White House in a pickle
September 24th, 2010
01:45 PM ET
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This just in from our D.C. Bureau, a press release from the White House:

The presentation of gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries is a time-honored tradition that helps transcend cultural barriers and offers a symbol of peace and friendship.

In honor of the 65th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly, First Lady Michelle Obama has assembled an assortment of gifts that reflect her past 20 months in the White House. The White House Kitchen Garden, which provides the Obama family and White House guests with delicious fresh produce, is the central theme behind this year’s gift.

A special recipe of pickled, hand-picked ingredients from the White House Kitchen Garden, including sun gold tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, chocolate bell peppers, carrots, lemon verbena, and fresh herbs are presented in jars with the First Lady’s signature. The jars are topped with original artwork done by California artists, Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma, who were inspired by a photo of Mrs. Obama tending to the garden with children and a wheelbarrow.

Chamomile seeds were harvested from the White House Kitchen Garden for the first time this year and are being shared by Mrs. Obama. Also included in the gift is an off-white clay Tea Canister hand-made by Virginia potter Catherine White, whose work is inspired by the varied landscapes of nature.

We've been known to take a week-long "preservation vacation" to put up produce. Do you have a can-do attitude? Ever find yourself in a jam or a pickle? While we're tracking down the White House recipes, we'd love your stories of your food preservation traditions in the comments below.

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Filed under: Bite • Dishes • Food Politics • Gardening • Local Food • Michelle Obama • News • Pickles • White House

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Natch

    I have to wonder 2 things, after reading the article and comments here:

    1. Exactly how much did all this cost the taxpayers? Because you know that Michelle didn't really have anything to do with this, except perhaps to approve the artist's rendering for the end product (and loan her signature to the jars).

    2. How long will it take "sure" to figure out that it's not only white people who can be bigots and racists? You keep saying "go back to Europe". Where are you going back to?

    September 27, 2010 at 7:53 am |
    • Jerv

      @ Natch You make absolutely no sense. Did you even read the article?

      September 27, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  2. Appalled

    Why is it that when someone voices an opinion about not liking the Obamas, people automatically think they are a bigot? You can dislike them because of their politics and not be a bigot. People are saying all the republicans do is name call-I think those of you calling people bigots and attacking people for their opinions need to take another look in the mirror!

    September 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
    • Hannah

      I applaud Appalled.

      September 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  3. Jeff

    And here I thought the only thing canned in Washington DC was politicians' answers to questions.

    September 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  4. Natalie

    I have a 24 x 20 foot veggie garden in which I grow a lot of my own produce. August and September has kept me on my feet as it as harvest time has come around. The tomatoes get dried, canned or turned into sauce. I haven't purchased pizza or pasta sauce since I planted my garden in 2005. Cucumbers get pickled and jarred, peppers get roasted and frozen or dried and sealed, squash is roasted and pureed into a base for soups. The local farmer's market provides the items that I don't grow myself like beets for even more roasting or blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries for turning into preserves. There is no greater feeling than knowing that I grew it myself and canned it myself. I love knowing exactly where my food comes from and exactly what ingredients went into it.

    September 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  5. Jared Finkelstein

    As someone mentioned, the First Lady has elevated the discussion of childhood obesity in this country and it is making a difference. My company, Teich Garden Systems, designs and installs gardens around the country primiarily in schools and from what we have seen the impact of the First Lady cannot be understated. Whatever your politics, how can you think that is a bad thing?

    September 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  6. Jeanne

    Christmas this year will be in the form of garden gifts. Probably mostly dehydrated. Toms, zucs, etc. Some jerky thrown in. Will be great to send to my grandson in Iraq

    September 26, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  7. Squidworks

    Get real guys....I'm sure SHE'S not in the kitchen putting this stuff together.......Let's give the kitchen staff a hand....oh...and how many of them are our friends in military uniform?????

    September 26, 2010 at 12:55 am |
  8. Tony

    Odd that Michelle should give a foreign dignitary a gift that would be seized by customs if it were brought into the United States.

    September 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • margo

      @Tony: Nope, they are processed foods; only fresh produce is verboten.

      September 26, 2010 at 12:22 am |
    • sure

      Dignitaries don't have to go through customs.

