little house on the prairie Archive

pickled sugar snap peas (!)

Summer has officially arrived in Portland. The sun has finally decided to show her lovely face.

I will admit, I was at my wits end – I thought that summer would never arrive. Every day I would wake up to clouds, rain, and gloom. Every day I would check on my sad little garden, which Mother Nature seemed to be intent on drowning.

And then one day, the doom and gloom was gone. The sun came out, my plants perked up, and my heart was happy. And all of the sudden, I had a happy garden that was ready for eating! After months of waiting, I now have ripe sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, rhubarb, lettuce, rainbow chard, and TONS of raspberries. I never knew that food could taste so fresh. There is just something magical about eating food that comes from your own yard (and your own hard work!).

That being said, I have a bunch of sugar snap peas right now. And, while I love sugar snap peas – I don’t exactly know what to DO with them. They are delicious raw, in a salad, or in a stiry fry. But that is about all I know to do with sugar snap peas. I’m not complaining about my lack of recipes, they are just one of those veggies that you don’t often see in other things. And I wanted to do something unexpected with them. And, then, I saw a recipe for pickled sugar snap peas.

I knew, long ago, that this would be the “summer of pickling”. Pickling is a gardener’s best friend, as it is a great way to preseve your produce (and make it last throughout the year). Plus, I just love the taste of all things pickled. This pickled sugar snap pea recipe looked really simple – and strangely delicious – and so I officially kicked off my summer of pickling with sugar snap peas. The peas are supposed to pickle for 2 weeks, so I can’t officially comment on how they taste yet. But, being the impatient person that I am — I tried a couple of them after two days of pickling and they were delicious! Crunchy, sweet, sour, and spicy. I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait the full two weeks!

In any case, even if you aren’t growing snap peas – this is a great recipe to use if you can get your hands on some good peas. I was at my local farmers market yesterday and there were snap peas everywhere! They are very much in season right now and would be easy to get your hands on for this recipe.

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
From Smitten Kitchen who Adapted from The Joy of Pickling

1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar (I used 1 cup of white vinegar, and 1/4 cup of a fancy herbed vinegar my mother-in-law bought me)
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed and strings removed
4 garlic cloves, sliced
dried red pepper flakes, 5 or 6 shakes from a shaker jar if you like things spicy

In a nonreactive saucepan, heat the vinegar with the salt and sugar until they are dissolved. Remove from the heat, and add the cold water which starts the cooling process faster.

When the vinegar mixture is cool, pack the sugar snaps, garlic and flakes into a 1-quart jar and pour the brine over it. Cover with a non-reactive cap.

The original recipe suggests you store the jar in the refrigerator for two weeks before eating the pickled peas, but it is likely that you will start eating them the next day, and the jar will be gone a few days later. :)

Oh!

I forgot to mention that I planted my very first garden. It seems that spring has come early in Portland, and while the nights are still cold – I believe we are past the last freeze. So, last weekend – with the helping of my gardening guru of a mother – I planted a plethora of winter veggies! I planted 2 kinds of rosemary (of course), yellow onions, garlic, arugula, spinach, cilantro, and dill. I plan on planting peas and kale this weekend! I am still waiting for warmer temperatures to plant the summer veggies – tomatoes, zuccini, cucumber, etc.

Since we currently rent our house – and have no idea when our landlord intends to sell – I am doing mostly container gardening (hence why everything in the picture is in pots). For the last 6 years, I have mostly lived in apartments and haven’t had the opportunity to garden. While it is a bit scary to me (I kill even the most resilient house plants), I am so glad that I finally live in a place where I can garden. Here is to hoping I have a green thumb!

(My apologies on the photo, it was taken from my cell phone. But you get the idea!)

butter.

butter!

First and foremost, I must give all credit to Nich for this idea. He was thumbing through one of my new favorite cookbooks – Jam It, Pickle it, Cure It – in order to teach himself how to cure (and smoke) bacon. While perusing the book, he also stumbled across a recipe for homemade butter. And so, while I was at work yesterday, dreaming about the delicious dinner I was going to make (Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Cilantro…but I’ll post on that later), I get a text message from my eager husband.

Nich: “I want to make butter!”

Which is not a text you get every day. Or ever, really.

Me: “Ok. When?”

Nich: “Tonight!”

And, who am I to argue with my husband wanting to make butter? So it was settled. Butter-making was in the cards.

So, Nich trotted off to the store and picked himself up a container of heaving whipping cream. He poured it into a large mason jar, screwed the lid on tight, and started shaking. Much to his delight, the Trailblazers were on TV and so he sat for a quarter of the game (near 30 minutes) and shook that mason jar full of cream. I don’t know what I expected, but I don’t think I expected it to be awesome.

But, 30 minutes of shaking…and well, the end result was awesome.

Nich opened the jar and poured off the liquids (the “buttermilk”) into a small container. When he was finished pouring off the liquid, there was a good amount of solid fat left in the mason jar. That fat is the delicious substance we like to call…BUTTER.

There is no point, really, in posting an official recipe. Basically…you take heavy cream (aka heavy whipping cream) and shake it in an airtight container for approx 30 minutes (or less). It will thicken as you shake it – eventually looking like whipped cream (but keep shaking!) – and eventually the whipped cream will break and the liquids will separate from the solids. Once this has happened, shake for another minute or two, and then pour off the liquid (buttermilk) and voila! You have butter. The butter we made is very light and creamy in texture (akin to a ‘whipped butter’), but it hardens up a bit after you chill it. Also, depending on if you prefer salted or unsalted butter, you can add a little salt to it at this point (mmmm, yes please. Love salt.).

We spread our homemade butter on homemade bread and ate insanely good soup and the night was a success. I feel like Little House on the Prairie overe here. Butter! I’m just so enamored.

*Brief note: I haven’t decided if making butter is cost effective, so I don’t know if this is something I’ll do all the time. Heavy cream costs about as much as butter in the store, and this requires work. But its not very much work, and you feel really cool when you say that you made your own butter. And, it does taste marvellous. So, decide for yourselves if its worth it.