Tag Archives: eating outdoors

How to Throw and Impromptu Cookout and Why You Should

Gentle Readers, there is nothing better than cooking out in the summer, unless it’s someone else doing the cooking. If you need an excuse to have a party or gathering, and really, who doesn’t, light a fire in the grill, and start dialing out. It’s a potluck on a grill, what could be easier?

Let there be fire! Chicken on the barbie.

Let there be fire! Chicken on the barbie. (As stated by an actual Australian.)

This past week, I had some truly delicious grilled chicken, consumed outside after the blazing heat had died down. Food tastes better outside. Food cooked over fire, better still. And if you supply the main and distribute the sides, it’s an easy occasion.

Outdoor dinner, summer style.

Outdoor dinner, summer style.

Here was the menu:

Grilled Chicken: Marinated overnight in a top-secret blend of flavorings and spices (top-secret because I could not read all of the labels of the myriad Asian chili sauces my hostess with the mostest used).

Grilled Chicken in Spicy Asian Marinade. Burnt skin was at a premium.

Grilled Chicken in Spicy Asian Marinade. Burnt skin was at a premium.

Corn on the Cob: Need I say more? Boiled, with butter and salt. Yum.

Corn on the Cob for the Win!

Corn on the Cob for the Win!

Watermelon: Again, I could eat my weight in this stuff, and it’s designed to be consumed outside.

Summer happiness = watermelon

Summer happiness = watermelon

Random Whole Foods Side Salads: I’ll confess, this was me. I was working up until the cookout, and my hostess graciously let me off the hook. I brought quinoa and some firecracker slaw. I am back to my quinoa addiction, a perfect summer food.

Whole Foods Quinoa and Firecracker Slaw: Working Mom Food

Whole Foods Quinoa and Firecracker Slaw: Working Mom Food

Watermelon Semifreddo: Days later, I’m still dreaming about this dessert. Courtesy of my friend over at The Professor’s Table, this is a happy marriage of something like an ice-box pie top with a boozy watermelon granita bottom. I am seeking the recipe, or will direct you to her site if she posts it there. I didn’t think I could love or crave watermelon more. I was wrong.

Watermelon Semifreddo: I Think I Love You

Watermelon Semifreddo: I Think I Love You

We all brought things to drink, everyone did work to make the meal happen, and we ate outside. It was relaxing, delicious, and memorable. All that a summer meal should be. So go, create a moment outside of your kitchen! Thank me later. (Or invite me now. :))

Outdoor wine table.

Outdoor wine table.

Special thanks to the Friday night crew. It was awesome: you continue to remind me why I love food.

What’s your favorite thing to cook on the grill? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way. I am on vacation, but listening.

Send your invitations, spare watermelon, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Friday: Not Quite Carbonara Recipe (or Vegetarians Welcome)!

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Punt!

Weekly Menus: July 4th Edition (week of 7/1/2012)

Gentle Readers, so this week we shall break tradition at The Practical Cook. Yes, there are so many places to go to find recipes for red, white, and blue food. If that’s your quest, I encourage you to go forth and prosper. If you have a minute and a cup of coffee, let me tell you my strategy.

Celebrate your independence from hothouse tomatoes! Bring on summer!

Celebrate your independence from hothouse tomatoes! Bring on summer!

I plan to buy the following this week:
trash bags, a gallon of milk, dishwashing detergent

I am putting the the CSA on hold and leaving much to chance. There will be some field research conducted at an undisclosed location. I plan to file reports. Yes, it is time to take a break for a week! I am going to eat picnics, put myself in the hands of friends for guidance, and celebrate my culinary independence.

Chocolate with Ancho Chile Powder FTW! It was like fireworks in my mouth.

Chocolate with Ancho Chile Powder FTW! It was like fireworks in my mouth.

One of the things I love about food and being a food blogger, there are no borders. I get to chitchat about my favorite topic with colleagues (more guest posts coming from the world of high-tech), and pastry chefs in bars (new idea borrowed from her, coffee ice cream with candied bacon, the chocolate above is her brilliance), and even while I have a beauty moment (step by step instructions on making Pho and the differences in Vietnamese food culture and American food culture).

Here’s my July 4th Weekly Menu Guidelines:

1. Watermelon. Sliced, chunked, in a salad. Whatever. Best eaten outside. As was the below, to celebrate the launch of The Local Palate, a new regional food and culture magazine. It was inspiring to be amongst my Southern foodies, fan in hand.

Watermelon Salad with Feta from Fearrington House.

Watermelon Salad with Feta from Fearrington House.

2. Grill out. Do I need to elaborate? This picture of the grilled burrito takes me to a happy happy place.

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

3. Dine al fresco when possible. That’s fancy for outdoors.

Even macarons taste better outside.

Even macarons taste better outside.

4. All coffee will be iced.

Iced coffee is my iced tea. Not sweet, never sweet.

Iced coffee is my iced tea. Not sweet, never sweet.

5. Tomato Sandwiches.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

My first tomato sandwich of the season. Southern bliss.

Are you declaring freedom from the kitchen? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way. I will be mobile, remote, and ready to field questions for Wednesday!

Send your queries, questions, and challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up on Wednesday, Reader Questions Answered!

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Food Trucks: Super or Supertrendy?

Since the Practical Cook is not in her kitchen currently, the only cooking she has been doing involves repurposing the free “hot breakfast” offerings at the hotel. Other meals are dedicated to field research, which may lead to a food coma. Travel should be an adventure, food included. Lunch this week included a race to a local Korean Taco Truck, MoGoBBQ.

Have you succumbed to the food truck craze? The Practical Cook says eat food where you find it. When I lived in NYC, one of my favorite lunches came from the “chicken cart lady.” It was grilled chicken, on a pita, choice of barbecue, tzatziki, or hot sauce, or a combo therein, lettuce, and onions, for $3. How could I resist?

Korean Pork Tacos

Korean Pork Tacos

Ice cream trucks are completely accepted, so why not pizza, grilled cheese, pie, and duck fat tater tots? Perhaps this is a trend and will fade, but I appreciate the challenge of the small kitchen space, the thrill of the chase, and eating outside. These entrepreneurs can get started for a lot less than a new restaurant, so there’s room for innovation.

Here’s the Rib Slider I got, basically a play on a torta. Fluffy bread, crunch lettuce, nicely grilled meat, and sauce that was made of magic. It was a 3 napkin event, and a challenge not to wear it. (This food truck had a tofu version as well, so all is not lost for the veggie bunch.)

Rib Slider from MoGoBBQ Truck

Rib Slider from MoGoBBQ Truck

If you enjoy grilling out, picnics, etc., give food trucks a chance. To find them in your area, check out Yelp (they’ve got a category for them) or find your local foodies and follow them on Twitter. The food is cheap, it’s an adventure, and it’s about 1 million times better than a drive-thru. (**Numbers not based on any actual data.) Special thanks to <foodie> for the keeping me out of the cafeteria.

Up next, the Practical Cook’s first video blog, shot on location in sunny California. Adventures in Eating: De Afghanan  Cuisine.

What do you think of food trucks? Drop a line to practical cook at gmail dot com.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table