Some people say that the universal symbol for hospitality is a pineapple. In our house, it was mustard pickles.
Growing up, I was exposed to three different levels of hospitality when it came to having people over for dinner.
Level 1: A Diet Coke was consumed at some point before or during the meal.
Level 2: We were warned. "Don't you dare roll your ear of corn in that stick of butter (like we always did). We have company. Use a knife. That butter is fresh."
Level 3: A precious jar of Aunt Lora's mustard pickles were opened and ceremoniously served in a cut crystal dish.
Mustard pickles are cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, cauliflower florets and tiny pearl onions swimming in a sweet-tart pool of sunshine. They are a palette cleanser, a side dish, a postcard from summer and the glittering citrine jewel of the dinner plate. In our house, the pearl onions were the hottest commodity and I remember the cheerful bickering mining them out caused. At one point we even instituted the "One scoop and you get what you get" policy. But, this is also the family that turned surreptitiously opening Christmas presents and rewrapping them into an art form, so I'll leave it to you to judge how effective that policy was in combating pearl onion theft. Over the years I've canned a few batches of mustard pickles and my feelings about the pearl onions have definitely shifted. I had no idea how much work it took to boil, skin and trim each one of those little buggers. We served one of my batches during a family dinner and it took a profound amount of self-control not to leap over the table and snatch the pickles out of the larcenous hands of one of my siblings (you know who you are, insert death glare here) and eat every single last one of those onions myself. Right out of the jar. With the serving spoon. My respect for Aunt Lora grew that day as well as my understanding that nothing says "I care" quite as clearly as a jar of homemade mustard pickles.
This fall I signed up for Round 3 of the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap. I had some pretty grand illusions about how I was going to get a partner from some far-flung corner of the world that had wildly different tastes than I did. Imagine my surprise when I opened the email to find that my partner pretty much loves purple and Tula Pink fabrics as much as I do. Also, our states happen to share a river. Huh. So, in the true spirit of hospitality I learned from my youth, I made her a Pickle Dish. It IS the neighborly thing to do, right?
I made this mini using a free pattern I found at Modern Quilting by B. I used fabric from four of Tula Pink's lines, Fox Field, Acacia, Parisville and Nightshade. The background is shot cotton in galvenized and the binding is shot cotton in grape. I used 50 wt. Aurifil thread in medium gray for the matchstick quilting. The mini finishes at 18" x 18."
As I was making this I kept thinking of what a great way doing a pickle dish quilt would be to showcase some of the fabrics in my growing scrap bin, but then I had a pearl onion moment. If you ever receive a blanket from me made with a pickle dish pattern, rest assured, "I care."
From my house to yours. Enjoy your pickle dish, partner!