British Pickled Onions

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I love pickles of all sorts. My favorite food right now is British-style pickled onions, which were inspired by the pints of mixed pearl onions my favorite farmers market farmer offers:

The pickles feature one of my favorite vinegars (well, I pretty much love all vinegars): malt vinegar.

I pretty much followed this recipe, although I was not very precise when measuring. These are excellent; the only problem is waiting a month to eat them!

British Pickled Onions

3 pints pearl onions
1/4 cup salt
2 cups malt vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole allspice (for my first batch, I only had ground allspice, which worked fine)
large pinch red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

Peel the onions. To do this, I first trim both the top and bottom, though you could just trim the root off. Place the onions in a pot of water, bring it to a boil, and let boil for 2 minutes, then drain them. They will slip right out of their peels.

Dissolve the salt into enough water to cover the peeled onions, in a bowl large enough to hold them. Add the onions and cover with a plate that fits into the bowl in order to keep them submerged. Let sit for 2 days.

Meanwhile, bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Drain the onions and place them in a sterilized jar. Mine fit in a quart canning jar. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over them. Refrigerate for one month.

Sooooo good!

The small jar above contains the onions I’m eating now. The jar below has another two weeks to cure.

Also in my refrigerator are some balsamic pickled onions, but I’m only 5 weeks into the 8 week waiting time for these. Look how dark they are!

Mmmm!

And now for some outtakes from the above photo session:

They’re so nosy! I was thinking that I still don’t have any interesting pictures to show you, but it’s chilly here today and so when I settled into my chair to process the onion pictures and compose this post, I grabbed a blanket. Within 10 seconds of spreading the blanket on my lap, this happened:

I had to use my cell phone for the pictures and they are inexplicably terrible, but yes, I am attempting to write this post on my laptop while two cats are hogging my lap. Of course I love it.

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Barbecued Tempeh Sandwich, with Pickled Carrots recipe

Who else is snowed in? We got a mess yesterday, beginning with rain and sleet all afternoon, a slushy mess that washed away all the salt that had been put down to pre-treat the roads, which then turned to a heavy snow, pretty much at the minute they predicted it would – 4 p.m., just in time for the afternoon rush hour – dumping about 5 inches. We’ve still been fortunate so far this year compared to the rest of the East Coast (even to the south!), so I shouldn’t complain, though I probably will because I hate this stuff! I have even less right to complain because from what I’m hearing, I think much of our county is without power right now, and though our lights flickered several times last night, they stayed on.

PLUS, working from home enabled me to bake bread, a treat I don’t usually get mid-week! My lunch today was the Barbecued Tempeh Sandwich Filling from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen on fresh-from-the-oven multi-grain bread, smeared with Berley’s Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Spread, topped with pickled carrots and a squirt of sriracha. Served with broccoli slaw.

When I sat down to begin this post, I was going to apologize for not having a recipe for you in this post. I have one coming later today, but because it might be photo-heavy, I thought I’d get some other pictures out of the way first. But then I realized I could tell you how I made the carrots and call that a recipe, so I’d feel better about making you look at a bunch of pictures. Berley suggested shredded carrots as a topping for the sandwich, but I’d read Jes‘s Spicy Noodles with Tofu recipe earlier in the day and had been intrigued by the quick pickled carrots it included. I’m looking forward to making that entire dish very soon, but for my sandwich, I decided to make slightly more involved pickled carrots, though they were nearly as quick. So here you go:

Quick Pickled Carrots

2 large carrots, shaved, shredded, julienned, spiralized, or very thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed

Whisk together all ingredients except the carrots, then mix in the carrots, cover, and refrigerate for at least half an hour. I put mine in a pickle press just because I have one, but that’s completely unnecessary. I shaved my carrots into long, thin peels using a vegetable peeler, but since I was using them as a sandwich topping, I wish I had used the spiralizer, which would have made them easier to eat on the sandwich. The shavings are good for using as a little side pickle, though. These were even better the next day.

So. Snow. We’re trapped:

Okay, the Canadians are probably politely trying to refrain from laughing. After seeing Zoa‘s pictures of the snow at her house, it does feel a little pathetic to post that one and whine about it. But there’s a thick layer of ice under that snow that’s making it impossible for this Miata driver to even attempt to leave, especially considering I slid into a ditch after hitting an unexpected patch of ice a couple of weeks ago. (Mark, who was drugged up from his root canals, the Miata, and I were all fine; it was mostly just surprising.) I’m fortunate to have the ability to work from home when necessary, so there’s no point in joining the traffic fracas, with downed power lines and trees, unplowed streets, and numerous non-working traffic lights.

I’m not such a curmudgeon I won’t even go outside, though, and the light was nice when I finished breakfast, so I grabbed my camera and looked for photo ops. My favorite was this tiny icicle dangling from a thin tree branch.

It’s shaped like a music note, which I found appropriate because all around me was a symphony of dripping, melting icicles, and weighty snow plopping to the ground from bowed trees. The music note icicle was only about an inch long. It can be difficult to photograph such small things when you are shooting into the air and it is blindingly bright all around you. I was using auto-focus, but a slight breeze was causing that tiny branch to sway, and at the huge aperture I using in order to blur the background, the tiniest movement by either the branch or the camera would cause the lens to focus at a drastically different distance. Would you believe that icicle is actually right smack in the middle of this photograph? It is that blurriness you can almost make out.

Moving on around the house, here is the patio, where you can also see the outside of my sunroom/library.

