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Condiments/ Recipes

Pickled Radish Taco Topping

When we lived in Texas one of our favorite restaurants to go to was Torchy’s Tacos.  I was partial to a “trashy” Trailer Park taco. (But I would often add a deep fried avocado slice from my son’s kids meal.)  We liked to try the taco of the month as well.

The great thing about Torchy’s is all the combinations of sauces and toppings on their tacos.  I grew up eating a very basic prescribed tacoTorchy’s Tacos taught us a better way.

The first easy fix was learning what the crumbly white “cotija cheese” was, and that it’s readily available in mainstream grocery stores. But we also needed to get a little bit more adventurous with our taco toppings. 

Pickled vegetables make great taco toppings, and these pickled radishes with cilantro and carrots are a fun recipe to make from the spring garden. 

Tips for Garden Fresh Ingredients

Many people think of cilantro as a summer salsa ingredient. But cilantro is actually a cool season crop. It does not like the heat and tends to “bolt”, or go to seed, quickly.  There are a few ways you can try to get a longer harvest from your cilantro in the summer: plant in partial shade, succession plant, plant a slow-bolt variety.

Cilantro can grow in partial shade.  Crops grown for their leaves need the least amount of sunlight, which is around 3-5 hours of direct sun.  It would be best if this was morning or afternoon sun, avoiding direct sun during the hottest time of the day.  Planting cilantro in partial shade will help it grow longer in the summer without bolting. 

Another thing you can do is succession plant cilantro.  Basically this means to plant cilantro a number of times a week or two apart.  This way you you have cilantro getting ready to harvest in succession.  Just plan on harvesting the whole first crop before going on to the next.  Hopefully you can use it before it bolts. 

If it does get away from you and starts to bloom, just move on to harvesting the next crop.  You can succession plant next to the first planting or you can gow successive crops different places in your garden. 

One more thing you can try is to grow a “slow-bolt” variety of cilantro that has been cultivated to tolerate heat better than standard varieties.  I received some slow-bolt seeds from a seed swap this year and will be trying them this year. 

Radishes are an easy spring crop and are ready to harvest at the same time as cilantro and lettuces. 

Radishes and lettuces are also both good things to succession plant to extend their harvest.  (See the second row of radish sprouts popping up in the foreground?)

Everyone needs to grow radishes, though. They come in the most beautiful colors, and they are ready to harvest so quickly, it gives you a real gardening confidence-booster at the beginning of gardening season. 

If you don’t like the heat or spice of radishes, don’t worry.  The pickling process of this recipe actually takes the heat down quite a few notches.  You could use homegrown carrots in this recipe, but I did not have any ready at this time. 

Recipe Instructions

Begin by making a basic salt water brine.  Combine 2 cups of water with a tablespoon of pickling salt.  This brine can be used to pickle any hard vegetables.  (Soft vegetables like cabbage create their own brine simply from adding salt).

I like to prepare my vegetables with a mandolin.  It makes it very easy to create consistently thin slices and matchsticks. 

Slice the carrots into matchsticks.

Slice the radishes into rounds. You could also slice them into matchsticks like the carrots, but I liked the contrasting shapes.

Chop up cilantro. 

Toss all the ingredients to combine. 

Then just appreciate those beautiful colors for a minute!

Pack veggies it into a mason jar. 

Cover the vegetables with a salt water brine. 

I like to put a little jar on top to keep oxygen out but it will bubble and spit as it ferments so set it on top of a plate to catch that bubbling over.  You can buy a specialty fermenting lid, but I don’t have any yet.  

Leave it on the counter for about two weeks.  Then taste test it to see if it’s fermented enough.  If the flavor is not very strong yet you could let it ferment longer. 

In the middle of summer temperatures you want to ferment it in a cooler location in your home, and it may only take a week and a half before it has fermented enough.  At that point you can store it in the fridge.  Add it to your favorite tacos!

Pickled Radish Taco Topping

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Serves: 16
Prep Time: 20 Total Time: 20

Pickled vegetables make great taco toppings, and these pickled radishes with cilantro and carrots are a fun recipe to make from the spring garden. 


