SO many topics on my mind today… I really do hate when this happens, as it feels like I can’t do any one topic justice, but my head feels like it’s about to explode with a case of mental diarrhea. Okay, that wasn’t a pretty picture. You just imagined… No, I really don’t know what you imagined, but I know what I imagined and it looked a bit like this…
My effort to focus on one topic brings me to this most auspicious day, National Pickle Day! *the crowd roars… chants of “Pickles! Pickles! Pickles!” fills the air* Hmm, okay, maybe just in my head. Fist-pumping the air aside (again, maybe just me), today we celebrate the oft-made-fun-of, and one of my favorite things to eat, the pickle.
The lowly pickle has quite the history, coming about as a means of our ancestors NOT wanting to poison themselves by lesser means of food preservation. The pickle comes in a variety of flavors, sour, sweet, spicy or any combination thereof. Pickles aren’t just left to the Cucurbitaceae family either (that includes cucumbers); you can pickle just about anything, vegetables to fruits to… eggs and pigs’ feet. I’ve yet to try either of the latter, yet my brother-in-law has told me that I’d probably enjoy the spicy pickled eggs he makes. They do, however, come with a warning that they should only be eaten in the company of one’s self… or deer camp. While I do possess certification of passing Hunter’s Safety, I have not attended deer camp… and I’m not sure I want to. Looks like if I am going to try them, it’ll be in the company of myself or with the brother-in-law, since he’s suggested them, I take that to mean he can handle the inevitable “fall out”. (I’m laughing already at the mental images THAT conjures!)
Pickles have many benefits, for which I’m eternally grateful. The little pickle is only an average of 5 calories per pickle, and helps fill you up AND the vinegar also acts as an appetite suppressant. Sweet! (or sour…) Pickles can be the main attraction in a dish (think of those cream cheese, ham and pickle roll-ups) or as a garnish (pickle on the side). Pickles aren’t prejudiced, they come in all shapes and sizes and flavors. I’m not sure how some varieties feel about being called “midgets”, though. Would they prefer to be called “Little Pickles”?
Pickles are also fairly easy to make, don’t require a pressure canner to “put up” or preserve, and you can even make them in your fridge in hours or days. I currently have five quart jars of “Green Tomato Pickles” and one quart jar of Pickled Beets in my fridge. The basement “pantry” has chutneys (a pickled relish that goes AWESOMELY with my favorite Goat Curry recipe), pickled onions and pickled Spicy Dilly Beans. I’ve also made Curry Cauliflower Pickles in the past. Oh the thought of those makes my mouth water. My refrigerator also contains about 6 jars of various pickles, from the dill midgets and spears to pepperocini.
My affinity, as I would not call it an addiction, for pickles began at an early age. I’d create meals for myself that were heavy on the pickled goods. One that I remember in particular was an occassion where my brother was babysitting me, I was about five or six, and I made myself a salad with cauliflower, pickled beets, dill pickles and carrots. It was delicious. My brother wrinkled his nose in revulsion and told me I was weird. I probably stuck my tongue out at him and uttered, “So!” I was pretty comfortable with my weirdness at that stage, but that was not the start of my pickle-love.
The first memory I really have about pickles in my life happened when I was about three or four years old. One day, after a meal, Mom was standing at the sink washing dishes and asked me to take the pickle jar from the counter and dispose of the contents. Since we lived in an old farmhouse, and the kitchen sink was one of those one-basin, porcelain sinks, and she didn’t want to dump the juice into the dishwater. I placed my grubby little hands on the jar, ready to fulfill my duty as Helper, and proceeded to do what any self-respecting Pickle Lover would do… I placed the jar to my lips and started to chug down the juice. I don’t recall exactly what Mom said to me when she turned to check on me, but the look of utter disgust was enough to make me pause long enough to hear the second thing she said, “When I asked you to empty the jar, I didn’t mean for you to DRINK it… I meant for you to pour it into toilet…” I was puzzled about this. Why would you waste perfectly good pickle juice? But, Mom didn’t care for dill pickles, and still doesn’t (I remind her from time to time that she doesn’t know what she’s missing).
Sadly, I’ve yet to come across a good recipe for cucumber dill pickles that produces a crispy, crunchy pickle. If anyone reading this has a never-fail crispy dill pickle recipe – PLEASE, pass it along! Until then, I shall spend free time today searching for a recipe to make for dinner tonight that features the delectable pickle; while I do that though, I have to ask you: What’s your favorite pickle variety?