Pea Salad and other pickle-ish things

It’s a hot steamy day in the Blue Ridge, so hot and steamy there’s a milky haze hanging low over the mountains. The air is thick when you breathe in and out. It feels like Texas. Boomer our Texan cat thinks it IS Texas and lays splayed out on the patio, happy to be in the heat.  I’m not that much of a fan of summer heat. My outdoor work in our new garden is done early or late in the day.

It’s so warm our menu has lightened and we look for easy and quick recipes and ways to avoid heating up the kitchen. My mouth waters for some old favorites.  Summer recipes are brighter, zippier don’t you think?

Pea Salad from Windcrest United Methodist Church

  • 1 can LeSeur Peas
  • 1 can French Green Beans
  • 1 can Shoepeg corn
  • 1 jar chopped pimentos
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup red or white onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

Mix together and bring to a boil:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup salad oil
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

Pour dressing over drained vegetables, mix, chill, serve. This recipe doubles okay. Don’t skip boiling the dressing. It stores well and can be made in advance. I use the larger jar of chopped pimento, not the tiniest one.  This is a great “dish to pass” recipe and stays safe at warmer picnic table temps because of the vinegar. I was blessed to get this recipe from a church member who often brought it for potlucks. We considered ourselves lucky if any was leftover for staff lunches!

Refrigerator Pickles

  • 6 cucumbers sliced very thin
  • 1/2 to 1 sweet red pepper sliced thin
  • 1/2 to 1 green pepper sliced thin
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled, left whole
  • 6-12 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Layer vegetables in a large jar. I use a large clamp lid jar or a recycled XL pickle jar. Also note: Use pickling cucumbers or any unwaxed cucumber such as the Armenian burpless cucumbers.

Mix together:

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/8 cup of salt (that’s 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 cup white vinegar

I use a smaller jar and shake this mixture really well, then pour over the vegetables. Cover and shake well. Refrigerate, then shake the jar several times per day to mix. Don’t worry about sugar/salt that falls to the bottom. It will dissolve. Pickles are ready in about 3 days and store up to three months. Serve on sandwiches or alone. They are very colorful and addicting.

When asked to bring a dish to pass I have always brought jars of pickles and olives. My sister often made fun of me but honestly, who doesn’t enjoy pickles and olives? Better still I never worried about getting back my dish to bring back home. I just left them. Usually it’s just a matter of the host recycling the jars. I got the base recipe from my upstairs neighbor back when we lived in a duplex in Milwaukee. I’ve tweaked it and added the garlic and peppers and the peppercorns and have experimented with using it with other vegetables like zuchinni and carrots and green beans. All work.

Recently we attended our 40th High School Reunion. Held in one of our classmates business locations, a beautiful place called Arbor Vista Nursery and surrounded by beautiful trees and plants, we were asked to bring our signature dish. It didn’t take much to decide to bring a jar of these pickles which I threw together the week before in my mother’s kitchen. They’ve gone over great in Texas and with family, but the real test was back in our homeland of Wisconsin, where pickles are a specialty.  They seemed to be a big hit and I was asked for the recipe which is posted over on All Things too.

We had the opportunity to walk through our old high school and got a look at the updates and additions to the school. Some things were exactly the same. We walked the halls holding hands and memories of our first summer drifted in and out of my head. I found myself praying for the kids that walk the halls now and for the opportunities that await them. I gave thanks for my sweet husband and our life together which began right there.

Chilled, sweet and salty pickles with just a kick of garlic are the perfect signature to leave on a gathering of old friends remembering all those years ago. It was a lovely time and we were glad we went.

Do you have a summer meal favorite? Please share!

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About Robin Arnold

Reader, writer, gardener, geek, maker of homes in several states, now settled in Virginia with husband Bob, and Hazel and Wilson the tabby cats.
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