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Monday, June 27, 2011


Well it had to happen sometime,   my mind is starting to go to pot.  I try to keep it sharp by reading, involving myself in lively conversations, and doing mind games like NY Times crossword puzzle and Sudoku, but it hasn't improved my memory any.  Case in point, I had ginger on my shopping list so I bought some.  The next time I went to the grocers, I had a nagging feeling that there was something I had forgotten.  Oh yes!  Ginger!  So my second bottle of the expensive little spice went into the cart.  Then the next day I was organizing my pantry when I found a little tin that holds all the rarely used spices like cardamon and chervil, well, there was another bottle of ginger.  Since when did ginger become a rarely used spice?  The end results is that now I have almost a pint of  it.  We will be eating gingerbreads and spice cookies for a very long time.  But that's ok.  I've forgotten how nice and homey  a  humble little cookie made from pantry staples tastes.  Seems now days, if a cookie doesn't contain some exotic and often expensive ingredient, it isn't worthy of baking.  When the boys were home and our budget was meager, we made a lot of these types of goodies.  They even request custard once in a while.  They never guessed that I made it to use up the milk that was beginning to go sour.  Here's a recipe:

Ginger Creams

1/3 C. shortening
1/2 C. sugar
1 egg
1/2 C. molasses (I made a mistake and bought the "robust" flavored molasses and had to cut it with Lyle's Golden syrup)
1/4 C. water
2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda (why do we put "baking" in front of soda?  If you don't know what we are talking about perhaps you shouldn't be allowed near an oven?)
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
white frosting

Cream shortening, sugar, egg, molasses and water together.  Stir in dry ingredients and blend well.  Chill dough.  Bake cookies at 400 degrees on a lightly greased baking sheet for approximately 8 minutes.  Cool.  Frost with white frosting.

While I was at the grocers, I noticed that they had a big bag of cucumbers on the reduced for quick sale bin.  This was providential as our dill has just began blooming and it looks like the cucumbers we planted are a major failure this year. It seems dill and cucumbers never are in synch in my garden anyhow.  Makes me wonder how pickles were ever invented.  The abandoned compost bin yielded the nicest dill this year.  For the last couple of years, we have been reluctant to till it over as it produces some of the best little gifts.  This year dill and onions.  Last year tomatoes and pumpkins.  And the perfect tomatoes too.  Hardy enough to survive through a Michigan winter.  I saved the seeds and grew some for this year.  So far the are outperforming all the other tomatoes.  If you would like some of these compost tomato seeds, just let me know, and I'll be glad to send some to you in the fall.

Anyhow, back to pickles.  Aren't they wonderful?  At the end of summer when we dig the potatoes, we always have a meal of them just boiled with a dab of butter and these pickles.  Perhaps not nutritionally sound, but so delicious!  They taste of the good Earth!

Bread and Butter Pickles

15 C.  sliced pickling cukes
3 yellow or white onions (I once used red and it made the most unattractive peach colored pickles)
1/4 C.  pickling salt
4 C. cider vinegar
 4C. sugar
 1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. mustard seed
fresh dill heads

Cover cukes, onions and salt in a large bowl.  Cover with ice.  Let stand for 3 hours.  Drain.

Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a large pot. Bring just to a boil.

Place 1 dill head in each sterilized pint jar.  Fill with cucumber mixture.  Pour brine over the cukes, leaving a 1/2 inch  headspace.  Poke a sterilized knife in the jar to make sure there aren't any air bubbles.  Place sterilized lids and rings on the jars.  Process 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Lastly, I leave you with a picture of my Issac Perrier rose.  It looks so lovely growing up the weathered shingles.  The cool weather is a real boon to the roses this year. By the by, we have finally settled on a name for our cottage.  We needed to have one, as we are having a quarterboard made up for the entrance. And the name is ...... Sweet Briar Cottage!


  1. Dear Jane,

    I had to laugh about your dill and cucumbers comment; they never are ready at the same time, are they?

    The ginger cookies look very yum; ginger is always popular with my children. Ginger lemonade is good, too (just brew up the ginger first, then cool and use that for your liquid in lemonade), so maybe that will help you use up your pint!



  2. I love the ginger debacle. I had the same thing happen with VANILLA!!! Yeppers. Four bottles. Large bottles. Used all it in about a year... Thanks to farmer's market baking! LOL

    Your cookies are wonderful and delish! I love making these...

    And, Sweet Briar Cottage is Just Right. Love love love it!

    Have a wonderful week, Jane!

  3. Thanks Marqueta! That does sound good! Maybe I'll try making some homemade ginger ale. We've made root beer before. The boys took it to school for the kids to sample. One teacher said our home was like a living museum! Guess that's how strange self-sufficiency seems to some people!

