This might seem a bit redundant, but tonight I pickled some pickles. Working in the evening, the house quiet, the chores of the day done, I'm able to drift through food preservation projects talking to God and watching a pot that actually will boil if you're looking directly at it the entire time. Never let them convince you it won't fly, it won't ring, or that it won't boil. It will.
This is the closest we farm-chicks get to a spa vacation--standing over the canning pot sweating and singing. When I put it that way, it sounds kind of nice, doesn't it? That's because it is. And how many spas hand you 4 quarts of homemade, organic, garden grown, gourmet pickles as you walk out the door? That's what I thought. Only two.
Soaking in water and sea salt.
Measuring out the pickle spice Nora and I mixed up today.
A world inside a jar.
Back in Georgia, I remember eavesdropping on conversations between Donnie (our fearless, banjo wielding lead singer) and Andy (artist, carpenter, humorist, recording engineer) about growing and making their own pickles one day. At the time, it sounded dangerous and impossible to me. Another part of me must have believed in this crazy scheme because I listened a little too closely to the conversations, like I might actually use this information later. Have you ever had the ears of your heart prick up? It only took 10 years for me to realize why I never forgot their seemingly random pickle conversation. (Do you remember random conversations like that? It might be a clue about something.)
And while the pickles processed, I cut up potatoes and butternut squash (also garden grown) for tomorrow's supper. The squash is from last year--they last forever in their protective skin--God is a gardening/food expert. And rather than throw the seeds in the compost like I did last year (proof of this mistake can be found in the 356 volunteer squash plants in my garden), I'm saving them back.
I think of seeds like the characters from Mad Max think of gasoline. I know. It's hard to imagine desert- bound, futuristic pirates fighting inside a gigantic gerbil cage over a pumpkin seed while listening to Tina Turner. But it could happen.
Anyway...if you'd like to save seed too, you'll need to do the following:
1. Buy a copy of the soundtrack to Mad Max/Thunderdome.
2. If the seeds come from a "wet vegetable"--tomato, squash, cucumber--scoop them out and put them in water, stirring until they separate from the flesh of the veggie. You can let them sit for a day or so this way.
3. Strain them and put them out to dry on newspaper or wax paper. Make sure they are completely dry before you store them in envelopes or jars unless you'd like to see the whole shebang sprout in storage.
Today Nora and I threshed the dill seed I'd dried from last year. That's easy, too.
1. Buy a copy of Tammy Wynette's greatest hits.
2. Wait for your herbs to go to seed in the garden. Before they do this, they'll flower and look beautiful and bees will visit, carrying the cilantro nectar to some amazing hive that I wish I had access to, you know, if I wasn't afraid of being stung by bees. Or eaten by bears. But that's another story.
3. Cut them before the seed falls and hang them upside down somewhere in your house. Let them dry.
4. When you're ready to use the seed, put the whole thing in a paper bag and shake until the seeds come loose. And that's how you handle "dry seeds."
Oh, this is a good book.
I'm all over the place, I know. I've just got a real passion for all this homemade living. I wish I could remember the passage in the Bible that says we should build homes, plant gardens and orchards and raise a family. Those are simple instructions. I like simple.