A Rainy Day Story + Slow Cooking a Whole Chicken

a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte!

It’s utterly drab outside. I’m hovering over the kitchen sink as I take bites of a crispy sweet potato pan-fried in bacon grease. Damn—that’s good. It’s 10:30 am and I’m supposed to be in class but I’m playing hooky today…Do people still call skipping school hooky?

a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte!

I was feeling way too inspired to go sit in my literature class. I glanced into my fridge; I forgot I had that chicken. I’m leaving Friday—I should probably cook that today. I scavenge for some green onion stuffed in the very back corner behind all the other veggies; they’re fridge frozen, but they will do. I grab a couple of cloves of garlic. And some carrots I randomly chopped and then never used. Oh! and about those onions I have accidentally been hoarding…

a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte!a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte!

…I munch happily on a piece of overcooked bacon. I take the bag of gizzards outside of the chicken. Keep those. That’s the good stuff. The tea kettle is boiling. Crap! I forgot I put the kettle on. I pour myself tea. Earl Gray—a favorite on rainy days. I put the chicken, and the gizzards, in my slow cooker, along with chopped onions, smashed garlic, sage leaves and carrots. Also, apple cider vinegar. Can’t forget the vinegar. It helps draw out the nutrients from the bones, remember!?

a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte!a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte! I have nearly forgotten about my tea. Oh, good, it’s still warm. I turn on my slow cooker. Low and slow for about eight hours. Wait, no. Make that six hours. I take another bite of my sweet potato—yup, still good. I’ll clean the plate later…

Slow Cooker Chicken and Broth

The ingredients listed here are totally just suggestions—feel free to improvise with what you have on hand. Don’t try flavoring the broth with cruciferous veggies —that makes for a bitter broth. And remember the apple cider vinegar, that is important. Salt is not included in this recipe because this is not a recipe for chicken soup but rather chicken broth and slow cooked chicken meat that can be used to make a delicious soup. Salt accordingly.

Ingredients:

> 1 whole chicken + gizzards

> 5 carrots, roughly chopped

> 1 yellow onion, quartered

> 1 bunch green onion

> 4 cloves garlic, smashed

> 1/2 bunch of sage leaves

> a splash of apple cider vinegar equivalent to two tablespoons

> optional: 1 pound chicken backs, 1 pound chicken necks, 1 pair of chicken feet

Process:

1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker/crock pot

2. Use enough water, preferably filtered, to just barely cover the chicken

3. Set to cook on low for roughly six hours

4. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the broth and let it cool before pulling the meat off of the bones. While the chicken is cooling, strain the broth into mason jars and place in refrigerator to cool—this should give you two quart sized mason jars filled with broth. Once you have removed the meat from the chicken bones, place the remaining skins and bones back in the crock pot. This is where you add the optional chicken backs, necks and/or feet. Cover with just enough water to barely cover the remaining bones and turn on low for another eight to ten hours for another batch of broth—if you do this, repeat the same process you did for the first batch (eg. strain the broth, place in the refrigerator, once it cools scrape whatever fat has solidified on the top off.)

5. After four or five hours, check on the broth that is cooling in the refrigerator; a solid layer of fat will most likely have formed on the top of the soup—it will appear white and thick. Just scrape this off and save the chicken schmaltz (chicken fat!) for pan-frying veggies—yum. You want to remove the fat from the broth because oily soup isn’t very appetizing.

6. You just made slow cooker chicken + a big batch of broth. You can use both the slow cooker chicken and the broth to make a nourishing soup. Alternatively, the slow cooker chicken can be used to make a chicken salad, used on-top of green salads for protein, etc. The broth can be used for a big batch of soup, to freeze for later use or for a nourishing start to your day in place of coffee.

a rainy day story » it's me, charlotte!



