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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles

Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles
Don't let the name fool you.  These pickles won't burn your mouth up.  They are made from Cinnamon Red Hot Candy.  Those not familiar with the recipe can't believe they are made from cucumbers.  They taste a bit like candied apples.  I think it throws people off because you use big cucumbers - the ones that get so big "they ain't fittin' to eat."

Have your week mapped out before obtaining the cucumbers because it takes 3 days to make these pickles.  It is a lot of work, but well worth it. My chickens are more than happy to clean up the peelings and the seeds.  A good vegetable peeler is a must.

You will need:
Day 1
7 lbs large (huge, really) cucumbers
1 cup of pickling lime

Day 2
2 teaspoons of red food coloring (I omit this, just because)
1 teaspoon powdered alum
1 cup distilled white vinegar

10 cups white sugar (about 5 lbs)
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
6 ounces cinnamon red hot candies (about a cup)
4 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (the cinnamon sticks provide a prettier presentation, but I use the ground cinnamon because it is less expensive and I have it on hand)

Day 3
About 9 or 10 pint jars, lids, and rings
Canning funnel 
Water Bath Canner
Jar lifter
Towel(s) to cools jars on

Day 1: 
Wash and peel cucumbers.  

Now you have a few options.  Do you want sticks, dices, rings, or half rings? I go for sticks (maybe because I'm lazy and it is easier).

For sticks - Cut the cucumbers lengthwise and remove all the seeds with a spoon, melon baller, or whatever gadget you find works best for you.  Then cut into sticks about all the same size.  For dices, cut into really small sticks :-)

For half rings - Cut lengthwise and remove the seeds and cut into 1/4" half rings (This is pretty easy, but I always go for the sticks because I like to eat them in sticks)

For rings - (I did this once.  It was a lot of work.) Cut the ends off the cucumbers, then cut in quarters and remove the seeds from each section with a spoon or other gadget you find works.  You may use an apple corer to accomplish this.  When all  the seeds are removed from the section, slice into 1/4" rings. (After about 3 lbs, you are probably wishing you had gone with sticks).

Now that you have decided how to cut your cucumbers and you have them all nice and sliced into the shape of your choice, we will continue...

Place the cucumbers into a glass or enamel pot.  Dissolve the pickling lime in about 1 quart of room temperature water and pour over the sliced cucumbers.  Add additional water until it covers the cucumbers by 1/2".  Cover and let them stand 24 hours.

Day 2:
Drain the cucumbers and rinse well with cold water.  Place into a large stockpot (I use enamel) and cover with ice water.  Let stand for 3 hours.  Drain and rinse again.

Return the cucumbers to the pot, add alum, vinegar, and enough water to cover the cucumbers by 1/2", add food coloring if you desire.  Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 hours.  Allow to cool a bit and drain.

Stir together sugar, 2 cups vinegar, 2 cups water, cinnamon red hot candies, and cinnamon sticks (or ground cinnamon) in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar and candies dissolve.  Pour this mixture over the cucumbers and allow to stand overnight.

Day 3:
If using cinnamon sticks, you can discard them or place a piece into each jar.  If putting them into the jars, it will cause the liquid and pickles to darken over time.  (I use ground cinnamon so it just floats to the bottom of the jars).  Pack pickles into jars, then fill with liquid leaving 1/2" head space.  Wipe rim of jar and place lid and attach rings securely.  Process in water bath for 45 minutes.  Remove from water bath and place on folded kitchen towels.  Allow to cool completely.  Remove rings.  Check for seal by lifting gently on the edge of the lid.  If you have a jar that doesn't seal, just refrigerate it for immediate use. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Grout Cleaning Pinterest Style - Fail

I live in the home my grandmother built in the 50's.  You know the kind.  Brick exterior with either a blue-green tiled or a yellow tiled bathroom.  We are fortunate enough to have two bathrooms so we got stuck with both.  Thanks to a broken sewage pipe, our children's blue-green tile was removed and replaced with sheet rock.  But we will live on with the yellow because we hope to build a new home.

Over the years, the grout in the yellow bathroom has become, well, gross.

To combat this, I enlisted the help of Pinterest.  I carefully copied the recipe and headed out to purchase the ingredients.
"Amazing Grout Cleaner" - Fail
I carefully mixed my ingredients and put them into the spray bottle.  I coated the floor and waited (insert Jeopardy Music here).  Then, I scrubbed.  I scrubbed some more, and I scrubbed until I had no scrub left in me.

I ended up with this...
After the "Amazing Grout Cleaner"
 Can you tell a difference?  Me either.  I have used a steam mop on this floor and nothing seems to work.

The next thing I tried was Grout Bully.  As Seen on TV!  I paid $9.99 for it at Fred's.  I read the directions which said basically, 1) apply to grout 2) let dry 2 minutes 3) remove excess with Grout Bully eraser 4) let dry completely.

As Seen on TV
 For $9.99, I figured the bottle would be a little bigger.  At least it is made in the U.S.A.

"Only $9.99... but, wait"

The # 3) in the directions should be more like, uh, scrub the excess from the tile using plenty of elbow grease and rub until the "eraser" falls apart.  This may not remove all the excess, so you'll need to find another eraser.

By the way... I wanted a cleaner.  This product is more like shoe polish.  Just covering up the ugly, dirty, gross mess was not what I was looking for. 

Grout Bully Mess
I ended up washing all the Grout Bully off before it completely dried.  However, the positive side to it, there was very little odor/fumes.

At my wits end, my sister reminded me of the respiratory difficulty she was having a few weeks ago.  She said she used "The Works" to clean her grout, but ended up not being able to breathe afterwords.  I took her advice, but I made a little extra preparation before attempting it.

Only ~ $1.50 from Fred's for The Works toilet bowl cleaner
  Placing a fan in the open window facing out and a pedestal fan blowing into the bathroom, I poured The Works toilet bowl cleaner onto the floor, working in a small area at the time.  I highly recommend testing in a hidden area as this is not recommended for tile or grout and could damage your floor.  I took the risk with the ugly yellow tile.  Yes, using this product as not intended is a risk.

I scrubbed the grout starting next to the tub in the corner and worked out.  After scrubbing, I used a sponge and bucket to rinse.  Working in small sections kept the fumes down as well as the fans blowing.  There are areas of grout missing which still appear dark, but wow... The grout is white again!

This is all I accomplished today, since the Grout Bully took up much of my time.  I will rest my knees and my tennis elbow, give my lungs some fresh air and start again tomorrow.

Please comment with anything you have used successfully.