A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Pickling the Harvest: Even when it is not your own

She says “thank you, papa” each time she hands me another onion toFry Bread and relish plant, reminding me that I should be saying thank you to her. Then she runs off to the other side of the bed to pick more kale. She likes to play with it, particularly in the sand. Why would a one year old find leaves of the kale plant so tempting a playmate? I have lamb’s ear in the bed just next to this one. Would she not prefer that soft leaf? Maybe it is the curly edges of the kale. I am not one to fathom it.

We pull some carrots for the dinner tonight. The greens will be mixed in with some rice on another day, but I need the tap roots for a stir fry. We had gone to the farmer’s market the other day for fruit, but I bought some pickling cucumbers too. I decided to make simple relish with these cucumbers, using a basic pickling technique called refrigerator pickles. I cleaned the cucumbers, then sliced them. I grated a few carrots. In a mason jar, I put about a tablespoon of sugar and the flowers from my spring onions. My daughter is always picking these flowers, and I have found them to give a dish a nice little kick. I placed the vegetables in the jar, followed by rice vinegar. I screw on the lid, and then I give it a good shake. You can put any vegetable, herb, or spice into the mix that you like. If you wanted the flavors to permeate the vinegars, you could warm them first in the vinegar, but I just set this in the refrigerator for a few days.

These are light, refreshing pickles that can be the base for other dishes. Place some of them in a blender with some of the vinegar and add plain yogurt to blend up a cool soup. If you have some roasted chicken, drizzle this soup over it as a tangy sauce. I made a fry bread this morning by combining flour, oil, and then ice water. I let the dough sit for a while. I fried it in some olive oil. I slit the bread open for a pouch. I mixed some of this relish with roast pork for the pouch. I nice little lunch.

Tonight I am going to roast some beets and turnips for the evening meal. I think the relish would go well with that too. Harvesting from the garden is a wonderful thing. I find that most people do not add herbs or spices to their meals, or should I qualify that to specify to their vegetables. I may not always grow vegetables, but herbs are so resilient, and most insects leave them alone. My grandmother sprinkled parsley over everything. Lately, I think that I have been adding rosemary and marjoram (an oregano cousin) to too many meals.

These refrigerator pickles are a nice way to add to your meal, and you can prepare it when you have time. You may find that your family will enjoy it too.

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

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