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Cannelle Vanille Food Photography Workshop

cannelle vanille workshop with aran goyoaga & leela cyd

For the past couple of years, I have been greatly inspired by the work of Aran Goyoaga, who is a Basque country native living in Seattle. Her blog, Cannelle et Vanille is filled with beauty, a sense of nostalgia for a simpler life and photographs that tell a strong narrative. Over the summer, I just so happened to visit Aran’s blog the day she posted about a workshop she would be hosting in Seattle with Leela Cyd. I had been dying to attend one of her workshops for years and they sell out fast, so in a moment of inspiration, I booked a spot for myself in her one-day food styling and photography class…

cannelle vanille workshop with aran goyoaga & leela cydcannelle vanille food photography workshopfood photography workshop cannelle vanillefood photography workshop cannelle vanilleWalking into Aran’s studio was like entering into her little corner of the world, or better yet, her instagram gallery. Her studio is beyond words. It was bright and white, with pastel accents and the most gorgeous dewey light. I can’t even begin to summarize what I learned at the workshop because in all honesty, it was really more about what I saw. Aran and Leela bring so much joy and passion to their work, something that I really resonated with. We watched as they styled and photographed multiple different food scenes. We listened as they told us that it is more than just sharing a recipe, it is about sharing a story. We played with Aran’s gorgeous ceramic plates, textiles and a the most lush berries, aged cheeses, herbs, flowers and flakey pastries that we had ever seen. One of the best parts of the workshop was chatting with all the wonderful like-minded people. I came home with a full heart, content with knowing that these are my people. I was surrounded by the very people who get excited about prop styling, low aperature, gorgeous plump heirloom tomatoes and the blogging industry, just like me.  For me, that was really the biggest takeaway. After graduation, which is coming up in less than six weeks, I will be pursuing my passion for all things creative and thus will be doing what I know is right in my heart, and that is to be creative every damn day. It is to follow my dreams, not someone elses. It is to listen to my gut instinct because it has never let me down.

A big thank you to Aran of Cannelle et Vanille and Leela Cyd



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Mushroom Foraging with Wild Craft Studio

mushrooms_3

A couple of weeks ago, Kristian and I ventured from Eugene to White Salmon, Washington for a mushroom foraging workshop hosted by Wild Craft Studio. I found Wild Craft Studio on instagram many months ago and have been swooning over their vibes ever since. I met a lovely girl (hi, renée!) at Aran Goyoaga and Leela Cyd’s workshop in September, who mentioned she had attended one of Wild Craft’s workshops and that it was awesome, which totally solidifed my desires to attend a workshop. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the social media gods places a link on my twitter feed for a mushroom foraging workshop hosted by Wild Craft Studio. PERFECT! I thought. Kristian’s birthday was coming up and what better way to celebrate then to keep with our adventurous summer spirit and head to the Colombia Gorge to play in the woods and learn how to forage for mushrooms. Plus, I have been dying to go mushroom foraging for the past…um, four years. Ah—it was such a magical day in the woods with the lovely Rachel, our mushroom guru, a fabulous group of girls and the birthday boy…

fall mushroom harvest » it's me, charlotte!fall mushroom harvest » it's me, charlotte!fall mushroom harvest » it's me, charlotte!mushrooms_11mushcollafe4mushroom foraging « it's me, charlotte!fall mushroom harvest » it's me, charlotte!fall mushroom harvest » it's me, charlotte!

Kristian and I seriously had the best time ever. Since our foraging adventure, we have gone in search of mushrooms multiple times. We have yet to find any chanterelles—which is like finding the golden egg at the easter egg hunt—but have found some fun non-edible mushrooms and have had a blast while being out in nature. Mushroom hunting forces you to be VERY present in nature, which is one of the reasons I think I have fallen in love with it. It’s totally not about finding the most pirzed mushrooms or even ones that are edible but rather exploring nature with a purpose and being utterly engaged in each moment because…mushrooms could be anywhere, so you become very focused on looking versus letting your mind wander. It’s sort of a meditation, if you will.

Kristian and I came home from the Wild Craft workshop with loads and loads of mushrooms. We hit the chanterelle motherload during that day of foraging and even gave some away. Mushrooms should not be washed too much because then they become uber slimey and waterlogged (no bueno!) My chanterelles were absolutely covered, COVERED, in dirt, so I followed this chef’s fabulous insight into cleaning chanterelles and they turned out wonderfully (unlike a prior experience a couple of weeks earlier where I totally  waterlogged some chanterelles and tried to pretend that the slimey mushrooms were tasty…yeah, not so much.)

