Friday, August 21, 2009

Firing Up the Grill

Last year we got a small tabletop charcoal grill for use on the balcony of our apartment. Unfortunately, whenever we used it, smoke would collect on the balcony and eventually smoke out the entire apartment, so we didn't get much chance to grill out. Now that we're in the house we've taken every opportunity to fire up that little grill (or BBQ, out here) and we've now had company over twice to amazing success.

Wednesday we had friends drop in from out of town. Most of our things are still in boxes and piled all over the floor, and we still need furniture, but it was fine. We threw together lunch on the fly and it went a little something like this:

Corn, brushed with butter and grilled
Baby eggplants, sliced and brushed with olive oil and grilled
Walla Walla onions, halved, buttered, and grilled
Salad of lemon cucumbers, Walla Walla onions, tiny tomatoes, basil, parsley, in a lemon-cider vinaigrette
Homemade bread with homemade lavender jelly and ginger-pear jam
Homemade pickles

The corn was fresh from the farm - I bought it right at the farm, freshly picked, on Sunday. Even a few days later it was sweet, crisp, just summer in a mouthful. Keith has become quite the grill master these days and he's especially taken to the Walla Walla onions from our garden. Not sharp like most onions, these have a sweet flavor like Vidalias, and on the grill they caramelize beautifully. The eggplants also grilled nicely - they turned out so creamy, almost like soft cheese.

Last night my friend Anne (half of the genius behind Fab Frugal Food) joined us for dinner. I regret that we couldn't share the kitchen much, as her adorable toddler was having way too much fun chasing the cats; she even tossed scratch to the chickens. But the food was good and the company was great. This time we stopped at the butcher for fresh meat before dinner and wound up with this:

Marinated grilled flank steak
Bone-in chicken breasts, grilled with a baste of olive oil, lemon juice, hot sauce, garlic, and s&p
Grilled Walla Walla onions (of course)
New potatoes, sliced and grilled on foil with pepper butter
Fried green tomatoes (gluten-free and egg-free, natch!)
Cucumber-tomato salad
Homemade pickles

Needless to say, we stuffed ourselves silly. The chicken, in particular, was out of this world. The baste really held the moisture in and the meat was so juicy and tender! I'm especially proud of the fried green tomatoes, as I don't fry very often but I feel like my Southern credentials are compromised whenever I mess up a basic component of our cuisine. This time I was working with no recipe and food sensitivities - fried green tomatoes with no wheat flour or eggs! - so I was really anxious, but I think it went quite well. The breading, a mixture of chickpea flour and cornmeal with chili powder, smoked salt, garlic, and pepper, held on nicely with a dip of milk and flaxmeal. It turned out very crisp on the outside, against the soft sweet of the tomatoes. I'm feeling proud of it.

Today we're all going out to the Columbia River Gorge and firing up the charcoal in a forest clearing, near one of our favorite waterfalls. I'm doing potato salad and coleslaw this morning before we go, I know Anne is doing some very interesting Mexican corn dish, I have another eggplant to grill, and we might grill some green tomatoes to see how that goes. I'm putting together some turkey burgers, with white cheddar for the non-Jews. We're also grilling peaches for dessert. Might do a bit of hiking. Supposedly a bunch of friends were supposed to be coming, don't know who, so we'll see what they bring to toss on the coals.

Hard to believe that autumn will come soon and then winter, and we won't be grilling every day. It sure is pleasant while it lasts though!


  1. I am here to TESTIFY on the excellence of last night's meal! (And company!) Everything was so delicious - I only regret that I couldn't contribute anything myself due to toddler neediness. I have to vouch for the tastiness of the fried green tomatoes in particular. Absolutely loved them. In fact, I'd like to ask if you'd be willing to do a "guest post" on our blog with that recipe to wrap up out tomato fest week - you really knocked it out of the park!

    I'll see you in just a bit! I made up some special cilantro and bell pepper-free corn just for you.

  2. I would be thrilled, I'll just have to do it again because I didn't measure anything. I still have about half the sliced tomatoes though, so I can do it tonight or tomorrow! Somehow I doubt Keith would mind, haha.

    I'm glad you had a good time, and please don't regret anything; your toddler is a darling dream, I just wish our house was better supplied for toddler entertainment. Someday it will be, I'm sure.

    And aw-shucks on that corn. Thank you!