      September 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  9. Hannah


    September 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • sure

      Quite clearly, Hannah, a lot of people. Why are you so jealous? Are you one of those middle-aged white women who is in a loveless marriage and has no self-esteem but tons of privilege? Your husband can send you around the world, but he doesn't really love you? Maybe he left you for a thick-lipped, high-cheek boned, skinny-waisted and full-figured version, maybe with darker skin and wide hips? You seem to have a very bitter response to any praise heaped on Mrs. Obama...does she make you feel insecure? Are you one of the eat pray love types who thinks that the world will be saved if only she goes to Asia, does yoga, and finds the love of a younger man? Here's a thought, get over yourself. Perhaps you are jealous that the First Lady is doing something while you are...insulting her for her good works because they somehow spite you. You maybe need more help than I thought. It really shouldn't bother you so much. I'm sure the Botox and Pilates are working, he won't leave you just yet! So calm down.

      September 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
      • You sure?

        You sure about that, Sure? What in her posts so far have lead you to believe that Hannah is an adult?

        September 27, 2010 at 9:47 am |
      • Alex

        Spoken with a lot of bitterness....my guess is her man ran off with a white woman.

        September 27, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
      • Hannah

        Alex, I agree, I think a certain someone is projecting.

        By the way Sure, you couldn't be more wrong about me and who I am. If you're going to be judgmental, be creative about it.

        September 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  10. Kathy Garrett

    My best memories as a child in autumn are working with my mom in the kitchen. Canning, making pickling brine, and jellies. It is hard work, but lots of fun. My grandmother taught me to make rose petal jelly, and 'sweet pickled anythings'.
    Did Mrs. Obama really do the work of canning and pickling? Why not? It's great fun and great for the girls too.

    I like the gifts idea. It is a deep part of our American heritage to set aside foods for the winter months. Yummm!

    September 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Rooster

    Does anyone really believe she did anymore in that garden than stand in front of a camera holding a shovel?
    Come on folks...!

    September 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • GetOverIt

      If you have ever gardened and enjoyed it, then you will 100% believe that she had a hand in working in/on that garden. It's not a chore to everyone, some people actually find it enjoyable.

      September 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  12. spike404

    C'mon. How tacky. Does anyone actually believe that the items came from the WH garden, as the jar covers state?

    September 25, 2010 at 8:14 am |
    • tacky?

      many questions that could be asked... but why not just enjoy the thought, even if only one of the veggies, ochra for example ACTUALLY came from the WH garden

      I enjoyed the article and could do with out all the Obama politics that comes with any article that dares to mention their name

      September 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • DerrickAnthony

      Do you have a "spike" drilled into your wooden head, or did your father "spike" your mother's coffee, when she was pregnant with you? Is that where you got the name?

      September 25, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
      • Hannah

        Derrick, this is you being a human? Really?

        September 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • sure

      Not as tacky as your ill-thought comment. Yet another fool with an internet connection. Who would've thought?

      September 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
      • Missy

        Speek for yourself fool

        September 27, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
      • Hannah

        I love Missy.

        September 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
  13. NOBAMA

    wow, atleast the wife of our president can figure out how to give gifts to foreigner dignitaries, something her husband has yet to figure out. but seriously even though i think obama is doing a $hit job in all aspects of his responsibilities, his wife is actually doing some decent things with her position. keep it up michelle, i want to like you and your husband, but he just makes it soooo difficult.

    September 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • CuadRose

      Oh NOBAMA.....is there anything the President has done that you don't find fault with? What is that really about? Are you a ditto-head? Are you waiting on your Faux News memo before you can make a statement? Are you able to think and reasons things through without being told what to feel, say and do?

      September 25, 2010 at 12:54 am |
      • NOBAMA

        well actually cuadrose, i agree with you that foxnews is outta control and rediculous., i actually have a job and support myself so i dont have time to watch the bullsh that comes on these biased news channels. i actually base my opinions on the facts that the shmuck in charge has continually shown that he has no backbone for this country as he apologizes for america being america, we are the best in the world, we are a christian nations and were founded that way. he distances himself from all that is america and its disgusting. i dont care what glenn beck or orielly have to say or olbermann of nbc. this country needs a man with some cahones and one who cares more about us than being the first black president who changed the world...gimme a break...if he was a coach in professional sports we have fired his ass by now

        September 25, 2010 at 11:48 am |
      • have a job and support myself

        NOBAMA you could write you are the Pope and it has as much validity as what you wrote

        the only strength is in the writing and backing up of opinions on a blog such as this

        that aside, can't you take your politics to the politics section and leave food for food opinions?

