Good food is a gift from a good God.
Now that the growing season and the farmer’s market season have ended in the Great Lakes region of North America, I have had to resort to reading food magazines, cookbooks, and roving on food sites to see fresh food growing. Two of my favorites are yougrowgirl.com and noteatingoutinny.com.
In Michigan, the mornings are getting colder and snowier. I am burying myself in the summer issues of Saveur and Bon Appetit, trying to recover the sense of warmth that comes from preparing, eating, and sharing summer food. In the August 2011 issue of Bon Appetit, I found an easy, yummy-sounding recipe for pickled baby squash. At this time of the year, there are no local summer squash or zucchini to pickle. I’m willing to wait until spring to buy something grown locally; something that helps support a farmer who is probably employing someone who (like the rest of us) wants and needs their job.
Lacking the fresh baby squash, I am thinking about revising the recipe to make pickled baby carrots or pickled young beets. I will probably eat them as hot pickles, rather than chilled. Still, I copied the recipe and pasted it into my custom cookbook of recipes collected from magazines and ephemeral sources.
I am looking forward to the return of the baby squash season. I am looking forward to eating the chilled squash pickles on a hot summer afternoon or snacking on them during the early evening of a "dog day" of summer. I am looking forward to sprinkling the last remnants of pickle juice over a summer veggie salad.
I am looking forward to sunshine on my face while I shop in the farmer’s market and the coolness of the shady sports under the market's stalls. I am looking forward to asking the farmer which variety of squash she or he is selling, and picking through the offerings to make my best selections. I am looking forward a little bargaining and haggling over the best price. I am looking forward making my food dollar stretch to its maximum, to going in search of multiple ways to use a single food item. I am looking forward to answering this question: "how many ways can I cook this?”
I am looking forward to giving thanks for the food, for the people who have grown it and brought it to market.
Here is the recipe for Pickled Baby Squash:
1 pound of baby squash or zucchini
6 sprigs of fresh dill, divided
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Thinly slice squash into coins. Place squash, 3 dill sprigs and garlic into a 1 quart jar. Bring vinegar, peppercorns, salt, sugar, remaining 3 dill sprigs, and 1 cup of water to boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar.
Pour into jar with squash mixture. Cover, let cool slightly, and chill.
Keep refrigerated and eat within two weeks. Makes one quart.