Roots Remoulade

Though the Larousse Gastronomique is considered by many the final court of authority on Gallic cuisine, the monumental work is not without an occasional chink in its venerable armor. One albeit small perforation involves its recipe for a remoulade, which calls for a cup of mayonnaise with two tablespoons mixed herbs (parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon), one tablespoon drained capers, two finely diced cornichons and a few drops of anchovy essence (optional). No doubt this mixture is savory, subtle and delicious, but let us note that the Librairie Larousse was a Parisian publishing house specializing in encyclopedias and dictionaries, and as such I find it odd (I can’t quite call it inaccurate) that this recipe ignores the origins of the word “rémoulade” itself, which is derived from a dialectal French term, rémola, with origins in the Latin word for horseradish, armoracea. Given this classical precedent, I find it altogether appropriate that any recipe for a remoulade, be it white, red or green (yes, children, there is a green remoulade, made by adding spinach) should include horseradish, and I consider anchovy oil a necessary accent as well.

Confessions of an Urban Planter: Part 3

After a wet June, when the petty dregs of cool air from the north had wrung what rain they could from the encroaching Gulf winds, a mountain of hot still air settled over Jackson, and the sun was unrelenting, turning upon the city as a child with a magnifying glass but without pity might focus on an insect. The light itself had gravity, a throbbing, beating pressure that made any lengthy walks in the afternoon an exercise of humility and endurance.

The cotton plant is what horticulturalists call a heavy feeder, meaning that it needs more nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium than an ordinary garden-variety soil can provide in order to achieve maximum growth. Cotton needs a lot of nitrogen, which was bad news for my tomatoes, but the cotton had priority. Since the cotton was planted very near the end of spring, the rest of the garden needed much tending before the solstice; the flowers and fruit of May had to make room for those of October: orange marigolds and autumn sunflowers, corn and gourds as well as hollyhocks and hibiscus for the coming year.

These all had to be in the ground by the first week in July, and with the rain and heat the weeding became even more arduous. So though the cotton grew taller, I took no notice of what was happening beneath the canopy of leaves and found myself surprised in early July by the first blossom, a pale crimped envelope of crepe protruding from a frilly green box. Again, I’d been anticipating a transcendental moment for the occasion, but my reaction was more composed of surprise and curiosity, which for all I know may well be the essential elements of a transcendent experience. I lack a frame of reference. Pale at first, the petals of the blossoms turned a rich purple before dropping. My neighbor John Lewis said that in Leflore County they have a saying: “First day white, second day red, third day from my birth I’m dead!” When the blooms had fallen they left a tight, blocky wad of green still enclosed in a feathery case. On this bud empires had grown and tumbled, but other work distracted me.

July brought a heat like I couldn’t remember in many years, the sun a hot press upon the world, heavy and dense, but the fall seeds broke from the earth and reached for the sky, hungry for light. Their growth soon replaced the spring bloomers, which had to be cut. Room also had to be found for plants that languished in other places for various reasons, others had to be moved and some culled even when the temperatures were in the eighties at midnight, but any sincere gardener knows that caring for plants is an honorable duty, and one often done against odds. Such are the toils of the earth.



Refrigerator Pickles

Slice or cube cucumbers, green tomatoes or squash, salt very well, let sit for a few minutes. then pack in a jar and fill with hot vinegar seasoned as you like to cover; I prefer just the salt, vinegar and sliced garlic, but you can include pickling spices, sugar or whatever else you find appealing. Let cool, then seal before refrigerating. These are best after a week and will keep for a good month or two. Do not–and I repeat NOT–attempt this with vegetables you’ll find in a supermarket unless you have a very good produce manager, particularly those swollen watery cucumbers usually sold. The vegetables should be young and very firm, preferably from a farm or the garden at the peak of the season.

A Cook from the Homeland

Calhoun County provides north Mississippi with a bucolic idyll between the burgeoning metro areas of Tupelo and Grenada. Two rivers, the Skuna and the Yalobusha, run from east to west through Calhoun at more or less equal distances into the Yazoo via the Tallahatchie, so geographically the county is divided by God into thirds. The land is typical of north central Mississippi; rolling wooded hills creased by bottomlands. Given the proximity to Oxford, the county could very well provide a model of Yoknapatawpha, but the seat, Pittsboro, named for a town in North Carolina, is a sleepy village, which runs contrary to Faulkner’s bustling profile of Jefferson. Pittsboro sits atop a ridge of hills that marks the southern edge of the Skuna River Valley. To the south, the land slopes in a more leisurely manner to the Yalobusha River just south of Vardaman, Derma and Calhoun City. Pittsboro is the smallest county seat in the state of Mississippi, both in population (212) and in area (one square mile).

