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A Counselor Can Cook Too Ya know

We’d made the pickles on Christmas Eve, and we were especially pleased with how well they turned out. The colors were vibrantly orange and perfectly white, with glistening black accents from whole black pepper corns. The textures were firm and not at all mushy. The taste was satisfyingly sour but oddly deep. We loved them… but almost no one at the party ate them (which, actually, was a better reception than what our pickled mushrooms received, but that’s another story). We decided people weren’t used to eating pickled vegetables and weren’t sure what to make of them.

I’m publishing below our recipe for pickled vegetables in order to spread the good news/dharma that pickled vegtables rawk, and you too can easily make them with almost no trouble. Serve them as an accompaniment with pasta dishes, pork chops, pot roast, basically any Italian or American dish (although possibly not with southwestern or Mexican cooking, which require a somewhat different flavor profile from their pickles).

And next year at our Christmas party, we hope you’ll enjoy the pickled vegetables more.

I’ve tried several different recipes for pickled vegtables and settled on the one below as the best. It’s modifed from Arthur Schwartz (Naples at Table [1998], La spiritosa: “Spirited” carrots or green beans, HarperCollins, New York, pages 319-320).

Ingredients

handful or two of baby carrot
1 head cauliflower, seperated into florets
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
2½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaf
3 fresh Fresno chiles (carefully slit down the side, with the seeds cleaned out), or 3 dried red chile (chile de arbol[$1.99 per 1½ ounce package of small, 3-inch long dried red chiles])
1 tablespoon whole black pepper corn
4 large clove garlic, smashed gently
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Procedure
Wash and trim the carrots and cauliflower florets as needed. Boil them until they’re tender to the center, but don’t overcook them. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cauliflower florets from the boiling water if they get done before the carrots. When all of the vegetables are tender, drain and cool them in a colander.Boil the vinegar and water together over high heat until the liquid has reduced by about half, to almost one cup. 
Add the oregano, bay leaves, chiles, black pepper corns, garlic and salt to the vinegar and water, and simmer briefly.
Place the vegetables in a container that’s got a lid. While still hot, pour on the mixture of vinegar and water and then the olive oil. Mix gently, and marinade overnight at room temperature, for 24 hours, occasionally turning the vegetables.