Quick Refrigerator Pickles – easy garlic pickles

Quick Refrigerator Pickles

Even though I grew up in the South with a mother that liked to cook, she was a modern woman who worked full time. She did not have a lot of extra time to can fruits & vegetables or put up preserves. But one thing she did do was keep cut pickles in the refrigerator during the summer. Her version of a “quick pickle” was to slice the cucumbers (often from my dad’s garden) and put them into a bowl with water and a bit of salt. The salt water kept the cucumbers  crisp and the fridge kept the slices nice and cold. Those pickles were meant to be eaten in a day or two. It was an easy thing to do in the morning before heading to work. Then, when she got home from work and had to pull together dinner, it was easy to pull out those cold, salty cucumber slices to serve with sliced tomatoes and green onions from the garden. That and some beans and cornbread were dinner.

That salt brine has to be the simplest way ever to make a refrigerator pickle. I’ve used it many times myself. But in the last few years, I’ve been wanting to play around with making “real” pickles. There are two different ways to pickle cucumbers – refrigerator (or quick) method and the canning process method. I felt intimidated by the whole canning process, so I opted to try the quick refrigerator pickle.

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White Wine Peach Sangria

White Wine Peach Sangria

Living in the Peach State (that would be Georgia, by the way) means getting great locally-grown peaches throughout July and into August. Unlike the peaches from the supermarket, the local fruit that I get from the Farmer’s Market is ripe and soft to the touch. It also means that I need to use them quickly, while they are at their peak. Yesterday, the weather was nice and the peaches were perfect, so I decided to make a pitcher of White Wine Peach Sangria.  

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Summer Vegetable Succotash

Southern Summer Vegetable Succotash

Not to point fingers or anything, but there are a lot of people who think Southern food is just about eating pig and frying things. Not that there is anything wrong with some pulled pork or an occasional piece of fried chicken, but I think that it’s the side dishes that make the Southern table different. And no matter what Food Network might be showing you, most Southerners do not just eat deep-fried macaroni & cheese for dinner. We are blessed with a very long growing season, so we have access to lots of great vegetables most of the year. Most Southern cooks know how to cook veggies – green beans, cream corn and squash casserole, etc. One vegetable dinner I make in the summer is a Southern summer vegetable succotash. It’s a great way to use up all those veggies in your CSA box this week.

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Blackberry Thyme bramble cocktail

Blackberry Thyme Bramble cocktail

As I mentioned earlier this week, we’re in the beginning of blackberry season here in Georgia. We’re picking blackberries every few days and we’ve got a few big containers filled with them right now. When I have this many berries sitting in my fridge, it’s too tempting to grab a sweet handful to nibble on or put in bowl with some yogurt. I’m also tempted to toss them into a tall glass and add some thyme, lemon and gin for a summer cocktail –  Blackberry Thyme Bramble Cocktail.

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Low Sugar Blackberry Jam

Low-Sugar Blackberry Jam

My family loves blackberry season. We can’t wait for the blackberries to come in every July so we can start our month-long ritual of berry picking and blackberry jam and cobbler-making. After three bug-bit, thorn-scratched excursions this weekend, we have already picked two gallons of wild blackberries. It’s not really a problem, but the berries are starting to get backed up in my fridge. It’s time to get serious about jam making. So, this week, I’m pulling my canning jars out of the closet and I’ll put up my first batch of low sugar blackberry jam for the summer.

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Pimm’s Cup – a British cocktail for sunny days

A Pimm's Cup

In honor of Andy Murray finally winning the Wimbledon trophy for the Brits this week, I’m making the official cocktail of Wimbledon, the quintessential English summer cocktail – The Pimm’s Cup. The Pimm’s Cup is a classic English “fruit cup”… a cool, refreshing long drink made of Pimm’s No. 1 tonic and a lemony or gingery soda and slices of lemon, orange and cucumber. 

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Zucchini Pancakes – a summer garden recipe

Zucchini pancakes or fritters

Besides the tomato, is there any vegetable that announces the height of the summer garden more than the zucchini? At a certain point each summer, I start to see it everywhere…at the local Farmer’s Market, in my CSA box, in bags of garden produce from neighbors left on my front porch. It’s like people can’t get rid of their summer squash fast enough. Since I don’t grow it in my own garden, I’m always too happy to take bags of squash from anyone who wants to give it to me. So when yellow squash and zucchini are this plentiful, I have a handful of recipes that I make to attack that pile of vegetables in my kitchen. One of my family’s favorites is zucchini pancakes for dinner. 

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Buford Highway – Atlanta’s food melting pot

Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is known for many things – its sprawling suburbs, horrific traffic and never ending construction among them. Even if you hate sitting on the Downtown Connector at rush hour, there is no denying that this city has a certain charm and appeal. It is still the economic engine for the entire South. It has a thriving music, arts and food scene. Atlanta has beautiful, leafy, historic intown neighborhoods that attract more new residents each year. But, not known to many people outside the city, there is one part of Atlanta where the flood of new immigrants has quietly come and changed the dynamic of the food scene profoundly – Buford Highway.

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