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Some misfits think they need a super-productive garden to make canning possible or worthwhile.  Not so, my spicy little dumplings, not so!  At least, not with pepper jelly.  Just a few cups of chopped peppers is enough to make a baker’s dozen of pepper jelly half-pints.

Now these half-pints are different from the half-pints that your Bad Mama Genny normally enjoys around here because they will not get you drunk and they do not possess bubbles.  If you’re doing it right, that is.  (Pepper jelly that gets you drunk is probably dangerous.  And a lot of fun.  But dangerous.  But, you know, still fun.)  But in any case, pepper jelly half-pints are still joyful half-pints indeed.

In fact, they got me so excited that I had to go play with those little fake baby bottles for dolls that you turn upside down and the orange juice and milk disappear and make it look like Baby drank it.

They’re very soothing.

So how would a misfit use pepper jelly?

I’m glad you asked!

Eat it with cream cheese or goat cheese and crackers, stir it into a sweet and spicy stir fry, baste grilled meats and sausages with it, make a totally different kind of PB & J or grilled cheese with it, melt it down and use it as the base for a KAH-razy cocktail, put it on a cheese plate alongside these pickled grapes, stir some into deviled egg filling, put it in tuna or chicken salad, load it into your kids’ water guns for playtime with higher stakes, bring it to parties, give it as gifts, mail it to other misfits…

BUT NO SEX PLAY.

Y’all hear me?  Pepper jelly is not for sex pla–

NO!  Bad misfits!  BAD!

No sex play.

A public service announcement from Bad Mama Genny.

Movin’ on.

(No sex play.)

Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly (No sex play)
Makes 13 half-pints (if it’s too annoying to buy an extra 12-pack for a thirteenth jar you may not need, just plan on putting the extra in a cup or bowl for eating right away)

Go Get:
2 1/2 total cups minced sweet and hot peppers (for medium heat, I used 6 large jalapenos, no seeds or membranes, and the rest sweet peppers) (The mincing is best done in a food processor, once you’ve done the bare minimum at chopping and de-seeding them while wearing gloves or little plastic baggies on your hands)
12 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
1 cup liquid pectin, somewhere around 2 and a half pouches
6 drops green food coloring, optional

Go Do:
Get your jars heating and sterilizing–the dishwasher is ideal for this.  And start your boiling hot water bath in a large canning pot on the stove.

Okay, now:

Mix the peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot (Dutch Oven size is just right).

Turn the heat to high and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a full boil and sugar is dissolved.  Don’t breathe in the vinegar/pepper vapors if you can help it.  They are a perfect storm of pain and suffering.
Remove it from the heat, give it another stir, and add the pectin.  Now is when you’ll add the food coloring, if you’re using it.  You totally don’t have to.  I considered not, but the jam was a sickly yellowish color that, frankly, made me think of plasma in a jar.  In went the food coloring.

Now ladle it into those hot and ready jars (what?) and leave about half an inch of headspace.  Tap the jars onto the table to bring any air bubbles to the surface, where you can pop them with a wooden chopstick or something.

Put on the lids, screw the rings on just a wittle tight, and process them in the canner for 10 minutes (you may have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your canner).  Let ’em sit for a day before putting them in your pantry, and I’d say give ’em two weeks before eating to let the pepper flavor really permeate.  But NO SEX PLAY!

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I know what you’re thinking–mushrooms can be neither fine nor sexy.  But oh.

Oh!

OH!

They can.  And they are.  In this recipe in particular.  Now, these are pretty boss straight out the jar or with a sandwich or on a hamburger, but your Bad Mama Genny likes to push the envelope.  Put a few in a martini and watch people gasp at your fearlessness in the face of fungi!  Better yet, offer a whole bottle as a gift alongside a bottle of nice gin or vodka. (Or perhaps some cheap vodka that you’ve turned into gin, using my instructions.  Or hell, you could just buy a bottle of gin named after me.)

Because nothing says “Happy Birthday” like good old-fashioned enabling.

Now, the other nice thing about this recipe is that you trim the mushrooms before pickling, so you end up with lots of little mushroom bits and bobs.  And what a coincidence, I LOVE little mushroom bits and bobs!

Aww, look at all those misfit mushroom pieces just waiting to make you feel like the lady you aren’t.

They’re perfect for frying up in pan drippings with a little wine for a burger topping.  Or throw them into a veggie burger mix.  How about soup?  A vegetable stir fry?  See, I just KNEW you’d come around to little mushroom bits and bobs!

