Mark’s mother and aunt arrived on Saturday, not long after a tornado scare in our town. I knew they’d be hungry after the long and stormy drive up from Charleston, SC, so I wanted a comforting dinner waiting for them. After some contemplation, I decided to go the Indian route, making rasam from some heirloom tomatoes and chana masala. I wanted to also make a quick pickle as a refreshing contrast to the spicy, tomato-y soup and chickpeas, so I did some googling and found this recipe. Now, I usually don’t think of cucumbers when I think of Indian pickles, because I don’t think I’ve ever come across a cucumber Indian pickle, but not only was this the fastest Indian pickle recipe I could find, I happened to have an Asian cucumber I needed to use up. It ended up being the surprise hit of the meal, too.
Indian Cucumber Pickle
very slightly adapted from My Recipes
1/2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods, picked open
2 small dried hot red chiles, torn in half
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1″ fresh ginger, roughly chopped
about 2 cups cucumbers cut into short spears
Heat the oil in a small pot over medium heat, then add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the rest of the spices except the turmeric and salt and cook for a minute or so, then add the rest of the ingredients except the cucumbers and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Place the cucumbers into a crock, bowl, or pickle press and pour the brine over it. Unless you are using a press, weigh the cucumbers down with a plate; otherwise, screw the press down. Let sit at room temperature until cool.
The original recipe says they will take 40 minutes to cool, at which time they are ready to eat. I moved my pickle press to the refrigerator after maybe half an hour or so and served them maybe two hours later. I think they benefited from the extra time in the refrigerator, but I didn’t taste them until I served them so I can’t be sure.
Everyone loved these, which is why I decided to write up a post on them.
I’ll respond to some of the comments I got on my last slightly insane post since I’m still so busy I’ve been extra-lousy at leaving comments on blogs (and I’m regrettably terrible at it to begin with), including my own:
- I have no idea what’s up with the snowman abuse that’s apparently rampant in our neighborhood, or even how a snowman existed in the hottest August on record to begin with. That story really brought up far more questions than it answered.
- We don’t really have a two-headed raccoon!
- I have read The Master and Margarita twice!
- There are a lot of baby bunnies in our area right now. Almost more than the rehabbers can handle. Incidentally, it’s also the second breeding season for raccoons; here’s the evidence of that:
Yesterday, Sunday, was GORGEOUS, so I dragged our guests out to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. Mark and I went there on Presidents Day because it was free, which turned out to be a not-great idea because it was CROWDED as heck and we didn’t even bother trying to do a house tour. We drove by one summer day to try again and the parking lot was full. Yesterday, though, was just right; not crowded at all. Like Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson), I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the house, but also like Monticello (and all houses of this period), the kitchen isn’t in the house, so it’s the only interior I could photograph. I present it because it’s related to food. It’s very similar to Jefferson’s.
All of the house is beautiful, but I especially LOVED the guest dining room, which runs from the front to the back of the house with most of the side of the house being an enormous window. I also loved the side boards which looked pretty modern to me for being from 1799. I just did an image search for the large dining room, but none of the pictures I found captured what I felt was its essence and beauty so I’m not going to link to any of them. Maybe the sun was in just the right location while we were there, but the lighting in all the pictures I found make it look a lot mintier than it really is. I should have taken a surreptitious picture!
Mark’s mom and aunt had wanted to make the trip particularly because they attended a lecture last year by the head Mount Vernon gardener, who talked about how they have restored the garden to exactly what it would have been during Washington’s life. It’s beautiful, although Monticello’s may have a slight edge over it. Which isn’t to say that having Washington’s garden wouldn’t make me the happiest girl in the world, because it would. This is the lower garden, where most of the vegetables are.
This is the upper garden, which has some vegetables (I saw butternut squash in particular) but mostly flowers and decorative plants like these:
And these are some wildflowers near the entrance.
The house as seen from the line waiting to get into it. The building to the right of the walkway is the kitchen.
The back of the house and its amazing porch. It has an extremely tranquil view of the Potomac. That is some prime real estate – I conservatively estimate it to be worth one hundred million billion dollars. (Hey, there are quarter acres in Northern Virginia with no view other than the next-door neighbor’s bathroom that are worth over a million dollars, so I think my calculation is spot-on.)
If you live in the area and have never been to Mount Vernon, now’s a great time to go: the summer tourists are gone but field trips haven’t really started up, and the weather can not be beat. If you don’t live in the area, it’s something I’d recommend if you ever visit the DC area, especially during fine weather.
Finally: because she probably won’t see us before our birthdays next month, Mark’s mom brought us presents. LOOK WHAT SHE MADE ME!!
Isn’t that completely awesome?! It’s a soft but sturdy canvas, lined with CARROT fabric, with cross-stitched details of carrots and my domain! My mother-in-law is so great!