Sweet and sour pickled bell peppers recipe

This recipe is adapted from the recipe found on Food.com. If you want to make a single jar batch this recipe is a winner. I made these pickles in bulk using the same proportions of ingredients as in the recipe above.

I try to support local businesses as much as possible. Usually I get my fruit and veg from an independent green grocer instead of from a supermarket. As a result I can usually negotiate bulk veg for pickles at a discounted rate. I bought a full crate of bell pepper for R120 and got 10 x 750ml jars of pickles out of this batch.

Because I didn’t use a fixed weight of peppers (you won’t know how much you have until the peppers have been cut up and added to the jars) I made a couple batches of pickling liquid with the same ratio of ingredients as I went. There was about a cup of pickling liquid left at the end which I added to a sterile jar with some spices and will use it as a base for salad dressings in the future.

Sweet and sour pickled peppers

Sweet and sour pickled peppers

Ingredients:

Bell peppers sliced into strips (it looks better if you use a mix of red, green, yellow and orange)
Onion (about half the volume of the peppers)

Ratio of pickling liquid per 750ml jar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Spices:
2 bay leaves
6 – 8 peppercorns
1/4 tsp mixed black and yellow mustard seed
1/2 clove thinly sliced garlic
1/4 tsp celery seeds

 

Method:

Sterilise canning jars
Slice peppers and onions into strips
Add the spices as above to EACH jar
Alternate layers of peppers and onion to the jars, my family prefer more onion in the jars as they take on the flavour of the peppers while maintaining a delicious crunch
Pack the jars quite tightly as the pickles will float as they soften leaving quite a bit of space in the jar
If you’re making multiple batches of pickled peppers, make triple or quadruple batches of the pickling liquid at a go
Mix all the pickling liquid ingredients in a non-reactive pot and bring to the boil
Ladle the boiling liquid into the jars to cover the peppers completely
I tend to fill my jars to the brim to avoid air in the jars and thus let the pickles last a bit longer

Let the pickles sit for at least a week
Once you open the jar and have scooped out the first serving of peppers, top up with a layer of olive oil and store in the fridge
Eat within a month

Bread and butter pickles recipe

This is an adaption of the recipe from Simply Recipes

Ingredients
4 punnets (about 1,5kg) of gherkins (pickling cucumbers)
2 white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 heaped tsp himalayan rock salt (can use Kosher salt as a substitute, regular table salt has additives in it that will turn the pickles dark and muddy the color of the pickle juice)
1 1/4 cup white grape vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
6 allspice berries plus a pinch of ground allspice
6 whole cloves plus a pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Method

Sterilise your pickling jars
Clean the cucumbers well and slice into wafer thin slices with a mandolin
Finely slice the onion with a mandolin
Mix the onions and cucumbers together until they are evenly distributed

I didn’t sweat my cucumbers with salt and ice as they were sweet and didn’t have the slightest bit of bitterness to them. If you’re using heirloom cucumbers they can tend to be a bit bitter, in which case follow the instructions on the Simply Recipes page to remove some of the bitter liquid from the pickles before continuing.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and spices in a non reactive pot and bring to the boil
Scoop out a half ladle of the pickling liquid into your canning jars making sure to distribute the whole spices evenly between the jars
Fill the jars with cucumbers and onion
Fill the jars to the brim with the boiling pickling liquid, and seal immediately.
They will be ready to eat withing 48 hrs, but give 2 weeks for the flavours to properly develop
Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a month

This recipe made 8 x 375ml jars.

My family have already put in their orders and will be getting pickles in their Christmas gifts.

Bread and Butter pickles

Bread and Butter pickles

Falling off the wagon

So I dropped the ball with #projectpoetry. Why? Well I think the combination of a very stressful month, too many things to do, and an ongoing struggle with depression worked together and force me to shut down non-essential services. You know Eskom has been load shedding, the Post Office is on strike and I was out of action for a bit too. It happens. What I’ve learnt about myself over the last year is that when I get to this point a little time out is the only thing that helps me from slipping into a more permanent version of the doldrums that I’ve been in. My mental health is a precarious balancing act and sometimes I get the balance wrong. So after a week and a bit of serious self care, I’m back and feeling pretty good. Yay!

What does self care entail for me?

Getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night

Spending much less time being social

Spending less time on social media or in any other emotionally charged environment

Doing low energy expending, nurturing activities like making pickles. (Yes pickle making is self care, I can do something that has a tangible result, is mildly creative, it an act of love and service for my family and doesn’t require too much effort beyond the repetitive chopping of veggies.)

I may just coin my own term for self care: conserve and preserve.

So I’m back, and coming up will be the recipes for sweet and sour pickled peppers, and bread and butter pickles. Also something to look out for, a review on the single most mindblowingly excellent queer poetry anthology I have ever read… #PoemsForTheQueerRevolution.

On a serious note, domestic violence in the LGBT community

TW: domestic violence

Recently on Twitter there was a conversation happening tagged #whydidntsheleave and #whyididntleave which highlighted the reality of so many people living in abusive households. Many very serious topics were raised which very clearly showed how complicated an issue domestic violence is.

Often people say things like “Why didn’t she just leave?” and ” I’d never let someone treat me like that.” What people often don’t understand is that DV is insidious and doesn’t start of with someone hitting their partner. It often takes the form of long term manipulation and isolation, so that when the dynamic turns physically violent the victim can barely distinguish the behaviour as abusive. Putting the responsibility for not leaving on the victim is not only disempowering to the person but also victim blaming of the worst kind. Often there is an aspect of economic abuse where the victim doesn’t have money to leave, they are so isolated from family and friends that they can’t ask for help, and the chances of an escalation in violence to being life threatening increases dramatically in the days and weeks following the victim trying to leave.

Here is a basic guide to recognizing Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence can happen in any relationship. Women are far more likely to become victims of domestic violence, and while the systems in place are woefully inadequate there are still structures in place to assist and support women and children DV survivors.

After a recent event where a friend was caught up in a dangerous and abusive relationship I realized, there are very few resources for men who are the victims on DV. Yes, men can suffer from Domestic Abuse, yes men do need help to get out of an abusive relationship, and yet there are only 2 shelters in Gauteng that will take male DV survivors. Neither of these shelters are easily accessible.

To complicate matters, if you are a gay male it is almost impossible to lay a report of violence with the police, obtain a protection order, or find a place of safety to go to. The issue of DV in the LGBT community is almost completely ignored. If you are gay and you aren’t married to your abuser, access to the structures for DV victim support and legal system is even more difficult.

After spending the day trying to find some sort of help for my friend and having phone call after phone call met with “I’m sorry there is nothing we can do” I realize that the LGBT community is still marginalized in South Africa and basic community support structures are inaccessible to the LGBT community.

 

 

 

Database of Men’s Organizations (focusing more on males as abusers than as the victim of DV)

Victim Empowerment resource document (comprehensive list of shelters and DV support however some of the shelters for men no longer exist

A weekend in the Drakensberg

This last weekend we went to the Drakensberg to celebrate the upcoming birthday of my darling spouse. It was beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating.

After a quick 6 hour drive we arrive at Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge which lies on the borders of KwaZulu Natal, the Free State and Lesotho. It is certainly the closest one can come to heaven on earth, but don’t take my word for it look at these photos…

The bunch of usDrakensbergDrakensbergSentinel ValleyWitsieshoek

Photos taken by my very talented father in law. All rights reserved.