Jo Brans is a member of the Reid family, which has lived in Pittsboro for time out of mind. A writer, Brans has explored many subjects, most in a scholarly vein, but her book Feast Here Awhile is a thoughtful examination of the changes in American cuisine from the 50s to the 90s, an era during which many writers claim that the country came of age in its culinary sensibilities.

Feast Here Awhile (the title, by the way, is taken from Shakespeare’s Pericles, I,iv,107) is the story of her own culinary coming of age that takes her from the gentle hills of north Mississippi to Belhaven College in Jackson (which was strictly for young ladies until the year after she graduated in 1955), to various locations in Texas, Minnesota and, finally, New York City as well as through two marriages, one to an American journalist, the other to a Dutch academic. Brans moves from her mother’s kitchen through college cafeterias, Texas eateries, and European fare on to DeNiro’s TriBeCa Grill in NYC. She also moves through (predictably, since the book has a pronounced literary bent) Childe, Beard and Rosso, managing to mention Proust, Welty and Kerouac on the way. Indeed, Brans is somewhat of a compulsive name-dropper, both of the famous and the near-famous, but I was infinitely proud of her for managing to squeeze in Ernie Mickler and his wonderful White Trash Cooking. In short, Feast Here Awhile is a personal encapsulation of the American culinary experience in the second half of the twentieth century, and a compelling read from any standpoint. It helps, of course, to be up on the literature, culinary and otherwise, but Brans is an excellent writer and rarely boring. I would recommend this book for any Southerner interested in food and cooking, more specifically Mississippians of that bent and particularly the good people of Calhoun County itself.

In preparation for this article on her, I attempted to get in touch with Brans for an interview, but countless attempts to discover her publisher or literary agent failed. Finally my friend Michelle Hudson, who heads up the reference department at the Welty Library asked, “Have you tried the phone book?” Well, no. Sure enough, in minutes Michelle gave me a number to call. When I did, early on a Saturday evening, a polite young man answered the phone and said he’d pass my message on to Jo. Within an hour Ms. Brans called. After making sure I was from Calhoun County (that didn’t take long at all) we chatted. She said she’d think about my request and let me know. Some three days later, I received her reply. I reproduce it here as a testament to her talent as a writer and her graciousness as a lady.

Dear Jesse,
  After serious reflection, I have decided that the project you propose is not for me.  I enjoyed writing Feast Here Awhile. I am pleased to find that it has found favor with readers, including, especially, you. Many folks, over the years since its publication, have looked me up (“on purpose,” as we Southerners say) to offer thanks and to relate their own pleasures at the table. I would have had material for several sequels.
  But no, I thought, and think, not. Essentially I have said in Feast what I have to say about the changes in American eating over the last five or six decades. It’s all there, from  the joys of good home cooking and the family dinner table to the more complicated pleasures of Julia Child and those whom she terrified, taught, and liberated–usually all three–and beyond.
  Feast Here Awhile is also a personal odyssey, if that’s not too highfaluting a term for just growing up. I ate my way from childhood in a small Southern town through various stops along the road to life in New York City, and recorded the trip, hit or miss, in “The Food Book,” which became Feast. Though food was the focus, I was always aware as I typed away that I was recording the arc of my own life. No news for either of us there: that’s what writers do.
  Jesse, I’m flattered that you want to work with me, but don’t be content to retread. I really like your piece about Sambo Mockbee and I suspect, from our brief communication, that you want to be a writer, not an editor. If I’m right, cut loose. My way in was food. Maybe yours is food, too, but your food, not mine. Find your own way in. Tell your story. And send me a copy when the book comes out.
  Good luck and God bless,
  Jo Brans

Thanks, Jo. I will.

