Failed Bank and Subprime Mess Brine Pickles
So the Federal Reserve worked feverishly over the weekend to save Fannie and Freddie and take over Indy, or as the WSJ reports in Treasury and Fed Pledge Aid For Ailing Mortgage Giants this morning: The Fed "maneuvering, attempted to shore up confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by announcing a plan that placed the federal government firmly behind the battered mortgage giants."
Such a pickle.
Obviously, we need something to distract us while we watch the machinations and see the stock market's reactions after the ordinary citizens have had the weekend to mull over the news of the FED's late Friday take over of the thrift IndyMac. Today, the small investors may sit tight, buy more or they may rush the markets and pull retirement funds out of their 401s, SEPs, and IRAs. Early notice has the market bouncing miraculously back. So in the meantime, here's a brine pickle recipe -- usually made in a "crock" -- thus suitably apt for the times.
As part of my household's private Fed Protection Plan, we've been cutting expenses for several years now -- and two years ago, we enlarged our vegetable garden considerably. We've been making fruit butters and freezer tomato sauce, salsa, and billiard balls. This year we are adding brine pickling.
1 part sea salt to 10 parts water
(We used 1/2 cup salt dissolved in 5 cups water)
1/8 -1/4 cup vinegar
If you don't have the classic pickle crock, any wide mouthed glass or ceramic or crockery jar will do. We used as you can tell from photograph, a glass canister.
Roughly 2 lbs to 10 cups brine.
According to Euell Gibbons, any crisp vegetable will do -- cucumbers, green tomatoes, onions, cauliflower etc.
As the photo at the top attests, we made our brine, put the dill in the bottom in the jar, and then added eight 4" to 5" cucumbers, some dill in the bottom, a few slices of onion and three cloves of garlic.
We poured the brine over it all.
KEY The vegetables must be kept below the surface of the brine at all times. So the trick according to all the recipes we consulted is to weigh them down with a plate or other heavy object (rocks on the plate is Euell's suggestion) that keeps the vegetables from floating to the top.
We ad libbed and stuck a glass custard cup in the opening and threw in the mortar pestle for weight. The water creeps up around the sides of the cup, but is so far keeping the pickles submerged.
BACK AT THE RANCH- er, Farm: The Wall Street Journal told us this weekend that Saudis are buying farmland... Foreign Farm Investors Spark a Fear
Emerging nations are trying to cash in on the global food crisis by getting big importers of crops to effectively lease their farmlands -- a new trend that is already sparking complaints from farmers in some countries who are concerned about their own food supplies.
The latest example: a plan by the Indonesian government to develop a Connecticut-sized farming tract on the remote province of Papua to grow rice, sugar cane and soybeans. Promoters of the project have met with Saudi investors in the hopes of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in return for dedicating part of the crops ...
BRINE FOLLOWUP: The recipes all tell us to skim the surface of the brine for the scum that occurs as part of the natural curing process (wish handling the scum who brought the sub-prime mess could be eliminated as easily). The recipes also warn to continue adding brine to keep the vegetables completely covered. After a couple of weeks one can wash the pickles off in a cold water bath and can them if so desired, or simply keep the brine going, adding vegetables and brine as needed.