a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Simply Amazing Microwave Bread and Butter Pickles

Tuesday I mentioned how well our garden was doing and my subsequent search                       for different ways of preparing cucumbers.

And I mentioned the plethora of almost-identical sites that proclaimed 13 "amazing ways" to use them in reportedly "amazing" ways  and --- the blogger who's personal tests proved them amazingly ineffective.

Yesterday I found yet another plethora of sites touting an amazingly delicious, amazingly simple, amazingly quick method of making bread and butter pickles in the microwave --- in less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

They are amazing FANTASTIC !

Comments from the various sites all followed along the
same lines. As I remember them, they included:

"My mother actually cried when she tasted them -- they reminded her so much of the ones she used to make with her mother."

"I don't even like bread and butter pickles but I LOVED these!"

"My husband ate the whole jar."

"I could hear my kids in the kitchen chomping away."

"This is how bread and butter pickles used to taste."

"My Nana's pickles tasted just like this!"

Since Simple Gail is not into hyperbole . . .

I can't give them higher praise because  I'd hate to oversell them and raise the hopes of bread and butter pickle lovers everywhere.

Finally. . .


One large cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced 
One onion, even more thinly sliced
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp ground turmeric

Combine above in medium-size microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 7-8 minutes, stirring twice, until cucumbers are tender and onions are translucent. 

Put into a clean jar with a lid. Chill (and store) in refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Comments from others included:

  • doubling or tripling the batch
  • using canning lids and rings and 10 minutes in a water bath to seal them for storing
  • adding small amounts of garlic for variety

Gail's comments:

  • when I make jam I sterilize my jars in hot water, fill them with the hot liquid, top with canning lids (that have been sitting in hot water) and rings and then I turn them upside down on a towel. This helps ensure a seal. You don't need to water bath jams and jellies because of the high sugar content. Maybe the sugar and vinegar in these would allow you to do the same but for now I am just sealing the jars with my upside-down-way and storing them in the refrigerator. 
  • to save bunches of money I buy my spices at a health food or grocery that sells bulk spices by the ounce. One ounce each of the three spices came to $1.74 and is enough for making several batches! 

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cucumbers are much, much more . . .

than simply salad toppers !

Our garden has been doing great. As a result I have been searching out new recipes for common produce.
     Among the "amazing" things I found were many almost identical posts heralding the wonders of the cool cucumber for its various health and household cleaning powers. Most fell in the too good to be true category so I went to Snopes to check them out. They rate them  "undetermined."
     Along the way I happened on the post of another blogger who wrote that her earlier Snopes inquiry showed the jury was still out, so she took it upon herself to check out the 13 purported miracle workers.
     She found that most didn't live up to the hype.

My search for new and unusual cucumber recipes yielded much greater success. Until this week, I had no idea you could/would actually cook a cuke!  These are not your typical cucumber recipes but all three were a hit with us.

Richard's Cucumber Soup 
Serve icy cold or piping hot - both really hit the spot

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 T thinly sliced green onion
2 T butter or margarine
1 T red wine vinegar
4 cups chicken broth (2 cans)
salt to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried tarragon or marjoram (or to taste)
1 to 2 T. finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream

In large pot, melt the butter and saute the sliced green onions until soft. Add the remaining ingredients except the sour cream. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes or until the cucumbers are soft. Pour the hot soup in a blender and puree it. Return to the pot and whisk in the sour cream. Serve immediately as a hot soup or chill thoroughly and serve cold. 

Creamed Cucumbers
This recipe is fun to play around with. Adjust the spices and the done-ness of the cukes to suit your taste. It seems lend itself to many variations.

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and finely sliced
3 T. butter or margarine
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
few sprinkles nutmeg
dried or fresh dill and/or chopped chives

Melt the butter or margarine in a skillet. Saute cucumbers until they begin to shine. Stir in the cream,  a couple of sprinkles of nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring constantly over low heat. Add the dill and or chives. Serve warm.

Cucumber Lime Cooler
No cooking this time --- just blend, chill and enjoy.  We really like the pulp in this refreshing drink but if you don't, you can strain the mixture before serving. 

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
Juice of two limes (or to taste)
1/3 cup sugar

Put cucumber chunks, lime juice and sugar in a blender container. Add enough water to come within 1-1/2 inches of the top. Blend well. Refrigerate until icy cold. 

'til we eat again,
          I am Simply, Gail