Pan-fried Chanterelles with Rosemary

When you have something as amazing as chanterelle mushrooms, you keep the cooking simple and let the natural flavors shine through. Make sure to clean your chanterelles but also accept that some dirt may remain on them. Do not wash them. Read above and watch the youtube tutorial.

Ingredients:

> as many chanterelle mushrooms as you’d like to eat in one sitting—this recipe is best eaten right away

> fat of choice: if you can have butter or ghee, use it!! otherwise, beef tallow worked beautifully!!

> fresh rosemary, chopped

> coarse sea salt—I love Jacobsen’s Sea Salt!

Process:

> heat fat of choice over medium-high heat in a skillet, preferably cast-iron.

> once skillet is hot, place mushrooms in oil and lightly combine. let cook for about two minutes and then stir them for another 1 minute or so. It is imperative to not over cook them. they will most likely only need 2-4 mintues.

> once the mushrooms seem done, toss rosemary into the pan and combine with the mushrooms and then remove mushrooms and herbs from the skillet and place on a plate to cool.

> garnish with coarse sea salt and serve immediately.

mushrooms_21



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Tuna Salad Wraps

tuna salad wraps | it's me, charlotte!

Tuna sandwiches remind me of elementary school. They use to be my favorite thing to have for lunch but then very quickly, probably around third grade, they went out of style—fast. For some reason, tuna fish became embarrasing  to have for lunch because, I don’t know, kids are weird and it was fish and it was smelly? Either way, I still loved tuna, I just preferred to bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to avoid awkward stares at lunch. Many years later and ironically, in my last term of college, I have rediscovered tuna as one of my favorite weekday lunches.

tuna2_72 tuna3_72

As you know, my diet is pretty strict these days as I’m working on putting my autoimmune conditions into remission—this is no small feat! I developed this recipe to be utterly reminiscent of my past love for my mom’s tuna salad sandwich, without the mayo, bread, or celery because I never liked celery in my tuna salad. I added capers because CAPERS! I love them! And a nice big squeeze of lemon juice because tart citrus flavors totally make me swoon. And I just want to put it out there that savoy cabbage leaves are a beautiful thing; they definitely make the best lettuce wrapped…anything. They are durable, subtly sweet and perfectly crunchy so go get yourself a savoy cabbage, stat.

Tuna Salad Wraps

Ingredients:

> 1 can tuna (no salt added and in water), drained

> 1/2 small avocado

> 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

> A sprinkle of garlic powder (or about 1/8 of a teaspoon)

> 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

> 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste if desired)

> 1/2-1 tablespoon capers (add more or less depending on your taste preference. I LOVE capers so I went for 1 heaping tablespoon plus a few more!)

> 1/4 of a small red onion, diced

> 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

> 3-4 leaves of a savoy cabbage

Process:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

2. Once combined, taste and make any necessary adjustments and then spoon tuna on top of savoy cabbage leaves, as pictured.

3. Top with extra dill or lemon zest (optional!)

tuna6_72



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Exploring the Oregon Coast

oregon coast | it's me, charlotte

There is something about the Oregon Coast that is unlike any other coastal region I have ever visited. The landscape is fiercly dramatic and the vast, unpopulated beaches make you feel like you are seeing something no-one else has seen before…

oregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotte!oregon coast | it's me, charlotte!oregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotteoregon coast | it's me, charlotteIn early August, Kristian and I made a spontaneous trip out to the Oregon Coast to visit my sister and brother-in-law at their beach house. One of the most amazing things about Oregon is that you can drive from high-desert, through dense national parks, all the way to the dramatic coast over the course of one day. The landscape of the coastal region is dramatic with the ever changing weather, vast beaches and the biggest trees you’ve ever seen. I am so inspired by the deep greens, gray blues and canvas colored tones. During our two-day, one night stay we walked along the beach, explored the forest trails, picked blackberries, watched the sunset and went crabbing at Jetty Fishery. It was a blast. We took our own boat out, caught something like FORTY crabs, threw most of them back because they were too small to eat and then ate the ones we could, along with oysters and clams. The best part was definitely the “crab butter,” which is just melted crabbed fat—so delicious and rich.

