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Sunday Food: Pickles

By: Ruth Calvo Sunday September 21, 2014 2:51 am


Basic pickles in jars.

(Picture courtesy of christine at

Since we’ve talked about the various relishes for sandwich making, it seems only natural that we conclude with a mention of the many added tangy pickles that make a sandwich more interesting yet.   There are so many varieties, I doubt any of us like them all, particularly all at once, but without the pickles many of us would find our munchies a bit dull.

I was happy to find a review of every kind I know of, all in one publication here, and encourage you to add your own if you think of any others.   For my taste, sweet dill is the perfection of a ham sandwich, and sour goes best with burgers.   Pickle relish makes a hot dog more bearable, and no, I’m not a fan of hotdogs.

Dill: Dill is the most popular variety of cucumber pickle. Herb dill or dill oil is added to impart a distinctive and refreshing flavor. There are many types of dill pickles, including:

  • Genuine Dill - These pickles are made by the slow “processed” method. Dill weed is added to the tanks during the last stage of fermentation or to the jar after fermentation. These pickles usually have a higher lactic acid flavor than other varieties.
  • Kosher Dill - True “Kosher” pickles are those that have been manufactured and certified in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, and made with dill and garlic added to the brine.  The flavor is very popular, more robust than regular dill pickles, so much so, that the name has stuck and kosher dills are the ultimate accompaniment to an overstuffed deli sandwich.
  • Overnight Dill - Cukes are placed fresh into brine (which may include a slight amount of vinegar) for a very short time — one to two days. The entire process takes place under refrigeration, and they stay refrigerated when stored and shipped. The bright green pickles taste like fresh cucumbers accented with dill flavor. They are the kind of pickle you usually find at a deli.
  • Other types of dills include Polish and German style.

Sour/Halfsour: Fresh cucumbers are first placed into a seasoned brine which doesn’t include vinegar. The containers are then refrigerated, and remain refrigerated when stored and shipped. The longer the cucumbers remain in the brine, the more sour they become. Half-sour pickles are extra crispy and keep their fresh cucumber color.

Sweet: Sweet pickles are packed in a sweet mixture of vinegar, sugar and spices. Here are some variations:

  • Bread & Butter - Sweet, thinly-sliced pickles made from cucumbers, onions and chopped green or red peppers. They have a distinct, slightly tangy taste. Available in smooth- or waffle-cut chips or chunks.
  • Candied - These pickles are packed in an extra-heavily sweetened liquid.
  • No-Salt Sweet - These are a relatively new variety of sweet pickle to which no salt has been added. Usually available as chips.
  • Sweet/Hot - These are a “hot” new kind of pickle. They’re made by adding hot spices and seasonings to pickles for a delightful spark of piquant flavor.

Pickled Peppers: Made in the same way as cucumber pickles, there are more than fifteen varieties of pickle peppers available, ranging from mild to hot, hot, hot. These are some of the most popular pickled peppers:

  • Jalapeno - Thanks to the growing interest in Mexican and southwestern foods, this type of pickled pepper is hot – literally. Fiery jalapenos are packed in brine and come whole or in rings.
  • Banana Peppers - Long, shiny, yellow peppers that come both hot and sweet , and are banana-shaped. They’re available whole or in rings.
  • Cherry Peppers - Shaped like cherries, these pickled peppers are available in red or green and both hot or sweet versions. They’re most popular whole or in rings.
  • Pepperoncini - These pickled peppers are available whole or as green Greek or Italian. Mildly hot, these peppers are popular in antipasto or Mediterranean-style salads.

Specialty Products: Not only are pickles and pickled peppers very popular, but there is a wide variety of pickled vegetables on the market today. Some are found nationally, others regionally. They include pickled asparagus, beets, cauliflower, cocktail onions, green tomatoes, okra, sauerkraut, sweet mixed vegetables, sweet pickles with raisins, and more.

