Spicy Pickled Cucumber

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1.29.13 by sarah

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There’s a charm that I fell in love with when I first started exploring the East Coast. I’m currently sitting on a train, traveling somewhere through Maryland. And although I’m not actually traveling while you’re reading this (because I’ve gotten into the good habit of scheduling posts in advance!) some of you might share my love for winter.

I love the muted colors, the bare trees, and the grayish-brown that takes over Maryland every year.

As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t any point in hating any particular season if you live in a place that has seasons. If you hate winters so much, move to southern California. If you hate the humid summers so much, move anywhere in California. If you hate either one more than you love the fall and the spring, well… move to California. Do it for yourself. You’ll be happy there.

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I can’t pinpoint why I’m drawn to winter so much. I love knee-length coats so thick that you don’t need to layer anything under them. I get a few butterflies when I cross the street in boots and a heavy coat and a scarf, and I relish in the feeling when every part of my body is toasty and warm, but my cheeks are ironically singed with a chill. Perhaps I like that, in cold weather, everyone is forced to put themselves together before going outside. So naturally, people just look nicer. Or perhaps just less sloppy.

And I love that there is always something to look forward to. Summer is exciting because I usually let myself get away for a little bit. Winter is great because I’m not suffering through months of humidity and unnecessary heat.

I booked impromptu tickets to Miami to visit a friend I’ve known so long that we once got busted by high school chaperones for boys being in the wrong hotel rooms during a debate conference (nerd alert!).

As much as I love winter, the 19 degree weather has me longing for some bikini time. I just ordered a new pair of white shorts from J. Crew. And, the good news is that packing for a warm weekend requires very little packing at all.

In heat or even a frigid cold, some snacks help bring you back to whatever season you’re dreaming up. The process of making pickles makes me think of winter — storing something for later. But the taste of cucumbers brings me back to a hot summer evening in our backyard — the more I reminisce, the stronger the scent of citronella and dwindling charcoal.

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Spicy Pickled Cucumber

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 whole star anise
soy sauce to taste

Instructions:

In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, salt and sugar until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Set aside.

Slice the cucumber into pieces as thin as you can. I may or may not have gotten lazy.

Transfer the cucumber slices into a mason jar with the red pepper flakes and star anise. Pour the vinegar solution into the mason jar — it should be enough to cover the cucumbers. If it isn’t, you might need to make more, but that depends on how large the cucumber is.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then enjoy with a drizzle of soy sauce. I eat the pickles on turkey burgers — they’re delicious.

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