Libbie’s Life Hacks: 4 Clever Uses For Leftover Pickle Juice

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

So you just ate the last pickle in the jar…now what do you do with the juice?

Clever Uses For Leftover Pickle Juice! 
1. Cleaning Copper! From pennies to pots, dip a clean rag into pickle juice and rub the dirt away!
2. Season a Dish! A little pickle juice stirred into pimento cheese will take it to another layer or use pickle juice to brine your chicken before you fry it!
3. Weed Killer! Strain the pickle juice into a spray bottle and spray on your weeds.
4. Shooter! The Southerners call it a Pickle Back –A shot of pickle juice you drink after a shot of bourbon.

Pretzel Bread

by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

I think it was in fifth grade that I studied states and capitals. Each student’s final grade depended on an oral presentation about an “adopted” state. Our teacher wrote all the states on colorful pieces of paper and placed them in a goldfish bowl for us to choose. I picked Montana. It could have been worse; my friend Randy picked Idaho. I don’t remember much about the presentations aside from the Missouri one given by my classmate Paul, who had a talent for the theatrical. Paul donned a coonskin cap as he talked about Daniel Boone, then deftly removed the cap and taped on a white felt mustache as he read a poem by Mark Twain. The best part of Paul’s state performance was the German pretzel bread he passed around as he talked about Germans immigrating to St. Louis in the mid-1800s. The bread was the best thing I had ever eaten inside the walls of our school. Still warm from Paul’s book bag, it tasted like a thick slice of pretzel. I’ve been obsessed with it—and Paul—ever since. I hope Paul earned an A on his presentation. He deserved it for the bread alone. I’ll ask him the next time we talk. All these years later, Paul and I are still the best of friends.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Pretzel Bread
(a sliceable hot pretzel)

yields 2 loaves, or twelve 4-inch rolls

What you need:
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (115° F)
1⁄2 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup baking soda

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, put the water, milk, butter, yeast, and brown sugar. Mix until combined, then let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, or until it begins to foam. Mix in the salt.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour
and mix for 1 minute. Continue to add the remaining flour as needed until the dough forms a firm ball that is tacky, not sticky (think about a Post-it note—it’s tacky, not sticky to the touch). Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl. Drizzle the dough ball with the oil and turn it over in the bowl to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Knead the dough at medium-low speed for 10 minutes, until the dough has a satiny shine and is elastic. Cover the dough and let rise for 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.
At this point, if you would like to make Pretzel Brats see the variation on page 110.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hand in a circular motion to form two smooth balls. (If making rolls, divide the dough into twelve equal pieces and form into balls, then continue with the following steps.)

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a stockpot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Slowly add the baking soda without stirring.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Working with one dough ball at a time, use a large spider or slotted spoon to slowly lower the dough ball into the boiling water. Boil for 30 seconds, turning once to make sure the complete surface of the dough has been covered with water. Remove with the slotted spoon to drain and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second ball of dough.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Make a cross in the top of each loaf using a sharp knife or razor. Don’t worry if the dough looks rather ugly at this point; it will pop up and become beautiful during baking.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Sprinkle the loaves with salt (kosher, pretzel, or Maldon salt). I like a salty pretzel bread and salt-free pretzel rolls.

Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread

Bake for 25 minutes (15 minutes for rolls), until the loaves are a dark golden brown, turning the baking sheet around once in the middle of the bake time. Let the loaves cool slightly before serving.
Libbie Summers, A Food-Inspired Life, Sweet and Vicious, Pretzel Bread


Bread Art

by Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey

A little food coloring, a brush and pieces of bread will have you rethinking your sandwiches! Try this fun idea for a sandwich party or a simple edible message in your child’s lunch!

Magic Beans

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Feature photography: Cedric Smith
Music: Miniature Tigers

I’m not sure if giraffes eat beans, but I want to believe they do…when they’re magic beans!

I’m kicking off bean week with beautiful papier maché giant beans and a little weirdness. Join me all week as I share delicious recipes, crafts and general food-inspired fun.

4 Ways To Give Someone the Flick This Valentine’s Day

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey and Candace Brower

Sure Valentine’s Day is the day when most engagements happen…but what are the stats on break ups? My thoughts are break ups should never be bad, I prefer if they were fun! Here are 4 fun ways to give someone the flick. 

1. Do it fresh…cut herbs

Fresh Thyme, Chive, Dill, Mint and some Bay Leaf
Pink cardstock

What to say:
ain’t got no THYME for you
quit you CHIVE talkin’
can’t even DILL
MINT to breakup with you earlier
you’re not my BAY, LEAF me alone

2. Take ’em to the farm

What you need:
Biting Wit
Card Stock (I used white)
Fun colored paper (I used gingham parchment paper)
Glue Stick
Glitter Tape
Toy Barnyard Animals

What to do:
•Think of witty puns involving barnyard animals and print on card stock leaving plenty of room in the middle to accommodate the toy animal.
Some examples include:  “another valentine’s day and you still boar me.”, “wool you be my valentine?”, “i’ve got no beef with you, let’s be valentines.”, “some bunny loves you, too bad it’s not me. happy valentine’s day anyway.”, “you’re kind of a cool chick. let’s be valentines.”
•Cut a second piece of card stock just bigger than the first and glue on cute piece of colored paper (I used gingham parchment and yellow construction paper).
•Glue the printed valentine onto the center of the larger colored piece of paper.
•Cut a piece of glitter tape (or any tape) and tape the coordinating barnyard animal to the middle of the card.
•Use colored markers to adorn with hearts or sign your name or do whatever makes you feel better about yourself.
•Give away to those you love and love your sense of humor.

3. Surprise Them With A Twist on The Original
Waxy chocolates? NEVER.
Showy heart-shaped boxes filled with the unexpected, always.

What To Gather:
A few Empty Chocolate Heart Boxes (you can enjoy the chocolate later)
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Fried Chicken
Ice Cream
1 stop at McDonald’s..


4. Make it sweet. Do it with a cupcake!

Get the recipe HERE!

Happy Valentine’s Day!