Grilled Venison Steak; Grilled Beef Ribeye Steak. (Keep Simple)

It’s grilling season!   (At least in North America.)  I purchased my current grill in 2011; it is charcoal and looks like a Weber, but came from some other company, and will be ditched into the trash (or, better yet, sent off to become scrap metal) when I move next year.  Yep, cheesy cheap.  It will be replaced by something more quality, with a smoker attached.

Venison steak, rib eye steak, grill, recipe

Simple grilling.

I light it using a charcoal chimney, kitchen matches, newspaper, and hardwood lump charcoal.  It takes about 20 minutes, sometimes 30, to burn the coals down to where I like them — during which time I prep parts of dinner, so it’s not like I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting on it.

For this particular set of meals, I grilled up a venison steak (gift from my Bro), and a rib eye steak.  Both are quality meats requiring only minimal preparation.   I also grilled sliced golden Yukon gold potatoes, not depicted today.

Each steak was 8 ounces.  Technically this makes four meals, although for me it served as three.  Leftovers became part of lunch salads that week.

For a quality steak (beef, venison, buffalo, etc.), extensive marination hides the quality, and is decidedly not necessary.

The steaks I cooked were about 1/2 to 2/3 inches thick.  You will need to adapt some of this if your steaks are thicker or thinner.

So:

For the ribeye, with its marbelling, no oil is needed.  Simply rub a little salt, a little ground pepper, and maybe a dash or two of garlic powder all over the meat.  Let it sit about an hour — for the last thirty minutes let it sit outside the fridge so it can come to room temperature.

For the venison steak, a meat which extremely non-fatty, start with a little oil, maybe a teaspoon, and rub the steak all over with it.  I used avocado oil, since it has a high smoke point.  Then, rub in a little salt, a little ground pepper, and maybe a dash or two of garlic powder all over.  Again, let it sit about an hour; for the last 30 minutes it should be allowed to come to room temperature, too.

In other words, the use of oil or not should be dependent on the cut of steak (ie, its inherent fat) you are using.

Get your fire good and hot — when you pour your coals put them to one side, so you can have both direct and indirect heating.  Propane grills can usually be set up the same way — a hotter side and a cooler side.

To sear the meat:  drop the steaks on the direct/hottest part of your grill grate.  Let sizzle for a couple of minutes — discourage flames on the meat, however — move the steak up and away if necessary.  After a couple of minutes, flip the steak and sear that side.  For those fancy grill marks, turn the steak 90 degrees and sear again for another minute each side. (I don’t care one way or another about fancy grill marks — at least when dining alone.)

Move the steaks to the indirect side of the grill, and cook (covered) until you are inclined to think they are done — these turned out rare but hot all the way through — but I’m also perfectly happy with medium rare for ribeye or venison — leaving at least some pink for me is important.  Timing will depend on the heat within your grill.  You’ll want at least 2 minutes, maybe 5 minutes for medium rare.  You can use a meat thermometer if you wish, but for quality steaks where I trust the source,  I’m just as happy using visual clues.  Oh, PS, the less charring, the less carcinogens…

beef, ribeye, venison, steaks, grill, recipe

Yes, I like medium rare (hot all the way through). If you want it medium, go for it. “Well”-done is going to be tough.  But, hey.  

Pull off the grill and let the steaks rest for about five minutes.  Longer if thicker, of course.

Slice against the grain, thin or more thickly as you choose.  Yum!

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Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin with Onions and Cabbage

scalloped potatoes, vegetarian, recipe, cabbage, cheese

Scalloped Potatoes, no Fingers

I’ve been wanting to make this for a while – the last time I tried I ended up nearly slicing off a finger tip using the mandoline without the finger guard, and forgot about making the recipe as I’d planned.  (I simply ended up with a thick bandage on my finger, and only cooking up whatever had already been chopped or sliced.)  Note to self:  USE the Finger Guard!!!

This version is vegetarian (no human finger bits, either!) but contains dairy.  I do like the idea of using veggie broth to keep things moist, over the heavy cream that is often used.  There’s still going to be a lot of cheesie goodness, but we can cut back a little doing it this way.

recipe, scalloped potatoes, cabbage, onion, au gratin

Note spiffy new paring knife. When you get new sharp things, they just want to be photographed!
PS, it hasn’t drawn blood yet.

