Refrigerator Pickled Asparagus

Some things I’ve forgotten about Wisconsin while I lived in Wyoming:

  • Rain is a real thing, and sometimes it can even rain for an entire day here.
  • Ticks are prolific.
  • Lawnmowers are a tool used more than twice per summer, and it is not primarily used to mow weeds.
  • Crops grow.  A lot.

We were fortunate to have a pretty decent-sized asparagus bed established when we moved in (and I even found a second while mowing the jungle behind our main yard–score!) and the hub-dubs has been harvesting an average of one pound/day.  The plus side of this is that I am  much better at cooking a vegetable for each meal.  The downside is that it’s a lot of asparagus.  A.  Lot.  There’s one more upside to having a lot of asparagus though: you can pickle it.  There are many crops that taste great pickled: cucumbers (duh), beans (waiting patiently to make my first batch of dilly beans), and, coincidentally, asparagus.  This recipe is a somewhat spicy version, but it’s pretty amazeballs.  If you don’t like spice, you should not be eating pickles, and you can omit the jalapeno and/or the mustard.

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Oh Bill Dill.  Here’s what you need (makes 4 pints):

Wide-mouth quart jars, sterilized

2 c. water

2/3 c. white distilled vinegar

2.5 T. sugar

3 t. dried dill (if you have fresh dill springs, throw one in each jar.  Yum-o.)

1 onion, sliced

1/4 c. canning salt (do not use regular salt)

1 jalapeno, sliced 4 cloves garlic

1 t. ground mustard

1 T. peppercorns

Asparagus

Here’s a good tip about the asparagus: the vinegar softens it up a bit, so you can use the woody stuff that you maybe missed for a couple days.  Woot.  Ok, so here’s what you do to get you on the path to sweet pickled goodness: Sterilize your jars and lids first.  You can check out a lot of websites for how to sterilize your junk, but the basic rules are: boil everything, only use clean rags, and don’t touch the tops.

Add everything except the asparagus, garlic, and fresh dill (if you are using any) to a large pot and boil over medium-low heat until the sugar and salt are both dissolved.

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Meanwhile, cut your asparagus to length–about the point where the screw part of the jar starts (I think that’s a little over an inch of headspace).

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Throw in a pot of boiling water for like 2 minutes to blanch it.  Then, lay the jars on their sides and start packing in the asparagus.  You want to pack it in pretty tight.

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Then, stand the jars up and add the garlic.  Then, quickly pour in the brine and make sure some jalapenos and onions make it into each jar (two more foods that are delightful when pickled).  A canning funnel makes this step much easier.

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The heat from the brine is what helps create a seal on the jar, so don’t dilly-dally.  Wipe any spilled brine off the rim of the jar with a clean rage soaked in hot hot hot water (remember, boil everything).  Place in an undisturbed area for about 2 weeks.  You could eat after a week, but it’s worth the extra week for better flavor.  Then, transfer your jars to your refrigerator. It’s safe to store these pickles in your fridge for 2-3 months so you can enjoy them for quite awhile! IMG_2041

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Honey lavender Ice Cream

The first disclaimer I have to make is that ice cream is hard to photograph, especially for someone with relatively little skill at photography.  The first reason is that it’s a blob of frozen cream and milk, so it’s a blob.  The second reason is that there are only so many angles from which to shoot a blob.  As a result, there are only a couple photos with this post, but I promise you that you will want to make this recipe over and over and over again.

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It all begins with some lavender.  Did you know you can eat lavender and it tastes fantastic? Well it does.  Pair it with some honey and you have the base for a lot of delicious things in life.

I was first inspired to invent this recipe after I saw (and made) a recipe for lavender cupcakes.  Here’s what I came up with for the ice cream recipe:

1 c. cream

1 c. milk (preferably whole)

1 t. ground lavender buds

1/4 c. honey

Easy peasy.  First,  you need to grind your lavender and remember that a little bit goes a long, loooooong ways.  I used a mortar and pestle:

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The lavender should be very fine and free of twigs, seeds, and other hard stuff.  While you are crushing your lavender, put the cream and milk in a mixer and whip slightly for a minute or two.  Pre-whipping the cream helps the ice cream stay airy and light. Then add the honey:

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{Ohhhh, action shot}

Once the honey has been mixed in, add the lavender and some red and blue food coloring to make it purple if you wish ( I added 2-3 drops of each color and as you can see, it’s pretty pale.  5 drops of each color should do it though.).  Stir it by hand a bit to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated and throw it into your ice cream maker for about 25 minutes .

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Then eat the whole bowl.

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Tommy Pickles Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

This ain’t your mama’s cheeseburger bake.  But it sort of is my mama’s.

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Pickles on pasta WHAAAAAT?! That’s right my friends, this mac-and-cheese is on steroids.  And dill.  It’s everything you want in a pasta plus everything you want in a good burger.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the add-ons:

1# ground beef

1 large can (28-oz) petite diced tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

1/2-1 c. pickles

2 T. butter

1/4 c. bread crumbs

Yellow mustard

For the mac and cheese:

2 c. macaroni

1/4 c. butter

1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 c. milk

1/2# (or 1 1/4-1 1/2 c.) cubed American cheese, or something equally meltable

A lot of mathy-type thought went into making this recipe.  By mathy, I mean I made a Venn Diagram of everything that went on a burger, everything that can go into pasta, and what would overlap.  Lettuce was clearly on the only burger side, but mustard was a little more of a gray area.  That’s basically how pickles made the cut and about as mathy as I get.

Anyways…

First, dice up the onion and throw it in a skillet with the burger, brown it up, and set it aside.  Meanwhile, cook your noodles until they are al dente. While all that’s going on, dice up your pickles and put those in a casserole dish along with the meat, tomatoes, and noodles.

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Then make your mac-and-cheese roux.  It’s easy!

Melt the butter (only the amount for the mac-and-cheese).  Add flour.  Whisk vigorously.

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It will be all thick and kind of gross looking, but then stir the milk in very slowly–start with a tablespoon at a time–and keep whisking until the roux is incorporated into the milk.  Simmer over low heat until it begins to boil and then add the cheese.

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Pour the sauce over everything in the casserole dish and mix well.  In a bowl, melt the remaining 2 T. butter in the microwave.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and then pour on top.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Garnish with more pickles (MOAR PICKLES) and drizzle with yellow mustard if you so choose.  Enjoy!

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