Every few years I spend 2 weeks glued to the television in pure, inspired bliss. Slurping up every medal event and every moment of Bob Costas. I remember watching Shannon Miller and the USA women’s gymnastics team compete in ’96 and then prance down our narrow hallway to my own gold-medal routine. I would beg to stay up late to see bobsledders, skiers, and snowboarding. For two weeks there’d be no fighting over the remote, no turning the channel for cartoons. Everyone in the family curled up in the living room for the best competition the world can offer.
My childhood adoration has become an adult obsession. I was a freshman in college during the 2006 Turin winter games and watched every event possible. Chemistry lecture or Apolo Anton Ohno? hmm…I’ll choose gold. Every morning I updated a medal count chart on my dorm room door and hosted a closing ceremonies viewing party on my 12″ T.V.
But this photo (taken by the fantastic folks at Helios Photography) is perhaps the best example of my Olympic devotion:
2008 Summer Olympics – Image taken by Helios Photography
That’s me in the upstairs of our church watching the 2008 Beijing rowing competition, 30 minutes before I’m supposed to head downstairs and marry the kitchen partner. The Olympics and I are BFF’s. Even on my wedding day.
Not much has changed since ’08. Tonight I’m blogging from the couch while watching swimming and women’s beach volleyball. I’m celebrating gold medal runs for Team USA and a gold medal accomplishment of my own. My first batch of canning for the season is resting on the counter: 5 jars of zucchini pickle slices.
The recipe came from my canning guru Food in Jars writer Marisa McClellan at Seriouseats.com. She made her version fresh, ready to eat in 48 hours. I’m hoping to enjoy these in January just as much as July, so I chose to make a larger batch and water-bath can them. There’s a hint of lemon and just the right amount of pickle pucker – that sour, salty, savory combination perfect on sandwiches and burgers. Why not make these with yellow summer squash and have your own jar of gold medals?
Zucchini Pickle Slices
3 pounds zucchini or summer squash
1/2 tsp. lemon juice, in each jar
1/4 tsp. mustard seeds, in each jar
1/4 tsp. pickling spices, in each jar
dash of dill seed in each jar
3 cups white vinegar
3 tablespoons pickling salt
1. Wash the zucchini and slice into 1/4″ slices using a sharp knife or mandolin.
2. Pack zucchini into sterile jars. Add 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds, and 1/4 tsp. pickling spices and dill seedto each jar.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar and salt. Stir until dissolved and then bring to a boil. Pour hot brine over each jar leaving 1/2 inch head space.
4. Seal and process in a boiling water canning bath for 10 minutes.
I’m not sure about all of you, but today I’m having a major case of the Mondays. After a fantastic weekend celebrating my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary, heading back to work this morning was a bit of a bummer. We had a mix of everything over the weekend:
My favorite Friday night dinner at Brasa in St. Paul – nothing says “Hello Weekend!” like a local shredded chicken sandwich with creamed spinach and a glass of Fulton American Blonde.
Took my dad to the Car Craft Summer Nationals car show at the State fairgrounds. No matter how many times we tried to stump him with “Hey Dad, what’s that?” he’d always know the year, make and model of every car. Every time. The guy is an encyclopedia of muscle cars. I loved hearing his stories as we passed some of the old models he used to own. Ended the day watching the burnout competition. Check out the Mystery Machine leaving rubber on the road:
Aquatennial Fireworks on the Stonearch Bridge. If you haven’t seen these, make them a Minnesota tradition next year.
More blueberry picking at Covered Bridge Farm – we’re now up to 34 pounds for the season. Fresh berries, yogurt and granola have been my go-to breakfast for the past two weeks. My mom even made us a blueberry pie before she left on Sunday. There’s still PLENTY of berries left for picking if you’re still interested in some local berries.
Today I was looking back on the last month of blogging, it’s been pretty sparse since we returned from California. Maybe I’ve had a case of the Mondays since late June? Today when I was feeling less like eating the veggies out of the garden and more like a double cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake, I went back and read the Locavore Q & A series that posted while we were on vacation. I needed a little inspiration and managed to find it right here in some old posts. Fight off you’re own case of the Mondays and check out the posts you might have missed:
There’s an emerging revelation at our house this week. Shortcakes are not just for strawberries. Seriously. Did all of you know this and were just not telling me? I’ve always thought that strawberry shortcakes were as untouchable as that cute little cartoon that shares the same name. Well move aside Miss Strawberry. There’s a new gal in town. Her name is Blueberry and she’s ready for her chance to shine.
