I'm fully embracing this trying to be creative/productive in order to pull myself out of this funk thing. OK, maybe I still haven't actually shot anything new, art-wise, since I was in Scotland, two months ago. (Ouch.) And maybe I'm still not creating culinary masterpieces, or even dinner. We're still eating a lot of frozen pizzas and sandwiches over here, but baby steps, right?
Back in the spring, when I was searching madly for a seed store that would sell me Queen Anne's Lace, (You WANT to grow that? It's a WEED!) I somehow was convinced by my children that letting them buy $20 worth of various vegetable and herb seeds was also a good idea. Understand: I don't regret the $20 at all, but do you KNOW how much seed you can get for that?? Harvest season is in full swing, and we have a bumper crop of onions, beets, pickling cucumbers, cantaloupe, garlic, basil, dill, italian parsley, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes and Boston lettuce. So yeah, pickling.
Really, Jack's selection of pickling cucumbers, dill, onions and garlic (ok, the melons are his too, but they are less relevant here) was remarkably well thought out for an 8 year old. The problem lies in the fact that Jack is somewhat lackadaisical in his picking, so sometimes we get a basket full of perfectly-sized cukes, ready to be crispy crunchy dills. And sometimes we get giant monsters. Not really suitable for a side to your burger. So I devised a plan. The small ones would get our traditional dill pickle treatment. The larger ones would be sliced up, and I would attempt to make yum yums. Google tells me the rest of the world calls these 'bread and butter pickles' - I remember having bread and butter pickles as a child, and I thought they were quite different, but anyway, whatever you want to call them, I made some.
And they were damn good.
I borrowed the recipe from smitten kitchen, with a few minor alterations:
Yum Yums (or Bread and Butter Pickles)
1 pound of pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
½ a large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced (I did the first batch thinly sliced, but the second with chunks of onion, which are just as delicious as the pickles!)
¼ cup of kosher salt
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of distilled white vinegar
¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of ground coriander seed
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.
The other recipe was our tried-and-true crunchy dill recipe, picked up from the complimentary Food and Drink magazine at the LCBO a few years ago. Be warned, this recipe requires that you store the pickles you make in the fridge, but I promise you, less processing = so much nicer pickle.
Crunchy Dill Pickles
2 pounds of picking cucumbers, scrubbed
½ cup of pickling salt
8 cups of cold water
2½ cups of water
2 cups of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of mustard seed
½ teaspoon of red chili flakes
8 cloves of garlic, halved
4 branches of dill, each about 4 inches
Trim about ¼ inch off both ends of each of the cucumbers. Place cucumbers in a large, non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with pickling salt. Pour water over cucumbers, ensuring they are fully covered. Place a plate on top of the cucumbers and weigh it down slightly, ensuring the cucumbers stay submerged in the brine. Let stand at room temperature for approximately 24 hours. (I have moved on as early as 12 hours, and left them late as much as 36 hours.)
Drain the cucumbers and rinse in the changes of cold water to remove the brine. Set aside. Combine water and vinegar, set aside. Pack the cucumbers into sterilized jars. Combine all the spices, and divide evenly between the jars, Add garlic and dill to each jar, and pour the water-vinegar mixture to cover. Top with lids, have your child label them in an adorable way, and refrigerate for at least 10 days before serving.