We had the best night of sleep all summer with bellies full of seafood, the sounds of crashing waves rocking us to sleep and the cool crisp air of the Oregon Coast. We can’t wait for our next trip…

If you go:

> rent a boat at Jetty Fishery and go crabbing or just order some fresh seafood to eat overlooking the gorgeous bay

> stay at the Cove Beach House – pricey but worth it

> visit the town of Manzanita for small-coastal town vibes and great coffee shops, ice creameries and a long stretch of beach



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AIPxWhole30 Update + Coconut Fruit Snack

DIY Coconut Butter | it's me, charlotte!

Wow! My AIPxWhole30 food challenge flew by and I am well over 30 days and feeling great!!!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how I was going to be combining the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP) with the Whole30 Program to narrow in on the best healing diet for my autoimmune conditions. For me, this meant continuing to eat in accordance with the AIP diet but also removing all sugars—including ‘natural sweeteners’ like honey and maple syrup—and as a way to focus on three solid meals a day with minimal snacking. Well, I have some updates for how it has been going. First of all, as I mentioned in my previous post about starting AIPxWhole30, my goal was to cut out all extra sugars from my diet. While I hadn’t been eating tons of it, I had been using honey and maple syrup too liberally in my cooking; I would have a little honey in my tea at night, a dash of maple syrup in my breakfast sausage and dates as a snack every once in a while. I had an inclination that my regular consumption of sugar was contributing to an increase in my autoimmune symptoms like lethargy, fatigue, waking up tired and some skin issues. I knew that I would be better off without it. After almost one month of sugar-free living, my energy levels have improved, I have an easier time going to bed, an easier time waking up and a major improvement in skin condition (ie.clear skin.) And of course, once you remove sugars from your diet, you crave them less. My experiment with AIPxWhole30 has been an absolute success and I will continue to eat this way moving forward because it seems like this is exactly what my body needs for optimal healing!

coconut fruit snack | it's me, charlotte!

On another note, when I first began AIPxWhole30, I wrote about the fact that I wanted to focus on three solid meals each day and less snacks. I wasn’t necessarily snacking a lot before but I would graze while cooking or cleaning and wanted to quit this habit. While this month has definitely lent itself to three consistent meals each day, I have realized that there is absolutely a time and place for snacks. Because I have been seeing improvements in my autoimmune symptoms over the past couple of months, I have been able to begin working out more regularly and more vigorously—take that with a grain of salt. Compared to my old exercise routine when I was a D-1 college athlete and then a crossfit athletes my current activities don’t really compare, but I’ve started incorporating fast paced miles, TABATA workouts, circuits and even Barre classes into my weekly routine and have realized how crucial exercise is for my personal healing journey. Exercise helps to energize me, gives me a clear and sharp mind and contributes to the overall feeling that I am taking care of myself. With these newly introduced workouts, my appetite has increased. On days when I am working out, I generally come home from my internship and have a snack about an hour before starting my activities. I have realized that this pre-workout snack helps to keep me fueled for my workouts. My go-to snack is always a combination of 1 serving of a fat + 1 serving of carbohydrates or a 1/2 serving of protein. Last week I shared how to make delicious homemade coconut butter and today I’m going to share one of my favorite way to use coconut butter. See below for directions on how to prepare my favorite Coconut Fruit Snack…as usual, this is a no-recipe recipe and you can feel free to take any creative liberty that you would like.

DIY coconut butter | it's me, charlotte

Coconut Fruit Snack

Ingredients:

> 2-3 tablespoons of liquid coconut butter

> 1 serving of fruit; my favorites include peaches, nectarines, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries

> high quality sea salt like real salt or maldone

> optional additions: cinnamon, powdered ginger, lemon zest, mint leaves, etc.

