Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's that time again: Pickle Juice for Dinner!

I love my giant Thanksgiving list. I pull it out about this time every year, and I spend four or five days living by its wise guidelines. The first page is the massive shopping list; the next four pages are a day-by-day (at points, even minute-by-minute) guide to getting ready for Thanksgiving. I update it slightly year-by-year, but the bulk of it has been the same since I put it together six years ago.

The guide begins with a Monday cleansing:
Make space in fridge by emptying out gross moldy things.
Tuesday, the real preparation begins:
Grocery shop.
Make cranberry relish:
grind together in the blender 4 cups cranberries, 1 orange, and then 2 cups sugar. place in refrigerator.
Make dressing:
mix 1/4 c walnut oil, 1/2 c vegetable oil, 3 tbs cider vinegar, 1 tsp mustard, 1 Tbsp honey, salt, pepper, and 2 tbs chives.
The list ends Friday with directions for making shepherd's pie and canning turkey stock from the leftovers (20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts).

Right now, we're at the clean out the fridge stage.  My fridge has accumulated a lot of jars. 

And this year, a heck of a lot of those jars come from pickles.  We like pickles so much, we save the brine to make more pickles.

We have the brine from store-bought pickled cucumbers (actually, not bought by us: we scavenged them from a school picnic); we also have jars with whatever is left of pickled okra, pickled carrots, pickled radishes, pickled kale stems . . . you name it.

But since it's November, we're low on veggies and rich in brine right now.  (I think I counted six jars of brine, with a few briny but lonely vegetables floating here and there).  So last night, we  had pickles for dinner.  Pickles, and Cream-of-Leftover Soup.  Yum.  And a few other leftovers as side dishes.

But, in the "mission accomplished" realm, the fridge stands ready for the next infusion of food.

And, to my intense delight, the fridge clean-out resulted in zero trash:  the waste involved was one recycled pickle jar, a few hand-washed plastic bags (not yet trash, as I can use them again a few times), and a heck of a lot of canning jars getting ready for the dishwasher.  (Miser Dog, by the way, was very happy to help dispose of the food of questionable longevity, so there wasn't even anything to compost).

We are so fortunate to have this much food just sitting here waiting for us to eat it.  It's strange to make this fridge clean-out almost into a game.  I can't help but think that.

And I also think:  canning jars, yay!  Because later today, they'll hold homemade salad dressing and cranberry relish, and it's about time, because Thanksgiving is coming soon.  


  1. As for the pickle brine, I like using it as part of the liquid in homemade bread dough-- there are lots of recipes on the net for Dill Pickle Brine Bread and its a great way to use it up. Tasty AND frugal :-)

    1. Ooohh, I'd never heard of this. You can bet we'll be trying this out -- thanks for the suggestion!!!