Prep time:  40 minutes, which includes browning the onions, but you can do other prep as that occurs.
Cook time:  1 hour
Rest time: 5 minutes? 
Serves:  Would be great for a pot luck or dinner party!

Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin with Onions and Cabbage

* 1 tablespoon avocado oil or buttter for the onions/cabbage.
* 2 teaspoons avocado oil for the potatoes.
* 3/4 – 1 whole large yellow or white onion, sliced and quartered.
* 1/2 green cabbage, core removed and sliced into thin easily-separatible slivers.
* About 7 Yukon gold potatoes, medium to small-medium sized, buds, green bits and bad parts peeled away.  You can leave the skins on otherwise, but it’s up to you.  I leave them on.  Slice with care to 1/8th inch rounds.  The thinner the better they will cook.
* 1 and 2/3 cups grated meltable cheese, loosely packed.  Divided into 1/2, 1/2 and 2/3rds cup portions.  I am partial to combining Gureyre with Gouda.  They add some weird stuff to those pre-packed shredded cheese packages you find in the supermarket  that I’m not wanting to eat, so I’m quite copasetic with grating my own — it doesn’t really add that much time!
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  You can add more but, well, I ran out…
* 1/2 cup boxed low sodium veggie broth (unless you have home-made handy).
* 1 teaspoon gluten free tamari (optional)
* 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (divided)
* salt and pepper to taste

* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (divided, optional).

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Brown the onions on medium heat in a skillet with about 1.5 teaspoon oil, moving them around ever so often.  Carry on with other prep.  Onions may take about 20-25 minutes to carmelize lightly, but at the very least get them to translucent stage.  Add another 1.5 teaspoon oil, and the cabbage, and the tamari, and wilt for about five or so minutes with the onion.

In a baking dish (this is hard to clean so I used disposable – but I did wipe it down with the rest of the oil before proceeding), add about 1/3 of the onion/cabbage mixture.  Add a little of the seasonings listed above. layer out some of the potato slices, about 1/3 of them, and scatter about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese over.

Repeat for a second layer.

For the third layer, repeat but before adding the cheese, gently pour the broth over the entire dish.  Then, add the cheese and top with Parmesan.

Bake in oven for about 35 minutes (check earlier since not all ovens are the same).  Test with a fork to be certain that the potatoes are done.  Crispy but not burnt on top.

recipe, scalloped potatoes, cabbage, onion, au gratin, vegetarian

Onions and Cabbage, Oh My!

I totally feel the urge to make this soon again.  And I’m definitely not a real starch-lover!  I think it’s the Yukons…

recipe, scalloped potatoes, au gratin, vegetarian, cabbage, onion

Oven-ready!

And now I am almost ready to head over to a 4th of July party, but with a quinoa salad as the above was actually made a few weeks ago.

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Dehydrating Fruit: Strawberries or Grape Tomatoes

I am so not a sweet-tooth!  I can’t stand most dehydrated fruits, because by the very act of dehydration, every single flavor gets concentrated.  Which in the case of fruit, means sugar.   Thankfully, over the years I’ve weaned myself off the majority of sugary things — sugar is a seasoning that needs to be dealt with on a minimal basis these days.   A little is wonderful; but it goes a long way… Also, with certain fruits, there’s a textural issue.  I’m so not fond of gummy, and never have been, even as a child.  (This is a severe Understatement.  You will never see recipes for “leathers” here…)

The only fruits I will dehydrate in my spiffy Excalibur dehydrator are strawberries, cranberries and grape tomatoes.  All of these come with sufficient tartness to mellow out the sugar, and none of these have that “gummy” texture I intensely dislike.

Tomatoes, grape tomatoes, recipe, dehydration

Grape tomatoes ready for dehydration

Cranberries are for autumn, so maybe I’ll discuss those, then.

