Saturday, July 07, 2007

BloomingtonGirl Takes A Break

For now, anyway.

Loyal Readers, your BloomingtonGirl is going to take a break from Blogging for the month of July. There is another writing project - two actually- that need my attention at present.

Tune in again in August.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pickles!!!

Loyal Readers, yesterday when I was writing about all my little kitchen crafts, I forgot to post about the other important kitchen work I accomplished the other day. In fact, it is THE most MidWestern activity I have done since moving to Bloomington! (Other than gaining ten pounds of Hoosier Lard on my East Coast body over the past three years, but that is a topic for another time.)

BLOOMINGTONGIRL DID SOME CANNING!

Yep, it's true. BloomingtonGirl made pickles the other day using farm fresh cucumbers I got at the stellar Bloomington Farmers Market. I saw what looked like a nice recipe in Food and Wine Magazine and decided to go for it. Below are the pictures of

Every canning kitchen needs a big pot with a thermometer. This pot is actually a Lobster Pot, which after getting precious little use in the heartland, has found a new job.

Here is the pickling solution with the onions added. The solution is a mixture of cider vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, coarsely ground black pepper and tumeric.

Here are the six pounds of uniformly sliced cucumbers added in. I sliced them on my mandoline (thoughtfully given to me by my friend Val for my wedding shower.) These cucumbers were first brined in a salt solution overnight to impart flavor and crispness.


Here is an exciting picture of a jar of delicious pickles going into the processing bath. Note the fancy canning tongs purchased earlier in the day at Bloomington Hardware. Boy, did I feel like a real woman using those babies!



And, last but not least, here is a picture of the final product! They are much more gorgeous in real life, truly.





I know you are wondering how they tasted. I had about a quarter of a pint of pickles left over after canning six pints so I refrigerated them and tried them later in the day. They were crisp and tasty but I plan to modify the recipe on the next batch to give them more of a punch. Still, for a first effort, they weren't bad at all.

BloomingtonGirl Brags

Loyal Readers, I am sure that you have been wondering where your BloomingtonGirl was during this week-long absence. Well, I've been doing a couple of things, mostly. One, I have been sleeping. (I fear that I have either mono or I am anemic. I shall know after my doc's appointment). Second, I have been in my kitchen, playing the role of homemaker extraordinaire.

Since mono and anemia are quite dull, let us not waste any time on those subjects. (I don't want to become one of those ghastly people who when asked how he or she is doing/feeling, actually tell the real truth to the poor person who is asking. Eek.)

So, rather than dwell on the tedious health of your BloomingtonGirl, let's jump right to the riches coming out of her bustling kitchen, shall we?

One of my recent projects was a carry-over from an auction that happened some time ago for Jack's school. I made some cookies for sale and part of the deal was that the buyer got to take home the cookies and then order another set for delivery to a friend. Most people never order the second delivery but one lucky buyer did. She was in need of four hostess gifts for a trip she was taking and she asked if I could divide up the one large package into four smaller ones. And, she requested that I name the cookies after her, her husband and her daughter. So, I did.

Here are some photos of the project. One is of chocolate chip cookie batter ready to be chilled and the other is of the finished packaging.


The picture of the packages is actually of four "towers" of three types of cookies. Three of the "towers" are white and the fourth is craft colored. (The craft store didn't have enough white packs, but since four different people were getting the gifts, they didn't have to be uniform. Here is a close up of one set: (By the way, you can click on any photo and it will come up bigger if you want a close up.)

I am not going to lie, Loyal Readers. I was pretty pleased with my handy-work. Truth be told, I was feeling a little low after our trip to the East Coast and this project was just what the doctor ordered. It is my little art form. Yes, I know I could be spending my time on loftier goals, like world peace or just

DOINGMYPARTTOGETTHE
BUSHREPUBLICANS
THEHELLOUTOFOFFICE
!!

But, at the end of the day, I have to ask myself how I can be most effective in making the world a better place. The answer is always that I am most effective doing my humble little homemaking gig. People are happy when they get my cookies and that makes the world a better place, one person at a time. I really do believe this, as hokey as it sounds.

Enough of the philosophy thing. Let's move on to the other domestic projects that have been taking up my time.

As I mentioned some time ago, I was asked to be on a local Board of Directors. I accepted and it has been one of the most exciting and satisfying things I have done since moving to this wonderful culturally rich little town. The organization is Cardinal Stage Company and it is the real deal as far as theatre is concerned. It is Bloomington's first professional theatre company and it is an amazing organization.

More on the greatness of Cardinal Stage in a later post. Believe me, it is worth learning about.

I am the Chair of the Stewardship Committee, which is essentially responsible for taking good care of our donors, an activity that is right up my alley. In that spirit, I am making cookie gifts for everyone who donated money last year. Here is a photo of the bags, ready to be filled with cookies and thank-you notes.
It is a labor of love, believe me. I get such satisfaction creating something that looks nice and that will make the recipient feel festive. Call me corny. I can take it. They will be delivered on Thursday afternoon and good money says that those receiving them will be repeat donors. Yessirree.

In other news, there isn't much...other news, that is. I think that I shall sign off and get ready for bed.

Bye for now, Loyal Readers.

PS...there are a couple new recipes on my recipe blog. You might want to check them out...

Really Great Recipes