As has probably become clear, I am the baker in the family, and it is a general assumption that I will be responsible for desserts and birthday cakes under all circumstances. This year, to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday, we were going out of town for a weekend getaway with my inlaws so hauling a cake on a roadtrip to a hotel to a restaurant overnight was not a good option. But I still wanted to make something special that would take time and attention and show that I care. I started thinking about what would travel well and last better than baked goods. Preserves? Jam? But I don't know how much morning toast my in-laws eat, and we all can do a little better to cut back on the sweets and sugar. What about vegetables? I've never done canning before, but pickles can be preserved in the fridge for up to a few months without needing to be canned or shelf-stable. Pickles it is!
A romp through other food blogs told me now is the time of year for pickling anyway, when summer produce is at its peak. I realized this was something Will and I could do together, making it an even better birthday-gift choice for his dad, and so I chose a couple of recipes that we would both enjoy and that I was sure his dad, with his roots in the state of Georgia, would appreciate.
We never want for spiciness at our house, with usually at least three different bottles of hot sauce in the cupboard and fresh chiles in the fruit basket. This recipe for Pickled Peppers
seemed just the right thing for both Will and his dad to enjoy. I could never have made them myself, as I wouldn't be able to put my contacts in for a week after touching all those seeds! It was a lot of chopping!
Pickled Sugar Snap Peas and Dill Cucumber Pickles. All the recipes come together really quickly and easily, especially when the vegetables themselves - like the peas - don't require preparation. For the cucumbers, I did one jar-full of "spears" where I quartered the cucumbers lengthwise, another jar of whole, and a mixed jar with some "chips" where I used a crinkle-cutter to make wavy-ridged cross-section slices.
The finished pickles were delightfully colorful and really look like a quintessential summer gift basket. They are also delicious! And while it was time-consuming to make so many, it was very easy and didn't require concentration, so it was a fun project to work on with a friend, and they are perfect for sharing, but if you want them all for yourselve, these three recipes last from 1-3 months if kept refrigerated.