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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014

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Sitting in the sun on the patio at Champion's and sipping this sweet tea cocktail made all the months wading through cold, damp weather just float away.
Sitting in the sun on the patio at Champion's and sipping this sweet tea cocktail made all the months wading through cold, damp weather just float away.

Firefly Sweet Tea is a new summer favorite

Our friends Bobby and Maire Greenya, proprietors of Champion's Pub, 2417 N. Bartlett Ave., recently introduced us to my new favorite summer libation, a Firefly Sweet Tea vodka press. Sitting in the sun on the patio at Champion's and sipping this sweet tea cocktail made all the months wading through cold, damp weather just float away.

According to the Firefly Web site, sweet tea products come from South Carolina, created by two gentlemen with a penchant for the south, wine, and tea. The 70 proof vodka comes in a variety of flavors (raspberry, peach, mint and lemon) and is distributed locally through Badger South in West Allis.

At this writing, I've already seen the product in several local bars around town, we were able to score a bottle at Siegel's on KK for $21.99; and saw it later on at G. Groppi's Food Market for the same price.

If you like iced tea, this is dangerously delicious. The bottle recommends mixing it with lemonade for an alcoholic take on the Arnold Palmer, but we prefer the press: a shot of sweet tea vodka mixed with equal parts sweet and seltzer over ice, and garnished with a lime.

Cheers!

Mmmmm ... homemade pickles are one of the best things about late summer.
Mmmmm ... homemade pickles are one of the best things about late summer.

A hankering for refrigerator pickles

My paternal grandmother was a huge canner. She made everything -- canned tomatoes, rhubarb jam, all things pickled, and heck, she even made her own soap-with lye.

I'm not nearly this motivated, nor do we have all the equipment to be able to do all of this right now, but we're seriously contemplating the investment this year so we can start canning the beautiful items we pick up at the South Shore Farmers Market (and East Towne when we make the trek).

I don't know how many readers will actually remember when you could only buy produce in season as a kid, but I vaguely recall only being able to get certain items at certain times of year. None of this ridiculously expensive out of season asparagus or year round vine ripe tomatoes that are a lovely poisonous apple red whether it's November or May -- but I can't claim my parents were great at having us eat seasonally, either -- it didn't seem to be so much a priority in the 1970s and '80s as it seems to be now ... there were a lot of frozen and store-canned veggies on our dinner table as a kid. (But as an aside, at least vegetables were there, at every meal my parents prepared; and now, with Scott and I both as working parents, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to opening a can of peas or a bag of frozen white corn now and again, as much as we try to eat local and fresh.)

Regardless, Scott pulled out an old recipe for refrigerator pickles a few weeks ago that he got from a former co-worker a decade ago, so I dove in to try it. I love them -- they are lip-puckeringly sour, and just make you want to grill a fat juicy burger to go along with them, or as we did this weekend, they make a fabulous pickle relish for Chicago-style hot dogs. Until we get officially canning, these will keep me quite happy.

I was fascinated this morning to find, as I was thumbing through a recipe scrapbook my aunt made when my grandma passed away many years back, that the refrigerator pickle recipe Scott's coworker had was…

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