beets

Bettunya\'s quick pickles

Quick pickles are really delicious and easy. I had 5 medium cucumbers from the garden. Peeled them, then using a mandoline, sliced them thin. Same with 1/2 white onion, 3 cloves of garlic. Here is the rest of my new quick pickle recipe, adapted from a recipe for sunomono on epicurious.com:

Set aside in a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit for twenty minutes. Drain off excess water.

Over vegetables, sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cut dill, four coriander seeds (crushed), 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper, leaves from three-ish sprigs of thyme. I also added a few tarragon leaves but only do that if you like that licorice-like taste.

In another bowl, 1 1/2 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar + 3/4 cup sugar. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Pour over vegetable mixture. Lightly stir, cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours. So good.

I just made another batch yesterday with yellow squash and carrots added. It works. We have so much squash now, it’s nice to have something easy to do with them that doesn’t involve turning the oven on.

It’s really happening. We’ve got our first squashes. The chard is thriving and I’ve found that homegrown arugula will spoil you for store bought forever. After last year’s meager harvest, I had no idea how successful the crops would be from the raised beds. It’s something wholly other. Here is the current situation, at left:

I’ve been receiving messages that Brioche readers are as interested in photos as in my cuisine. Here are a few things I was up to during my long absence. Thank you, Kathy, by the way! I was, indeed, so sick. With the tail end of my cold still in effect during our Hawaii trip. But the rose hip tea was key to my turnaround, without a doubt.

So I have been cooking, but primarily working on the garden. The plants give me so much joy. I have always loved the scent of dirt and I love watching the bugs that take up residence in the garden. Mine is seriously loaded with ladybugs — they are awesome helpers. They make their ways over the plants (really seem to love the lemon verbena and lavender) like tiny red tanks and devour the aphids. Very, very cool to watch.

Mark built amazing raised beds that cover the entire side of the yard that gets sun. So far I’ve planted yellow squash, snap peas, an ENTIRE bed of strawberries, and about 8 tomato plants. I am barely dealing with heirlooms this year. Last year’s were a completely failed story. One here, one there. Who’s got the time? I have one heirloom this year, an italian plum shaped or such. The rest are celebrity, champion, better boys and early girls. Hurray for hybrid technology!

Mark built these raised beds so I can grow root veggies

If you listen to your mind and body, it will tell you when to cool it on the butter, cheese and heady sauces.

Oh, how I love them so.

But it is balance — balance, I tell you — that allows you to go a lifetime enjoying even the most diabolical of foods and not have to suffer the biliousness that goes with overindulgence.

I’ve been wanting to use the word “biliousness,” which I’m pretty sure used to mean “indigestion.” Such a cool word. I have a book by Dio Lewis from 1880 titled “Our Digestion or My Jolly Friend’s Secret” that dedicates an entire chapter to the treatment of biliousness.

“Eat for breakfast, until the bilious attack passes, a little stale bread, say one slice, and a piece half as large as your hand of boiled lean beef or mutton. If the weather is warm, take instead a little cracked wheat or oat-meal porridge.” (p. 227)

So strangely comforting.

I can’t even say I have been feeling bilious, just ready to give it a rest. So, I had a humble salad from the garden last night. If anyone out there thinks they can’t grow salad or food in general, let me tell you…you can. I hadn’t raised a vegetable in my life and have since last summer (when I took an inspiring class on organic gardening at Silverlake Farms) grown fabulous eggplants, butternut squash, tomatoes, zucchini, various herbs and really good romaine lettuce.

organic strawberriesThe great thing about lettuce is that you can grow it in a box on your porch as long as it gets sun, and if you just cut the leaves for your salad and don’t pull it up by the roots, it keeps giving.

I forgot to mention that I planted a few strawberry plants few months ago. Chandlers. They are so good.