Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Pickle Project Begins

Daniel's 5 gallon crock in his front yard.
Anyone who has ever made pickles knows that you need to start with a really big crock.  And since I didn't have one, I called on my friend Daniel Marlos, who owns two kitchen tools I wish I had-- a giant cooking pot and a 5 gallon crock.

I'd asked Daniel if I could borrow the crock about six months ago and he had agreed to lend it to me when the pickling cucumbers were in season.  But now that the time had come, he'd had second thoughts.

Daniel is a man who doesn't mince words and I knew he meant it when he said, "Come over now if you want it.  You made me want to start pickling things, so you'd better come get the crock before I change my mind."  I picked up my keys and ran out the door.

I had also been promised a PLT when I arrived and I was hungry.  A PLT is Daniel's version of a BLT, but made with pancetta instead of bacon.  It was his way of honoring the first ripe tomatoes of the season and I knew better than to miss this.

Daniel's volunteer tomato plant in side yard.
Daniel's first tomatoes came from a "volunteer" tomato plant in his side yard and it was a very large plant, especially for one that hadn't been given the loving care that the tomato plants in his garden received.  Daniel is a committed gardener, and he tends his garden as he does most things-- with gusto.  Some might call it obsession.  Whatever it is, it works.

When I got to Daniel's house, he pointed me to the crock and handed me a Fuller brush I'd given him when he moved into his house years ago.  I spent a few minutes cleaning out the crock, which had been unused for five years and was in desperate need of scrubbing.  Daniel left me to my task while he went into the kitchen to put the finishing touches on the PLTs.  I cleaned the crock as well as I could, and hurried inside to reap my reward.

I was not disappointed.  I love a BLT, but I have to say, a PLT is even better because the pancetta doesn't slide off the sandwich the way bacon can.  Daniel had assembled all the makings of our PLTs on his kitchen table and the display was so beautiful that I couldn't resist taking a photograph of it before we dug in.  Delicious.  I hope the pickles are just as good when they're ready to eat.  And of course, Daniel will get the first jar.
The makings of a delicious mid-afternoon snack at Daniel's house, June 23, 2010.