Veggie Stories, Pickle Tales: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Aug. 21st edition of the Devils Lake Journal where I am reporter. For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit

JIMG_1373ust like I remember my Mom planting flowers each spring, my Pops/Fast Eddie has always been an avid veggie gardener. Growing up here in Devils Lake it was a given that late each summer fresh veggies would began appearing on the dinner/supper table, and I eagerly gobbled them up.

When I first moved to Denver, I didn’t really miss all the garden veggies when summer rolled around each year. During that time, however, my palate was expanded as my first job out of college was with an export market development organization. This small town girl, whose international travel consisted of summer camping trips to Manitoba, began traveling the world. I visited Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, among other places, and tried a wide array of foods I never dreamed I would ever eat, and some I will never eat again.

As I got older and became more of a foodie and a cook and the popularity of farmers markets increased, I started longing for fresh garden vegetables. When I bought my first house in Denver, I was excited at the prospect of planting a few veggies, but discovered that due to high clay content my soil was hard as a rock and not conducive to planting!

So I have been in veggie heaven these last few weeks, as we Jagers have been gorging on fresh out-of-the-garden green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers. And speaking of cucumbers, I love, and that is not too strong of a word, homemade canned pickles. When I briefly lived in Wisconsin a few years back, my youngest brother Mike made tons of canned dill pickles. I just couldn’t get enough of them, much to the chagrin of my two young nieces who thought pickles were disgusting! Some time later after returning to Colorado, my brother and family paid me a visit and brought me some 10 jars of pickles. I was positively ecstatic!

After consuming an obscene amount of pickles in a relatively short period of time, I kept all the empty pickle jars and schlepped them back with me to ND from CO, thinking it would be fun to can my own pickles. Last weekend, I used the jars and made my first batch of canned pickles with the pickling expert Fast Eddie. I enjoyed it immensely, and I felt positively giddy and a bit like a mad scientist, mixing the sugar and vinegar and spices for the fridge pickles and watching the concoction bubble! For the dill pickles, Pops asked if I wanted to add garlic. Duh – yes! He said to put part of a garlic toe in each jar. Toe? Garlic toe? I had never heard garlic parts referred to that way. Pops insisted that is what the pickle recipe called them. Now I have spent many an hour watching Food Network shows, and not once heard garlic referred to as a toe. I googled it, and sure enough found info calling a garlic bulb a foot and a clove a toe.

I am hooked on canning now and want to expand beyond pickles. So readers if you’ve got some favorite canning recipes or ideas. I’d love to hear from you!

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