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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Peter Piper has nothin' on me!

Earlier this year when I planted my garden, I wrote "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary." I had a beautiful garden box built by my husband and the kids, myriad seeds and seedlings, and high hopes for the bounty of summer. Four months later, one thing is certain. I may be able to cook, but I'm going to have to get my ingredients elsewhere. I definitely do NOT have a green thumb.

I'd like to blame it on the drought we're having in Charleston, but I'm kidding myself. I'm to blame. Maybe I spend too much time in the kitchen and not enough time weeding, watering and cultivating. I would post a picture of the garden, but it's a bit embarrassing. So I'll move on.

Luckily, my in-laws and neighbors have had success in their gardens, despite the lack of rain. With regular drop-offs throughout the week, I have so many vegetables. I don't know what to do with them all. Literally! Look at these gorgeous peppers. The variety! The colors! But I've ever only used a pepper here and there to spice up a dish. What in the world do I do with all these?

Another nursery rhyme comes to mind. Pickled peppers! I guess it's technically a tongue twister, but you get the idea. Peter Piper has nothin' on me!

This recipe is a little bit random, but that's why I like it. If you don't have an ingredient, substitute something you do have! This is about using what God gives us (in this case, a whole bunch of peppers!). Taylor describes these pickled peppers as having "a hundred different flavors." I call it depth. They're sour, salty, sweet and spicy. You can eat them on their own, or top off a sandwich with them. No need for fatty condiments when you have this burst of flavor. Some are mild, some are hot -- watch out!

I didn't measure any of the ingredients, I just kept tasting it until I thought it was interesting. Cooking is an art -- stretch yourself! See what you come up with.

Also, I recommend wearing rubber gloves when cutting the peppers. I didn't, and though I washed my hands dozens of times, the residual heat on my fingertips still burned my eyes for days.

Pickled Peppers
Variety of peppers, sliced lengthwise
Equal parts vinegar and water
Black peppercorns
Minced garlic
Mustard seeds
Bay leaves
Pinch of ground cloves

Pack peppers into jars. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over peppers, put on the lids, and let cool. Refrigerate for one week before eating.

I made these as refrigerator pickles, but if you're comfortable with safe canning methods, you could certainly make these for preserving in the pantry. As they are, they'll last for several weeks in the refrigerator.

I have a huge bucket of cucumbers that arrived a couple days ago, so I'll tackle more traditional pickles next. Then okra pickles...then...I guess it depends on what shows up on my front porch. How exciting!

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Frau Nelson said...

They sound yummy and look AMAZING!

jane said...

gardens are hard work, a lot of people learn the hard way that you can't just plant the seeds and wait for the harvest! but if your strengths are in the kitchen, and a good food source from elsewhere, i wouldn't worry too much!!