picklelicious

Thanks to Darrin and Amanda, I found myself in possession of a Mezza Luna Farms box of veggies last week. Among the goodies was a pickling cucumber and a GIGANTIC Japanese cucumber. I do not exaggerate.

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Clearly, something had to be done.  Something of the briny variety.

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I used Ted Allen’s Refrigerator Pickle brine times 2, since I wasn’t sure exactly what my yield would be. According to the recipe, one batch makes 2 quart jars and I figured 4 jars would be a safe guess. Turns out I was right on. BUT if you use the recipe below as written, be aware it will only make enough brine for 2 jars (though I did have some leftovers).

For the brine:
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups white vinegar
6 teaspoons kosher salt
Several sprigs of fresh dill
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have ’em)

*I also added maybe 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and a couple slices of jalapeno to each jar. So far they have a bit of spice but not too overwhelming.

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves.

In 2 clear 1-quart jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using tongs, remove the garlic from the brine and place 5 cloves in each jar.

I sliced the cucumbers fairly thinly, maybe 1/4″ to 1/8th, and packed the jars with them. I then poured the boiling brine on top to cover completely. Let them cool, and then cover and refrigerate. They will taste like pickles in a few hours and get better after a few days. The recipe says they keep for about 3 months.

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missing

One day, about six months ago, I was signing The Girl Child up for a two week stint at Camp Colman, where she spent two weeks last year and had a great time. I wanted The Boy Child to go this year, too. He’s never been, and as it was such a great experience and a big part of my teenage years, I wanted him to have that opportunity, too.

He was less than excited. Or any other positive word that one would care to insert. One could accurately say he dreaded it. And was not afraid to let us know it.

The Boy Child is an introverted sort. He also has an unhealthy attachment to his Xbox and Steam accounts – even more reason in my eyes for a week away. We tried to encourage him by reminding him that his sister had a great time last year, and would be there at the same time. He had friends going as well. He was not amused.

All this to say – it’s been almost a kid-free week in our house. At first, in the abstract, this sounded like a splendid plan. A whole week! Peace! Productivity! A stroke of brilliance on my part! The first time we’ve ever been without at least one child for this long. (There was a 3 day weekend in San Francisco for a certain joint 40th birthday party, but that’s it.)

Yes, it is the god’s honest truth that they drive me insane on a regular basis. Safe to say, a daily basis. That I worry about them constantly. That I nag too much and hug not enough.

Turns out, a week is a long time, people. Our house is deadly quiet. Yes, the Geek and I talk to each other, but it is still so, so quiet. No one asking if they can  eat another unhealthy thing. No one talking to his friends through headphones and trying to buy things that don’t exist in real life. No girl cracking her knuckles or the tap tap tap of texting.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like for people who have careers, real jobs that satisfy some essential part of them. And then I remember that my real job, the thing I am sometimes best at, is being a mom. Even though I suck at it at least half the time, it is the thing that satisfies me.

And I miss it – I miss them. At first, I thought, “This is what it would be like without kids. If we’d never had any”. But that’s not true. Because if we’d never had any, we wouldn’t know what it feels like to miss them. To miss them like a part of our own selves is gone. The best part.

Saturday, one half of the best part of me comes home. I hope he had some fun and maybe learned that he can do a lot of things he never thought he could. After I’m done squeezing him, I hope he tells me all those things. The squeezing might take a while.

One uncertain, one ready to go

One uncertain, one ready to go