My name is Adrienne Olson and I am a pickle addict. My favorites have always been my grandma’s, of course, which bathed in a cloudy brine that looked like dirty well water (it was). She had half sour and full sour, pickled cukes, beets, green beans, anything she needed to store over the winter.
I spent one full day with her learning how to make pickles. I took meticulous notes while she said: “Throw in a heaping spoon of salt, stuff in some garlic, pinch of this, pinch of that…” No measuring, just decades of practice and trust in her superior pickling abilities.
My pickles don’t turn out. They are gorgeously lined atop my cupboards. Quaint canning jars filled with greens, reds, yellows. Maybe I’m more of a ‘decorative pickle’ maker because each time I open a jar with nostalgic anticipation, I’m soured by the soggy, fermented mess that pours out.
Today, though, was different. My jar of pickled watermelon was divine – and already half gone.
When May (Doolittle) Vetter passed away, I was blessed to receive her recipe box. It’s time to share it. The recipes are handwritten, most marked with a Braddock neighbor’s name, too many call for ingredients like suet, lard or soup bones; not stock items in my house. All of them keep me connected to a self-sufficient, hard working farming family lineage that I miss dearly.
Watermelon Pickles Sofia Glovich
1 clove garlic & dill – put in qt. jar
Peal and cut watermelon – pack in jars.
1 tbsp. salt – 2 tbsp. sugar – put in jar.
8 cups water – 1 cup white vinegar – boil.
Pour liquid in jars & seal.
Put in water bath and boil for 5 min.
“Sofia Glovich, just so you know, was a very round, happy Polish woman who always had a clean apron tied around her not so noticeable waist. She was the assistant cook at Braddock schools and she was my classmate, Darrell Glovich’s gramma. She was a gramma to all of us and we still miss her. Man could those cooks make good food. School food was a treat when your Mom and I were in school.” – Aunt B
“The best we had in school for lunch was tomato soup, peanut butter & honey bread and apple crisp. After Sofia died then Joe Wolbaum and his second wife moved into her house. His first wife was fatter than Sofia. They had a small house and she would sit on a chair all day in the middle of the kitchen and cook and bake and eat. She didn’t have to stand up because she could reach everything in her small kitchen from her chair. She was a great cook and made the best caramel rolls. It was Joe’s second wife that hung herself from Sofia’s tree. She’s the one that Gramma accused of stealing cucumbers from the garden.” – My mom