(Psst, remember when we talked about growing your own mushrooms?  Oh, right, here.  And here.  And here.  And here, too.  Surely it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll pass those chilly winter nights without a homesteading project!  What’s that?…you’re planning on drinking?  Well, gosh…that’s a solid plan.  Carry on!)

Fine and Sexy Pickled Mushrooms
Makes 6 pints

Go Get:
5 1/2 lbs.small, white button mushrooms
1 head garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons pickling/canning salt
4 cups white wine vinegar
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs rosemary
3 teaspoons black peppercorns

Go Do:
Start with sterilized canning jars and lids and get a boiling water bath canner going.  Now divide the peppercorns, herb sprigs, bay leaves, and smashed garlic cloves evenly amongst the jars.

Thoroughly wash the mushrooms and trim the stems super short.  Save the trimmings for another use.

Slice large mushrooms in halves or quarters to maintain some kind of size uniformity.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, stir in the lemon juice, and add the mushrooms.  Cook until they’re tender, about 8-10 minutes.  Now.  Embrace the slotted spoon.  The slotted spoon is your friend.  Transfer the mushrooms from the pot to two tea towel-lined cookie sheets to drain.  Take care not to ignite your favorite new tea towel while doing this.

Not that I’d know.

Or anything.

Then divide the mushrooms evenly among the jars.

In a pot, combine the vinegar with 1 cup water and the salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat.  Cook until salt is dissolved, then use a canning funnel to pour the brine in each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Wipe the jar rims, position the lids and rings, screw them on only a wittle bit tight, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Line a cookie sheet with a towel and use a canning jar lifter to transfer the jars from the bath onto the cookie sheet.  Let them sit by themselves (aww, poor mushrooms) for a day, at which point you can check the seals.

Note: Jars didn’t seal?  Don’t feel like canning?  No problem–just move unsealed jars into the fridge, where they’ll last for several months.

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(Psst…if you haven’t signed up for my subversive cross stitch giveaway yet, do so now!)

When your Bad Mama Genny and The Boy lived in the New York City place, we frequented the occasional Jewish deli.

Fine, the SLIGHTLY MORE THAN OCCASIONAL Jewish deli.  What can I say?  I’m a half-Jew.  Making me a Cashew.  Fun, little known fact about your Bad Mama Genny, misfits.  Oy vey!

In any case, these fine establishments almost always carry the elusive, the beautiful, the mouthgasm inducing…SOUR PICKLE.  These are totally different from vinegar pickles–they’re sour because they go through lactic acid fermentation, which gives them a unique flavor profile, makes them easier to digest, and grants them special probiotic superpowers.

I am all about superpowers, misfits.  Just this weekend, The Boy’s mom taught me how to crochet.  She was in town for a funeral, which is pretty much as good a place to learn crochet as any other.  There were no sour pickles at this funeral, but someone did chip a tooth, so that was exciting!

It was me.

Oddly enough, there are those who think the most valuable thing in the pickle crock isn’t even the pickles–it’s the garlic.  In fact, lacto-fermented garlic is something of a folk remedy for its probiotic and antibacterial properties, as well as its ability to repel strangely moody, pale man-boy mouth breathers with names that rhyme with Schmedward.  So basically, this garlic IS SOME VALUABLE SHIT.  And, um, just in case you were worrying that this recipe wouldn’t include enough of that fine and funky garlic?

Yeah, I think we’re pretty well covered here.

Y’know, naturally-fermented pickle brine was also once a precious commodity and cure-all.  But historical misfits wouldn’t stop at applying it to cuts, bruises, and rashes–they used it on wrinkles, too, which is just. so. sexy.  Of course, people don’t do this anymore, but I say, why pass up a perfectly good opportunity to torture the people you love?  In fact, the next time The Boy walks into the room, I plan to toss a bucket of cold pickle brine into his face.  For love.

Naturally.

Make up some naturally-fermented pickles with your bumper crop of cukes, lovey loves.  Because the BMG is worried that you may not be colonized by sufficient numbers of foreign bodies.

Colonizing you with foreign bodies.  It’s one of the things I do best.

Lacto-Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles
Makes 1 gallon pickles

Go Get:
3 1/2 lbs. pickling cucumbers, washed, with blossom end shaved off (that would be the non-stem end)
6 Tablespoons sea salt
1 rounded teaspoon calcium chloride (optional, for crisp)
3 heads garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1/2 cup whey (extract whey from yogurt like so) (wanna do this the vegan/dairy-free way?  See this post.)
2 large bunches dill weed
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
2 Tablespoons dill seed
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
2 teaspoons mustard seed

Go Do:
Start with a clean, 1 gallon container–a pitcher works well for this.  Pile in the cukes, layering them with the dill weed, garlic cloves, and spices.

