Friday, August 26, 2016

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Every Fall, I make a point of ‘putting up’ some farm stand produce.  “Putting up” was a phrase used by our grandmothers to describe canning enough vegetables to get their families through the winter. This was long before we were able to import fresh vegetables from anywhere in the world in any season of the year, thereby stocking our grocery stores and supermarkets with the real thing all year round.   But I still feel the urge to can, if not with the same urgency of our forbearers, in the same spirit.  This year, I was drawn to a recipe that, as canning goes, could not be easier.  You simply cut up the object to be canned, add seasoning, put the vegetable and its accompaniments into Mason jars, then pour over a brine, put the tops of the jars back on and voilà!  Into your refrigerator the jars go and 24 hours later, “Pickles”!  No steaming cauldrons of boiling water! And, in the case of this recipe, just a crisp, crunchy dill pickle that is both sweet and sour and far superior to anything supermarket dill pickle.   It is the perfect recipe to make with children because it involves no cooking.  And while you make the pickles, it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about Grandma and how she kept the family in vegetables for the winter.  And all it takes a 6 1-Pint Mason Jars and 9 Kirby Cucumbers.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Salad Days. 3 Ways to Salute Summer this Weekend: Grilled Watermelon with Feta, Balsamic and Mint, Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad, Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad

        I don’t know how we got to the last week of August so quickly. But it’s been a wonderful summer here and every chance we’ve gotten, we’ve enjoyed great salads all made, with few exceptions, with ingredients found within five miles of our house.  The Watermelons have been a particular draw.  Seedless wonders, they’ve made it into salads with tomatoes before.  But for a starter that’s truly unique, we’ve served rounds of grilled watermelon topped with the tang of crumbled, salty Feta cheese and laced with sweet Balsamic vinegar reduced to its essence.  We also discovered the joyous union of field-ripened tomatoes and local peaches.  Onto this paring we’ve added luscious creamy Buratta cheese and once again a drizzle of rich balsamic reduction.  Finally, it is virtually impossible to top Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad.  Aside from its mingling of fresh seafood—all of which, except for the shrimp, came from our bays and ocean—this salad is an inspired choice for any host.  You make the whole thing the night or morning before you serve it.  It then chills until lunch or dinnertime.   You’ll only be absent from your party for as long as it takes to retrieve it from the fridge.  “How easy is that?” as Ms. Garten would say.