Weather Watching and Fanciful Feasts

August 11, 2009 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

fresh peaches 002  Last weekend we enjoyed an evening of classic Minnesota-style entertainment:  ninety minutes of sitting on the basement exercise equipment, tracking the progress of local tornado warnings on a 12″ television screen.  Cut loose on a Saturday night?  You betcha’, by golly.

Actually…while I’m sure that scanning weather maps can be intriguing, twenty minutes into this session I found my mind drifting.  Nothing new about that, but this particular episode of mental meandering actually had some logic to it:  What if the electricity goes out long enough for the freezer to fail, and I’m forced to cook everything at once or lose it?  Visions a neighborhood potluck followed by an ice cream binge danced in my head.  What was lurking behind the frost that could contribute to such a banquet?

By the time I refocused, the warnings were being lifted and my husband was herding pets back up the stairs for a return to our evening “as previously scheduled.”  But I had been irreversibly set on a course of menu-planning, my thoughts congealing around a meal based on the bargain of $2.00 organic chickens found at my local Cub Foods store a few weeks ago.  Thus, the next day found me busy in the kitchen preparing Oriental Grilled Chicken, Corn Fritter Patties, Mango-Avocado Salsa, Shake Potatoes, Sliced Beefsteak Tomatoes, Steamed fresh Green Beans with Raw Almonds, and Fresh Peach Ice Cream with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – a meal as good on the table as it had been in my imagination.

For the chicken:

1 whole chicken                          1 TB Hoisin sauce                      1 TB soy sauce

1 TB balsamic vinegar              1 tsp Dijon mustard                  ¼ tsp garlic powder

1 TB pineapple juice                 2 tsp olive oil

Cut the chicken into serving-size pieces, removing most of the skin.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a shallow dish and mix well.  Place the chicken pieces in the marinade and refrigerate from six to eight hours, turning occasionally.  Grill chicken pieces over hot coals for at least 12 minutes per side for a really good glazing effect.  Use a meat thermometer to test for final doneness.

The corn fritter patties are adapted from a basic recipe found in my trusty, dog-eared Fanny Farmer Cookbook:

1 C whole kernel corn                      1 egg, separated                     2 TB evaporated milk

1/4 C brown rice flour                     1/4 C white flour                    1/2 tsp baking  powder

1/2 tsp salt                                           1/4 tsp paprika                        3 TB corn meal

Chop the corn into coarse pieces and stir in the egg yolk and the milk.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and paprika; stir in the corn meal.  Stir the dry ingredients into the corn-egg-milk mixture then beat the egg white until stiff and fold it into the batter.  Heat a small amount of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium, and drop the batter by 1/4 cup measures onto the heated skillet.  Cook until lightly browned on each side and remove to a paper towel-lined plate.  Keep warm until serving.  Serve with honey-butter, if desired.

The salsa is mild for my heat-phobic guests, but it could be spiced to taste with a pinch of minced hot pepper:

1-1/4 c chopped mango              ½ c cubed avocado                    ¼ c diced red onion

2 TB sweet yellow pepper          ½ tsp grated lime zest                2 TB fresh lime juice

1 tsp olive oil

Combine first four ingredients in a pretty glass bowl.  Whisk the zest, lime juice, and olive oil in a small bowl and pour over fruit and veggies.  Refrigerate for an hour or so, stirring occasionally, to meld the flavors.

The potato technique is based on one my mother cut out of a women’s magazine decades ago, and can be done on the grill or in the oven.  Simply assemble:

4-6 medium potatoes                           butter or margarine                             garlic salt

paprika                                         salt and pepper                      rosemary (optional)

Cut potatoes in half and parboil them for ten minutes, then cool and cut into 1-1/4″ cubes.  Measure out 4-6 squares of heavy-duty tin foil and place a potato in the center of each sheet.  Dot with butter or margarine and sprinkle with seasonings.  Lay a sprig of fresh rosemary over the top, if desired.  Form a tightly sealed packet around each portion and set them on the outer edge of grill for 30 minutes to finish cooking.

To round off the main course, some nice fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh green beans steamed, sprayed with olive oil, then sprinkled liberally with plain old coarse-chopped skin-on whole almonds.

For the dessert, I made a batch of light, yogurty Fresh Peach Ice Cream from the wonderful little book, Ice Cream, by Susanna Tee, and served it with homemade oatmeal raisin cookies from the Sun Maid Raisin Company’s cookbook.  I am working on permission to print those recipes here for you.  Meanwhile, keep those weather alert radios in good working condition, and put new batteries in the flashlight.  You never know when you might have to spend a night in the cellar letting your imagination run wild.

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Weaving Moral Fiber in a Frayed Society Brian and Ellen’s Story

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