Cooking Phases + Pickles!

When my husband and I met, I cooked. Meaning I cooked for myself and he was the kind of guy who went to a local bar and grill for dinner or ordered pizza. I’m older than him (not by much, just enough for this.  Me: “Oh, this was my Senior Prom theme song” Him: “They played that at my 8th grade dance” … anyway) so when we met in Chicago, I had been living on my own a bit longer.  I lived by myself, worked full time and I was practical.  I would put a pot roast in the crock pot in the morning, with potatoes, and dinner would be ready when I got home. On the weekends I would bake a cake, get a big ole pot of (meat) chili going and stock my fridge with beer for the Chicago Bears game.  Did I mention I lived on my own?

Enter Dave.  Not only did he think I was awesome because of my devotion to beer, chili and Sunday football but because when he asked me on our first date, we needed to plan it around the Chicago Bulls game…for me!  So we got married.

Early in the marriage. I was the “cook.”  But not in the June Cleaver way. Just the good old fashioned “it’s wasteful to eat out” way.  I wasn’t a fancy cook but I could give you a decent meal.  As the years progressed, Dave started watching Food Network. He bought cookbooks. He started cooking.  I gladly bowed out of the kitchen.  When we moved to New York he was the primary cook, but our busy schedules forced us to just eat when we could.  We sort of ate out of necessity and both started to lose “vision” in the kitchen. Then I started eating vegetarian so we pulled our meals together on our own (he’s a meat-eater).

In January I decided to begin a vegan diet and this thrust me back into the kitchen. With zeal! I started cooking, creating, experimenting and fell in love with cooking.  While I eat vegan, he remains an omni but he’s joined in on the fun and comes up with great vegan meals and treats.  And with that, he’s been reminded how much he loved cooking and is getting back into a creative space in the kitchen himself.

Enter the pickle.

In Dave’s own words…

So, if you’re bored of store-bought pickles, then follow on below. I adapted this recipe from two different recipes from (Emeril Lagasse and Alton Brown)

Grab 2 quart sized Mason Jars

In a large pan, boil water, and add the jars, and lids, and screw bands to the water.  Boil for 5 minutes and remove to dry and cool on a clean rack.  This isn’t the full blown sterilization method, but it gets them cleaner than just washing alone.

The Brine:

  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (maybe a touch more)
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt (maybe a touch more)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon of pickling spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole celery seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric

Combine all the above ingredients into medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and wait for 4-5 minutes longer.  When that’s done, pour into a large glass container to cool.  Let cool to room temp.

The vegetation:

  • 6 mini cucumbers or Kirby cucumbers
  • 2 regular, organic, cucumbers
  • 1 medium to large onion, cut in half and sliced somewhat thin.
  • 10 cloves of garlic - 8 minced into large chunks and 2 smashed left whole
  • 2 green chili’s (long thin ones) diced.

Wash all your cukes and cut the ends off.

Then, take the mini, or Kirby’s, and slice into thin rounds.  You can use a mandolin if you like.  I used a knife because it felt, well, more homemade. 

I took the ‘regular’ cukes, and sliced them the long way for sandwiches - they might be a little long for regular bread, but that’ll be the charm of your homemade pickles.  Not too thick, but not too thin either.

Next, slice the onion in half (one for each mason jar) and cut that into semi-thin slices.  Mince the garlic and cut in half.  Smash the other two whole cloves and set aside as well.  Then set aside the chili’s.

The preparation:

Once the brine is cooled, take a mason jar and start putting the long, thin, sliced cukes in there.  I held the jar on an angle to make it easy.  Every 4 or so slices I would toss in some onion and garlic.  Keep “layering” until full.  Then pack some extra onion and garlic (just from the half allotted to that jar!) on top.  Then pour the brine in (slowly).  Spoon some of the seeds and “solids” on top and finish it off until the liquid comes up to the shoulder of the jar.

In the other jar, take the sliced rounds and start layering from the bottom up: a hand-full of cukes, then some onion - garlic - and chili’s.  Then more cukes, then onion, then garlic and chili’s.  Rinse and repeat till you’re at the top of the jar.  Then, fill with the brine, spoon in the “solids” and finish off the brine to the shoulder of the jar.

On both jars, put the lid on, and then the screw band.  Tighten just a bit (not even finger tight) and let everything sit for a bit.  Maybe an hour. Then tighten down to a comfortable snugness and put in the fridge for 3-4 days.

The aftermath:

Sample your goods.  If they need to sit longer, then let them sit a couple more days.  If not, raid the jars for sandwiches or in the middle of the night. 

As usual, let your vegan food blogger wife take pictures of the event before they go in the fridge.

Patience was a virtue.  We waited a full three days and then I planned my Wednesday dinner around the pickles.

I noshed on the “minis” and I made a sandwich: Toasted sunflower seed bread, Smart Deli slices (Daiya cheddar cheese melted in between the slices), a slice of avocado, a dollop of Miso Mayo, and, the star, the large pickle slices.

Applause, applause.

My omni husband is rockin’ my Vegan MoFo world!

Originally posted on JL goes Vegan:  Food & Fitness with a side of Kale.  You can follow JL on Twitter and Facebook.

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