Radish Refrigerator Pickles

July 7th, 2010 / comments 5

Lynda was our first houseguest when Charles and I moved to Vermont. It was our first November in Vermont and we were naïve flatlanders learning about wood stoves, wells and cows everywhere.

cow c egbert Radish Refrigerator Pickles

Lynda had been living in the Northeast Kingdom for ten years and was an old Vermont hand. At breakfast on Saturday morning, she suggested that we go to the Red Flannel Hash supper at the Woodstock Unitarian Universalist Church that evening. I assumed that red flannel was the dress code because I had been told that it was important to be visible to hunters when walking in the woods and I was pretty sure that it was hunting season. Lynda patiently explained that red flannel was a type of hash and that I could wear whatever I chose. It was at that dinner that I learned how important pickles could be.

We sat at a long table with seven strangers and were served plates piled high with hash and a scoop of baked beans. Red flannel hash, an amazing magenta really, is a mixture of ground beets, potatoes, cabbage and corned beef. Along with bread and butter, there was a bowl of pickles in the center of our table. Red flannel hash is an acquired taste – one I hadn’t acquired. I did my best with it and used a chunk of crispy, sweet/sour pickle as a chaser after each forkful. I soon gave up on the hash and focused on the pickles, commenting with delight on their flavor each time that I asked that the (much too small) bowl be refilled. As pie was served I was introduced to the woman sitting at the end of the table. Her name was Alice and her hazel eyes sparkled as she told me that she had made all of the pickles for the supper.

pt v radishes c egbert Radish Refrigerator Pickles

You can download a label for your pickles here.

Although I don’t make red flannel hash, I make pickles of all sorts. Rather than preserving quarts of cucumbers with vinegar and dill, I make small quantities of refrigerator pickles with vegetables and fruits that are in season. Refrigerator pickles are ready to eat in six hours, require no cooking, do not need to be heat processed and the possible combinations are limited only by the varieties of vinegar, sugar, herbs and spices in the pantry. I made four different kinds of pickles to take to a fourth of July picnic. Here’s how I did it:

… read more

Fish Sauce & Summer Salad with Shrimp and Melon

June 23rd, 2010 / comments 2

The first time I was aware of fish sauce, I thought that the sewage pipe had broken in our Singapore kitchen. I was upstairs getting ready to go out to dinner and Beth, a young Filipina who lived with us, was cooking dinner for my sons. Beth was not a great cook but the boys always enjoyed the chicken adobo she made. I ran to the kitchen, expecting to have to deal with toxic waste, and found Beth laughing. She assured me that the smell was just a bit of fish sauce that she had poured into a hot pan.
fish three c egbert Fish Sauce & Summer Salad with Shrimp and Melon
I couldn’t believe that something that smelled so terrible could make anything taste good. I soon learned that fish sauce has been used, around the world for at least 2500 years to add flavor and as a main ingredient in both dipping sauces and dressings for grilled meat and fish, noodle and vegetable salads. Fish sauce is made by fermenting fish that have been layered with salt and it imparts umami, a Japanese word that translates as “good taste”, to food. Garum was the name for fish sauce to ancient Romans but it was usually referred to as that “evil smelling sauce”. Not only did Romans use it to season meat and fish dishes there is mention of its use in a pear and honey souffle!
fish y c egbert Fish Sauce & Summer Salad with Shrimp and Melon Fish sauce is the ingredient that transformed a shrimp and vegetable salad into a Vietnamese inspired, summer salad that was grand enough to serve at an elegant dinner party. This salad combines many of the flavors of Southeast Asia and can be varied to suit your palate, pantry and pocketbook. Pork or chicken can be substituted for shrimp, and mangos or other melons can be substituted for the watermelon. Rather than making this salad in a large salad bowl I made individual salads. Here’s how I did it: … read more

Papaya Salad & Perry Como

June 16th, 2010 / comments 5

As I was making papaya salad for a party we had on Friday night, my friend Victoria began to sing a song I hadn’t heard since I was eight. My father loved big band music and crooners and Perry Como was one of his favorites.

black tile c egbert Papaya Salad & Perry Como

When he played his 78-rpm record of Perry Como singing Papaya Mama, my sister and I jumped around and tried to dance like Carmen Miranda. She was the Brazilian samba singer who wore hats piled high with fruit and the inspiration for Chiquita Banana. I didn’t think of papaya as something to eat until many years later.

blender c egbert Papaya Salad & Perry Como

The first time I tasted papaya, a friend had whirled it in a blender with milk and ice. The drink was a lovely pale, peachy-orange color and tasted terrible. I next tasted it a few years later with pineapple, mango and banana as part of a tropical fruit salad on a holiday in Puerto Rico and I didn’t mind it. It had a nice texture and I enjoyed it topped with a bit of lime juice.

