Refrigerator Pickles

Look at this. It’s the last day in July. I can’t even.
This summer got away from me in a flurry of summer storms, and random illnesses, old house issues, and remodel projects. Blogging had to take a necessary backseat to survival for a little bit. But look! Here are some pickles. The world is feeling right again.


Women have been preserving fruits and veggies and meats and all manner of foods for decades. They learned from their mothers who learned from their mothers, and as a result, some of us were lucky enough to have mothers who canned. But the rest of us have had to try and pick it up on our own here and there, throwing in heathy doses of apprehension along the way. What if I do it wrong? What if I poison my family? What if I break jars while boiling them and get glass in everything?
Enter Refrigerator Pickles.

Refrigerator pickles are one of those preserving miracles that feel a little like cheating. Canning without canning! It’s awesome. It’s also a great place to start if you’re new to preserving and nervous about the process. No boiling jars, no bacteria fears, and yet, boom. Preserving!

I have a crazy batch of cucumbers in my garden this year and they produce the most adorable little cucumbers. But they are very seedy. I hate seedy pickles. So instead of slicing my cucumbers or even chipping them, I cut them in half, scooped out the seeds, and sliced them up. Feel free to experiment a little when contriving pickling recipes. I like garlic dill with a hint of sweetness, but not sweet like bread-and-butter pickles. This recipe reflects my preferences. Try it and then adjust to your own likes and dislikes!


I started with a dozen cucumbers, 6″ to 9″ inches in length. Once sliced, they filled five quart jars. The brine recipe is built for five jars of pickles, so adjust accordingly if you have more cucumbers.



12 cucumbers, 6″ to 9″ inches in length.
4 cups of water
2 cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
Garlic (enough for 2-3 cloves per jar, or a heaping teaspoon of diced garlic per jar)
Big bunch of dill
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds per jar
1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns per jar

In a saucepan, boil 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of water, salt and sugar until they dissolve. Remove from heat and add the remaining water and vinegar—preferably cold so as to cool the boiled mixture down to room temp. If the brine goes into the jars over the cucumbers hot, they will get soft instead of staying firm and crunchy in your fridge.

Fill each jar equally with cucumber spears, or chips, or slices—whichever cut you prefer. Don’t pack them too tightly as the breathing room will make the pickling process more effective. To each jar add garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and several heads of dill. Just cram them right down in the jar with the cucumbers. Don’t worry about looks here. It’s more about making everything fit. Fill the jar with the brine (cooled to room temp) until the cucumbers are just covered. Tightly cover with either a plastic lid or a metal canning jar lid and band, and gently shake to distribute the dill, mustard and peppercorns. Repeat with each jar and then refrigerate for at least 7 days before opening a jar to sample.
The pickles will keep in your refrigerator for four to five weeks.




rhubarb cake

I have this patch of rhubarb in my garden—the grandchild of a plant that has been growing at my house for more than thirty years, and it’s fantastically huge. In the height of summer it takes up a full 8-foot by 12-foot raised garden bed.
I love it.
I call it Gertrude.

It’s only the middle of May in Minnesota but I’ve already harvested two batches of rhubarb from Gertrude, and yesterday’s harvest was a whopper. I had to use a laundry basket to bring it all inside. A batch of rhubarb sauce ensued. Also this cake.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that baking is not more forte. I’m better with main dishes and soup. There’s just so much chemistry in baking and I’ve never been great with chemistry. But.
But. But. But.
This cake.
—Custard-like, loaded with fruit, and finished with a crisp sugared crust. The almond flavor adds a hint of something magic, and topped with a fresh dollop of whipped cream, it’s basically perfection.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar-in-the-raw
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
4 cups diced rhubarb

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. The larger grains of sugar give everything a different texture, but trust me, the end result is amazing. Add almond extract, salt, baking powder, and eggs. Mix well. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and add the flour. The batter should be thick, almost thicker than expected. No worries, the juice from the rhubarb will thin it out a bit. Add the rhubarb and mix again. It’s going to look like too much fruit for the cake. But not to worry. The eggs and flour will eventually hold everything together.

I have a deep 8x 12, casserole pan I use to bake this cake. It will overflow a standard 9 x 9 cake pan. If you have a 9 x 16 cake pan, that may work better. Grease the pan well and spread the batter evenly with a spatula.
Sprinkle sugar-in-the-raw generously over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then turn the heat down and bake for another hour and a half (yes, that’s correct) at 325 degrees. Keep an eye on it and cover the cake with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too darkly over the top. After it had been in the oven for a total of two hours, give the pan a light shake. If the center is still jiggly, continue baking at 325 until it sets. (The “insert knife until it comes out clean” trick won’t work on this one because the finished cake has an almost custard-like texture).
Allow the cake to cool once it has finished baking.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

corn salsa with cilantro

Summer is about being outside. Because around here, winter lasts for like nine months. Not even kidding. So when it warms up, we go out. We cook outside, work outside, play outside, sleep outside, and eat outside. Grilling becomes second nature and any side dish that pairs with the dark earthy taste of charbroil, makes for happy tastebuds.
This corn salsa makes for especially emotive tastebuds. Because cilantro.
Cilantro, to me, takes like summer. Fresh, clean, bright. The more the merrier!
This salsa can be paired with a bowl of tortilla chips or served all on it’s own as a side salad.


