It seems like once you’re a graduate student, you no longer get holidays. The last couple of years I have spent my winter and spring breaks working on papers or research projects glad that I no longer had the distraction of classes, RA-ing, or TA-ing. It’s all part of the preparation for a professional life.
So what have I been up to this holiday season –
1. Writing the ol’ dissertation. Nothing makes you hate your topic more than being asked to rewrite a chapter.
2. Working on a paper that needs to get done by January.
3. Preparing my syllabus for next quarter.
4. learning to make refrigerator pickles.
Number 4 has been really fun for me, as I’ve developed an taste for pickled items. I like my pickles a little spicy, which is not always easy to obtain in a store bought version. Slightly pickled carrot sticks make a great snack when writing and even hubby, who is usually Mr Picky, eats them. Refrigerator pickles are easy to make, especially if you’re on a budget.
So here’s what you need to make pickled carrot sticks (or whatever you want to pickle) –
A clean glass jar with a screw top lid (I just recycled an old pickle jar, any non-reactive container with an airtight lid will work, as long as it can stand up to heat)
Something to microwave water in
Non-reactive pot or microwavable item
Distilled white vinegar (I use the cheap gallon kind, and it does double duty as a kitchen and bathroom cleaner)
A bay leaf (or two depending on how much you’re making)
Brown mustard seed
Celery seed (optional)
Whole garlic cloves
Bunch of Dill or dried dill
Jalapeños (one or two, optional)
Sugar and salt
I bought the jalapeños, carrots, dill, and garlic from the Milk Pail and the spice from Country Sun. To save money on the spices, which I usually don’t use a lot of, I buy just a bit at a time.
Chop the carrots into sticks and fit them in the jar until there a little snug, but leave room for the jalapeño. Slice the jalapeño either lengthwise if you’re going to stick them in with the sticks or in rounds if you’re going to set them on the bottom of the jar.
Use a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 3 tablespoons sugar per 2 cups of liquid. Boil this in the non-reactive pot or you can just heat up the vinegar solution in the microwave. Be careful if you go the microwave route as this can be stinky (hint, to clean your microwave boil a vinegar solution in it and then wipe down the walls).
Add 1 teaspoon celery seed and mustard seed per 2 cups of liquid (I actually just eyeball the amount of spice I sprinkle in). Maybe add peppercorns or ground pepper.
In microwave heat water and pour boiling water into jar (to semi-sterilize it) then dump after 1 minute. Dip lid into boiling water. [or avoid this step and run it through the dishwasher]
Wash dill, place handful on bottom of jar with a couple of cloves of peeled garlic (to taste, if you hate garlic leave it out). Add jalapeños, carrot sticks and bay leaf (one bay leaf per jar). If you don’t like spicy stuff, leave out the chili or half it.
Pour the liquid into the jar and seal.
Let the jar sit to cool down, then stick in the refrigerator. Let sit for at least 1 day before eating (the longer you wait the more pickled and spicier they get). Eat within two weeks (if they last that long).
Also, don’t be frightened if your garlic turns green because sometimes pickling produces this reaction in garlic.