Having myself enjoyed pickling peppers grown in the garden, I hope you have favorites, and make some of them yourself.

(Picture courtesy of jeffreyw at

Sandwich with several kinds of pickles.


Sunday Talking Heads: September 21, 2014

By: Elliott Sunday September 21, 2014 12:05 am

A Survey of Open Space, Movie Night Monday

Brisk is upon us, good morning.

Today it’s ISIS, with a dash of Ebola. Bob Schieffer’s broadcasting live from under the covers with Joe Lieberman, Jane Harman, Robert Kagan, and Mike Morell, so now I’m under the bed.

WASHINGTON JOURNAL: 7:45am – Arab States Coalition Against ISIS. Middle East Institute Adjunct Scholar Thomas Lippman discusses the Obama administration’s efforts to build an international coalition to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They also talk about what the coalition’s role would be in the region. 8:30am – CDC Report on Affordable Care Act. Bloomberg News Health Policy Reporter Alex Wayne discusses a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which finds that the Affordable Care Act cut the share of people without health insurance by two percent in 2014. 9:15am – Arkansas Governor’s and Senate Races. 9:30am – Pennsylvania Governor’s Race. 9:45am – Kentucky Senate Race.

ABC’S THIS WEEK: ISIS. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Then, Iraq war veterans Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) Roundtable: James Carville, Ana Navarro, Bret Stephens, Katrina vanden Heuvel. Also, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel on dying and getting out of the way. Plus, Rory Kennedy on her documentary “Last Days in Vietnam.”

CBS’ FACE THE NATION: ISIS. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI). Ebola. CBS News’ Dr. Jonathan LaPook, and Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. War Party Roundtable: Joe Lieberman, Jane Harman, Robert Kagan, Mike Morell.


CNN’S STATE OF THE UNION: ISIS. Tony Blair. Then, the NFL with Shannon Sharpe, Izell Reese and Christine Brennan. Roundtable: Newt Gingrich, Donna Brazile, Marc Lamont Hill, Tara Wall.

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: ISIS. Rep. Pete King (R-NY) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Midterm elections with Karl Rove and Joe Trippi. Roundtable: Brit Hume, Julie Pace, George Will, Juan Williams. Plus, Daniel Silva on his latest book, “The Heist.”



MOYERS & COMPANY: Climate Change: The Next Generation. Kelsey Juliana, an 18-year-old activist, is fighting climate change in the courts and walking across the country to spread the word on global warming.

NBC’S MEET THE PRESS: ISIS. Mike Breen, Truman National Security Project) and Steven Bucci, Allison Center for Foreign & National Security Policy. Roundtable: Village People.

Thrawn Janet

By: Elliott Saturday September 20, 2014 8:03 pm

Exorcising Thrawn Janet

Dakine featured Robert Louis Stevenson today and in comments Jon73 told us he thought Stevenson’s “Thrawn Janet” was one of the best horror stories ever written. Unfamiliar with it (and with Hallowe’en drifting closer), I went in search of “Thrawn Janet.” I was thinking Janet gets thrawn off a cliff or something, but “thrawn” is (chiefly) Scottish for twisted or crooked (also perverse or ill-tempered).

To set it up:

“Thrawn Janet” is actually Janet M’Clour, an “auld limmer” (“A light woman; a strumpet; in weaker sense: A jade, hussy, minx.”) who marries the Reverend Murdoch Soulis. The locals distrust Janet, however, thinking that she’s a witch, and they finally throw her in “the water o’Dule, to see if she were a witch or no, soum or droun.”

I easily found the text online and surprisingly came upon this narration by Scottish playwright Alan Bissett. Listen carefully, it is very Scotsy which takes some getting used to unless your a verry auld Scot.

One of these days Alice…One of these days …

By: cmaukonen Saturday September 20, 2014 4:43 pm

The Honeymooners

No…not a diary about Jacky Gleason or the Honeymooners. It’s about Scotland and the secession vote. Or as some have suggested, non-vote. That despite all the heavily attended rallies and publicity and polling, Scotland voted 55 to 45 to stay with Jolly old England. As Gomer Pyle would say, Surprise Surprise.

