Bits on Pickles & Cucumbers…

September 14, 2006 | General | By: Mark VandeWettering

I wrote a long rant about Scoble’s latest whine, but when I proofread it, I couldn’t imagine that anyone cares. Shortly after, I had a phonecall from my mom, and like we do when we don’t have much to talk about, we ended up talking about recipes. Apparently my sister had been making some pickles, and we ended up talking about them.

Pickles aren’t a very glamourous food. The seem kind of yesterday, don’t they? The kind of thing that your grandma might place out during Thanksgiving meals, but you don’t really think about them much probably. There is probably a fairly good reason for that: most pickles you buy in the store simply suck. They have an overcooked, oversalted, oversweet (if sweet) or rancid (dill) flavor that just isn’t very pleasant.

But I have memories of different pickles than that. In particular the garlic kosher dill pickles and the “bread and butter” pickles that my grandma used to lay down. I haven’t tread into the kosher dill arena yet, but I have made entirely delicious bread and butter pickles, which are simple and can be done in small batches whenever you want ’em. Even if you aren’t a pickle fan, try dicing some of these into a tuna fish salad sometime, and you will turn up your nose at your standard supermarket variety.

I don’t have grandma’s recipe, but I tried Alton Brown’s B & B recipe, and they are dead easy to make, require no special techniques or equipment, and are just darned yummy.

The folks in the Mediterrainian have a different spin on the cucumber, often combing it with garlic, olive oil and yogurt. I didn’t know what they called it (tsasiki) but no matter how you spell it, with a combination of ingredients like that, it just can’t be bad. In a strange harmony of coincidence, Cooking for Engineers had a nice recipe (again, the kind of thing that your grandma would cook for you).

Cooking For Engineers – Recipe File: Anghelika’s Tsatsiki (Tzatziki)

Other ways I like cucumbers? How ’bout with some sprouts (or maybe watercress) and some cream cheese on a sandwich with a glass of ice tea on a hot summer day? Or in a spicy gazpacho? My grandma (and mom) make a salad by brining onions and cucumbers overnight, then draining and rinsing them, and making a dressing from mayo and a little vinegar. Brining them overnight removes some of the bitterness, and I really like the creamy onion/cucumber combo. Instead of mayo, you could probably use yogurt. Maybe with some fresh dill, that would be tasty.

I’m gonna add some ingredients to my shopping list for the farmer’s market this weekend.

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