Christina and I dug up all the peonies on the left and moved them to my backyard. After we got rid of the grass, roots, and roofing nails we worked a ton of manure, peat moss, compost, and top soil into the ground; then planted 3 new spirea bushes, transplanted the endless summer hydrangea from the right side, and put down some mulch and a landscaping divider to match the right. We eventually planted a hydrangea tardiva bush on the right as well. It grows up to 10' so it will even out the window on the other side. The BEFORE photo is from before we landscaped the right side, before the original chimney fell off, before I trimmed the trees on the side of the house, after I took down the crappy storm door, but before I put up the new one. You can also tell my neighbor knocked down his shed and had a 2 car garage built and had his elm trimmed alot.
Took a trip south to Northfield, MN to visit with Christina's grandma and aunt. After we ate lunch at St. Olaf's cafeteria we went downtown for the Defeat of Jesse James Days. I heard a local tout it as the third biggest free outdoor festival in Minnesota (behind the Minneapolis Aquitennial and St. Paul Winter Carnival). Impressed yet? Basically they close off the main block downtown and re-enact the last bank robbery the Jesse James gang undertook (above). It didn't go so well for his gang I guess, and the locals are pretty proud. I took a few more photos.
Local police had a segway. Mullet perm in the crowd (this photo may be the only reason I put this post together).
Yep, that's right pickles. I've always liked them. Particularly big kosher dills. After a few years of saying I wanted to make some, I finally made my own pickles (F.Y.I. it's true despite not liking them, Christina was a wonderful and lovely pickling assistant). Here's how.
I hit the downtown Minneapolis farmer's market and bought a bunch of fresh dill and cucumbers. They were all about 3-4", newly picked, firm, and with lots of bumps like the recipes I consulted said I should. I also picked up some eggplant, Vietnamese eggplant (the small white and green veggies above) for a little stir fry, a few ears of sweet corn, and some zucchini for chocolate chip zucchini bread. In the future I hope I can just grow my own cucumbers.
I also purchased 5% cider vinegar, mustard seeds, and pickling spices.
Step 1: Prep
1a. Sterilize jars: You can run everything through a dishwasher or boil the jars for 10 minutes and soak the lids in soapy water.
1b. Clean/Soak pickles: Soak pickles in ice water for at least 2 hours. This will help to keep the pickles crisp. Step 2: Pack jars
I used quart jars (a bit bigger then they probably needed to be) and packed them with 1-3 sprigs dill, some mustard seeds, and as many pickles that fit vertically, leaving 1/4 inch free from top. Step 3: Make brine
Boil 1 gallon distilled water, 1 gallon vinegar, and 1 cup pickling spice.
Step 4: Pour brine over packed veggies - fill to 1/4 - 1/8 of top of jar
Step 5: Screw on lids, not too tight
Step 6: Put jars in boiling water. Once water has reached a boil again (will take a minute since you've just added non-boiling jars to the water), set a timer for 10 minutes > less for crispier pickles. When timer goes off, remove pickles from water bath, allow to cool overnight.
Before storing in the fridge, make sure all jars are sealed by pressing on the top of the lid, it should be vacuum sealed (not 'pop').
Allow pickles to stay in the refrigerator at least 24 hours, then enjoy! Properly sealed pickles should last a year or more. I tried a few already; good, but I can do much better.
Photos from the great Minnesota get together The photo above is from my stint as a carny when I moved to Minneapolis in the summer of '02. I finally returned; here are some pictures Christina and I took during our visit to the Minnesota State Fair.
Art made from beans and seeds. Favre is in pretty good company.
Dozens, maybe hundreds of butterfly chrysalises in a window at Butterfly World. You can pay to walk around and have butterflies sit on your head. Pass.
My roommate Dave loves the outdoors.
Don't leave the fair without throwing some trash (or a stick left over from whatever food you bought on a stick) into a clown mouth.