Wednesday, August 19, 2009


It's soooo hot (36°C) that my arms are sticking to the table as I type. It hasn't been this hot since the canicule in 2003 when the temperature reached 40°C and claimed nearly 15,000 lives in France. I used to think that talking about the weather was a peculiarly British occupation. Not so. Here in the village, everyone has a thermometer in their house and anyone you speak to can tell you what the temperature was when they got up and at various times throughout the day and what the forecast is for the next three days. We're lucky to have a beautiful lake less than five minutes away where I go most afternoons for a swim to cool down.

During the canicule the water was so low in the lake that you were able to get to hitherto unreachable parts away from the main beach where I liked to go for some peace and quiet. Until one day I looked up from my book to find a naked man standing in front of me who suggested I remove my bathers too so we could go for a dip together - which I thought was a bit rude.

I picked my onions last week and pickled them. I did this a couple of years ago and, even if I do say so myself, they were the best pickled onions I've ever tasted. Take some small pickling onions, trim them (not too much or they'll fall apart), blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, pat dry, cover in salt and leave overnight (the salt draws out the moisture and makes them crunchy). The next day, rinse them and place in sterilized jars with some chillies, cloves and mustard or coriander seeds. Boil up some red/white wine vinegar and sugar for 1 minute (roughly 14 oz/400g sugar to 2 pints/1.2 litre vinegar for 3 lbs/1.3 kg onions), pour over the onions and seal.

♫ Pickle along to: Booker T. & The MG's Green Onions


Hils said...

Mmm! Sing along to "I should be so lucky, lucky lucky lucky".

Kathie said...

(Click on today's hyperlink at my name to see what I'm finishing up these days!)

At first glance I assumed you achieved the red color in the jar by pickling your onions with a mix of beets (hence the color) and peeled hard-boiled eggs -- the Pennsylvania Dutch (i.e., Amish or Mennonite) way, associated with Lancaster County here in Pennsylvania (I'm 1/8th on my maternal side). Here's the recipe:


4 bunches[sic] young beets, washed
1 quart (= 4 cups) white vinegar
1½ cups sugar (NO dextrose added)
½ teaspoon allspice berries
1 stick of cinnamon, broken in ¼s
1 teaspoon whole cloves
8-12 whole hard-boiled eggs, peeled
8-12 peeled small onions

Cut beet tops to 2". Cook whole beets till tender (depending on size, 30-45 minutes); drain, then plunge beets into cold water and slip off skins. Leave tiny beets whole, cut larger ones bite-size. Put 2-3 peeled hard-boiled eggs in bottom of each quart jar, add onions and beets to within 1" of top. Boil vinegar, sugar and spices; fill jars with syrup. Can by processing 30+ minutes in hot water bath as per instructions with canning jars.

HARD-BOILED EGGS: Place raw eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with enough COLD water to cover, + 2 Tablespoons vinegar. Very slowly bring the water to a boil (so eggs won't crack); cover the pan and simmer for 20+ minutes. Plunge hot eggs into cold water to cool; then crack the shells and peel. Thoroughly rinse off the last bits of egg-shell.

Based on Perkins, Wilma Lord. "Fannie Farmer Cookbook," 11th ed. Boston: Little Brown, 1965; and, "The Lancaster County Farm Cook Book." Lebanon [PA]: Applied Arts Pub's., 1967.

Kathie said...

P.S Oh, yeah! "Green Onions" is definitely one of those riding-in-a-cute-guy's-convertible-with-the-roof-down tunes of youth!