Punk Domestics's blog

We Can Pickle That: Cucumbers!

Summer is on -- time to cue the cukes! Pickling is the way to go for most of us, but we have a few other tricks up our sleeves for cucumbers.

Sour Pickles
Sour Pickles
Our friend lactofermentation gives cucumbers their characteristic tang. This is the deli pickle of your dreams -- but there are a few tricks to perfecting crispy spears. (Image via Tim Vidra)
Half Sours
Half Sours
A slightly less salty brine produces a pickle with a slightly less sour tang. (Image via From Scratch Club)
East Coast New Pickles
East Coast New Pickles
A tradition in the Northeast, these pickles are brined but unfermented, making for a crisp, salty cuke. (Image via Linda Ziedrich)
Dill Pickles
Dill Pickles
Whether fermented or vinegar-brined, dill pickles are dill-icious, and endlessly variable. (Image via Talk of Tomatoes)

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Interview on Cilantro

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I'm happily interviewed over on the blog at kitchenware retail site Cilantro. Go check it out!Read More >

Food Swap by Emily Paster

Food Swap by Emily Paster, found on PunkDomestics.com

Disclosure: A copy of the book has been furnished for review, and another for the giveaway, by the publisher, Storey Press.

Raise your hand if you have a few extra jars of jams and pickles stowed in corners and in the backs of shelves in the pantry. Now keep those hands up if you have a lot of jars. Yeah, that's what I thought. 

For those of us who are into DIY projects, moderation is antithetical to our desire to can all the things. As we get into summer, that's only going to get worse. After all, who can resist those flats of luscious berries or lustrous cucumbers just begging to be pickled?

Odds are you personally are not going to consume all those jars of jams and pickles single-handedly, but what if you could turn them into a bounty of practical material? Enter the food swap. 

From its humble beginnings in Kate Payne's small Brooklyn apartment, the modern food swap movement became a huge phenomenon of the sharing economy. Emily Paster, blogger at West of the Loop (and longtime Punk Domestics contributor) co-founded the Chicago food swap, which became one of the exemplars of a successful food trading event. 

So you just get a few people together and hand each other jars of things, right? Well, it turns out there's more to it than that. 

In Food Swap, Paster outlines all the aspects of a successful food swap event, from scouting locations to getting the word out to the sometimes surprising problem of no-shows. Moreover, she helps you think about what makes your contribution a successful bargaining chip. Hint: Presentation counts. Channel your inner marketer. 

The latter half of the book is full of recipes specially designed for trading, from fresh items meant to be consumed quickly to baked goods to home-canned treats to save for later.

Click here for Paster's recipe for canned sour cherry pie filling.

Whether you're looking to do a simple old-fashioned soup swap or organize a bigger community function, Food Swap equips you with the information you need to execute a successful event that will bring people together while enriching their pantries.

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Stuff It! DIY Sausage

Summertime is upon us, and it's time to bust out the grill and sear up some sausage. Making your own is easier than you think, and the rewards are worth the effort.

Hot Dogs
Hot Dogs
Store-bought franks are snouts and ... other parts. Make your own with top-quality meat for the best flavor. (Image via Eat Live Travel Write)
Italian Sausages
Italian Sausages
Hot or sweet, Italian sausages bring big flavor to the party. (Image via NPR)
Chorizo
Chorizo
A pinch of pimientón makes these Mexican and Spanish sausages muy caliente(Image via The Cultivated Life)

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¡Salsa!

Cinco de mayo has nothing to do with Mexican independence, but you can liberate yourself from store-bought salsa. Whatever kind you like, whip up a batch today for chip-dipping good times.

Tomato Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Tomato Salsa
It's the classic, and America's favorite condiment. Delicious on chips of course, but also a versatile side to fish and chicken. And if you use the right recipe, it can even be canned.
Fermented Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Fermented Salsa
Lacto-fermented salsa is one of the simplest ways for beginners to play with cultured and fermented foods. Ferment tomatoes, chilies and more to tickle your belly and tongue in a good way!
Salsa verde, found on PunkDomestics.com
Salsa Verde
Whir up some tomatillos, chilies and herbs for a tangy salsa with a slightly fruity flavor.
Corn Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Corn Salsa
Chunky, sweet and spicy, corn salsa is a summertime crowd-pleaser. Try it on dogs for your next barbecue!
Fruit Salsa, found on PunkDomestics.com
Fruit Salsa
Think beyond the love apple to create complex, flavorful salsas using all manner of fruit, like mangoes, peaches, pineapples.

