Catharsis: tears fall, a dam breaks. Time is not your enemy, yet it nudges you along its path, regardless of your mistakes or your self-doubt — whether you’re ready for it or not. Fall with your tears, fall into the river time has made in your kitchen. This is the art of bread baking, and it’s why I came to the mountains of North Carolina earlier this month for a three-day intensive, wood-fired baking workshop with the inimitable Tara Jensen of Smoke Signals Bakery. I came for an awakening.
Cucumbers: is there anything they can’t do? When I was young, both my mother and my grandfather used to make a simple cucumber salad to pair with summer meals: cukes and red onions, lightly pickled in a sweetened vinegar solution. Crisp and refreshing, I was always over the moon whenever it was placed before me — they were cucumbers, after all. So I was overjoyed when I found the familiar slices in large glass bowls at several hotel breakfast buffets when I visited Israel years later, as a young adult. There, they were paired with bright red bell peppers, a beautiful and perfect addition to an already perfect side. I made this salad religiously for months after I returned stateside, and then, for no discernible reason, forgot about it for months — maybe occasionally years — at a time. With the heat of summer already upon us but no fresh kirby cucumbers available for raw consumption or true quick pickling, this oldie-but goodie is in order. Continue reading →
It’s a day to celebrate. A day to rejoice. A day to slick the sweat off your brow and smile because it’s here, it’s time. It’s the day the first kirby cucumbers arrive at the farmer’s market, or, if you’re lucky, begin to grow behind beautiful yellow blossoms in your backyard. It is, for me, the happiest day of the year.
If you have to ask why, you probably have never had a good kirby — or any kirby at all. You might even be asking: what the hell is a kirby? Fear not, I’m here to show you the way. What they are: pickling cucumbers; small, slightly sweet, crunchy. What they’re not: gigantic, waxy, seedy, watery. Kirbies are perfect peeled, sliced, and salted, especially before they hit the fridge and still taste of summer sun. They’re also perfect as these amazing refrigerator pickles.