Here I am peeping into the sunroom from the backdoor. I’m meant to be in that chair, working!

Whilst I was peeping in, Torticia was peeping out:

Gomez has been looking out a lot, too. This is him watching the sleet yesterday:

And no, they aren’t always so placid. They’re actually quite bad. And they wrestle a lot.

In other news, I know I haven’t been posting much, even though I’ve been home quite a bit. The reason is I’ve been doing this really bizarre thing called sewing. If you’ve read the few craft posts I have sprinkled throughout this blog, you know that I hate and am terrible at sewing (although for some reason, I keep doing it). I think I mentioned a few posts ago that I finally broke down and bought a new sewing machine in December after almost having a meltdown while making gift bags this year. It turns out that I hate sewing much less when I have a machine that works. I’m still pretty terrible at it, but I am becoming more confident.

This is a common view from my seat at the sewing table:

He attacks and chews on the thread at the top. He’s very bad! (Both he and Torticia also try attacking the rotary blade when I’m cutting fabric and are thus banned from the sewing room whenever it’s out.) Anyway, my big project was making my mom a rag quilt for her birthday. She just received it in the mail yesterday, so I can post these pictures now. The kittens were very fond of the quilt.

Here’s what the quilt looked like; I couldn’t get any photos that didn’t involve a kitten.

Would you believe I actually free-motion quilted it? I barely can (believe it). I did tell Mom not to look at the quilting too closely, though, since I’m even worse at that than I am sewing in a straight line. It’s a very weird sensation at first, but it’s kind of fun. If there is any interest, I may be talked into writing up a tutorial on making rag quilts. You don’t have to free-motion quilt them, in fact, I haven’t seen any instructions that even recommend that you do (usually you just sew an X through each quilt sandwich). I’m just insane.


This is what happened when I tried to pack the quilt up to mail it. Sigh.

That’s it for now. Stayed tuned for a post with a real recipe later today. I promise no more snow pictures. I can’t promise no more kitten photos, though.

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Pickled Jalapenos

Wow, have I been busy! I was thinking earlier today that it has been a while since I’ve made a post and lamented the fact it seemed it’d be even longer until I’d have a chance to do so, until I decided to make burritos for dinner and realized I could use and then write up my pickled jalapenos! Which I was trying for the first time and which turned out fantastic! So here goes! (I’m addicted to exclamation points today!)

Pickled Jalepenos

1 pint jalapenos
1 small carrot, sliced on the diagonal
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp peppercorns
white or cider vinegar to (just barely) cover other ingredients (about 2 cups)

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until jalapenos are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer to a clean glass jar.

Refrigerate for at least three weeks.

That’s it! The hardest part is not eating them for the three weeks. I actually ended up waiting four, but they were worth the wait.

Tonight I minced up a few …

… and stuffed them into a burrito. They were REALLY good! I don’t know why I’d ever buy pickled jalapenos again.

The second hardest thing about the pickled jalapenos was getting a picture of them that didn’t involve Gomez, who kept getting between the peppers and the camera. This picture was taken with Torticia climbing atop me as I squatted on the floor. SO MANY KITTENS!

Nona, if you’re reading this, I really do think he looks like a baby Crookshanks.

So. In other news. Boston. It’s full of Australians and vegans! Mark and I accompanied this handsome Australian fellow to Boston:

We stayed with a friend Smucky’s known “since birth”, Nick, and I’ve decided that all the Australians I know are the greatest people in the world. I’ve never met an Australian I didn’t love! And on top of that, I met a vegan! This is very exciting because I’ve never actually MET a vegan in real life, other than Mark, who converted after I met him and probably because I met him, and this girl who lived in the apartment above me in one of my places in Baltimore (who was probably my biggest inspiration when I went vegan because I figured if she lived in the exact same place I did and she could do it, I could do it). I’ve ALMOST met other vegans numerous times but this is the first time it actually transpired. Not only that, but Smucks, Mark, and I knew him through Twitter for reasons completely unrelated to veganism. So we met up with him on Saturday and he took us to The Other Side, where I ordered the raw Mock Chicken Salad:

Zach promised to take us to Peace O’ Pie on Monday, which I was extremely excited about, but then it turned out they are closed on Mondays and I shed tears of pain and grief (as we were leaving on Tuesday). Apparently the entire city of Boston shuts down on Mondays. Smuckalert asked us to walk along the Charles River with him so he could take pictures on Monday and I told him it was probably closed. (It wasn’t, but it was very, very, very hot. I thought Boston would be an escape from the heat?!) Zach mostly redeemed himself by suggesting we go to Addis Red Sea instead, which was conveniently located right down the street from Nick’s place, and although it took forever the food was fabulous (although not quite DC Ethiopian fabulous; that’s one thing DC does right). I LOVE Ethiopian food, so I was about to burst with excitement, as well as hunger. I was so hungry and excited, I quite forgot to take a picture of the grub, but I DID take this picture, which I wanted to submit to The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, but it turned out too blurry.

Not too blurry for my own blog though! (Which may soon turn into the Blog of Unnecessary Exclamation Points.) It says, “Hi! My name is ‘MESOB’. I am serving you as a ‘TABLE’. Please do not lean on, I am very fragile.”

Busy upcoming weekend; it may be another few days before I’m able to post again, but I found a vegan grill cookbook in the library, so I’m looking forward to grilling up a bunch of stuff in the very near future and I’m sure I’ll have my camera in hand. Until then, mates, g’day!

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