04 August 2009

The Suspense Is Killing Me - Refrigerator Pickles and Cherry Bounce

I am not a patient person. Time just never moves quickly enough for me. I am the person who has to sing the alphabet to herself to know how long to wash her hands. I also make sure to hum the Jeopardy theme four full times while brushing my teeth, ensuring a proper brushing duration. My sense of time is indeed slightly warped and running on the fast side. It makes sense, then, that any recipe that takes four or more weeks to come to fruition would make me absolutely BONKERS!

When a bounty of white cucumbers found their way into my refrigerator three weeks ago I knew it was time to attempt pickles. J loves pickled and fermented foods - spicy pickles from vendors at street fairs in Manhattan, kim chee, the pickled radishes I put in congee, bread and butter pickles straight out of the jar, the pickled daikon and carrot salad that comes with our favorite Japanese take out - so at some point in my life with him, I was going to have to learn to pickle stuff. That time had come.

Since J and I both have a spicy tooth (I am half Cajun, after all), I decided to make my first batches of pickles with plenty of heat. My jalapenos and habanero peppers in the garden were not ready for picking in the middle of July (they will be soon, though!), so I grabbed some jalapeno peppers at the market as well as some baby carrots (I was so not in the mood to peel and cut down carrots that weekend - cut me some slack).

Here's the plan: Stuff wide-mouth pint jars with alternating layers of jalapeno slices, thinly sliced onion, cloves of garlic, and the pickling veg of choice (I made jars with cucumber and jars with baby carrots). When the jars are packed quite tightly, pour over a boiling mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water that has been seasoned with kosher salt, all spice (whole), clove (whole), celery seed, mustard seed, and copious amounts of red chili flakes. After I filled the jars with the hot liquid to the tippy tippy top, I sealed them up and let them cool on the counter. I could have boiled them and canned them properly, but I was not about to heat up my house. These pickles would be refrigerator pickles and I had just the place for them in the little tiny refrigerator (from my first year of college - yes, it still works) in my garage. They had to go in the outside refrigerator so I would not stalk them as they did their whole pickle thing for at least four weeks. That's right, four weeks - four weeks of waiting, impatiently, to find out if these things are any good. Sigh. Not a recipe for the impatient.

I've got one week of waiting left. The suspense is killing me. Are they going to be spicy enough? Too spicy? Soggy? Crunchy? Underseasoned? Overseasoned? Delicious? Awful? Come on! I've got to know!

With only a week left, though, I find myself wishing I had a couple more weeks before I find out if I really messed up the recipe. I mean, who wants to taste something that required this much of a time investment to find out it was a failure? Aaarrrrggghhh!

Another long-term recipe pushing hard on my patience button is the Cherry Bounce I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Since then, J and I have purchased more cherries and whiskey and put up a third bottle of Bounce. This recipe requires that I wait FOUR MONTHS (heavens!) for the final product! I can hardly stand it. I've had to squirrel my three bottles of Bounce into a difficult-to-access cabinet so that I stop paying them daily visits to check on their well being. They lived on the counter for their first ten days so that they could get their daily bouncing to help dissolve the massive amounts of sugar called for in the recipe (thanks again, Merideth!), but they had to go once J caught me obsessively lifting and turning each bottle, examining the way the cherries bobbed in the liquid and checking for any crystals of undissolved sugar, on day fifteen.

Maybe these kinds of recipes are good for me. After all, bread making has forced me to slow down my time table in the kitchen, allowing me to enjoy the process as much as the final product. Maybe pickles and Cherry Bounce will help be slow things down even more. Maybe the waiting will enhance the flavor of the final product not only physically but also emotionally. I've got a lot of time invested in these recipes. Time has to taste good, right?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, time tastes great! I hope I get to try some of these recipes I keep hearing about. I can hardly wait to hear your verdict.

    Once again, nice job on the bridal party favors today. You are so creative and talented!

    Lisa M.