The Improvised Pickle
Our CSA’s last weekly distribution of the season was this week. That is always a mile marker in the food year for me. Although I’ve signed up for the winter distributions as I always do, those are a once a month share and not enough to live on. The garden is still offering all the herbs except basil (that quit after the freak snowstorm two weeks ago), and there are still a few wild edibles to forage. But it’s definitely the end of the season.
At this time of year my culinary inspiration shifts from creatively using up what I got that week from my CSA farmer, the garden and out in the field to looking at the jars and bags of food I’ve put up for the cold months plus whatever is local and good at the food coop or farmers market that day.
Today’s mother-daughter kitchen time is an improv on cauliflower chow chow. I’ve got two recipes in two different books that are almost but not quite what I want from a cauliflower pickle. I’m combining the best of both, I hope, plus a few touches of my own.
When can you riff on a food preservation recipe the way me and mom are with the cauliflower, and when do you need to stick to the rules in order to safely preserve the food? Well, actually, you always need to stick to the safety rules. But once you understand which component of a recipe is the part that safely preserves the food, you can totally riff on the rest of it.
Giving away jars of unique recipes is one of the funnest perks of food preservation. I’d like to encourage you to come up with your own signature recipes, but to do so safely. I wrote this article to help.
Here are two of the recipes that I’ve come up with that put me in a holiday mood:
Tawny Port & Pear Butter
Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Apple and Orange (I know, I know – the citrus is so not local for me. This is special occasion food.)
I’ve also been drying lots of pears and apples, and making vinegar from the leftover apple cores. The food preservation season is definitely still underway. Guilty pleasure: candied grapefruit peels. My grandma used to make these and I love them. No local grapefruits, not to mention the sugar cane, so these aren’t something I indulge in much. They do make lovely gifts, though.
Right now I’m looking at the gorgeous red of the Virginia creeper outside my main room window. Looks like fall, but it’s warm enough that I’ve left the backdoor open.
P.S. – If that cauliflower chow chow improv turns out to be great, I promise to share the recipe.
The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget
Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes