getting too enthusiastic and misjudging how much room was left between the cucumber and my digits. Oh well. Respawn!)

Don't those feathery fronds looks just so pretty floating around in there? Note how I did not stuff my jar properly. Lesson learned for next time. 

Bread and Butter Pickles

What You Need
1 large English cucumber (those are the long skinny ones in shrink wrap)
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon turmeric (sidebar: this spice is a real superfood; sneak it in wherever you can)
1 bunch dill fronds, about 1.5 cups

Righty-o then, here we go.

What You Do
1. First thing to do is prep the veggies. Slice up the cucumbers into pickle-sized slices, whatever that means to you. On a baking sheet lined with paper towels, sprinkle down a layer of salt. Lay the cucumbers down and sprinkle more salt on top. Let sit for about 15 minutes to draw out some of the moisture, then press down with another layer of paper towels to pat them dry.

2. While the cucumbers are sweating it out like a whore in church, you can mix up the brine. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, combine all the other ingredients except the dill fronds and bring to a boil so that the sugar dissolves completely.

3. Stuff your cucumbers into a large glass jar and layer the dill fronds amongst them. I didn't use enough for this batch as you can see so definitely add more since the taste really gets mellowed out by the brine.

Really, stuff the jar full because they'll float and move around and you'll suddenly wind up with more space that you expected.

4. Once the brine comes to a boil, pour it slowly and carefully into the jar. It should come all the way to the top of the jar without much brine left over. If you are panicky about not having enough brine, add another cup of vinegar and another 1/2 cup of sugar in step 2. But really, these are just pickles, there is no reason to get panicky. Seal the jar and stick it in the fridge to...well...pickle! After 24 hours you're good to go. Nom nom.

So like I said, if you want to take it a step further you can drain the pickles and chop them into relish. These got the green light from both housemate TB and I as-is, though I do prefer a less sweet pickle and will therefore continue to tweak this recipe. I'm also going to attempt cold brining to see if I can replicate the crispness of my beloved Claussen Dill Pickles.
Posted on August 27, 2013 .