    Hi Matty! Maybe I could bake for the farmer's market too. Not too successful this year, as it has rained every weekend that it has been held this year. They sent me a mock up of the quarterboard. It looks so pretty. Can't wait for all the renovations to be over and hang it! You have a nice week too!

  4. I LOVE your cottage name!! Last year my friend and I decided to name our homes - just for fun. She has a beautiful flower garden behind her Bungalow style home so she named hers Blossom Bungalow. Since I live in a plain (boring) city Town Home it was harder to come up with a fun name. But I do love coffee and always have a pot ready to serve so we decide on The Red Cup Cafe for mine. Hope you show a picture of your entrance when your quarterboard is finished and in place!

    (Ginger cookies - my favorite!!!!!)

  5. Thanks Sandy! We are having the outside re-sided so when it's all done I'll post it. We have a lot of roses planted and are training them to go up and over the roof like those houses on Nantucket. Thus the name Sweet Briar.

  6. Sweet Briar Cottage is lovely. Makes me think of Isaac Perrier roses, gardens so proficient that even the abandoned compost bin yields treasure untold, bread and butter pickles, ginger goodness, and potty dames that enjoy baking, gardening, and writing!!

    Blessings, Debbie

  7. Debbie you certainly are a poet! Thank you!

  8. Well, your posting certainly added something lovely to the beauty of this morning.

    I love ginger things too..... glad you shared that recipe.

    And yum yum to the bread and butter pickles. I like the idea of freshly dug potatoes with a dab of butter and a side of pickles.

    Your rose is so pretty. A lovely color.

    We're enjoying our hansa roses right now. Their fragrance is so spicy... and they kinda remind me of the Alberta wild rose we get here in the summertime all over the countryside.

  9. Thank you Brenda! I forgot to add that Issac Perrier has the loveliest lemony scent. The abandoned field behind our house is filled with tiger lilies and wild roses. A pretty unexpected combination. I need to take a picture of it and post it.

  10. I wish I'd known you had extra ginger. Over the Christmas holidays I could not find any ground ginger. I checked three stores before I gave up. Then a few weeks ago I happened to find one lone container in the store.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe -- they sound great!

  11. I would have gladly sent you some Shara! Had a hard time finding it too. The local Wal-Mart didn't have any. I finally found some at a fruit stand. Watkins dealer. Hmmmm worldwide ginger shortage?

  12. Hi Jane! Love the ginger story! I have done that before too, with cinnamon and garlic powder. We had lots of spaghetti and lots of cinnamon swirl coffee cake for several months! Have a great weekend. Delisa :)

  13. I love ginger cookies, this recipe looks wonderful. Your roses are lovely!! And I love that you named your cottage, I have always thought about doing that, now I feel inspired to work on thinking up a nice name for our home. Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!! ~April

  14. hi jane,
    what a lovely story! i love ginger cookies and the recipe sounds very good.i have the same roses,your roses looks wonderful.i love the name of your cottage.
    my tomatoes are in bloom,now.
    have a nice week,
    love regina

  15. What a beautiful blog! I really enjoyed reading your stories! (And I hope to make those ginger creams today from your recipe). I did the same thing once (recently) buying something twice at the grocery store! lol. I think it is a great idea that you are forging out your country retirement home, in advance. Living near a city with crime, I always thought we should've done I must be crazy to put up with going into a city with this, as my children's schools are there, when I grew up in a rural area with no crime. oh...and i just made pickles the other day! love,andrea

  16. Delisa, I wouldn't have minded having that problem. I love spaghetti and would eat it every day if I could!

    Hi April! Guess I didn't have enough children, I love giving naming things. I already have a name for a little outdoor room we are planning. Teapot Hall.

    Hello Regina!Aren't those the nicest scented roses? I forgot to add that the are one of the few roses that does well in the shade.I'm experimenting with starting some wild roses from cuttings. Will let you know how that works out.

    Welcome Andrea! It's never too late. We bought this little cottage while our kids were still college. The payments were $426 and that included the insurance and taxes. We figured it was cheaper than going out to dinner several times a week and going on vacation. Our the payments on a new car (we always bought used ones and paid cash for them). Plus we could deduct the property taxes and interest from our taxes. Where there's a will, there's a way!

  17. Jane, I have to tell you that I can't stop popping those ginger creams in my mouth! they are the best! I appreciate you sharing that recipe. love,andrea

  18. Hi Andrea! Thank you! That's one recipe I don't make too often or I wouldn't be able to fit through the kitchen door. They're very addictive.