Garden Tomatoes

What pass for home grown tomatoes are most often not; some are grown on farms, and while farms can certainly be homes, the tomatoes likely come from a field. You’ll also find local hothouse tomatoes sold as home grown, but they’re just a cut above those you’re going to see in a produce section in December. Garden tomatoes, those tended in a patch of ground by someone who keeps a garden not for commerce but for care and consideration, however imperfect, are not only the best tomatoes you will ever eat, but they are also hard to come by. You must know someone who tends a garden well because they were taught how by someone who tended for them, and you must live where people share the bounty of their lives. If your character is judged worthy, they will share with you.

Yazoo County tomatoes


The Food and Cooking of the Mississippi Delta: A Bibliography

I would very much appreciate help in making this bibliography as complete as possible. I know it has a lot of holes already, so try not to fuss at me too much. The criteria are complicated (how could they not be?) but please suggest cookbooks from the Delta or any other works (music, for instance) that dwell on the food and cooking of the Mississippi Delta.

Books by Authors from the Delta

Butler, Jack, Jack’s Skillet. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books, 1997.      

Buttros, Waddad Habeeb, Waddad’s Kitchen, Lebanese Zest and Southern Best. Natchez, Ms., 1982.

Claiborne, Craig, A Feast Made for Laughter. New York: Doubleday, 1982.

Claiborne, Craig, Southern Cooking. New York: Wings books, 1987.

Davis, Eva, Mississippi Mixin’s. (A collection of recipes used in Ms. Davis’ daily radio show, “Court Square”, a feature of WQBC in Vicksburg). Illustrations by Andrew Bucci.

Foose, Martha, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. Clarkson Potter, 2008.

—————. A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2011.                          

Metcalf, Gayden and Hays, Charlotte, Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral Mirimax, 2005.

Pickett, Susan. Eat Drink Delta: A Hungry Traveler’s Journey through the Soul of the South. University of Georgia Press: Athens, GA, January, 2013. (Pickett is from Jackson, but for this work she deserves an honorary Delta citizenship.)

Reed, Julia, Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008.

Simpson, Frank, Jr, Marguerite Watkins Goodman, Ken Kugle. Accent One, A Book of Recipes: Treasures from Our Kitchen to Yours. Accent Enterprises Inc., Bentonia, Ms., 1985.

Wilson, Denise, Family Secrets. Greenville, Ms., 1986.

Community Cookbooks

All Saints Episcopal Guild, The Inverness Cookbook. Inverness All Saints Episcopal Church, 196-?.

Belzoni Garden Club, All Rolled Together. Fundcraft Publishing; Collierville, Tn., 1999.

Belzoni, Garden Club. Favorite Recipes of our Members and of Friends. Lenexa, Kansas : Cookbook Publishers, Inc, 1974.

Beta Sigma Phi Beta,Zeta Chapter. Our Favorite Recipes. Greenwood, Mississippi : publisher not identified, 1972.

Calvary Baptist Church (Greenville, Miss.) A Book of Favorite Recipes Leawood, Kansas : Circulation Service, Inc, 1988.

Calvary Episcopal Church, The Cook’s Book. Calvary Episcopal Church: Cleveland, Ms., 1972

Central Delta Academy Parent-Teacher Organization, The Sharecropper. Central Delta Academy PTA: Inverness, Ms. 1987. (Illustrated with reproductions and descriptions of embroidery by Ethel Wright Mohamed)

Charleston Arts and Revitalization Effort. Cooking with C.A.R.E: A Collection of Recipes by Charleston Arts and Revitalization Effort. 2008.

Church of the, Holy Trinity. Restoration Recipes. Vicksburg, Miss.: Vicksburg, Miss., Church of the Holy Trinity.

Cleveland, Garden Club. Taste Buds. Cleveland, Miss.: Cleveland, Miss.: The Club, 1968.

County Day School (Marks, Miss), Mothers Club. Our Delta Dining. Marks, Miss.: Marks, Miss. : The Club, 1979.

Culture Club of Indianola, Favorite Recipes. Indianola, Mississippi,1957.

Daughters of the American Revolution Mississippi,State Society. The DAR Recipe Book. Place of publication not identified : Mississippi Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1967.

Delta Rice Promotions Committee. Between the Levees. Cleveland, Ms.: 1994.

Deer Creek Mother’s Club, Cookin’ with the Creek Kearney, Nb.: Morris Press Cookbooks, 2002.

