By guest blogger Susan Sprague Yeske

Jack Baker was a man with a mission.

PicklesA retiree who likes to cook, he wanted to create the perfect pickle: one that was fresh and flavorful with just the right bite of vinegar and hint of dill. Most importantly, he wanted it to stay crunchy while sitting in its jar in the refrigerator. Soft pickles are unappealing, he said.

Over the course of seven cucumber seasons Baker would begin to work when the Kirby cukes arrived at the Trenton Farmers Market in Lawrence, N.J. He experimented with recipes from cookbook after cookbook, taking ideas from some and discarding others.

His seven-year odyssey ended, he said, when he achieved the perfect pickle, one that draws raves from friends and family. “When I go fishing, my buddies won’t let me get on the boat unless I bring my pickles,” he said.

The truth is in the tasting: they really are the best dill pickles I have ever tasted. And the crunchiness lasts and lasts and lasts.

Jack generously shares his pickle recipe with anyone who wants it, along with other favorite recipes he has acquired through the years. He also shares another hint from a fellow pickle maker: adding a single grape leave to a jar of freshly made pickles will help keep them crisp.

Here is Jack’s recipe:

Jack’s Refrigerator Pickles


8 one-quart canning jars with rings and lids
14 heads of dill, divided, or 1 tablespoon dill seed per quart
16 garlic cloves
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups white vinegar
3 quarts water
Kirby cucumbers 4-5 inches long (approximately 12 to 15 pounds)


  1. Brine: Mix together salt, sugar, vinegar and water and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. While waiting for the brine to boil, sterilize canning jars and rings in boiling water for 12 minutes. Place canning lids in a bowl of warm water and let them sit until ready to use.
  3. Once the jars are sterile, pack with dill, garlic and cucumbers sliced according to size and preferred thickness. Cover with hot brine. Seal jar with lids and rings and wipe edges dry. When jars have cooled, place in the refrigerator.

Yields approximately 8 quarts.
Pickles must be refrigerated and will maintain their freshness for up to 10 weeks or more.

Corn on the cobI know I’ve said it before, but it’s really here. Summer, that is. The first local corn is coming in (none of that Su’thun stuff). I know for sure you can get some at None Such Farm Market. Be on the look-out at your local farms and stores, and let me know where it pops up and how good it is.

And while we’re “sighting,” the first peaches are here too! We just had some from Fairview Farm, on Pineville Manoff peachesRoad (just down the road from the Pineville Tavern) this weekend and they were delicious (thanks, Sharon). Manoff Market Gardens on Comfort Road in Solebury also has peaches now, but Manoff reminds that these are “eating” peaches as opposed to the kind used for canning and jamming (not “freestone”). Those come in August. The Manoffs have a great blog too. Check it out.

Bucks County Taste has moved! See this post on our new server. 

As of last Friday, the ice cream “phoenix” has risen. Goodnoe’s ice cream is back, reopening in Newtown, under the managment of the next generation, Colin Goodnoe and his sister, Kendall. They are making ice cream using the family recipes in their former production facility on Silo Drive. The new store is at 4 South Sycamore Street. Stay tuned for a quickie review by the Bucks County Taste Ice Cream Taster (a.k.a. Mark).

4 South Sycamore Street
Newtown, PA 18940

Update: Here’s an article from the Intelligencer / Bucks County Courier Times that appeared today about the opening.

See more local food stories at www.buckscountytaste.com

Fresh from the marketI’m starting a new feature for the growing season. “Fresh from the market this week…” will alert you to the kinds of vegetables and fruits you can expect to find at area farmers’ markets. Hopefully it will help you plan the week and maybe even try some new things.

Here’s this week’s freshly picked vegetables, available at many local markets: Asian turnips, basil, beets, cabbage, chard, collard greens, cucumbers,  eggplant, fennel, fresh garlic, green beans, green peppers, herbs, hot peppers, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsley, radishes, scallions, summer squash,  and zucchini.

Freshly picked fruit: blueberries, black raspberries, raspberries, peaches and apricots.

Thanks to Robin Hoy of the Wrightstown Market for her help on this list.

Farm-fresh cocktailIf all the lovely veggies now showing up at local farmers’ markets don’t do it for you (??), here’s a Philadelphia Daily News article that highlights some delectable drinks you can make with local ingredients. That should motivate you to get out to the farmers’ market.

Here’s a couple of items that caught my eye on how to use the ingredients, particularly herbs. Recipes are included in the article.

Bistro St. Tropez chef/owner Patrice Rames is crazy about peaches right now … After blanching the fruit for two minutes to remove the skin, Rames dips it in ice water to stop the cooking process. Then he roasts the fruit, sprinkled with raw sugar, lemon thyme or mint and a little butter, in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. “I use the peach for a dessert with caramel or vanilla ice cream, but I also puree it for cocktails,” he said.