  • 1 C carrots
  • 1 C radishes
  • 1/2 C cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbls pickling salt
  • 2 C water



Begin by making a basic salt water brine. Combine 2 cups of hot water with one tablespoon of pickling salt.


Slice carrots into 1 inch matchsticks. Slice radishes into matchsticks or thin slices. Roughly chop cilantro.


Toss all the ingredients to combine. Pack into a mason jar.


Cover the vegetables with salt water brine.


Cover with a fermenting weight and lid. Or use a little jar on top to keep oxygen out. The jar will bubble and spit as it ferments so set it on top of a plate to catch that liquid.


Leave it on the counter for about two weeks. Then taste test it to see if it's fermented enough.


If the flavor is not very strong yet you could let it ferment longer. Ambient temperature affects the fermentation process. It could take as little as one and a half weeks in warm summer, or up to three weeks when very cool.


Store in the fridge. Add it to your favorite tacos!

Condiments/ Gardening/ Herb Garden/ Recipes

3 Things to do with Chives and Chive Blossoms–Chive and Onion Dip Recipe

When you plant an herb like chives you are setting yourself up to have years and years of more fresh herbs than you even know what to do with–that is the right kind of problem to have!

Chives is perennial herb in the allium or onion family. Chives have a zesty flavor similar to onions but that is milder, not quite so sharp. To retain their bright flavor chives are most often used raw.

I want to share with you three ideas of how to use your home-grown chives–each at a different stage of the plant.

  • chive and onion dip
  • chive blossom vinegar
  • harvesting chive seeds

Chive and Onion Dip

Harvest a small bunch of chives by snipping them low on the plant, about an inch above the base.

Mince 3 tablespoons of chives. (Printable recipe at the bottom.)

It is quick and easy to mince chives by using scissors or nippers to cut 1/4 inch slices of a whole bunch at once.

Measure 1 teaspoon each of salt, onion powder, and dried, minced onion.

Stir the spices and chives into 16 ounces of sour cream, reserving about 1/2 tablespoon of chives. Sprinkle remaining chives on top for garnish.

Serve with chips or with sliced vegetables like carrot, celery, and sweet pepper sticks for dipping.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chives produce beautiful purple flowers that are edible. Chive blossoms have a very similar taste to the the chives, mildly spicy and onion-flavored.

Why do your chives not have blossoms? Chives begin flowering their second spring in the garden, and continue to spread.

Here’s the size comparison of my chives their second and third Springs in the garden.

The blossoms make a great edible garnish for soups or salads.

Chive-blossom vinegar is a well-known product that sounds gourmet, but couldn’t be simpler to make.

To harvest, snip or pinch chive blossoms from the end of their stems.

At this point you can trim back that stem to an inch above the base. If you leave the stem it will dry out hard and brown in the center of the chives.

Collect enough blossoms to fill a jar of your choosing.

Fill jar with chive blossoms and cover completely with white vinegar.

Store jar in a dark cupboard for two weeks. The vinegar will become infused with the oniony flavor and amazing color of the chive blossoms.

Strain out the chive blossoms and store the vinegar in a clean jar.

Chive blossom vinegar is great to use in salad dressings or marinades.

Harvesting Chive Seeds

If you do not harvest the chive blossoms they will dry up and produce seeds.

You should remove these dry heads if you do not want your chives spreading any faster than they will simply from the bulbs underground.

But the seeds are easy to harvest and plant.

Rub the dried flowers between your hands to break up the blossoms and release the seeds.

You can separate the seeds from the chaff a bit, but really don’t need to. Sprinkle the seeds on top of potting mix and spray well with a spray bottle. Cover with a sandwich bag to keep in the humidity.

Keep moist for 1-2 weeks and keep indoors or in a semi-shady area outside, until you see about half the seeds sprouting. Then remove the plastic. Let the chives “harden off” in a semi shady area outside for a few days, then move to a semi-sunny area for a few days before planting out.

Why would I want more chives?

LOL! A pot of chives makes a great gift for someone to keep on their kitchen windowsill.

