Thanksgiving Pickles

It was a beautiful fall day today here in the Bay area. After a busy week at work that included some out of state travel, I promised myself that I wouldn’t plan anything this weekend and just live it minute by minute.

This is the weekend before Thanksgiving so I had fun shopping for Thursday’s dinner. First I visited the Downtown Berkeley Ecology Center Farmers Market for a few basics – potatoes, onions, mushrooms – but I also picked up some ingredients to make pickles and kimchi because I am always hungry for pickled foods this time of year. Plus, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without a pickle plate! I visited the Rockridge Market Hall in Oakland for specialty foods including very fresh seafood from Hapuku Fish Shop, locally produced meats from Marin Sun Meats, and world class wines from Paul Marcus Wines.

Salting Napa cabbage for kimchi

Salting Napa cabbage for kimchi

I didn’t can my grandmother’s pickled beets this summer so I decided to make a “quick pickle” recipe that was shared with me by Jane Wilson Morton, the niece of the co-owners of Werth and O’Brien’s Deli in Flatbush. Brooklyn. This German deli is long gone but I was able to publish this recipe in my book Pickled (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2003). This recipe can be prepared 1-3 days before enjoying, and can be made without sealing jars in a hot water bath. It’s very simple and tasty!  Click on the image below to see the full recipe.


Werth and O'Brien's Pickled Beets

Werth and O’Brien’s Pickled Beets


In addition to beets, I made a jar of pickled cherry peppers (again for the refrigerator) and I began salting two heads of Napa cabbage that I bought of the farmers market today for kimchi. I also roasted some red jalapeno peppers to make a spicy version of romesco-style sauce to accompany roasted Brussels sprouts.

Roasted red jalapeno chile peppers in oil with garlic

Roasted red jalapeno chile peppers in oil with garlic

Through the years I’ve had fun posting to this blog about Thanksgiving, including a post dedicated to family favorites like Thanksgiving dressing. If you aren’t sure how to make Thanksgiving dressing/stuffing, be sure to check out that link for inspiration. I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.


CSA Week 12: Cauliflower, Beans, Beets and Carrots

CSA Week 12: Cauliflower!

CSA Week 12: Cauliflower

The temperatures have dropped and the rain is back. Farmer Matt of Sol to Seed farm harvested another huge share of peppers last week, meaning each CSA box contained another three pounds of beautiful peppers. Again, I roasted them and packed them away in the freezer for future stews and pasta sauces. It’s a good thing that peppers freeze easily or I’d be handing out freebies to my neighbors.  The cauliflower heads are big and beautiful- the variety is colored purple at the core.

I attended an out of state conference last week, but I managed to pick-up my share before I left. That means the box sat idle for a few days, with the exception of salad greens which J consumed.

Last week’s box included:
Peppers – 3 lbs
Cauliflower (2 heads)
Green/Yellow Beans
Salad Mix
….and a loaf of Sourdough Bread from Grand Central Baking Co.

Starting today J and I are avoiding sugar and most starches/carbohydrates (e.g. I’m allowing carrots and beans) for a few weeks to shed the weight we’ve both gained back this summer. We’ll be drinking lots of water and tea, and eating mostly vegetables and fruits, lean protein and dairy in five small meals per day. Last year I lost thirty pounds adhering to this diet for five months and the CSA share really came in handy.

Here are some recipes I’ll be making this week using the contents of my CSA share:

Cauliflower Steaks and Cauliflower Puree

Roasted Beets, Carrots and Padron Peppers (with Pork Chops from Skagit River Ranch)

Pork Chop with Roasted Beets, Carrots,  Padron Peppers

Pork Chop with Roasted Beets, Carrots, Padron Peppers

Green Beans and Crisp Shallots

IMG_0598 IMG_0601

Calabacitas (made without the corn this time)

….and lots of salads with the salad mix and cucumber. As for the bread, I’ll be making breadcrumbs and cubes and storing them in the deep freezer to use up during the holidays.

Finally, Sol to Seed Farm reminded us that there were only 6 (not 8) more weeks left in this year’s CSA season. His following note tells why:

“This year instead of raising the box price, we started the CSA a couple weeks later than normal and shortened the time to 18 weeks. We struggled with this back in January but had to do something to help cover the cost of fuel, boxes and time we had been losing the past couple of seasons – by starting later we were able to get some more variety in the early boxes. We thought we’d give you an idea of what you’ve received to this point, as it compares to market prices: After 12 weeks you have received $415 worth of produce which comes out to $34.50 per box. Over an 18 week season that ends up being $621 worth of food! Not a bad deal for your $500 investment.”

It’s a bargain for us because I:

1) enjoy cooking and can usually make time to prepare meals

2) eat at home most nights

3) enjoy all kinds of vegetables and am open to new tastes

4) usually cook 1-2 meals per day for myself and at least 1 other person

Pickling Beets

Here is a pickle recipe that I like to put up every year.  I used cylinder shaped beets for this recipe and cut into thick slices.  The recipe makes enough brine for 4 pints but I didn’t have enough beets to fill 4 pint jars.  Two bunches of these beets filled 2 1/2 jars.  I could have used another bunch of smallish beets but I didn’t want to leave the house again.  If you have a similar issue with more brine than beets, use the brine to pickle some hardboiled eggs.  Just boil and shell a few hardboiled eggs and submerge them in this colorful brine.  Cover with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.

Homemade Beet Pickles… almost as good as Grandma used to make

Even a few jars like this are good to have on hand for green salads adorned with fresh goat cheese and roasted nuts. Serve for lunch the next day with a Tuna Nicoise Salad.

Here’s the recipe from my book, Pickled: Preserving A World of Tastes and Traditions (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2003).  My Aunt Judy thinks it may be the one my Grandma Patton used alot.  You can read the whole story on pages 84-85.


Adapted by Author Lucy Norris (from a recipe contributed by Judy Lowther), Pickled, Preserving a World of Tastes and Traditions

Makes 4 pints


15-18 small to medium red beets, whole, unpeeled, scrubbed with greens removed (leave an inch of stem attached to root)

2 cups white sugar

2 cups water

2 cups white vinegar

(make spice bag using cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine)

1 tablespoon cinnamon or 1 piece of bark (ground will escape the bag- that’s OK for cinnamon but not other spices)

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

Immerse beets in water, and bring to boil until tender—boil approximately 10-15 minutes. Under cold running tap water work your fingers to easily slide off skins and softened root stems and discard into compost bin.  Slice or quarter cleaned beets to uniform size and set aside in a large saucepan.  In a separate pan, combine the spice bag, sugar, vinegar, and water together and bring to a boil.  Remove spice bag.  Pour brine over cooked beets and simmer 15 minutes.  Fill hot sterilized jars with beet mixture and process for 10-15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before storing.  Store sealed jars at room temperature for at least 3 weeks for flavor to develop.  Sealed jars will keep for up to a year.  Refrigerate after opening. Unprocessed jars can be refrigerated and are edible up to 6 months.