About a year or so ago I bought the Excalibur dehydrator via Amazon, after doing some research.  It costs a bit more than other dehydrators, but I liked the features.  You can set temperature, and it heats more evenly than most other dehydrators, where food rotation is recommended during the drying process.  They sell a small 4-tray version, a larger surface area 5-tray version, and a 9-tray version where the trays are the same size as the 5-tray version.  They also make models where the time for dehydrating can be set.  I opted for the 5-tray version without the timer — on a humid day, if the timer goes off and you are away, the stuff in the dehydrator is simply going to add back in a bunch of atmospheric water (and get gummy and unpleasant).  And I’ve learned that recipes for dehydrating never add in actual times to run the thing.  A lot depends on your personal weather and humidity.  (I can see the timer feature being useful if you live in a predictably arid climate.)  No, I’m not getting any kickback from the Excalibur people by posting about my appreciation of this equipment!

dehydrate, strawberries, recipe

Strawberries ready for dehydration

Prep time:  Strawberries – about eight-ten minutes per tray. Grape tomatoes: about 5 minutes per tray.
Cook” time:  It depends, but don’t expect immediate gratification.  At least four hours, six or eight may be the way to go.
Rest time:  Huh?
Serves: Reserve in air-tight containers for multi-purpose needs.

Strawberries, Dehydrated

  • About 4-6 ounces of strawberries per tray (Excalibur-sized).  Slice about 1/4 inch thick, or less, make sure the stem/core is gone.  Slice horizontal or vertical.

Grape Tomatoes, Dehydrated

  • About 4 ounces of grape tomatoes per tray (Excalibur-sized).  Slice the larger ones into threes (horizontally), the smaller ones into twos (horizontally).

Dehydration:

Layer out the fruits so they don’t touch one another.  For the tomatoes, put skin side down (if this is a section with skin).  For the strawberries, it doesn’t matter what side goes down.

Place the trays into the dehydrator and set the temp to 135 F/57 C.

Let her rip for at least four hours, it may well be overnight.

Storage:

Those Ball canning jars are great for this. Recycle those used canning lids that you shouldn’t ever put through the water or pressure canning procedure again.

Uses: 

Frankly, I mostly use dehydrated strawberries or grape tomatoes in salads.

Adding a few broken up slices of dehydrated strawberries to vanilla or quality strawberry ice cream is also a tasty option.  I’ll note that most commercial strawberry ice cream tastes extremely faux, but if you have a good local brand, go for it.  You can also put slices of dehydrated strawberry in plain yogurt (choose a good brand with few if any extenders, whether local dairy, goat, or coconut yogurt).  Let the berries soak in the moist yogurt overnight before consuming.

dehydration, strawberries, , Excalibur, fruit, recipe

Dehydrated strawberries

As for the tomatoes: anything you’d use sun-dried tomatoes for — it’s fair game.  (I seriously doubt most commercial “sun-dried” tomatoes are really dried outside in the sun.)  However, since I lack enough usable electrical outlets indoors, I’m relegated to using the Excalibur either in the garage — which I do in the winter, or in the bathrooms — ick, and I already charge my phone there, or outdoors on the back porch.  So I can safely say these fruits were dried outside!

Dehydration, recipe, grape tomatoes

Dehydrated grape tomatoes, preserved

Raw:

By the way, raw foodists consider 135 F/57 C conditions to be raw, so they can eat dried fruits.  Frankly, if I happened to be walking around in an environment set at that temperature, I’d seriously feel pretty cooked.  I get terribly miserable at 90 F.

Oh, and here’s the dehydrator I use:

Excalibur, recipe. dehydrator, dehydrating, fruit

Don’t run this on the lawn — use a solid surface! My back porch works wonderfully, but the photo op was lame…

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Bluefish with Plum & Onion Sauce, Skillet

I’ve been away for a week — six days spent vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and another evening/night spent on the western side of Massachusetts.  You’d think, after the Vineyard, I’d be tired of seafood…  Nah.

