I have never once tried to make my own pickles. I haven’t made quick pickles. I haven’t made fermented pickles. I haven’t put something in a jar with a vinegar solution once in my life, that is until I picked up Smoke and Pickles as our August 2019 cookbook of the month. Bless Edward Lee and his simple pickle recipes for people like me to try out. So far, we’ve started the process for pickled garlic.
We began on August 11th by placing as much garlic as I could fit into the small jar I bought for this purpose and soaking it in vinegar for five days per his instructions. It just sat in my refrigerator, doing whatever it is vinegar does to garlic. Then the 16th came, and that was the day to change it over to a more flavorful pickling fluid.
You can get the recipe from the cookbook, of course, but the pickling liquid is primarily soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. I was so pumped about it that I opened the pop up jar I use the next day and spilled half of it out of the garlic and on my table. My husband watched me cry on the floor about my own failures before running out to get me more soy sauce and rice wine vinegar so I could make the pickling liquid again. I made the pickling liquid again and tossed out what little I had left of the old liquid before covering the garlic again.
The good news is that I don’t believe my little screw up ruined the pickled garlic. We’ve used it a time or two just to try off some garlic chips to put on top of burgers, and the soy based vinegar solution in them really popped against the beef patties. Unfortunately, I have not attempted to use this pickled garlic in place of any other garlic in my normal recipes. We may have to return to the pickles of this book later in the year, as the farmer’s market season comes to a close.
The pickles are in the title, so I spent a lot of time at least looking at these recipes. Given some more time, better produce, and better memory, I think I could pull most of them off as a fermentation novice. There is a pickled corn relish that looked absolutely delicious, but I didn’t try it since I knew I would be out of town for a large portion of the time that the project would be edible.
We also tried Edward Lee’s Adobo fried chicken and waffles. My husband has a deep love of both chicken adobo and chicken and waffles, so this was one of the stand out recipes to me while deciding what kind of cooking we would get up to in August. The process of frying adobo chicken is definitely not a week night thing. Getting the chicken into the brine for long enough and THEN having to fry it while simultaneously making waffles is a bit much for a regular meal, but it may be something that returns to the table on the weekends as a special treat.
With the book broken up by ingredient categories, such as beef, chicken, veggies, pickles, sweets, etc, it’s easy to navigate and find something to try when you pick up Smoke and Pickles. If you’re a fan of Edward Lee from his appearance on Mind of a Chef, I highly suggest this book for your collection. It’s stuffed with personal stories related to each section, recipes of both low and high difficulty, and it truly is for the modern southern kitchen.
Smoke and Pickles is of course available on Amazon, but it is among the limited number of cookbooks that I see in almost every bookstore I visit if you prefer to support a small, local business. Thank you for joining us for our cooking adventures in August. Can’t want to see you around in September for Good Eats.
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An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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