My Pickle Challenge

You might be asking yourself, why are you calling this post the pickle challenge?  Seriously, Sharon you are pickling something, it isn’t like you are climbing Mount Everest.   That is true, but please understand, this is totally out of my comfort zone.  This is coming from the girl who really didn’t understand the point of the produce section in the grocery store when I first went to college (outside of bananas, apples, and a occasional potato).

As part of my new journey to better myself, I decided I wanted to challenge myself, in both little things and big things.  You see I tend to get bored easily.  For the last couple of years, I have been well bored being at home.   This has nothing to do with being a stay at home mom though.  It more has to do with me personally.  Before I became a mom I had a very challenging job, yet I tended to get bored doing it as well.  I think it has to do with doing the same things everyday and falling into drudgery.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized that it is really up to me to challenge myself in new and interesting ways.   With that in mind, I want to push myself to try new things that maybe I was sure I couldn’t do or perhaps was just uncomfortable with.

I have thought about making pickles before and I honestly thought, “Who am I, Martha Stewart?”  The answer to that question is definitely not.  Which is the reason I had to look up a pickle recipe online to give this a good shot.  I found a refrigerator pickle recipe by Alton Brown.

http://www.food.com/recipe/alton-browns-bread-and-butter-pickles-217129

Here is the first pickle recipe I am going to attempt.  These pickles are more like a sweet pickle. I plan to take you on the journey with me, so you will get to see my entire experience.  I promise you I will still post this even if it is an epic fail.

With that in mind, this challenge started when I received a ton of pickling cucumbers in my 30lbs of veggies box for $5.  Whenever I do that, I know I am in for some sort of food adventure.  Sure, I could chop up the cucumbers and just eat them, but what fun would that be? (Not to mention that would be a really boring blog post)

My daughter and I went and bought all of our necessary spices and a couple of appropriate jars to store our pickles in.  The frustrating thing is when I got back home I discovered my cucumbers went moldy over night…..AHHHHHH!!!!!  I told you I would take you on the full journey.  So, bummer, but back to Sprouts I went.

Now I have beautiful, fresh cucumbers.  Thank you Sprouts (no they don’t pay me to say that, wouldn’t that be nice though)

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I took four of my little beauties and washed them thoroughly and patted them dry.  I used four of these because the recipe called for two medium cucumbers.  I consider these small.

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I then sliced the onions thinly.

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I put all of the onions and cucumbers into my jar.  I then combined all of the other ingredients in the pan to bring them to a boil.  I boiled the ingredients for a full four minutes.  I should say my son and I boiled the ingredients for a full four minutes.  No cooking happens in my house without my junior chef.  He is truly in love with all things cooking.  He even dressed as a chef for Halloween.

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After four minutes were up, I carefully poured the pickling liquid into the jar.  It filled the jar all the way to the brim.  I allowed it to sit for a minute, and I was then able to fit the rest of the pickling liquid into the jar.

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These pickles need to sit in the fridge for a while before they will be ready.  I firmly believe variety is the spice of life, so on to pickling recipe number two.  Again, I depended on Alton Brown for this one.  These pickles are more of a sour pickle.  I did do my own riff on this recipe by adding some dill to my pickling liquid.  I also could not figure out what champagne vinegar is but after some research online that said I can substitute White Wine Vinegar, I decided to go for it.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/kinda-sorta-sours-recipe.html

I went to start my next recipe and discovered something important…..oye I ran out of Cider Vinegar.  Alas I did not have enough and it is off to Wal-Mart again.

The second recipe was much like doing the first.  I started by washing my cucumbers, patting them dry and slicing them thin.  I also sliced my onion thin.

Thinly sliced cucumbers

I filled my other pickle jar with my onion and cucumber.  This time I took a little more care to layer them in the jar fairly evenly, instead of having the onions all on the bottoms and the cucumber on top.  I don’t know if this will make any difference, but they look prettier in the jar.

This time, me and my team of junior chefs boiled all of the other ingredients for four whole minutes.

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Don’t you love my mess on the counter in the background….keeping it real.  Once we finished boiling our pickling liquid, I carefully poured it into the jar of cucumbers and onions.  Again, I had to let the liquid settle a minute before I could fit it all in the jar.

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Yes I did just used Christmas name tag stickers to label my pickle jars.  I have a bunch left over and figured that was the most efficient way and they are kind of pretty, much better than my other option which was cutting a piece of paper out and packing taping it to the jar.  Regardless, my pickle challenge is done.  None of us could wait until the pickles have actually sat in the jar for a whole week before we tried them…..really who has that much self-control?  They are both divine.

Next time around, I will be more careful to make sure I have all my ingredients on hand.  It was a waste to have to go back and forth to the grocery store.  This was actually a really simple thing to do.  I did have to put in an initial investment to get jars, and all the spices, but now that I have them, I can easily make my own pickles whenever the urge strikes me.  Yay for learning something new and thank you to Alton Brown for providing me with awesome recipes.

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What If I Fail?

I just celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary.  I remember right after I got married, I was terrified to cook for my new husband.  I was not a great cook….I could boil water like a champ and I could make such favorites as macaroni and cheese with tuna mixed in….mmmm yummy.  My cooking skills definitely left much to be desired.

After I got married I knew I needed to learn to cook.  Fortunately for me, I am married to an awesome, patient and not very critical guy.  Here I was, watching food shows, reading recipe books, asking friends for help, but I always had a nagging question in my mind that really scared me. What if I fail?  What if this food is so nasty that my wonderful husband gags?  I will admit, I have had my share of epic fails in the kitchen where we literally tossed it and ordered pizza.  I learned from my mistakes, and eventually became a good cook.  Now my family eats well, or at least better than macaroni and cheese and tuna.

This story came to my mind today, as I prayed about starting a little business.  This business would not cost much to start, so there is little risk.  That being said the nagging question has been on my mind, “What if I fail?”  What a paralyzing question that can be.  Of course you have to consider risk in making any financial decision, but it certainly can’t be the only question to consider.  If you give that question to much weight, you’ll never try anything.  I felt the Lord gently correct me today by asking this question, “What if you succeed?”

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Hello world!

My name is Sharon. I am a wife, mommy of two fabulous kids, and a woman who passionately loves Jesus. My family and I live on a tight budget, and work hard to use it as wisely a possible. We just started homeschooling our oldest daughter and are enjoying (at least most of the time).

I am excited to share our lives, bits of wisdom, recipes, and sometimes even coupon deals.