Friday, July 24, 2009

The Pickle Cookie Neighborhood

The Pickle Cookie house sits in the middle of a quiet block in the middle of a quiet subdivision. It’s an older subdivision – houses erected in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s – so the lots are large, full-sized lots. None of that zero lot line business for us. The Pickle Cookie neighbors value their space! And their privacy.

Hey you skateboard kids:

Get Off My Lawn!
{And Get Off My Neighbors’ Lawn Too}

We know our neighbors’ dogs by name and their cats by sight. We will say something to you when your dog poops on our lawn and you don’t pick it up.
We know what our neighbors drive, we know what time our neighbors go to work, and we know what our neighbors are cooking on the grill tonight for dinner.

Pssst...We know who was using their weed whacker at seven thirty on a Saturday morning.

We also know which retired couple has nothing but Coca-Cola and a half gallon of milk in the refrigerator, and we will stop by around dinner time with “accidental leftovers” of roast chicken and vegetables and fresh-baked peach cobbler.

We have a key to our neighbors’ house in case of emergency and they have the key to ours. This was after I accidentally locked myself out after dark and had to break the bathroom window to get in; the mosquitoes almost drained my last pint of blood! And this was before the neighbors told us about the time their roof caught fire and the other neighbor let himself in, with his key, to put the fire out.

Most of the time we forget to lock the front door.

Sometimes we go to bed with the garage door standing wide open. Our neighbor calls us on the cell phone to let us know before “those kids” can get a look and plot some mischief.

We borrowed the 10-foot ladder from our neighbors last Fall; it’s still in our garage. We use it to trim up their trees for them. We have exchanged phone numbers, pager numbers and e-mail addresses “just in case”. We have the mailing address of their son in New York who “works in the theater”. We’ve lived here for fifteen years and we’ve never met him. That makes us sad.

When we go on vacation our neighbors pick up our mail for us. They pack our mail neatly into a shopping bag with a handle. We toss their mail willy nilly into any old bag we can find in the house. Our neighborhood patrolman makes extra trips through our alley when we’re away because we told him we’ll be gone. He also knows when to expect us to return.

When our neighbor threw his back out mowing the lawn we drove him to the emergency room. When it’s stormy and the power goes out we all phone each other to make certain that everyone is o.k.

Isn’t your neighborhood like this too?

And if not, why not?

Do you know the people living on your street? What about the people who live next door?

What would happen if you took a moment to introduce yourself?

What if everybody did?

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Legend of Pickle Cookie

(Allow dough to chill 3 hours before baking)


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons dill pickle juice (or you can substitute sweet pickle juice if you're a weenie)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus two tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until there are no lumps larger than a pencil eraser. The ingredients should be incorporated but NOT creamed. Add the egg and pickle juice and beat on low speed until completely mixed.
  • Add the flour (reserving 2 tbl), baking soda, and salt to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). If the dough is still sticky, add the 2 tablespoons flour you set aside. Divide dough into two equal halves. Roll each half into a log. Wrap the logs in a zip-lock bag and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  • Spray baking sheet with no-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Remove one of the dough logs from the fridge and slice into rounds ¼ - ½ inch thick. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown. Cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring to cooling racks. Remove the other dough log from the fridge and repeat.
  • Cool cookies completely and then ice and/or decorate with sprinkles.


Mix one cup powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon dill (or sweet if you are using sweet pickle juice in your cookies)pickle juice. Add more pickle juice if the icing is too stiff. Microwave 20 seconds on low power if the icing is too runny. Use a teaspoon to drizzle the icing on top of the cookies. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired, before the icing dries.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Future Picklemobile.

Pickle Cookie loves the Madsen cargo bicycle
{and wants to marry it}

The bucket on the back has a bench seat with seat belts- perfect for transporting the Shih Tzu's or other precious cargo. It's devooon!

Pickle Cookie assumes that a velvet cushion for the cargo bucket is available, no?

The Shih Tzu's naturally expect a built-in cookie dispenser
and back massager
and ear scritcher
and squeeeeaky toys!!!

Psst! Madsen! If you are listening, Pickle Cookie prefers her cargo cycle in
Pepto Bismol pink, please. And, thank you.

Follow the link to see what all the buzz is about:

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Black Bean Salsa

All The Colors Of The Rainbow
Black Bean Salsa

In the spirit of summer I am going to post the much-requested recipe
for colorful black bean salsa.

Oh my is it addictive.

The usual suspects: black beans, mandarin oranges, Adobo sauce, fresh produce, spices.

Admire your still life.
Snap back to reality when your husband asks "What's for lunch?"

Rinsed, drained black beans.
When you rinse, the beans lose some of their musical properties.
I think you understand what I mean.

Add the Mandarin oranges and all of the orange liquid.