Process: 

1. Chop fruit into bite sized pieces, drizzle with coconut butter, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or other spices, fresh mint leaves and/or lemon zest.

2. Enjoy!



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Sausage Breakfast Salad

breakfast salad | it's me, charlotte
Ahh see that gorgeous morning light shining on that beautiful breakfast salad? Morning light is a wonderful thing and studies suggests it has many health benefits. Today, I woke up, drank a glasse of water, put my sneakers on and headed out for a walk during the golden hour—around 7 am. After a nice brisk walk in the cool autumn air, I felt energized and ready to start my day with a full heart and gratitude for having a body that allows me to move. I’m not trying to be sappy but the fresh air, gorgeous golden hues of the morning and just simply moving my body and allowing myself to wake up with the day was energizing.

Now, on to this fabulous breakfast salad. Some of you might be thinking…salad? for breakfast? I know it is non-traditional but it is darn tasty. Breakfast salads are quick and easy to prepare making them the perfect back to school breakfast. They also ensure that you get a serving of fresh greens, protein and fermented foods first thing in the morning, which helps jump start your digestion and sets you up for a successful day of being fueled and thus being your best self!! I love making AIP friendly sausages or just buying AIP/paleo compliant sausages at the store, frying them on the skillet and placing them over a bed of arugla with fresh herbs. Sauerkraut goes wonderfully with sausages so that is a great addition too. This is totally a no-recipe recipe and just an idea to get you excited for your next breakfast!

Sausage Breakfast Salad

Ingredients: 

> 2 sausage patties or links—I highly recommend these maple blueberry breakfast sausages

> a large handful of greens—I love arugla—tossed with equal parts apple cider vinegar and EVOO

> fresh herbs like dill, basil, mint or parseley, chopped

> 1/2 serving of fruit, chopped

> a generous serving of your favorite fermented food like sauerkraut, pickled beets or refridgerator pickles 

Process

1. Cook sausages however you’d like—pan fry, bake, boil, etc.

2. Toss greens with dressing and garnish with fresh fruit and herbs

3. Once sausages are cooked through, place them on top of the salad greens

4. Choose your ferment of choice and place over sausages or on the side

5. Have a wonderful day!!!



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DIY Coconut Butter

DIY coconut butter | it's me, charlotte!

—All About Coconut Butter—

Coconut butter has become one of my greatest allies on the autoimmune protocol. When I first started this healing protocol, I felt lost without my delicious sprouted almond butter; however, coconut butter soon came to my rescue. Coconut in general has a variety of health benefits, which you can read about on Sarah’s blog. In short, Sarah explains that “coconut has long been recognized for its ability to boost the immune system, and act as an antibiotic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial.” If you are not familiar with coconut products, the basic autoimmune protocol/paleo staples include: unsweetened canned coconut milk (the kind in the box is filled with additives,) unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut flour, extra virgin coconut oil and coconut butter. Coconut butter is essentially blended, unsweetened coconut flakes turned into a creamy, delicious spread. People often ask me what the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter is and I usually explain the differences by comparing it to peanut oil and peanut butter; coconut butter is like peanut butter, it includes the fats and the meat of the coconut, while coconut oil is only the fat. I love incorporating all coconut products into my diet because it helps to keep me satiated. I use extra virgin coconut oil for everyday cooking like pan-frying, sautéing veggies, roasting and baking and I use coconut butter as a quick source of energy that I eat off of a spoon, drizzled over fruit or use to thicken sauces. You can either buy coconut butter at natural food stores or you can make your own. The second option, making your own, is way more cost efficient and takes about ten minutes to make—lucky for you, I’m sharing my recipe for coconut butter today.

Coconut Butter

Ingredients: 

> 1 pound unsweetened coconut flakes

> 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (optional)

> pinch of sea salt (optional)

Process:

1. Place 1 pound of unsweetened coconut flakes in a high-speed food processor

2. Turn on food processor and run for about ten minutes, scraping down the sides periodically; if at any point the coconut butter begins to clump, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil to help smooth it out (add more as necessary)

3. Once the coconut butter is smooth, add a pinch of salt and then pulse one more time. Pour into a clean jar and store at room temperature. During the summer months, the coconut butter will most likely stay liquid; During winter months, the coconut butter will most likely become solid so you will need to place the jar of coconut butter in a bowl filled with very hot water to bring its liquid form.



