Posts tagged " diy "

The best homemade hamburger buns! By Pickle Jar Studios

Giant Hamburger Buns

June 27th, 2016 Posted by Baked, Bread, Food, Grilling, Sandwiches No Comment yet

Summer is here! And that means grilling, among other things, like sandals, shorts (gasp! yes, this year I am actually embracing the shorts), lemonade, and lots and lots of sunscreen. I’m very pale.


The Best Homemade Lemonade

April 15th, 2016 Posted by Drinks, Food, Non-alchoholic No Comment yet

Lemonade is such a simple thing. Lemons, water, sugar. That’s it. Yet, we complicate matters… packets, powder, stirring endlessly. This is all unnecessary. Come with me and let’s go back to a simpler time (and a simpler way). Let’s squeeze, juice and macerate. You won’t regret this.


diy vanilla extract

Make your own vanilla extract

January 22nd, 2016 Posted by DIY, Food 1 comment

Vanilla extract is one of those things that can be over looked in a recipe. It’s so casual to “add a 1/2 tsp vanilla” or “take off the heat and stir in vanilla.” But why must we take it off the heat? And why do we add vanilla extract in the first place? All the answers are here, my friend.


citrus peels

Candied Citrus Peel and Christmas Treat Boxes

December 18th, 2015 Posted by Christmas, Desserts, DIY, Food No Comment yet

Every year I make a mess of my kitchen. I actually have to purchase brown sugar, and I start stockpiling butter in the freezer beginning in October (hey, butter is expensive! Buy it on sale and store in your freezer.) I make a serious Christmas Treat Box, my friend, and my family loves it. I absolutely love making them.


DIY Room Spray – Cedar and Orange

September 5th, 2015 Posted by Cleaning and Comforts, Home No Comment yet

This is a room spray everyone in my house will love!

I love room sprays, but I don’t love it when they smell too perfume-like and fake. This room spray is fresh, clean, and centering. 

Orange essential oil has antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antiseptic properties (which is why I love this spray for the bathroom as well!) and cedar essential oil is also antiseptic. Both scents are calming and centering (See resources for more information on essential oils).*

For this blend, I also included sandalwood, because Joel and I both like it. Except I accidentally bought the sandalwood that is blended with a carrier oil already. Oh well, it’s nice for smearing on as a little hand or neck perfume. I added extra of it in this blend, so adjust that if you have full strength sandalwood essential oil. 

This is a great blend that is not too floral and just earthy enough that it really works for the end of summer and fall time of year. If you want to make this even more fall-tastic, add 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil. I just ordered some.

Orange and Cedar room spray is calming, centering and cozy


DIY Room Spray – Cedar and Orange
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
  • 8 ounces distilled or filtered water
  • 40 drops sandalwood essential oil (blended with carrier oil or 15 drops if pure)
  • 30 drops cedar essential oil
  • 30 drops sweet orange essential oil
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small glass spray bottle.
  2. Shake well to combine and shake before each use.
  3. Spray into the air throughout the room.


More about essential oils here. 

Another recipe using essential oils, Rose Lip Balm.

And one more for a Sugar Lip Scrub.

The blue spray bottle is from Target, the Threshold brand. It should be in their garden area, or here online

Here’s where I ordered my cinnamon oil from:

DIY Chamomile Tea

June 23rd, 2015 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Gardening, Non-alchoholic No Comment yet

If you missed my post last week about the different flowers I have in my garden and some ideas of what to do with them, check it out! There is some amazing blooms out there and I really wanted to share them with you. But if you want a way to ease into the world of edible flowers, herbs and gardening, this is a great place to start!

chamomile tea from sugar pickles-5

Here, we have one of the classics. Chamomile. Chamomile is calming, peaceful and promotes contemplation and rest. Chamomile is super easy to grow (you can put it right in your garden bed, or in a container). I put it in the herb garden which is right outside the back door of our house. I love my little herb garden. I had no idea Chamomile grew tall and liked to flop over, so I added a tomato cage around it a few weeks after I planted it. I wish I had done this at the start, because trying to force unwieldily chamomile stems into a cage and breaking them, as well as bruising some flowers and leaves, isn’t exactly a graceful and um…”peaceful” task, but it was done and the plant seems to have bounced back just fine. In fact, just one plant gives me quite a bit of flowers, and I find myself drying a small batch about every week.

