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September 16, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Fun with Pickles

Trips to Wisconsin when I was little were infrequent, but I have many memories of visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins there.  My entire extended family lived (lives) in the same 100 mile radius in Northern Wisconsin.  We were the black sheep who moved away to the boonies in Montana.  Still, when we visited, my grandma would roll out the welcome mat for us.  The welcome mat in Wisconsin consists of food.  And lots of it.  My grandmother would cook huge breakfasts of bacon, eggs, biscuits, cheese, pancakes, more cheese, and milk.  Just as she was scrubbing the last breakfast plate, she was offering ham sandwiches to anyone who was still hungry.  It must be the cold winters because everyone in Wisconsin is terribly concerned about your food intake, and whether or not it was high enough. 

One thing I loved about Wisconsin trips were fish fries.  Every Friday night in Wisconsin, the signs come out on all the restaurants:  FISH FRY TONIGHT!   6 PM!!!  Fish is important in Wisconsin.  If you don’t want it fried, you can get it cold and floating in a barrel at any salad bar.  I love Wisconsin.  Cheese, fish, and cheese.

But my favorite all time food in Wisconsin were “Grampa’s Pickles.”  My grandfather had huge gardens full of garden goodness, and with the cucumbers that weren’t eaten straight off the vine, he would make quarts and quarts of delicious pickles.  It was the first thing I would ask for when we pulled into the driveway there on Swenty Lane after a twenty four hours drive…”Can I have a Grampa’s Pickle?”

So this year I decided to make pickles of my own, though I do not expect them to be nearly as wonderful as I remember.  It was actually pretty easy to do, and next year I plan to plant more cucumbers to get even more.  You may have noticed that I have not posted for five! days which is definitely an anomaly.  It’s because I have been a Domestic Goddess this week.  I’ve peeled and cored and milled and baked and sauteed and pickled and vacuum-packed and brined and sorted and chopped and cried from the pain in my feet.  Okay I didn’t cry but I like to throw in some humanity here and there.  Last night I started making apple butter at 8 PM…the apples were boiling before I realized that making apple butter is a four hour commitment.  Oops.  I was tired today. 

But I was determined to show you some of my pickle pictures…picktures?  Anyway, I will be back on the bloggy bandwagon soon…the gardens froze over the weekend so now all that will be coming is greenhouse tomatoes and giant pumpkins. 

Dill and cucumbers, all home grown

Canning is like home birth…never quite sure what to do, you just know you need to boil water

Packed into jars with a little mustard seed…also dill and garlic

Applesauce, pickles, tomatoes whose fate is yet to be determined…

Well, I haven’t tried the pickles yet because they are supposed to sit for a couple of weeks.  I will be sure to report back on whether or not they come close to Grampa’s Pickles.  It would be nice to bite into one and be transported back to a hot and humid summer in Wisconsin, with my grandfather still alive to watch his grandkids devour the jars of the food that he grew.

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6 Comments

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  1. teeni / Sep 17 2008 11:16 am

    Wow – you little domestic goddess you! I’m glad to see it was just productivity and not illness that kept you away from blogging! That’s all that matters to me. Those pickles look great so far and everything sounds awesome. I can’t wait for you to try them and let us know if they send you back in time. 😉 Oh, and hey – your kitchen wall color is the same as mine – how cool is that?

  2. morethananelectrician / Sep 17 2008 8:15 am

    Apple butter! My grandmother used to make it. It is actually making my mouth water to just thinking about it. But she always yelled at us when she was canning. We were her prep crew and it didn’t always move as seamlessly as she had hoped!

    My son was my helper, and I can see why your grandma yelled. Finally I got him to just accept his job as apple-peel-throw-away-er.

  3. bluesuit12 / Sep 17 2008 8:02 am

    A couple of things, first that all looks and sounds yummy. I like pickles when they’re crunchy like from a basketball/football game and secondly, what is apple butter?

    It’s a creamy version of applesauce with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. There’s no butter in it but it spreads on toast a little like butter. It’s pretty awesome.

  4. crisitunity / Sep 17 2008 6:57 am

    I agree with curlywurlygurly about c. I loved “Canning is like home birth…never quite sure what to do, you just know you need to boil water”.

    I also have the same giant canning pot (Wal-Mart FTW), and have come to the point where I can almost lift it when it’s full of water.

    Do you have a crock-pot? Supposedly you can make apple butter with a crock-pot, and the only part that you need to be present for is when you can it. But that’s how I got the runny, failed apple butter that I made (think I should have used homemade applesauce instead of store-bought).

    I do have a crock pot and I’m going to try that on my next batch. I think it will come out even better. I imagine the runniness came from having to keep the lid on the crock pot, as all that water needs to escape for it to become thickened.

  5. curlywurlygurly / Sep 17 2008 4:30 am

    a. i have the same candle that you have–yankee candle vanilla cupcake, but the smell gives me a headache.

    b. i love bread&butter pickles–but the little round things in the juice freak me out.

    c. you should post about montana on a daily basis. i want to live there.

    The candle is “Buttercream” which gives off a cakey, buttery smell and makes me want to live in the Betty Crocker plant. I will post more about Montana here. I hope you all feel that way when it comes to hunting season…

  6. Allison / Sep 17 2008 3:21 am

    Mmmmm to apple butter. I just watched Baby Boom (movie with Diane Keaton from the 80’s) again this weekend, and this post totally reminded me of that movie…she started making homemade applesauce for babies and became a gazillionaire. Okay, that’s a stretch, but it did get her out of the corporate jungle in NYC.

    I liked it when people offer your more food when you’re still full. Wisconsin sounds like a good place to visit 🙂

    It is a good place to visit. If you live there, you would soon need a larger wardrobe. Larger as in waistline…not more clothes. I thank my parents for being the oddballs and moving to Montana…if I would have grown up in WI…ugh. I have the genetics to be about 900 pounds.

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