Last weekend, I watched my life get picked apart by strangers. And that’s not a euphemism.
In the weeks leading up to our departure, as we were packing our possessions into boxes, Greg and I realized we have way too much stuff to ship. To be frank, we realized that a long time ago – we live in a beautiful two-bedroom heritage apartment with a dining room and four closets, how were we NOT going to have lots of stuff? – but that vague notion was finally driven home when I looked at my 20th jar and realized there are simply not enough preserves in my cupboard to justify so many jars. And so, we decided to throw a garage sale.
There is something that is both grotesque and humbling in the process of saying goodbye to most of your life’s possessions in a garage sale. Grotesque, because you find yourself enjoying the thrill of the sale, but at the same time, you realize that you are rejoicing at the little bits of your life which will now be going to other people. Furthermore, you’re also likely selling some of those things to your friends and family, so you also end up feeling guilty for your own gluttony (even though, for the record, we sold everything for very affordable prices and at no point did I feel like I was ripping anyone off. Honest). But it’s also humbling, because as you see your favourite crock leaving your front door for a pittance (My crock! My baby!), along with that pizza cutter you’re probably still going to need before your flight, you realize that at the end of the day, they really are just stuff. And then comes the feeling of relief.
So there we were, saying goodbye to our… stuff, when we realized we’re going to need something to take the edge off. As you can imagine, a whole day of barter and trade will take its toll on your vocal cords, your stamina, your resolve to move, and your optimistic outlook on life. And in an effort to find something to address all those aches and pains, as well as keep us well fortified AND be acceptable for consumption in a mid-afternoon garage sale, Greg and I landed on the ubiquitous Canadian Caesar.
But in my opinion, the key to a good Caesar (as to most things in life) is the pickle that goes into it. And in my book, green beans and asparagus make the best pickles. So the purpose of today’s post is now to lament about the meagre things that have remained in our possession; it is not to complain about the pain I felt when selling some of my favourite things for a pittance; nor is it to give you a Caesar recipe, though that is also included. The purpose of today’s post is to share these easy, quick pickled green beans, because they are a true revelation.
Zesty and packed with dill, these pickled green beans swim in a simple brine alongside garlic, mustard seeds and whole chillies. Yet the final product is sharp without being overpowering, preserved while tasting fresh, and sweet as well as salty. Though these pickles will get better the longer they sit, they are perfectly ready in 48 hours – and safe to consume in 24. Dunk these into a Caesar, call it a drunken green bean, and you’re all set for a good afternoon.
And if you’re anything like me, it may even make you forget you’re saying goodbye to life as you know it.
To make a Caesar with these pickled green beans, or any pickle you prefer: in a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces of gin or vodka (here, I used tomato flavoured potato vodka, because I had so, but usually I’m a fan of gin Caesars), 2-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (omit if vegan), 2-4 dashes of Frank’s red hot (we’re not fans of Tabasco, that will do as well. We’ve even done it with Sriracha, but I find that lacks a vinegar note), a splash of pickle juice (I do an ounce, but if I’m serving for newbies I go with a half ounche), and 4 ounces or more of Clamato juice (or tomato juice, if you’re vegan). Shake, and pour into a tumbler with ice. Top with more juice if there’s room. If desired, the cocktail can be made directly in the tumbler and stirred, or it can be made in a large pitcher ahead of time, and mixed with alcohol at time of serving (or just had straight). And of course, don’t forget to garnish with a pickle!
- For one litre jar:
- 1.5 lbs green beans
- 3 small, dried hot red peppers
- two large bunches of fresh dill
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp (18 mL) mustard seeds
- 1 cups water
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 1 tbsp pickling salt
- Cut green beans equal lengths that will fit into your jars, discarding stem ends.
- Into your jars, pack 1 head dill, cloves of garlic, mustard seeds and hot red peppers. Tightly pack in beans, cut side up. Top with another bunch of dill.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water, vinegar and salt to boil. As soon as they're boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Pour brine into each jar, leaving ½-inch (1 cm) of headspace. Cover with lids, and let cool on the counter. Once cooled, place in fridge and let sit for 2-3 days, though beans can be eaten after 24 hours (but I prefer mine a bit brinier). Keep in fridge and continue eating, serving them with Caesars, in salads, or as part of a pickle and cheese platter with some bread.