Pickles in my kitchen!

I know, I know. I promised to post this last week, but then work got super busy, and I forgot! So a couple of weeks ago, I made some pickled beets (see here for recipe – I doubled the brine & spices) and Thai-style pickled carrots (see bottom of post). I haven’t opened them up yet, given that they’re usually best after they’ve sat for at least a month. I plan to bring a jar of each over to my parents’ for a taste test the weekend we put the Christmas tree up! I was inspired by a GINORMOUS canning pot my aunt gave me (it even dwarfs my dutch oven, which is pretty big – please forgive my dirty stovetop).

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The first task with pickled beets is to cook them. My mom always used to boil them for about 45 minutes, then wait for them to cool, peel them, etc. So to save some time, I cooked them in the Instant Pot (10 minutes, NPR – in retrospect, they got a bit soft, I could probably have gotten away with 6-7 minutes). I peeled and chopped them, and put them in the fridge until the next day.

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The next day, I prepped the brine, for which I had to run out to get sugar (I never have actual sugar in my house). Because what kind of French Canadian doesn’t know that beets are pickled in sweet brine? This one. That’s what kind. I didn’t want bits of spice in my jars, so I used tea filters to contain them. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, and one thing we have no shortage of in my house is tea filters, so off to the races we went. The nice thing about these particular filters is that they tie shut with a string, so I just tied the string to my pot handles!

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Unfortunately, they didn’t have any wide-mouth pint jars at the store, but they did have two cases of these amazing pint-and-a-half jars, so I bought those. The batch I made (15 lbs of beets, roughly) filled 9 jars. I put a few thin wedges of onion in each jar, for additional flavor (plus, beet-brined onions are DELICIOUS).

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I had a bit of extra brine, and I didn’t want to waste it – it smelled so good! I had to double the recipe for the amount I was prepping, so I chopped up a few onions and popped them into a pint jar with the leftover brine.

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I know it sounds tedious, but the boiling water bath is NOT a step you want to skip. These got 30 minutes in the water, according to the recipe. The carrots got the same treatment. You can tell I was tired by this point, because although I washed my dutch oven and started the carrots right away, this is when I stopped taking pictures LOL I didn’t follow much of a recipe for the carrots, I had made those before.

I had bought fewer carrots than I had beets, so this recipe only made 7 pint-and-a-half jars (750mL). For thinner carrots, you don’t have to quarter them. Judge based on your pinky. The pieces should be about that thickness. Again, due to the amount of veg I had, I doubled the brine recipe. I will write the recipe as if I only had 5 lbs of carrots (should make 5 or 6 pint jars, ish). Now keep in mind, Thai chilies are HOT. So these carrots have a bit of a kick to them.

Thai-Style Pickled Carrots

5 lbs carrots, peeled, cut to the length of the jar, and quartered
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
Thai chilies, whole
lemongrass – one stalk for each jar
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly

In a pot, boil water, vinegar and pickling salt. In each clean, sterilized jar, place 1 slice of onion. Pack each jar tightly with carrot sticks, one stalk of lemongrass, and 2-3 Thai chilies. Ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1″ of headspace. Close jars fingertip tight and place in a boiling water bath. Process for 30 minutes. Let rest in water for 5 minutes, then remove to countertop. I usually place a dishtowel on the counter to prevent scorching.

Enjoy!

Accountability, and changing habits

One thing that generally helps lift depression for me is the time change. I never do well with Daylight Savings Time, and always feel better in the fall when things go back to “normal”. I’m sort of the opposite of a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Another thing that helps is concentrating on self-care and improving my habits. I mentioned in the podcast this week that I’ve been neglecting my blood sugar (ran out of medication and it was a little while before I could get some more), and my diet, and basically everything. It all snowballed into a blood sugar reading of 26 mmol/L on Sunday night, and that scared the hell out of me (for anyone who uses a different system, “normal” is between 4 and 7 on this scale).

So Rob challenged me to come up with a plan, and to write it down. So I did. I sat down with a cup of Green Gables black tea with strawberries that my boss brought back from PEI, and I wrote out a chart on which I get stickers when I hit my goals for the day. I’m a sucker for stickers, so this works well for me πŸ™‚ I thought I would share it – as a Word document, so you can customize it if you want.

Weekly Accomplishments

My plan was to post each week’s completed chart as part of whatever post is going up. I know I promised pickling recipes, and they’re coming. I did nine 1.5 pint jars of beets, and seven 1.5 pint jars of Thai-style carrots yesterday, as well as a pint of sweet onion pickles (I had brine left over from the beets). That post will be up later this week. Episode 57 of the podcast has also been uploaded, so if you haven’t had a chance to check that out, here it is.

We got downright BURIED in snow last night, and of course, my neighbourhood wasn’t plowed this morning. It was a good reminder that I need to bring my boots home from the office. Part of today’s exercise is going to be shovelling around my car and putting the winter tires in the trunk (my appointment is on Thursday). I hope everybody else is weathering things well. The photo is from last week’s temporary snowfall. We got a lot more than this last night!

Snow on ground from bus stop near my house.

Finished projects? What finished projects?

So apparently I really suck at taking photos of my finished projects before I give them away. Here, let me show you…

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Now, two of those projects haven’t been given away. They’re mine. But I’ve misplaced the mittens (and I really miss them, because it’s COLD outside), and I haven’t blocked the Color Affection yet, because I suck at blocking. (For the record, clockwise from top left: Color Affection by Veera VΓ€limΓ€ki knit out of Night Owl Fibers Basic Sock in colourways Rusty Hook, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Leather Boots; Knotty Mittens by Tessa Rexroat knit out of Bear in Sheep’s Clothing Bear Masham in the Squall colourway; Winterlong by Bristol Ivy knit out of (discontinued) Filtes King Velour in colourway 1317; and Peppermint Mocha Socks by C.C. Almon knit out of Tilting Planet Apollo Sock in the Ocean in a Bucket colourway.)

It’s kind of like when I’m cooking, and I think afterward, “Man, I really should have taken pictures while I was prepping this, because it’s really good! And I want to share the recipe on the blog, but now I have no pictures!”

Suffice to say, I’m not very good at planning out blog posts ahead of time. But I’m going to try to improve on that. Just like I’m constantly trying to improve my organizational skills and my abilities to plan things out before they surprise me. These are things that are negatively affected by depression and executive dysfunction. So I’m a work in progress. Just like my knitting projects πŸ™‚

I’m still working on the same two projects, incidentally…. Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowry (Drea Renee Knits designs), and a sock pattern of my own design that I’ve been dragging my feet on (see what I did there?) because I decided to try something different out for the sole, it’s not working out, and I can’t bring myself to rip back AGAIN. So I’m just not knitting on them right now. I have other WIPs that are more time-sensitive, but the Find Your Fade is bringing me joy right now, and I need a bit of that, so FYF it is! (By the way, I was at Rhinebeck, and I was THIS CLOSE to Andrea Mowry! I was too shy to bother her.)

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Some of my upcoming posts will be about pickling, knitting, and cooking. I’m trying to work out a schedule so that my updates are more regular. And then maybe I’ll feel a little bit less like life keeps tackling me as I’m trying to walk down a flight of stairs. Maybe. πŸ™‚