Week two, for me, of all things Beeton and the going is best described as… slow. Both in terms of what I wanted to have done by now and in terms of what I’m actually tackling this time around.
First off, the egg experiment promised in my last post has come to a stand still. The first problem is that it requires really fresh eggs, and every time I acquire really fresh eggs I eat most of them immediately. It’s like eating a different food altogether when you compare them to grocery store eggs. People rave about the incredible yolks of fresh eggs and I get it, but for me the biggest difference is in the whites. They set up better, they taste better, they look better… The whole thing is just a big improvement on mass marketed eggs. My neighbor keeps chickens but uses all the eggs for his family (or perhaps they have them packed away in sawdust). I have been showing some restraint and getting them from a lovely woman at work instead of sneaking over and raiding the neighbor’s coop. Their chickens, however, keep getting into my yard. I may start holding them ransom, and offer them back in exchange for a dozen eggs per bird. Or maybe two dozen… We’ll see.
That’s not really the biggest issue, though; I’ve been known to not eat delicious things I shouldn’t eat. No, the biggest problem is the sawdust. I live in a fairly urban area, admittedly, but I’m surrounded by vast stretches of deeply rural land. Like, unincorporated, no local government, rural-type country. And yet sawdust seems to be a rare commodity. I enlisted a little help from someone who is married to a carpenter for heaven’s sake, and the best he could do for me was wood chips. Wood chips? Not the best thing, I imagine, in which to preserve an egg. So I’m going to go begging at a lumber yard, I think. Or I might just do a little scavenging behind a big box hardware store. We’ll see. I’ve found that a lot of people are interested in how this thing is going to work – and so am I – so I’ll find a way to put this together soon.
In the meantime, I’m tackling a much slower project – pickling lemons. Mrs. Beeton offers two recipes (numbers 455 and 456); one with the peel on and one without. I’m trying both. The one with the peel on takes about a year or “rather sooner” (what a tease); the one without the peel takes about nine months. I know, there are many recipes out there, in books and online, that are much quicker (including this one for an Indian pickled lemon I might also try – it only takes two months and looks really flavorful), but I am throwing in my lot with this Victorian-inspired ultra-slow food madness. And I’m looking forward to it, honestly. I like the idea of some lemons pickling over here, eggs in saw dust over there, and so on. Sure, my kitchen is best described as microscopic, but it will be nice to have some long-term food-related projects going, especially during these months when the garden is on hold.
The first steps for both are fairly simple. The lemons with the peel just have to be brined for about a week; the lemons without the peel have to be packed in salt for about the same length of time.
After that (and you’ll get pictures of this next week), it’s the pretty standard process of packing them in a jar and adding vinegar and assorted spices. Then the waiting… If it works and I can resist I’ll crack open the peeled lemons in the fall, and the unpeeled ones around Christmas. In the meantime, I’ll keep you updated periodically and will pick a slightly less long term project for next week.