Welcome pickles.

So, here I am. I’ve made the jump into the blogosphere with the hopes that by documenting the meals I love to make and share I will end up with something slightly more tangible than a full belly and a sink full of dirty dishes. I’ve spent most of my life in and around kitchens, growing up with a chef father and a mother who is more than a little obsessed with Martha Stewart and artfully decorated baked goods. Growing, catching, cooking, and eating good food was always a part of my life; from tomato-planting lessons and our annual Christmas cookie-bake-a-thon, to fishing trips and the accompanying backyard fish-fry, my family is one full of skill and passion in every corner of the kitchen. All-in-all, we love to eat, and to share the (sometimes literal) fruits of our labor with friends and family.

Little me, decorating sugar cookies with my parent's friends at a holiday bake-off.

Growing up this meant big family dinners and an open-door policy in regards to house guests. Now that I’m five states away and supporting myself, I’m not always able to serve my friends the lavish, home-grown meals I remember from my childhood. More often than I’d care to admit I end up eating my meals in bed while watching Netflix. But, when I do get it together, I’d like to think that my friends are pretty happy to have me around.

Case in point, I’m only able to start this new food-writing endeavor because of a very dear friend and her kind offer to loan me her beautiful camera. In the year that I’ve known her, she’s been an avid supporter of any and all new endeavors in my life, and this one was no different. Her encouragement was a big part in starting this blog, so I’m indebted to her not just for the camera, but also for her valuable advice. She didn’t ask for anything in return, but I’m a big fan of the barter system so I volunteered a few cooking lessons (perhaps somewhat pompously, seeing as she is a lovely cook in her own right, especially when it comes to kale).

De-stringing infinity peas.

And so here we are, with a giant  bag full of snap peas from her CSA and an intense craving for crisp, spicy pickles. Let the games begin. My friend has never pickled before, and I’m sure that the same holds true for many people. It’s really not as intimidating as one might assume, especially if you focus on small-batches as opposed to your grandmother’s recipes calling for ten pounds of cucumbers and gallons of vinegar. Pickling nowadays is less of a necessity for storing the season’s crop, and more of a fun, easy way to create interesting snacks.

Peppers, salt, and sugar; the simplest seasonings for pickles.

I’m a big fan of starting my meals with a cheese-and-pickle plate, which works out well since I’m currently putting food on my table by slinging both of the those items (and infinite amounts other snacks) at The Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg. So it just makes sense for me to start my blogging adventure with pickles as well. I would pair these pickles on a cheese plate with a fresh, lemony goat cheese (in season right now, aka baby goats are being born!) and a harder Pyrenees-style sheep’s milk. But more so than that, I suggest pairing with a cold beer and good company on a warm early summer night. Which is exactly what I plan on doing this evening.

Ready for brining.

Quick-Pickled Snap Peas
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
 
 
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 pound (-ish) sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
 
You will also need for this recipe, two quart (or, I suppose, four pint) mason jars. To prep mason jars, boil jars and lids in a large pot. This sterilizes them, ensuring no bacteria will get into your jars and ruin your pickles. When ready to jar, simply remove jars carefully with tongs and fill with your delicious pickles.
 
In a non-reactive pot, bring vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil. Immediately turn of heat and add cold water. Set aside to cool. When cool; place garlic, shallots, peppercorns, pepper flakes, and peas into your prepared jars and pour brine over them. Place lids and screw bands tightly on jars and refrigerate. Pickles are ready to eat 24 hours after jarring, but will be perfectly-pickled at two weeks.