Tag Archives: cat

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Is it really Monday again already? This weekend was too short!

I had some posts planned for this week, but instead of catching myself up, I’ll do a quick weekend wrap up, and we’ll get to the recipes later.

Jim's Birthday Cake | Oysters & Pearls

It was our good friend Jim’s 30th birthday on Saturday, so we threw him a party! Any excuse to bake a cake.

I picked some basil…

Making Fresh Pesto | Oysters & Pearls

And made some pesto orzo pasta. I won’t rehash it today, but {Click here} for my pesto recipe.

Fresh Pesto Orzo Pasta | Oysters & Pearls

I tried out a new recipe (post coming tomorrow) for a spicy corn salad that was a HIT with everyone.

Spicy Corn Salad | Oysters & Pearls

Everyone brought a steak, and we did a surf and turf supper. I made my baked buffalo shrimp, which everyone seemed to love. {Click here} for the recipe – you won’t regret it.

It was so much fun. We are so fortunate to have a good group of friends and it was great to be able to celebrate Jim’s birthday together.

To recap: there were a lot of laughs shared, and there may or may not have been some “icing” going on that had nothing to do with the cake. We are so mature.

The kids played with Wallace and Harold a whole lot.

SC, Karri & Wallace  | Oysters & Pearls

SC really loves Wallace, who she calls “her kitty.” Wallace, on the other hand, was a little nervous around SC, so they had some supervised visitation with Mrs. Karri.

Karri, SC, & Wallace | Oysters & Pearls

B just chilled and hung out with Harold.

B & Harold | Oysters & Pearls

Note the eyeblack leftover from Friday night. That boy loves football more than any kid I know.

Richard & Jim | Oysters & Pearls

The birthday boy got a lot of hugs from Richard.

And then Banks wanted in on the action and attempted a group picture. But somehow it almost turned into wrestling. I guess boys will boys, no matter how old they get.

This was the best I could do.

Banks, Richard, & Jim | Oysters & Pearls

After much begging and pleading from B, we finally sang happy birthday and Jim blew out the candles so we could eat cake.

Happy Birthday, Jim! | Oysters & Pearls

Jim's Cake & Dessert Table | Oysters & Pearls

I’ll post the cake recipes later this week, but here’s the spread. I gave Jim some pepper sauce and hot sauce I made last weekend (posts still to come – promise!) as a birthday gift. It was a last minute affair so I just threw all this together, but sometimes those are the very best parties. This one was pretty great!

Then yesterday while Wheat played golf, I went to my parents house to hang out and start a couple projects. One involved picking six gallons of grapes. :)

Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Hope everyone else had a great weekend! It’s back to recipes tomorrow. Happy Monday!


Saturday Garden Update

Bonus post!!

I hope everyone is thoroughly enjoying their weekends!!  I realized this morning that I hadn’t updated anyone on the garden in ages, so I thought I’d throw an update in this weekend.  Some things are just now taking off, and some are on their last leg.  I’ll keep this post light on words and heavy on pictures.

Basil | Oysters & Pearls

Our basil was doing SO well… until an army of black caterpillars did some SERIOUS damage.  We’ve started putting Sevin Dust on them like we’ve had to do to the tomatoes, but it just washes off with every rain (which is practically all day every day these days).  I’d love to have an organic garden, but I don’t want to grow it just to feed these dern caterpillars!  Any suggestions??

Key Lime Seedling | Oysters & Pearls

Remember when I made key lime pie?  Well, I saved a few seeds, and I managed to get one started into a seedling!  I’m hoping that in approximately one jillion years I will be eating key limes from it.

And speaking of citrus trees…

Meyer Lemon Tree | Oysters & Pearls

Our Meyer lemon tree is growing like crazy!  It was just twigs when we planted it… and for a long time after that.  We actually planted two, and one didn’t make it.  They were coming up around my grandparents’ lemon tree, and that makes having one pretty special.  Plus, they are the BEST lemons.  They are really sweet and the size of a softball.  Amazing.

Garlic Bed | Oysters & Pearls

Also a new feature: a very tiny (for now) garlic bed.  I can now call myself a self-respecting woman.  We planted some that Wheat’s aunt gave me when she gave me some cucumbers for pickling, plus a couple other cloves that had sprouted in the fruit bowl.

Bell Peppers | Oysters & Pearls

Our bell pepper plants haven’t ever really gotten very large, but they are slowly but surely growing some peppers!  As you can see, the caterpillars have done a number on these, too.  Help!

Pickling Cucumber | Oysters & Pearls

We still have a few cucumbers trickling in, but we have pulled all but a couple vines up at this point.  They are drowning in the rain!

Cucumbers | Oysters & Pearls

Not so pretty anymore – but I hate to pull the last of them up if I can get a few more cukes out of them!

Okra | Oysters & Pearls

Our okra is really taking off these days.  The plants are getting bigger and stronger, and are starting to make more okra!  Overall, though, it’s pretty laughable.  We’ve gotten 2 okra pods off these plants so far… but we’ll see.  They ought to produce all summer long, if we’ll ever get some sunshine!

Plotting Their Escape | Oysters & Pearls

Harold and Wallace, planning their escape perhaps.

Now, on to what we have had the most success with: TOMATOES!

Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine | Oysters & Pearls

We have eaten a ripe cherry tomato here and there, and they are so good!

As for the other varieties we planted (beefsteak, Cherokee purple, and Roma) we have only gotten one tiny ripe beefsteak.  I have high hopes for them all, if it will just. quit. raining!