The process is easy. I learned about this from this blog out of the UK. You can read the original article here.

  1. Pick your flowers early in the day (anytime before noon is okay). This ensures that they will be fresh, perky and full of flavor. If the picking is done later in the day, the plant may be more tired, taxed or stressed from being in the heat all day. If your life is such that morning picking isn’t for you, then wait until evening or anytime the plant has some shade on it for an hour or two.
  2. Place all the flowers in a bowl of cool water to gently wash off any bugs, dirt, or spider webs. A note about washing: washing does not fully remove pesticides. If you are using pesticides in your yard, you should not spray pesticides on (or near!) herbs or things you plan to consume. I’ve found that a mixture of soap and water takes care of the aphids, and having a well-balanced eco-system in your yard (meaning plenty of bees, butterflies, dragon flies, lady bugs and spiders) helps combat other bugs that are likely to feast on your precious herbs. But I’m learning more about organic gardening everyday, so if you have any thoughts about this, please comment!
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-10
  3. Let the flower buds soak in the cool water for a few minutes, then put them in a salad spinner to dry them, or put them in a single layer on paper towels until dry.
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-11
  4. Preheat the oven (or a toaster oven, which is how I do my smaller batches) to 200 degrees (250 or 300 works better in the toaster oven, it doesn’t seem to run as warm as my full size oven).
  5. Put the flowers on a parchment lined baking sheet, trim off any stems that are a little longer then 1/2 inch.
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-14
  6. Put the tray in the oven and turn the oven off, leaving the door propped open about 2 inches for a full size oven or 1 inch for a toaster oven.
  7. Let them dry in the oven for a couple of hours, about 3 and then check them. You can also heat the oven back up after a few hours (remove the flowers first!) and repeat until all the moisture is gone from the petals and they look dried. Mine took about 6 hours, or basically all day and I re-heated the oven twice. These ones I put back in: 
    chamomile tea from sugar pickles-18

When they are all dry they should look something like this: 

chamomile tea from sugar pickles-26

The center yellow part will still have some moisture, that’s okay. Store in a small jar, adding more dried chamomile as you make it.

To make a cup of tea, use 1 tablespoon of flowers per 8-10 oz cup. Boil some water, pour over the flowers and let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain or remove the tea ball/sieve and then add honey or lemon as desired. I prefer it without any further adornment… it’s the best chamomile tea I’ve ever had and I don’t want to cover up the flavor.

chamomile tea from sugar pickles-27


The flowers that go unseen

June 19th, 2015 Posted by Gardening 3 comments

There are lovely things being turned into bouquets these days. With really innovative and special floral designers such as Ponderosa and Thyme, Sammy’s Flowers, and more, all kinds of cool and unique blossoms are showing up in bouquets. More innovative and and mysterious then the typical roses and carnations, these arrangements have brought the more fringe flowers to the forefront. 

But another group of flowers captures my attention, a group that often goes unseen and is unknown to many. The flowers of vegetables and fruits surprise, delight and intrigue me all through the growing season. 

Many people don’t see this, or even realize it’s happening, but it’s a process that is there, working hard to grow more produce. Just like those commercially cut flowers, like roses for example, vegetable and fruit flowers grow from seed, are pollinated, reproduce, and then die. 

The thing that is so intriguing about it, is that many of these flowers are really stunning, but they are practically never seen by most people. The best way to view them is to start a garden yourself and be surprised when your brussels sprout suddenly pops open a bright yellow flower, or your carrot creates large starbursts of green and white. 

Watching some of our garden friends create flowers and then fruit or vegetables, also helps me to understand the ways they are different from each other. 

Root vegetables make flowers, but the produce is growing underground, where as fruit trees, such as blueberries and cherries which are both in our yard, create their fruit where the flower once was, similar to peppers and tomatoes. Why? Does where the fruit is produced have to do with the type of vegetable growing? Is this why tomatoes are often called a fruit vs. a vegetable? 

