pickled carrots + onions, for anything.

So, here we are: in varying degrees of social isolation. You’d think it would be an introvert’s dream: as it turns out, you tell this introvert she can’t see anyone in person, and all she wants to do is…see everyone, every day. Check in on people. See how they’re managing. TALK.

I think about all the play dates and get-togethers I postponed because we had too much going on – remember when we had “too much going on”? Anyone says the word “activities” to me and it’s like I’m remembering some distant past life, when in fact exactly one month ago me and 20 other moms were hosting a chili cook-off at my kid’s old school. All of us, together, slinging chili and laughing and not realizing how good we had it. 

The same goes for this space, maybe: we all wrote to each other for years and years, got married, had kids, had more kids, switched jobs, switched cities, built houses, and talked about all of it. Talked through it. and with a few exceptions, we never were in the same room (same country, same state) as each other. And it worked.

Maybe it still works: I don’t know. I’m a poster child for inconsistent communication skills: I know some of you are like “that girl can’t even reply to an email” – you’re right. I’m the worst.

Or I was: I’m working on reopening this space in the hopes that you’re all still out there. I’ll be honest: at some point – we’ll say around 2016 – life started to feel really intense, and I struggled talking about food here b/c it seemed like there were massively more critical things happening all around. I felt like an idiot pushing my homemade cookies and ingredient-laden salads when the world felt like it was skidding to a halt. My focus on maybe the more enjoyable, optional parts of my life got diluted; it felt like a luxury i shouldn’t indulge, I guess? It’s hard to figure out how to put that. The world felt sucky, and my food ramblings felt trivial by comparison. As a person who has always felt pretty burdened to make a difference, small or big, I didn’t feel like i was doing that.

But maybe I was making a teeny difference. Or maybe I could, just by being here. I underestimated the power of friendship and connection and the impact it has on the world, even in a small way. How talking to each other matters. After all, you all still matter to me: my poor communication skills notwithstanding, i still think about every single one of you more than you’d imagine. 

So here’s what: I have no idea what this  blog is going to look like, but it’s going to look like something. If you’re here, yay! You’re more dedicated than I’ve been to this space, but I’m hoping that changes. On the agenda: 

Streamlining –  Blogging seems to be all about social media now: it wasn’t like that 7 years ago when I started. If it had been that heavily reliant on constant content-pushing, i doubt i would have ever started. I can not stand social media anymore; you’d think I was allergic to it. Because of that, I may just rid myself of my Facebook page for this space and continue on with Instagram and Twitter. I haven’t shut it down yet, but at this point, it’s an albatross I’d do better without. 

Posting – Re-starting a food blog during a time of crisis seems really…hard? So we’ll navigate that one together. I can say this: I have learned a lot about myself and my ability to crisis-navigate with food and other supplies, and i am GOOD, people. So maybe for awhile I just share what I’m doing at my house to keep semi-interesting meals on the table and ingredients from spoiling. So TBD on what i’ll post, but i’ll be here talking about food in a round-about way. Maybe we talk about TV or movies or books too…who knows. 

People-ing – Expect emails, friends: I’m going to try to touch base with as many of you as I can. My work email has always been out there, but because of that, i get a FLOOD of nonsense “business” emails that drown out emails from people i like, and I can’t wade through them at this point. So! New email address for here is aperiodictable@gmail.com. Friends, change your contact info for me, because I’d hate to miss something. Please forgive/forget how crap I was at replying/keeping up and email me, if i don’t get to you first: i’d love to know how everyone is doing. If you’re going to tell me about how i can improve my online presence, bots, stay away: anyone that truly knows me knows I would never want to do that. Also, I’m going to do my level best to catch up on those of you that are still blogging: I’ve been absent completely from that, so be patient.

Current status: typing this. I have a loaf of bread proofing – it’s this one from King Arthur Flour, because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like kneading today. I halved it, because 7 1/2 cups of flour felt big. Also in the midst of creating a sourdough starter: i can’t think of a better time to do that, as i stocked up on all the yeast / flour / oil / salt at the store and committed myself to keeping my family in all manner of bread styles for the immediate future. 

