Glennis’ Pickles

Like the good book says, it is a fine thing to love thy neighbors. Especially if thy neighbors share your love of food.

We love Chris and Glennis, who live next door. I’ve written about Chris and his smoker, his epic pork shoulders, in previous posts. And now there was time and cause to give his wife her due turn.

Canned good from next door neighbor, Glennis

I’ve got a great admiration for people who preserve their own foods. There’s a guy here in our canyon who sets up an umbrella on the side of the road, a few homemade signs, and sells his “Soon to Be Famous Hot Sauce.” I often stop — I like the guy and it’s good sauce. My friend, Tracy, in Nashville apparently makes “world famous” hot sauce, although my efforts to get her to send me a bottle have been met with abject failure. (“Can I at least get on a waiting list!?” I inquired…)

My own efforts at preserving have primarily involved drying things — mushrooms, mostly — or salting and curing as in French duck confit or Italian guanciale. And there have been brief flirtations with fermentation, as in my epic adventure into the death-defying world of kim chi. But canning is an area where I have no experience. I’ve always been fearful I’ll do something wrong in the process and wind up poisoning my loved ones. So I was pleased one day when several jars of pickles and preserves arrived from Glennis next door.

They were as beautiful as I imagined they would be delicious — a painter’s palette of oxblood red beet relish, carnival warm hues of confetti sweet pickled peppers, translucent jade bread & butter pickles and luminous ketchup with the exotic accent of east Indian spices. Set on the windowsill, the morning sun filtered through the jars and cast stained-glass-window reflections on the white countertop. My children lit into the bread & butters at once, which were gone in a matter of hours. I sampled each of the jars over the course of the next several days, stirring the ketchup into sauces and spooning the peppers on top of bratwursts. As a cook, it’s fun to have new influences unexpectedly introduced into one’s cuisine.

“Dad, should we get more of Glennis’ pickles?” my 5-year-old daughter, Willa, asked when the jar of bread & butter had run out. “Sweetie,” I said, “It’s not like a store, you don’t just go get them.” Nonetheless, when my wife sent her next door to return the empty jars, she came back with three more full jars of sweet peppers, beet relish and spicy ketchup. “This was all she had left.”

There can be no better gift than food. And even better, food you have made yourself. And there’s no better gift you can give your children than instilling in them an appreciation for that gift. A jar of my mother’s wild blackberry jam is greeted with the same enthusiasm as would meet a new Barbie or box of Legos.

One day I may add canned goods to my edible-gift repertoire of fresh baked bread, rilletes, eggs from our chickens… In the meantime, I’m content to accept the benevolent offerings of a good neighbor — a smoky chunk of pork shoulder slathered in spicy vinegar sauce from Chris, a glorious jar of vibrant preserves from Glennis. Robert Frost may have said that good fences make good neighbors. But good pickles make even better neighbors.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mom
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 01:21:09

    Beautifully written. I want some rillettes for my next birthday.


  2. Lisa Gaskin
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 02:25:41

    Mom and I picked Blackberries and made jam last Fall…it was very much an experiment in “will the jar POP and seal?” It was sort of very hilarious…when all was said and done, they DID pop and seal and now I don’t remember how/why. That jam has been a coveted gift that I divvy out sparingly as I could only pack a few to come home. Didn’t want Blackberry-essenced t-shirt and jeans.


  3. glennis
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 05:55:16

    How kind of you to write!! We’ll be pickling again come summertime and the pickling cukes are in the market again – those bread and butter pickles are on the top of the list.

    The sweet pickled peppers are do-able year round….Hmmmmmmm…..


  4. Cookie
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 18:19:05

    I have a bread and butter pickle recipe that is the best I have ever tasted…got it from a friend a million years ago. It really is better because it uses brown instead of white sugar so more flavor. If you want it, e mail me.


  5. Michelle
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 02:45:08

    I, too, am terrified of real canning, though I’ve done it a few times. What wonderful neighbors you have! (And could you please FedEx some eggs this way? We lost all 9 of our chickens to a pack of coyotes on Sunday afternoon. So, until the new flock arrives, I’ll just have to look at your videos to remind me of what the chicken yard should look like.)


    • scolgin
      Feb 15, 2012 @ 02:50:49

      Wow, what a drag. Our coyotes can do nothing more than leer hungrily from the other side of the fence. Sending fertile farmy thoughts your way. 🙂


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