Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preparing peppery pickles in my PJs

I'm not a hang around for hours in my pajamas kind of person. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially on a cold rainy morning. I've just never been able to start a productive day until I get into some halfway real clothes. Even when I am sick as a dog, I get up, change into different PJs and head back to bed.

Then came my new un-schedule. Here is the new reality on a working night: I go to bed super early, in my clothes, because I don't want to miss one nano-second of sleep. This seldom works. I toss and turn and tell myself to just get up and do something, anything productive, but I don't. I just lie there.

Then when I come home in the morning, the PJs come on and I'm back in bed when most normal people are getting up. Ernst knows the drill: Don't make noise, Don't laugh. Don't talk. Don't stand on the squeaky section of the hardwood floor in the bedroom. Don't scream "The Kings/Padres/Chargers lost AGAIN?" Don't talk loud to the dog. Don't talk softly to the dog. Don't make a sound, the insomniac wife is trying to get her beauty rest. Basically, all I ask is that he bury his entire personality, the one I married, and become a mime for the morning. This was much easier when he was on his teacher schedule - now with summer here he is home giving me the silent treatment by my request.

Even after a night of work, I usually can sleep until only 9:30, sometimes a bit longer. Today I slept almost until noon, a new record. But that was still less than 5 hours of sleep. My body wants to stay in pajamas much longer than 5 hours. That is why I was making Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles in my PJs at 2 o'clock in the afternoon today.
Watch out watermelon!

I found this recipe last summer on Etsy. Here is the link and the official recipe by Kimberley Hasselbrink:

1 pound zucchini (or any summer squash)
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon dill seeds
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Trim the ends off zucchini and slice lengthwise into quarters.
Bring vinegar, water, salt and spices to a boil. Simmer for five minutes, then remove from heat.
Thoroughly sanitize and rinse the jar you’ll use and keep it filled with hot water until you’re ready to use it.
Pack the zucchini snugly in the jar. Tuck the garlic cloves in. Pour the hot brine over the squash. Let the jar sit, uncovered, until it has cooled, about an hour. Cover and refrigerate. They should keep for a couple of months, if not longer.

Here is what I actually did:
I forgot to keep the jars hot before I added the spears.
I added a bit less hot pepper flakes because the longer they sit in the fridge, the HOTTER they get.
I didn't have any mustard seeds.
I didn't have any dill seeds, I added fresh dill sprigs.
I didn't have any garlic cloves, I added jarred. (Are you noticing a trend? I'm out of a bunch of stuff but this is a very forgiving recipe.)
I tripled it because while I'm chopping and jarring, I want to make a bunch.
I did one jar with bell peppers and carrots, and put a jalapeno pepper in three of the jars.
I failed to pack the veggies snugly in the jars - they seemed to want their space.
I added a little less salt and a tiny bit of sugar, just because I'm obstinate from not enough sleep.

Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. Last year I was pickling anything alive in the kitchen and everything turned out yummy: green beans, carrots, cauliflower and of course all the big monster baseball bat-sized zucchini that would otherwise have to be doorbell ditched at the neighbors. When they get really big, scoop out the seeds; otherwise try to stick to the teeny zucchini. The Moldovans pickle watermelon and I have recipes for picked rhubarb and pickled grapes. I think we're going to need a bigger refrigerator.

Not quite baseball bat-sized, but they were pretty fat.
There needs to more fresh dill in this world.

Not a peck of pickled peppers, just a punch.

One of these canning funnels is highly recommended.

I tripled the pickling recipe and only got five jars. You do the math, I'm too tired.

Currently getting into a pickle in the fridge.