Saturday Single No. 505

Well, pickling season has come.

The Texas Gal is in the kitchen, sorting a bushel of pickling cucumbers she picked up at the local farmer’s market this morning. Yes, she has cucumbers in her garden in the side yard, but just to make sure she has enough for an early batch of pickles each summer, she orders a bushel from a woman from Browerville, a burg of about 800 folks about sixty-five miles northwest of here.

The vendor called yesterday and said those cucumbers would be available at the farmer’s market today, and the Texas Gal brought them home a little bit ago. By that time, I’d gotten the canner and its accessories and about eighteen quart-sized canning jars up from the fruit cellar. And in a couple of hours or so, the smell of pickling brine will fill the house, and by sometime this afternoon, the first batches of pickles – combining the Browerville cucumbers with the first ones this season from our garden – will come out of the canner to cool.

It’s remarkable to realize that until we moved into the house not quite eight years ago, the Texas Gal had never gardened and never done any canning. She learned quickly, even with some missteps along the way, both in the garden and in the kitchen, and one side of our fruit cellar is almost always pretty well stocked. Well, the shelf space devoted to pickles is pretty empty right now – one lone jar of Hot Texas Mustard Pickles remains from last year – but that’s intentional: Over the winter and into the spring, we gave away everything else we had left on the shelves from the past few years to clear the space for this year’s batches.

It’s not just pickles, of course. Over the past few years, she’s canned green beans, wax beans, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, chili starter and various relishes that are staples here. She’s also tried some things that weren’t as successful, like the sweet and sour curried vegetables from last year. It was an interesting idea, but the reality was a little less tasty than we hoped.

This year’s canning efforts, however, will be mostly devoted to pickles. There will be green beans and wax beans galore from her portion of the community garden, but most of those will go to the Dream Center, a residence for ex-felons on the North Side that we help support through our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The same holds true for a lot of the tomatoes we’ll get, although I imagine she’ll make and freeze some pasta sauce, as the large batch she made and froze two years ago is now gone.

But that will come later in the summer, probably in mid-August at the earliest. Today and tomorrow, it’s pickling time. I’ll contribute where I can, but my role is mostly limited – as I’ve noted here in other summers – to the literal heavy lifting, moving the filled canner from burner to burner and lugging jars of cooled, sealed and labeled pickles to the fruit cellar as the last part of the process.

So with all that, it seemed like a good time to look for a tune with “kitchen” in its title. I dismissed twenty-seven versions of “Come On In My Kitchen” and looked further. And I came upon “Mama’s In The Kitchen” by Toni Childs. It’s from her 2008 album Keep The Faith, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 505”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    There’s a highly-treasured 2014 vintage jar of the Texas Lady’s Hot Texas Mustard Pickles displayed prominently on my pantry shelf. Should I simply break the seal and savor the delights inside or put it up for auction on ebay and retire? Decisions, decisions. 😉

    After zero luck growing Asian asparagus beans last summer, year two is already proving to be more successful. Unlike the twice-as-tall Kentucky Wonders on the neighboring pole, they’re blooming and starting to produce long, thin little Gene Simmons-like tongues, only green. Even he would be envious if they grow to be the promised 18 inches or more.

    Have also been enjoying ripe Sweet Million cherry tomatoes for a week now. Even the Minneola tangelo is in bloom. Last summer’s lone surviving tangelo was done in by a squirrel, convinced that it was a black walnut. This time, the trap is baited and primed for revenge against any and all poor-sighted rodents.

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