porcini mushroom lasagne fig and brandy jam fried vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio) brie fig apple prosciutto sandwich


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archive for July 29th, 2012

call me hawkeye

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Recipe: refrigerator pickles

Yes, yes you can call me that… hawkeye. I am a padawan of the master, to hunt porcini mushrooms. Actually, I just have good pattern recognition software in my noggin. You could say it comes from years of scouting for nature photography, wildflowers, and being visually-oriented. Wendy has now trained my algorithm on porcini mushrooms. The beauty of it is that I love finding them and she loves eating them. If you don’t know what you’re doing then it’s good, nay – essential – to go with an expert lest ye put something foul and poisonous in your mouth. I tend to err on the side of caution, as does my friend Kathya, which is one of the many reasons the three of us had such a fantastic time foraging together last week.


porcini gold

very pretty, but also poisonous

precious, delicious, favoritest huckleberries



You can see the rest of the foraging photos here. Oh, and don’t miss Kat’s photos of the lunch we had at my house afterward!

It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, the mountains and forests around my house were a dangerous tinderbox. It was so severe, that my little mountain town postponed their annual Fourth of July fireworks display over the reservoir. Now that the southwest monsoons are in full swing, we have been graced with good soaking rains in the afternoons and some evenings of late. So on Saturday, our town had their lovely fireworks show and we stepped out to watch. Normally, we have to scope a spot out along the banks a couple of hours before dark. This time, it was drizzling rain and we found a prime location with minutes to go before nightfall.

I love fireworks. I love bright, colorful lights. Watching fireworks is one thing. Capturing fireworks in a photograph is another. You see a lot of details that you otherwise miss in real time. It’s all light trails and ballistic trajectories, mapping of color transitions. I love watching it happen live and then going home to see it in a wholly different way off my camera. I managed to get a few captures as the winds picked up and a driving rain began to pelt us sideways. It also plastered my lens with water such that the final photos were impressionistic blurs of color. Worth every second of getting soaked.


i’m partial to blue

i thought these looked like pine needles

this just makes me think of champagne

glittery and feathery (thanks to the winds)



You can view the whole series of the fireworks here.

Despite my canning kick this summer, I am still a fan of not canning. That is, I like the idea of making food for relatively immediate consumption. If I can avoid boiling water baths in summer, all the better. Summer for me is getting outside (okay, I do that all year), spending time with friends, enjoying the fruits of the season, appreciating paradise elevated to new levels. So it was a few weeks ago that Erin and I were hiking in the mountains and catching up with each other. Of course, as with most of my good friends, Erin and I always talk about food. She asked if I had tried Kitt’s refrigerator pickles yet. No, not yet…


pickling cucumbers

cukes, salt, dill seed, garlic, chiles, vinegar, whites of green onions (not shown: sugar)

there’s the sugar



I am a pickle fiend. I don’t think there is a pickle I’ve met that I didn’t like. Some folks like sweets, chocolates, cake, but me? Give me salty and vinegary snacks. I may or may not have finished a jar of pickles in one sitting before. Who can resist that puckery, spicy, crunchy, cold pickle? And refrigerator pickles are the easiest of them all to make – because they go in the refrigerator and you don’t have to can them. I just had to wait for pickling cucumbers to show up at the farmers market (or rather, for me to show up at the farmers market to get some) because I like crisp pickles.

cut off the ends

slice lengthwise into quarters

stem and seed the chiles



**Jump for more butter**