I’ve completed the walking challenge, courtesy of a half-hour of gardening in the dusk (damage: three mosquito bites on the hand that was holding the shovel while I knelt to weed) and emergency use of an old pilates tape when I discovered there was no step equivalent for “standing in the kitchen cooking all day.” Alas.

The pickles are in their jars in the fridge, awaiting Wednesday, when we can crack them open and see how they taste. The recipe came from a pickling book my friend M gave me a few years ago (a book that, sadly, does not have a pickled beet recipe that Eric will accept, pickled being the only way he has eaten beets; however, he says that the Chioggia I gave him a bite of was good enough that maybe pickling won’t be necessary) and we modified it slightly to accommodate the six quart jars we had to use instead of one big crock. This is how it went:

1. I’d picked a kilo of cucumbers and the recipe called for another kilo, so we trooped out to the garden. Eric couldn’t see any cucumbers and got bitten by mosquitos, so retreated. I found four pickling cucumbers, a small slicer that we decided would work in a pinch, and a large slicer that I will be eating as part of dinner tonight (it’s Eric’s games-and-pizza-with-the-guys night), and brought them inside.

2. We quartered the cucumbers, sixth-ing and eighth-ing a few, and placed them in brine consisting of 10 cups water and 1/8 c pickling salt. We later decided that we should have added more salt, but probably it wasn’t a big deal because the brining was meant to make them crunchier, and as they were mostly only minutes off the vine they were pretty crunchy anyway.

3. We discussed the pickling cucumbers available at the farmer’s market and debated how fresh the pickling book author probably assumed the cucumbers would be. We made angelfood cake, pesto, hummus, pita bread dough, and no-egg ice cream, and did a lot of dishes.

4. We got impatient after four hours (the book said to let the cucumbers brine at least eight hours, preferably overnight) and mixed the apple cider/red wine vinegar, water, and salt. We had no non-metal pot big enough so we put it in our biggest glass mixing bowl and microwaved it. It never boiled, so we eventually decided it must be hot enough.

4a. We decided pickling was something we were going to continue to pursue, and put a large non-metal pot on our to-buy list.

5. Each of six quart jars got two crushed cloves of garlic, several sprigs of dill, a tablespoon of pickling spices (minus the chili pods), and as many cucumber spears as would fit, and was filled with the hot vinegar mix. There wasn’t quite enough liquid, so Eric heated some more quickly and topped them off.

6. Eric gazed at the jars, sniffing occasionally and telling me that he could smell the garlic now, or the dill, or the allspice. All I could smell was the vinegar.

7. When they cooled, we debated tasting them then, decided to refrain, and stuck them in the fridge.

8. We made a list of all the people we could conceivably give pickles to, because those cucumber plants aren’t exactly ready to give up.