I’ve cooked bluefish twice before for this blog:  once grilled, and once poached.  Some consider the flavor very “strong”, but using onion and a fruit will add a nice depth and contrast, and cut the “strong”.

recipe, bluefish, plum, onion

Bluefish in plum & onion sauce

I leave the skin on to facilitate flipping the fish.  You can avoid eating the skin, should you so choose.  I do remove skin before dining from farmed fish, but leave my options open for wild-caught (as this was).  The skin doesn’t “crispy up” in this preparation, so discarding it after cooking is fine.

You may note I don’t add salt to this recipe.  Ocean-going seafood already comes salted, so I rarely feel the need to add more.

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  25-30 minutes max

Rest time:  Not essential
Serves:  2 with a side

Bluefish in Plum & Onion Sauce

* 2/3 pound  bluefish fillet, skin on.
* 1 medium/large very ripe plum, peeled, de-pitted, and de-seeded.
* About 2 teaspoons olive oil.
* 3-4 ounces (about 100 grams) diced white or yellow onion.  I’d go closer to the four ounces.
* 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced.
* Juice from 1/2 lime.  You can sub in the juice from 1/4 lemon, if lime is not available.
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (a few springs of fresh if available, instead).
* Ground white pepper to taste — for me, about 1/8th or so of a teaspoon.

Preparation:

Bring the skillet heat to about medium high, add the oil and wait until you see the oil “shimmering”.  Olive oil has a low heat point so keep an eye on it.  Add the onion immediately, reduce heat to medium, and saute for about ten minutes, or until it turns translucent and begins to brown slightly.

Add everything else except the fish and lime juice, and stir around, about one minute.

Make a space in the center of the skillet, and add the fish, skin side down.  Squeeze the lemon juice all over the fish, then with a spatula, pile up some of the other skillet ingredients on top of the exposed flesh of the fish.  Cover lightly with foil or with a plate, allowing steam to escape.  Reduce heat to low/medium (that’s the #3 on my electric range, but things may vary for you).

Cook this way for 5 minutes (note:  my bluefish was about 3/4 inch thick – but bluefish is a LOT more forgiving of overcooking than many other fishes!)

With the spatula, flip the fish, and cook the same way (covered) another five minutes.

Flip back again, and keep the cover OFF.  Cook another three minutes, to reduce the liquids somewhat.

Plate, putting sauce on top of the fish.  The photo atop this post is about 2/3rds of what I cooked as the full dish did not fit on my spiffy fish-plate.  You can always garnish with parsley or cilantro, neither of which are currently at home with me…

Side suggestions:  A really crispy salad with romaine as a base, and a light vinaigrette.  Or, asparagus roasted with grated Parmesan, ground pepper, garlic, and a little olive oil.

Oh, PS, when I get around to it, there will be some Dining Out (Martha’s Vineyard) posts upcoming.

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Root Veggies on the Grill

The grill is out and available; I’m gonna GRILL!

grilled, recipe, veggies, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato

No, they weren’t grilled in the Corningware, this was simply their Photo Op

I use a charcoal grill — you can use any sort of grill you have available.  What you want is to have is a “direct heat” area and an “indirect heat” area — on a charcoal grill you can manage this by putting your hot coals on one side of the grill and leaving the other side empty.  And, close the grill lid while cooking.  On the better propane grills this can also be modified by how you set the flame — you can make one half of the propane grill be hotter than the other half.  Again, close the lid while cooking.

PS: use a charcoal chimney to avoid that nasty “lighter fluid” thing, if going the charcoal route.

The root veggies in my house were:

Turnips.  Sweet potatoes.  Parsnips.

The thing to remember is that different types of root vegetables have different factors of solidity.  You can either cut them all the same relative size, but cook them different times, OR, best yet, cut them up to reflect that sweet potatoes cook faster and turnips cook slower.  Larger chunks of sweet potatoes, smaller chunks of turnips, really small chunks of celeriac root, if that happens to be handy.  Or, in my case, I don’t mind mushy sweet potatoes, so I didn’t make that much of a distinction when chopping.

Parsnips fall somewhere in between, but note that if the diameter is much more than an inch, parsnips get a bit pithy and not so nice to eat.   Pithy is fine in comments; not so good when it’s pithy parsnips…

Note:  Come up with whatever veggie combo suits your fancy — or what’s currently in your fridge or pantry.

