Reflections on a gift of a Watermelon Pickle recipe.

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This title will only make sense to people who remember a certain middle-school English Literature textbook.  I’m not sure I really understood the poem at the time but now I am glad that I (was forced to) read it … otherwise when I finally did stumble across a recipe for pickled watermelon rind, I might have laughed in disbelief and turned away!  Yes, it sounds weird and it may not have many redeeming nutritional qualities but it certainly is yummy and it surely makes a unique gift as well as a sure-fire conversation piece.

You will need a watermelon with a solid, thick rind for this recipe.  If you can manage to leave a little of the red flesh clinging to the inside, it provides a nice visual accent.  Carefully pare all traces of green off of the outside and cut into your preferred shapes.  I am partial to triangles and parallelograms but I have seen “fingers” that look great served in a ‘rocks’ glass.  Most recipes call for salting it overnight and then rinsing well in the morning … this is supposed to give it a better texture.  One day I will do a carefully designed and conclusive comparison of the two methods but until then I just race right in to the pickling stage and that leaves more time for the 1001 other tasks that daily surround us all!   Some recipes advise tying the spices in a cheesecloth for easy removal.  Personally, I like the look of the star anise and the cinnamon sticks.  As for the ginger and the cloves … well, I just chew them up for an extra flavour hit!

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Watermelon Pickle

Bring to a boil in a non-reactive pot …

2 c apple cider vinegar

2 c apple cider

1 c organic cane sugar

1 T sea salt

2 pieces of star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

1 whole nutmeg – carefully cut in half

1 T each of whole cloves and peppercorns

2 T ginger root – peeled and sliced across the grain

10 c watermelon rind – all green removed and cut into small, attractive pieces

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rind is translucent and texturally soft – but not soggy  (about 10 minutes).

In each of 2 one-litre canning jars (heat-resistant!!) place….

1 lemon and 1 orange – sliced and de-seeded

Fill the jars  with the watermelon pieces and pour the hot pickling liquid over all to cover.  Lid the jars and allow them to cool.  These pickles are really better if you can allow them to macerate for a couple of days … but I will understand if you can’t wait.

Note, please that these pickles need to be refrigerated!  You can process them in a water bath so that they are shelf-stable … but I never do.  There is always room in the fridge and they don’t seem to last long anyway!  Enjoy!

 

And finally … one of the 1001 reasons that I love my job …

fawn 1 cropped The scenery is fantastic!  This little darling’s Mom parked him/her for the day in the long grass in the centre of the labyrinth while she went off to do Mom-deer things.  I hope the little guy got a lot of meditation done.  Thanks to everyone for being so respectful and letting her/him enjoy the peace of this place.

Take care of yourselves, each other and the rest of the world!  ❤

 

An Ode to August

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‘Tis the time of year cooks love … all the hard work of our wonderful farmers and farm interns is now (literally) bearing fruit … and vegetables and herbs and a bewildering variety of greens!

It is such a privilege and a joy to work with ingredients that you know were picked that morning and conveyed down the hill by a friend.  This year we have the added pleasure of poetry with our produce …

Hey Susan, a purple and yellow pea poem for you:

For you we’ve grown these wonderous peas,
Like our children, they’ve grown so fast.
Sunshine and Sunset, their colours will make you freeze,
But if we harvest them any later than next week, their time will probably be past.

So to you, I hope that you will have reason to use
these marvelous twenty feet of delicious, if I may.
Just keep in mind that, thanks to plant-cues,
We may just harvest them Friday.
El Patricio (senior farm intern)

and my reply …

Oh Homey mine,

A thousand, thousand blessings upon your nappy head,

I beg you – quickly, quickly – pluck them from their loamy bed!

For I will surely serve them, with grandeur and with glee,

Upon the very instant you deliver them to me.

 

And if it would facilitate this so-long longed-for day,

I could even come collect them as I pass you on my way

Into my kitchen kingdom where I work (seems more like play)

To do the utmost justice to the treasures that you grow,

Enhance their subtle flavours and set retreatants all aglow!

Susan Sprague – Kitchen Manager and Queen of Doggerel Poetry

But enough frivolity for one post … here is a lovely, easy, gluten free cake that we like to make…

BLACK BEAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

Process in a blender or a food processor until free of lumps …

1 c well cooked black beans

3 eggs

1/2 c sugar

3 heaping T cocoa powder

1 orange – blossom end and seeds removed

1 t baking soda

1 t vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Pour into a parchment-lined loaf pan (or double the recipe and bake it in a 9 inch (sorry, Dad) springform pan).  Bake at 350 F until just done (approximately 35 minutes).  Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then gently remove it to a cooling rack.  This is a rather delicate cake – so be careful!

If we are feeling decadent, we make a ganache to ice it with by heating a good semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler until just melted and then stirring in an equal amount of almond milk.  If it is too thin to spread, let it cool (stirring occasionally) until it reaches the proper consistency.

When eating this cake, it helps to chant the mantra “Black beans are the most nutritious of all beans”.  This will allow you to contemplate a second slice.

Until next time, take care of each other!  ❤