Summer in this City

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What a chilly way to begin summer this year.  When will the season show up in its colorful skirts and entertain us?  As I write a cool pestering wind whips the world round and is shaking the house cold.  While I slip on some socks here I feel I am still determined to write as if it was warm and bright and the garden is fecund.  I am dreaming of pickles lately.  You know this sort of thing always happens about this time of year; as soon as the local radishes start showing up.  Pickled radishes have such a soft place in my heart, especially when I imagine them accompanying something warm off the grill, like a juicy steak.  While I’m here I should include a peculiar recipe I just witnessed in the current issue of Gourmet magazine for Jerusalem Artichoke Pickles.  Here goes:

Sunchoke Pickles, makes about 4 cups

2 tbs fresh lemon juice, 2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes, 1 3/4 c. distilled white vinegar, 3/4 c. sugar, 3/4 c. water, 1/2 tbs whole mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/2 large sweet onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced

Stir lemon juice into a large bowl of cold water.  Peel Jerusalem artichokes and cut into 1/2 in. thick rounds.  Transfer as cut to acidulated water (to prevent discoloring).  Bring vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seeds, turmeric, cayenne, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil in a medium nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Cool brine to room temperature.  Cook Jerusalem Artichokes  and onion in a large pot of boiling water 1 minute.  Drain and spread out on a kitchen towel to cool.  Put vegetables in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour brine over them.  Weight vegetables with a small plate to keep submerged, then cover bowl tightly.  Chill, stirring once or twice a day, at least 1 week (to allow flavors to develop).   Note: Pickles can be chilled up to 1 month.

Anyhow, pickles excite me.  French breakfast radishes have just begun showing up at the Wedge Coop from Harmony Valley Farm, a favorite organic farm of mine out of Wisconsin.  The French Breakfast radishes are those little blended red and white colored bullet shaped radishes, a rather cute food.  They usually come in with the early summer lettuces, green garlic, spinach and arugula.  Try eating more pickles; not only are they healthful but they can really accompany a lot of foods, like grilled meats and green salads, and eaten on some homemade brown bread. 

Besides pickles, I’ve had a lot on my mind.  I was wondering whether or not I should tell you Farm to Fork joined Slow Food.   Do you know it?  Slow Food is a non-profit organization begun in Italy years ago, but is supported by members all over the world who agree to that old idea of eating local, organic, in-season foods as a traditional alternative to the fast food way of eating.  They put on loads of cool food-related events all over the world and just try and create an ongoing conversation about the benefits of traditional ways of eating.  Now, it all sounds fabulous and innocent, but I’ve always had a great deal of skepticism about the organization, always believing it to be an elitist group, for membership and event-going is anything but inexpensive.  I always saw them as a rather exclusive club, anything but in-touch with the layfolk who are actually most effected by food choices and limitations.  Perhaps I’m still unsure about Slow Food as an organization but I wanted to have the opportunities to go to some of their events, which always have sounded rather alluring to me.  I haven’t had a chance to attend anything yet, but I’m anxious to take my infant daughter, Riley, to such things, and to mingle a bit.  I’ll let you know how it goes; meanwhile, you should check out the Slow Food website to familiarize and find out what sort of events are in your area.

Not much else to give you this time round, except that we’re hanging on for an actual summer.  I spoke with my favorite local farmer, Charlie Kersey of La Finca CSA, and he said that yes everything is a bit late coming this year, but that we’ve had a good deal of rain.  And think of how little rain we’ve had these past two years.  The farmers must be cheering a bit.  I’m tucking in to some seasonal berries right now, all from California.  Strawberries, blackberries (exceptionally good), and raspberries.  And we’ve been eating big bowls of red and green grapes, also quite delicious. 

I’ve been feeling the itch to bake again, after a long pause in that department.  When I come up with something inspiring I’ll include it in the next post.  But now’s the time to begin putting some of that fruit in a pastry shell or two–time to get cracking.

 Until next time,  Kristin