Demareé, Troye. Kitchen Table Bridge: A Collection of More than 500 Treasured Recipes from Family, Friends, and some of My Own, edited by Beard, Ann Phillips Adamsville, Tenn. : Keepsake Cookbooks, 2000. [Strayhorn, Ms., Tate County]

Easy to Do, Great to Serve Recipes. Clarksdale, MS: Clarksdale, MS : Mississippi Madness, 1995.

Episcopal Church Woman, “Lead us not into temptation …” Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Greenwood, Ms., 1983 (?).

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (Greenwood, Miss), Christian Women. Christians Cooking. Collierville, Tenn. : Fundcraft Publishing, Inc, 1980.

First United Pentecostal Church (Yazoo City, Miss),Ladies Auxiliary. What’s Cookin’ in Yazoo City. Kearney, Neb.: Cookbooks by Morris Press, 1996.

Forbus, Kenneth. Forbus Food Favorites. 1984 revised edition.. ed. Greenville, Mississippi : Kenneth Forbus, 1984.

Humphreys Academy Patrons, Festival Cookbook. Humphreys Academy, Belzoni, Ms., 1983.

Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg, Vintage Vicksburg. Memphis: Wimmer, 1985. [Vicksburg]

—————. Ambrosia: A Deep-South Mixture of Homes, Recipes and history. 1997; reprint, 2008.

Junior Charity League of Monroe, La., The Cotton Country Collection. New Orleans: Franklin Printing, 1972. [Monroe, La.]

Junior League of Baton Rouge, La., River Road Recipes. Nashville, Tn.: Favorite Recipes Press, 1959. (76th printing, 50th Anniversary Edition, 1999: “The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine”) [Baton Rouge, La.]

Junior Woman’s Club (Greenville, Miss.), issuing body. Tasting Tea Treasures. Olathe, Kansas : Cookbook Publishers, Inc, 1984.

North Sunflower P.T.A., The Pick of the Crop. Memphis: Wimmer, 1978. [Drew, Ms.] *Rushing winery, cottonseed flour.

The Ladies’ Aid Society of the First Methodist Church, Greenville, Ms., The Delta Cookbook: A Collection of Tested Recipes. Printed by The Greenville Democrat, Greenville, Ms. 1917.

Orr, Ellen. A Pinch of Soda–a Pinch of Salt–, edited by Yates, Allene N., First Methodist Church (Shelby,Miss.).Shelby Woman’s Club. Clarksdale, Miss.?: Clarksdale, Miss.? : s.n, 1965.

Pickett, Bob, Brenda Ware Jones, and of Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary. Ambrosia. Vicksburg, Miss.: Vicksburg, Miss. : JAV Publications, 1997.

Pringle, Mrs. L.V., Jr. and Dozier, Mrs. Lester, eds., The Garden Clubs of Mississippi, Inc., Gardener’s Gourmet. Wimmer Brothers: Memphis, Tn., 3rd. ed.,1978, reprinted, 1983.

Raworth, Jennie D. Valuable Tested Recipes. Vicksburg, Miss.: Vicksburg, Miss. : s.n, 1913.

Temptations, Presbyterian Day School, Cleveland, Ms.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Yazoo City, Heavenly Dishes. Collerville, Tn.: Fundcraft n.d.

St. John’s United Methodist Church, Greenwood, Ms. Let Us Break Bread Together. Hartwell, Ga.: Calico Kitchen Press, 1999. [Greenwood]

St. John’s Women’s Auxiliary, Leland and St. Paul’s Women’x Auxiliary, Hollandale, The Gourmet of the Delta. Ridgeland, Ms.: Capitol Printing and Blueprint Company, 1964. [Leland, Hollandale]

St. Steven’s Episcopal Church, Indianola, Ms., Bayou Cuisine: Its Traditions and Transition. Indianola, Ms., 1970.

Sunflower County, Freedom Project. Delta-Licious: Family Recipes and Stories from Sunflower County, Mississippi. Sunflower, Miss.: Sunflower, Miss. : Sunflower County Freedom Project, 2005.

Tchula Garden Club, Tchula Garden Club Cookbook. Tchula Garden Club; Tchula, Ms., 1958 (reprinted, 1978).

The Twentieth Century Club, Webb, Ms., Everyday Recipes, As We Like It…Deep in the Delta. The Twentieth Century Club, Webb, Ms., 1947.