At this point you may be wondering if my manicures are EVER unchipped.  The answer is…no.

Reposition any cukes you have to in order to keep them several inches below the top of the container.  Now mix 8 cups of lukewarm (not hot), filtered water with the calcium chloride (if using), salt, and whey.  Stir and pour over the pickles to thoroughly submerge them.  If you need more liquid to cover, add additional filtered water.  Now place an open Ziploc bag over the crock (open side up), and fill with enough water to weight the cucumbers down and keep them submerged.  When you have that right, seal the bag, cover the whole thing loosely with a towel, and let sit in a dark, room-temperature location.  Check the pickles for sourness each day.  Mine are usually at optimal sourness in 1 week, but your results will differ based on temperature and environment.  Once they’re where you like ’em, refrigerate the batch to slow fermentation and enjoy!  They’ll keep for about a year, and usually longer.

Note: If a little mold develops on top, don’t worry–this is normal.  Just skim it off, rinse and replace the bag, and keep on fermenting, lovey doves.

Note Again: Pickled garlic turns blue sometimes.  It’s normal.  We all get blue sometimes, right?  Well, this is a totally harmless chemical reaction and you can (and should, and MUST) still eat the blue cloves.

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Wanna know what I did on my summer vacation?  Besides drive myself and everyone else batty?  And tweet too much?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I…

Visited a beautiful farmhouse B&B set on a five-acre organic farm in Wisconsin.  Then I wrote it up for an article.

Celebrated my un-burfday with my twin brother, Johnny.  Being born on Christmas could have sucked royally.  Thankfully, my family applied the same logic to birthdays as they do to shopping furniture sales–Christmas in July is never a bad thing.  What you see there is my birthday dessert of choice–a banana cream pie from the always-nommiful Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago’s bohemian West Town neighborhood.  Better pie I have not found.  And believe me, I’ve looked all around.

Did you notice that rhymed?  I worked hard on that.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to offer a shoutout to The Brother, Johnny.  You’re one cool dude, Johnny.  If Bad Mama Genny has to share a birthday with someone, she’s glad it’s you.  ‘Cause frankly, you’ve put up with a lot of shite over the years.  I’m sorry about that one time with the thing.  And that other time, with that other thing.  And though I’m sure it scarred you for life, the incident with that third thing, that was really hilarious to me at the time, but which I’m sure was annoying as hell at the time said thing occurred.

Uh, love you!

Made an extremely popular, mostly-natural version of those cream-filled Hostess cupcakes for one of my many un-burfday parties.  What?  Look, if it’s just a birthday, maybe you only have one party, but this was an un-BURFday party, ‘kay?

Don’t hate.

Notice the “g” hidden in the swirl.

Blew up an obscene number of balloons for said un-burfday party.  Walked through, bodysurfed over, and danced around them for two days.  Vowed to fill my apartment with balloons and live that way year-round.  Carefully migrated the balloons down two flights of curving stairs and into the backyard for the un-burfday party.  Watched them all pop systematically as soon as the vicious heat expanded their gases enough to push them past their limit.  Cried a little.  Jumped into The Boy’s arms and screamed every time one bit the dust.

I also scream every time that timer thingy from Scattergories goes off at the end of the thinking time.  Every time.  Does not fail.  Hey, guys, wanna play Scattergories with me again?

No?

Ya’ sure?

They must be intimidated by my brilliance.

Carefully migrated every refrigerator magnet, including the magnetic poetry, from the old fridge into a plastic bag.  Then put them up, one by one, on the new refrigerator.  Which, by the way, bit the dust one month after purchase SO HOLY HELL I HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.  Onto a third fridge.

I think there’s a circle of hell where all you do is migrate magnetic poetry from fridge to fridge.  And now that I think about it, that’s probably the circle of hell I’ll inhabit one day.  Magnetic poetic justice.

What’s that, dearest mommy?  You didn’t think I was going to hell?  Well, I am.  Apparently, it’s all part of selling your soul to Satan.  But I’ve talked it over with Jesus, and he knows it’s nothing personal, and he promised not to take it out on you.  So I’m sure you’ll still get that pineapple whipped cream room when you die, like you’ve always wanted.

Glad we had this talk.