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Naturally Sweet Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

Naturally Sweet Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan, found on PunkDomestics.com

Disclosure: A copy of the book has been furnished for review, and another for the giveaway, by the publisher, Running Press.

Marisa McClellan, doyenne of all things food that go in jars, is back with the third in her series of books. This time, she's turned her eye to a particular niche in the preserving space, using natural sweeteners in the place of the more common granulated sugar. Marisa took some time out of her very busy schedule while on book tour to answer a few questions for us. 

PD: What inspired you to focus on using natural sweeteners in preserves?

MM: I started this journey of natural sweeteners like most people do, with honey. I started using it to sweeten various preserves first simply as a way of lending extra flavor to things like strawberry jam and quick pickles. When I would share those honey sweetened preserves on my blog, the response was always resounding and positive. People were looking for preserves that were sweetened naturally. Spurred on by such an encouraging response, I started developing more recipes that were sweetened naturally and eventually, that process of exploration turned into this book.

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16 Ways to Put Up Strawberries

Strawberries! Everybody's favorite bright red berry is finally in season, and there are just oh so many things to do with them. Grab a flat or 10 while they're abundant, and tuck into these DIY projects, from jam to sauces to drinks and more.

Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Jam
Kick up the jam with fresh, ripe strawberries, straight up or paired with vanilla, herbs or its best friend, rhubarb. (Image: Sean Timberlake via Cooking Channel)
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Making freezer jam never cooks the strawberries so you get the most fresh tasting strawberry jam ever. And it's easy, to boot. (Image via Tikkido)

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Kumquats: Funny to Say, Delicious to Preserve

Funny to say, delicious to preserve. Kumquats pack a potent punch of citric tartness in a tiny package. Unlike their cousins, kumquats invert the paradigm, with mild rinds and sour-bitter pulp. They add a distinctive flavor to all kinds of preserves, like these.

Kumquat Marmalade
Kumquat Marmalade
Move over, oranges. Kumquats are marmalade's new best friend. Your scones won't see it coming. (Image via Alyssa and Carla)
Kumquat Preserves
Kumquat Preserves
Put 'em up in syrup, plain and simple or spiked with flavors of mint, rosewater or spices. Excellent in cocktails. (Image via Local Kitchen)
Kumquat Jam
Kumquat Jam
Kumquat pairs nicely with plenty of other flavors in homemade jams: Cranberries, blackberries, rhubarb and even tomatoes. (Image via The Tomato Tart)

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Stalking Rhubarb

Rhubarb is the darling of spring. These sour stalks are techincally a vegetable, but their tart taste lends them to applications more common with fruit. What can you do with it? What can't you do? Here's a whole bunch of ideas.

Canned Rhubarb
Canned Rhubarb
Can the stalks in syrup to have on hand for multiple purposes in the future, like pies, ice cream and cocktails. (Image via One Tomato Two Tomato)
Freezing Rhubarb
Freezing Rhubarb
Or, just freeze it off in chunks, and scoop out as much as you need. (Image via Delectable Musings)
Dried Rhubarb
Dried Rhubarb
Rhubarb can also be dehydrated, to make it shelf stable (and take up less space besides.) (Image via Little Miss Cruciferous)

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Punk Domestics in Italy 2015: Foraging for Porcini ... or Not

On our penultimate day in Italy, we were scheduled to go foraging for porcini up in the Apennines. From the day we arrived, though, my local guide Dalia kept mentioning that the porcini season was lackluster this year, and with nights being so cold, they were likely not going to happen, but not to worry, we would find something. Every day, assurances: Don't worry, we'll find something, with a knowing nod. 

Portico di Romagna

In the morning we drove to the quaint town of Portico di Romagna, close to the Tuscan border, where we met Matteo, our forager. We slapped on some muddy boots in preparation. 

Appropriate footwear for foraging

So it was that we piled into Matteo's van. We drove a few minutes out of town, pulled over on the roadside, and let out the dog, Otto. We were going to hunt truffles instead. Hello! 

We're going back this October. Want to join? Click here for more information.

Matteo, our forager

Otto the truffle hunting dog

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