In a Pickle, In a Jam - and Loving it!

In a Pickle - Brine me Baby

The phrase In a Pickle goes back at least to the Dutch in the 1500's 'in de pekel zitten' meaning 'to be in a pickle'.  We know how much I like the Dutch (especially their re-released Bols Genever, see Bols Me Over!), and anything pickled, or preserved. Daikon or Takwon in Korean is pickled daikon radish. Brining, the act of preserving vegetables or other things in vinegar, salt and spices, is an ancient food preservation method. As a salty-crunchy girl, or more accurately, someone with a palate that favors salty-crunchy, pickles are one of my favorite things. 

The Japanese like so many other cultures, have a long history of pickling for food preservation. Other methods are fermentation (more on that soon), freezing, and dehydrating. And of course, canning. As Richard-the-stickler points out, it should be called jarring since we use jars for this method, not cans. But "jarring" has a negative connotation and well...let's get back to pickles, shall we?

Having a Japanese lunch the other day, miso soup, rice, pickles, tofu...I was crunching away on the weirdly yellow daikon and thought how perfectly it could represent the sun. It was a clear blue sky that day and my inner-McGyver kicked into high gear. Let's just say anyone in my alley that day probably thought they were seeing things: me hovering over the edge of fire escape with a plate of glass, a daikon slice, my camera in my gloved hand to reduce glare/reflection...

Here's my daikon sun:

daikon floating


In a Jam - Loving that, too.

The Canvolution, Canning Across America event was an idea hatched by friend Kim O'Donnel on the West Coast. She'd learned of other events and thought why not? This is one of the reasons we love Kim. Next thing you know, people across the country are hosting "teach-in" events, sharing knowledge, recipes, stories. For food geeks like me, it's a fun opportunity to meet other food geeks, to honor the heritage of our various families, and to revisit the self-sufficiency that food preservation offers us. What could be better to learn in the late summer of a Recession/Depression when CSAs have many people running out of creative ways to use the same vegetables and fruits. 

Linsey of Cake and Commerce is a canning Queen - she's been doing it for years. When I told her about the initiative and begged off doing the organizing she LEAPT into it. What a perfect host for the day. Henry Patterson opened Ronnarong for us, Cornelia Hoskins of FarmAid and Homegrown put the word out to her flock and followers...we had a great turnout.

Canning allows us to save some of summer's bounty for the cold months when things aren't growing outside, when the farmers' markets have largely disappeared.  Pam of Cave Cibum gave me a lift to the T and we were talking about how good it feels to give and receive home made gifts of food and how right this is for our times. Who needs another tchotchke for the shelf, especially if you could get an edible treat instead?

I took my goodies to my niece and her boyfriend, a newly laid-off lawyer. They're so grateful. Everyone interested in learning more or getting hooked into a great group of foodies, get over to Cake and Commerce, there's a new challenge underway!