I don’t do too many cooking posts because I long ago decided that this was a sewing blog, but I couldn’t resist throwing up a picture of these beauties that Noah and I made this morning.
The Lee Brothers turned me onto refrigerator pickles in Simple Fresh Southern (a book that my Mom “borrowed” and I need back…like yesterday). Their method is so absurdly simple. Put veg in jars, add some aromatics, make a simple brine, boil it, pour it over the veg. Done. There’s no fiddling about with canning which makes me really happy not only because it gets pickles on my plate faster, but I think non-processed veg taste so much fresher which is not a shocker.
So today we made the Lee Brothers’ gingered beet pickles which I thankfully found on Food52 (I’m coming for my cookbook Mom!) as well as their zucchini onion pickles which I’ve made a number of times. I love them on top of red lentils which sounds weird but is really the perfect condiment.
We also made some pink turnip pickles from David Tanis’ A Platter of Figs. I fell in love with turnip pickles at a tiny Lebanese restaurant in Houston when I was a kid. I had heard of falafel and mustered up the courage to try it one day. The restaurant was owned by a family and was overseen by a wizened matriarch who sat quietly at her own little table watching all of the goings on. But when someone ordered falafel, this ancient woman sprung into action, disappearing for several minutes to create what can only be described as perfection on a piece of thin soft flatbread. Falafel may have been her only official responsibility at the restaurant for all I know, but if it was, it could not have been a task left in more able hands. Her falafel was light, loaded with fresh green herbs, and it shattered beneath your teeth with crispiness when you were lucky enough to get a bite of one in the sandwich. Most falafel I feel gets thrown between some random marginal pita, and maybe there’s some token lettuce and mealy tomatoes and a sprinkle of tahini sauce. Grandma’s falafel: it was lovingly set on a bed of impeccably clean deep green lettuce, beautifully juicy tomatoes, showered generously with lemony garlicky tahini sauce and hot sauce, but tucked up in there were these beautiful turnip pickles and they were what has since made falafel mythical and legendary in my mind since. For one, they were pink which added a Matisse like shock of color in an already outrageously diverse palette, but also, the crunch and the acid they provided was the perfect foil against the delicate crisp and fat of the falafel. I would happily eat one of her sandwiches every day for the rest of my life, and there’s little that I would say that about.
So when I capped up my little pickles this morning, I couldn’t help but remember that first bite of awesome I had when I was like 11. Oh that my energy would come back quickly that I can recreate it. I’m getting there. Another week and I should be in the second trimester which always seems a little better.
Do you pickle or preserve or can? Do you have any life changing food encounters?