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Birthday Pickles


My father-in-law recently had a birthday. To help him drown his sorrows celebrate, I made him some of Alton Brown’s world-famous Firecrackers. They didn’t last long, as expected. He never told me if they cured his depression made his day, but the way they disappeared…

Since I was messing up the kitchen anyway, I went ahead and made some of PJ’s favorite bread-and-butter pickles at the same time, and a jar or two of some slightly sour pickles as well. After all, you can never be too rich, too good looking, or have too many freshly-made Icebox Pickles. A few of the sours have survived, but the B&B pickles are completely gone. (PJ made the mistake of sharing.)

Today it’s my turn to cry in my beer at the cruel passing of time celebrate the Big Event. I’ve already gotten my presents (a new tooth, finally, and a set of four kick-ass Michelins for the baby car), so I knew I would have to do the rest of the heavy lifting myself. So I went to the grocer’s and got some more veggies: Kirby cukes, yellow and red bell peppers, red onion, baby carrots and more.

Time to make some birthday pickles just for me!

The first recipe I tried is a variation on this one: BBQ Pickles. I saw it last month on the blog Cherry Tea Cakes and it intrigued me. But I don’t have any of that vinegary East-Coast type of sauce. So I winged it adjusted and pressed on. First, I increased the recipe size; a pint of pickles is a mere teaser around this household. I took out some smoky bourbon barbeque sauce and mixed it with cider vinegar and water. I added some pickling spice, and increased the salt ratio slightly. Since I don’t expect these to last long, I didn’t do the full canning; just lightly simmered the liquid, then poured it over tightly-packed veggies in a sterilized, spring-top glass jar. Oh, and I added a bit of minced garlic. Just to keep things kosher. (Although maybe I need to be scared of the Jewish food police?)

They look yummy; I can hardly wait to snarf down the whole jar try them.

And since I had the kitchen in a mess already, I decided to make some more of PJ’s B-and-B pickles. (No need to thank me, hon; it’s just the way I am.)

Which left about a quart of sliced vegetables, just begging to be turned into pickles of some sort. So I decided to get really crazy let my creative juices flow, so to speak. I mean hey, it’s my birthday. My 39th. Which won’t ever come around again. (Before next year.) I decided to live a little on the wild side! Here’s what I did:

I took three cups of water and cider vinegar, a 50-50 mix, and put it in a saucepan. I added an ounce (two tablespoons) of pickling salt and a tablespoon of sugar. I tossed in some turmeric, pickling spice and mustard seeds. And a few dried chiles, for excitement. A couple of sprigs of fresh dill went into the pot. Then I brought that to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes, covered. Meanwhile, I loaded a tall, sterile jar, the spring-top type, with the orphaned veggies. I had to add a few carrots to get the space all filled up, but that’s okay. I have fresh jalapeños from the garden these days, so I sliced a couple and put them in the jar, along with the rest of the fresh dill I had handy. With some more minced garlic on top. When the liquid was ready I poured it carefully over the veggies and let the whole thing cool. Once it was at room temperature I topped the jar off with the last bit of liquid and sealed’er up. By the weekend these babies should be ready to rock and roll!

Oh, and I ain’t telling nobody about them. Not nohow; not for love or money…

Enjoy the (In a Pickle) Heat!


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