Quick and Easy Garden Pickles

This warm weather has me dreaming of the garden and all the easy summer meals we’ll have out there!  My grandmother’s recipe for quick garden pickles is still one of my family’s favourite side dishes. They’re so easy, they come together in just five minutes – perfect for those busy days and hot nights when you really don’t feel like cooking at all. We all have nights like that, don’t we?  Growing up, my grandparents had a large garden where we would play as children.  There they grew many different varieties of cucumbers – Armenian, gherkins, lemon cucumbers – which my grandmother would combine when making these pickles.  If you have several varieties in the garden, it’s fun to mix and match the colours and shapes, but if not, an English cucumber works perfectly well.   Continue reading “Quick and Easy Garden Pickles”

Melon au Lillet

Of monks and melons

The story goes that the tradition of serving Port wine in the hollowed-out cavity of a summer melon was first started by Spanish monks who would fill local piel de sapo melons, likely grown in the monastery garden, with equally local Port from the monastery cellar.  The aperitif was likely enjoyed in the cool shade of the garden before the evening meal.  Melons were considered a symbol of earthly delights by the monks.  And how fitting that something with such a rough and arguably ugly exterior would yield one of earth’s most delicious treats.  A geode of the garden – rocky on the outside, a treasure within. Continue reading “Melon au Lillet”

White Bean Salad with Asparagus

Cold summer salads are a staple in my kitchen.  We have them nearly every single day when the weather heats up.  In fact they’re one of the first things I start making when I’m impatient for the lazy days of summer to arrive.  Perhaps it’s my way of trying to usher in the warmth and sunshine that seems so long overdue.  I usually make them with pasta, but this bean salad is a great alternative that I’ve made several times already this spring.  It’s packed full of protein and is something I can bring along on a picnic or serve as a side with grilled meat for dinner.  It is best when made a few hours ahead, Continue reading “White Bean Salad with Asparagus”