While this article explains some things about fruits and vegetables, I know I have a lot more to learn. 

Back to the flowers. Some of my favorite flowers from fruits and vegetables so far are: 

Artichoke (taken 2012, at our old apartment. We had three artichoke plants in the front yard)


Lettuce: Photo taken 2014, during our first garden season at our rental house in Keizer) These flowers are so delicate. I think they would be amazing as filler in bouquets or small, sweet arrangements. Can you imagine the gorgeous salad topper they would make? 


Blueberry: First photo from WikiCommons (originally posted on Flickr by reviewer Kved, second photo of our plants after they were pollinated and began producing fruit). So most of us realize that fruit trees and bushes flower, but we don’t always get to see the particulars of the flower they make. We have blueberry and cherry in our yard, and blackberries lining our street, so the differences and nuances become really exciting to notice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen blueberry flowers end up in a wedding corsage either, though I think they would be quite sweet in one.


blueberry early fruit

Onion: Walla walla sweet onions. Note how similar the chive and onion flowers look… this is true of a lot of alliums. Want to grow your own? Check out this article, the top 16 Alliums for your garden

The onion flowers start with a small bulb and then the outer coating peels away gradually, to reveal a large puff ball of small white blossoms. They really are striking! I can imaging these in a tall, elegant arrangement. 

garden flowers-11 garden flowers-10 garden flowers-9 garden flowers-8

bee in the onion patch

Squash: Aww, my squash. These are pie pumpkins and acorn squash, but many squash flowers look similar. I have a love/hate relationship. I’m not growing squash this year because of the space they require and battling of a white powdery mildew. But I had some really great experiences with squash last year, and some philosophical moments (like most of my deep thinking garden thoughts, it involved bees).

_MG_7662 squash flower

Herbs: Herbs have flowers too! Below is our chamomile, which is commonly used for the flower, but other herbs, like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives, also below, have fabulous (and edible!) flowers. I am just waiting for the day when those talented florists can figure out how to incorporate rosemary flowers into their arrangements. Maybe you’ve seen that already? Let me know! 





lemon thyme flower

Borage is another one that is edible and I just started growing it (on purpose) this year. We had a borage plant at our old apartment, but it was there already and I had no idea what it was until a gardener friend told us. I used it to decorate cupcakes, which is perfectly lovely! But I’m experimenting with it in other uses; currently, borage vinegar for salads and marinades. 

Here it is, just producing some buds: 

borage starting to flower

Here are the borage flowers: 

garden flowers-2 borage flowers

Makes for a lovely cupcake decoration (photos below by Alexandra Grace Photography):

darlene_foodblog-9563-2147872868-O darlene_foodblog-9630-2147856372-O

Collard greens: This photo is from my instagram, where one of these little buds was hidden inside a collard green bundle. Such a nice surprise! 

collard green flower collard green flower

Tomatillo: An exotic looking surprise! This is our first year growing tomatillos and they are beautiful. 

tomatillo flower

Carrot: I think this is the one that is the most astonishing to us! We left a couple of our carrots to over winter and they made flowers this spring. The carrots will not be good to eat anymore, as all the energy and sweetness is going to produce the flower and seeds right now, but the flowers are about 8 feet tall and huge! I could see a spectacular carrot cake being decorated with these, the smell is earthy and slightly sweet (much like that of a carrot, go figure!). These are edible too, but don’t go looking for them in the wild-apparently they are often confused with fatal Hemlock flowers. 

carrot flower

I hope this has inspired you to plant a garden, or visit one and see what’s in bloom! 

Green tea and honey kombucha

May 26th, 2015 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Non-alchoholic 2 comments

Some mornings I need a drink that is mellow, not coffee, but something to ease me into the morning. When I feel like this, I want this green tea. It’s cleansing in a way that you can’t see, but you feel instead. It has grains of roasted brown rice, and popped sorghum in it, making it slightly nutty and savory. I found this at our local Salem, OR Asian market, but you could also get it online here. There are a lot of varieties, just pick the one that looks the best to you. I this next time I’ll have to try this one. 


