Do you remember the Pie Party? Oh, of course you do. Who can forget such a pretty, pretty berry-covered chocolate pie. (Let me stroke my ego just the tiniest bit.) Soon after we cut butter and shared stories, Shauna recommended we do it again – with vinegar. Pickles may not seem as sexy as pie (I’d beg to differ), but they offer an equally valid challenge. One point of the Pie Party was to conquer your pie fears. No excuses. Just make pie. Those fears – crusts that are tough, cracked, burnt caramelized, fillings that are watery, or too dense, raw or overdone. It makes for good eating.
It makes for good bonding; great stories. Feelings of joy and accomplishment. It fuels us to photograph and write and share. We cheer on, celebrate, or commiserate, console, with fellow picklers and pie bakers. These relationships are what makes this community worth its weight in gold. Themes, recipe swaps, group postings can help grow your community, not just clicks. It leads to conversations over Twitter, texting while cooking, grabbing drinks when you’re visiting the same city.
Sharing your good times and bad times in the kitchen creates a family. And when something great happens outside of the kitchen? They keep cheering. When something devastating happens? They lend a shoulder, a hand, a cookie; their tears fall for you, their heart aches for you. I know this from first-hand experience, and I’ve seen it happen again this week. Jennifer Perillo, a wonderful writer, cook, blogger, was dealt a card from the deck of life that’s unfair [bluntly, it's fucked up]. Shauna writes about it better than I ever could, and my heart goes out to Jennie and her family. I don’t know her well, but I know that she is an amazing person that doesn’t deserve such pain. [Make a pie for Mikey (and Jennifer) this Friday, won't ya?]
For now, I share my pickles with the world, and await to see what my friends, acquaintances, and other food-loving strangers have to share. Because just like pies, pickling can be full of overblown fears too. Too-tart, too-hot, too-salty, too-blah, mushy or moldy pickles. A whole slew of insecurities can arise. But pickles are easy. Keep it simple (stupid), and enjoy a home-brined pickle in a jiffy. Refrigerator pickles are a newbie pickler’s best friend and dependable recipes are key. But don’t forget water-bath canned pickles. They’re great, and canning is NOT as scary as it seems. The recipes and procedures need to be a little more precise, but the payoff is so worth it. A jar of summer’s jalapenos opened in February feels like a slice of heaven. And when your fears feel too strong, friends in pickles help too. Calling in reinforcement to either to pickle with you or to be there via email, twitter, phone for answers to your questions make everything better. [I'm telling you, friends in food make the world go round.]
Just make pickles. Enjoy the complexity that forms in a vinegar’d vegetable. Play with spices and herbs. Throw them in salads, on top of stir fries, in cocktails. Schezuan beans dress up a bowl of rice. Jalapenos go into chili and soup, sautes and sauces. Bread and butters play well with barbecue. Kimchi belongs on everything around here. Give your sweet-tooth sister some bread and butters, your bahn mi-crazed brother some pickled daikon and carrots, your #Charcutepalooza friend some relish for their dawgs.
Pickles I Love:
Marisa’s Unfancy Pickled Jalapenos [pictured] And her Dilly Beans [in the corn salad!] Schezuan Green Beans from Put Em Up [pictured] Tigress’s Ramp Kimchi [pictured] And the Momofuku Kimchi is stellar too!
Not-Too-Sweet [Spicy!] Bread & Butters from Tart & Sweet [pictured]
Still unsure about pickling? If you’re in the New York area, I’m teaching a free class on the basics of pickling Tuesday August 16th, 7-9pm. At Brooklyn Launchpad, in partnership with Brooklyn Skillshare, I was inspired by this Pickle Party and wanted to spread the vinegary word. Learn a bit about the basics of pickling at my first-ever class! With hopefully more intensive cooking ones to come.