Because everything happened really fast with layers of stocking up / preparing for social distancing and limited store trips, I still had some vegetables left over from a photo shoot. Before they went south, I used a recipe I developed years ago for pickling them: maybe it’s helpful your own vegetables. It’s a carrot and onion pickle to be used as anything, really: i developed it as a crunchy vegetable bite for tacos, but you could use them on sandwiches, or in salads. Whatever they’re in, they really amp up flavor and give you that hit of sour that I think everything needs. I had them on my turkey and cheese lunch sandwich today, as a matter of fact, and it added some welcome pep and just the right amount of texture. 

Here’s the recipe! Before you ask, yes; you can substitute. Must-haves? vinegar, water, salt, sugar, carrots, onlons: it would work just like that. I have cumin seeds in there, but coriander is nice also. Garlic is great, and if you have fresh hot chile of any sort, use it (bearing in mind its relative heat as compared to a Fresno.) No chile? A dash or two of chile flakes will do. No peppercorns? You’ll be fine without.  If you don’t have that much apple cider vinegar, sub in plain white vinegar, or mix the two together. 

Pickled Vegetables

Remember: you don’t have to go running out for any of this. You have carrots and onions you need to save? THIS. Tell your eyes to head up a paragraph for some substitutions if you’re missing one of these ingredients, or ask me! I’ll *whoa* actually be mindful of comments coming in. 

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced into long matchsticks
  • 1¼ cups paper-thin ring slices of red onion
  • 2 32-oz wide-mouth glass canning jars
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • Fresno chiles, finely diced divided
  • 2 tsp toasted and cooled whole cumin seeds, divided
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns, divided

Preparation – Pickled Vegetables | In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add water, vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring until solids are dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat, add carrots and onion, cover and place back on high heat until mixture comes to a boil once again. Remove from heat, keep covered and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

In 2 32-oz widemouth canning jars, equally divide garlic cloves, chiles, cumin seeds and peppercorns. Using tongs, carefully divide hot vegetables between jars. Evenly divide pickling liquid over vegetables and allow to sit at room temperature, uncovered, until completely cool. Secure lids and transfer to refrigerator.

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  • Reply elizabeth March 23, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Yay–I’m so glad you’re back! While I totally understand those feelings of smallness that you describe in 2016, I’m convinced that finding that pleasure of eating well and hanging onto your creative expression is a small act of resistance. (Remember: TPTB want you to exhaust you into submission/giving up.) That doesn’t mean that we can’t pay attention and/or talk about the Things That Matter (as we’re smart people who can focus on more than one thing at a time), but continuing to live well, continuing to broaden our worldviews via food matter too. I’m basically upping my blogging frequency to write about the things we’re making too, in the hope that someone gets some good inspiration as we all hunker down.

    • Reply shannon April 14, 2020 at 8:50 am

      That feels so good to hear from you, especially because I feel like i routinely am a crap friend to you. I’m glad i’m back too: it’s a nice project to pick back up again, and i’ve missed that continuing conversation for sure.
      I love, LOVE the way you look at creative expression: i’ve never thought about it like that, but you’re completely right: it IS a small act of resistance. Because it is beyond exhausting out there, and some days (many days) it’s way easier to peace right out on fighting back…i definitely struggle with that. i love what you said here so much – i’m having to take a little breath b/c i’m tearing up, but in the BEST WAY. I’m happy you’re my friend. We’ll be taking this up on email very soon (i hope today, if i can get my act together.)

  • Reply John / Kitchen Riffs March 24, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Glad to see you blog again! And agree about social media. Anyway, pickled veggies are the best! Not that I make them all that often, but I DO have time on my hands now, don’t I, so I should. 🙂

    • Reply shannon April 14, 2020 at 8:44 am

      hey thank you! Glad you’re still here! Social media is the WORST, but i’m trying not to let it discourage me or my writing here. 🙂 it helps to know i’m not the only one who gets frustrated by it.

      Definitely should be pickling right now! Since i posted this, i’ve probably done several more jars of vegetable pickles from leftovers and scraps we need to use or lose: it feels good to rescue versus toss, for sure.

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