2 15oz cans of yellow corn, drained
1/2 red onion, diced
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, diced
1/4 cup lemon juice (or lime!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl gently blend the corn, onions, peppers, black beans, and cilantro. A soft spatula works best—you don’t want to smash the beans and corn together. Set aside.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a small dish or dressing jar, and then drizzle over the corn mixture. Stir well to coat and then refrigerate before serving.


Savory Summer Squash and Angel Hair pasta

Summer is the season of garden glut. Gorgeous, true. But glut just the same. We have the season of strawberries and then beans. Followed by the gorge of cucumbers and  tomatoes. And then of course, summer squash. And if you garden, chances are your summer is awash is all the produce. Never fear. I’m here to help. And by ‘help’ I mean I will assist you in eating. Because I’m good at eating. It’s my talent. I am particularly good at eating pasta.

And so. Here’s a recipe that brings the gorgeous glut of summer squash together with that steadfast fail-safe: pasta dinner.



1 lb. Angel Hair Pasta (or other pasta shape of your choosing)
1 Tablespoon diced garlic.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 Cup raisins (golden or brown)
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
2-3 cups of zucchini
Parmesan to top

Prepare pasta as per package directions (or you can substitute whatever pasta you prefer.)
In a large stir-fry pan, brown garlic in avocado oil, or whatever oil you prefer.
Add raisins and chopped walnuts. (Even if you’re not a walnut fan—personally, I’m not—add them anyway. Their taste sweetens as they cook and they add the loveliest texture to this dish!)
Slice summer squash in half-moons and toss with the raisin mixture until just tender—you don’t want them mushy.
Heap over pasta and top with grated parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of chilled white wine.

Quinoa Summer Salad

Summer food is some of my favorite. The variety of fresh produce! The flavor! The color! All the exclamation points!
And when it comes to gorgeous summer food, salads are my standby. Not just lettuce (though hooray for all the garden greens!) but also grain and pasta salads. My kids are all um-no-thanks-mom-what-is-that-even?  I don’t care. I make the salads anyway. —Slide them on the top shelf in the fridge and eat them all week long. And this one? Oh this salad. Throw it together, toss on the dressing, and it’s about the most fresh, savory, bright meal you can imagine. It’s perfect all on it’s own, as a side, or as my husband likes to eat it, as a sort of salsa served with crispy tortilla chips. Bring it to a potluck, family reunion, picnic, or just serve it up to your Loves for dinner.



4 cups cooked quinoa (white, red, or a blend of both)
1 1/2 cups chopped red peppers  (about 2 large peppers)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow peppers (about 2 large peppers)
1 cup chopped red onion  (about 1/2 large red onion)
2 cups cucumber, chopped
1 1/2 cup of fresh/frozen edamame (not canned)
1 15oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (Roma or cherry—fewer seeds)
1/2 cup diced scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup peanut oil
3 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Tablespoon diced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons sugar

Start by cooking your quinoa. I always make extra and freeze whatever I don’t use because it freezes so well and it’s a great addition to so many things. You can use a variety of quinoa for this recipe  I like a blend of the white and red, both for color and flavor. The red quinoa is a little stronger—more nutty. Once your quinoa is cooked, refrigerate it until cool. You will be mixing a ton of fresh chopped veggies into it, and if the quinoa is warm, all those veggies will wilt.

While the quinoa is cooling you can chop the vegetables—peppers, onions, cucumber, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. I usually just throw all the chopped veggies in one large bowl and refrigerate them until I’m ready to mix the salad. (Note: strain off any extra liquid from the vegetables before mixing them with the quinoa or it will be soupy.) Drain and rinse the black beans and thaw the edamame. Set everything aside while mixing the dressing.

The measurements above make about two cups of dressing, which will probably be more than you want for this salad, but everyone’s tastes are different. Use according to your own taste and refrigerate the rest.

(A note on oils in the dressing: I’m an oil snob. I love the weight and depth different oils bring to a dressing, but you don’t have to use each of these different kinds. You can use your own blends or simply olive oil and vegetable oil. Do try and use at least some olive oil as it adds a needed weight to the dressing.)

Mix oils (either the blends recommended above, or your own choices) and add the soy sauce, vinegar  garlic, ginger, and lime juice. Whisk until blended and feel free to taste. Sugar is a preference thing—I like my dressing a little sweet and so I’ve recommended using two tablespoons, but adjust according to your own taste. Mix well and set aside.

Blend the drained vegetables, edamame, drained and rinsed black beans, and cooled quinoa until well mixed. Use a soft spatula as a wooden or metal mixing spoon will crush the veggies and beans. Pour dressing over the salad according to your desired taste. Serve cold.

A couple extra notes:

If, like me, you have a loved one who likes a little “meat” with his meals, shrimp is an excellent addition to this sald.

This salad keeps really well—I actually make it a day ahead of when I plan to serve it as the flavors intensify and blend if it has a chance to rest.

Lastly, this recipe is huge. It makes 12 + cups of salad. Perfect for sharing. But adjust the measurements if you prefer to pare it down a bit.