It should come as no surprise that chemo isn’t sitting well with me. I’ve heard of people who hold down full-time jobs during chemo. Who go to the gym during chemo. Who have sex during chemo. Possibly. To all of you out there, I salute you. You are made of stronger stuff than I. Chemo is my kryptonite, and my superpowers are suspect as it is.
Many of the side effects of chemo remind me of the first trimester of pregnancy, although the killing of cells rather than the nurturing of them gives the process an altogether different patina. There’s the nausea, of course. The fatigue. Heartburn that feels like a chemical spill from your diaphragm right up to your chin. The aversions to certain tastes and smells. And weird cravings for things like pickles.
Luckily, though, it’s cucumber season and we’re getting them in our CSA by the bushel. If you, too, are going through chemo, are pregnant, or just happen to love pickles, do I have the recipe for you. Bread and butter pickles: an oldie but goodie. Quick and easy refrigerator pickles that are perfect for burgers, sandwiches, or snacking. And unlike some of the other pickles I’ve made this year (I’m looking at you, butternut squash), these will not languish in the fridge for months on end, tying up a perfectly good jar. No, these will be eaten in a flash.
Bread and Butter Pickles
These can theoretically hold in the fridge for at least a month, but please don’t insult the pickles like that. Dig right in and pretty soon you’ll be putting them on everything.
3 lbs. pickling cucumbers
2 medium onions, peeled
3 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt
3 cups cider vinegar
2½ cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seed
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. allspice (optional)
Trim thin slices off both ends of the cucumbers. Cut cucumbers and onions into ¼-inch thick rounds. Toss them with salt in a non-reactive bowl, cover, and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Drain well, rinse, drain again, and set aside.
In a nonreactive pot, combine vinegar, brown sugar, and spices, and bring to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 3 minutes, and then pour hot liquid directly over cucumbers and onions. Let cool to room temperature, then jar and refrigerate. Makes 8 cups.
Source: Adapted from Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby, and Dan George.