Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

I've been debating with myself for over a week on whether to hyphenated "quick-pickled." Is it a compound adjective modifying the noun "cucumbers"? (I say yes, and so the hyphen.) Or is "quick" describing the compound noun "pickled cucumbers"? (Could be. No hyphen.) But if so, then why not just say, "Quick Pickles"? I mean, who other than foodies and farm wives even thinks about "pickle" on its own to mean anything other than a cucumber?

Oh, my head. (It's been happily full of cucumbers, pickled in the quick way, since last week.)

See, over on Pinterest, which is the greatest threat to my Facebook time since Facebook was the greatest threat to my World of Warcraft time, I pinned a recipe for ginger scallion noodles. (I need to taste it before I decide whether to hyphenate it.)

And then I thought, "I know you, me. You'll make a big pot of this, eat two bowls the first night, rave about how it's a keeper, pat yourself on the back for increasing your lazy cooking repetoire, and then the leftovers will languish in the fridge for two weeks until you sheepishly throw them out because you'll be 'Oh. Soup. Boring.' every day thereafter."

But I still want to make the noodles because I'm a changed woman, honest. And part of that change involves stepping up the production of new side dishes to accompany new main dishes, so the new main dishes will not get so samey so quickly. (And this is all part of the bigger change to actually make more of the things I pin on Pinterest.)

The noodle recipe recommended serving with quick pickled cucumbers (no hyphen), so I found this recipe (also no hyphen), and I made said cucumbers, pickled, quickly.

(But I did not make the noodle dish, what with having only Chinese egg noodles and not Ramen noodles. I thought I'd go the next day to the Asian district and get some proper Ramen noodles, after not finding them at two other grocery stores, which would then give my cukes more time to soak, making them Not-as-Quickly Pickled Cucumbers, and you'll notice that the addition of an -ly suffix means I can't hyphenate, and the voices of grammar debate start up in my head again. People used to ask if I got bored as an only child. What? With all this neurotic fun built right in?!)

(Anyway, it's a week later, and I still haven't made the noodle dish. I have made potato tacos, which were delicious, and lemon baked pasta from Pioneer Woman, which was edible, and I also made chocolate ginger biscotti, which NEVER HAPPENED, because it's not on the Alaska cruise "diet"... on which I have only gained weight although admittedly I feel better, despite having two separate colds over the past four weeks, one of which required several days off work, so let's pretend this whole paragraph never happened and just drop it.)

I made the pickles, which taste nothing like pickles, but they are pretty yummy. And pretty unhealthy, I guess - does so much sugar go into regular pickles? - but I suppose that's why you only use a few to accent your ginger scallion noodle dish... and not swipe a small handful every time you serve up your leftover potato tacos or baked lemon pasta.

Station Casino gift actually works?

In the continuing spirit of trying new things, I dug up one of the mandolines we received free from Station Casinos some years ago. I assumed it was crap, and it seemed all plasticky and junky like crap, so it's been in the "casino hoard" cupboard (double-wide) for several years, along with fanny packs, knives, photo frames, seasonal cookie jars, and more coffee cups (with saucers!) than I know what to do with. And about 13 candy dishes, per the last crapola census. Walk around any Las Vegas thrift store - they can't give this stuff away.

It's not all crap, but I really need to get rid of the coffee mugs. Mike says noooo, they're part of our loot, plus have sentimental value, but I challenge him to even notice once they're gone. In fact, they could be gone already.

Or not. The next time you're in Las Vegas, why not consider mixing up your drunken slot play, helicopter touring, and ultralounge crashing with a road trip out to the southwest part of the valley, where we even have a bus stop now, and picking up some free coffee cups? Feel like a local, circa 2007, before everything went toes-up. Free shot of Torani's watermelon syrup if you bring your own Sprite.

(I think Mike over-ordered as we still have six bottles, and neither of us is drinking much soft drink these days. ALASKA! And you can just take the Torani ginger syrup and also the chocolate macademia, and maybe the grapefruit. Those were all poo.)

Unless, like I said, the cups are already gone, tossed in the Dumpster because artfully smashing them then using the pieces to make cool mosaics is exactly the sort of fartsy idea that I think about but never do, and then I become a candidate for certain starts-with-an-H TV shows as I hold on to my "art supplies." (And once again I'm testing to see how often Mike checks here for updates. At my 2011 rate of posting, I dare say he might be the last one left.)

So anyway. Pickles. Quick. Swedish. Marcus Samuelsson. Yes, this is everyone's Ethiopian-Swede eye candy's recipe. Also learned from Epicurious.com: quick-pickled cucumbers (which probably don't require a hyphen debate when written in Swedish) are, in fact, the second most popular condiment in Sweden.

Maybe that will be a trivia question on the Alaskan cruise.

For whatever reason, maybe because I'm kind of flighty about some things, I decided to slice the cucumbers along the sides, into strips, instead of into rounds.

Then I thought, "That seems silly, so let's do both." (Me and the mouse in my pocket, by which I mean the hamster on the floor.)

The mandoline was pretty exciting, making quick slices that made me feel so culinary and professional. You don't know how empowering this was to a person like myself, known for her lack of knife skills. Do you know how I chop onions? It involves a lot of hacking at the larger chunks of onion and sending out miniature cowboys to corral all of the escaped slices from beyond Cutting Board Ranch.

I didn't want to stop. I got down to the nub of the cucumber. No - how could the fun be over?! Just a few more slices.

Mandoline Manicure

I call this pic "Mandoline Manicure." Or "Lucky."

(It's hard to see, but a wedge of fingernail is missing down to the quick.)

Per the recipe, I put kosher salt on the slices for 30 minutes to, I think, help dry them. During that time I boiled 1.5c water with 1c sugar and a half-cup of white wine vinegar, and a bay leaf. No allspice berries because I didn't have such things, and I'm chintzy when it comes to niche ingredients.

The sugar/vinegar mixture cooled, and I rinsed the salted cucumbers. Then I squeezed and squeezed and tried to get all of the moisture out, but that was a mess, and it felt like I was just mashing all of the cucumber up in my fists. (I wasn't.) Still, I know I didn't get the cukes dry enough. Next time I'll just leave on the salt and squeeze from there. I love salt. It will be fine.

I slid all the cucumber strips (and rounds!) into a bowl, poured the brine over it, and left it in the fridge overnight.

And it was goooood.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers

10 February 2012 |






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