The pickles I made last Sunday should be ready today. Of course, that is how most weekends start for me: making pickles, chickpea bread, flat bread, a marinade, a dough, cookies, ice cream, or something that will be consumed that day or later in the week. My Saturday ritual right now is a chickpea bread (farinata) with tahini and yogurt to accompany my football watching (which my three year old joins me to do…watch, that is, not to eat the farinata). The classic commercial told us that weekends are made for Michelob, but mine seem to be made for prepping and eating food, and hoping my kid will join me. She still says no to farinata (though continues to say yes to feta and blue cheese). And I’m drinking beer, of course.
With one more kid now in the house, our weekends and weekdays are back to revolving around poop, feedings, and sleep. My one week old boy and I already have a lot in common. If he develops a love of beer, too, I’ll be in trouble. Or in luck. It depends on how good his fake id is later in life and where his travels take him. I imagine asking him, at some point, to bring me back a case of Pliny. In fact, most of my fantasies about my kids’ futures involve me asking them to bring me back a case of Pliny. This is the only reason I would support my daughter going to Berkeley. Easy access to Northern California beer and FedEx.
Every year I also intend to really get this pickling thing in high gear. Cucumber refrigerator pickles will always be my mainstay, but I know I should have been pickling okra, cauliflower, and other goodies too. Take a vegetable, brine it, make it slightly sour and tangy, and you have one of the greatest contradictions in the culinary world. When something seems spoiled, it’s good! This point, of course, is the basis of sour beer. My passion for sour beer far exceeds my passion for pickling. It is a passion more akin to Calvin Trillin’s love of pimientos. If I could make the newly opened Cascade Barrel House in Portland open a branch in Columbia, Missouri today (and Lexington, Kentucky next year), I would. That is my version of the pimiento fantasy.
During one trip to the public library this past spring so that my daughter could play in the toy kitchen that is far inferior to the one we have at home, I checked out a handy book on pickling. Basically, it’s all the same. Spice. Acid. Time. Even the simplicity of that formula, however, never motivated me beyond picking up the bag of pickling cukes at the farmer’s market and doing my routine on them. Plus, public library books seem to be due three days after you check them out. Mostly, I blame my wife who promised to learn about canning and become the canner of the house. I am the pickle man. She could be the canning woman. We’d be the ultimate tag team. But it didn’t happen. I also have to draw attention to my daughter, whose toy kitchen culinary concoctions have no equal on earth. One meal she makes is “chicken meringue tuna salad,” an idea that sounds fantastic to me and might be as good as pickled okra.
As I’m typing this, I’m imagining two things: what to eat with those pickles today (hard boiled eggs? tahini and yogurt sauce) and the lamb with flat bread I will make for dinner tonight. And, of course, what beer to drink today as I’m trying to do all this and comfort a week old boy who is pooping, feeding and sleeping.
I’m also thinking about a big celebratory beer bash I want to hold in a few weeks. I’m no Dr. Bill, of course, but part of this fantasy of what to eat, what kinds of beers can my kids get for me when they are old enough to buy beer and are traveling the country or attending college, and what should I pickle is how can I share what I’ve collected. Maybe when we move I’ll get a nice finished basement in our new house where I can put in a Quickie-Mart styled cooler and fill it with my beer (as it appears, Dr. Bill does). I’ll invite newly made Kentucky friends over to sit and drink from the collection and I’ll make farinata and tahini and yogurt sauce as a snack to eat while we drink. If I do this right, I’ll also own a goat so that I can make cheese. Or I’ll at least make cheese (having a cat right now is enough work as it is….nothing like an animal that feeds, sleeps, and poops in your house, even if it is in a box). Until then, I need to get some people over, figure which beers to open and share, and how much chickpea flour I need to make enough farinata to feed them. Maybe there will be pickles, too.