Last week I called my friend Rebecca and told her that I had about 10 pickling cucumbers that I had to learn something to do with. She jumped on the challenge since she is a pro and came over the next day for a fun pickling day. I took the boys out early in the morning and harvested the cucs. I dunked them into ice water to crisp up the skin and gathered our other ingredients. We decided on the Epicurious recipe for the pickles and made a couple of adaptations.

Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles

adapted from Epicurious 2001

  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3pounds/1.5kg)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) white vinegar
  • 2 cups (500 mL) water
  • 2 tablespoons (25 mL) pickling salt (we used sea salt…pickling salt is used to prevent funny coloring, our garlic is a little purple but as long as you don’t mind funny coloring they are safe and the taste is unchanged)
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds (20 mL)
  • 4 small cloves garlic
  • we added a tsp of pickling spice to the jars as well

1. Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber (ours were going to be too big to fit in the jar so we cut them into spears)

2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Remove hot jars from canner. Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp (5 mL) dill seeds and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of rim (head space). Process 10 minutes for pint (500 mL) jars and 15 minutes

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We decided while the kitchen was already messy we would make some sour cherry jam from some cherry’s Rebecca had picked the day before. The kids aided in the pitting, although Jackson was soon dismissed from his services after the pile kept diminishing from taste testing.

























We’re headed to Texas for two weeks along with a couple of jars of dill pickles! We are hoping to return to a tomato extravaganza if the neighborhood animals don’t feast before we get back! (I tried to talk Seth into a webcam set up so I can watch it grow but he nixed that one pretty fast…it’s hard to leave when it’s about to be at it’s prime! Slow down babies!)

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Throughout the garden season I am going to attempt to share what we are actually making with our produce from the garden. This week we have had two rounds of squash and last night I picked 3 big zucchini’s! We had squash one night this week already for the first time in the season and it had lots more flavor than the grocery store version.














We used the zucchini for zucchini bread. (I doubled the Joy of Cooking Recipe which turns out great. There are a million recipes online if you don’t happen to have that cookbook)! The boys love it and it’s a great way to get them to eat one of their not so favorite vegetables.  I have hope that by the end of the summer they will be eating them more willingly in the sauteed form, but we will get there gradually! They eat them, just not with enthusiasm.













For sauteed squash I have been using a little olive oil and butter and then tossing in a sliced shallot. When the shallot gets going I toss in sliced squash and zucchini and saute until tender and golden. We served it tonight with baked salmon and quinoa.













Last up on the squash and zucchini line up is this “Summer Soup”

Vegetable and Ham Soup

(Bon Appetite I think, if anyone knows specifics please feel free to leave it in comments section!)

2 T Olive Oil

2 med onions

1 large zucchini (or 2 small)

1 large yellow squash (or 2 small)

2 (15 oz) cans of canellini beans

2 (14.5 oz) cans low sodium chicken stock

1/2 lb diced ham (look for a thick slice from the grocery store…normally in the deli section or with lunch meat aisle)

2 med tomatoes, seeded and chopped (if you make this in the fall or winter when tomatoes aren’t in season use a can of diced tomatoes)

1 (7 oz) package premade (or homemade) basil pesto

Heat oil in a large saucepan over med-low heat. Add onions. Saute around 8 mins or until translucent.

Cut zucchini and squash lengthwise into fourths. Add to saucepan and season with pepper. Cook until crisp tender, stirring occasionally for about 6 mins.

Remove from heat. Mix in beans with their liquid, ham, broth and tomatoes. Mix in 2 Tbsp of pesto. Bring to a simmer and serve or bring to room temperature and store.




















I actually don’t know the proper name for this soup but if I am remembering right it is from a Bon Appetite cookbook. We eat this soup year round (unless it’s super hot out) and although I know soup isn’t always appealing in the heat this one is light and fresh for not so hot days…or freeze it for the Fall. Unlike most soups that need lots of time to simmer and thicken this one is done super fast and helps get in vegetables! Also I find that I rarely cook with ham and beans so it adds a little variety to our menus.

Top this with a little fresh grated Parmesan cheese and serve with some baguette or, in the case of this picture when we had it in the fall, we had it with grilled cheese.  And while the pesto is out why not spread it on your grilled cheese too?!

Next up… Garden Eats: Pickles!

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At my last OB appointment they asked me if I wanted to do a genetic screening blood test. While I would never even consider terminating a pregnancy I am absolutely on board with knowing what we can to know how to prepare. I asked if the test would also give us information on the sex of the baby….yep and with 99.4% accuracy! I left my appointment and talked to Seth. He had known I might have testing done but never asked about it so I decided as long as he didn’t ask I wouldn’t mention it and then would be able to surprise him once I got the call. The midwife mentioned it would be done in a week…so I called at the one week mark. And the two week mark. By week 3 I was going a bit crazy wanting to find out but also a bit terrified to get a call when I was by myself.