As I see it, a classic codependent relationship. A geopolitical  codependent relationship. Like Ralph Kramden threatening to send Alice to the moon or the spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend  insisting they are going to leave as we have seen in so many TV shows, but never does. Or the kid saying he/she is going to run away from home – to the secret clubhouse up the street, only to return when it gets dark and they get hungry. Scotland had no real intention of actually going it alone, I do not believe. But the vote was close enough to scare the willies out of some folks, which was the whole point I think.

There are just too many people whose livelihood depends on Downing Street and what they do there, either directly or indirectly. Like Ralph not doing anything to actually endanger his relationship with Alice with all his bluster  and arrogance, he needs her far too much.

But you can only engage in such threats for a very short time, then they rapidly lose their effectiveness.

No….those who are going to leave or some such, just do it. With out all the drama. For they are truly self sufficient and/or the status quo has become intolerable to the point it has become a negative sum situation.

Then they just up and leave.

Video:Effective Issue Advocacy- Occupy the Podium

By: jbade Saturday September 20, 2014 12:31 pm

I am going to my congressional representatives town-hall meeting. My intent is to obtain video of questions I ask and the subsequent responses forwarded. I have little interest in the response, I know it will be the same generic, fact-free regurgitation of the establishment’s talking points. I am looking to make a statement of fact for the record that puts the response in direct opposition to the cited facts.

CODEPINK, Medea Benjiman have demonstrated how effective occupying the podium can be. In Medea’s case she knows she is not getting a response but by forwarding the facts, in a public way, like she does, seems so much more effective than petitions to the White House or a political figure.  I believe this because of it’s informative value that strengthens alternative media. The more good stuff, the more people will become interested. This site’s continuing success is a testament to that fact.

There are so many big, broad, inclusive, compelling issues one can make a passionate statement of facts in advocacy of. The less inclusive your statement of fact the easier it is to oppose on collateral issues. My main issue is-We house our mentally ill in prisons because it is substantially cheaper to do than offer real help and that that is where the conversation ends every time, my definition of moral bankruptcy. These people, unable to defend themselves, have few advocates and we allow them to, effectively, be thrown to the wolves. This issue does not resonate with the American Voter, just like euthanasia of 6 million dogs and cats a year when it would only take the slightest bit of effort and decency to resolve does not resonate. Understand that concept, that there are those who would buy that purebred dog,  unwittingly supporting the euthanasia while actually caring about the plight of so many dogs/cats that are  in the kill shelters, then there are those who only care for their purebred and are not concerned about the  6 million, at all. Your issue will likely breakdown into groups, consider making a statement so inclusive it includes the purebred owner who wittingly disregards the plight of the six million.  Use this as an example, of how to be inclusive- by advocating on behalf of ALL dogs and not specifically shelter dogs you include and gain the advocacy of every purebred owner no matter how offensive and shallow their conduct. If it saves some dogs, if dogs aren’t being murdered because of it, I’ll be inclusive- no problem.

There are so many great issues forwarded at this site. The insightful, well informed arguments, forwarded on this site are the arguments missing from the political discourse. The establishment even accepts Libertarian-ism now, because they have weened all the anti-war good out of it.

The statement of facts I will forward:

Saturday Art – Sila: Breath of the World, by John Luther Adams

By: EdwardTeller Saturday September 20, 2014 12:03 pm

This year’s Pulitzer Prize for Musical Composition was awarded to my longtime friend and colleague, John Luther Adams.  The award was specifically for a spacious new orchestral work of his, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Become Ocean.  But the prize for Adams, as is the case with others so honored, also reflects upon the Alaska master’s record of unique achievement over the decades.  The composer has long, at least up until recently, suffered having his name in the shadow of San Francisco-based composer, John Adams, with John Luther Adams often being called “the OTHER John Adams.”  I’ve long referred to JLA as “the REAL John Adams.”