Prep time:  Around 25 minutes.  If using charcoal with the charcoal chimney, prep the veggies while the coals get lit.  If using propane or other, prep the veggies, then light up your grill. 
Cook time:  Around 25 minutes over high direct heat.  Check  them, though.
Rest time:  Just don’t burn yourself.
Serves:  Two. as a main, with a side salad.  I wouldn’t serve this for two, without anything else.

Root Veggies on the Grill

* 3 medium parsnips, peeled and ends trimmed off. 
*  4 mid-sized turnips, ends trimmed off and any brown bits removed.  
* 1/2 sweet potato, regular to large size, mostly peeled, and any roots or end tips removed.  
*  About 2 teaspoons avocado (or other high-heat) oil. 
* 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil for extra flavor.
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom.  Umm, maybe more?  
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.  I use Trader Joe’s.  You can up this, too.
* Optional dried rosemary, which I didn’t have this weekend, but which I’ve used other times.  Sprinkle in a few sprigs.
*  Salt and ground pepper to taste.

* And of course, any root veggie substitutions you’d like to use.

Procedure:

Slice up the veggies, but pay attention to cooking time.

Layer them out in aluminum foil, add the cooking oil and all the seasonings, keeping the layer of veggies relatively flat. They can overlap a bit, but we want these guys to cook through.  I find using my hands to mix the oil and seasonings through everything helps.  Have enough foil available that you can wrap them up, top and bottom.  Indeed, wrap them up!

If you have more veggies than I list above, make a second foil pouch for those, with their own oil and seasonings.  There’s a limit to what one pouch can do.

With a fork, poke holes into the foil on top and bottom, enough to bring in smoke and flavor, but not so much that the pouches might fall apart.

Place on hot grill, direct heat.  Wait around 15-20 minutes, and flip with grilling tongs.  Another ten minutes, depending on how you chopped the veggies, you should be ready.  Open the foil just enough to poke with a fork to test for your preferred level of done-ness.  If you can poke the veggies, they’ll probably be done for most palates.  Reserve them on the indirect side if needed, if anything else is also cooking.

 

Posted in Cooking, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Chicken Tandoori on the Grill

This is one of those recipes I thought I’d posted a year or so ago – but hadn’t.

I’ve made this twice earlier this season, but the first time my grill didn’t get hot enough so I didn’t pursue the write-up further.   The second time was last weekend, but since I was in a hurry I didn’t 1) marinate it quite long enough and 2) didn’t remove the skin from the drumsticks.  It didn’t seem to me that that particular session was worthy of a write-up, or photography.  But the charcoal heat was intense enough, and the flavors came through.

So… I’m doing a third try this season!  (And this season is still mighty young!)

grilled, tandoori, chicken

Two tandoori thighs. Yum.

I seriously prefer dark meat to white meat, and especially so on the grill, where it is all-too-easy to dry the latter out beyond description.  (Okay, I can describe that; I’d just rather not…)  Since I simply just prefer the dark to begin with, for grilling I’ll just buy that, as long as I’m not also cooking for a white meat fanatic.

(If I’d be roasting a whole bird all together as a whole bird, I’d also buy that, and indeed at some point I’ll be experimenting with the “beer can chicken” where you grill the fowl over a can of beer (or root beer, or ginger beer, or soda water) — this is supposed to keep the fowl and its white meat moist.  Later! That one’s not tandoori!)

But, back to the tandoori chicken…

grill, tandoori, chicken

Tandoori chicken marinating

In India (and no doubt in quality Indian restaurants everywhere), “tandoori” refers to a way of cooking food in a high-heat tandoor oven.  Which most of us probably don’t have.  (However, it IS on my wish-list…)  A really hot outdoor charcoal grill, however, can get us pretty darn close to, ahem, ignition.  I have little experience with propane grilling in this regard, however, and unless you have experience with yours at really high heat, I recommend charcoal.

Prep time:  15-20 minutes active prep; marinate 8-24 hours.
Cook time: 20-30 minutes, grill temps vary.
Rest time:  Say, five minutes.
Serves:  a couple of pieces of chicken for everyone is minimal, but I’d have the option for more.   At worst, there’d always be leftovers.