At Noble, the new restaurant on Sansom Street from Todd Rodgers and Bruno Pouget, the focus is on seasonality … Rodgers … creates a long list of cocktails using fresh ingredients, house-brewed ginger beer and cider and even homemade tonic. His two best sellers are the French 75, a mix of gin, citrus and champagne, and the Ti Jean, made with ginger beer, rye, lemon juice and mint. “The secret to getting added oomph from your mint is to smack it in the palm of your hand before you put it in the drink. That releases its natural oils,” he said.

 Guess we’ve got some research to do this weekend.

Cranberry Cocktail on the Rocks with an Orange SliceIt’s hot and humid as I write this. I guess summer is finally here. No more squeaking by with this lovely San Diego-type weather we’ve been enjoying. I’ve been telling everyone that it will continue to be a cooler summer, and we are taking credit for it. Why? Because we recently installed two new air conditioners in our “mid-century modern” home (the original two got fried by a power surge). See? If y’all chip in, we’ll buy a snow blower to guarantee a light winter.

The other way I know summer is really here is that I’ve noticed the number of calendar events has decreased – or maybe I’m not working hard enough to find them. Either way, it’s a sign that things are slowing down.

But there are still some interesting things going on. This week, from Tuesday, July 21st through Sunday, July 26th, SEE, a Lambertville-based community organization, is sponsoring the Local Harvest Restaurant Week in Lambertville and New Hope. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about sustainability – in our society, environment and economy (SEE) – while eating great local food!

Fruits and veggiesWith cooperation from local restaurants, farms, food producers, and Zone 7  (a local foods distribution business), SEE is bringing the best of the region’s local harvest to local restaurant tables. If you eat at one of the participating restaurants, you’ll be able to enjoy dishes specially prepared for the event using the finest local ingredients. Check out SEE’s website for more information about their mission, more details about the restaurant week, and a list of participating restaurants (which includes practically all of the good ones in Lambertville).

And I’ve got a “Save The Date” for your calendars. The Heritage Conservancy is hosting a Farm-to-Table Dinner on Saturday, August 1st. I’ll give you more details as we get closer but the catering will be done by Soup to Nuts Caterers and Earl’s Restaurant in Peddler’s Village, which recently changed its menu and concept to focus on local, farm-fresh ingredients. Price will be $45 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Heritage Conservancy, a land conservation organization here in Bucks County. It will be held at the historic Lindsay Farm in Warminster.

Here’s the run-down for the weekend. Check out our online calendar, Food Events in Bucks County for more details on any of the events below. Have a sweet, cool weekend.

Friday, July 17th:

Saturday, July 18th:

Sunday, July 19th:

I opened up the Bucks County Courier Times/The Intelligencer yesterday to the Food Section (of course). I’ve become a follower of Betty Cichy. She does great, creative articles on local food people, restaurants and stores. I wish I could link to more of her stories but the newspaper doesn’t post Lifestyle/Food pieces online. Hmmn. I think there’s a letter to the publisher in my future.

Mastering Art of French CookingBetty is running a contest involving food and blogging. How could I not like it? If you haven’t heard, a movie-based-on-the-book is coming out in August called, “Julia & Julie.” It tracks the famous cook and TV chef Julia Child’s beginnings and career. For those of you not old enough to remember anything before the Food Network, Julia WAS THE FIRST. The book was written by blogger Julie Powell, a New York office worker, who decided over the course of a year to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and blog about it.

Now Betty has thrown down the potholder, so to speak. She is challenging folks to try a Julia recipe and blog about it. Here are the contest rules:

We’d like you to be like Julie on a small scale. Pick a recipe from one of Julia Child’s first four cookbooks, follow it step by step, and blog about your experience. Choose a recipe that challenges or intrigues you in some way …

Make your post as interesting and personal as you can. Tell us why you chose that particular recipe. Describe the problems and disasters you had along the way, from shopping to serving. Look back over the experience and reflect on what you learned from it, and whether you think the recipe is worth making again. If you did make it again, how would you change it? Are there ways you’d update or simplify the recipe for 21st century cooks?

Take some pictures and notes as you follow the recipe, and when you’ve finished, tell us how it went in a post on the Julie/Julia blog we’ve set up on phillyBurbs. When all the entries have been posted, readers will be able to go online and vote for their favorite blogger.

As for judging, the top vote-getter and two bloggers chosen by a panel of experts will compete in a cook-off at Manny Brown’s in Neshaminy Mall on Aug. 5. Each of the three finalists will put on a little cooking show, demonstrating key steps in the recipe and then showing off the finished product.  A panel of judges will choose the grand-prize winner and two runners-up. Then the contestants and the audience will attend a free screening of “Julie & Julia.” Go to the newspaper’s website for the full contest rules.

I must admit, I’m intrigued – and intimidated. I started cooking in the ’80’s and by that time classic French cooking was considered passe, and Julia Child, well, I think Saturday Night Live took a few jabs at her (or was it she just sounded too much like Terry Jones from Monty Python?) I will admit, publicly, that I don’t even own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But I’m seriously considering it. I mean, after all, what kind of food blogger would I be? I’ll keep you “posted.”