From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I wish you all could experience an early summer morning in Eugene. When there is no haze, the sky is a brilliant azure and the temperature, which will rise as surely as the sun, still hovers in a range the rest of the country would find invigorating. It is perfect walking weather, and every Tuesday morning I begin the first of my 10,000 daily steps on a bike path that parallels the river. A local inn has found room for my writer's group to meet and we talk craft and chat over coffee as the river meanders by. We are occasionally interrupted by excited squeals coming from the water. The river is low at this time of year and local day camps bring young campers to ride the "rapids". There is a lot of white water, and while the kids don't know it, it would be difficult to drown in waters as shallow as these. They are having an adventure, and years from now, a handful of them will ride the rapids of the Snake and those few will remember with great fondness, their first experience with white water here on the Willamette in the center of Eugene. Summer seems to pack more memories than other times of year. There are, of course, visual triggers that churn memory, but mine are stirred by sound and smell as well as sight. I found this recipe for bread and butter pickles in Food and Wine magazine and it seemed so simple that I had to give it a try. The aroma of the brine used to pickle the zucchini took me back to the kitchens of my childhood where a mustard based chow-chow, we called it hot-dog relish, was made every summer in almost every kitchen on the block. Lest you think I am not too tightly wrapped, the Silver Fox came through the door sniffing. "Are you making chow-chow?" I wasn't but it sure smelled that way. Not everybody loves chow-chow, so it is reasonable to assume, that despite the ease with which they can be made, not everyone will enjoy these mustard based zucchini pickles. If, however, you like chow-chow or hot-dog relish, I think you'll enjoy snacking on these crisp puppies, and will find that they are quite good served alongside grilled sausage or burgers. They are easy and inexpensive to make, but do remember they will need to be chilled a full 24 hours before they are ready to eat. Once made, they will keep about a week in the refrigerator. I hope a few of you will give these pickles a try. They really are quite good. Here is how they are made.
Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickle...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Food and Wine magazine
1 pound very firm medium zucchini, sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons brown or yellow mustard seeds, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1) Toss zucchini, onion and 2 tablespoons kosher salt together in a large bowl. Cover with ice water and let stand until just softened, about 45 minutes. Drain zucchini and onion well and pat dry.
2) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine remaining 1 tablespoon of salt with vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, mustard powder, turmeric and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. let mixture cool completely.
3) Transfer zucchini and onion to a 1-quart glass jar and pour in enough brine to cover. Seal with lid and refrigerate overnight before serving. Yield: 1 quart.
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