“Real life, I’ve finally learned, is created by stacking normal days, one on top of the other, for decades, and living each of those days as fully as possible, embracing whatever each day brings.” Richard Dahlstrom
With pen in hand and frustration flowing like ink, I wrote in my journal a couple months ago about how I was like a hamster running around in a wheel going nowhere. The second I finished writing the last ‘e’ I looked at the word and was struck by how wrong I was. This is where I get stuck over the details and wonder how many of them are necessary but bare with me because there is a point and I think somehow I can get it back to pickled grapes. We’ll see.
I’ve lived much of my life moving from one goal to the next and somewhere in there when I was working hard on the current goal; getting out of our tiny townhouse into a slightly bigger home, I failed to see the successes of our normal days and only saw my own failings because I had not yet met the latest goal.
Dreams are good, goals are good but not when they cast a shadow over our every days. Not when I determine I’m going “nowhere” or doing “nothing” because I’ve yet to meet that particular goal. You know what would happen the second I met that goal? I’d come up with another one and feel like that hamster in a wheel all over again.
I’m paying more attention to our normal. Giving more notice to the every day and adjusting my attitude to gratefulness rather than longing. I’m enjoying this day and then stacking it on the next one amassing a pile days filled with end of the year parties, first bike rides, playing UNO in the sun, eating Tacos at Essex, ballet recitals, movie nights with the kids, popcorn and far too much candy and movie nights with girl friends who love a good feast.
And this is where the grapes come in. It seems sort of strange, right? Pickled grapes. But if you’ve been around here for long you know that I tend to pickled just about anything (Peaches, green beans, cherries, scallions, etc.) so you shouldn’t be too surprised. I was going to let these go unnoticed but then I started to realize that this is the sort of recipe that has been a part of the stacking of days. These were a hit at a friend’s gallery walk and played a role in our movie night last week.
I prefer the grapes to be lightly pickled. The apple cider vinegar is cut with a bit of water and I tend to start eating them after only a couple of hours in the brine. They still taste of grape but there is a pleasant tanginess and a soft warmth. They sit beautifully on a cheese plate especially when left on the stem (just be sure to let people know they are pickled). They are also lovely alongside grilled pork or chicken. However you like to eat them they are just the recipe to help embrace whatever the day brings.
*One more thing before you go. Gabe and I had such a great time teaching Food Photography at Aran’s studio and the response was so lovely we decided to do it again this October. Check out Aran’s blog (Cannelle et Vanille) for all the details. It’s an inspiring two days that includes a trek around Pike Place to gather ingredients and take our cameras out to the streets. I’d LOVE to meet some of you there. Registration has just opened. Thanks!
Serve these on a cheese plate or tuck inside a picnic basket for a refreshing bite. Here I’ve paired it with a beautiful Parmesan that was sent to me by Italy Terra.
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon whole coriander
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 large bunch of red grapes
Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, brown sugar, and pinch of salt in a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Submerge the grapes in the hot brine and let sit until cool. You can pluck the grapes off the vine and place them in jars and then top with the brine but I like to present the grapes on the stem.
Refrigerate the jars or the whole pot once cool.
Pickles are ready to serve once chilled or will keep refrigerated for up to one week.