I've often heard children say, "There's nothing to do today". I beg to differ. I'd like to inspire you to do something. Anything. Read. Bake. Hike. Fish. Plant. Sail. Climb. Play. Reach. Move. Laugh. Dream; and take time to sit with me on The Old Granite Step.

Friday, September 5, 2014

I entered my Bread & Butter Pickles in the Grange Fair!

Many years ago, my family entered several items in our local Grange Fair. 

I won a blue ribbon for my thrummed mittens and the kids wore those mittens until they outgrew them.  My son entered his squash; also taking first place!  It was a fun, wholesome family day.  Now, almost twenty years later, we are Grange members; part of an organization that helps keep the word "agriculture" current.  The resurgence of farmer's market's around the country symbolizes our want and need for local produce.

The National Grange of the order of Patrons of Husbandry, was founded in 1867 after the American Civil War.  There was a dire need to update farming practices, especially in areas ravaged by war.  The Grange is the oldest agricultural advocacy group that reaches the entire nation.  Local granges serve as the center of agricultural life in rural farming communities.

You may find the word "husbandry" an unusual one!



1.  the cultivation and production of edible crops or of animals for food; agriculture; farming.

2.  the science of raising crops or food animals.

3.  careful or thrifty management; frugality, thrift, or conservation.

4.  the management of domestic affairs or of resources generally.

The Grange has allowed women to join since the beginning.  There are even positions within the Grange that can only be held by women!  Addressing the public for the last time, Susan B. Anthony spoke at the National Grange Convention in 1903.

There are beautiful and historic Grange halls all over the country.  Sadly, many Grange halls have been torn down.  Membership has declined over the years.  I would encourage all of you to consider joining your local Grange.  It's a wonderful way to give back to your community! 

The flowers were my favorite part of the Grange Fair!  Gorgeous colors from local gardens.

The exhibits ranged from small to very large examples of picture perfect blooms.

I just loved this floral arrangement!  It's use of sea glass and an old insulator combined with the color of the container made a gorgeous display.  All flowers were grown in the exhibitors garden.  Lovely.

Another favorite said "Let's have a barbeque!" A fun and creative display.
This petite seaside beauty took first place in the miniature category!
Jellies and jams galore were entered in the canning category.  Many fairs opt out of tasting canned goods.  For more information on this process read "Judging Home Preserved Food."

Here's my very easy recipe for Bread & Butter Pickles:

You'll need:
6 cups thinly (or the thickness you prefer) sliced cucumbers.  I prefer to use pickling cucumbers.
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt (I like to use coarse sea salt, but others prefer Kosher salt for better color)
1 1/2 cup very thinly sliced onion (I used a yellow onion, but you can experiment with others for taste)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons mustard seed
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon (or good dash of ) tumeric

Mix cucumbers with salt.  Cover and let chill for about 2 hours.  Drain and rinse.  Add onion to mixture.
Combine all remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Put pickles in jars to fill jar approximately 3/4 of the way.  Do not pack pickles down in jar.  Ladle hot mixture over pickles to fill the jar.  Put lids on jars.  Let cool.  Label with date and refrigerate for 3 weeks.

Wash your cukes and let them drain.  I like to use pickling cucumbers but you may have success with other types.
It's easier to use a slicer, but you may slice by hand if you prefer.
Be careful not to get your fingers anywhere near the blade!
Beautifully sliced and ready to become pickles!
The spice mixture simmers on the stove.

Make sure you sterilize your jars and lids.
I chose five large jars but you can use any size you find appropriate.  These pickles are so good, they won't last!
Fine examples of tiny Heirloom Tomatos!

How cute!
All kinds of vegetables were entered!  I wonder how they kept the bunny out of the garden.
These pumpkins are fine examples for the giant pumpkin contest!

Pumpkins are still growing!  The final weigh in will be later in the fall.
And (drum roll please).....my pickles won a second place ribbon! 
Author's note:  For those of you who don't knit:  A thrum is a little wisp of unspun fleece or roving that is knit into your project every so often. Thrumming makes the insides soft and fuzzy, and extremely warm.

Support your local Grange!

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