When I was a little girl, most of my great-aunts, grandparents and others from “the greatest generation” were all still alive and active around the ranches. Since I was an only child, growing up on the ranch, these people served as my entertainment and playmates. Of course I didn’t realize how lucky I was then, to have interaction with these people, to learn from them and get to know them.
By the time I was 12, most of them had passed away. It was too late though, my family members left a deep and lasting impression on me. From huge, life altering things, like my passion for the ranch, to little, odd things, like my fierce love of bread and butter pickles.
My great Aunt Mary and I spent a lot of time together. I would walk down to her house after school and we would watch PBS while I rambled on about whatever it is kids talk about. She was an amazing cook that got this picky little kid to eat and like several things my Mom could never get me to eat.
I have a distinct memory of being at her house while she was trying to slice cabbage for coleslaw. At this point she had cancer and was in a lot of pain, but I never remember her complaining about it. I do however, remember asking me to slice up the cabbage for her because she could no longer do it. I felt awfully important and grown up, so when Aunt Mary told me to try the cabbage, I did (not something I normally would have eaten), and I liked it.
I also remember eating hamburger carpaccio at her house, the thought of doing that now makes me want to puke in my mouth, but hey I also drank out of mountain springs with the cows and lived to tell about it. Any way, Aunt Mary made the best bread and butter pickles I have ever had, to this day. They were like no other pickle I had ever had, and for most of my childhood I was spoiled with them.
After Aunt Mary died I realized her pickles were indeed rare, in fact, after years of searching I was fairly certain her pickles were extinct. I was pretty heart broken about it, actually. Until one day, I was talking about these pickles, sharing my memory of them and my second cousin (or something like that), said she remembered her Granny making the same pickles and she had the recipe.
Her family and my family are related through the Lucas side. Many of the Lucas sisters married and settled in Indian Valley, and according to my families old pictures stayed close friends. It’s only natural good recipes were shared.
I peed my pants a little over the excitement (food makes me happy, I’m not going to lie). After decades of searching for these pickles, after buying jar after disappointing jar, the recipe was so close!!! In fact her Mom texted it to me the next day. I immediately went to our neighbors garden and got some sweet onions, and out to my garden to wrestle some cucumbers away from Silly Pig and started making the pickles.
Know what? They are delicious. And the taste and smell brought back so many memories of standing in Aunt Mary’s kitchen as a little kid, it was wonderful.
I used to be a firm believer in secret family recipes, until I lost some secret family recipes. So in the spirit of not letting that happen ever again and because I haven’t seen many recipes like this (others use turmeric, this uses cinnamon), I give you:
The Lucas Family Bread and Butter Recipe.
1 gallon sliced cucumbers
4 big onions, sliced
1/3 cup pickling salt
1 quart vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 teaspoon white pepper
3-4 cinnamon bark (sticks, I love old recipes!)
Soak the cucumbers, onions, and salt in an ice water bath over night. Rinse in cold water.
Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil. I let it boil about 5 minutes. Put about half of the rinse cucumbers and onions in the pickling mixture to scald. Then place in sterilized, hot jars. Do the same with the rest of the cucumbers and onions, making sure to pack them tightly and to remove air bubbles.
Adjust your lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Let them “pickle” for about two weeks to really get the full effect.
Since I know this is the best pickle recipe ever, I went ahead and snuck a few of my peppers into a couple of jars. The thought of these pickles with some slight heat to them, almost makes me cry. It’s going to be so good.
If you make these won’t you share with me what you think?