Posts Tagged ‘Turn of the century’

It’s summer time and my thoughts turn to pickles. I’m a pickle fiend, right next to my olive obsession. I’ve learned how to make successful pickles. Not fermented pickles, I don’t have a cold, cool place for that happen, but I do make refrigerator pickles.

"B&B" PicklesI adapted a recipe from Alton Brown‘s Good Eats show. I used a locally grown English Cucumber, red onions, and garlic. I would have used locally produced apple cider vinegar, but I didn’t pick some up. I used a 60/40 mixture of sucralose and sugar, to make it diabetic friendly, but you could use just sugar if you like. So let’s start:


  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups sucralose and 3/4 cup sugar or 2 cups sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice

Thinly slicing vegetables is an art. That’s why they made the mandolin. I use a cheap plastic one I got at from my dad’s girlfriend. It’s made of white plastic, it’s got notches to hook it over a bowl, three depth settings, a julienne insert, and two sided grater. And it works like a charm. I’ve sliced my thumbs and fingers on that sharp blade more than once. A mandolin is easier to clean than a food processor and you can slice on the bias, which is what I did with the cucumber, to get longer slices. I still tear slicing onions on the mandolin. 

After you slice  them up, combine the onion and cucumber slices, along with the garlic cloves, in a clean spring-top jar. Don’t use a plastic one. Glass is totally non-reactive and is easier to clean than plastic. Make sure the garlic cloves are in the middle of the slices. This will make sure that they get thoroughly pickled.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. After it boils, simmer for 4 full minutes to wake up the flavors of the spices.

Slowly pour the hot pickling liquid over the garlic cloves and the onion and cucumber slices, completely filling the jar. Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature before topping off with any remaining pickling liquid. Refrigerate.

You can eat these in two to three days. Yum!

This is a sustainable recipe because except for the salt, spices and sugar, you can source all the other ingredients locally. You can adapt this recipe by pickling peppers with the cukes or just pickle peppers. This is the first of several picklings I’m going to do this year, and I’ll be sourcing apple cider vinegar from a local cider press to be more sustainable. When pickling cucumbers come into season, I’ll be getting my pickle jars ready to go.

And this is both fun and empowering. You’re not tied to the grocery store for all your condiment needs. You can do it your self, just like we used to do a 100 years ago. Next on my self-made list: Ketchup!


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This wonderful little film was made in 1908 by by Ricardo de Baños (1884-1939). The camera was mounted on top of the driver’s cabin as the tram traveled through 1908 Barcelona. It shows much of what we have lost over the years to the car. It shows that the streets are full of people, walking and living in a community, not driving around in their own personal isolation cells, AKA automobiles. What vehicles there are on the road, are more of an impediment to the pedestrian and the trams that are moving through the city.

As you can see in this film, the streets are narrow, crowded with people, and full of life. Not like most American cities, where the only reason why the sidewalks are crowded is that they are too narrow, so as to make room for more cars on the roads. Life then was slower, a bit more relaxed, so you didn’t need a trolley that could do 40mph, just one that moved at the speed of bicycle or a running man.

Of course I’m not painting it to be a utopia, it was far from that. Infant mortality, sickness, discrimination, the lack of rights for women, it was far, far, from a utopia. But in terms of community life, in terms of being a place to live, instead of a place to sleep between driving to and from work, it was and is far better than what we have today.

[Edit: Another film to contemplate]

I found this version of the above film and it intercuts shots of 2008 Barcelona along the same roads that the original film traveled along. 

The contrast between pedestrian friendly, carfree Barcelona and modern day, car centric Barcelona is amazing. The first thing you’ll notice is that there are no people on the streets! The population of Barcelona has greatly increased in 100 years, from 533,000 in 1900 to 1,673,075 in 2006. Where are those extra 1,000,000 people? Not on the streets it seems. 

If there is any better evidence for what our car culture has done to destroy community and civil living, I’d like to know what it is. In 1908 we had a vibrant, living city, and then 100 years later, a ghost town inhabited only by a handful of people and lot of cars.

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