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Garlic Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce

porkchops2_72DSC_0408_72garlic grilled pork chops with raspberry sauce | it's me, charlotte!


Happy Labor Day, first of September and day off to you, my friends. I hope you all have fun activities planned for today…barbecues perhaps, maybe a game of corn hole with friends or shopping the labor day sales. I’m taking today easy, editing photos from a weekend full of shoots and preparing one of my favorite simply gourmet meals—garlic grilled pork chops with raspberry sauce—I suggest you do the same. I have been making this dish all summer long because it is quick, flavorful and goes with just about any combination of veggies you can think of. You might even have the ingredients on hand! Rather than indulging in the classic flavor combination of pork and apples, I decided to use something more seasonally appropriate for this dish—raspberries!! I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do…

Garlic Grilled Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients:

> two pork chops

> garlic powder

> coarse sea salt

> ripe raspberries (use what you have but any amount between 1/2 cup – 1 cup will do)

> herbs to garnish: chopped mint leaves or chopped chives

Process:

1. Generously season pork chops with coarse sea salt and garlic powder (make sure the garlic powder is gluten-free!)

2. Grill pork chops until cooked through; if you do not have a grill, pan fry pork chops in 1/4″ coconut oil/tallow/lard over medium high heat until cooked through

3. Place raspberries in a bowl and mash with the back of the spoon until they take the form of a sauce

4. Place cooked pork chops over roasted/pan-fried vegetables or salad greens and top with raspberry sauce; garnish with freshly chopped herbs and enjoy!



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Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

refridgerator pickles | it's me, charlotte!refridgerator pickles | it's me, charlotte!refridgerator pickles | it's me, charlotte!refridgerator pickles | it's me, charlotte!refridgerator pickles | it's me, charlotte!

You know you’ve got a good recipe when you inhale an entire jar of pickles over the course of one afternoon. For the past couple of weeks I have been picking up a weekly haul of Kirby cucumbers at the farmer’s market to pickle and eat. I love pickles, in all their crunchy, garlicky, tart glory. Earlier this summer, I was sad when I found out my favorite brand of pickles, Bubbies, was not compliant with my current healing protocol diet. I decided I was going to make my own pickles and have been working on perfecting my recipe for perfectly crunch, garlicky dill pickles all summer long. Finally, I’m ready to share this fantastic quick and easy recipe with you. Before sharing it, I want to let you know that this is totally a recipe that you can get creative with – swap out dill for other herbs, use more or less garlic, experiement with different types of salt…have fun with it!

Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles 

Ingredients:

> four canning jars (mason, weck or old recycled jars will do)

> two pounds Kirby cucumbers

> large bottle of apple cider vinegar

> bunch of fresh dill

> one bulb of garlic (I prefer elephant’s garlic, but any will do)

> Real Salt or any other high-quality pure sea salt

> filtered water

Process:

1. wash kirby cucumbers thoroughly and then dry and cut into spears, slices or wedges – whatever your prefer.

2.  measure 1.25-1.5 teaspoons of real salt and place at the bottom of each jar – the amount of salt will vary depending on your taste preference. try two jars with 1.25 teaspoons real salt and the other two jars with 1.5 teaspoons.

3. next, pack jars halfway with cucumbers then place a few spring of dill and one or two cloves of smashed garlic. fill the rest of the jar with the remainder of the cucumbers, leaving about a 1/2″-3/4″ space at the top of the jar. sprinkle a few more sprigs of dill and maybe another small piece of smashed garlic at the top.

4. once jars are tightly packed and garnished with dill and garlic, fill jars 3/4 full with apple cider vinegar. fill the remainder with filtered water, leaving a 1/2″ at the top.

5. close jars. turn jars upside down two or three times to make sure everything is combined. then, place jars in fridge and let sit for at least 4 hours, but the longer, the better.

6. enjoy!!



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