Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Martha-ing: Home-made pickles (sort of)

I know it's a passe term, but when I make something very, very home-made it's hard not to feel like I went a little Martha. Without the part about being sent to prison. Or making large piles of money. I'm not really a jam maker, or a pickle maker, or anything that involves genuine canning stuff, with jars boiling away and proper seals and, with my talents, the many opportunities to give myself and my loved ones botulism. So, in short, even if I may feel as if I've gone all Martha, I usually haven't. Still, that Martha feeling is a funny frisson of embarrassment (do YOU want to tell your neighbors that you made your kid stamps out of heirloom pumpkins... that you grew yourself... organically? Uh, no. And I shouldn't have told my sisters, either, because I still get teased for that one.) and really, really shameful and complete self-satisfied-ness (no, not a word, but I am quite confident that you know what I mean).

Having had a little couples-bonding-by-food-poisoning earlier in the year (advice: don't eat grocery store sushi, no matter how hungry you are), and generally being suspicious of my ability to be thorough, I generally stay away from actual canning. But I do periodically venture into the shady territory of preserves. Like Marcella Hazan's artichokes preserved with honey and vinegar . I made it earlier this week since the stall I go to at Pike Place (and, okay, QFC and probably Safeway, too), had an enormous pile of baby artichokes, and seasonal changes seem to bring out a somewhat misguided cooking frenzy in me. I say misguided because I come home and say "I got artichokes and fava beans and peas!" And my kids look at me and say, "Do we have to eat them?" And my husband doesn't say that... out loud. But he really, really looks as if he wants to. He does, actually, like the preserved artichokes (and considering the amount of hassle involved, he'd better). Or he's very good at pretending. Either way, I'll take it.

Cooking seasonally can be a little bit of an uphill battle in my house. Kids are not crazy, say, about wild mushrooms. Or ramps. Or... well, in my house, the most popular vegetable is the potato. And while they can be persuaded to have a bite of something if there is also bacon in it, that's generally as far as it goes. Obviously, I've digressed. The whole pickle and preserve thing fascinates me, but I am also intimidated by it (those tong things for picking up jars... the many, many ways that I could cause things to go awry, and, let me mention again, the calamitous proscpect of food poisoning looming over the whole thing). And Martha-ing out makes me feel as if I have a dirty little secret I need to conceal. Still, I remain rather moth to the flame about it.

So I was pleased to see the recipe for fresh vegetable pickle in The Herbal Kitchen (when I got it... almost a year and a half ago. Only now am I getting to this recipe. Ah, well). It's not REALLY a genuine can-it pickle (it lasts up to a week), but it gives me a chance to kind of skate around the edges of the whole pickling thing which remains fascinating to me. So I made it yesterday, and have yet to eat it. But I am as pleased as can be (smug, even, which doesn't make me look great but is far more accurate) about how pretty it looks. Check out the picture. Pretty, no? I go back and forth as to how cauliflower will actually TASTE, but it does provide a pretty white background for the other colors. I intend to try eating them tonight. I'd rather not admit that I'll be having them with beef teriyaki (nope, I didn't make the teriyaki sauce myself, I bought it at a supermarket), but, well, that is the case. Or... as often happens to things I try "preserving," it will languish in the refrigerator, looking lovely, but never touched. I am thinking now of the pickled onions I made last summer... and the goat cheese preserved under oil... and the blackberry acid that really, just looked a little tooooo scary to ever actually consume. The list goes on.
So, I guess I'll inform my waiting public (that's you, Mom) how the pickles actually tasted sometime in the next few days.


Christian said...

For the record, I do like the artichokes and favas... :-D

AJD said...

Wuss - you used storebought teriyaki sauce?! Crikey, even I know how to make the Wagamama teriyaki sauce (from memory - 7 parts each of: dark soy sauce, sake, and mirin, with one part sugar). And you call this a food blog ... ;-)