Household Notes October 2014

Edited by Anne Gray
    We have a little bit of everything this month. We’re playing catch-up with the end of season vegetables and fruits: pickles and relishes, jelly, and a twist on jam. Relish recipes are popular for those cucumbers that hid under the leaves and grew too large for dills, bread and butter, or other “chunky” recipes. Enjoy them.

Joann Wilson, Airdrie, Alta.

6 large cucumbers
6 large onions
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup coarse salt
3 cups cider vinegar
5 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons mustard seed

    Chop the vegetables fine, place in a large steel bowl or pot, and sprinkle the salt over the top. Set in a cool place overnight. The next day, drain the vegetables and rinse. Push as much liquid as possible out the vegetables.
    Mix the cornstarch into one cup of the sugar, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Put everything into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and slowly bring to a boil. Cook about half an hour, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Bonnie Whynot, Middlewood, N.S.

2 large heads of cabbage
6 medium red peppers
6 medium green peppers
6 medium onions
3 pints white vinegar
6 tablespoons dry mustard
1 cup flour
6 cups sugar
1 tablespoon turmeric

    Chop the cabbage, peppers, and onions. Soak in a brine for one hour, then drain and combine with the rest of the ingredients.
    Cook 30 to 45 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars while steaming hot. Seal. Makes nine to 15pints.

Susan Levy, Victoria, B.C.
    “This recipe is from my grandmother, who was originally from New Brunswick. I don’t know who Lady Ashburnham was, but we really like her pickles.”

6 large cucumbers 4 cups onions, chopped fine
1/4 cup salt 2 1/2 cups vinegar 2 cups sugar 3 tablespoons flour 1 tablespoon dry mustard 1 tablespoon turmeric 1 teaspoon mustard seed 1 teaspoon celery seed

    This is a two-day process. Peel and remove the seeds from the cucumbers. Cut your cucumbers and onions into small pieces and mix them together in a large pot. Add the salt to the cucumber and onions, and let the mixture sit overnight. Rinse the mixture the next day to get out the salt, and then add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring the pickles often. Bottle in sterilized jars. Let the pickles sit for a week or so before eating. 

    Not every pickle is meant for long-term storage. This is a quick and fresh side dish. I like the cucumber–ginger combination in the following recipe.


1 whole cucumber, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces cider vinegar 
2 ounces sugar 
3-inch piece fresh root ginger
4 pieces pickled ginger 

    Run a fork through the surface of the cucumber, to obtain a fluted pattern when sliced. Cut the cucumber into thin slices and put into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix well. Leave the cucumber for 10 minutes to absorb the salt, then rinse with cold water. Drain off excess liquid in a colander. Return the cucumber to the large bowl.
    Grate the fresh root ginger. Combine the sugar, vinegar, and the fresh and pickled ginger. Add to cucumber slices and mix well. Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours before serving. 

    These onion jams could be made during the winter or even in spring when onions start to soften. 

Nicole Jamieson, Summerville, N.S.
    “This is a favorite at our house. We eat it with everything.”

1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
1/2 bottle of stout or dark beer 
2 tablespoons beef stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
coarse salt
fresh ground pepper

    In a heavy sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat and cook onions covered, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 20 minutes. 
    Add the beer, stock, vinegar, and sugar and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized, this will take around 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let jam cool completely. This jam will last in the fridge covered for about two weeks.

Jennifer Watkins, Perth, Ont.
    “I make this in small batches throughout the year. I don’t grow onions, so jam season is whenever we run out.”

1 1/2 pounds red onions, very 
thinly sliced
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (optional)

    Combine the onions, wine, honey, and herbs in large skillet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until wine is almost absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 55 minutes. Mix in the red wine vinegar. Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors, adding water by tablespoonfuls to moisten if the jam is dry, and stirring often (onions will still be slightly crunchy). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. 
    Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let the jam mature for two weeks before using. 

Mary Custance, Saint John, N.B.

3 tablespoons oil 10 medium sized onions (about 4 pounds) 1 1/4 cups brown sugar 2 tablespoons mustard seeds 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    Peel and thinly slice your onions. Use a slicer to get uniform slices. In a large heavy based pot, heat the oil and add the onions, stir frequently over a medium heat until caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Add the mustard seeds and fry for an additional two minutes. Add the brown sugar and cook for another two minutes. 
    Add the remaining ingredients and reduce to a low simmer and cook for another five minutes. Carefully pour the hot onion jam into sterilized jars. 

Mrs. Wendell Matheson, 
RR Middle Musquodoboit, N.S.
    “This recipe was taken from the old ‘Canadian Home Cook Book.’”

6 pounds green, unripe gooseberries
6 pints water

    Boil the gooseberries in the water until they burst, but not too much. Pour them into a basin and let them stand covered with a cloth for 24 hours. Then drain through a jelly bag.
    To every pint of juice add one pound of sugar and boil for one hour. Skim the top and boil for another 30 minutes. Jar and seal.

Well stew that!
    Donald Levy, Middle Musquodoboit, N.S. sent us the following:
    “Regarding your requests for recipes and preserves. I usually stew tomatoes, green pepper, and onion. Boil them down and bottle straight from the boiling pot. Keeps forever and you can then add spices after the fact depending upon what you are using the tomatoes for: adding to soup or spaghetti sauce.”

Hodge Podge mashup
    Last issue we printed a letter and recipe from Jim Turner. His proclamation that his recipe is the only one considered valid within his family calls for all the Hodge Podge cooks to come out swinging. Swinging pens, that is, to get those family recipes on paper and off to us for the Great RD Hodge Podge Cook-off. We will gather recipes from our readers all winter and share them next spring: just in time for new baby vegetables to be ready for the pot. 
    Nary a carrot or cauliflower defiles the Hodge Podge pot at my house, but that’s my personal quirk. What’s goes in your pot? And to thicken or not to thicken?

Sharon MacMillan, 
RR Goldboro, N.S.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups mashed banana
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cranberries

    Combine the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, banana, and oil together until smooth. Add this to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. Stir in the cranberries until just mixed. Fill greased muffin cups almost full. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes.

    Please send your bread, cookie, and square recipes for special winter treats. Are you gluten free? Do you look for grains to replace demon(ized) wheat? Let us know how you feed yourself and your family. What steps have you taken to keep the cost of groceries down? And what about cleaning products? Do you have some alternatives to commercial products? You can email homemaking hints and recipes to, or send them to us by mail at the following address: Household Notes, Rural Delivery, Box 1509, Liverpool, NS B0T 1K0.