Chicken Tandoori on the Charcoal Grill

* Chicken, usually still on the bone, but skin removed. Say, about 6 – 8 thighs, or whatever floats your boat.  (If your chicken was reared in a healthy, pastured environment, save the skin to fry and crisp up in a skillet — draining off the extra fat after cooking onto a paper towel or two — otherwise discard.  If you do fry and crisp it up, seasonings such as lemon pepper, garlic powder, or even a chili blend can be applied before crisping.  But, that’s a separate dish.)  If you don’t want the bother of removing the skin, go buy the boneless, skinless chicken pieces — although it is pretty easy to remove from the thighs (or breasts); drumsticks take a little bit more effort.
* Plain yogurt, preferably whole fat, have a cup to hand.  If you prefer a not-whole-fat source, make sure there are no added sugars or other extenders in there.  (Yogurt, depending on brand and source,  is a bit more forgiving for those who shop for lower fat products without extenders, than most  other dairy products, with the exception of mozzarella which seems to be free of extenders even when low-fat.)  I often source out goat yogurt when available.  A note which I’ve made before:  WHOLE milk is 3.5% fat.  1% milk is 1% fat.   It is NOT 1% of 3.5%.  Unless you are subsisting on dairy for the majority of your nutrition needs (please, don’t!), whole milk is generally going to be a LOT healthier for you, especially if you can’t avoid extenders.  Try to find a healthy source for your yogurt — I pretty much trust Stonyhill brand as a widespread example, at least in the US.  If you have an Indian grocery store nearby, you can always pick up some of their yogurt.
* Lemon juice from one whole lemon, but add about half for starters.  You can always add more in the tasting phase.
* Tandoori seasoning, a good heaping tablespoon.  I use Penzey’s blend.  This contains: Coriander, cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, ginger, cardamom and saffron.  I have in the past made my own blend, but today I had other things on my mind.
* Tumeric powder.  For some reason the Penzey’s blend doesn’t contain tumeric, but I find it essential, and yes, even good for you…  I added nearly a teaspoon.
* Optional 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Tandoori isn’t necessarily hot-spicy, but I like to add in a little kick.
* Ground pepper and sea salt.  (It doesn’t have to be sea salt, but after that rant on milk fats, I figure I better add in sea salt…)

PS:  this won’t yield that bright red coloration you see at many Indian restaurants here in North America.  The secret to that one is… food coloring.  Adding in a little more paprika will give the marinate more of a reddish tone, but it won’t be bright red.

Procedure:

Prep the marinate — mix everything together in a large bowl except the chicken.  Set aside.

Prep the chicken — take the skinless chicken and either slice slits in it with a paring knife in 4 or 5 locations, or use the tines of a fork to puncture it hither and yonder. Scrub  your hands clean… it’s raw chicken…

The marinate should have sat aside about 15 minutes, enough time for the flavors to have “married” a bit into the yogurt.  Taste the marinate — you may want to adjust levels of seasoning now.  (See why we washed our hands?  Grin.)

Once all that’s settled, add in your chicken, using your hands to rube the marinate into all pieces, and into those flavor-containing slits that you made in the pieces.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight, and come back 2 or 3 times to move the pieces around in the marinate (with a spoon or fork this time).

Get your grill (or tandoor, lucky you) ready however you usually do.  I use a charcoal chimney,   The trick with the charcoal chimney is getting the coals hot enough — I use a relatively inexpensive brand of hardwood lump charcoal, not the briquettes.  The briquettes are all evenly-sized, which makes it difficult to find the proper amount of air flow inside your chimney.  I focus on mid-sized bits of lump charcoal, as these are irregularly-sized, and provide enough, but not too much, air flow.  The really large pieces that come in my bag I intersperse in selectively (or sometimes break into two), or save for cooler cooking needs.

