Either we are blessed or we are cursed with an unusual, record-breaking heatwave here in California. Last night, leaving work, there was that bizarre sense of electric energy in the air: the dense, unyielding qualities of a city under the spell of heat, throngs of people out as if on vacation (because it is, in a sense – a vacation from the regular), more skin exposed after dark than on any given day in our predictably chilly city. It was the kind of restless night when violence crescendos and people drag their mattresses to the balcony. You can never predict when one of these brief spells will strike, so you take advantage of it when it does. San Francisco comes alive in an unusual way when it gets anywhere over 80 degrees, if only because we have forgotten what the heat is like.
We have no A/C in the apartment, which is generally irrelevant, but on a day like today when there is no breeze, and the living room is holding steady at somewhere above 85 degrees, any food requiring a stove seems totally wrong.
4 Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
2 cups vinegar (I used a combo of ume plum [super salty], champagne and apple cider vinegars – totally random, yes!)
water to cut acidity
1/4 c sugar, to taste
This recipe is off the cuff – but there’s not much that is easier to make than a pickle. Warm the vinegar just enough to melt the sugar. Add sugar conservatively, same with water. Keep tasting until it’s about where you’d like it to be. I was aiming for the flavor of pickled cucumber salads found in Japanese restaurants: tart, sweet and salty. Then, I stuck the jar in the freezer to expedite the cooling process.