Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Cure Olives

My morning ritual starts with dropping off 6 of my 7 children off at school. This starts with the countdown. We are leaving in ten minutes! Which usually means we will be out of the driveway in 20. My kids go to three different schools with in about a 5 mile radius. Its a bit crazy but at the end theres a peaceful 10 minutes with my oldest son.

He goes to a charter school that has taken up residence in an old shopping mall movie theater. I never noticed until yesterday that the parking lot is brimming with olive trees that are packed with big fat black olives!

Well I am totally in love with olives and not one to let a good olive go to waste I got permission to pick. My to my children's horror I perched myself on top of our mini van with a plastic bucket left over from Halloween emblazoned with Frankenstein and got to picking!

There was some whining with the typical phrase, "Are you done yet?" Yet only my 8 year old, who loves to climb up into trees, was eager to help. So we picked and picked until I came away with 3 gallons of olives! Yeay me!

The first thing your going to want to do is wash your olives. Put them in a big bowl and cover them with clod water. Gently run your fingers through them and stir them up. The leaves and stems will rise to the top and you can scoop those out.

Lacto Cured Kalamata Style Olives 

2 Lemons (Organic)
2 cups Sea Salt
Olive Oil (How much will depend on your container. You need need enough to cover the tops of you olives)

Next your going to need a very large jar with a lid. I choose a big 2.5 gallon glass jar that I used for making kombucha. Make sure its not one your going to need for a while because it is going to take a couple months to cure your olives! You want your jar large enough to fill to the top with your olives, but not too big that you have a lot of space for them to float.

Next mix your water with the salt. You will want about 3/4 a cup of salt to every gallon. The way to tell if you have enough salt is that a fresh egg will float in the water. If it doesn't float a bit more salt until it does. You will notice my water is a little cloudy, this settles down after the olives are packed.

Cut your lemons into wedges.

Now we are ready to go! Toss in a couple lemons and then start filling with olives. About 1/2 way through throw in a few more slices of lemons and keep filling with olives. Toss in your remaining lemons in the top and finish with a few more olives until your about 2 inches from the top of the jar. Fill the jar with your salted water stopping when you have covered your olives.

Lastly cover the top with olive oil. this will help keep your lives fresh and keep them from getting slimy and nasty. Every day stir or shake your olives and every week you will drain and replace the salt water and olive oil for a month. Changing the brine more frequently will leach out more of the bitter oleuropein.

After one month taste test your olives. If they are still too bitter soak them another week. If you like the taste move on to the final brine.

Final Brine

1 Gallon Water
1 1/2 cup salt
4 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Head of Garlic, peeled
Olive Oil

In a large pitcher or bowl mix the water, salt, and vinegar.
  With your palm crush garlic cloves.

Add a 4-6 cloves of garlic per quart jar. Pack olives to sterilized jars leaving 1 inch space. Cover with brine solution.  Top with olive oil until olives are covered. Allow the olives to sit in this solution for one month before use. Do not use if mold develops.

These olives will store will in a fridge for up to a year.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alaska Pilot Bread Recipe

There is something I find romantic about selling most of my junk and moving to a little cabin in Alaska with only moose for my neighbors.  I love watching the shows like Buying Alaska and Alaska the Last Frontier and dreaming of wearing cute fluffy fur trimmed hats and boots I made from skinning a deer I shot my self.
Then reality kicks me in the teeth and reminds me that I hate being cold and that if I had to skin a deer I would probably puke on my own shoes. 

So instead I look for things to give me that Alaska experience with out ever going somewhere that my hair would freeze into little ice cicles. While I dont yet own a adorable log cabin, I did discover a little Alaskan favorite called pilot bread aka Hard Tack, which is actually pretty good. 

The down side is that its pretty tough to find pilot bread here in AZ. I searched the internet for a good recipe and I was surprised to not find one. So of course I had to create one my self. I think I came pretty darn close with this recipe and I hope you enjoy it!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 6 tbsp cold butter 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup 1% milk (2% would most likely work, but I think whole would be too much fat)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.

  2. Put the flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt in the food processor.
  3. Pulse to combine.
  4. Add cold butter a few small pats at a time, and pulse to combine.
  5. Add coconut oil.  Pulse to combine.
  6. Slowly drizzle in the milk as you pulse the food processor. Your dough will form a ball. Now turn on your food processor and let it run for 4 minutes. you dough will be warm when you take it out and thats ok.
Next we are going to roll out out dough. I like to roll mine right out on the silpat that I will cook them on, that way they dont get all distorted if you try to move them.

  1. You want to make sure you roll these out nice and thin, about 1/8 inch is good.
  2. Use a 3 inch round cookie cutter to cut them out.  Remove excess dough. Dock the pilot bread all over with a fork, you can get fancy or just stab them all over like I did. I like stabbing them, its kind of theraputic!

  1. Bake your crackers for 25 minutes and then turn off your stove and crack your oven door and let them stay in the oven until cool. This is what gives you a crispy cracker. If you live in an area with high humidity you may need to dry them out in a dehydrator or a very low oven to get them dryed out.
Your done! Store in a tightly sealed jar and as long as you have fully dryed them out (they will be creispy and snapw hen you break them.) they will store indefinately.