Last Monday my phone rang while I was seeing a speech patient. I silenced the call and called them back as soon as I left the appointment. It went to the nurses voice mail so I eagerly awaited her call back. When she called back she told me that the baby looks healthy with no blaring neural tube stuff going on. The baby looks great! Whew. And then she asked if we wanted to know the gender. I said “OF COURSE!!!”. She told me it’s a girl. I asked her to repeat it because certainly she was mistaken. We make boys…everyone we know for months have been telling us it had to be a boy, yada, yada. But she said again with a slight laugh at me that “it is in fact a GIRL, a female!”  (We have had lots of questions on whether or not we wanted a boy or girl. Anyone that knows we well knows that I have always longed for a daughter. I had totally prepared myself that this baby could very well be a boy and that that would also mean that we would likely not ever have a daughter. I had no doubt that we would be over the moon with another boy but I also see something so special in families with little girls. It’s just different. So in many ways this little girl is an answer to lots of prayers! I thought the answer would be that God would give me peace without having a daughter so it feels like an amazing treat that he decided to bless us with what we so much desired.)

Now I had this big secret. I couldn’t wait for Seth to be home to tell him!!!!

When I got home from work I dug out the couple of little girl things I had from friends during my other two pregnancies. I decided it would be fun to hang them inside Seth’s closet so when he got home and went to hang up his suit he would see the girl clothes.  Needless to say he was thrilled with the news but also in disbelief like me.  In such disbelief that he called the doctors office himself the next day to confirm!

The next day we decided to tell the boys.  We filled a big metal bucket with balloons and when they pulled off the quilt a bunch of pink balloons popped out. They are delighted with the news and can’t wait to meet their little sister!






































On Friday we are all going together for the 20 week sonogram! Jackson is so excited to get out of school to go “meet” the baby. Can’t wait for our little date with her.  We are nearly half way to meeting her which is hard to believe. With two big ones and tons of activities going on I am afraid she will be here before we have time to blink!


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Hi folks! While it’s not time yet to go on and on about tomatoes and pesto I thought I would throw out a few recipes we have tried lately that will now stay in the rotation! The basil plants aren’t ready for quarts of pesto we are tossing basil and fresh herbs into just about everything these days!  I would love to have more pictures to share but since I am just now back into cooking again I am not in my cooking/picture groove.  Since I don’t have many new pics I’ll toss in some from my day trip to Italy last May.














Giada’s Tri Color Orzo Pasta Salad This one is light and fresh! I subbed spinach for arugula thinking the kids might like it more but really the adults were the ones that ate it! My mom turned me on to this when my cousin made it and it was all the rage. Unlike lots of pasta salads this one is light and lemony without a heavy sauce!

Grilled Marinated Flat Steak This is the best marinade I have found in a while. I found some sirloin flap steak at Costco a couple of months ago and had never used “flap steak” before so I did a quick searcharoo. Up popped this recipe and it has been great every time we use it! *Just to clarify, the link takes you to a blog that has both a rub and a marinade. I used the marinade but my mom tried out the rub. The rub looks spicy, the marinade has lots of flavor but no spice which is nice with a crowd!

Any season appetizer…Baked Fontina  . This is delish! You literally cut up fontina, toss it into a small cast iron skillet and top it with fresh herbs, olive oil and garlic. Broil it and serve it with baguette! Thanks, Ina! It’s not for an outdoor summer gathering like a bbq but we had a chilly afternoon a few weeks ago when we had family over and it was a great preview to the above steak. To make it more summery you could toss sun-dried tomatoes on top and then when it comes out top it with fresh chopped basil or drizzle with pesto. Or even be really adventurous and in season and try it with one of those raspberry chipotle sauces or sliced peaches.













Mini potatoes- once it gets hot we are not in the mood for heavy potato meals but I am not always in the mood for all cold salads as sides. We have used the mini potatoes from Trader Joe’s before for fondue but I picked up a bag last week and they were a perfect summer dinner side. I boiled them for 15 or 20 minutes or so until they were tender. I then heated a cast iron skillet and added a little bit of butter, olive oil, garlic and a small shallot sliced. I tossed in the potatoes for a quick saute. When they were looking nice and golden I turned off the heat and tossed them with a tablespoon of fresh herbs. I used parsley, thyme and rosemary since we had those handy.













Don’t despair….tomatoes and pesto are on their way! Tomato basil pie will be here before you know it!

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