Friday, August 31, 2007

Reunion Food - Saturday

Five turkeys - no waiting

Delicious, and you should have seen the BBQ circle around the Weber grills and the troughs making charcoal.

We had not anticipated as much grilling as was necessary, so we decided to use the firewood in the de-commissioned shower house to make our own coals. The trough grills were hauled around to the east side of the building, and the making of coals was set to in earnest.

Way too much fun was had sitting in a circle in a favorite lawn chair, sipping a beer, telling a story, stoking the coal troughs, and occaisonally poking the birds. Three of the turkeys cooked in the Webers and two in the finally repaired oven. This gave the birds a lovely, smoked taste and they were moist and delicious. They birds were liberally rubbed with garlic, salt and olive oil before roasting. A hit all around with traditional mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad, rolls and butter, sweet corn, and favorite beans (the soy/garlic treatment).

Must make this meal again!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pickle Postscript

They are great already. Garlicky and salty like the pickles I used to get in the pickle buckets on the tables at that Deli (whose name escapes me) in the Loop when I worked down there 25 years ago. Sam said they reminded him of the pickles at the Madison-Pine Restuarant in Perth Amboy (used to be across from the store).

NB - remove all the big seeds, even if it looks like they'll be okay. They got slimy, but the rest of the pickle is perfect.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pickles & Produce

Last night I dealt with the cucumber revolt of 2007 - or were they merely revolting!?

Huge cucumbers, left too long on the vine, needed a purpose - so I made pickles - half-sour chunks - and we'll see in a couple of days if they need anything besides throwing away. I'm not cooking pickles - down to the refrigerator they go.

In looking for a good recipe I found one from the Lower East Side that wanted me to get a barrel that had held olives and put in 50 lbs of cucumbers and 3# of salt with other brine making ingredients.

I ended up using:
20C water
7C Vinegar
1-3/4C Pickling Salt

5 Half Gallon Mason jars full of cucumber chunks
Fresh Dill (Picked by moonlight last night. I wonder if that will do anything?)

Packed the pickles, garlic and dill in clean jars.
Poured boiling brine into jars
Let them sit overnight on the counter.
Took 'em down to the refrigerator this morning.

We'll wait and see (tasted one as I put lids on them - half-sour and salty like the deli - yum!)

I tackled some of the weeds in the rose garden - and in the process pulled up a hunk of mint - so, I'll use some of the Roma tomatoes from the garden and make tabbouleh.

7.5 inches of rain in August! Things are jungly out there!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Friday addendum - two things

We had two guacamoles this reunion because Tim procured a case of ready right now avocados that made meal times bliss (think salads, chicken salad and avocado, avocados plain - well, you get the idea).

Guacamole - Katie style (as opposed to Katy style which was Saturday) is generally these proportions -

4 ready right now avocados
1 medium tomato - seeded and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
two medium garlic cloves - squished through a squisher or chopped
ground cumin
salt and pepper

I like to use a pastry blender to mix all this, but a fork will do just fine. Mash it, mix it, taste it, (correct the lemon, cumin, salt balance) and serve.

And another thing -
Steve's daughter Melinda delivered three Weber grills to the camp on Friday. These became the site for the "men (and a few women) around the grill" storytelling and generally enjoying a beer or two while tending to the pork loins. A peak reunion moment for some, I'm sure ('cause I'm one). Wait until the Saturday installment to get the full "make your own coals" excitement. Wait for it. It's worth it.

Reunion Food - Friday

Friday was our first cooked breakfast and another day of improvisation on the grills. Fortunately the flattop worked as did the six burner on the other stove.

As there was a lot of delicious grilled chicken left over from day one - and a load of gorgeous organic green grapes - Susan suggested a chicken salad with grapes and walnuts. Delish! Because we had all this fab grilled meat there was less eating of sliced lunch meat (except for salami which was very popular). My theory on the salami and chips flying out the door has to do with the incredible heat and humidity that had plagued us up until just before dinner on Thursday when it rained like you read about. It took until Friday for the front to fully move through, but it had stopped raining by campfire time Thursday and we were able to enjoy pies and s'mores.

Friday dinner was pork loin, grilled after it had been coated with a killer crust of fresh ginger, garlic and spices. Sushi rice, fraternal twin cabbage salads (the fabulous ramen soup almond cabbage salad and a spicy thai-style cabbage salad), broccoli with garlic and soy, and another amazing green salad. Fortune cookies and red plastic tablecloths to complete the Chinese theme. Appetizers that day were not theme based - but the classic chips and salsa and a bowl of killer guacamole-Katie style. Oh yeah, we made popcorn, too.