Southside Baptist Church, Heavenly Dishes. Southside Baptist Church, Yazoo City, (?).

The Women’s Society of Christian Service, Methodist Church, Benton, Mississippi, Favorite Recipes of the Magnolia State. Benton, Ms. 1948.

Tunica, County Woman. Tunica County Tasty Treats. Tunica, Miss.: Tunica, Miss. : Tunica County Woman’s Club, 1953.

United Daughters of the Confederacy Vicksburg, Dixie Delicacies. 4th ed. Vicksburg, Miss.: Vicksburg, Miss. : United Daughters of the Confederacy, Vicksburg Chapter No. 77, 1978.

Vaught, Marshall and Coahoma Women’s Club (Clarksdale, Miss.). Coahoma Cooking, Every Day and Sunday. 5th publication. Clarksdale, Miss.: Clarksdale, Miss. : Coahoma Woman’s Club, 1952.

Warren County Volunteer Firefighters Auxiliary, Warren County Volunteer Firefighters Auxiliary. Vicksburg, Miss. : Lenexa, Kan.: Cookbook Publishers, 1995.

Wynn, Margaret Brooks. My Dining Generation. Greenville, Miss.: Greenville, Miss. : Office Supply Co, 1962.

Young Women’s Guild of St. James’ Episcopal Church, The Twentieth Century Cookbook. Printed at the Offices of the Greenville Spirit, 1902.

Selected Mississippi Cookbooks

Bailey, John M. Fine Dining Mississippi Style. Brandon, Ms.: Quail Ridge Press, 2003.

Harris, Gladiola B., Old Trace Cooking: Native American and Pioneer Recipes Memphis: Riverside Press, 1981. [Oakland, Mississippi]

Higginbotham, Sylvia, Grits ‘N Greens and Mississippi Things. Columbus, Ms.: Parlance Publishing, 2002. [Columbus, various]

Home Economics Division of the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service, The Mississippi Cookbook. Jackson, Ms.: University Press of Mississippi, 1972. (New introduction by Martha Hall Foose, 2009)

McKee, Gwen and Moslty, Barbara, eds., Best of the Best from Mississippi. Brandon, Ms. Quail Ridge Press. [Various locations]

Mississippi V.I.P. Recipes, Pearl, Ms.: Philips Printing, 1995. [Various]

Puckett, Susan (text) and Meyers, Angelo (ed.), A Cook’s Tour of Mississippi. Jackson, Ms.: Hederman Brothers, 1980 (3rd printing, 1989). [Various]

Telephone Pioneers of America, Bell’s Best. Cookbook Publishers, 1981. (Bell’s Best 2, 1983) [Add other editions.]

Southern Foodways

Atlanta Historical Society, Tullie’s Receipts: Nineteenth Century Plantation Plain-Style Southern Cooking and Living. Atlanta: Conger Printing and Publishing, 1976. [General]

Ferris, Marcie Cohen, The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

Ownby, Ted, American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty & Culture, 1830–1998. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Online Resources:

Korean-Style Chicken Gizzards (매운 닭똥집 볶음 )

Trim one pound gizzards of membranes and parboil in lightly salted water until very tender. Drain, dust with gochagaru (hot pepper powder) and salt to taste. Heat sesame oil in a wok or large sauté pan until very hot, add sliced garlic, sliced peppers (your call; I use poblanos and sweet banana peppers) and gizzards with a little water, toss until thoroughly coated with oil and pepper powder. Serve with a light Pilsner. Like many if not most Korean recipes, this one is spicy and pungent, and in this part of the world I consider this very much a man cave food, certainly not a dish to serve to those of delicate sensibilities.

A Magnolia in Zaire

Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible is an exercise in endurance. Kingsolver is a beautiful writer, her voice is a perfect vehicle for this patchwork narrative and you’ll find her prose akin to Faulkner’s, who like her was by turns ponderous, on other curves playful, a cadenced eye cast on what can only be described as life lured or provoked into that tenuous balance between being and existence.

Kingsolver is a native of Kentucky, which some might argue is a Southern state, but as a denizen of Mississippi I say not. Good writing knows no geography, and while Kingsolver might find comparisons to the Dixie Limited flattering, I suspect she might find it annoying. Faulkner, more than any other American writer in the past century, has been used by countless critics and academics as a rough rule of thumb for excellence, and though this might be a measure of the length of his shadow, this comparison has become far too trite to be taken seriously in any context, including mine.

