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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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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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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How to use Kohlrabi – another CSA box challenge

Kohlrabi with leaves

If you subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) each summer, you know the secret thrill that comes from opening your box each week and seeing your farm fresh treasures. Unfortunately, there is often the “what tha’…” moment when you get a vegetable that looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before, let alone know how to cook. This week’s WTH vegetable was the kohlrabi. I’ve cooked kohlrabi before, mostly in a stir fries, but it’s not ever on my shopping list. I got a text from one of my friends who got the same thing in her box asking “how do I cook this?”. This became another CSA box challenge. I decided to do some research on how to use kohlrabi.

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Stuffed Chard Leaves

When I opened up my first CSA box* of the season last week, the first thing that I saw was a bundle of colorful Rainbow Chard sitting on top. Besides being so vibrantly beautiful, they were big. Big enough to use in a stuffed roll recipe. I often make a vegetarian Greek stuffed grape leaf, or dolmades, so I decided to adapt my dolmades recipe to make stuffed chard leaves. 

Rainbow chard leaves from my CSA box

Rainbow chard leaves from my CSA box

With my chard as a starting point, I pulled fresh mint and oregano from my garden and then looked to my pantry for black rice (which, like wild rice, has a nice nutty flavor) and some Turkish red pepper flake, called Kirmizi Pul Biber, that my brother just gifted to me.

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Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza – Recipe

Fig, goat cheese and prosciutto pizza

Here is one of our Pizza Night variations – fig and goat cheese pizza. My friend Carolyn offered up the idea and the toppings for this pizza. She started by making a Fig/Onion Jam, adapted from a recipe she found on The Food Network website. She modified the jam by leaving out the goat cheese and adding it at the end, directly on the pizza. Continue reading »