Writers on Food: Preserving Passion.

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered fo...

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered for pickling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, it seems everyone is talking about pickling. You know, taking old mason jars and filling them up with your favorite combination of sliced and diced ditties (maybe pickles, maybe something else entirely). A friend of mine who runs the fabulous blog, Seed and Salvage, is about to start her own pickling business. This seems like an idea akin to the Girl Scout Cookie empire. Again, I wish I could cook, bake, or had the desire to create in the kitchen. But, alas. I’ll have to live vicariously through Seed and Salvage.

But it makes me wonder: Is there an inextricable link between cooking and writing? Between creating things to feed the body and feed the soul? With so many writers doubling as kitchen crafters, it makes me think this must be undoubtedly so.

Creativity comes in all forms. And all tastes. Here’s to the things we preserve for freshness and unlock for life. Bon appetite!

Here’s a pickling recipe to power up your passion for preserving, courtesy, NPR:

Kosher Dill Pickles

1 quart water

4 tablespoons kosher salt

1 pound Kirby cucumbers

4-5 peeled garlic cloves

2-3 tablespoons homemade pickling spice

Homemade Pickling Spice

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons dill seed

2 tablespoons allspice berries

1 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

10-12 bay leaves, crumbled

In a medium pan, combine water and salt. Bring to a boil and heat until the salt is fully dissolved. Set aside and let the brine fully cool before using.

Wash a wide-mouth quart jar and a small four-ounce jelly jar and let them dry.

Wash Kirby cucumbers well and trim the ends. Pack them into the clean quart jar with the garlic cloves and the pickling spice. Pour the cooled brine over the cucumbers. Tap the jar gently on your counter to settle the cucumbers and to remove any air bubbles.

Place the four-ounce jelly jar into the mouth of the quart jar and fill it with some of the remaining brine. Press it down so that it holds the cucumbers in place.

Put a small square of cheesecloth or a tea towel over the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Set the jar on a small plate or saucer and tuck it into a corner of your kitchen that’s cool and out of direct sunlight.

Check the jar every day to ensure that the cucumbers remain submerged in the brine. After a week, slice off a small amount of cucumber and taste. If you like the level of sourness that the pickle has reached, remove the jelly jar from the mouth of the quart, place a lid on the jar and move it to the fridge.

If you think they need to continue to sour, let them sit out for a few more days. Pickles can continue their fermentation process for up to three weeks.

They will last up to a year in the fridge.

 

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Writers on food: Sweets, treats, and always something to drink.

In this three-part blog series, we’ll examine what foods some of our favorite writers have found comfort in cooking, and just maybe, helped fuel their creative fire.

Let’s start with the late (and always great) Eudora Welty and her potato salad. The Atlantic writes about it and how to prepare it here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/10/05/a-southern-writers-poetic-potato-salad/57028/

Welty, in her fabulous flair for language and all things Southern, said “Mayonaise had a mystique.” But of course, her mayo wasn’t loaded with preservatives or found on aisle three. Regardless, if it’s good enough for Welty, it’s good enough for me.

Eudora Welty

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