Summer Sausage

Summer Sausage has always been one of my favorite snacks, but there’s all kinds of weirdness that goes into preserving some of the (admittedly delicious) grocery store brands.  About a year ago, I looked into whether or not we could do it ourselves, and it turns out it is very easy!  I’ve yet to make this sausage look pretty, though I did a better job of shaping them this time, but they would be nice in a gift basket.  While there is still some curing going on, it’s controlled and it’s nice to know what’s in it.  And we can make it with a leaner meat and spices to taste.  It freezes very well, especially if you vacuum seal it.  The measurements below are what we like, but you can absolutely adjust them (except for the curing salts to meant ratio).






Dill Relish

The cucumbers keep on coming!  Not that I’m complaining. 🙂  Relish seemed like a fun use to preserve them, beyond another batch of pickles.  This was pretty easy, though needed a lot of improvising.  I liked the final results, but we’ll see how they are after a few weeks.




Mini Greek-Style Meat Loaves

I saw this recipe in an old Cooking Light, and thought it was worth a try…definitely glad we did.  We’ll be making it again, and actually it would be worth doing in bulk – great for lunches.  The recipe called for more beef than lamb, and I ended up doing equal parts (with very lean beef).  Next time I actually think I would do all lamb.  We made these in mini loaf tins with a cucumber-tomato salad from our garden. 🙂  The sauce actually made it!




Herb Rubbed Pork Chops with Pesto

This was another grilled pork chop recipe (and we have yet to tire of grilled pork chops!) that we liked a lot.  Very easy for a weeknight dinner.  There were no bone-in chops at the store, but the thick boneless were actually fine.  I did do a quick brine of these before the herb rub/grilling.  The pesto was from our basil, and we grilled some of our squash as a side.  This came from Serious Eats.





Dill Pickles

This is our first year with a big garden, and I am loving it!!  Our cucumbers are gorgeous, and we’ve had enough to snack on as well as enough for the one thing I’ve been waiting for…pickling!  I pretty much heart dill pickles.  This brine comes from my Gram’s recipe, but the spice ratios I ad-libbed for our tastes.  I used dill heads from our own garden as well, so extra fun.  I did use pickle crisp because I did a BWB so they’d last a year+ and didn’t want soggy spears.  Also, I was out of canning salt so used sea salt (about the only alternative to avoid the anti-caking).

For planning purposes, 20 medium to large pickling cucumbers and about 40 dill heads yielded 9 jars of pickles.  The worst thing is waiting six weeks to see how they turned out!



Lemongrass Chicken with Noodles

My friend Missy recently had a big party to celebrate a decade in DC – it was an awesome time with amazing DC food!  She had a Banh Mi station with lemongrass chicken.  I used her recipe and threw it over some lightly Thai curried noodles for a pretty good dinner.  The sauce was a good base but could use some brightening up…maybe more lime or fish sauce next time.  The best part was that we used our own sugar snap peas from the garden!






Caribbean Brine Pork Chops

We’ve had so much success with brined chops that I’ve been looking through a few other brines to try them out.  This was good, but too sweet for me.  If you like sweet with a nice hint of spice, you would probably really enjoy this.  I mean, I didn’t leave anything on the plate. 😉  We had this with our squash tossed with some of our dill and chives, and some corn we picked up.  Will be corn season in Virginia soon!! 🙂





Patriotic Iced Sugar Cookies

Possibly the most decorative dessert I’ve ever done, but also probably the one I’ve liked the best! I made these for a 4th of July picnic with Shawn’s family in Florida, and they seemed to be pretty popular! While time consuming, these are not difficult. I don’t own a pastry set – instead I use a small paint brush and toothpick for these designs. You can Google for “Royal Icing Marbling” and get some great tutorials.  I used the same recipe as I did for our Christmas cookies, both for the cookie and the icing.