0725 A Day of Improv Meals

Breakfast: sausages, an asiago bagel sliced into four pieces of toast, fried eggs for Shane and slices of tomato for me.  Weekend Edition Sunday and the puzzle.  Coffee.  A late morning attempt at geocaching turned into half an hour of wandering in the woods.  Who knew that we could wander in the woods without leaving our neighborhood?

Lunch: I had intended to riff on this recipe for dinner last night, but we ate at weird hours, and so pushed this back to today.  While I prepped and grilled mushrooms, zucchini, and a purple pepper on our grill pan, Shane picked basil and whipped up a quick batch of pesto.  We spread ricotta on toast, then topped it with pesto or fresh basil, piles of vegetables, and a drizzle of balsamic crema.  Soo good, especially followed by a moped ride downtown, walking around in the sunshine, and froyo from Lab.

Dinner: We picked up more chickens from Back 40 yesterday, but neither of us felt like chicken.  We did, however, feel like end-of-the-fridge snacks: corn on the cob, edamame, asiago from last week’s snack dinner, an assortment of pickles, and homemade beet chips using wee beets from our garden and a recipe from the Spanish cookbook.  They started out as small colorful coins:

Beet Chips Before

And after a short swim in very hot oil, they ended up like this:

Beet Chips After

Not really big enough to dip in the salt-and-peppered ricotta, but totally delicious anyway.  A fine way to end a fine weekend – and also another recipe knocked off of the Spanish cookbook challenge.

0720 Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp

I’m a little in love with Sprouted Kitchen.  Their food photography is consistently wonderful – to the point that when I showed Shane tonight’s recipe on the blog, he asked “do they cook outside?”.  Seriously, they must be blessed with the best lighting in all of Southern California.

This dish feels very Southern Californian to me  in that it embraces seasonal produce while also throwing in a bit of seafood and velvety avocado.  Of course, I live far from the origin of both the shrimp and the avocado, so it’s not terribly seasonal for me, but occasionally those splurges are worth it.  Like here:

Shrimp and Avocado

I didn’t love the corn soup, but I did love the contrast between the warmth and richness of the soup and the texture and freshness of the shrimp and avocado.

Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp

If you make this recipe, I suggest cutting way back on the oregano.  In fact, that’s the only thing I’d really recommend changing, though I look forward to trying this with my mom’s corn chowder recipe.  Maybe I can even talk my brother into bringing some avocados home from LA…

Recipe:
Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp from Sprouted Kitchen

0715 Burgers and Corn Snack

Since we got our 89.5# of pork two months ago, we haven’t really spent much money on meat.  This is a good thing, as it’ll help the grocery budget normalize over the year or so that we’ll work on the pig, but also means that we aren’t eating much meat OTHER THAN pork.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but sometimes a little variety is nice, you know?

I found myself with a few extra bucks on my way out of the market on Saturday, and so came home with a pound or so of ground bison after a nice conversation with a farmer who couldn’t! believe! that we hadn’t had any of his meat yet.  “I’ve been here 16 years!  I can’t believe you haven’t tried our meat!” “Yeah, but I’ve only been here 8 months!”

Tonight’s dinner was one of those classic Midwest summer meals – burgers and corn on the cob – the sort of thing served at cookouts all summer long.  Nothing fancy, just simple patties grilled on the grill pan, then served on asiago rolls with a slew of condiments available for your dressing-up pleasure.  There are many fancy ways of preparing a good ear of corn, but for me, nothing beats salt, pepper, and a good slathering of butter.  Sometimes simplicity is the best, you know?

0711 Our Grill Situation + Squash Math

I sort of feel bad about having people over for dinner these days. It’s just so damned hot in our house, and there’s no escaping it, no matter how precisely we angle the fans.  So kudos to Dave and Juli, who braved the heat to hang out with us tonight!

I had intended to make the beer can chicken recipe that Sarah keeps raving about, but decided against it after assessing our current grill situation:

  1. Grill #1 was, I assume, left by a previous tenant and is in a pretty sad state.  We considered taking it to the dump when…
  2. …we purchased grill #2 over the winter for $25, which included an almost-full propane tank and a bunch of grill rocks.
  3. Grill #2, despite being in much better shape than grill #1, is not operational.  I’m not sure why that is.
  4. Grill #1 is missing the front tempered glass panel, but is otherwise operational.  Lacking really solid grill tools, we’ve stuck to covering the racks with foil.
  5. Grill #1 has a hinged rack that is attached to the lid which, when closed, doesn’t provide enough upright space for a chicken on a can of beer.  Grill #1 also wouldn’t be able to trap the heat and smoke necessary to make the savory bird.
  6. We could do all of those things on grill #2, except that it is not operational.

Long story short: no beer can chicken.  I did, however, take apart the chicken and dress it inside and out with a basic barbecue spice rub.  While I boiled a couple of ears of corn and sauteed vegetables for a couscous salad, Shane grilled up the chicken.  Juli and Dave brought zucchini bread and fresh berries from the market, all of which added up to a really delicious seasonal dinner.

So where’s the squash math?  See, I had a zucchini and a small summer squash on hand, for a total of 2 squashes.  I used the zucchini in my version of Sarah’s seven vegetable couscous, leaving 1 squash.  Then Juli brought the zucchini bread (containing unknown quantities of squash), as well as 2 bonus zucchinis that she had purchased in a fit of zucchini enthusiasm, bringing the net total squash to 1+ in the food and 3 in my crisper.  Squash: the gift that keeps on giving!

Recipes:
Beer Can Chicken and All-Purpose Barbecue Rub from The Barbecue Bible
Moroccan Seven Vegetable Couscous from Vegetarian Times (heavily modified, but I’ll save that recipe for another day)

0710 Spontaneous Dinner

Today was pretty much the perfect summer day.  I was up early, so while Shane slept in, I ran to the market and bought peaches! and corn! and lots of other stuff, then finished up our errands and was home with a donut before Shane rolled out of bed.  We spent the early afternoon at the Shadow Art Fair in Ypsi, where Shane purchased bespoke haiku I used the Cupcake-o-Matic to get a wee chocolate cake with peanut butter icing and coconut sprinkles.

Cupcake-O-Matic

Cupcake-O-Matic Success!

Shane spent the rest of the afternoon brewing with new friend and neighbor Karl, and I took a long nap and then spent a very happy hour and a half in the garden. At some point in there, however, we missed all normal mealtimes, and so found ourselves peckish as the sun started to go down. While the guys finished up the brewing stuff, Karl’s wife Cara and I threw together a spontaneous and casual dinner – sun-dried tomato couscous with raisins, beet salad with feta, slices of salami, sauteed greens, soda with a homemade berry-peach syrup, and the first incredibly sweet corn on the cob of the year. Everything was delicious, and we retired, full and happy, not long after.

So like I said, pretty much a perfect summer’s day.