family · Meats · Pickles · Solutions

Taking out frustrations

Cheese mutilationMy mother bought me a book when I was a teenager.  It was her way of talking to me directly about an uncomfortable subject.  She had taught me that in polite conversation, you don’t talk about politics, religion or sex.

The book was not about religion or politics.

One of the recommendations was that when, as a teenaged girl, you were feeling “urges,” you could avoid temptation by engaging in rigorous physical activity.  I specifically remember the recommendation being to scrub the floor by hand using a stiff brush.  Now think about that for just a moment.  Is that a word choice you would use to dissuade a virtuous young maid?

In my adult life, being in phase one of acquisition, I had a Pampered Chef party, because really, who doesn’t need more kitchen toys?  The PC lady had a tool she attempted to sell at every party because it was so useful.  I was convinced, and became the proud owner of a food chopper. Food Chopper I could make powdered walnuts in no time, and here is the over-the-moon benefit, I could beat the ba-jeebers out of something while doing it.  Great stress relief.  Pounding on the knob was not only satisfying, but the loud sounds emanating from the impact usually brought out someone to inquire as to whether everything was all right.  Ahem.

Fast forward post-divorce to my current love of making cheese.  One of the finest kitchen outlets, aside from the electrical ones, is giving your blue cheese the requisite air to grow mold.  No, you don’t just blow on it, you stab it with long knitting needles.  Forcefully and repeatedly.  I often think about a friend who was going into nursing who said they practiced giving shots using oranges as their “subjects.”  I think cheese would be a great stand in for … homicidal maniacs?  I agree, let’s not give anyone ideas.  Not only would TSA not let you on a plane with knitting needles as they do now, they might take your cheese away too.

But enough of beating up cheese.  Let us turn instead to the dilemma of darling daughter.

When she was young, she could spend hours in hysterics, adjusting her dismay over something so mundane as, for example, not being allowed to climb to the top of the 80′ tree, stark naked.

When she transitioned to public school in 4th grade, her tolerance levels were frequently challenged.  One day I was working at home only to have the front door banged on and a screaming, crying child launch herself into the room.  She was frustrated with something at school and while the staff tried to figure it out, she took matters into her hands and ran all the way home, including crossing an extremely busy street.

But she’s older now.  Off to college last year, I only got 5 or 6 sniffly phone calls and then only when her grades didn’t match her “straight” expectations.  [Clarification – grades with curves in them are to be despised.  F is a straight grade, but is to be shunned above all others.  Straight grades are the only acceptable ones]

And she’s home for the summer and finally deciding to get her driver’s license.  The testing venue has you use their car.  One with which you are not familiar, because of course that is logical, right?  Actually I think it is so they can justify buying cars for their business and writing them off their taxes, but that is just the cynical me talking.

So as you probably surmised, the venture was unsuccessful.  There was a clear violation of law (you must stop at sidewalks before entering traffic) and she’ll have to take it again.  She was disappointed and frustrated.  Frustrated in a way that not even Nutella would cure.  We had to make hamburgers.

One of the things we like on hamburgers is pickles.  Not just any pickle.  We prefer German style Dill pickles.  Mustard instead of garlic and a hint of sugar without being sweet.  Yum.  We used to buy Farman’s brand German Style Dills.  In our local store.  Then in select stores.  Then fewer select stores.  Then Farman’s was bought by Libby’s and they stopped making German Style Dills.  It was a sad day!!  Currently we can buy echt [Ger:  adv. authentic] German Pickles at World Market, but the frugal in me rails at pickles for $7/jar.  Come on guys, it’s a bunch of cucumbers in some yummy liquid!

And so, without further ado, but a modicum of translating by yours truly, for those of you who want German Dills to mollify your not-yet-driving-hamburger-eating offspring, I present:

German Style Dill Pickles

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

WP_20140801_15_08_29_ProSterilize canning jars and lids.  Remove from water bath, drain and pack with 6 1/2 lbs smallish, crisp pickling cucumbers.

To each jar add:

  • 1 to 2 tsp mustard seed
  • Fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered or sliced
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves allspice
  • 1 small sprig tarragon (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 bay leaf

In a large pot combine:

  • 4 cups white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 5 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup pickling or kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar (adjust lower if you want less sweet)

Bring to a boil and pour over the cucumbers so they are completely covered with the pickling liquid.  Seal the jars and return to the water bath for 10-15 minutes.  Leave them for at least 6 weeks before opening and devouring.


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