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Quick tricksBaby Eggplant in Miso: Cover 1 pound of small eggplants (leave stems on) with 1/2 cup white miso. Press with heavy weight and refrigerate 3 to 4 weeks, turning occasionally. Serve sliced or whole.
Repickled Dills: Drain liquid from 1-gallon jar of dill pickles. Slice pickles and return to jar. Heat 3 cups sugar in 1/2 cup vinegar to dissolve. Cool and pour over pickles. Refrigerate. Ready to eat in a few hours.
Preserved Fresh Ginger: Cut ginger into chunks (peeled or unpeeled) and fit tightly into a jar. Cover with vinegar or any type of hard liquor or wine. Refrigerate. Will keep for months. Vinegar/liquor taste will not be apparent when ginger is sliced and used in cooked dishes.
To be the Pickle Lady means reaching into galaxies beyond -- to Chinese Pickled Tea Eggs, Watermelon Rind Pickles, Burmese Pickled Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Star Fruit ...
She covers wide ethnic ground as well, to include Japanese namasu and takuwan, Korean kim chee (four types), Chinese mustard cabbage and local-style ogo and Wrinkly Radish. Several Burmese ideas came courtesy of her husband's family.
The cookbook was born of a entrepreneurship class that Ching took last year. Asked to consider what most interested her, she came up with the idea of cooking and writing a cookbook.
Why pickles? "It's cheap," Ching says, as though stating the obvious.
Plus, pickles are practical. For the most part, the ingredients are simple, found in the average pantry. And although it can take a few days to maximize flavor, hands-on prep time is minimal. "It tastes good and it's easy to make," Ching says. "It's fast."
The cookbook so far is a very low-key production. Ching had only 100 copies printed and did the binding herself. She's s been carrying it around town, looking for stores to sell it on her behalf.
A few copies are on sale at Executive Chef and Native Books, both at Ward Warehouse, and the Foster Gardens gift shop. Copies may also be ordered through her Web site, www.picklepassion.com, for $9.97, plus postage.
Ching is working on a second printing of 200 copies, and if interest is good, she'll contact a higher-volume printer for a larger run.
"Pickle Passion" is a retirement enterprise for Ching, who worked as an occupational therapist for 24 years until last August.
Through this family training, Ching became proficient, especially in the ways of Cantonese cuisine. She taught cooking classes for the blind and visually impaired through Ho'pono, a state rehabilitation program, teaching clients to make a full-on Chinese meal from scratch.
Pickling sort of crept up on her, "off and on and in between."
But feedback from friends and family was good, and her one venture into selling prepared pickles at a craft fair earned her $1,000 in two days.
"I decided pickles are my strong point."
Three recipes follow that help show the wide variety in Ching's cookbook.
When vinegar is called for, Ching suggests plain white vinegar. "I found it doesn't make a difference -- Japanese vinegar, cider vinegar -- and it's the cheapest."
Gather ginger, tea leaves, five-spice, star anise and cinnamon stick in a 6-inch piece of cheesecloth; tie bundle with string.
Place water in pot; add spice bundle, soy sauce, sugar and salt. Bring to boil. Add eggs, bring water back to boil. Lower heat and simmer 1 hour.
Let eggs cool in liquid.
Refrigerate eggs with liquid and all the spices 1 week.
To serve, peel eggs. The whites will have a brown, crackly pattern from the spices. Serve whole or sliced in half. Peeled eggs may be refrigerated in the liquid. Discard spice bag.
Rinse cucumbers well, then cut into bite-sized sticks.
Heat salt, soy sauce, water, sugar and sesame oil until sugar is dissolved. Cool, then pour over cucumbers.
Bottle and refrigerate at least a day before eating. Will stay crisp several weeks.
In a small saucepan, heat vinegar, sugar, water and salt until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Cool.
Poor liquid over radishes. Bruise chili pepper and add. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight, until slightly shriveled.
Pack radishes and liquid into a half-gallon jar. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days before eating. Serves 12.