Gardening is one fun activity that I didn't set aside in order to finish Plunder. I have a suburban back yard that's small but sunny, and this is my fourth summer to have a garden. Every March, I get cocky and make it bigger. Every July, Mother Nature expresses her amusement by sending me pickleworms and weeds and powdery mildew and bacterial wilt and just enough tasty vegetables to make me want to keep trying.
I planted a lot of tomatoes, because they're my favorite, but I'm just getting a small but steady stream of them. The zucchini and yellow squash plants look horrible and disease-ridden, but they're managing to make a few fruits a week and I just can't bear to yank them out of the ground when they're trying so hard. For the third year in a row, I've got a beautiful crop of peppers, both sweet and hot. The pole beans and okra are producing so little that I've got a bag of both kinds of pods in the refrigerator. I'm hoping to collect enough of them to cook before the oldest things in the bags die of old age. The black-eyed peas and eggplant are starting to come in, and they're delicious. But the surprise has been the cucumbers. I've got two measly little cucumber plants, but they're making more than my tiny household can eat.
So I made pickles! Bread-and-butter pickles, to be exact. I'm not buried in cucumbers, so I didn't have enough to make a great big pile of pickles. Just six jars. But they're good! I used the standard recipe that shows up in all the southern cookbooks, but I threw in some sweet and hot peppers, because I had some in the garden. And nobody at our house likes celery, so I left out the celery seed and increased the mustard seed instead.
I learned that making pickles at midnight is way more fun than editing your own manuscript for the fifth time at midnight. Here's the photographic proof. (Minus the jar that's in the refrigerator, because we already opened it and started eating...)