Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Today I found myself leaning against my kitchen counter fishing out homemade dill pickles from a mason jar.  I have to stop myself from eating the whole jar of these fresh, crunchy, tangy edible coins.  I take note of the color-I love how green they are.  All of the herbs and spices floating in a tangy, sweet brine dancing around cucumbers-its hard not to dive into the jar with my fingers alone.  In that moment I  thought of Grandma & Grandpa Greenfield's home garden and how I had always imagined how fresh & simply they had eaten.  I imagined that they too, decades ago, ate cucumbers straight from a jar as they were leaning against the counter.

I had only met The Greenfields, my mother's grandparents, a handful of times.  They lived in Nebraska and making the trek from Southeast Texas to the small town of Bassett was a long and rather boring one in a ten year old's eyes.  It was during a time where seat belts weren't enforced and my sister and I were not entirely restrained to one spot in our car. 

I liked to sleep on the floorboard.  My dad never could understand why we chose to rest rather than peer at the scenery as its quickly blurred past our window.  He could drive for hours and it would usually take us two days to get there-we'd stop in Ardmore, OK and spend the night at a Holiday Inn with an indoor pool.  That pool was a very special treat and a break from the long day on the road.

Grandma & Grandpa Greenfield lived in Bassett, Nebraska-a very small Northern Nebraskan town (population 900 back then) situated amongst ranches and farmland.  They were both small in stature and Grandpa Greenfield always reminded me of a gnome.  Grandma Greenfield wore bright lipstick and colored her hair rather dark, she had clear blue eyes like Paul Newman.  They had a stuffed German Shepherd laying in their living room-I wanted to take it home with me.

Their backyard was filled with vegetables.  I remember exiting through their backdoor and being mesmerized by the fresh produce.  It was the first home vegetable garden I had ever seen.  I watched Grandpa Greenfield pluck vegetables off of the vines, no doubt they were for that night's dinner or lunch the following day.

We left a few days later, it was the last visit with my great grandmother, the last visit to that house and to the vegetable garden.  Years passed before we visited Bassett one last time.  We passed by that tiny white house with the green AstroTurf laden stairs and I had only hoped for a garden so green & plentiful to be found in the backyard.  I couldn't tell though, I was strapped in by a seat belt.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles
source:  Food & Wine recipe by Bobby Flay
1-1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon dill seeds
2 cups hot water
2 pounds cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1.     In a large, heatproof measuring cup, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and dill seeds with the hot water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let the brine cool.
2.     In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with the dill and garlic. Pour the brine over the cucumbers and turn to coat. Place a small plate over the cucumbers to keep them submerged, cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pickles overnight, stirring once or twice.  Lift pickles into 3-pint sized mason jars and ladle brine to cover.  Serve cold. Yield:  3 pints.

***Make Ahead: The dill pickles can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer is...

 a rainbow in a bowl...
a yellow & white mosaic...
tiny golden globes...
an earthly green...
 sunlit cherries...