The first time I tasted Eva's relish, I was two days into my first job. She had made it over the weekend and brought in a jar to share with her coworkers. She had put it on crackers.
I wanted to steal the jar, but didn't think it would be good for my career to become a thief my first week of my professional career.
Because I'd raved about the relish, the next day she brought me a complete jar.
I was thrilled when my ex-husband didn't like it, but that was his pattern--dislike whatever I did.
That was fine with me. I could have it all.
Fast forward several years, a divorce and a daughter. Eva had become my baby sitter and I shared a house with her daughter. We still loved the relish which she supplied us with each fall.
Then she had a heart attack. As her daughter and I were in the waiting room of the ICU, we both had the same thought -- no one has the relish recipe.
Of course, we cared more about her recovery.
That fall and every fall for as long as I lived in the US we made the relish together, banishing our men. My daughter considered it a right of passage when she was allowed into the relish making.
A coworker of Eva's daughter, who looked much like Queen Elizabeth I, begged to be included in the making. We said yes. We were a coven of women with our bubbling cauldron.
Since moving to Europe I've made the relish only twice--once with a coworker and once this year, today, the date of an autumn equinox.
I asked a French friend who has spent decades in the US if she'd like to join me. She has missed sweet relish (brands bought in supermarkets) since returning to Europe and joked, that she always thought it grew on trees and had no idea how to make it.
At nine and a little more she rang my bell.
I was ready.
Yesterday I had brought the canning jars, onions, cukes, turmeric from my spice dealer, extra sugar and vinegar.
I remembered not to use aluminum.
I set my friend to work peeling the cukes. The recipe called for ten but we cut the quantity back by 1/5. All numbers quoted are the full recipe.
We processed them in my food processor, although Eva used her old-fashioned meat grinder. I had no idea where to find one thus the substitution. A girl has to improvise when a girl has to improvise.
We then added 4 tablespoons of salt and let it drain for two hours.
Taking 10 large onions, we used Eva's trick of holding a piece of bread in our mouths to reduce tearing as we cut, chopped and ran the onions thru the food processor.
The pieces should all be fine.
We boiled the empty jars for 15 minutes.
In a separate pan we mixed:
- 6 cups vinegar
- 1 cup flour dissolved into vinegar
- 7 cups sugar
- 4 TBSP turmeric
- 2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups water
We boiled it for five minutes. After the cukes had been salted for two hours we added that and the onions to the liquid mixture and boiled for ten minutes stirring often.
We ladled the mixture into the boiled jars and put them in water to boil for ten minutes.
When finished we sealed the jars...that is until we have some hamburgers, hot dogs, crackers, bread, etc.
It's autumn. Next fall activity...apple pie.