The charcoal chimney will take about 20-25 minutes to get the coals piping hot (on really windy days this will happen much faster, and the coals, in my experience, don’t get dinner quite as hot — so if I know that the night I want to grill is going to be windy, I typically make something else…)

When the coals are ready, pour the charcoal into the grill on one side.  Make sure you have your vents about halfway open (well, mine are frozen in place, cheap grill.  Fortunately they’re frozen into a useful place).  Have the chicken ready, and arrange it over the direct side of the grill.  Discard extra marinate.  Cover.

After about ten minutes, using grilling tongs, flip the pieces.  (There are no precise timings to give you for charcoal grilling, and it will also depend on the thickness of the chicken.  Even among chicken thighs, I’ve seen monstrous ones and teensie ones.  Thick pieces I’ll flip more than once.

After another ten minutes (or so), check for done-ness, using either a meat thermometer inserted not against the bone or if you feel confident about your done-ness skills, cut a piece open.  Note that grilling doesn’t cook every piece evenly the same, but dark meat is more forgiving than the white for overcooking.  You can always remove the center pieces and then move in the side pieces so they can continue cooking more intensely.  Or to keep warm, those fully-cooked center pieces can move off to the far indirect side of the grill.

Chacoal chimney, grill

“Come on baby light my fire…”

 

 

 

Posted in Asian & Asian Influenced, Cooking, Poultry | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Gardening 2015 May Report

This is a food blog, so I’ll be mostly discussing in this post what I’m growing to eat this year, but not exclusively.  A few of my garden plants you really don’t want to eat, including the plant in the first photo in this post.  You see, I’ll be moving next year, and so growing veggies here is changing — I’m not going to be growing as many, and most will be in container pots.  Most of these photos were taken about ten days ago, and I’d intended this to be a May posting, but life got in the way.  All the photos were indeed taken this May.  Mostly ten days ago.

Hellebore:  A shade loving plant NOT FOR CONSUMPTION!

Hellebore: A shade loving plant NOT FOR CONSUMPTION!  Perennial.

I have a ton of shade here — very few places are sunny.  Right down by the road presumably gets a lot of sun, but I don’t really care to consume auto-exhaust laden zucchini.  There’s a place in the front yard where I and my old housemate set up a vegetable patch many years ago.  Unfortunately, a veggie patch in the front yard doesn’t really inspire “curb appeal”, especially since it was working less and less efficiently over the years (more shade as other things grew taller — this is a really atypical yard; I’m on a hillside and due-southwest the land drops off drastically, so down there it is trees, which do provide privacy, and erosion control).

Another perennial not for (human) consumption, but deer like it — if it is put in easy-access.  This particular coleus has survived for years, because it is out-of-the-way on the driveway!  (Mind you, it this were a tulip, there’d be no holding them deer back!)

coleus, garden

Happy coleus doing it’s May thing.

So, this year I ripped out the veggie patch, moved the rich topsoil — it was a three-inch “raised bed” — to fill in holes in the yard, and to fertilize up my container pots.  I’m waiting for the grass I’ve sown there to take off.  Next rain, perhaps.  (Note:  it has!)

Anyhow, where the veggie patch was, along the edges, some mustard green seeds from the previous year have re-seeded themselves.  A few have also ended up growing in places where I tossed the topsoil!  They are all being harvested this week and next week (June) for salads.

 

mustard greens, garden

Mustard greens captured through a macro lens. They definitely like to re-seed.

I also have a rock garden, which has long been a home for herbs.  This remains.  More, below.

Brussels sprouts share a container pot.    (Who’da thunk?  Me, who loathed those things for years and decades — I now love ’em if properly cooked; plus anything that grows on stalks like those guys grow have simply got to be cool just to look at!)

brussels sprouts, garden

Brussels sprouts sharing a container pot.

Collard greens have their own special place on my front door stoop, three pots.

Collard greens, garden

The guy in the middle pot is indeed growing — just more slowly!

 

A friend recently gave me some lemon grass to root — since this is a perennial, this moves with me.  At the other end of the planter, I put in some grape hibiscus, because it is also perennial, and except when it is flowering, looks kinda ugly with regards to “curb appeal”.   Looks like grass growing where it is not welcome.  Much of the rest has been ripped up.  I might as well keep what I like, right?  It multiplies.  (I didn’t photograph the remains of the grape hibiscus.)  But yes, some guest petunias are along for the ride this summer.

lemon grass, garden

Lemon grass taking root. With proper care it is a perennial.