Become Ocean was first performed in Seattle in 2013.  The Seattle Symphony gave the work its New York City premiere on May 6th, 2014.  WQXR Radio in New York has archived the sound file of that performance at their web site.  It is a powerful, spacey and ultimately gripping wall of sounds.

In midsummer, Adams had a new work, commissioned by Lincoln Center for their Out of Doors Festival, receive its first full airing in the center’s Hearst Plaza, between the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School of Music.  The new composition, Sila:  Breath of the World, is a new look at an idea he hit upon fully in the earlier outdoor masterpiece, Inuksuit.

Both Inuksuit and Sila are aleatoric, in that no two performances of either work will closely resemble any others.  A lot is left up to chance and to the environmental ambience of the outdoor performance space.

Anne Midgette, writing of Sila‘s premiere for the Washington Post, described the performance:

Brass players stood like sentinels along the edge of an upthrust triangle of grass against the backdrop of a New York cityscape gilded by the late sun. Below them, women in black gowns moved through a reflecting pool, barely rippling, like chips broken off the Henry Moore sculpture thrusting out of the water behind them. From the hum of the city emerged a barely audible rumbling of drums, growing louder. Then winds, and then the brass, began to unsheathe arpeggios, rising patterns of notes, growing gradually louder, like encroaching waves on sand, and the women in the pool raised megaphones and began to sing.

The world premiere of John Luther Adams’s “Sila: The Breath of the World” Friday night at New York’s Lincoln Center had the visual aesthetic of a music video, the vibe of a cultural Happening — some 2,500 people congregated on Hearst Plaza, between the Metropolitan Opera and 65th Street, to watch — and the sound of Richard Wagner as channeled by John Cage. 

Upon watching a video of that performance, I wrote:

Fairy Tales

By: David Cox Saturday September 20, 2014 10:21 am

By David Glenn Cox

This fairy tale begins with “Once upon a time.” All the best fairy tales begin with “Once upon a time.” It seems however, the practice has fallen out of favor, especially among broadcast news circles; which routinely tell stories far more fantastical than talking frogs, glass slippers or poisoned apples, without even the slightest regard to the grand old tradition of good fairy tales. The general purpose of beginning a fairy tale with “Once upon a time” is to frame the story, to warn the readers in advance that the bounds of reality will be exceeded and bent beyond credibility. But as the ship of state drifts further from the shores of reality the odd ends and accessories become the appendix of the body politic.

Bloomberg – In nine strikes over two days, the U.S. destroyed Islamic State Humvees and armed vehicles, along with a checkpoint and bunker, according to statements issued by U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

When did Al Qaeda become the Islamic State?

Where did the Islamic State acquire the money and logistics to build an armed force, Go Fund Me perhaps? Was there a draft held somewhere, where Al Qaeda could reserve their best fighters, leaving only the scrubs and rookies to join the new team? In our non-reality society, the equation goes something like this: – 6 = 4 you don’t need to know any of the other factors, about silly, magic mirrors or wicked step-mothers. Come on! After thirteen years of perpetual war, haven’t you learned to trust us yet!

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Syria hmm. Could that be the same Syria the administration accused of dastardly crimes it was unable to prove? The same Syrian conflict the American public declared by a wide margin it wanted no part of? Well, I guess the American public was all wet. When will we learn to just listen to the Pentagon? Because of our reticence, the founders of ISIS took their ill-gotten funds down to Honest Achmed’s Used Humvees and Armed Vehicles (Just around the corner from high prices! 60 month financing available for qualified Jihads) and set up a check point and a bunker. Clearly, we are dealing with military masterminds!