Chives are a great pest-deterrent in a vegetable garden or around fruit trees.

A group of chives has a beautiful spiky form with dark green shoots and showy purple flowers in the spring that make them an excellent specimen for cottage gardens or formal planting borders alike.

Chive and Onion Dip

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Serves: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes

This classic dip is great served with chips or sliced vegetables like carrot, celery, and sweet pepper sticks for dipping.


  • 3 Tbls fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried, minced onion
  • 16oz sour cream



Mince chives. It is quick and easy to mince chives by using scissors or nippers to cut 1/4 inch slices of the whole bunch at once.


Reserve about 1/2 tablespoon of chives to sprinkle on top for garnish. Stir the spices and remaining chives into sour cream until well-incorporated.


Garnish and serve with potato chips or sliced vegetables like carrot, celery, and sweet pepper sticks for dipping.

Condiments/ Recipes

Tips For Thick Homemade Mayonnaise

The emulsion needed to make a thick spreadable homemade mayonnaise is about as close to witchcraft as cooking gets.

An emulsion is created when the oil droplets are suspended completely evenly through the mixture. But since we all know that oil and water “don’t mix” this is a challenging task.

Thick homemade mayonnaise is made by properly emulsifying the oil called for in the recipe with the remaining ingredients. For guaranteed success follow these three tips:

  • Begin by slowly adding oil with a dropper
  • Add additional oil to make consistency thicker
  • Re-emulsiphy a failed batch by starting with a fresh egg

These three tips will guarantee you don’t spend another moment wondering if you should have waited until the next full moon to try making homemade mayonnaise again.

Begin by Slowly Adding Oil With a Dropper

The first bit of the oil is the most crucial when mixing an emulsion. If you dump the oil all at once, or even a few glugs of it before you start mixing, you run a high chance of a failed batch where the oil never mixes in no matter how long you blend it.

I like to use a dropper to start slowly dripping the oil in as I mix because we basically have to slowly sneak it in when “no one” is looking!

The mustard and egg yolk both help with the suspension and once the emulsion process gets going (after adding about a quarter of the oil) we can speed up how quickly we are adding in the oil.

Mixing quickly helps as well. I like to use an immersion blender. But you could use a full-size blender, or just a whisk if you want a really good workout.

Add additional Oil to Make Consistency Thicker

I like how this recipe turns out. But if you try a different recipe and you do succeed in creating an emulsion (with no oil separating out)but the mayonnaise is still not as thick and spreadable as you would like, just continue adding more oil.

It seems counter-intuitive that adding more of a liquid oil would thicken the consistency of something, but that’s how this type of emulsion works.

Pour oil in a thin, steady stream while mixing until it looks thick enough for your tastes.

Mayonnaise Recipe

Re-emulsify a Failed Batch by Starting With a Fresh Egg

All is not lost if your mayo doesn’t work out your first try. If you tried to make a batch without understanding how crucial the slow start is–or if you tried to go slow but still ended up with major oil separation–don’t despair!

Start over with a fresh egg, start mixing, and just drip the failed batch in one drop at a time (as if it were just the oil) to get it to emulsify.

I wish we would have know that was possible the first time we tried (and failed) making homemade mayonnaise!

I hope these tips are helpful. Let me know if it works for you, or if you have any other helpful mayo hacks!


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By Jeanette Serves: 9
Prep Time: 10 min Total Time: 10 min

Basic recipe for the classic mayonnaise flavor


  • 1 egg*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbl white wine vinegar
  • 1 C salad oil**



In a pint glass jar or narrow bowl use an immersion blender or a whisk to mix together egg and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl. Mix half into the egg mixture. Start blender, then begin adding the oil a few drops at a time while mixing until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (once you have added about 1/4 cup of the oil). Add more oil in a thin stream. Once half the oil is in, add the remaining lemon juice mixture.


Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated or the mayonnaise is your desired consistency. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.


*Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness. **Extra virgin olive oil is too strong for this recipe. I sometimes use half pure (light-colored) olive oil mixed in with another kind. But feel free to experiment.