Thursday, March 25, 2010
Why is life sending me lemons?
Pix above of lemon pickle, 4 weeks in its gestation. This jar used to be full. The lemons have shrunk.
Seriously guys, I have lemons coming out the wazoo. Sharon Selund, my neighbor is the culprit. She drops off lemons at my doorstep. I use a lot of lemons in my cooking, but how much do I need? A truckload? I juice them up to freeze, cook with them, clean with them and in sheer madness, even stuck some on my head. They say it gets rid of dandruff, I don’t have any dandruff – but what the heck…gotta use the lemons.
Finally I have a brainwave. I decide to make pickle. Traditional Indian pickle that uses lots and lots of lemons. My friend Anita Patel’s mom makes the bestest, (oooh la la!) Lemon Pickle. I am spoiled rotten. I can’t eat Indian food without it. The store bought pickles taste terrible. Anita has kept me supplied for years. I get bad tempered when I have run out. I demand my quota shamelessly, like its is my birthright. Every year around summertime I say, “Hey you, where’s my pickle?” Sure enough she has kept aside a jar for me. But last year, oh dear, tragedy struck. Guess what ? All the pickle spoiled! Why? Because that silly girl, Anita Patel, forgot to shake the jar. Felt like killing her.
Let me explain. Indian lemon pickle takes months to make. You cube up lemons and layer them with turmeric and salt in a big jar and let it sit. Every day you have to shake the jar. Every single day, without fail, no kidding. You can forget about going on vacation, or if you do, get a Pickle Sitter. If you don’t shake the jar every single day, the pickle will grow mold and spoil. It takes two months of sitting and shaking before the pickle is ready to be cooked in spices and can be enjoyed. I don’t know how its cooked. Anita’s mom will come to Arizona sometime mid April and show me. Soon we will have lemon pickle coming out of the wazoo.
I am starting jar two today.
I call Anita and say, guess what girlfriend, I have an idea. We are going to make a boatload of pickle. I will create fancy labels (which I do brilliantly, by the way) and we will name the pickle after your dear mother. Then you (Anita) will have to march up to the Indian store and sell it to them. Once they taste it they will be convinced, to carry it. We will even let the store have it on consignment- what the heck. Is that a plan or what?
Anita gets all excited, she is on her way, driving to her boring accounts job and here I am at home drinking tea in my PJ’s and shaking the pickle. She is all excited. I am all excited. We will have used all God’s lemons, created abundant joy in the world and life will be one big happy hour. Is that a killer plan or what? It’s win-win-win for all and sundry.
So I went trotting off to Ross looking for a big jar with a tight lid. The stars were shining; I found the perfect one, on clearance. I was talking to my niece and this sweet girl at the cash register eavesdrops on our conversation. She says “What? What? What pickle?” so we explain, then she starts salivating and tells me she is dying to try it. She is Hispanic, loves spicy food and is bursting with curiosity about the lemon pickle. She begs me to please, please, drop off a sample for her at the store, writes down her name, the days she works there and everything. I say it will be months before it is ready. She says sadly, no worries, I will be here. I am not going anywhere. Then the poor thing tears up and confesses she broke up with her longtime boyfriend the day before and needs this job. The jerk (boyfriend) has run off with some floozy. She almost makes me cry. So I tell her fuzzy, kind things like men are awful creatures, women rule the earth and sometimes life gives you lemons. Here I am making pickle and she is in one. How bizarre. She smiles a teeny-weeny smile and says, please don’t forget about the pickle, I want to taste it, I am dying to. I won’t, I say. I Promise. Now I have a promise to keep and I am even more determined to make the pickle.
So I wake up every morning, put the teakettle on, shake the lemon pickle and think deeply about life. It would be better if I could shake myself and go the gym. The pickle is shrinking, I am not. But that my friends, is another story.
Cheers and hugs!