A Quick Pickle

One of my most-used recipes from culinary school actually came from one of my classmates. I’ve used it often at home and have shared it with friends. After making some modifications to suit my tastes, I also submitted the recipe to the first cookbook for the Harvard Farmer’s Market. I hope it gets published. This will be my first recipe published.

Using pickling cucumbers from our garden (more on our garden in a future post), I cut them up into appropriate sizes. The cucumbers were cut off the plan at different sizes so I could test what made the tastiest pickle and also see how they compared texture-wise.

Here are some pictures.

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Pickling Recipe & Method:

Food preservation through pickling is a great way to keep fresh delicious food available long after it’s in season. This simple pickle recipe works with a variety of foods to produce a slightly sweet and sharp pickle. Try it out with cucumbers, red & white onions, beets, carrots and other fresh items out of your garden or from the farmers market. For best results, let it sit for 12 hours. This pickle can also be stored long-term using a canning method.

Base Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C White Vinegar
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 2 t Kosher Salt
  • 2 C water

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 t of mustard seed or ground mustard 
  • Red chili flakes
  • Fresh dill

Equipment:

  1. Large non-reactive pot
  2. Wooden spoon
  3. A heat-safe large bowl for cooling or heat-safe canning jars

Method:

  1. Cut the food you would like to pickle into your desired size
  2. Fill the bowl or canning jars with the food to be pickled. Yield will depend on the density of your food items. Scale the recipe as needed keeping the ingredient ratios in tact.
  3. Combine the base ingredients in a large pot
  4. Bring the pot up to a strong simmer and stir ensuring the sugar and salt are dissolved
  5. Pour the pickling liquid over your pickling items in the bowl or jars ensuring that they are fully covered 
  6. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature, around 70 degrees
  7. Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours or longer
  8. Enjoy!
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Carrot Soup: Simple Food, Amazing Taste

Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup

I had the day off from work today and decided to take care of two nagging things on my to-do list. I started off with getting my car muffler and exhaust pipe repaired and then made a trip to Trader Joe’s for groceries. I even managed to fit in a gym workout to burn off some of the excess calories from last night’s food orgy.

Fixing my car set the tone for the rest of the day. With the repairs setting me back over $700, my desires for food purchases were tempered and I was forced to be more cost conscious. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and work on something new having been inspired by the Taste of Cambridge food festival I had just attended. I am currently reading The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin, who’s cooking is deeply rooted in frugality and simplicity having grown up in war torn France during the second World War and have enjoyed his descriptions of simple classical French cuisine that he prepared as he learned how to cook. While thinking about what to get I also thought about Thomas Keller’s view on food as described in The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman and his view of food and simplicity, taking one ingredient and making it the very best it can be. Using simplicity as my inspiration and cost as my guide for food purchases I settled on an something I rarely eat let alone cook with. I chose a carrot as a foundation for my dinner and decided to make a simple soup out of it. 89 cents for a one pound bag of organic carrots was a deal I could not pass up.

The process for making the soup was was really easy and the result was absolutely amazing. The salt and pepper added to the intense and fresh flavor of the carrots. I felt like I could relate to and understand both Pépin and Keller making a simple dish that wasn’t muddled with too many ingredients and flavors, producing out of this world results with plenty left over to be enjoyed in the future alone as a stand alone meal or as a component of another. The steps I took for making the soup are outlined below. Enjoy!

Carrot Soup Recipe:

Ingredients:
2 lbs. of carrots
2 cups water
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Hardware:
Soup Pot
Immersion Blender or Food Processor

Directions:
Wash and peel the carrots and cut them into small 1/4 inch pieces. Put them into a pot. Add 2 cups of water or more if necessary so that the carrots are covered. Bring the pot to a simmer. When the carrots are tender, puree them with an immersion blender or in a food processor until they reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste ensuring that it is well mixed. Serve in a cup or bowl and enjoy hot.

Carrot Soup: Ready for Serving
Carrot Soup: Ready for Serving
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Family Recipes: Cassie’s Peach Cobbler

Cassie's Peach Cobbler
Cassie's Peach Cobbler

As I have mentioned before, and as it has been noted by many others, food is a great way to pass down family history and convey a story. Last weekend, Cassie shared her mother’s recipe for peach cobbler with me so that I could make it at home. The recipe itself is simple, and yet what it evokes is complex and emotional. She shared memories of making it with her mom and the smells that would fill the kitchen as it baked, bringing me into her world and her family history, and now I have another recipe that I can incorporate into my own history and pass down.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with as I improve my culinary skills is inexactness. The hundreds of pages that I have read from various texts along with the countless hours of Food Network, Travel Channel and public television shows on food, as well as my basics class have already trained me to think in exact measurements and about cooking food as a science. The scientific approach to food is at odds with the pleasure of passing down simple recipes founded on intuition.
Cassie’s Peach Cobbler
Ingredients:

6 Peaches
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk

Hardware:
9×9 baking dish

Cassie's Peach Cobbler: Ingredients
Cassie's Peach Cobbler: Ingredients

Directions:
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees (F). Slice the peaches into wedges and place them into a buttered or non-stick baking dish. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and milk together until well mixed. Pour the contents of the bowl over the peaches so that they are well coated.

Cassie's Peach Cobbler: Prepared
Cassie's Peach Cobbler: Prepared

Put the peaches into the pre-heated oven for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Cassie's Peach Cobbler: Baked
Cassie's Peach Cobbler: Baked
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