Simple, not holiday-ish, but good.

Simple, not holiday-ish, but good.

Well, not really. And while there wasn’t much in the way of prep to it, nor was it traditional Fourth of July fare, it was good.

Even if I finished up the evening’s cooking by dropping a fresh-out-of-the-oven loaf of banana bread upside down on the floor, a practice which does not a damn thing to the benefit of your bread, and will make you cuss.

But I have learned the Best Way Ever to cook new potatoes. And it’s easy, even if it does involve two pans. Line one with foil and roll with it.

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Burger, sans bun, with holiday trimmings.

Burger, sans bun, with holiday trimmings.

Because sometimes, you just want burgers.

We did our family Memorial Day cookout on Saturday, to free up the kids for other plans today and tomorrow. I asked what they wanted, and SIL2 said,”Burgers.”

OK. Burgers it is. But since it’s a holiday, we’ve got to get a little fancier than that. We have to at least have trimmings. So we also had potato salad, jail slaw, baked beans and deviled eggs. Because I had a surfeit of eggs and felt like it.

I can, if I do say so myself, cook a fine burger. This was not one of my better efforts. I thought it was a little on the dry side. Probably should have added a little fat to it; my pasture-raised ground beef is pretty lean. But I sure wasn’t going to throw it out.

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Oh. Yeah. It rained all week. Lots. With thunder and lightning and wind and stuff.

I slept, mostly. Because it was that kind of weather. And watched college baseball and softball. And cooked, a little.

Memorial Day Concert. Perfect weather, good time.

Memorial Day Concert. Perfect weather, good time.

The Memorial Day concert was absolutely lovely. Small town America at its best, perfect weather, nice breeze, great dinner afterward if I DID cook it myownself. I only slightly charred one of the chicken quarters, not enough to harm it. With the potato salad and slaw and beans and strawberries for dessert, it was quite an excellent holiday meal.

Enjoying what will probably be the last of the strawberries this week; we might get one more week out of them, since it hasn’t been too hot. If I can grab one more weekend’s worth, I’ll get some extras and puree and freeze them.  Good stuff later, in smoothies.

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Talk about putting Christmas out of sight, out of mind...

Talk about putting Christmas out of sight, out of mind…

This?

This is what happens when you open your grill for the first time all year, only to find that you forgot the last time you used it was for an auxiliary icebox to store the boxes of Christmas candy you didn’t ever finish.

Thirty-six chocolate covered cherries and a dozen pieces of chocolate mint bark, down the tubes. I started to throw the boxes away, but the spirit of my mother spoke to me sharply: “Don’t you do that! Wash them and you can use them next year!”

Yes, Mama. You’re right. When perhaps I will have more time than I did this year.

So. You and y’mama ‘n ’em missed your Christmas candy. I’ll try to make it up to you. Meanwhile, check back later today for a report on what DID go on the grill once I got it cleaned off.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

As what has become an aside, but ought to be the real focus of the holiday for all of us…while we are enjoying barbecue, beer, picnics, long weekends and the lake, our neighbors and brothersand sisters and sons and daughters are in Iraq and Afghanistan getting shot at and dodging IED’s.

Thank a soldier the next time you see one. And for anyone who reads this today, set your beer down and say a quick prayer or meditation or observe a moment of silence for all those who fought, then and now. You owe ’em a lot more than that.

That said, I’m about to fire up the grill. I’m going to grill the wild turkey, which has been marinating since yesterday afternoon in tamarind molasses marinade, and I’m going to grill some squash and put some broccoli in the oven. I’m tempted to do a lot of other stuff, but there are only three of us tonight, and the refrigerator is starting to get crowded. Red-Headed Stepchild and Red-Headed-Step-Grandchild left an hour ago, just as the sun came out, can you believe that?

Anyway, I’ve got to hit the kitchen. More later.

UPDATE:

Dear sweet baby Jesus. I’m so full I couldn’t even bestir myself to walk across the street and down the neighbors’ driveway to watch the fireworks on the lake, which have been going off for about 10 minutes.

Here’s the menu: grilled wild turkey breasts in sorghum-tamarind marinade; barley pilaf; roasted broccoli with lemon, garlic and parmesan; and grilled yellow squash. The turkey went a little dry on me; would have been better served, I think, with a thinner marinade that I could’ve basted with, or inject it. Good flavor, though, albeit a bit sweet. The rest of the stuff was perfecto. First time at the barley pilaf; it will not be the last.

Recipes:

Sorghum Molasses and Tamarind Marinade

Blend all ingredients except tamarind paste or concentrate in food processor. Combine with tamarind in a saucepan over low heat.

I made half a recipe. It wants more vinegar, is my personal opinion, or to be used in more sparing portions than a full-blown marinade. It’s a touch sweet. Good flavor, though; I might also add more cayenne, but then I didn’t have Scotch bonnets, and used one dried habanero instead. Could’ve achieved the same with more habaneros, I suspect.

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon, Garlic and Parmesan

  • 1 large bunch broccoli, separated into good-sized florets
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cloves roughly minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp or so olive oil
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup or so of grated parmesan

Toss broccoli in olive oil and arrange on baking sheet with sides in a single layer. Sprinkle with garlic, pecans and lemon zest. Roast in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Top with parmesan, and squeeze lemon juice over all. Return to oven under broiler long enough to barely melt cheese. Serve hot.

This is the recipe my friends John and Brenda served me at dinner just before I left. I demanded the recipe; it’s a Barefoot Contessa one. And it is possibly the best broccoli I ever put in my mouth.

Barley Pilaf

  • 1 cup uncooked, quick-cooking pearled barley
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 1/2 cup butter

Saute barley, onion and almonds in butter until onions are soft. Add mushrooms, if using fresh; saute for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and transfer to a greased baking dish. Bake, covered, 1 hour at 350 degrees; check with 10-15 minutes to go and add additional chicken broth or water if too dry.

The original recipe called for a medium onion and an envelope of onion soup mix. I eschew the stuff, so I subbed a large onion and added the garlic and seasoned salt and called it even. If you’re using unsalted broth, you’ll want to add more seasoned salt.

People, this stuff is GOOD.

Grilled Yellow Squash

  • 2 small, young yellow squash per person (or zucchini will work)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoned salt

Split squash in half lengthwise. Cut a sliver of skin off the outside opposite the cut surface. Brush exposed surfaces with olive oil, and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Grill until soft.

It’s a tough race whether I prefer squash like this or fried up with onions. I believe I could easily eat one as an entree and one as a side item.

I’m presently enjoying the last of a bottle of excellent pinot noir (La Crema). I could die a happy woman tonight. And it even quit raining.

So I’m going to watch baseball and call it an early night. Hope you and y’mama ‘n ’em had a fine Memorial Day.

Thanks, soldiers.