Took bizarrely-lit nighttime photos of my cucumber bounty before I turned it into pickles.

Yep.  We made pickle spears, smaller pickle spears (out of the white cucumbers), and bread and butter slices (from extra lemon cucumbers).  I dunno about you, but I’m not a huge fan of sweet pickles.

Actually, that’s an understatement.  I LOATHE SWEET PICKLES.  So when I’m in my magnetic poetry circle of hell, I’m sure someone will be force-feeding me sweet pickles.  DAMMIT!

Ooh, look, finally a natural light photo.  Took me long enough.  Pickles, pickles, pickles!

!!!!

Made brandied cherries…aren’t they pretty?  And I love that vintage pink jar (thrift shop!).  You don’t even need a recipe, but here’s one that’s sorta close to my method.  By the way…these things’ll knock your socks off.  Put ’em on a cocktail, top a sundae with ’em, or just sit on the couch armed with a jar of these and your cherry-pickin’ fingers.  Just know that they’re strong.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you stand up to put ’em back in the fridge and Charlie the Unicorn invites you dance with him to the greatest hits of Pink Floyd while you search for his missing kidneys.

Made some kickass chicken thighs.  Very good recipe, by the way.  The Boy died in my arms tonight when I made them.  Then he unmelted and asked for seconds.

And by golly, any chicken thighs that can melt and unmelt a man with as much structural integrity as The Boy is A-OK in my book.  A-OK, I tell you.

Harvested every one of these little Parisian round carrots from a little spot in back of the old apartment that my landlady so kindly allowed me to borrow.  I couldn’t bear to leave them behind, so just know that some of them are a little undergrown.  At an inch to an inch and a half per plant, they’re not the most efficient use of space, but you know what they are?  Cute.  Very, very cute.  And probably a great addition to a garden-themed dinner party’s appetizer spread.  Ooh, note to self: garden-themed dinner party.  Wanna grow these yourself?  Ask and you shall receive, my sweet poppets.  Sweet, sweet misfit poppets.

Sweet, sweet, sweet misfit poppets.

Too much?  Chill out–there will be no eating of your liver with fava beans a nice chianti, okay?  Not today.  Here’s the link.

Took unfocused, sideways shots of unwashed produce and didn’t bother to reorient them before posting them here.  It’s just who I am these days.

Celebrated my mom and aunt’s actual, for real birthday!  Like, it wasn’t even an un-burfday!  They’re also twins, but they’re for really real twins.  Not that Johnny and I aren’t for really real twins.  But we’re fraternal.  And we don’t have a mind-reading thingy going on.  My mom and aunt are identical twins, and they do have a mind-reading thingy going on.  Wanna know what kind of cake this is?  Yellow, with pineapple and whipped cream filling.  And, oh my, look how this blog post has come full circle; suddenly I’m filled with a feeling of oneness and harmony.

Moving on.

Tried to figure out what happened to make my eggplants change color and stop producing.  The answer is me.  I happened.  By neglecting to fertilize my eggplants for a two month stretch while I moved my earthly possessions from one plot to another, I happened to my eggplants.  And they weren’t happy with the happening that happened.  But I’ll be better next year, lil’ eggplanties, ‘kay?  I’ll also plant a billion more, since aside from the happening that happened to them, they were beautiful and productive and beautiful and problem-free and beautiful.

May I remind you of a fabulously delicious way to use prepare eggplant?  Besides the eggplant parmigiana thing that everyone knows about and has done a thousand times?  And baba ghanoush?  Here you are. She’s my all-time favorite food blogger.  And I hear she’s also absolutely stunning in person.  True story.

Found my old favorite gym shirt!  From back when I used to go to the gym.  When dinosaurs roamed the earth.

In case you’re too damn lazy to read this backwards, it reads “Asthma is Sexy!”  Note the striking background silhouette of a man using an inhaler.  I’ve now made a promise.  A life changing promise.  To myself.  To never go to the gym again.  Oh, and another promise.  That every time I use my inhaler, I will strike a sexy, dramatic pose like that one.  To propogate the notion of asthma’s sexiness.

So what have we learned today?

Well, I’ll tell you what we’ve learned.

One, I am now on a personal crusade to erase guilt from my life by legitimizing all my actions.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Two, other stuff.

Three, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to wrap-ups of what we’ve learned.  It’s just who I am these days.

See you soon, my precious babies!  Precious, precious, babies.

Precious, precious, precious misfit babies.

Am I doing it again?  Sorry.

It’s just who I am these days.

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