After reading my two previous posts, one might think that the most fascinating person I met during my trip to Rhinebeck for the FDR Victory Garden fundraiser—a benefit to bring back the victory garden at FDR’s estate—was Alice Waters. Now Alice is a lovely woman and getting to know her better was wonderful. But she’s no Miss Doris.
As soon as I saw Miss Doris—who was a volunteer during my private tour of the FDR estate—I knew she was a character. I saw fascinating things during that tour, including Top Cottage, FDR’s private estate, and Val-Kill, Eleanor’s private estate, but the only thing I wanted to know more about was Miss Doris.
I walked right up to her and said, “I’m Marie. Who are you?” Turns out, Miss Doris is 93 years old, has lived in the Hyde Park area most of her life and was friends with FDR and Eleanor. She’d have dinner with them when they were in town. Can you imagine the stories this woman could tell?
She had a spirit that could not be denied. I wanted to put her in my pocket. I may wind up hosting my own fundraiser for the FDR victory garden at Serenbe, and if I do, the very first order of business will be making sure we get Miss Doris on a plane.
As Miss Doris would tell you, FDR encouraged all Americans to grow a victory garden during his presidency to offset food rations during WWII. His own victory garden, which eventually became a parking lot, was two acres and full of produce his mother sent him in packages when he traveled.
What didn’t fit in those packages was often pickled. Preservation was very important then and it’s enjoying quite the renaissance now. FDR might not know what to think of the $12 jars of pickles available today, but I bet he’d approve of this recipe for pickled squash and onions, which keeps summer alive all year long.
Pickled Squash and Onions
Makes 6 cups
- Scrub and slice very thin:
- 2 pounds small yellow squash
- 1 large white onion (about ½ pound)
Place one layer of squash, then one layer of onions, in flat crockery or glass baking dish.
Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons salt.
Cover with crushed ice and let stand for about 3 hour or place, covered overnight in the refrigerator.
- Mix together in a 2-quart saucepan:
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 4 ½ cups sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons celery seed
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons mustard seed
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
Bring vinegar mixture to a boil. Drain water from squash and onions. Add them to the boiling vinegar and bring mixture back to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Cool quickly by immersing pot in sink of cold water. Place in clean glass jars with good seals and refrigerate. Will keep for about 2 weeks.