Thursday, July 20, 2017

Today's To-Do List: Peaches

There was one more basket not in the photo. The little plums are from our tree, the first we've had from it!
1. Pick peaches
2. Can the peaches that are ripe.

That's about it for today. We picked peaches at our son's house, beautiful yellow peaches that are bigger than he's ever had before on that tree.

Plenty of green ones

We got about two bushels, came home sorted ripe/unripe, and put up seven quarts in the end.

Fresh out of the canner,hot hot hot!
There are still plenty of peaches for tomorrow, so guess what will be on the to-do list again?

Loving this garden and fruit year!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dilly Beans and Dill Lore

The second picking of our Tenderette green beans yielded a half bushel, and since we don't need more canned beans, with 40 quarts in the cellar already, I decided to use these to make a family favorite: dilly beans.

These beans are crunchy and packed with flavor from dill, mustard seed and red pepper. They're simple to make too. My recipe is from my old and trusted pickling cookbook, a book I've had since the early 70's. It's where I learned about pickling, and I've tried a lot of recipes in it. from simple dills to pickled bananas and pickled crabappples. (These two are really more candied and spiced than pickled, and I like them both. Not so the rest of the family, sadly.)

To make the dilly beans: remove top and  tip of fresh snap beans. Pack into clean, sterilized pint jars with a head of dill, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed. You can use a whole red hot pepper and dried dill instead, whatever you have on hand. Boil 3 cups of water, 3 cups white vinegar, and 6 tablespoons of pickling salt. Ladle that over the beans in the jars, clean the jar rims and put on the lids and rims and tighten. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Here's a photo of the recipe I use:

Dill can be a useful herb to have around, and not just for cooking. People used dill as a protection against bad luck and evil, and often placed it in babies' cradles to keep the babies safe. Some carried little sachets of dill in their pockets, and in Greece some hung stalks of it in their homes.

Apparently dill was considered a valuable herb, one used to pay tithes, as mentioned in Matthew 23:23--

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (from the King James version).

A drink was made of dill and other ingredients to as a remedy for a bad spell cast on someone. Dill was also considered to bring financial fortune; perhaps the seeds reminded people of Lunaria, Money Plant.  Dill was once part of traditional wedding bouquets, thought to bring comfort to the nervous bride. And of course, in that apparently never-ending quest to attract a mate, dill was often included in love potions.

Some people still use dill to help with indigestion and to prevent infections.

The website AppreciateGoods gives the following dill trivia:

The Serbian proverb “bitimirodjija u svakoj Ĩorbi” (to be a dill in every soup) means ‘to be involved or be knowledgeable in many things’.
In ancient Greece, athletes used to apply dill essence over their body as a muscle toner before participating in the games.
During the medieval period in Europe, dill was believed to protect people from witchcraft and curses.
One tablespoon of dill seed contains more calcium than there is in one cup of milk.
In Sweden, dill is used to flavor potato chips, which they call ‘dillchips’.

So, back into the kitchen I go to finish the last batch of dilly beans. This house is smelling good!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Since I've Been Talking Cabbage: Folklore and Superstitions

As usual, whenever I get involved with something, I wonder if there are superstitions attached to it. Lately I've been on about cabbages, so I had to go look, and of course, there are plenty of beliefs attached to the homely plant.

We have probably all heard of the importance of eating cabbage on New Year's Day to have luck (or money) in the coming year. I follow my mother's tradition of putting wrapped coins in the cooked cabbage to assure we'll have plenty of money in the coming year. It's never made me rich and I wonder if all I'm doing is making sure pennies continue to multiply in my wallet, but hey, I'm not taking any chances, so the wrapped money will continue to be hidden in my New Year's cabbage.

But did you know that you need only dream of cabbage to assure good fortune? There is another conflicting belief though, that if you dream of cabbage a friend is seriously ill and probably won't recover. Dire, that.

from The Graphics Fairy Website
Another thing I remember my mother doing was cutting a cross in the bottom of the cabbage core before then cutting the cabbage into quarters. According to the website HistoryExtra, this is why:

"Do you dread the annual ritual of preparing the mountain of Brussels sprouts for that family Christmas dinner, painstakingly cutting a cross in every stalk before you toss them in the pan? Why do we do that? People claim we cut a cross in the bottom to help the sprouts cook better, but you don’t find them served like that in most restaurants.

Without knowing it, you may be following a superstition dating back to the medieval times, when it was believed that evil spirits or tiny demons hid between the leaves of lettuces, sprouts and cabbage. These spirits could enter anyone who swallowed them, making the person ill or at the very least giving them stomach ache. So before cooking, a cross was cut in every sprout or cabbage to drive the evil spirits out from the leaves."

Well, who knew?

There is a variety of cabbage called Jersey, which comes from the Isle of Jersey, and according to old folklore the seed for this cabbage should only be planted during the waning moon or the seed will not germinate.

Along with this, my friend and reference librarian extraordinaire Elizabeth told me that one of the first reference questions she had to answer was what was the right sign of the moon for making kraut. She found that it was the full moon, as that would "draw" the brine. Hmmmm....we just made ours in the waning moon so I hope that has the same drawing effect.

A cabbage can predict your future mate, prosperity and happiness too, according to the Irish. Go on over to Irish American Mom's blog to get the details and directions to assure you do it properly.

photo credit: National Archives
The National Endowment for the Humanities website includes a bit about "Cabbage Night":

"An 1895 story from the Hawaiian Gazette explained that Halloween was rarely celebrated in the United States (only by young boys, who knew it as “Cabbage night”).  The paper then, however, gleefully detailed the many ways nuts, cabbages, and apples had been used to reveal a future spouse’s face in the old country."

from the Graphics Fairy website
In Gregory the Great's Life of Benedict, Vol. 2, there is a story about a nun who became violently ill after eating a cabbage which she had not blessed. The Saint was called on to expel the demon that had possessed the nun, and according to one version of this story, the demon then complained that he was just minding his own business and sitting on the cabbage when the nun came along and ate him!

Here in America, author Jane Manaster writes in her book, Horned Lizards: The Book of Horny Toads, of a spell wrought by a woman on a girl who she thought was trying to steal her husband. "Kill a horned toad, salt it like salt pork, cook it with cabbage and feed it to the girl." Apparently the girl went mad and went to the "hoodoo doctor" for her own cure! (page 39).

Now, I am back to looking for red cabbage recipes. And I will remember to cut that cross in the bottom of the core, you'd better believe!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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