After just nine air strikes with laser guided bombs and high-tech weaponry, we were able to destroy that check point, that bunker and some trucks! I guess now, the President’s hands are tied. I imagine he paces nervously in the Oval Office, talking to himself. “Gosh darn it, the American public didn’t want me to invade Syria, but I have no other choice now…now that there is an Islamic group with Syria in its title. Besides, they have armed trucks and Humvees!”

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, codes of conduct were decided upon by the wise people’s of a war-weary, primitive world.

Scotland Rejects Independence: A Victory for the Rich?

By: lauraw Saturday September 20, 2014 9:52 am

It wasn’t about kilts and bagpipes. It was about economics and political power.

On September 18, 55% of Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom. 45% supported the Yes-Scotland initiative, voting in support of a Scottish divorce from England. The division was largely along class lines: the rich voted No to independence, the poor voted Yes.

The voter turnout was about 90% of the population, with many voters weighing in who previously had not taken an interest in electoral politics.

Emotions ran extremely high. After a poll suggested that a slim majority was in favor of the Yes Initiative,  “British politicians, banks and businessmen closed ranks to warn of economic hardship, job losses and investment flight should Scots decide to go it alone.” (Al Jazeera)

The Al Jazeera summary also made the following interesting points:

The independence movement said Scots should be able to choose their own leaders and make their own decisions rather than be ruled from London. Many of those who voted for independence felt that being governed from the Westminster parliament had opened too wide a gap between rich and poor … Defence was also a big question – Britain’s submarine-borne nuclear arsenal, part of NATO’s defences, is based in Scotland’s Firth of Clyde.

After the vote, the Guardian interviewed Scottish ex-patriates in Australia. “I’m devastated,” said Kevin Headley.  “I thought Scotland would reject right-wing politics and the corrupt Westminster system. This is bad for the UK, and it reinforces everything that’s wrong about politics.” However, Professor Gerry Simpson of the Melbourne Law School expressed a less passionate view: “… it would have been such a daring and enormous step, even though they know the sensible thing to do is remain part of the UK. However, independence too is often a disappointment. People expect independence to lead to some sort of solution to deep-seated social, economic and political problems and in reality it is not that simple.”

After the vote, a Guardian editorial opined that promises made by a panicky England must now be kept.

[UK Prime Minister David Cameron promised that] Scotland will now get further taxing and governing powers …. What is crucial, in the Guardian’s view, is that the new plans give greater control to Holyrood in as many areas as practicable while continuing to give the UK government a meaningful role in defending the things that bind the people of these islands together … Too many Conservative politicians are far more interested in the politics of England than in those of Scotland or the UK as a whole. This would be a terrible response to a contest in Scotland which has again exposed the disconnect between the political parties and the people.

In the end, though, we should not kid ourselves. The grievances that animated this campaign were above all material rather than constitutional. The economic model which dominates the lives of Scots is broken. Nationalism offered an escape, but it was one with too many risks. Yet the economic model is still broken and is still at the root of discontents that should unite England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, not force them apart.

The referendum was a “once in a generation” opportunity. Whether the movement will continue, remains to be seen. The movement’s website hasn’t yet posted an update.

This independence movement made some other countries nervous, notably Spain, whose Basque and Catalan minorities have been making noises about breaking free. Yes, it’s a can of worms. Quebec. Kurdistan. Eastern Ukraine. The North Caucasus.  How many more minority groups are angry that an established government is giving them short shrift, politically and economically? A recent excellent Joe Shikspack analysis about Iraq on FDL noted that the U.S. and European powers seem intent on retaining current, historic (read colonial) boundaries at all costs (bloodshed included). The current Atlas is sacred. One wonders why.

This post is dedicated to the memory of efbeall. Last year he alerted us to this burgeoning Scottish independence movement, and he and I took a brief break from the Marathon bombing discussions to talk about Scottish culture. He noted his Scottish ancestry and described the Scots as “gadflies.” Gadfly being defined as “a person who annoys others or rouses them from complacency.” Yes! (I too am proud to count Scots among my ancestors.)