“Hey Erin! Can I ask you a question?.. How do YOU make cucumber pickles?”… My answer: “I don’t”.
Like most newbie picklers, my emergence into the world of pickling started with the classic dill pickle. Overly enthusiastic about my new found hobby (I think I actually may have considered dropping out of graduate school to start a pickling company called ‘Dilly Beans’), I tried loads of different cucumber pickle varieties: zesty pickles, Old Bay pickles, dilly mustard pickles, you name it. Soggy and not quite right pint of cucumber pickles after pint (not to add steam burn after steam burn), I grew tired and a little discouraged by the whole homemade dill pickle idea/fad. Meanwhile, I was having great success putting up other veggie pickles. One night after a pickle back/tini… or four, I began thinking… why try to achieve dill pickle greatness (the crunch, the brine, the zest, etc.) when it’s already been done? I’m probably never going to hear the end of this and will be shamed in the pickle world forever, but here it goes… I Erin A. Urquhart LOVE store bought, chemical laden, food color additive dill pickles! Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest…
We hosted our first Seacoast Food Swap event in Portsmouth, NH this past weekend! The turnout was pretty much as expected with about 15 swappers filling the outdoor tables with edible goods ranging from homemade ricotta cheese to the colorful ginger & rhubarb syrups, gluten-free peanut butter cookies, almond butter, sweet and spicy pickled kohlrabi, and freshly harvested garlic scapes. Not only was the the variety of food items impressive, but the overwhelming amount of support for future events was equally as exciting. The one rule to participate in a food swap is that you must bring something edible that you either created, foraged, or grew yourself. Easy enough, right?
Do you remember the first time you had a tomato off the vine? I do, it tasted nothing like the store bought tomatoes I always avoided (yuck). Aside from the color resemblance (kind of), the contrast in flavor, moisture, and texture between the fresh picked and store bought tomatoes was huge! You’re probably thinking, “why is Erin talking tomatoes if today’s post is clearly about eggs?” Well… I recently experienced my first backyard egg, collected from Feathered Pig in Brentwood, NH, and let me tell you… I’m going to stop myself from rambling on as most of you have probably had backyard eggs before… but, oh my moon I can’t get over the sunshine yellow yolk color or how the moisture content was almost creamy. I know that there is a lot of discrepancy out there over whether there is really a distinguishable difference between supermarket vs. coop eggs and if “people’s perception of egg flavor is mostly psychological”. So until I can perform my own double blind experiment, I am going to assume that backyard eggs are by far more superior.
The inspiration behind these sriracha pickled eggs comes from a few sources, the foremost being The Press Room, a dark and somewhat depressing, yet charming music venue/bar in downtown Portsmouth, NH. Typically a murky 2 gallon glass jug containing a mystery specimen that has been sitting on the bar-top for an unknown duration of time would cause me public health anxiety. For some reason, probably the 3 martinis and the company, I figured it would be a good life choice to sample one of their notorious pickled eggs. WOW! The vinegar plus spice was absolutely delectable. For my small batch of pickled eggs I loosely followed the direction of a forum post that I came across on spicy pickled eggs. My quart sized batch is currently siting in the refrigerator soaking up all the spicy vinegar’y goodness of sriracha brine. If I can manage to hold off on devouring them and can sacrifice the fridge space (it’s getting a little ridiculous in there), I’ll probably let these eggs sit for another couple weeks before consuming.
What’s better than late night baking? Late night baking with minimal ingredients and slightly intoxicated friends! Years ago while I was living in Rohnert Park, CA, every so often (cough… nightly) I would make late night runs to the 24hr grocery store for ingredients to satisfy my sweet tooth. Typically a chocolate bar would suffice, but occasionally I would go crazy and splurge and go for more grandiose things like cookies, ice cream, or chocolate milk (oh my). Naturally, every semester before and during finals week the frequency of my visits would increase and I realized that I wasn’t alone in this late night routine. Not only did the checkout lines get longer, but I started to notice a trend in what people were buying after 10pm in this college town. My unpublished results showed that before and during exam week that 75+% of people were visiting the grocer for some sort of sweet: candy, ice cream, cookies, etc. Next was salty snacks or beer, followed by fresh fruit (clean food, clean mind… blah, blah, blah) and condoms (I swear Mom, they were NOT mine).
Happy Monday! I hope everyone had an amazing weekend. As usual, mine was ridiculous, unplanned, and by no surprise, all over the place. I’m not exactly sure if I can attribute the craze to the Supermoon, but I can assure you that the perigee-syzygy tidal wave of energy manifested itself through a late night canning bonanza this past Saturday. Stay tuned for a slew of new recipes plus a friend featured deployed goods post later this week (hint: gluten free… peanut butter.. chocolate… blueberries…)
While I was downtown last weekend scouting out Pickwick’s at the Banke, the venue for next weekend’s Seacost Food Swap, I found myself thumbing through the crisp new pages of several cookbooks when all of a sudden a tiny book printed with the word “PICKLE” caught my eye. One of a kind amongst tons of other colorful culinary prints, it was as if it we were meant to be. I can easily envision a downward spiral full of hoarding tendencies, so typically I try not to buy too many pickling/canning recipe books. It may have been the 3 cups of coffee or my excitement over the new venue, but I couldn’t resist… the size, the aesthetic, the elastic band… oh boy… Pick a Pickle by Hugh Acheson had to be mine. A great find, Pick a Pickle is a swatchbook containing 50 tangy pickle, condiment, relish, and fermented recipes that would be a perfect addition to both a well seasoned canner’s collection and a newbie pickler’s library alike.
Until recently I had only ever seen garlic scapes used as an addition to flower bouquets. I was quite pleased to learn that scapes have so much more to offer than just aesthetic value to hipster brides’ smelly wedding bouquets… As local chefs have been up to their ears in scapes for several weeks now, it appears as if I’m a little behind on the whole edible garlic scape fad. Garlic scapes are the shoots/stalks that grow from hardneck Rocombole varieties of garlic. At the young and tender age of 1-2 months, scapes look like curly green stalks with tightly closed buds on top. I don’t know about you, but I think scapes look alot like the creepy mechanical bug that burrows itself into Neo’s navel in the Matrix. Scapes are typically harvested in early June to avoid any nutrient loss from the eventual harvested plump garlic bulbs.
I acquired these local serpent beauties from the Wake Robin Farm stand last weekend at the Portsmouth farmers’ market. Having absolutely zero ability to correctly eyeball the number of jellybeans in the jar, I winged it and purchased a pound and a half of scapes. This yielded three VERY packed pint jars of asian pickled garlic scapes. I just finished my last jar of oh so tasty pickled edamame so I figured a similar brine with a bit more heat would work nicely. Use these pickled scapes atop a salad, in a hummus, on a pizza, or eat them straight out of the jar (caution: this may or may not be the best life choice before a date).
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