I am inspired!! I am down to 204 which is my lowest weight for 2015 and with very little effort. I am still eating well and drinking my evening wine but avoiding the soda, peanuts and coffee with cream in the morning. On Saturday morning, I usually take a trip to the Vegetable Market at Le Reine for my week’s supply of fresh Vegetable. Today there was an abundance of cucumbers and a couple of nice young eggplants. I always have sauce in my refrigerator so am planning on Eggplant Parmesan later in the week.
I keep saying that I nibble on rabbit food during the day but that is not exactly true. When I got home today, I turned my cucumbers into Refrigerator Pickles. Since there is no sugar in the brine, the calories are about the same and I like the texture and flavor of pickles better.
Cucumbers are mentioned at least twice in the Bible (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8) and history records their usage over 4,000 years ago in Western Asia when cucumbers migrated from their native India to be pickled in the Tigris Valley.
As far back as 850 B.C., Aristotle extolled the healing effects of “cured” cucumbers and Julius Caesar thought pickles had an invigorating effect and supplied his army with them.
Aside from the Bible, Shakespeare specifically mentioned pickled as in drunk and in the The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1660), the word is used to describe a mess “as the house is in a pickle”. He also used pickled as a substitute for drunk.
While the English never solved the problem with scurvy until about 1850 when they all became limeys, The Dutch Navy and others fought the disease with pickles and sauerkraut. Columbus’ ships were supplied with vitamin C-rich pickles, allowing sailors to make the long trip without being debilitated by scurvy.
Cucumbers were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus, who is known to have grown them on the island of Haiti. Cucumbers adapted quickly to the new world and by 1535 Cartier found cucumbers growing in Canada, and they were known to the colonists of Virginia as early as 1609.
Somewhere along the line, someone figured out that instead of a fermented pickle like a kosher dill, people could make a pretty good imitation without the long and sometimes uncontrolled fermentation process. Refrigerator pickles have a nice texture and flavor and there is minimal risk of making a bad batch.
You need to make enough liquid to cover the cucumbers and onions. I reuse the liquid so I just add enough cucumbers and onions until the Jar is full but the following is a good place to start. There are hundreds ,perhaps even thousand, of truly different pickling recipes on the Internet. Some include dry powered mustered or Turmeric which I like but they turn the brine yellow which I don’t find appealing. Others add sugar and cutback on the water to make a sweet and sour syrup. That’s the last thing I need when dieting although my recipe for pickled beet eggs has sugar, but not enough to make a syrup.
4 to 6 cucumbers cut into spears.
1 onion cut into rings
4 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon dried dill or a few sprigs of fresh dill
1/2 Tablespoon mustard seeds
1/2 Tablespoon of Coriander seeds
1/2 hot pepper scotch bonnet or teaspoon of whole peppercorns
Directions: Slice onions and cucumbers and add to an appropriately sized container with a sound lid. I used one gallon sized. Mix water, vinegar and salt in a pot and make sure salt is all dissolved. Toss the spices into the container, don’t worry about mixing them. Add enough brine to over the raw vegetables. Cover and swirl around to distribute the spices. Stick container in Refrigerator. Since cucumbers are one of my goto snacks when dieting, I might start eating them right away. The do improve with age although, I have never had a batch last more than ten days.
My biggest diet problem started today. I went to the vegetable market and many merchants had out of season Julie mangoes. Also, soursop is in season, these are two of my favorite fruits. For a dollar a fruit, one pound, I brought two of each. Guess we get a chance to see how poor my will power is. Mangoes have about 210 calories with 200 from sugars and a soursop has over 400 calories with about 375 from sugars. However, I cant resist the flavor of fresh ripe locally grown fruit. I will attempt daily progress reports as I beat myself down to 180 pounds to start the new year.