Papaya is a native of Mexico and it is cultivated in most tropical and subtropical countries around the world. It grows on a tree-like plant that looks a bit like a small umbrella of leaves atop a very long stem. There are two types of papayas, Mexican and Hawaiian. Hawaiian papayas are small, usually weighing about a pound. Mexican papayas are much larger and may weigh as much as ten pounds. I prefer the slightly less intense flavor of the Mexican papaya. The edible seeds from the hollow center of a ripe papaya have a spicy, pepper flavor and are used in salad dressings or salsas.

Packed with vitamins, minerals and natural fiber, papaya delivers a nutritional punch. Indigenous Americans have used papaya, rich in an enzyme called papain, to tenderize tough meat for thousands of years. Rubbing papaya peel on to skin rashes, insect bites, jellyfish stings and burns is a common, natural remedy where papayas grow. Papaya extract is sold in tablet form as a remedy for digestive problems.

Although there are lots of good reasons to eat papaya, the best reason is that it is delicious, particularly when featured in an Indian inspired vegetarian dinner salad. Here’s how I made it: … read more

Curried Sweet Potato Salad and Lazy Day Potato Salad

June 3rd, 2010 / comments 4

Last weekend, I bought red garnet yams at the market and made sweet potato salad for a potluck picnic.

indian motif Curried Sweet Potato Salad and Lazy Day Potato Salad

The purple of the skin and the bright orange of the potato made me think of India and so I added curry powder to the dressing. Here’s how I made it: … read more

Potato Salad Makes a Picnic

June 2nd, 2010 / comments 3

 Potato Salad Makes a PicnicThe warm days and evening sunsets of June usher in the arrival of picnic season. My early picnic memories involve big metal coolers and Tupperware containers with impossible to remove lids. There were charcoal fires smoldering with smoke that burned my eyes or wood fires lit to keep mosquitoes away and, more importantly, as the source of heat for cooking anything that could be wrapped in foil or speared on a long stick. For dessert there were marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for s’Mores, or bananas wrapped in foil and roasted. Picnics were thirsty affairs and it was a proud moment when I was deemed old enough to control the push button spout on the red and silver drink cooler. These collaborative meals had varied menus, ham or fried chicken, green salad, bean salad or Jell-O salad but it wasn’t a picnic without potato salad.

The potato salad of those early picnics was white – peeled white potatoes, diced white onions, celery and mayo. I loved it. I skipped the shriveled hotdogs blistered by the fire and the dry, overcooked hamburgers slathered with catsup. I piled potato salad into the largest section of my divided paper plate, put a small scoop of baked beans into one of the two small sections and filled the other section with bread and butter pickles. It was an extra special meal if there was bright pink, purple, orange or green Kool-Aid in one of the drink coolers.

The monochromatic potato salad, transported on ice to every picnic was the point of departure for my expedition into potato salad country. I wasn’t always a painter but color has always been important to me. When I made my first bowl of potato salad, I though of potatoes as the white canvas, the carrots, red peppers and onions and green herbs as the paints and the dressing as the glue that held it all together. Here’s how I did it: … read more

CSA – Week 1 – Maple Salad Dressing

April 25th, 2010 / comments 6

Today I picked up my first CSA delivery. I got Chinese cabbage, Siberian kale, chives, garlic chives, a spicy greens salad mix of about twenty greens, small bunches of Tango lettuce , spring herbs, granola and eggs.

V CSA 01 10 CSA   Week 1   Maple Salad Dressing

My bag also had a note from the Clay HIll folks with an update on the irrigation system, information about the green house and hoop houses and a recipe for Garlic Scallion and Almond Pesto.

Maple Salad Label CSA   Week 1   Maple Salad Dressing

I’m planning on making fresh pasta and the pesto for dinner tomorrow night.  I let you know how it goes.  I made maple syrup seasoned salad dressing to top the spicy mixed greens for  a salad for dinner. Here’s how I did it: … read more

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