Well, hello there! Did you notice I was gone? Did you miss me? I missed you.
Truly, I didn’t set out to take nearly a full year off from blogging here at Bumblebee. Sometimes, life just gets in the way. Sometimes you have to make a choice between living life or writing about it. Not that living and writing are mutually exclusive, of course. I recognize that. Heck, all those Mount Everest climbers, round-the-world sailors, Appalachian Trail hikers, North Pole explorers and English Channel swimmers are certainly prolific about cranking out the books. I bet some of them even blog more than once a year.
It’s just that I was writing other things, particularly for work. But I did write also write a book. Yes, it’s finally out! Wisdom for Home Preservers was released at the beginning of this month.
I sneaked into Barnes & Noble the other day and took a selfie with the only copy they had on their store shelf. I suppose they had sold the dozens of other copies they had stocked because they really did have only one copy. Just one!
Let that be a lesson to you. You must run right out and buy a copy before they are all gone!
The book includes 500 (500!) tips about canning, freezing, curing, smoking, root cellaring and more. It’s an easy read and the specially commissioned linocut prints by printmaker Melvyn Evans provide a nice retro vibe to this tidy little hardback book.
I’ll be back soon writing about the life I’m living. It’s not Channel swimming or polar exploration though. Just more country life.
Solo lunches can be such delicious affairs. You can eat leftovers. (One of my all-time favorite foods.) You can eat standing at the frig. (Not recommended.) Or you can build a gourmet sandwich from fixins’ and condiments you have on-hand, such as these pretty and pink pickled red onions.
The fact is, some of my favorite type of restaurant menus to peruse are from sandwich joints. It’s amazing the wild and wonderful things humble sandwich restaurants can come up with—usually for less than $10.
Years ago, one of my favorite lunchtime breaks from work was at a restaurant that packed a pita with cheddar cheese, black and green olives. That’s it. Four ingredients. But it was packed full and then fired in the wood oven and served with a simple vinaigrette. Thinking back on it, it’s a good thing my metabolism was firing high in those days because that sandwich probably had about 1,500 calories—before the french fries on the side!
These days I like to keep specialty condiments in the frig for days when I have homemade bread and can justify the calories. Favorite ingredients include pickles of all types, avocados, hummus or other bean dip, arugula and anything cheese.
In my opinion, a food gets extra points if it’s pretty, so I wanted pretty pickled onions for my condiment selection. These onions fit the bill and make a perfect addition to the toasted Swiss, avocado and arugula sandwich I’m craving a lot these days. Total time is about an hour once you have assembled all your supplies and ingredients. You’ll take away about seven or eight little half-pint jars. You can give some as gifts or just hoard them all for yourself and those sandwich days.
Sterilize 7 to 8 half-pint canning jars and lids in a water bath canner. While jars process, slice onions.
Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a dutch oven. Bring to a boil and summer until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add sliced onion to the vinegar mixture and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Do not let the onions get soft.
Remove jars from water bath. Place 1/4 teaspoon allspice berries, 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds, one bay leaf and one sprig of thyme into each jar. Transfer onions to each jar and top with the hot vinegar liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Finger tighten lids on the jars to seal and process jars in the water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and let stand, undisturbed, at room temperature for 24 hours.
Check the jars. Properly sealed jars will make a POP sound as they cool and/or the metal lid will be slightly concave. If you can press the lid and make a popping sound, the jar is not sealed. Store unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use right away. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place and use within one year.