Eating Out of the Garden-Fresh Pickles

I read this book during my time in Ireland and I couldn’t put it down. Barbara Kingsolver and family resolve to eat off their land and only purchase locally for a year. In our garden, irises, roses and columbine are blooming, the peonies seem to grow inches every day and they are full of buds but as of today no flowers. On Saturday night we had our first salad from the garden, spicy arugula and mustard greens with red oak and spinach leaves. This is my favorite time of year when I can shop for salad between the rows instead of hastily grabbing a packaged bag from the supermarket. Broccoli rabe will be next, sautéed with sausage, olive oil and garlic. Followed by peas and radishes…we will eating through the garden until September. I pick tiny wild rosy strawberries the size of my thumbnail from between the flagstones every other day, it surprises me every year that they come back and also the size of them…we are so used to giant California red berries that look nice but have little flavor. Living in Oregon gave me the taste for real berries again.
While I couldn’t do everything that the Kingsolvers suggest, it makes you stop and think about how far your “fresh food” is traveling. I’m definitely looking at making many of the recipes in the book, especially the fresh mozzarella. This is not a cookbook but a non-fiction book of their year through the seasons of food. Great read!

We started making these pickles because they’re easy, quick and one less item to buy. When the farmers market starts selling pickling cucumbers by the case I will have to look for a long term canning recipe. These are crisp, sweet and spicy. Adjust the sugar to your liking.

Fire and Ice Cukes & Onions
Adapted from Famous Dave’s Backroads and Side Streets cookbook

2 medium cucumbers
1 medium white onion
1 ½ cups white vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
1 ½ cup water
¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp celery seeds
1 tsp salt

Slice cucumbers and onion on a French mandolin with the grate or waffle edge 1/8” thick.
Place in bowl. Mix remaining ingredients, making sure sugar is dissolved. Pour over cucumbers and onion. Separate onion and toss cucumbers to coat with the marinade. Chill in refrigerator overnight. To serve, drain and reserve marinade which can be used again. Experiment by adding small pieces of blanched vegetables, carrots, cauliflower, beets.

The Writing Nag

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