Poppyseed crackers

May 7th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, DIY, Snacks 1 comment

poppy seed crackers

Crackers are very important in my house. Crackers and cheese can be a meal, a snack, a late night writing/blogging source of fuel. I can not resist a good cracker! With a slice of cheese or a dip, I’m powerless. 

DIY crackers could also be a fun project for kids; they can totally handle rolling them out using the pasta roller (it’s something they can crank and move! That’s like the requirement for all the fun kids toys, right!?) 

These crackers are also something you can whip up when you don’t have much around except the basics! A little butter, a little milk, and you’re in business. I bet these would be good with flaked roasted garlic or onion too, and the seeds could be changed up to suit your mood or what you have on hand. 

In the food processor (what would I do without this machine? It’s one of my most used kitchen appliances) put in some flour, a little salt, sugar, some poppy seeds and a little cubed butter. 

poppy seed crackers

Slowly add in milk until it’s a cohesive dough. 

poppy seed crackers

Form into a disk and put it in the fridge. I left mine in their overnight, but as long as you give it an hour it’s fine. Leaving it in their overnight was an experiment, and it worked! So if you want to make this dough a day (or probably even 2 days) ahead, go for it! 

poppy seed cracker dough

Also, this little guy is my favorite for measuring small amounts of liquid. I got it in the baking aisle at Winco, but here’s a similar one

liquid measuring cup

When you are ready to roll out and bake the crackers, preheat the oven and get out the pasta roller. You could also just use a rolling pin and a large area of counter/table and some flour on the counter and rolling pin to make sure it doesn’t stick. 

Cut into 8 pieces…..

poppyseed crackers-6

Shape into little discs….. 

poppy seed crackers

And here’s why this recipe is genius! I might just make all my crackers using the pasta maker from now on. 

poppy seed crackers

You start the dough disc going through the pasta machine at level 1 (or the widest setting) and then with each pass through of the dough, gradually set it smaller and smaller. I went from a level 1 down to a level 5. I was worried this dough would stick, rip, tear and otherwise be difficult… but it wasn’t! It worked like a dream and behaved very well as far as cracker doughs go. 

poppy seed crackers

And look how thin! 

poppy seed crackers

Put 3-4 long pieces of rolled out dough onto a large baking sheet. Spritz or brush lightly with water and sprinkle more poppy seeds and some kosher salt on top, lightly pressing them in with your fingers so the seeds and salt stick. 

poppy seed crackers

Bake 10-15 minutes. CRUNCH! 

poppyseed crackers-12

Poppyseed crackers
Recipe Type: Snacks, DIY
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 32 crackers
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds, divided
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk
  • Kosher salt for sprinkling
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of the poppy seeds and sugar. Pulse to mix them together, then top with the butter pieces. Pulse until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. With the machine running, pour the milk slowly through the feed tube until the dough comes together in a clump. Add a little more milk, teaspoon at a time, if necessary until the dough is roughly in a ball. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap, form into a small disc and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until you are ready to proceed with rolling and baking the crackers.
  2. When you are ready to roll them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set up your pasta maker or clear a large space on a counter. Take the dough out of the fridge and on a lightly floured counter, cut into 8 wedges. Form each wedge into a small ball. You can either roll them into long ovals or rounds with a rolling pin on a floured counter until 1/8 of an inch thick, or use the pasta maker.
  3. If using the pasta maker, roll each small disk of dough through the machine, starting with the widest setting and gradually going smaller. For my Atlas machine, I started at 1 and decreased the thickness to 5, passing the dough through once or twice at each setting.
  4. On a parchment lined baking sheet, set each piece of rolled out dough and lightly brush with water or use a spray bottle to spritz lightly with water.
  5. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and remaining tablespoon of poppy seeds (you may not use all the poppy seeds, just sprinkle the amount that looks good to you). Press them in a bit with your hands on the surface of the dough. Prick with a fork all over each piece of dough.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crackers are lightly browned and crisp. Let cool. Break each cracker into about 4 pieces. Serve immediately or store in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.



