Can you believe its been 2 months since I posted? Where does the time go? Oh that's right, a challenging job and traveling and having fun.....living life as it were! I'm listening to a preview of #32 from Discopolis's podcast. This podcast was released shortly after my first trip to San Fransisco since we last talked. Disco had an extra ticket to see Above and Beyond....we did, and it was epic. I wish we had had a bit more time. I had a phenomenal trip! I got to finally see Delores Park, did a full lap of Chinatown, including Chinese bakeries that had chocolate dipped macaroons the size of my fist.... After Disco and I parted company, I got to spend the rest of the weekend with Matt....Matt brings out a side of me that is crazy and fun; I can't wait to see him again this Fall.
So let's get to the meat of the matter, or the rind of the matter as it is. Let's talk about a great Memorial Day weekend and why it is.
Most of my readers are savvy enough to know that today is about remembering the deceased. As I grew up, there was an extra emphasis on the military veterans that gave it all, but we remembered all our deceased family and friends. In the morning, I'd play in the pep band during the parade, run home and change into something presentable, and then it was off to the cemetery to decorate the graves of deceased loved ones with flowers picked from the hillsides. It was usually Trilliums and Dog Toothed Violets in Mason jars.....once in a blue moon we'd run across a higher elevation patch of shooting stars. I think those usually went on Great Gramma's grave.
I'm a bit older now, and a bit more jaded. I wish I were at home to put a bouquet of carnations on Gram's grave, a bouquet of shooting stars on Gramps' grave.... Memorial Day isn't quite the same excitable time as it used to be. It used to mark the end of the school year, movement into summer, a life changing move to college.... Nowadays, its about remembering loved ones, missing them dearly, and realizing that I'm still in this life taking care of the veteran's of war and the issues they have as a result. I guess its my lot in life, its just really hard to have it aggrandized.
We spent Sunday cleaning up the patio. Its a great space, its just gotten slightly overrun from neglect and especially aggressive vinca. The previous owner of our home was a stonemason, so we have lots of crazy bits of stone to put to use. One re-purpose I'm especially proud of is taking the old "bench stone" and turning into a serving table. We had to invert it to get it to set right on the table base we found in a back corner.....in doing so, the natural layering of the rock made for a perfect serving surface, you can tuck ice all around the food, it gets crazy cold. It's really cool, here's a shot of today's brunch:
Since watermelon was crazy on sale when I went shopping, we had quite a lot of it. The menu was: Sourdough Biscuits, Mulberry Jam (the bit that didn't fit in the jars and has been kept in the fridge), $0.99 fresh pineapple (no seriously, that's what I paid for the whole pineapple), Watermelon ($0.20/lb, I bought one in mind for weekday breakfasts, cost me a whole $0.59), Strawberries (a big spend, $1.59 for the pound), cucumbers (3 big ones for $0.99, I used half of one) and tomatoes (0.79/lb) drenched in Italian Dressing ($1.29 for the 20 oz big bottle, I used maybe an 1/8th), and in the very corner are the dregs of the 2nd to last jar of pickled mushrooms ($0.125/lb on the shrooms, probably $1.25 if I include the cost of the jar, they turned out so epic. I'm pretty sure it was the baby dill, scored for $0.25 a bunch that made them so good).
I was left inspired by the watermelon. I didn't realize until not too long ago, my Mom always used to have a Watermelon Rind Chutney recipe in the front of her recipe box. I'm not sure how much of the stuff I ever ate, but I'm sure it was delicious. I'm proud to say I've taken her pickling prowess to a new level! I come from a long line of preservers and canners.....I'm so VERY proud to continue that tradition!
A few years ago, I worked with an Accountant named Lisa. Initially, she terrified me as one of the "elite" that worked upstairs. It took working together on one project to learn that she was a great, no-nonsense gal to work with and also that she loved preserving and canning. I was just getting my orchard/gardens going, but we did get to exchange a few jars. Among them was a Watermelon Relish (and I can't forget the jalepeno jelly).....gosh it was delicious! I put that on every kind of sausage that summer and enjoyed it immensely. Sadly, I no longer work with Lisa, but if LinkedIn isn't lying, she's still doing great! I'm happy to see her succeed and keep on canning and preserving....it really is a life skill.
So here we are, at the start of summer, with a ready-to-go patio and watermelon. I channeled my Aunt Pattie today. I have fond memories of her sitting on the dock at Placid Lake, MT preparing fruit for pies and canning. After brunch, I pulled out a bottle of wine (Clos Du Bois Calcaire chardonnay, only available at their vineyard) and started prepping while we chatted and enjoyed the sun.... In no time, I had the watermelon rind worked down and ready to go.
I found this recipe at food.com that sounded about right. Its a bit more work that I'm used to, but why the heck not for delicious relish to go on dogs over the summer. I only had 2 cups of shredded melon, so I cut it in 1/3. Here's a cut and paste of the ingredients:
- 3 quarts water
- 6 cups shredded watermelon rind
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon celery seed
While I was waiting for the initial water to boil, I mixed the sugar, vinegar, mustard, turmeric, ginger, salt, and celery seed and brought it to a boil and removed until the burner was cooled to simmer....I just let that devil simmer the whole time...it got crazy syrupie so I'm all kinds of excited.
Then into the brine went the boiled watermelon rind for 30min of simmering.....that's when I started writing this.....it looked like shredded paper in a Co-SO3 bath....LOL!
After that, I loaded it into a pint jar and realized I was just a hair short, so I topped it up with finely diced cucumber. I've seen all kinds of crazy mixes of cucumber and watermelon rind, so I' figured 25% cucumber will be just fine.
Then into the water bath....normally around here, it would be 15 min, but with the raw cucumber I opted for 20min.
I was quite worried that it would turn out to be some kind of poorly colored brown mess....thankfully no, the turmeric has turned it into a beautiful and delicious looking sunset relish!
Here's to a great summer, everyone! Enjoy!