Friday, August 9, 2013

Trailing Spouses & Pickled Garlic

Small college towns like Athens, Ohio, can have a hard time recruiting professionals. Trailing spouses may not be able to find jobs, shopping, or some other such things. I listened to a recent conversation about the loss of a professional recruit due to a dissatisfied spouse with some amusement.

I've been the trailing spouse for a good while due my husband's Navy career. Settling down, anywhere, was my only request after twenty years. I've easily adapted to life in Athens just like I've done at every other place. Only now I can plan for longevity, whatever that proves to be.

What's not to love in Athens? We've got produce auctions, a local music scene, a farmers market, locally brewed beer, horses, gardeners galore, summer band concerts, a lake, hiking trails, and you can even walk uptown, depending upon where you live, and do something like watch an art film, take music lessons, go ice skating (in the winter), or attend a festival.

Today I worked on my Chesterhill Produce pile. I made nine pounds of Shiro Plums into jam and pickled eight bulbs of garlic, my first attempt. As I stirred the various pots, I have to admit that Shakespeare's Macbeth came to mind.

Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble. 

Fresh garlic is sticky. I'm used to dry papery garlic bulbs that have sat on supermarket shelves. Dunking the bulbs into boiling water for less than a minute makes the cloves easier to peel. It also prevents fresh garlic from turning an unappetisizing green when steeped in vinegar. I also put some cloves of garlic into olive oil for future comparisons (both work). Now I've got to finish making pesto.

Turns out that the professionals that stick tend to have some exposure to Athens, like my husband who grew up here and chose (plotted?) to return. They remember the laid back life style, the hills,  the time people have here to do things like pickle garlic. The joys of Athens.

Pickled Garlic
Makes 1 Pint Jar
New Garlic, 1 lb or enough to fill a pint jar (~8 bulbs)
Fennel Seeds, 1 tsp
Peppercorns, 12 (I'm guessing black ones, but I only had pink)
Bay Leaves, 4
Apple Cider Vinegar, 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp
Granulated Sugar, 1/4 cup
Pinch of Saffron Threads

1. Wash a pint jar with a lid and screw band. Put jar, top up, in the oven with the lid off at 250ºF (121ºC) for 30 minutes. Lay out a clean cloth to wipe the jar.

2. Bring a pot of water to boil over medium heat. Plunge the garlic bulbs into boiling water for no more than a minute. Drain and pat dry. Separate the cloves and cut off the tips at each end. Peel the cloves.

3. Pack cloves into a sterile jar. Add fennel, peppercorns, and bay leaves.

3. In a non-reactive saucepan, boil vinegar, sugar, and saffron. Pour hot vinegar over garlic and insure that the garlic is completely submerged in the pickling liquid. Seal the jar with a vinegar lid. Refrigerate and mature for 1 month before using. Good for 2 years refrigerated.

Serving Suggestion: Use instead of fresh garlic or eat it on its own.

Pickled Garlic