pickles

  • Gimme Five

    Some­times the health­i­est and tasti­est dishes are the sim­plest. Keep­ing meals sim­ple is ideal as these last hot days of sum­mer roll into fall.

    Using only a hand­ful of ingre­di­ents, like five or less, makes sense for reluc­tant kitchen cooks.

    September’s mash up of sea­sonal pro­duce is truly a schiz­o­phrenic best of both worlds.

    On the one hand, some of the prized toma­toes of the sea­son are just com­ing to mar­ket. Fresh herbs, peaches, zuc­chini, sweet and hot pep­pers, egg­plants and corn beg for the spot­light.

    The other hand is deal­ing out new crop apples, pears, quince, figs, nuts and grapes. Hard squash, new pota­toes and onions, kale and beets paint a new plate palette.

    Uncom­pli­cated and straight­for­ward, sal­ads, entrees and sides are assem­bled in short order with just a few sim­patico ingre­di­ents. Pantry sta­ples such as olive oil, salt and pep­per are exempt from the tally as those are always at hand.

    Mid-​week time man­age­ment for hur­ried din­ners and hun­gry mouths let pro­duce shine bright. Zuc­chini rib­bons, nec­tarine and beet salad or lemon-​garlic spinach spruce up the plate. Given avail­abil­ity of pre-​cut veg­gies and fruits, the pain of slic­ing and chop­ping can be elim­i­nated.

    A recent Cap­rese salad served on the week­end took advan­tage of already sliced moz­zarella cheese. How easy is that for a sexy quick starter? Fresh basil leaves, gar­den toma­toes and the per­fect thick­ness of soft moz­zarella. Bellissima!
  • It’s a Rind

    The word “water­melon” con­jures up images of free-​spirted sum­mer­time fun. Fam­ily gath­er­ings, care-​free beach days, back­yard bar­be­cues, and out­door camp­ing events keep water­melon on the top of the sum­mer gro­cery list.

    Over thirty states in the U.S. grow water­melon for the sum­mer sea­son. When domes­tic har­vests end, we move back to imported mel­ons from Mex­ico and Guatemala. This means there is a year-​round sup­ply of this fam­ily favorite.

    Most peo­ple eat the red flesh of water­melon down to the rind. Once fin­ished, they toss out the rest of the water­melon. Gar­den­ers know to put the rinds in the com­post heap. Back­yard chicken farm­ers give their hens a tasty rind treat.

    Those two good uses for the rind are not the only ben­e­fits of using the entire water­melon. The flesh, juice and rind are one hun­dred per­cent edi­ble.

    A few sug­ges­tions for putting the rind to good use make water­melon a zero waste food.

    Make Pick­les. Water­melon rind is pretty sim­i­lar to a cucum­ber. A quick boil and cool down of the cut up rinds allow them to absorb what­ever pick­ing spices and vine­gar pre­ferred. Sweet, sour, spicy or some­thing in between give water­melon pick­les a full range of options.
  • Pickle Pantry

    Humans have been pick­ling and pre­serv­ing food for nearly 5000 years.

    Queen Cleopa­tra attrib­uted her good health and remark­able looks to her indul­gent diet of pick­les.

    The United States gov­ern­ment rationed pick­les in the 1940’s, dur­ing World War II. Forty per­cent of the nation’s pro­duc­tion went to our armed forces.

    Aunt Bee (the fic­tional tele­vi­sion char­ac­ter of the 1960’s Andy Grif­fith Show) entered her home­made pick­les in a local con­test, cre­at­ing angst in the fam­ily over her “kerosene cucum­bers”.

    Over cen­turies, the love affair for pick­led foods has only grown stronger. Cur­rent pickle trends move well past a cucum­bers only rule. A wave of “DIY” pick­les of fruits and veg­eta­bles in acidic baths or brines keeps us inter­ested.

    Sweet, sour, salty, spicy or hot cre­ative and com­plex com­bi­na­tions make us pickle happy. Cus­tomized blends of vine­gars, salts and spices are the for­mula to win­ning secret recipes.