I Just Couldn’t Resist Showing Some Pics of My Day….

Yes, I’m addicted to photos. Thank God smart phones now have such a nice built in camera which makes it easier to use verses the days when I used get my dear, Canon SLR out of my back pack to photograph something. Now days, I just whip out my phone and can record my life story as it unfolds before me.

If I could have chosen a career path, 35 years ago, it would have been photo journalism. Not that I was trained as a journalist, far from it since I can barely string together a proper sentence, but I loved imagery and I loved the words that described images. My constant phrase is: “if you don’t have a photo, it didn’t happen.”  I kind of mean that, but I worry about all the things that would not have happened if I had not photos so there goes that sentiment down the drain.

This blog is mostly about the Farm here at Seven Oaks, (capitalization makes important words stand out, eh?) but I may have to interject some other photos from my day/s to make it what I want it to be…more of a log of all aspects of my life. (Just wait for the knitting photos that will flood this area in the coming winter months!)

Photography on an iPhone doesn’t come close to an ideal, but here are some of my pics from my other day time occupation.

I was picking up some plated hardware at Theiss Plating in good ole STL today and I saw this gorgeous item! IMG_4747It caught my breath!

My dear friend, Lockwood, (an employee who I regularly deal with there) told me the history of it. It is in the possession of a man who owns a restaurant in O’Fallon (not sure if this is O’F ,MO or O’F, IL). This service urn is was a feature on display at their restaurant but had somehow fallen and was damaged. So Theiss Plating was repairing it and brought it back to its original luster. It is a magnificent piece in every way! The interior is porcelain lined and the exterior is obviously copper and brass with wooden handles that act as insulation for ones hands when serving. It was a joy to be able to see it and touch it!

One of the best parts of this story is that a local family business produced this item back in the day. Kismet…the family that owns this business, Ford Restaurant Supply, (at one time perhaps Ford Hotel supply?) http://www.fordstl.com/ , is still in operation here in STL. I know this because the family lives two doors down from me! See the tag on the piece?

IMG_4748 (1)Wow, I just love bumping into these types of items as I go about my day.

Another photo of the day is one of the “grouchy” painters. My day is made up of running from job site to job site and making sure things are as I designed them to be. By the time things get to the painting stage, I’m often not critical to the picture, but my clients often want me to crack the whip on all stages of the project so I try to keep the painters in line even if they resent it. So, with all good intentions of winning over the cranky painters on one of my jobs, today I plied them with donuts and it seemed to cheer them up a bit. Here they are, gladly posing with a box of goodies!

I don’t know why I have some satisfaction from these pics, but they are things that I have bumped along to see today and if I don’t share them, they are perhaps lost.

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The Art of Sandwich Making….or Why We Eat So Many Pickles

So, I was at it again yesterday…yes, pickling, but only after a long day at work so unfortunately, I did not start the processing until late afternoon. This time, I’m investigating the dill category of the pickle making world. My mother told me that my sister, Lisa, prefers the dills to the sweets, so what better reason to get my act together on dills!?!

Last year, in addition to lots of sweet pickles, bread ‘n butter pickles and pickle relish, I also made Fresh Kosher Dills. The dills were simple to make and beautiful to look at but they didn’t taste very ‘dill’ like. I used a recipe that called for whole pickles, as many of the dill recipes prescribe, but unless you are going to just chomp on a whole pickle – as many true delis serve them -slicing the pickles to lay on a sandwich is just one extra step at sandwich making time. I guess you can say that slicing the cucumbers at pickle making time is the same time consumption, but I’m trying to gain appreciation for the final product so I guess I can slice a million cucumbers before hand in order to gain a smile from the sandwich maker, Dave, at lunch time.

