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Southern Eats

Summer Cooking

BBQ Chicken
BBQ Sauce
Boiled Shrimp
Fried Chicken
Fried Green Tomatoes
Roasted Corn
Devil Eggs
Cucumber Salad
Bread and Butter Pickles
Peach Cobbler
Pecan Pie
Ice Tea
Summer cooking in the South can be quite different from other times of the year. Because of the heat, often meals are cooked outside on the grill or in a crock pot so the oven stays off and the house stays cooler. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are available, whether from your backyard garden or a produce stand, so they are used a lot in meals and many people can or freeze them to save for later. Homemade ice cream is also a very popular treat on weekends.

In the south, barbecue means cooking on the grill with sauce and perhaps smoking first. Here in Canada, cooking anything on the grill is referred to as barbecue, even just hamburgers or hotdogs. In the south, that would just be called grilling and really irks me for some reason.

Tomatoes start ripening in April down South, so they are a staple all summer long. Up here in Toronto, you are lucky to get fresh vine ripened tomatoes before mid-August and I really miss that. At least there is a pick-your-own farm nearby so I can still get them in bulk for canning once they do ripen and I can get green tomatoes for frying which are impossible to find in stores up here. I enjoy ripe tomatoes just sliced and lightly salted, in salads, made into sauces, or cooked in just about anything, so I use them a lot.

When I was growing up, my grandfather always grew cucumbers. We had a large garden where he and my father grew many different vegetables, but the cukes were his babies. Sliced in salads or made into pickles, cucumbers just seem to taste like summer to me. Other summer favorites from the garden were yellow crook-neck squash (often called summer squash, especially up north), eggplant, bell peppers, corn, and of course beans and peas.

Don't be afraid of canning. It really isn't that hard and you can can fruits and tomatoes without buying an expensive pressure canner, just a cheap waterbath canner. I like to can jams and jellies as well as tomatoes in many formats so I only have a waterbath canner. To safely can non-acidic veggies like beans, peas, or squash, you need to buy a pressure canner which can be quite costly. To avoid that, I generally freeze those instead which works just fine.

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