Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mid-Summer BBQ

The beginning of August seems to mark the time when we're no longer heading into summer but are, quite noticeably, barreling out of it. As if to remind us of the impermanence of flip-flops and popsicles, during the past several days, the temperature has dropped, the mornings have been an overcast sixty-five degrees, and the sun is making its descent earlier and earlier each evening. Warning: summer is slipping away...

This weekend past, some friends and I got together to revel in the sunshine and warmth that are but a blip on the screen of Seattle's year-round saga of rain and gloom. My long-time friends and current neighbors, Tammy and Eric, were kind enough to host. With the charcoal glistening its fiery, orange and the patio full of chatting and laughter, we got things started off right.

Saturday is definitely the best of the seven to invite me to a BBQ. It's farmers market day, so my fridge is guaranteed to be bursting with veggies of all shapes and colors. Last Saturday was no exception with peppers, summer squash and gorgeously vibrant beans on their way to becoming part of the festivities. Marinated veggie skewers and a cold green (& purple!) bean salad were my dishes of choice.

Early in the evening, while the sun was still offering up its services and the food was still grilling its way to greatness, I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of Eric's incredible garden. This
guy does not mess around when it comes to growing things.
Blueberries, peppers, greens, corn, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, strawberries... Pots of all shapes and sizes spill over with leaves and vines and scrumptious-looking food and flowers. The lawn has dwindled to practically nil with the continuous addition of garden space. He has mint growing waist high. It is truly remarkable. Every time I visit their house, I get a guided tour of the garden, and each time I am so amazed and excited. One day I will have that much space to plant things in, and then, I assure you, it will be ON.

Back on the patio, the party was in full swing with Negra Modello, bourbon, and Eric's interesting, slightly frightening alcoholic concoctions lubricating the guests. (Eric's drink-mixing experiments would require their own post in order to do them justice. Perhaps another day.)

As for my veggies. The kabobs were prepped and marinated pre-game in my kitchen. There's nothing quite as simple as slicing up a few zucchinis and peppers and tossing them with olive oil, a touch of vinegar and seasonings. The bean salad was nearly as simple and tantalized our taste buds with a lemon-garlic dressing. It's incredibly satisfying to create fresh, good-tasting food. I won't lie and say the compliments from hungry friends aren't a perk, too.

My plate was packed with a salmon burger from Loki Fish Co. (a local seafood supplier), corn on its wonderful cob, green salad with homemade raspberry vinaigrette (also courtesy of moi), and my own veggie dishes. A true summer feast.

The evening was definitely a smash, and just in time. This week the clouds and rains are due back for a visit. Sweet, fleeting summer. How I take thee for granted. At least that particular evening was well spent. Good people, delicious meal. Did I mention that we had chocolate and raspberry gelato for dessert?

And now for the recipes.

Summer squash & Sweet Pepper Kabobs
6 side dish servings
(Vegan friendly)
Disclaimer: exact amounts were not used in the making of this recipe

3 medium summer squash, sliced into 3/4" rounds
2 medium sweet peppers (I used a purple bell and an unknown green one)
olive oil
vinegar of your choice
3 gloves garlic, crushed and minced
cayenne pepper

Pour some oil into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of your vinegar and whisk in the garlic, salt and cayenne. All of these ingredients should be added to taste. Just adjust and taste until you get something that satisfies you.

Dump in the veggies and toss to coat. Refrigerate for fifteen to twenty minutes (or longer if you have that kind of time), tossing twice during that period. Reserve any marinade left in the bowl.

Push the veggies onto the skewers, and they're ready for the grill. I place my kabobs toward the edges of the grill where it isn't quite as hot so as not to burn them. Allow them to cook for about 10-15 minutes (depending on the temp. of the coals), turning several times and brushing with reserved marinade. Serve them on the skewers, or slide the veggies off and let folks take what they like.

Lemon-Garlic Bean Salad
6-8 servings
(Vegan friendly)

1 lb. green beans (other colors welcome!), ends removed, cut into 2" pieces
2 T. olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Dump the beans in and set a timer for 5 minutes. Fill a large bowl full of cold water and add a dozen or more ice cubes. When the timer for the beans goes off, drain them quickly, and immediately plunge them into the ice water. Swirl them around for a minute or two so that they cool completely, and then drain them again.

At this point, I was dumbfounded. The vibrant purple beans I had added had turned almost entirely green! Kind of a bummer visually, to tell you the truth, but still strong in the flavor department.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and pour the dressing over them. Toss to coat and refrigerate for at least fifteen minutes, until ready to serve. Eat up!

1 comment:

  1. Your photos are absolutely stunning... I feel like I'm right there in your backyard with you, making something delicious. :)

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment on my wedding cake- It means a lot knowing it comes from someone who understands the struggle!


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