Canning Season 2010 Has Started

If you have too many cucumbers, preserve some of them. Or if you find cheap cucumbers, buy some to make relish. Relishes and pickles are easy to make and they taste good during the long winter months when the cucumbers in the shops are expensive and bad quality. I used slicing cucumbers, but I think pickling cucumbers would be just as good too. You can also make zucchini relish with this recipe, just use 1 kg zucchini instead of cucumbers.

Cucumber Relish

1 kg cucumbers
1 bell pepper
2 onions
2 medium hot chili pods, deseeded (or to taste)
4 tbsp chopped dill
2 dl distilled vinegar
2 dl sugar
4 dl water
2 tsp salt
2 tsp green peppercorns

Grate the cucumbers coarsely (or dice small), chop the onions, dice bell pepper and mince chilies. Combine in a bowl with dill. Mix vinegar, sugar, water, salt and peppercorns in a pot. Put on stove, turn the heat on and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring to boil, lower the heat and slowly boil about 5 minutes. Put the cucumber mixture into clean glass jars and pour the hot liquid on them. Make sure there are some peppercorns in each jar. Close lids, let cool and store in cellar or fridge. Let sit at least few days, preferably couple of weeks, before serving.

Everything Is Growing Well

Here’s some newer (July 20th) pictures from our garden. The weather has been very hot for couple of weeks and it hasn’t been raining. The garden has required a lot of watering, but it has been worth it, since all our plants have grown so much. We have already harvested over 2 kg snow peas, most of them are in our freezer.

The first summer squash.

Our cucumbers have never grown this well. It looks like it has been raining heavily, but it was us and a hose. There are lots of flowers, I hope they will produce lots of cucumbers too.

Our Little Garden

We have rented a piece of land to grow vegetables. Community gardens are great for people like us, who don’t have a back yard. It takes only 10 minutes to walk to the community garden from our home, and by bike that’s even quicker. We also grow herbs and lettuce on the balcony and several chili varieties indoors.

Our garden looked like this a month ago (June 15). Everything was just starting to grow. Bugs love all kind of cabbages, so we have our savoy cabbage and kohlrabi in the “tent” in the background. In front of it the onions and peas have started growing and on the left there is some summer squash (green and yellow). Everything else is still under ground.

Five days later (June 20). We have covered the cucumbers with gauze and potatoes in the horizontal rows have sprouted.

July 2. Peas and potatoes are growing very well. We have pulled most of the weeds, but there are still some between the beds.

The weather has been very hot for the last week or so and everything has grown fast. I went to water the plants yesterday, but didn’t have the camera with me. We’ll be posting more pictures during the summer.

Dill Pesto

Dill on our balcony has grown well and I used some to make pesto today. Then I used the pesto as a salad dressing for a pasta salad, because salads are great food for hot days like today. I made my pesto thinner than regular pestos, because I like it that way in salads. Decrease the amount of oil if you want to make it thicker. Crunchy lettuce, like ice berg lettuce, would be best for pasta salads, but I used some softer lettuce that we grow on our balcony.

Dill Pesto

Bunch of dill
2 tbsp pine nuts or sliced/slivered almonds
1 dl oil (preferably olive oil)
salt and pepper

Blend dill, pine nuts and about 0,5 dl oil. Add more oil to get the consistency you want. Season with salt and pepper.

Pasta Salad with Dill Pesto

7-8 dl cooked pasta (whole grain fusilli, for example)
1 batch dill pesto
3 dl corn kernels
1 bell pepper, cubed
about 15 cm piece cucumber, cubed
3 tomatoes, cut in wedges
small bunch of lettuce leaves
1,5 dl sliced onion stalks or 1 small onion

Combine pasta and pesto in a bowl. If your pasta is just cooked and you use frozen corn, add the corn too, because it will make the pasta cool down quicker.  Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and let sit in the fridge at least half an hour before serving.

Non-fried Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are usually fried, but non-fried are good too. And they’re easier to make. The filling of the non-fried rolls can be either raw or sautéed, I prefer sautéed. We had some last year’s plums in our freezer and I used them to make dip for the rolls. It needs improving, so I’m not posting a recipe for that. You can use store bought sweet chili sauce as dip too.

Spring Rolls

10 rice papers
1 carrot
1 celery rib
3 dl shredded cabbage
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp soy sauce
stalks of 1 onion, chopped
3-4 dl mung bean sprouts

Grate the carrot and slice the celery. Heat the oil in a pan and fry carrot, celery and cabbage couple of minutes. Add soy sauce and mint and simmer until the vegetables are tender but crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in bean sprouts and onion stalks.  Take a dish that is bigger than the rice papers and fill it with water. Put one rice paper to the water and let it soak until it’s soft. Put it on the table and put the second rice paper to the water. Put some filling on the wet rice paper and wrap. I like to do that on a towel, so the table won’t be flooding when I’m finished. If you need instructions for wrapping, check this tutorial. Serve the rolls with a sweet chili sauce or other dip.