        September 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
      • NOBAMA

        i like food

        September 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
      • Hannah

        I like food, too!

        September 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • sure

      It's funny how white people can only pronounce names like adams and smith and john, so they have to consistently make fun of anyone else's name, to disguise the fact that they don't know how to say it. Like most African names, O-BA-MA is spelled the way that it sounds. That is known as being 'phonetic.' So instead of showing how ignorant and un-American you are by making fun of the President's name, try growing up and sounding it out like a big boy. I know education is poor in this country, but the amount of adults who can't properly utilize reasoning as astounding.

      September 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
      • Dan

        Enough of the white people comments. Take your racist rants and and very evident hatred of white people elsewhere. This is a food blog dummy!

        September 27, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
      • Hannah

        Dan, seriously, I love you.

        September 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  14. Hope

    Congrats to Mrs Obama for having as all discussing better food options!

    September 24, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  15. AmishAirline

    That woman embodies class and grace. And frankly, so did Laura Bush. So please, let's make any comments about pickles, and not politics. I don't care what your ideology is (except yours, "Truth", you're a tool), that's a cool gift.

    September 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Hannah

      Aww I love Laura Bush.

      September 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
      • Panties

        I am love with Laura Bush, also. I have been secretly in love with her for many years.

        September 26, 2010 at 4:06 am |
      • sure

        Please do not lie, Hannah. From your previous comment, is obvious that you do not love anyone. Not even yourself. I'll pray for you. And all the other bigots. Please God, don't let these fools destroy our country. This is God's house. People like you need to kneel and ask forgiveness. It'll never be too late for God to forgive you. The rest of us are merely human.

        September 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  16. Madge

    I think giving a gift from your garden is one the the classiest and thoughtful things you can do. I think it's utterly delightful. The regular home cook might not commision a fancy artist, but heck, red and white check fabric on a jar of home grown goodies is just as cool. (I don't even really like Obama, but hey, a good jar of pickles is a good jar of pickles)

    September 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • sure

      Thank you for not politicizing a jar of pickles. Your sincerity is refreshing.

      September 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  17. micshell13

    About this time of year I spend nearly every weekend canning or freezing. The final produce is going to be canned this weekend, then a rest for a few weeks unitl my apples finish and we start working on them!

    September 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Traveldoc

      For the first time in my life (despite being an 11-yr 4-Her), I planted a garden this year at my home in NC. Not only that, but I joined a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) to try to eat better, and more locally (aka – I'm a locavore). Another first, is I made/canned bread & butter pickles with a girlfriend and kosher dill pickles by myself (from the bounty of my garden and membership in the CSA). I know it may sound stupid, but I'm enjoying learning about foods, proper storage, and creating new recipies for feeding my family. It sort of makes me feel good inside, too! As I see it, there isn't much better 'therapy' in life, than that which you can share with love. Guess what my friends will get as part of their Christmas gifts this year?

      September 24, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
      • Shenandoah1865

        Traveldoc – Good for you! You sound like the most mature and grounded of all posters here...really a breath of fresh air. I hope you continue to enjoy your adventures. What you are doing is such a link to our country's past – and in NC you have wonderful history all around you. You might enjoy finding some old time cookbooks to find old ways of preparing the food you are growing. Colonial Williamsburg publishes several and I believe you can still find a copy of Mrs. (Robert E.) Lee's family receipt (recipe) book. It's a kick.

        September 25, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
      • Megan

        Congratulations, Traveldoc! Sounds like you've had a wonderful time this year. I grew up on a farm, but this year has been my first real garden on my own, and I too have been teaching myself canning. My mom canned all sorts of foods when I was little, but I was too small to be allowed near the hot/sterile equipment; I was on the shucking brigade instead.

        I wish I had the opportunity to take a whole week off for food preservation, but I've managed to put up several batches so far - zucchini bread'n'butter pickles, dilly beans, jam, cranberry mustard. I'm hoping to can / dry / freeze other things as well, including freezing homemade ravioli filled with our own winter squash.

        Good, healthy, local food IS a gift, and is something that many people lack and/or have not yet learned to care about. I am glad that Mrs. Obama is supporting it.

        September 26, 2010 at 4:08 am |
    • Traveldoc

      Would love to spend a weekend with you, micshell13, and learn how and what you do! (My talent is extremely limited at this time). And apples! Yummmm! When I have plenty of great apples or ripe pears, I'll make and freeze pies. They are heavenly in the winter and spring, freshly baked with a dollop of vanilla-bean ice-cream on top!

