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Pick Packlin’

7 Sep

My best friend Riley, a fervent pickle-lover would be proud. I finally made pickles from scratch! It hadn’t even occurred to me before… probably because I’m pretty pickle-ambivalent. I like a nice tart, crunchy, and fresh pickle, but most often the pickles I run across across are unimpressive. And floppy. Gross. But these little puppies are crunchy with just a little yield, salty and garlicky and satisfying. They were easy to make, too (c/o Mark Bittman, as per usual). No vinegar, no canning, no  trouble at all, actually. Well, your kitchen is gonna smell like one big pickle for a few days, but I kinda like that.


Kosher Pickles (Adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman)

I changed the quantities a bit, but it’s essentially the same recipe. This makes a whoooole lotta pickles.

-4 lbs pickling cucumbers
-20 cloves garlic, smashed
-an entire bunch of fresh dill, preferably with flowers still on it
-3/4 cup kosher salt
-2 cups boiling water

Scrub the cucumbers well and slice them in halves or quarters (or keep them whole if they’re small enough for you). Add the salt and boiling water together in a bowl, mix to dissolve, then add a handful or two of ice to cool the mixture down. In two large bowls divide the dill, garlic cloves, and cucumbers. Pour half the saltwater in one bowl and the other half in the other. Add enough water to each bowl to cover the ingredients. With a plate that fits inside each bowl, cover the pickle mixture and weight it down. The goal is to completely submerge the cucumbers, but not to overflow the bowls. We used a pie tin in one and a medium size plate in the other, weighted down with a couple rocks and some containers of water.

After four or five hours we drained some of the saltwater out of the bowls and replaced it with tap water, which is necessary since our pickles were getting REALZ SALTY. Like, way too salty. But we let them sit overnight with their new fresh water (making sure to keep the dill and garlic in with the cucumbers) and revisited them the next afternoon.


Store the pickles with their brine (straining out the dill but keeping the garlic) in jars or tupperware. Easy. Crunchy. Salty. GOOD.

Tomato Jam, or, How I Became a Hypocrite & Hopped On The Food Trend Train

1 Jun

There are a few things I can’t stand:

French pedicures.
Small dogs that shake all the time.
Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” (in which he literally says “I know” TWENTY SIX TIMES IN A ROW. OH. MY. GOD.)
Incorrect apostrophe usage.
And of course, food trends.

There are more, obviously, because I am a Human Who Loves to Grumble, but I’ll stop there because that’s what we’re on about. I’ve previously mentioned how irritating I find food trends, though I can’t figure out how to link it back so I’ll sum it up for you here: I don’t like food trends because I probably already know what I feel like eating, and it’s not a cake pop, so please drop it already. Popular food trends just irritate me, probably because I’m somewhat lazy, fairly uppity, and pretty self-righteous, but maybe a liiiiiittle part of me is justified? Right? Because food trends make otherwise food-ambivilent people feel all gourmand-y just because they tried ramen and liked it! Well duh, it’s delicious! Start caring about food a little more, you indolent masses! Christ!

But now I will crawl off my soapbox because this post is all about how I’m a big ol’ hypocrite.


The other day at work we were a little slow, so I went across the street to the fruit and vegetable market, bought 2 pounds of roma tomatoes and set out to make the insanely popular tomato jam I’ve been reading about on every blog, cooking magazine headline, and trendy menu for awhile now. It’s been floating around for years, but I recently noticed it EVERYWHERE. I kind of wanted to hate it. But I didn’t. It was amazing. I was wrong! I’m sorry, universe! I followed Mark Bittman’s recipe because he is always right (I found his recipe on The Wednesday Chef), so much so that I’m fairly sure he’s related to the Dalai Lama. Here’s his recipe, from the NY Times:

1 1/2 pounds good ripe Roma tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño or other peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced, or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste.


1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan, Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use; this will keep at least a week.

Yield: About 1 pint.

I first ran a special with the jam, bacon, a mixed greens on sourdough, which people seemed to really like. I couldn’t get enough of it at work so I came home and did the whole damn thing over again for myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s a great flavor combo that brings a hint of sweetness to savory dishes– it’s so versatile!

I was a sucker for the little bit of spice from the ginger and chili flakes. It goes with everything- I had it with eggs and toast for breakfast, with herbed goat cheese and salami on baguettes for a potluck, and on grilled chicken for dinner. Not all in a row, because that would be overkill, but still.

A little goes a long way with this stuff, too, so I still have leftovers (which included dinner for 6 and that potluck, so I was using lots). If I were into canning, this would be a good candidate, but since I am not at all motivated to go down that road, I’d suggest just halving the recipe if you’re concerned that you can’t use it up before it goes. So I guess I’ve got to officially stop knocking food trends… ’cause it looks like this mainstream food fad is actually pretty legit. But I swear to god, if cakepops don’t disappear from Pinterest soon I’m writing a letter to Al Gore to inform him that the internet is ruining food.

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