An Ode to Disa to Friendship and Pickles
Disa and I grew up together – 1 block apart (she lived half-way down one and I lived half-way down the other). We met on the first day of kindergarten and played together every day until we discovered boys. Then we played together only sometimes. She is part of the fabric of my childhood and when I think of her I think of so many things it’s hard to list…. But here’s a go….. Her pixie haircut, her beautiful smile, our mothers who were the best cooks on the block, care-free summer days , popsicles, home made ice cream (the Finks had one of those real old-fashioned ice cream makers that required salt and hand-cranking – peach was the best), our swimming pool, riding bicycles to the park and staying out until dinner, family car adventures (she was usually the friend who came with me when I was allowed to bring a friend), our big Ford Esquire station wagon, Barbie dolls, troll dolls, puppies, my first cat Jimmy who followed me stealthily down the block every day and across the street and then waited to follow me home, her beautiful mom who came from Iceland, her dad who scared me when I was little, learning the Lord’s Prayer so that I could sleep over her house, her funny little brother Henry who ate catsup on cottage cheese, her church, relatives with funny names like ‘Miss B,’ a trip to her family in Iceland as teenagers (my Dad wanted to get me away from a boyfriend he wasn’t fond of), 25 cent candy bars (I always got a Butterfinger) that we would eat on the banks of the wash (the River bed) after school when we had a quarter, walking to and from elementary school together and trying mightily to keep her on her side of the sidewalk, teenage girl stuff, the big boys on our block and hanging out, Jethro Tull, more teenage girl stuff, a big gap in time and we grew up and things were all different.
Disa married Niels who is from Denmark – we weren’t in touch much then. They moved to the farm that Niels was born on (he points to the corner where he was actually born) and they had a whole life including a beautiful boy named Kristian who was a spark from the moment he graced this earth. He grew up to be a beautiful young man loved by so many, and then one day he died. That was just a few short years ago. Somehow these two amazing parents of ‘The King” have clawed their way through their grief which cannot end, and their impossible to measure loss which compounded other loss and which was compounded by even more loss and they somehow amazingly continue to find joy in this world. They inspire me and when I think of them and their strength and love, and the sadness, I get a tightness in my throat and tears in my eyes. They are amazing, loving, tenacious people.
Disa and Niels still live on the farm where Niels was born and where they raised their son and they have a beautiful garden full of vegetables and fruit trees all over and a room on their house that was built by Niels that is a greenhouse and a dining area and they have a MICRO-BREWERY in their converted barn that is getting more and more famous by the day – for real - check it out Wintercoat. They also have concerts at their brewery.
When we were young Disa and I used to talk about growing up and cooking together like our Moms. And so, we do that when we’re together. We make it a point to do it when we’re together wherever that might be – at her Folks’ house when she visits, at our house when they visit us, or at her Farm where Alan and I visited two years ago. We had the great joy and pleasure of not only having uninterrupted time with them but we were able to do some good cooking with food harvested from their garden, mushrooms that we gathered from their forest down the road (after being confirmed as edible by the book), and food that they had traded for or purchased locally from other farms and friends - mostly. We drank beer from the tap in their kitchen and that was lovely for sure.
This is their farm.
As you can imagine, with a farm and a huge vegetable garden and a love of cooking, in addition to her day job and her work with the brewery Disa cooks and cans and pickles, and jams and jellies and freezes and I don’t know what else but if you can ‘put it by’ she does it. Disa is one of my all time favorite cooks. I love her cooking and her ability to be traditional and experimental at the same time. Her recipes will appear now and then in my postings and if you make them, you will be happy. This is Disa’s Sweet and Sour Pickle recipe. My family loves them and are happiest when there is a batch of pickles in the refrigerator ready to be eaten.
Sweet and Sour Pickles (from Disa Fink)
4 cucumbers about 12” long or the equivalent (I use a whole bunch of pickling cukes)
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 lb. white sugar
2-3 T kosher salt
Dill heads 3 or 4 or more
Directions: Slice the cucumbers not too thinly into a wide-mouth crock or large jar, sticking the dill heads in ad libitum. Pour salt, sugar and finally vinegar (not heated) over the whole thing and place in the refrigerator. Let this stand still for a few days. Salt, sugar and vinegar will leach juice out of the cukes. Once there’s enough liquid to stir them – a day or two, give them a quick, gentle, stir, every other day or so. When the salt and sugar have dissolved completely after about a week, the pickles are ready to eat.
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