Fresh Pickles

When I think of fresh pickles, I immediately envision a platter of sushi, accompanied by pickled ginger (gari) and preceded by a quickly pickled cucumber salad (kyuri asazuke). The Japanese know a thing or two about pickling. They find a range of uses for pickled foods, including condiment, relish, garnish, palate cleanser, and digestive aid. Small portions of these foods can appear at any meal, even breakfast. Traditional Japanese pickles feature ingredients ranging from vegetables to eggs to fish to even cherry blossoms.

In America, the primary exposure to Japanese pickles comes as an appetizer before a meal and as a palate cleanser during it. A favorite local sushi restaurant serves sunomono, small portions of freshly pickled cucumber salad, before every meal—so of course I needed to come up with a version for our home-rolled, and more importantly boat-rolled, sushi nights. This salad is best made fresh when cucumbers are in season. Learn to make Quick-Pickled Cucumber Salad and Pickled Ginger

Potatoes

Potato salads are a summer staple, whether I’m making them from jawbreaker-size potatoes stolen from row edges while checking the potato plants’ progress or full-grown spuds cut down to size. They go beautifully with summer’s green beans, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snaps. But we grow so many storage potatoes that it seems a shame to give up the salads just because the other fresh produce is long gone. This version uses stored veggies, making it a late-season or even midwinter go-to. The salad itself is quite basic, and a few unconventional techniques make it a snap. Inspired by traditional salads I ate regularly as I traveled in Russia and France—salad Olivier and salade niçoise, respectively—I’ve created two dressings that bring distinctly different flavors to the forefront; I sometimes alternate between the two salad dressings for several weeknight meals.
Learn to make Potato Salad with Russian and French Dressings

Dig It, Store It

November has been gorgeous in Montana, but the ground will soon be frozen solid. So we spent the weekend putting the garden to bed: digging the final potatoes, carrots, and beets; pulling the last green tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse; and stuffing overlooked garlic cloves deeply into the soil. If it weren’t for the 50 pounds of tomatoes ripening on the living room floor, we’d be boxing up the canning equipment too.

We are packing food away, though: much of this last garden haul can be stored in boxes, hung in mesh bags or baskets, or otherwise kept whole for months. No canner, dehydrator, or freezer space is required. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve grown your own, have fall CSA crops, or are simply buying what’s in season over the next few weeks: Box it up to eat well all winter long. Read more about storing vegetables and fruit for winter

Stocks

I can’t recall when I started making soup stocks. All I know for sure is that vegetable stock and shrimp stock have long been staples in my freezer. The pair meets most needs, but I keep a lighter Corncob Stock and heavier mushroom stock on hand when growing season and freezer space allow.

Like salad dressings, stocks are easy to make and adapt. They’re also powerful: Replace water with stock when preparing soup, a sauce, or even plain rice, and you instantly elevate your dish to the next level. But stocks can be too powerful: Store-bought stocks are often too intensely flavored and too highly salted. By making your own, you can control everything from content to salt ratio to storage size. They can be made with whole vegetables, but they’re equally tasty from the trimmings off another meal. You don’t really need a recipe, but a few techniques can help. Learn to make Vegetable Stock and Shrimp Stock