I was just reviewing my last few posts and thinking that I am very glad to have been able to share those beautiful flowers...especially considering that they are almost all dead...ha! Happily the gladiolus and sunflowers have begun to bloom, and the marigolds are still pretty resilient.
I just love how happy sunflowers look!
fresh picked cucumbers straight off the vine!
If you read my last post, you know that our little garden has been quite healthy, the only question is whether we got more yield from the zucchinis or the cucumbers! I've used cucumbers for salad frozen some in pieces (who knows how those will taste),, and tried to fry them (too much water and not enough flavor); but we've had so many, they go bad before I can give them away (though I did plenty of that too!) With that in mind, I began to consider some alternatives to using the cucumbers fresh. So today, I've included a recipe from my first experiment with pickling. I'd love to hear your ideas, especially since they're so many recipes out there and so many different ways to pickle! So with that, I present to you my very own 
Sweet and Salty Dilled Cucumbers!

My first attempt was inspired by a few recipes from AllRecipes.com and also from my trusty Old Sturbridge Village cookbook: A Taste of Sturbridge
4 cups of white vinegar
4 cups of water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup of sea salt
2 tbs mustard seed
2 tbs dill weed**
3 cloves garlic, chopped
dash of  ground black pepper 

Try adding: 
Jalapenos (cut in circles or diced)
Clove of garlic (per jar, if you really want that garlic flavor)
Fresh baby dill sprigs (one per jar)--for extra zing
Onion, chopped (a healthy portion per jar)

as a side note: I may or may not have also added healthy shakes of the following spices (since they're secretly in almost everything I make, including sweets):
crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper

**Every recipe I looked at in my cookbooks and online said to use dill seed--not weed, which I did not realize until after I had already prepared the brine...and which likely led to the unusual flavor of these pickles.

continually mix your brine as you bring it to a roiling boil.
 In the meantime, bring brine ingredients to a roiling boil. Pour the boiling brine over the cucumbers. I of course, did not have enough brine solution, or maybe my jars were too big, (make sure to check this ratio before proceeding, unless you're as carefree as I am!) and so I added a bit of water to each jar to have enough solution to cover all of the cucumbers. As a note, I did use hot water, but boiling a larger volume of brine would have been better for sterilization purposes...instead of risking bacterial contamination.  

this is a good example of too many cucumbers in the pickle jar!
chop cucumbers into spears
Rinse and cut cucumbers into spears (or whatever shape you prefer, mine were "thick cut" mostly because I hate chopping vegetables). Place cucumber spears into jars (try to distribute them evenly). 
perhaps thick cut is a bit generous...
I then sealed the jars (self-sealing jars work best, to help pressurize the jar and keep it relatively sterile), rinsed the outsides, and placed them all in the refrigerator. Don't worry if you are not able to seal your jar, the refrigeration will do it for you! 
ready to eat!
Wait a few days for your refrigerator pickles, and enjoy! (Note, the color and consistency of my brine were a bit...intimidating...so make sure to shake well periodically during refrigeration and prior to serving). These pickles have a very interesting flavor--sort of sweet and salty with a crisp dill finish...and the jars with jalapeno have an excellent heat that I quite enjoy. That being said, they don't really taste like pickles...which is why I named them sweet and salty dilled cucumbers. Additionally, I made a few jars with green beans and jalapenos...though I haven't tried them yet, I expect they taste pretty similarly (it is the same brine after all),

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