My recipe box is like a photo album to me. If I want to remember someone or a special time in my life, I go in the box and look at the recipe cards.
I have recipes from people who were my co-workers at the North Adams Transcript — they all wrote their favorite recipes on index cards for me when I got married. I have recipes from friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even some from readers of my column.
My latest addition comes from Connie Barton, who reads my column in The Brattleboro Reformer. She wrote after my recent column on overripe cucumbers:
"Hello, Margaret! First, I want to tell you how much I enjoy your column in The Brattleboro Reformer. Your writing style makes the reading so much fun, as do your humor and zest for life. And, of course, the recipes are super. Today's topic — overripe cukes — made me decide to reach out to you. My husband's mother made the most amazing pickles with the HUGE, yellow ones that most farmers fed to their pigs unless they lived in my neck of the woods and saved them for me! I wonder if you'd be interested in the recipe? They're called "tongue pickles" and, yes, they do look like human tongues. She began making them in the 1930s as a young bride and possibly got the recipe from her mom. That, I don't know. I'm in my 80s and have made them many times and can never tire of the aroma in the house as the cukes sit in salt overnight, then give off the wonderful pickling-spice smell. If you have any interest in the recipe, I'd love to share it with you! Keep writing!"
— Connie (Barton)
We exchanged a few emails, including one with the recipe. Connie prefaced the recipe by saying:
"I'm feeling inspired to make some now — the perfect time of year to do it. I lost my husband last summer and couldn't bring myself to make them, but they deserve another chance! Here you go:
GRAMMIE BARTON'S FABULOUS PICKLES
About 30 large, overripe cucumbers (bushel basket 3/4 full). Or fewer!
1 quart vinegar
4 pounds brown sugar
Peel the cucumbers and slice lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out and quarter the cucumbers. Put in dish and sprinkle with salt. Repeat until you've done this to all of the cucumbers. Let stand overnight.
Wash, drain well. Lay out on towel after tapping to remove water.
Make a cheesecloth bag filled with pickling spices and tie closed. Put bag, sugar and vinegar in large canning pot. Bring to a boil for a few minutes and skim off top several times. Add cukes. Cook until tender. Stir. Put in jar with syrup covering the pickles. Seal immediately.
"Enjoy!!" Connie said.