What confounds this parity with The Poisonwood Bible, which I consider the tragedy of Orleanna Price, is that Orleanna is from Pearl, Mississippi. Why Kingsolver chose Pearl of all places as the hometown for this woman, who was indeed “a Niobe without tears”,  is a question only she can answer, but I certainly intend to ask.

In a Pickle

Some people consider the family a basic building block of society, environments that nurture civility and tolerance, but we all know better. Families are hotbeds of contention. If you’re lucky and manage to stay out of court most of the time, the strife is petty, and I do mean petty; just last week I created a tempest in my genetic teapot over (of all things) pickled peaches.

We’d been having a carefree back-and-forth online discussion on our family website about a traditional Easter meal when I oh-so-casually mentioned that a cold plate featuring stuffed celery, trimmed green onions, black olives and pickled peaches always appeared on our table. The pit hit the fan when a younger relative professed that she had no idea what pickled peaches were, much less what they taste like, to which I expressed no small degree of shock and dismay. Before stirring sideways I was in a pickle myself, and another relative of her generation called me “a snooty old know-it-all”. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course; my modesty and self-effacement are legendary.

Granted, peaches aren’t among the essential pickled items you should have on hand at any given moment. A jar of kosher dills (whole; you can always slice them as you like or need), some good homemade bread-and-butters and a small jar of sweet relish comprise the utter basics of my pickle pantry, but I do keep chow-chow, kim chee and pickled eggs as well as one of those pretty little octagonal jars of cauliflower and red peppers that look so much better than they taste. Then I have sport peppers flavoring vinegar for greens and peas.

What I call pickled peaches are whole, peeled cling peaches preserved in sweet/sour brine. Some people call them spiced peaches because most if not all recipes include clove and cinnamon. Come to think about it, this entire spat could have merely been the result of a contradiction in terms, but a couple of people still had a fit and fell off into it anyway, me being one of them. What I found most irksome about the entire exchange was an insinuation that pickled peaches rank among those antique foods such as ambrosia that people serve out of duty instead of for their culinary appeal. All of my old fart flags unfurled, and before you knew it, I got a finger-waggin’ usually reserved for 6-year olds who get caught using Mom’s sport bra for a lawn swing. But pickling is simply a manner of preserving foods for a short period of time in a solution with a pH that prohibits bacterial growth. Usually the process involves salt and vinegar, but they pickled Alexander the Great in a vat of honey (which has a very low pH), and you can use the same sweet process on things such as watermelon rinds, cucumbers and, yes, peaches.

Spiced peaches were once available year-round, but nowadays you’re only going to find them in the fall or early winter because most people (me included) use pickled peaches only during the holiday season, serving them on a cold plate with other raw or preserved vegetables. At one time, you could also get whole pickled peaches, though those seem to have been replaced on shelves by peaches that have been pitted and halved. Still, they deserve a more diverse role on the table. They’re great with ham at any time of the year, and some people cook with them as you would any canned peach, using them in cobblers, cakes or in ice cream instead of fresh peaches for a spicy kick.

Now had I posted such a recitation of information as this, the situation might have worked even more to my disadvantage. There’s a distinct possibility that some members of my family might have viewed it as evidence that my salad days are over, and I’m getting my just desserts, going all out for spiced peaches because God knows I can’t afford that Corvette I’ve always wanted. Rest assured that my defense of pickled peaches has no relation to the first pangs of a what I fervently hope will be prolonged mid-life crisis. Spiced peaches need no advocate. Me, I think I might just post a recipe for pot roast and see what happens; somebody’s bound to get their nose out of joint.

Select the smallest fresh cling peaches you can find. It doesn’t matter if they’re a little bit green; in fact, you shouldn’t use peaches that are soft and ripe enough to eat out of hand because they tend to fall apart when moved. Wash peaches, dropping them for about two minutes in briskly boiling water to loosen the skins and then peel. For every four pounds of peaches, combine 3 cups sugar and 2 cups vinegar, add two pieces of stick cinnamon broken into 2-inch pieces and two teaspoons whole cloves and heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling. Pack peaches into sterilized quart jars, add hot spiced syrup (with enough water if needed to cover) seal tightly immediately and cool before storage.