My newest veggie acquisition is red Russian kale.  The three that I planted in this planter were so thankful that they outpaced the other three within 24 hours.  (I planted the other three 24 hours later in the Rock Garden.  They’ll catch up.)

russian kale, gardenrussian kale, gardenrussian kale, garden

I’ve also a planter which I’ve seeded with microgreens (using fresh organic soil, so I’d know what things came up are actually things I want to eat).  Most people do these plantings indoors in a south-facing window, but I really didn’t want the south-facing window to be mistaken for a litter box by any errant felines who live here!  These are just about ready for harvest, and I can keep this going all summer long since I have enough seeds.

microgreens, gardening

A few microgreens via the macrolens

The rock garden is also something my old housemate and I created years ago.  Most of it is semi-shaded but the front parts are good for strawberries, cucumbers, and lots of herbs.  I have irises in there, which do their thing before too much shade hits the area up. Unfortunately Pachysandra is attempting to overrun the space, and that’s one of my duties for later today (written back in May, and partial extraction has been completed).  Returning from previous years are the strawberries (which I never get to eat more than one or two from), the oregano (yum) and the woodruff.  Also, feverfew, which is an herb indicated for migraines.  Annual herbs that went in so far include parsley, sage, rosemary, and …. uh, I haven’t gotten the thyme yet!  I do hope to add basil, as per usual.

Below, in order:  Sage, oregano (coming back from last year, and from many earlier years), and rosemary.

sage, gardenoregano, gardenrosemary, garden

woodruff, garden

Woodruff is a small perennial shade-loving plant handy in semi-wooded areas. From this one can make May wine.  Someday I’ll figure that out!

Other than edibles, the only annuals I am planting this year are bellflower (I just couldn’t resist its cheer) and some petunias (ditto).  I need color to flesh out my life.

petunias, garden

Petunias in a planter with wooden ducklings my parents gave me at least 20 years ago.  Mama duck long ago rotted away. 

On to the Rhododendron of Large Standing:

I am certain if I took the time, I could find you a photo of this rhodo doing what rhodos do best.  It would be a photo taken 4 or 5 years ago.  However, it was beginning to weaken over the last two or three years, and this last really harsh winter truly did it in.  I took the above photo after I cut out the most obviously bad/dead parts.  I should have taken a truly “before” shot. At any rate, this thing looked straggly, spindly, and a few other uncomplimentary words even here.  For some reason, the parts of it that spent most of the winter under snow cover turned out to survive the best.

I thought about ripping the thing out entirely, but between not having the upper body strength to rip out a 40-year-old planting (it was well-established when I moved here 23 years ago), nor having a back hoe available for cheap,  I opted to let the bottom parts survive.  This was a good idea.  Although this year it only produced one flower, it is also producing LOTS of new green.  I’m going to do the same thing, shortly, to a neighboring azaela which has overgrown its welcome, but I did let it bloom to see where I should best provide the crew cut.

rhododendron, garden

New growth on my truncated rhoto!

I put in a couple of perennials this year, one is McKay’s White Potentilla, which provides white flowers through much of the summer, and grows to 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide.  It should fill in some of the empty space by the original footprint of the truncated rhododendron. Care is supposed to be easy. It only cost $15.

white potentilla, garden

White Potentilla, just after planting.  The tag is not readable, alas.

PS: my favorite wild-growing weeds that can be used as edibles:  onion grass; garlic mustard (this one an invasive so don’t encourage it, but if you have it, eat it); young dandelion leaves.  There is also plantain and burdock root here in droves, but I have less skill with them.

And, at the very end of this post:  Lady’s mantle is considered an herb, but I don’t know if it is edible, or just pretty, or just something which upon when rain happens, water just beads up.  It is a perennial, low-lying, and can deal with a mild amount of shade.

ladys mantle, garden

Lady’s Mantle

Happy gardening!!!

 

 

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