I just love fall. It’s been a rainy week, but after a summer like this one, I’m quite content. Plus, this gives me an excuse to wear jeans, and scarves, and boots!
It’s been much too long.
First, a word about our house: we (or rather, I) decided it should be called “The Dacha.” I’m more than a little obsessed with Russia, and since I studied there for nine months I will not apologize. Dachas are these lovely little country homes that many Russian city-folk own. They range from quaint and shed-like to country mansions, depending on said Russian’s income. I’ve never actually been to one (yet), but most also have little plots of land attached where people have their own gardens and grow anything. I want a dacha. And so, in the tradition of house-naming started in college, the new house is the Dacha. (Matt, by the way, jokingly though at times aptly said it should be called The Gulag. Oh, Matt.)
I digress. The Dacha recently inherited two lovely cucumbers.
Since only two of the Dacha-dwellers actually like cucumbers, I made quick pickles. And, since we were talking about Russia earlier, I’ll tell you a little anecdote: pickles are a much loved thing in Russia. A common way to drink vodka, for example, is to take a shot or a sip and then (quickly) eat a pickle or tomato after. Mmm, Russia.
These pickles are very easy and need hardly any time to cure. I crafted this recipe from a combination of a few different pickle recipes, but was originally inspired by a delicious bagel I had eaten in Florida, of all places. They suggested I try my everything bagel with a shmear of cream cheese (duh) and a few slices of their homemade pickles. It was so very delicious, I had to try to recreate these pickles and put them on anything topped with cream cheese. It may sound weird at first, but trust me – cream cheese and pickles were made for each other. Also, vodka.
Quick cucumber pickles
Adapted from a recipe for quick pickled vegetables. Makes enough brine and pickles to fill two 1-quart jars.
- 1 or 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced (peel if you like, wash skin well otherwise)
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
For the brine:
- 1 ½ cup cider vinegar
- a few drops of balsamic vinegar (no need to be high quality), just for kicks
- 1 ¾ cups water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
- ½ bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon dried dill, or several fresh sprigs of dill, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (or 2 or 3 teaspoons if you are named Kara)
- ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 2 whole cloves
- a few shakes of ground turmeric, optional
Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until barely soft. Remove onions and set aside on a plate. Add the cucumbers and cook for just a minute; set aside on plate, turn off heat, and allow everything to cool. Once everything is room temperature(ish), divide the cucumbers and onions evenly between two 1-quart glass jars, or place everything in a large airtight container. Top with the brine, and refrigerate. They’re ready to eat right away, but I think they taste better the next day. I also happened to have a dried red chili pepper and added that to one of the jars. I can’t really taste the difference, but it looks cool, no?