Watch your manly husband's forearms
as he squeezes a couple of limes - or three.


Cautiously add some Adobo sauce.
The adventurous may add a minced Chipotle as well.


There's no salt in this recipe. The Adobo sauce is plenty salty.
Trust me.

Rough chop the produce. Pretty, pretty produce.

Hooray, it's salsa!

Garnish with lime wedges, yummy, yummy.

*My lips are tingly.
Is that the salsa or are you just happy to kiss me?*

Black Bean Salsa Recipe

1 Can black beans, 15 - 16 oz.

1 Can Mandarin oranges in light syrup, 15 - 16 oz.

1 Can Adobo sauce or Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Juice of 2 Limes and 2 or 3 limes for garnish

Bunch cilantro

Red bell pepper, 1 or 2 depending on size

Orange or yellow bell pepper

3 or 4 ribs Celery

Green onions (you will use the tops)

Red onion

1 tbl. Minced garlic

2 tbl. Cumin powder

In a large bowl: Rinse and drain a can of black beans. Any brand you have in the pantry is fine. All I had on hand was a can of seasoned black beans. No big thing. Just rinse and move on.

Add the Mandarin oranges including the syrup. The syrup is necessary to balance out the spicy Adobo sauce. You could substitute fresh, seeded tangerine sections if you want. Or blood orange. Or even grapefruit. If you go with fresh fruit, please add 1 cup fruit juice and 1 tsp. sugar.

If you are lucky enough to live near a market that stocks Adobo sauce, lucky you! Open the can and add a small dollop to your beans and oranges. If your market is like mine, you can’t get that but you will find a can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce on the ethnic food aisle. Start by adding 1 tbl. or so (small dollop) of the sauce. Adjust to taste. Be careful with the Chipotle peppers, they are hot! I generally scoop out one plump looking Chipotle and carefully cut it down the middle. Then I use a spoon to scoop all the seeds out of the pepper. And then I mince it really finely, before adding the pepper to the salsa. If you choose to eliminate the Chipotle from the salsa altogether, I won’t judge you. Mix and check for spiciness.

Squeeze in the juice of two limes. Add more if they’re on the small side. The tart, limey taste is awesome in this salsa.

Now rough chop your colorful produce. You can get all the pieces perfectly symmetrical if you’re compulsive that way. But this is a casual-dining dish, perfect for a backyard barbeque. Rough chop all of the cilantro, bell peppers and celery. The green onions are for color more than taste so you can chop the tops and reserve the bulbs for another use if you want. Red onion to taste. If the onion is mild I use the whole onion.

Finally, add the minced garlic and cumin to taste. We really like cumin. We add a lot...and then add some more.

Mix and serve. Tastes better with a couple of hours for the tastes to meld but also just fine to eat right away. This salsa is great with chips, as a topper for a quesadilla or as a stand-alone cold salad with grilled chicken or beef. Serves: a lot.


Thursday, July 9, 2009


Sprinklers, watermelon, lazy afternoons, porch swings...summer!
Heat waves shimmering off the sidewalk,
Already warm before you leave the house

{Oh-oh, my hair just fell}

Bees drone near the lawn chair
as you fall into a
steamy book.
What does all this mean?
Pay attention, Pickle Cookie:
It's Summer.

Pickle Cookie
is surprised for the first time
that it is hot. Like, walk outside and
you forget to breathe for a moment
I am a woman of "a certain age"
and have
always been kind of a dingbat
but still
who forgets to breathe??

Pickle Cookie does not like:

when her glasses get foggy exiting the air conditioned car into the parking lot;
using the oven, the Crock Pot, or the clothes dryer when the house is already too hot;
looking at hot food on a hot day makes Pickle Cookie feel faint...;

eating hot spices that make Pickle Cookie perspire, and then experience palpitations, and then have to lie down in a dark room with a bag of frozen peas on the back of her neck chasing her beta blocker down with orange popsicles because, Lord, summer is hard on the heart rate;

wishing for a chocolate chip cookie when it's too hot to bake
- oh, the humanity -

stewing under the weight of the summer sheets after
all the freshly-made bed coolness has gone only to be irritated
by the air from the fan touching Pickle Cookie's skin;

Pickle Cookie does not like wriggling into pantyhose like a sausage into a casing;
sweat-sticky toes suction cupped to the inside of Pickle Cookie's shoes because she's not wearing pantyhose;
why don't men try wearing a bra on a sweltering day and see how they like it?
Did I mention the Office? Sitting demurely, damp thighs stuck to each other and the edge of the chair...hope no one's looking...Pickle Cookie aims the desk fan up her skirt for temporary relief? Ahh, summer.

Pickle Cookie does not enjoy this hot business one darned bit and puts Mother Nature on notice to get her act together.