In a Pickle

Bread & Butter Pickles, 7-21-12! 001After several hours of stooping over freshly tilled earth to drop dozens of tiny seeds into the ground, my husband and I stepped back with gratification last weekend to look upon our freshly planted garden!

Mmmm . . . soon and very soon: home-grown green beans, sugar-snap peas, beets, lettuce, carrots, shallots, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers!

One of the recipes I’m particularly fond of at “canning time” is bread and butter pickles.  I could literally sit with a jar in my lap and devour the whole thing, they are so delicious! They’re almost like eating candy!

So, let’s make some!

Bread and Butter Pickles

Ingredients:

25 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
6 onions, thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup salt
3 cups cider vinegar
5 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1-1/2 teaspoons celery seed
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground turmeric

In a large bowl, mix together cucumbers, onions, green bell peppers, garlic and salt. Allow to stand approximately 3 hours. In a large saucepan, mix the cider vinegar, white sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, whole clovers and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Drain liquid from the cucumber mixture. Stir the mixture into the boiling vinegar mixture. Remove from heat shortly before the combined mixtures return to a boil. Transfer to sterile canning jars. Seal and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Did you know, in times gone by, the word pickle referred to something totally different than what we now call a pickle?  The earliest pickles were spicy sauces that consisted of a mix of many different types of vegetables. Later, in the 16th century, the name pickle was also given to a mixture of spiced, salted vinegar that was used as a preservative. Later still, in the 17th century, the vegetables (such as cucumbers and gherkins) that were preserved by this mixture came to be called pickles.  The phrase “to be in a pickle” came from the earliest concoction. Someone who was deemed to be “in a pickle” was considered to be in a mixed up situation or one that was difficult to sort out.

Have you ever been “in a pickle” where you were in such a mixed up situation,  it seemed no matter what choice you made, it would be the wrong one . . . or to use another idiom, you felt like you were “caught between a rock and a hard place”?  But if you think about it, as a follower of Jesus Christ, our Solid Rock, there really is no better place to be than pressed against the Rock in a difficult situation!

When trouble or hardships strike, they usually will move us in one of three directions:

1. They discourage us temporarily;
2. they push us away from God;
3. or they draw us close to God.

And it’s our hearts that will determine in which direction we will go.

In those times when you’re “in a pickle” or “caught between a rock and a hard place”, I encourage you to “think on these things” and let your heart draw you close to God:

But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, the One who got you started, ‘Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.’” – Isaiah 43:1-4 (MSG)

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall (or out of a pickle jar)! This God—his way is perfect, the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” – Psalm 18:2, 29-30

— Cheri Henderson

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