Roma Tomatoes | Oysters & Pearls

Green Cherokee Purple Tomato | Oysters & Pearls

Tomatoes are not Toys | Oysters & Pearls

Tomatoes are not toys, Wallace.

Which also, note how TALL our maters are now!  We never cease to be amazed at how big they’ve gotten.  See them a little over a month ago {here}.  It’s especially crazy that we started them from seed!

For a tutorial on how we built our raised beds, click {here} and {here}!

Raised Tomato Bed | Oysters & Pearls

Now, if Wallace will just guard them from squirrels while we aren’t home, we’ll be set…

Guardian of the Garden | Oysters & Pearls


Honeyed Bread & Butter Pickles

This past Sunday I made three separate batches of pickles.  Yes, three.  My kitchen smelled like vinegar for a couple of days.  Totally worth it.

Honeyed Bread & Butter Pickles | Oysters & Pearls

I thought I’d share this recipe for honeyed bread & butter pickles with you first.

Cucumbers for Bread & Butter Pickles | Oysters & Pearls

If you aren’t familiar with bread & butter pickles, they are a staple at most Southern tables.  A restaurant in my hometown (Parramore’s) brings them to you at the table, without much of a chance to turn them down.  When I was little, I couldn’t STAND them.  These days, I can’t get enough!

According to WikiAnswers, these pickles are called bread and butter pickles because bread and butter together are sweet, and these pickles were apparently just as common as bread and butter on tables during the Depression.

The difference between bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles is in the seasoning.  Sweet pickles are made with cinnamon, clove, and allspice in a vinegar and sugar brine.  Bread and butter pickles are made with turmeric, mustard, and onions in a vinegar and sugar brine.

Bread & Butters Packed in Jars | Oysters & Pearls

I found this recipe for honeyed bread and butter pickles in the Canning For a New Generation cookbook by Liana Krissoff.  I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to get into canning and want something besides the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving (the original canning Bible).

Honeyed Bread & Butter Pickles (adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissof)

– 8 glass canning pint jars with lids and rings

– approximately 3 pounds of pickling cucumbers (3-4 inches long), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

– 1 tablespoon of kosher salt

– 2 small Vidalia onions, sliced thin

– 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

– 1 tablespoon celery seeds

– 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

– 6 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

– 3/4 cup honey

– 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

Honey for B&B Pickles | Oysters & Pearls

Put the sliced cucumbers and onions into a large bowl and toss with the mustard seeds, celery seeds, and red pepper flakes and set aside.

Sanitize your jars: you have two options for this.  Most cookbooks will tell you to boil the jars in your canning pot to sanitize them.  However, my grandmother taught me to run them through the dishwasher to sanitize them.  It’s a whole lot easier, and made even easier by the fact that most dishwashers these days have a sanitize setting (mine does).  Be sure to run your lids and rings through the sanitize cycle, as well.  It’s best to do this well ahead of time, and leave them steaming hot in the dishwasher until you’re ready to pack the jars.

Prepare the brine: In a nonreactive pot (basically, a heavy pot that is not bare aluminum), combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, the honey, turmeric, mustard powder, and 1 tablespoon of salt.  Bring to a full rolling boil.

B&B Pickles Before Processing | Oysters & Pearls

Pack your jars: Work quickly and pack your jars with the cucumbers and onions, but make sure you don’t pack them too tightly.  Using a jar funnel, ladle the hot vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving about a half inch from the top of the jar empty (aka “headspace”).  Carefully tap the jar on the counter to make sure any bubbles rise to the top.  Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the rims of each jar, put a flat lid and a ring on top, and tighten the lids.

Processing: To process the jars (prevents botulism, which is serious stuff), you should already have a giant pot full of boiling water ready to go.  Place your full pickle jars into the pot of water, making sure the water covers the jars by at least one inch.  Bring the water back up to a full boil and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove the jars using a jar lifter and set on a towel.  You can use regular tongs covered in rubber bands, but it’s wayyyy safer and easier to just pick up a jar lifter on Amazon or at your local grocery store if you live in a less-urban area.  Leave the jars there to cool for a few hours, or overnight.  As they cool and seal, you’ll hear the lids popping.  It’s pretty gratifying!  After an hour or two, check to see if each jar is sealed by running your finger over the lids.  Often if it hasn’t sealed, this will cause it to do so immediately.  Any jars that haven’t sealed after 2 hours, refrigerate and use those first.  Sealed jars can be stored indefinitely at room temperature.

Processing Pickles | Oysters & Pearls

I like to let these pickles rest for at least a couple of weeks, but if you’re really anxious, I suppose you could go ahead and eat some.  They are pretty tasty!

Bread & Butter Pickles | Oysters & Pearls

I also thought I would note that these are not my antique jars (which I do collect).  Ball came out this year with a vintage style pint jar, which I absolutely adore!  They are much bluer than the old ones, but I guess the old ones could have been this blue when they were first made?  Anyway, I just love them.  You can order them from Ace Hardware and pick them up at your local store to get free shipping.  I’ve officially used all of mine now (I bought two cases of six a while back) and I will definitely be needing more!

Vintage Style Ball Jars | Oysters & Pearls

All of this pickle making really wore Wallace out, as you can see.

Wallace on Pickling Day | Oysters & Pearls

It’s a rough life.

What’s your favorite bread and butter pickle recipe or memory?