I’m trying to kick the last of this cold so that we can make it to a family reunion this weekend. I declared today a day to rest and ate leftovers around our house since we’re planning picnic meals for being on the road on Saturday. Hummus and veggies, fruit salad, chips, and meat to grill when we get there–simple fare.
We have been studying Hungary in our geography the last two weeks. We read plenty from the library on Hungary and listened to the national anthem and folk music over breakfast. Maps were marked, flags colored, and notebooks appended.
The art project from Global Art was simple. Did you know that ball point pens were invented in Hungary? We followed the instructions to make a large scale ball point pen model from things around the house and drew with our “pen.” It was no surprise that Buster drew a rendition of “The Titanic.” Snuggle Bunny drew a princess, while Little Man’s contribution was the selection of green ink in a work that fits his abstract style.
Hungarian food presented itself as quite a challenge for our diet. Paprika plays a prominent role in Hungarian food. Goulash, Chicken Paprikash, and even Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage are all supposed to be dominantly flavored with paprika. The little peppers decorate houses alongside garlic while they dry for use throughout the year. I was at a loss. Take out the paprika and Goulash turns into something very close to the Irish Stew from two weeks ago. Yes, maybe with noodles or dumplings it would have been different enough. Stuffed cabbage wouldn’t be too bad, but then I found this:
“‘Kovászos uborka’, home-made pickled cucumber with a hint of dill, is best-served chilled. The secret is in the preparation; natural fermentation is preferred to vinegar, giving it a unique tangy taste. It is so popular that a Hungarian summer would not be the same without the sight of huge pickle jars placed on sunny window sills and balconies. In the winter months when fresh produce is at a premium, pickles fill the void.”
Remember all those pickling cucumbers that I have from our CSA?
We learned that true Hungarian pickles are held under the brine with a thick slice of rye bread while they ferment, but rye has gluten. Instead, we used a small ramekin. It fit just perfectly in the top of my gallon sized jar. I used this recipe for a starting point.
Buster chopped the cucumbers into chunks of varying sizes. It was enough to fill a gallon jar, so it was probably 3-4 lbs of pickling cucumbers.
Snuggle Bunny helped measure these spices into the bottom of the jar:
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
a pinch of black tea, for the tannins described in the aforementioned recipe
1 package of fresh dill from the store
2 Tbsp Mustard seeds
3 bay leaves
Then she warmed 5 Tbsp of salt in 2 quarts of water on the stove, until it was fully dissolved for the brine.
Once the cucumbers were chopped and the brine cooled, we filled the jar to the top of the cucumbers with brine, weighed it down with the ramekin until all the slices were submerged, and the lid was tightened. It took ours 4 days to turn cloudy which is the sign that the pickles are done. Be sure to keep the jar on a plate or in a shallow dish to catch any brine overflow that may happen even when you left the proper “1-2 inch head-space.”
Once the pickles are done, open the jar over the sink to remove the ramekin. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy a slice or two whenever you like.