On the last Sunday in July, you find yourself lounging next to a pool sipping limeade through a straw. You pick up a celebrity gossip magazine courtesy of the ocean side hotel where you happen to be vacationing and read what Kate Middleton, the Dutchess of Cambridge wore to Zara Phillips’ wedding (a smart ecru dress, brocade jacket, and flower weighted hat) apparently there is a website dedicated to Kate’s entire wardrobe.
A cocktail server refreshes your drink from an icy glass pitcher at the same time a kid jumps cannonball-style into the pool soaking you and your magazine, which is a relief since the sun follows you like a spotlight. It must be a hundred degrees out here you think even with the ocean just beyond the fence. The stilled ocean air is even hotter. The cannonball kid splashes again and this time you follow his lead into the pool.
You swim underwater, eyes open, navigating through the crowd of bobbing legs. After two laps, you come up for air to face a teenage couple twisted up like a Bavarian pretzel. Excuse me, you say mostly to yourself, as you jump out to sit on the edge, feet dangling in cool blue. They continue on as do the other pool-goers with their entanglements, books, drinks, snacks, and conversations.
The woman next to you happens to start up a conversation and after you exchange pleasantries and learn how she grew up on a farm in Michigan and you tell her you happen to love to cook and she tells you how much she loves to can and then goes on to tell you about her Aunt Mae’s famous pickle recipe.
As if on cue she suddenly exclaims, Oh, heavens me, since you cook and all, you must try this. It’s got Aunt Mae’s (rest her dear soul) pickles in it. She rummages beneath her chair and pulls out a wicker basket, opens the lid, then unwraps a loaf of country-style French bread stuffed with vegetables.
Pan bagnat. Made it this morning at my sister’s place on our way over her for a dip in the pool. She leans in and whispers, By the way, we’re not staying here, just coolin’ off a bit. Go ahead, try it, she says as she hands you a wedge, there’s plenty to go around and my sister, Irene, see that’s her in the brown swimming suit over there. Yoo hoo, Irene. Come on over here, she yells across the pool, there’s someone I want you to meet. Anyway, I think you might like this sandwich and well, don’t be shy now, what do you think?
You bite into the bread soaked in a shallot Dijon vinaigrette with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, red onions, basil, black and green olives, and sweet pickles inside. It’s the kind of food meant for such a Sunday in July when you may or may not be seated poolside next to a stranger who gives you a hunk of pan bagnat along with the recipe for her Aunt’s famous bread and butter pickles. But, in the end, who really cares whether this story is true or not, we have pickles to make people!
Oh, and Art and Lemons turns 3 today…yay, limeade, pan bagnat, and pickles all around!
Bread and Butter Pickles
adapted from “Raw Food For Everyone” by Alissa Cohen and Leah J. Dubois
Yield 12 pickles
12 pickling Kirby cucumbers, cut lengthwise into halves or quarters
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup raw honey
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pack the cut cucumbers in a large wide-mouth glass container.
Whisk the vinegar, water, honey, coriander seeds, and sea salt together in a bowl. Pour this brine over the cucumbers. Top with a piece of wax or parchment paper to keep the pickles soaked in their brine.
Refrigerate for 7 days before serving. The pickles will keep for up to 1 month.