Four Key Weapons For Your Summer Cooking Arsenal

Four weapons for your summer cooking arsenal

Call us your seasonal sensei.

Last week, we supplied a summer's worth of picnic plans; this week, an outdoor dining guide and a shortcut to flawless summer desserts.

Today we're taking on your pantry. Keep these Chicago-made products at the ready for summertime smoking, grilling and garnishing.

Co-op Vinegar: Sauce & Bread Kitchen ages its house-made Co-op cider vinegar ($6 for 16 ounces) in whiskey barrels from Koval Distillery. Use the fruity, caramel-y vinegar, available for purchase at the café, as a mop for smoking meats or as a frisky dressing for cabbage slaw or potato salad.

T-Racha: Saigon Sisters' spicy new sauce ($7 for 4 ounces; available at the restaurants) is made Sriracha-style, with fresh red Thai chilies. Garlic, sesame oil, fish sauce and vinegar lend a wallop of umami, and a little–drizzled over grilled meats and cool Southeast Asian salads–goes a long way.

Pinch Bay Seasoning: Planning an East Coast-style crab boil? Reach for this organic, Bucktown-made spice mix ($5 for 3 ounces) instead of Old Bay. Shake it onto grilled seafood or corn for a summery, aromatic kick.

Central Pickling: Made in Chicago from Illinois- and Indiana-grown cucumbers, these hyper-local dill-garlic pickles ($11 for 32 ounces; available here) are a welcome topping for hot dogs, bratwurst or burgers.