      September 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  18. Rickie Junior

    This sounds amazing! Michelle Obama has brought such energy to the job of First Lady of the World! What a difference. Don't you just want to spend an evening with her? She seems so approachable and .... smart!!!

    September 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • Truth

      "Don't you just want to spend an evening with her?"

      No, not really. She has described the job of First Lady as "Hell". She is an ungrateful uppity beyotch and the sooner that she and her socialist, inept hubby finish their one term, the better.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
      • Rickie Junior

        Be careful buddy. You sound like some exercise and fresh are particularly important! That kind of rage will certainly lead to heart disease!

        September 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
      • Cis

        The "Hell" quote has been debunked many times.

        The rest of your post is out of line, but I should expect the worst kinds of behavior from right-wingers with a grudge.

        September 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
      • AmishAirline

        Holy schnikees! HE SAID SOCIALIST!!! We are all doomed, and Michelle Obama is going to take over my back-yard garden next, and give my tomatoes to the black people!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!! Run out and get yourselves a "don't tread on me" flag and go to your local Tea Party meeting to yell and scream epithets NOW, before it's too late.

        I swear, I am a peaceful Buddhist, but I am almost at the point where I want to take one of you zealots and punch you in the face repeatedly. And this coming from a registered Republican! I just can not stand the stupidity anymore.

        September 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
      • CuadRose

        Truth.....you are bitter person. At least be honest and admit that nothing the First Lady the President do or have done will ever meet with your approval because your bigotry precedes your ability to be a reason human being Geez.....you are a danger to our Country.

        September 25, 2010 at 12:52 am |
      • danger to our country

        Truth spouts this hate all over CNN, I think you said it very well

        I was hoping that the food section would be hate free

        September 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
      • Miss Macy

        You idiot.

        September 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
      • Sal Fladabosco

        Yeah, let's go back to the Bush administration. They really left the country in better shape than it was when they took over. They really helped the middle class. They made America so angry we elected a man of color whose middle name is Hussein. That's angry!

        September 26, 2010 at 9:34 am |
      • sure

        Hey, white trash. If you don't like this country and its leaders, feel free to leave. Go back to Europe. Oh wait. But they don't want you either. You are just another stupid white man who is jealous of what the Obama's have because YOU CAN NEVER HAVE IT! You can't get into the schools, you can't have the jobs, you can't have the house, and you can't have the power. The white elite lied to you to keep you under control. And now you realize that you will never get yours, and you feel like a fool. Because you are a fool. And consequently, you still want to believe that there is some way that you will get yours, not through hard work like everybody else, but with the hand out known as white privilege. Yeah, you have the privilege to GO BACK TO EUROPE. If they will take you.

        September 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
      • Dan

        sure's post proves hate is a two way street.

        September 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
      • Hannah

        Dan's the man!

        September 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
    • Hannah

      The only person I dislike more than Obama is his wife.

      September 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
      • DerrickAnthony

        Hannah, I hope you get the help you need, to one day become a Human Being. It's actually FREE, you know. Give it a try.

        September 25, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
      • Hannah

        And Derrick, I hope one day you will embrace our country's free speech like I have.

        September 25, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
      • sure

        Your free speech is not in question. Your bigotry is. Are you really so insecure that a intelligent, attractive, powerful first lady threatens you so much to insult her for no reason? If you do not like her, that is your prerogative. But your continued disrespect is nothing more than a childish act of treason. Like it or not, she is our First Lady. If it makes you cry at night, move to a different country, Hannah. Go back to the land of your ancestors. And while you are at, stop reading articles about people you supposedly can't stand. You are a pathetic excuse for an American.

        September 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
      • Hannah

        I state that I dislike two people and that makes me prejudiced against black people? Really? And you can make assumptions that everyone on this board you disagree with is white? Hey Pot, how's it goin??

        September 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  19. RichardHead

    Hey,this is a pretty good idea. I use pickle juice on any blister that comes up after pitching at our local baseball game. I wonder if she gave Imanutjob a jar and whether he will use it?

    September 24, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jack

      Imanutjob went to the U.N. – not the White House. Though I'm sure he was invited. Obama did promise to have tea with our enemies (and by tea, it appears he includes beer).

      September 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
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