I like my shortcake more like drop biscuits. The same way my mom makes them, except with twice as much butter. To me shortcakes should be rough on the outside but fluffy, rich and buttery on the inside. Not the perfectly square brownie-like cuts. The rough edges help the berry filling absorb into all of the corners and cracks. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s all over. We started with 8 shortcakes on Saturday morning and were down to 2 by the end of the weekend. So so good.
Rumor (and a Google search) has it, blueberries aren’t the only fruit that make a gorgeous fruit topping for shortcakes. Peaches, raspberries and some tropical fruits also make good fillings. Or try a combination of your favorite fruit. Triple berry, a mix of stone fruit, and lemon-blueberry have all entered my daydreams about shortcake this week. Hey…Don’t judge. I can’t be the only one that thinks about dessert while stuck in traffic.
To summarize the points from above: 1) Shortcakes are delicious, with or without strawberries as the star. 2) Make them. 3) Eat them. 4) Repeat #2 and #3 at regular intervals.
For the shortcake
1/4 C. sugar
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. cold butter
1 egg, beaten
2/3 C. milk
For the Blueberry Topping
5 C. blueberries
1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
pinch of cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 450°F and prepare the shortcakes first. Stir the sugar, flour, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add in egg and milk all at once. Stir with a spoon until just moistened — any more and the shortcakes will become tough.
2. Drop the dough 1/4 C. at a time onto a ungreased baking sheet. (Batch should make 10-12 shortcakes). Bake for 10-12 minutes until shortcakes are golden brown on the bottom and edges. Remove to a baking sheet and allow to cool.
3. While shortcakes are baking, prepare the topping. Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a medium sauce pot over low heat. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to avoid scorching the sugar. Simmer for 3-5 more minutes until blueberries have opened and topping is thick.
4. To assemble each individual shortcake: Gently slice the shortcake in half horizontally. Cover bottom have of shortcake with blueberry topping and replace the top half of the shortcake. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
As promised, I’m posting the photos from our California trip. I’ve been creating Shutterfly albums the past two weeks and am already dreaming about our next trip to Napa! There’s also a new post today on 20Food.net. Hop over there to see the fresh blueberry pancakes the kitchen partner has been making me all week. Enjoy!
We may all be roasted, toasted, and wilted in this heat but there’s one happy camper in Minnesota right now: the blueberry crop. With all the warm weather, blueberry season has started in the Metro and pick-your-own locations are waiting for anyone willing to brave the muggy mess we’re in. The kitchen partner and I will be celebrating our 4th of July holiday with cool vanilla ice cream topped with fresh local berries. Search Pinterest for red, white, and blue desserts if you need some patriotic inspiration of your own! Here’s a re-post of Find it Local Friday: Blueberries from last season with all the best Metro picking locations. And always remember to call ahead for picking info!
Here are 4 places for some blueberry adoration this weekend:
Blueberry Fields of Stillwater in Stillwater, roughly 18 miles from St. Paul offers early morning and early evening picking hours, dependent upon how quickly the berries ripen. Their website and phone line have up-to-date information on picking times.http://www.blueberryfieldsofstillwater.com/
Covered Bridge Farm also in Forest Lake was where we picked last year. Hours and picking conditions are also updated online and by phone. I would recommend coming early as the field was full by 9 AM. The berries were top-notch! https://sites.google.com/a/coveredbridgefarm.net/www/home
Bauer Berry Farm in Champlin, MN 29 miles from St. Paul offers morning picking from 8 AM to 11 AM on low-bush variety plants (3-4 feet tall), established in 1985. All of the 1500 bushes are pruned and maintained by hand with no chemical treatment. http://www.bauerberry.com/
Blue Heaven Berry Farm in Stacy MN 29 miles from St. Paul just opened for picking this week. Picking times are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends both AM and PM. Their website says to plan ahead as they will likely pick-out quickly this year! http://www.blueheavenberryfarm.com/
If you live out of the Twin Cities area, search the Minnesota Grown’s blueberry listings for one of the 29 growers in your area.
If you’re wondering what to do with all of those gorgeous berries when you get home (Do you really need ideas? Who doesn’t want to just eat them by the handful anyway!?!), here’s two of my favorite blueberry recipes from last season: