(Becky, the Mama) Now that summertime is here in Colorado, it is hard for me to stay away from the perfect weather on our inviting back porch!
We nap, visit and eat outside as much as humanly possible. Yesterday, we hosted a group of young couples and little ones for an outdoor brunch. A friend dropped by last night and we enjoyed a plate of nachos and cool drinks as we rocked and swung and chatted in the evening breeze. Tonight we had some dear friends and their little girls over for an old-fashioned supper-on-the-porch that brought back memories of meals around my own grandmother’s table. I made garlic & lemon roast chicken, baked sweet potatoes, Asian peanut buttery green beans (recipe to come soon!), corn, and my simple rustic, pastry-style cherry-blueberry cobbler (a festive July 4 recipe, by the way, with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberrg sorbet).
But it was the refreshing side-dish that I prepared for tonight’s meal that made me wax nostalgic for potlucks and picnic tables of my childhood: sweet n’ sour refrigerator pickled cucumbers & onions. I updated this beloved Grandma dish by using the small Asian or Persian cucumbers that are often sold in little packages of six to twelve, and becoming increasingly popular in grocery stores everywhere. Sliced a little on the thick side they hold their crunch for days in this pickling liquid. I like to keep a container of these marinated cucumbers and onions hand in the fridge all summer long to add a crisp, cold delightful punch to almost any meal.
You can get creative and add some diced fresh tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts or any kind of cooked beans and a handful of fresh chopped herbs to this basic dish to create a quick, pretty, refreshing marinated salad for potlucks, picnics and summertime side-dishes. Crunch on and enjoy!
Crunchy, Easy, Refrigerator Pickled Cucumbers & Red Onions
6 to 8 small Asian or Persian cucumbers, sliced about 3/4 inch (leave peel on)
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thin, pulled apart in strands
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 T. sea salt
T. dried dill (or 2 T. fresh chopped dill)
1 T. celery seed
1 T. black sesame seeds (optional)
Directions: Mix all of the above together in a dish with a lid. Let the mixture sit on the counter , with lid on top, at room temperature for about an hour and then put in fridge to chill until ready to serve. (Let the veggies marinate at least 3 hours for the best flavor through-out.) Will keep in fridge up to a week, maintaining its crunch.
(Becky, the Mama.)
If there was one dish I loved more than any other as a child, it would be my mother’s homemade waffles. Life was good when that enormous waffle iron was plugged in and heating up. She used a recipe for “Oh Boy!” Waffles from her stained, yellowed, old copy of her red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I asked for them for my birthday and every special occasion I could find or make up.
I’ve tried dozens of other waffle recipes, and none compares to this very old standard. Today I substituted almond milk for a little more than half of the diary milk and used a light olive oil in place of the vegetable oil in the original recipe.
Insert me high five-ing myself right here. No kidding. The BEST WAFFLES I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE. Period.
Light as air, crispy…. Simply perfect. To me there is nothing worse than a heavy waffle, the kind where, if you take one bite you feel like you already ate the whole waffle and need to go lie down. If you, like me, prefer an airy, tender waffle, brown and crisp on the outside, a waffle that leaves you perfectly, lightly satisfied instead of feeling like you swallowed a ball of dough, prepare to fall in love.
We also love bacon with waffles, and I’ve found that cutting the bacon up before browning (I use kitchen shears) and then stacking the pieces atop the waffle to serve not only looks pretty, but allows you to easily get a little bite of bacon with each bite of waffle. Plus you get a little syrup (we indulge in pure maple syrup and close our eyes at the price), on the bacon: maple and bacon together make a very happy coupling in your mouth.
Airy, Crispy, Bacon Waffles
Make 5-6 Round Belgian Waffles
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I always give the flour in my canister a little stir, then lightly put the flour into the measuring cup, leveling off)
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups almond milk (I used 30 calorie per cup brand)
1 c. dairy milk (I used 1 percent)
3/4 cup light olive oil (plus oil for waffle iron)
8 slices bacon, cut in 1/3’s, cooked crisp and drained
Heat waffle iron to your desired temperature, putting a little olive oil on the bottom iron, closing the lid to let it distribute well and let the oil get hot. (I always use the Dark setting to get them extra crisp)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour baking powder salt and sugar together. Make an indention in the middle of the dry ingredients and put eggs, almond and dairy milks and olive oil in the indention. Whisk the wet ingredients in the middle of the bowl and graduation pull in the dry ingredients around the sides until thoroughly whisked. Batter will be loose, and you make think it is a bit on the then side. Also as it sits it will begin to rise a bit in the bowl.
Using a long-handled measuring cup, put about 3/4 cup batter into hot iron. Cook to desired crispness.
Put waffle on a plate and pile up the bacon pieces in the middle, like a little bacon haystack.
Add butter and syrup and enjoy a little bite of bacon with every piece of waffle… (I also like a little squeeze of fresh orange atop my waffle, for a bright citrus taste.)
Leftovers: Since this recipe makes quite a bit of batter you can use leftovers in two ways: 1) go ahead and make more waffles, on the light side, put them in ziploc bags and refridgerate or freeze. When ready to heat, put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until re-crisped and golden. 2) Save leftover batter in Tupperware container in fridge. Just before making waffles, add another 1/2 t. baking powder to batter to help revive the “lightness” and cook as above. This is my favorite method.