26 July 2005

A Bad Day at Clay

...is still better than a good day at work. Not that I've had too many of those lately, so the comparison is rather weak.

I finally got back to the studio tonight, but between my right shoulder bothering me somewhat and trying to use clay that's become far too hard, I was able to make only two things, a jug and a pickle jar. The jug sort of came out of nowhere, not what I'd expected to make with that lump of clay. That's really my favorite bit about working with clay; expectations be damned, sometimes the clay just makes what the clay wants to make. Of course, I'm presently trying to get a large flowerpot and a coffee mug made, and accomplished neither of those tonight. I also need to make more cockroach traps and pickle jars; at least I got a pickle jar. I must go back again this week.

Speaking of pickle jars, I'd like to point out that I've actually used the present pickle jar to make pickles, which are at this moment sitting in my fridge. Well, a few of them are. Actually, there are only two left. Really, most of one and a tiny sliver of another. They're just so good; I can't keep my hands out of the jar.
If you'd care to make your own pickles, here's something on the order of the recipe I used. More or less. The pickles will come out dark and rather tart.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups good clear water (none of that stuff that comes out of the tap in Florida)
3-4 tablespoons of pickling spice (mine has equal parts whole mustard, coriander, and dill seed, plus some crushed bay leaves, whole black pepper, and whole allspice)
1-2 tablespoons of pickling or other non-iodized salt (more if you prefer)

Boil all the ingredients together in a ceramic pot, if one is available, or teflon. Not copper; vinegar will leach some of the copper off the pot and the brine will become highly toxic.

Use pickling cucumbers and not the regular kind you get in the grocery. And definitely make sure the cucumbers are in good condition, not all squishy or anything; a nice about inch and a half in diameter, any more and the cuke will make a somewhat squishy pickle. Cut the bud end off the cukes, pack them into a jar (or, better still, a handmade stoneware pickle jar), pour the boiling brine over them, put the jar in the fridge. You'll have pickles in about a day and a half. And you can always change up the recipe; just be sure to keep the vinegar/water ratio at 50:50.

Mmm. Homemade pickles. If you bring a homemade pickle to work, people will be impressed. I can prove this first-hand, and my coworkers are not easily impressed by domesticity.

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