(2004-08-18, 5:38 p.m.)
I am the solution to your greatest summer problem--cucumbers. More precisely, a surplus of cucumbers, which trickle down through all levels of society in ways that Ronald Reagan sure tried to convince us that wealth would. And though you may have had nothing to do with the existence of these little buggers, you know they're your problem now.

I'm afraid you know what needs to be done.

Personally, I'm terrified of canning. Never done it, and I don't intend to start out without guidance of a knowledgeable adult. I get no thrill from knowing I could potentially give my family and friends botulism. So that's out. Instead I present this:

Ed's Refrigerator Pickles (from Peggy P., mother of my freshman-year college roommate)

1. Scrub cucumbers; cut as you choose.

2. Pack in gallon jar (or whatever jars you have) as tightly as possible.

3. Fill in the gaps in the jar with the following:

1 large onion

2 cloves pricked garlic

6 stems of dill (may use less, esp. if you�re using smaller jars)

4. Make a brine of the following:

1/2 c canning salt

1pt vinegar

1 1/2 quarts water

Bring to boil and stir well, then pour into jars.

5. Cover with airtight lids and let sit at room temperature for 3 days.

6. Refrigerate to make crisp.

(Keeps 3-4 months in fridge.)

That one's a beloved favorite. But if you'd prefer a sweet pickle, I present this one, which I've eaten, though I have not prepared them for myself.

Microwave Sweet Pickles

2 c peeled cucumbers, sliced thin

3/4 c onion, sliced thin

1 c sugar

1/2 c white distilled vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp mustard seed (or dry mustard, if preferred)

Mix all in a 2 quart bowl. Microwave high 8 to 9 min. Stir twice during cooking. Cool. Cukes will be crisp and onions translucent. Store in refrigerator.

Good luck.