Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oh, Pickles!

Very soon, if not already, we will have an over abundance of cucumbers on our own plants or in the Farmers' Markets...what will you do with them?

My Mom did a lot of canning during the summer months when I was growing up.  She canned tomatoes, peaches, pears, and pickles mostly. 

There were many local farms near our small town where we would go to pick these fruits and vegetables.  We did the picking ourselves and came home with bushels of produce.  I remember I liked to go picking when I was younger, but as I got to be a teenager, not so much!  It was usually very hot and humid, and pretty boring.  Mom needed lots of hands to get the amount she wanted, so saying "no" to going wasn't an option. 

My Dad liked going along to pick also.  He was a good eater, so this meant many tasty fresh meals would be coming his way.  He never turned down a chance to eat...and, he never gained any weight either...really maddening for most of us who do put on the pounds.   I have two older brothers and a younger sister who Mom would recruit for picking, too.  We made quite a force when we all showed up at the farms.  Mom, Dad, and the boys did the high picking while my little sis and I stayed closer to the ground. 

When we weren't doing the picking ourselves, there were/are many farmers' stands along the roadways to stop and buy what we wanted for dinner that night.  All the kids in the family as we got older and were driving back and forth, would stop for fresh corn or green beans.  Mom made the best fried eggplant, so if we saw some eggplant, we would buy that too.

I feel very fortunate that I grew up having so much right near my front door.  When asked, I would go to the nearby farm to get fresh eggs and "still warm" cream for our meals.  Somehow, my Mom would find these farmers, get to know them, and then buy what they had on hand. 

I made bread-n-butter pickles a couple of days ago when I saw lots of small cucumbers in the market. They weren't from a local farmer since it's too early here for them, but I'll be making lots more when they do come in.  I eat them like candy...

My Mom canned them by the many, many pints.  I don't have her recipe but I've just created my own during the years.  I like them to be made with sliced onions along side the sliced cucumbers.  The sweet-sour flavor is a favorite of mine.

This will last me about a week, since I eat them by the spoonfuls.

Click here for a recipe almost exactly like how I make them.  I use more onion slices, and sometimes I add some hot pepper flakes.  My slices are thinner because I use one of those old electric "Salad Shooters" from long ago...I found mine at the Salvation Army store for a couple of dollars!  It works like a dream and can slice through cucumbers and onions in just a matter of seconds.

P.S.  They say that Turmeric is a wonder spice...everyone should have a little each is an anti-inflammatory.  Read about its benefits.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Let's Remember

Much to remember on this day.

Red crepe paper poppies in our lapels.

[taken from internet]

Uncle Carl, who fought in Europe and made it home to live for many more years.

Uncle Art, who piloted a fighter plane in the Pacific and was shot down never to return home.

Seeing my Mom's tears each time she thought of her little brother...he called her Leni.

Auntie Ev, a nurse who cared for so many soldiers in the Pacific Islands.

The Parade we rode in with our red, white, and blue decorated bikes.

Streamers on the handles and small U.S. flags on the baskets.

Trips to the cemetery to place flowers on the graves.

Thankful for all these family members....

and, all the others who have sacrificed for our country.

[from internet]

Always hoping for peaceful solutions,


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Early Garden

We have been having a super Spring this year.  The days are warmer than usual and the nights have not been too cold.  The perennials are popping up along the south side of my house, even the California Poppies that keep reseeding themselves from year to year.  The peonies have many large buds now and will be beautiful in a couple of weeks.  The day lilies, phlox, and daisies will bloom last of all. 

The grass was looking gorgeous up until a few days ago.  This past weekend the temperatures were in the high 80's to low 90's and that has dried the lawn out.  I hope we'll get some rain soon so I don't have to turn on the sprinkling system. 

I did get outside to plant some of the garden pots on my deck with all this great weather. 

Lettuce, dill, parsley, basil, tomatoes, and spinach.....just starting to grow.

My shadow while taking photo of chives.

Newly planted petunias

California Poppies

The second big pot of petunias

Peony buds

A large white iris

Large pink irises

The grill is always ready on the deck for Bar-B-Q-ing.

A large leaf Hosta with oregano growing around it.

Chives .... I love to put the blossoms on my salads.

And, that's what my yard looks like right now.....