Recipes - we made most of this stuff "out of our fist" as my old baby sitter, Margaret Schmidt of Hoven, SD, would say. Here are general proportions and ingredients for the food preparations -
Pork loin for 45:
We had about 20# of pork. The loins were cut in half and rubbed with a mixture of:
salt (preferably kosher - funny, right?)
pepper (preferred fresh ground)
minced fresh ginger
minced fresh garlic
olive oil (a bit)

There was probably 1 1/2 to 2 cups of "rub" in that bowl that Katy made. I'll ask her what other spices went in.
If you have a mortar and pestle that would work too to smash everything up.

We had about half a loin left and it was eaten at lunches the next two days. Not one slice was left to toss out.

Thai-style dressing - this one works for raw vegans:
five fresh plums - pitted
2 jalapeƱos, seeds but no stems
juice of 5 to 6 limes
10 oz of coconut oil
agave nectar to taste (depends on how sweet the plums are)

put fruit and peppers in the blender with the lime juice. Blend it - if it's not juicy enough to blend up, add more lime juice.
With the blender on, pour in the coconut oil slowly. Now remember, we were in a non air conditioned building and it was in the 80's so the oil was liquid. It will be solid at room temp with temps in the 70s, so I suggest that you have it hanging out in the warmest corner of the room. Taste the dressing on a piece of cabbage. It's spicy, but the sweet should come through. If your plums need a little help, add some agave. [In the winter, substitute dried plums (that's prunes to y'all. Maybe 10 dried ones. They will be plenty sweet.] Adjust the seasoning - maybe it needs a smidge of salt. Up to you. It's a pretty pink, and it tints the edges of the cabbage as it sits.

Broccoli -
Saute/stir fry broccoli. Use enough oil. No, this is not a lo-fat dish.
Add chopped garlic about half way through the stir fry process.
Add soy sauce and let it all simmer - steam in the juice. It's done when it reaches your preferred al dente-ness on the broccoli. Some folks really like to chew; some don't. If you don't like it so salty (?) you can substitute tea. I always have a pot going, so it's easy for me. The smoky teas add a nice flavor.

The Continuing Saga of the Stove.
Sam continued his persistent search for someone who could officially declare the stove DOA or in the immortal words of Miracle Max only "mostly dead." Sam tracked down the Zen-master through the magic of the phone directory and Mr. Zen came and declared one stove in need of the dreaded part, but the other (and thankfully the bigger) stove he returned to the land of the functioning. Huzzah! Hooray!

So, happy, sated, and with one working oven, we retired to the campfire to hear Grandpa Tom sing the Bear Song and to witness the teens taking charge of the pie making. Quite an amazing day all around.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Reunion Food - Day 2

Thursday became a day of invention as we took stock of the supplies that we had and the tools to cook them. While the raw vegan set in the family would have been happy, what the heck were we going to do with all that chicken?

Lunch was a weird repeat of the flat top pizza - this time the meat lovers and the left over veg pizza were on the flat top cooking. Salty cheese I have to say.

So we fired up the barrel (trough) grills that had these intense rebar-like racks. Katy and I marinated the chicken in lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. We tossed in fresh oregano and salt and pepper and let the stuff hang out for a while. We had to grill up a ton of the Scattergood baby eggplants. After we grilled them (actually Matt, Sam and Pirc did most of the grilling) we cubed the eggplant and mixed it with sauteed onion and garlic, more lemon juice and olive oil, salt, fresh mint, and basil. It's our version of the Silver Palette Summer Eggplant. Serve it room temperature and even non-eggplant lovers will love it.

We had lots of grilled veggies and another amazing salad. Our appetizers on Thursday were quantites if hummos and baba ganoug from the Pita Inn carried in a cooler from Skokie by my husband. He managed to have a "driving on a permit" student driver hit the car in an ice stop somewhere in Minnesota, so we enjoyed and appreciated each delicious bite.

All Thursday, Sam was on the phone - to the appliance guy and then to every Propane dealer in the area to find the folks who would service the ovens. Lots of not much luck. The guys from Swish's Hardware (not kidding) a store that used to be owned by a guy named Zen (a name that gave us hope that all would work out) came out and declared, "It's broken. We don't do commercial machines." The propane guy said almost surely it would need a part that wouldn't arrive before Monday - and we kept hoping that someone would make the oven's work. We had 5 turkeys thawing in the walk-in.

Sam continued with the persistance for which he is renouned. More on Friday. Think Swish- Zen -accio part - ovenus repairo.
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So What Are We? Chewish? by Kate Tabor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.