A bit ago, I ran off to work in the morning, leaving Joey carless with the kids for the day. He had that look that I know that I get sometimes too, trying to be hopeful about the day, but facing the expanse of time after the last few sips of coffee with some dread.
“There are cucumbers in the fridge. Make pickles.” That was all I had to offer, and I felt a little bad about it as I said it.
Kitchen experimentation is my thing. Joey makes a good grilled cheese. But there were a lot of cucumbers in the fridge and Joey really likes pickles, hence the suggestion.
I went to work and forgot all about it. And when I came back from work, there were pickles. Lots of pickles. They were lined up in the pantry, ready for their dormant rest time. And they were beautiful. Not only did Joey make pickles- he filled the jars with edible art: chili peppers that had been withering in the crisper drawer, bursting dill flowers from the garden, garlic cloves and nasturtiums.
And for some reason, those jars of pickles got me thinking. I was struck by the extent to which Joey said “yes” to my suggestion. And that word started to gain more importance. I find myself encouraging the girls to “yes,” and they get it too. Sometimes I just holler “YES!” and things start changing around. And when I hear myself saying “no” to everything, as I do when I’m in just that sort of mood, it starts coming right back to me, and I’m surrounded by a whole lot of no’s.
So, coming into the fall, I’m going for the age of yes. There are some things up in the air, but I’m feeling optimistic about the outcome.

Quick Dill Pickles
from Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Vegetables

3 to 4 pounds small pickling cucumbers
3 cups apple cider or white wine vinegar
3 cups water
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons dill seed or flowering tops of 4 to 5 dill plants

fresh grape leaves, dried chilies, garlic, fennel, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cloves.

Wash the cucumbers thoroughly under cold water. Heat the vinegar, water and salt to boiling. Pack the cucumbers in sterilized jars with the dill and whatever else you would like to put in there. Fill the jars within 1/2 inch of the top with the boiling hot brine. Put on the lids, tighten the bands, and allow to cool. Listen for the pop of the lid as it cools. If it doesn’t pop, put that jar in the fridge and eat that one first. Store pickles in a dark place and wait 2 weeks to cure before eating. Refrigerate after opening, and use the pickles within 6 months.


  1. Eilen says

    I like this story. A lot. I say YES to it! I'm gonna try to keep it in mind always. I don't think I'll ever make the pickles, because there's a staunch anti-pickle man in the house, but if this were in a cookbook I'd leave the bookmark there.

  2. says

    Hi Alana

    I have a quick question about this recipe – is there a need to process the pickles in a hot water bath? When I last made pickles, I recall processing them after filling the jars.

    best wishes,


    • alana says

      Hi Sam,
      If you plan on eating these pickles within 6 months, it’s okay to just pack them in hot brine and let them seal that way. (Anything that doesn’t seal goes in the fridge). You can also water bath these for additional shelf life (up to a year), or if you feel more comfortable knowing they’ve been water bath canned. I water bath can everything I make except these pickles- I’ve been taught that way by people I trust and I feel comfortable with it. But there’s no harm in canning water bath processing them!

  3. Cyn says

    Question – I have some beautiful European style cucumbers. If I slice them up, could I pickle them the same way?

    • alana says

      You could! Although I find the smaller European cukes lend themselves better to a quick pickle- something like a little rice vinegar and salt, left to sit for an hour or so, then refrigerated. More like a cucumber salad. I’m happy to cobble a recipe together if you need one- just let me know.

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