Monday, May 21, 2012


When I was a little girl, I became aware that my Mom's mom was Swedish.  I vaguely remember her at that age of 3 or 4, but then she moved to California so I didn't get to see her much after that.  She did come to visit once in a while, but travel back then was not so easily done.

I did hear stories about her from my own mother and also from people who lived in our small town.  She was well known because she and my grandfather had started a business in the downtown area when they decided to settle in this small town and raise their family.  They had 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. They were all good kids, who did well in school and worked hard.  Life got a lot tougher when the oldest child was 13.  That's when their father, my Grandfather, died suddenly of heart failure. I never got to know my Grandfather in person, but knew him through photos and stories.

My Mom was 12 and the second oldest child, so she had to help out with all the younger kids in addition to attending school.  Grammie was now the head of the family and had to be at the store to keep it going to feed her brood.  This is how she became so well known, everyone in town had to deal with her when shopping in the store.  From all I gathered through the story telling, she was talkative, fun, outgoing, and always cheerful.  She had a pretty thick accent but I think everyone thought she was cute, and liked hearing her talk.  My grandfather was known as "Andy", so now my Gram was referred to as "Mrs. Andy".

All things turned out well for the family, kids graduated tops in their classes, some went on to college, they married and had children, and most lived to a good old age with the exception of 2 sons.  The oldest son followed in his Father's footsteps and died at 45 of heart failure, and the youngest son died at 20 or 21 after the plane he was piloting was shot down in the Pacific during WWII.

Grammie was born in 1888 in Sweden on the west coast north of Malmö.  Her father was the organist in the church and owned quite a lot of land.  When Gramma was around 24, she and one of her sisters left Sweden for the U.S. effectively leaving behind all their siblings and father for good. (She did return once, 60 years later.) They booked passage on a ship leaving from Copenhagen to New York's Ellis Island.  On arrival, they received help from some society ladies (these ladies aided young women to avoid danger) to buy train tickets to Chicago where they had the address of a friend of their Father's.  Both my Gram and my Great Aunt got jobs in Chicago, learned English, got married to Swedish men, and lived until they were in their mid-nineties.

Grammie's  95th birthday celebration,   holding the floral arrangement I had sent to her.

I think I was the only one of my generation who was interested in knowing about her life in Sweden, and I got her to teach me some Swedish.  She must have passed on the "travel bug" to me, as well.  I studied French and Spanish in school, and if they had offered Swedish, I would have taken that, too.

When I moved to Switzerland with my family in the 1980's, one of the first trips we made was to visit my Gram's birthplace.  We stayed with her nephews' families since all of her brothers and sisters were now deceased.  My Gram had outlived them all, she was still living in southern California at the ripe age of 94.  I looked so much like my her that the nephews accepted me and my children with open arms.  Later that year, some of these relatives stayed with me for a short while in Geneva. I was happy that I could return the hospitality.

Graveyard surrounding church where my great grandfather was the organist

the family plot

inside the church with my mother's cousin

in front of my Gramma's childhood home with kids and cousin

other side of home with my kids

going for a swim with my kids and cousin, Per

local fishing harbor where we got our just caught fresh fish for dinner

with my daughters getting ready to go swimming soon

on the sleeper car going to Stockholm

picking veggies from Hannah's garden for dinner, she grew everything

my cousin holding her child with my daughter

picking fresh strawberries "yordgubbers" for dessert  (means,  old man of the earth)

I think we have enough for today!

my Gram's church

the list of pastors

the alter inside the church,  this church (kyrka) is lovely and well taken care dates back to the 12th century.

More information on the church and the area.

Another link:

While staying with Hannah and Lennert, she made us wonderful meals.  One afternoon at tea time, we enjoyed a very tasty jelly roll sponge cake filled with whipped cream and the strawberries we had gathered from her garden.

I'm looking forward to fresh strawberries from my local source, it won't be too long......


Thursday, May 17, 2012


A few reasons to say,  "Yum",  today.

I really like whipped cream filled Éclairs topped with chocolate, so I decided to make a batch just for me.  They may not look as beautiful as those you see at a pâtisserie/bakery, but they sure tasted great.

Making this dough is extremely easy.  After baking, put the unused pieces in the freezer, then reheat to crisp them.

I made small sized pieces, but they can be made to any size or shape. 

I threw in a few strawberries, too, for an added "Yum". 

Click here for a recipe.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paris Fast Food

My kind of take-out.  

              As I recall, I was able to snap most of these pictures without being told it's a no-no!