Pasta maker, Atlas, Amazon

Bowl, Martha Stewart Collection “Lorraine Stencil” Dinnerware Collection, Goodwill

Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal, Amazon

Recipe, Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table: Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Southern Alaska, Amazon

Mini glass measuring cup, Amazon

Food Processor, Cuisinart, Amazon

Almond milk with Dates and Vanilla — plus a bonus variation

April 28th, 2015 Posted by DIY, Drinks, Non-alchoholic 2 comments

homemade almond milk

It seems like all the nut milk recipes I’ve tried require an industrial sized blender. I’m in the kitchen, nut milk spilling out over the top of my blender, half of it still in the bowl, trying to add a little maple syrup to the batch and get the sweetness just right. I love, absolutely LOVE homemade almond milk (any nut milk, for that matter). The quality and flavor is far beyond what you can buy, and the homemade version has no carrageenan, which is a potential source of inflammation in the gut and could also cause breast cancer*. 

But I just need this to be easier. Also, I’m the only one in my house of two people and three cats that drinks almond milk, so I’d rather not make a huge batch and risk it going bad. 

Huckleberry Cookbook has my answer! A new almond milk recipe, with dates and a whole vanilla bean! Heaven. Nut milk heaven. Dates make things interesting… I’ve been loving dates lately! They are used in a lot of vegan and raw recipes, and I’m starting to understand why. 

almond milk-2

There are a couple things I love about this recipe over other nut milk recipes: 

1. You soak the almonds in a small amount of water, so you don’t have a large bowl teetering (why does everything in my fridge always seem to be teetering?) all night, it’s just a small bowl that fits in right next to the kefir grains and the jar of freshly grated horseradish (okay I think I just answered my own question.) 

almond milk with dates

2. Dates! I had a chance to use these large, plump and juicy medjool dates. Man, these things look luscious. 

almond milk

3.Vanilla bean. HELLO!? Simply gorgeous. You use the beans from the pod when blending, then you add the whole pod back to the finished nut milk to steep away in the fridge as you use it up. SO smart.
 vanilla bean seeds

4. The quantity is perfect! One batch fits in the blender. One batch also fits in the nut milk bag (how many more times can I say that?), and one batch is perfect just for me. No more blending in shifts, no more adjusting sweetness over and over again, no more standing at the counter straining (because who needs that, really?) Invest in a nut milk bag. It’s way easier then fighting with cheesecloth, and you can reuse them for all kinds of kitchen projects (see Resources section, below the recipe.)

using a nut milk bag

So here we are. A beautiful jar of almond milk that I actually enjoyed making!  

almond milk

It’s the perfect amount of sweetness, and the salt is something I never thought to add before. I think you could do it with or without. The vanilla is technically optional, but I think it adds a richness you just can’t get from a carton. Almond milk? Yes pleeeeease. 

From Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan

Almond milk with Dates and Vanilla
Recipe Type: Drinks, Non-Alcoholic
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 cups
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, whole with the skin on
  • 4 dates, pitted
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Combine the almonds, dates, and 1 cup cold water. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Strain the mixture, discarding the water.
  3. Split the vanilla bean, lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a blender. Save the bean pod. Add the soaked almonds, dates and salt. Pour in 3 1/2 cups cold water. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag into a large measuring cup. Pour into a canning jar or pitcher, and add the vanilla pod. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it separates, just gently shake to combine it again.


(added 5/25/25)

  • Swap out the almonds for cashew pieces or whole cashews. 
  • Reduce the dates from four to two 
  • Use a vanilla bean paste instead of a spendy whole vanilla bean, using 1 tablespoon of paste to equal 1 vanilla bean. The paste has great flavor and can be a great swap out for certain recipes.
  • add in 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon and a sprinkle of cinnamon (only use a small sprinkle of cinnamon, or even leave it out. Cinnamon will over power the delicate cardamon flavor)
  • Follow method and the rest of the recipe as directed. 


*Source: Dr. Andrew Weil, on The Splendid Table 

Large Canning Jar, Weck, Cost Plus World Market

Nut milk bag, Harold Import Co., Amazon (this bag is polyester, 11″x 9″ and is machine washable. There are tons of nut milk bags, some made with natural fibers which are quite nice. You can also use nut milk bags for making jellies, cheese and preserves.)

For another recipe from Huckleberry, check out these Strawberry Galettes.

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