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Dave's Quick Roasted Tomatoes

Before

Before

  • Cherry, roma, paste, or other tomatoes
  • Olive oil

  • A head of garlic (more if you like garlic)

  • Salt to taste

  • Cast iron skillet or oven proof pan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover the bottom of your pan with whole cherry tomatoes or tomatoes sliced in half or quartered. Peel garlic cloves. Wedge whole garlic cloves in between tomatoes. Use as many cloves as you have or as you like garlic. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and garlic so that the tomatoes are shiney. Put pan in oven and roast for 10 - 20 min checking often. When the tomato skins start to blacken, it’s ready. Cool, pour into freezer proof containers leaving a little room at the top and freeze.

Use Dave’s Quick Roasted Tomatoes on toast, tossed with spaghetti, in chili or stew, wherever garlic and tomatoes would taste good.

After

After

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Forward Movement

The new windows open to give us fresh air on cool days. The caboose openings aren't standard window sizes. Since we're on a budget, we bought off the shelf windows and added more framing.

The new windows open to give us fresh air on cool days. The caboose openings aren't standard window sizes. Since we're on a budget, we bought off the shelf windows and added more framing.

A new, steel front door - imagine it painted a bright color with a rectangle of chalkboard paint. When we're finished, we'll post the week's activities on the door.

A new, steel front door - imagine it painted a bright color with a rectangle of chalkboard paint. When we're finished, we'll post the week's activities on the door.

Our new floor - Don't get us wrong. We loved the original pine floor, but we didn't have the time or resources to properly restore it. The floor had many holes, patches, and rotten bits, but the good bits were lovely! The original floor lives under this one for a future day when someone has the time and resources to bring it back to life.

Our new floor - Don't get us wrong. We loved the original pine floor, but we didn't have the time or resources to properly restore it. The floor had many holes, patches, and rotten bits, but the good bits were lovely! The original floor lives under this one for a future day when someone has the time and resources to bring it back to life.

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Deconstruction Begins

No insulation to see here...

No insulation to see here...

South side of caboose with central wall removed.

South side of caboose with central wall removed.

The first thing to go was the sheetrock, then the windows. The windows were in pretty good shape. They were just never sealed well. We removed the four windows on the sides of the caboose and replaced them with windows that open for ventilation. The windows around the top of the caboose were resealed.

Through the deconstruction process, we learned that sheetrock can be recycled into new sheetrock. It's just hard to find a recycler, and really hard to find one in Montgomery. If you are in Birmingham, you can take your sheetrock, concrete and asphalt here

Ceiling and wall detail on the south side of the caboose. The metal studs were added to hang the sheet rock. There is space for blow-in insulation in between the ceiling, wall and external wall/roof. There was also a lot of evidence of rodent life.

Ceiling and wall detail on the south side of the caboose. The metal studs were added to hang the sheet rock. There is space for blow-in insulation in between the ceiling, wall and external wall/roof. There was also a lot of evidence of rodent life.

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Pickle Potions

Our magical pickle potion ingredients.

Our magical pickle potion ingredients.

With some care around sharp knives and hot stoves, refrigerator pickles are a great project to share with kids (or a quick evening diy project for yourself). During the tropical storm, we made pickles at my house. The eight year old loves stories about magic and decided we were making a potion. She was on to something. Refrigerator pickles are magic. You assemble your herbs and spices, stir brine in your cauldron-pot, and wait at least two days for your humble cucumbers to transform into something crunchy, spicy and new.

Read this post, Fridge Pickles Your Way, from Mark Bittman’s blog . It gives you guidelines for improvising your own refrigerator pickles with ingredients you might already have at home. If you want to follow a more specific recipe, that’s there, too.

Here’s how we made three pints of magic pickles. The onions & spices we used are all optional. Mix and match to create your own favorite flavors.

3 medium-large cucumbers

Several slices of red onion (optional)

6 garlic cloves (optional)

Brine:

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

3 cups water

¼ cup salt (kosher or sea salt-don’t use iodized salt. It will make your pickles taste like iodine. You could use less salt, too.)

Seasoning:

½ cup mixture of:  dill seed, whole dried lemon aji chilies (from last year’s E.A.T. South garden), red chili flakes, whole peppercorns

(Experiment with seasonings. You could use oregano, rosemary, tumeric, ginger. What flavors do you like?)

The pickle potion is complete.

The pickle potion is complete.

Slice cucumbers into thin rounds. Slice onions into strips. Peel garlic cloves. Tuck cucumbers, whole garlic cloves and onions into jars, sprinkling the seasoning mixture over the vegetables as you go. (We used two pint and two half pint jars for this recipe because that was what was in the cabinet.)

Heat brine ingredients over medium heat in a stainless steel, enamel or glass pot to dissolve salt. Stir your your cauldron carefully. Once the salt dissolves, pour brine into jars over cucumber slices. Cover, and place in refrigerator.

These pickles should keep for a month or more in the refrigerator, but hopefully, they’re so good you’ll eat them all up.

Safety note: These pickles are not canned. They’re not shelf stable and must be refrigerated. If you are canning pickles, you must follow the recipe exactly (and the recipe has to be written for canned pickles) to create the conditions that stop the growth of bacteria and botulism. Do not improvise or change recipe proportions when you can things. For refrigerator and freezer recipes, you have a little more room to try different things.

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