Adventures in Food Preparation

Adventures in Food Preparation
As you can see from the photos below, the Snook and I have been makin’ pickles. Specifically, we’re making sun dills. My mom used to make them when I was a kid and I loved them, so a few months ago we planted cucumber seeds in the garden. As with everything else we planted, they went berserk. Last weekend the Snook noticed that I had three big fat ripe ones. Here you can see the before and after shots. Now we just need to leave the jar in the sun for a couple days and I’ll be eating ice cold fresh pickles by Monday!

Home grown cucumbers     Pickles!

Also, we tried out a great new sausage and bean stew for dinner tonight. It’s sorta like a cross between chili and gourmet beanie weenies. It’s not exactly the most Atkins-friendly dish but it’s an awesome winter warmer. (Why we made it in the height of Indian summer is a mystery even to me.) It even involved fennel, which I didn’t think I liked. Read on for the recipe.This recipe is courtesy of my friend Kiri, with a few small adjustments by the Snook and myself…

Sausage and Bean Stew
4 thick Italian style sausages
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large bulb of fennel, trimmed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
400g tin chopped tomatoes
440g can canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 small sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Shaved parmesan

Place sausages in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for two minutes, then drain well. When cool, cut on the diagonal into 2cm pieces.

Heat olive oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole, add sausage pieces and cook over medium-high heat until browned, then drain on absorbent paper. Reduce heat to low-medium, then add onion, garlic, fennel and chilli to pan and cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until soft and then stir in tomato paste and cook for another five minutes. Add tomato, beans, stock and rosemary, cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in sausage pieces and parsley and season to taste. (Pull out the rosemary.) Serve topped with parmesan with a crusty bread on the side.

Note: The Snook felt that this was a little too much chili, so next time we’ll probably use about half that much. If you’re scared of fennel (like I was), don’t sweat it. The strong licorice-ness really mellows out in the cooking and it ends up complimenting the spiciness nicely. (Incidentally, the fennel was labelled “aniseed” in my greengrocer in case you have trouble finding it.)


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  1. mmmmmm, pickles.

  2. Cucumber? It looks like a watermelon! 🙂

  3. Yeah, they grew really fat and short. My first thought was to let them stay on the vine and hopefully get a little longer, but my Mom informs that cucumbers don’t really expand the same way balloons do. So I picked ’em. 🙂

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