Category Archives: Garden

Recipe: Meyer Vanilla Lemonade

One of the many benefits of living in California is the citrus!!!! Because of this I have a collections of dwarf citrus trees in my front yard. I have several Meyer lemon trees because they are my favorite. Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and mandarin or orange. They are sweeter than your average lemon and have a thinner skin. One of my favorite things to do with these lemons is make lemonade.

Lemonade in my AgHag chalice.

Lemonade in my AgHag chalice.

Meyer-Vanilla Lemonade

6 to 7 Meyer lemons (about one cup of juice, although I prefer one cup running over)
3/4 cup vanilla sugar*
5 cups water, divided
Ice

This smells like sunshine.

This smells like sunshine.

Bring one cup of water and sugar to a boil to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat and cool. Squeeze lemons, making sure to remove the seeds.
Add cooled simple syrup, lemon juice, and water into a pitcher and mix well. Serve over ice and with a lemon slice.

*Vanilla sugar is just sugar that I keep in a jar with a few gutted vanilla beans. It’s lovely for pastries, drinks and baked goods. It has a slight vanilla flavor that really compliments most things. You could add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the lemonade if you are using plain sugar. But I highly recommend getting a jar of vanilla sugar going for your pantry.

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Garden Hot Sauce

It was a good garden year for me. I managed to build a fence that kept the rats with horns deer out of my yarden, so I was able to grow all kinds of fun things. This year I inadvertently planted several different pepper plants. I have big peppers, little peppers, purple peppers, sweet peppers, well…..you get the idea.

This was exciting to me because for the past couple years, I’ve wanted to make my own hot sauce. I come from an area and culture (cough…hipsters….cough) that highly prize hot sauce. Sriracha and/or Tapatio are generally used with every meal, on everything. I’ve always heard how basic and easy hot sauce was to make, so I figured the time was now.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I got into fermenting kinda hardcore this summer.

I selected a very basic and old recipe for my hot sauce – salt water brine.  Other than the time it takes to ferment, this recipe is super quick and easy! The downside is it does take at least a month to bubble and ferment before you can blend and eat it.

 Fermented Hot Sauce

  • 5% Brine (that is 3 TBSP of salt per 1 quart of water)
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seed per pound of peppers
  • 1 small head of garlic per pound of peppers
  • 1 pound assorted peppers
  • Sliced onion
  • Grape leaves
See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it's working!

See how the brine is cloudy and the peppers have lost their volume? That means it’s working!


Place your mustard seed and peeled garlic on the bottom of your jar. Place your rough chopped peppers on top. I like to leave the crowns of the pepper on because I think it adds to the flavor. Layer a few slices of onion on top and then your grape leaf. Cover completely with your brine. You may need add a weight to keep your peppers or onion from sticking up through the water.

Cover your jar with either with a lid and ring or with a wire-bale jar.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

I used wild grape leaves on top of a slice on onion to keep everything submerged in the brine.

Let your jar ferment for 4 to 5 weeks. Once your peppers are no longer crunchy and the bubbling has stopped, remove the grape leaf and drain your peppers, garlic, onion and mustard away from the brine.

The left is the leftover brine, the right is "the sauce".

The left is the leftover brine, the right is “the sauce”.

Blend your peppers in your food processor, adding the brine to reach your desired consistency. I add a whisper of vinegar and sugar to enhance the flavor. Different vinegars can add an unique finish!

I'm not going to lie - this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

I’m not going to lie – this particular sauce was too hot for me! I gave it to my friends!

That’s it! Stick it back in a jar or bottle and keep it in your fridge!

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Wordless Wednesday: Table vs Oil Olive

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Zucchini Pickles

http://www.fix.com/blog/national-zucchini-day/

In honor of “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch” night, I thought this would be a good time to share with you my latest new favorite thing: zucchini pickles. I know, I know, at this point in the summer you are tired of squash. I was too, until I tried these!

Neighbor Pete told me his Mom used to make pickles out of zucchini and they were delicious. I was hesitant to say the least. But since he gave me several pounds of zucchini and a couple of onions from his garden, I decided to at least try!

Pete's garden zucchini

Pete’s garden zucchini

Guess what? They were amazing. I couldn’t even tell they were zucchini pickles, they tasted and had the texture of normal cucumber pickles! If you have a bunch of extra zucchini (who doesn’t, amirite?) I highly recommend you give these a go!

Lucas Family Bread and Butter Pickle Recipe

  • 1 gallon sliced zucchini
  • 2 big onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt
  • 1 quart vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
Soaking in salt ice is an important step, don't skip it.

Soaking in salt ice is an important step, don’t skip it.

Soak the zucchini, onions, and salt in an ice water bath for two and half hours. Rinse in cold water.

Invest in a cheap mandoline, it is worth it for the beautiful, uniform slices and not stitches!

Invest in a cheap mandoline, it is worth it for the beautiful, uniform slices and not stitches!

Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. I let it boil about 5 minutes. Put about half of the rinsed zucchini and onions in the pickling mixture to scald. Then place in sterilized, hot jars. Do the same with the rest of the zucchini and onions, making sure to pack them tightly and to remove air bubbles.

Your pickling liquid.

Your pickling liquid.

 Adjust your lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Glorious, glorious bread and butter pickles!

Glorious, glorious bread and butter pickles!

Let them “pickle” for about two weeks to really get the full effect. Also if you are a fan of spice, add some peppers in there! I’ve been adding jalapenos into some jars and it makes the pickles even better!

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Wordless Wednesday: Sunflowers

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