It finally dawned on me that the dill pickles I really wanted to make today were actually called “Hamburger Dills”. This category of pickles are both dill and sliced. This does not mean that I won’t try the whole dills again, but there is something about building a sandwich with a pickle slice as one of the layers that is intuitive to us. I just consulted Farmer Dave on this subject and he was cute to give his definition of a sandwich: “Two pieces of bread, a condiment or two (such as Nancy’s homemade mustard), pickles, cheese and whatever else you have on hand as far as other ingredients.”

So, sandwich making in our household almost always includes a pickle. We even put pickles on grilled cheese. If you have not tried it, you should! Yes, the pickle is included between the slices of bread and various cheeses rather than served on the side. Divine, especially with my mustard!

As we have plenty of cucumbers (as well as plenty of newly processed jars of pickles) at the ready we have started to offer some of each to friends and have been gobsmacked with the answers we have received. One friend recently said they still had the pickle jar in the fridge from several months ago and acted as if that might last them until Christmas. Another friend declined the offer of pickling cucumbers to process into pickles since hardly anyone in their family ate them.

This is starting to sound a bit like the chicken and the egg scenario. Do we eat so many pickles because we have so many cucumbers? or do we grow so many cucumbers because we love pickles so much? Well, I guess the answer is obvious since we planted even more varieties of cucumbers that are specifically for pickling than we did last year. Boy, are we glad, but we must be oddly pickle crazy. Perhaps this pickle craziness stems from the German blood that rages in both our bodies…the Luehrman/Graupner/Telligman/Sauerhoffs were all attracted to vinegar?!? Vinegar is good for the digestive system and some even say it makes one smarter! (No, I just added that since I’m becoming a little pickle sensitive.)

So, as I started out the processing today, I began with 9 pounds of lovely cucumbers which I washed and scrubbed in order to create two batches of hamburger dills. IMG_4763

I sliced them up and brined them with pickling salt and tap water and let them sit for two hours in my large crocks. IMG_4767

I put a plate on each batch and added the weight of no less than my jars of vinegar for some pressure. They will brine like this for two hours. IMG_4768

In the meantime, I have to tell about my new favorite item. It is a compost container that I got on a recent trip to the local Williams Sonoma store. I found this item on the ‘Sale, Sale, Sale’ shelf and just love that I can replace the plastic yogurt container I keep under my sink, for the same purpose, with this lovely item. I’m almost tempted to keep it on the counter top!

IMG_4744Those are not just holes in the top of the lid…there is a black filter that tucks up into the underside of the lid and provides for air circulation while keeping the fruit flies away. I wanted to buy all of these they had and give them for gifts in order to encourage everyone to compost their kitchen parings, but I held back. If anyone reads this in a timely fashion, they are probably still available to purchase!

Back to the pickle making… After letting them brine in pickling salt and water for two hours, I drained and rinsed them. I then concocted a mixture of white vinegar and garlic cloves and heated it up on the stove top and brought that to a boil. IMG_4769

I pulled out the garlic cloves and added two to each prepared pint jar. Each jar also received some dill, dill seeds and several black peppercorns. The reason I added the dill seeds was due to the fact that this dill was very young and had not gone to seed yet. The seed, I’ve learned, has much of the dill flavor.

Then I added the cuke slices to the hot vinegar mixture and cooked them until they changed from bright green to dull green. IMG_4773

I then loaded up the waiting jars with the cukes and they looked like this before I capped them. IMG_4774

After processing the jars in the boiling water bath, they came out all shiny and wonderful! Viola, 12 pints of hamburger dills! IMG_4776

In other news, the harvest today was over 32 pounds and Dave asked me to photograph it.

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Total year to date of harvest is 390 pounds, 82 pounds of which are cucumbers, thus, a blog with the sub title, ‘Why We Eat So Many Pickles’!

By the way, Dave says the melons are multiplying like rabbits! He put newspaper under more than 20 of them yesterday in order to protect the bottoms from sitting in damp conditions as they sit and ripen. I can’t wait but part of the reason for that is that we do not process them, we just eat them and it is a whole lot less work on my part!