Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles


 INA FRIDAYS –First Friday of every month. Come cook some Ina with us this weekend.  Scroll down to join the group. ♥♥♥         Upcoming:  Desserts:  July 4.     Check out Ina Fridays on Pinterest.

As a cook and a lover of my friends and family, one of my frequent questions to pose is:

What’s your favorite meal?

People will often need a moment because we have so very many things we love.  I myself can unequivocally answer,


This even though I often live on eggs, don’t particularly want to live without asparagus, and am rarely more pleased than when there’s beef stew for dinner.  I like great individual artisan pizza, take-out or delivery pizza, homemade pizza (my son makes the best), and probably only draw the line at frozen pizza — though I’ll eat Lou Malnati’s anytime, good Chicago girl that I am. I love pizza so much that I’m not picky. (Ok, I don’t do Chucky Cheese.)  But I’m amazed how many times Americans will answer, “Hamburgers”  when it comes to their favorite food. They include fries more than half the time, I’d wager. (Click HERE for a list of Top 50 American Foods.)  And while they love a great or famous burger from a bar, I think they’re even happier with a summertime grilled-at-home version or even a drive-in dive sandwich. (If I jump in the car, I can be at Cy’s in two minutes with a green line down at the corner.)  Continue reading

Shop and Chop Pickles: Every Night Now!

It’s too warm to do much cooking indoors unless you do it in the wee small hours of the morning.  Lately I’m not up then unless I need to bake and then I start between four and five.  Mostly I throw together fresh vegetable soups in the food processor or get Dave to grill while I whip up a salad or vegetables and dip to go with the vodka tonics. That said, there is the odd exception when I do something like cook up a pot of Turkey Italian Sausage chili mid-summer, which I did yesterday afternoon, an unusually cool day.  Just for grins and change. We still ate it outdoors, as we do nearly every dinner in the summer.

Throwing together a big batch of thinly sliced, fresh and variable vegetables and tossing them together with vinegar, salt, sugar, and seasonings is one of my favorite summer supper acts.

When cucumbers were running rampant in the garden, my Mom just sliced up cucumbers and put them in a bowl with vinegar for supper.

I began my instant pickle dish just like her, but went on to be wild and crazy with the addition of salt, pepper, and sugar.  You know how it is with your Mom’s dishes; eventually they morph.  Another year,  I added thinly sliced red onion and chopped garlic or chopped dill.  And finally, just a year or two ago,  I blew myself away by adding whatever other vegetables I had, as well as crushed red pepper.   One of the most wonderful things about this shop and chop dish is that it’ll hold for several days in the refrigerator while one night you grill burgers, another night you make pork chops with barbeque sauce, and so on.  Or, if you’re like me, you eat it for lunch, too, with some cheese and a big, thick slice of rye bread, a couple of boiled eggs, or even some leftover smoked fish.  Whatever you do, don’t think of this as just, “pickles,” (though you can use it that way) it’s a salad, a side, a meal.

Be your own inventive cook and use your favorite vegetables (radishes?) or fresh herbs or spices (coriander seeds or mustard seeds?)  Most of the ingredients and amounts are variable so you can change this up to suit yourself.   If you choose tomatoes, add them at the last minute to the portion you’re serving that night.

instant vegetable pickles

4-6 generous servings

  • 2 cucumbers, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (peel if store-bought American variety)
  • 1 small zucchini, trimmed, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 small yellow (summer) squash, trimmed, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 3 tablespoons minced red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons white sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Generous pinch crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 cup white (or pickling) vinegar — or more to cover about half of the vegetables

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, tossing lightly.  Taste and adjust seasonings (usually sugar or salt).  Eat immediately or refrigerate, well covered,  for up to 3 days.

{printable recipe}

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gazpacho-poached eggs from the dinnerplace blog


Miss Gab turned 5 on the Fourth of July.  Happy Birthday, Gabriela!!

Sing a new song,
Alyce, Gabby and Tucker