AUTUMN & PICKLES
As of this evening it will be officially autumn. I love all of the seasons, each one brings a wealth of colour, taste and aroma to the table. The notion of autumn makes me look forward to warming dishes made with different kinds of squash, apples, pears and nuts. There is nothing better than a hike in the woods on a brisk fall day with a bright blue sky overhead, gorgeous and brightly coloured leaves on the trees - followed of course by a savoury fall feast. Weather-wise, we are still enjoying unprecedented warmth, and my desire for the warming comfort food will increase as the temperature drops.
I grew up in the Montreal area, and together with my family we would go to the Atwater Market to procure the ingredients for our traditional "family relish". We called it such as the entire family was involved in the preparation, it took all weekend to prepare and our parents would inevitably stay up late on Sunday to finish off the last of the canning. My recollections include every available piece of crockery being called into action for the brining of the vegetables, and I am sure that we did use the bathtub one year as well. We made a lot of relish seeing how we all loved to eat the relish, and so did our friends.
In the meantime, I will celebrate the first day of autumn by making pickles. The recipe is one that I kept from grade eight home-ec class with Mrs. McHarg. I enjoyed it back then as much as my friends and family enjoy it now.
Mrs. McHarg's Bread & Butter Pickles
4 cups small cucumbers
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 medium green peppers, diced
2 tbsp coarse pickling salt
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1 tbsp mixed pickling spice
Directions: scrub cucumbers (do not peel). Slice thinly, 1/8". Combine sliced cucumbers, onions, peppers and salt. Cover in let stand in a not-reactive bowl for 12 hours. Drain well. Combine sugar, vinegar and pickling spice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add drained vegetables and return to a boil. Pack into hot, sterilized jars making sure to cover the vegetables with the hot syrup. Seal, and can in boiling water. Yield: 3 pints.
The attached photo was taken at the Riverdale Farm Farmers' Market, held every Tuesday from mid-May to the end of October from 3 - 7pm, www.friendsofriverdalefarm.com, by photographer Brian Summers, www.summers.ca