Archive for August, 2011

August 26, 2011

Roughin’ it!

Expeditions can take you many places.  You can journey to a far off place.  You can find yourself trying a new cuisine or preparation.  In this case, Margie and I journeyed to Hosmer Lake in Central Oregon to go camping and enjoy the bounty of outdoor opportunity that Oregon provides.  Margie is still relatively new to the “camping” thing and we are still sorting out just how much we “rough it” in the great outdoors.  I like to keep things simple and pack fairly lightly for overnight camping trips, while Margie still enjoys the comforts of a very nicely padded sleeping surface.  We both agree, however, that there is no reason camping food has to suffer at all.  We take a lot of pride in our meals while camping. With a little extra forethought and planning anyone can still make some tasty (some might even say fancy) meals with simple camp cookware.

On this particular three day camping trip, we were well equipped with plenty of food and beverage for our expedition into the great outdoors.  The car was filled to the brim and we were off to enjoy ourselves and do a little fly fishing, relaxing, and mostly just escaping from the normal day to day life.  In past camping trips, we have been known to make such meals as chicken or beef fajitas, or fish tacos, or steak and potatoes.  All very good camping meals, by the way, and not all that difficult to prepare and cook outdoors.  On this particular trip, we were going to make Pesto Linguine with Sauteed Chicken and Artichokes.

First things first….a little wine.

Nothing but the best while camping 😉

Laugh all you want, but it’s not as bad as you think.  Wine Spectator agrees….they gave it a whopping 87 points.  More than you would have guessed, huh?

This meal isn’t about making every component ourselves or even using the freshest, hand selected ingredients.  It’s more like what one would make at home for a convenient, but enjoyable weeknight meal.  We purchased dried pasta, pre-made pesto sauce, canned artichoke hearts, and pre-shredded parmesan cheese.  We weren’t quite ready to go all Pilgrim and make all that out there.  Perhaps at a later time…

The chicken was one component that we spent more time with.  The chicken was cut into smaller pieces to make it cook faster and also to give more surface area for the spices to adhere to.  I like spiced up food!  After marinating the chicken for awhile, it was time to cook.

Since the meal really is simple, i’m not going to spend time talking through each step.  We got a late start that evening on cooking, so you will notice that it started out nice and light, but by the time everything was ready to eat, we had lanterns going and were squinting to see our food!

Uh oh! It's getting kinda dark out.

Yes, that is a camping wine glass!

Almost ready!

It may not be the prettiest meal we have ever made, but on this night in this place, it tasted REALLY GOOD!  We’re pretty certain our meal was the best in the campground that night!  For us, the extra effort to cook fun and unusual camping food is enjoyable and it makes the trip even more memorable.

Does anyone else have some favorite camping meals that they want to share?  We are looking for new meals to try on the next trip…

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August 23, 2011

The Christening

There is one universal truth about men. They love their grills. I’m positive if you took a poll of men, you would find a direct correlation between their satisfaction in life and their satisfaction with their grill. Once the man in your life starts to question the worth of his grill, you should probably start budgeting for his birthday or Christmas grill. If his standards are pretty high, you may have to count the grill towards multiple gifting occasions. In Mike’s case, his mom and his wife (that’s me) co-gifted a Weber for his birthday.

New Weber Grill

Wine + Weber = One Happy Man

My parents seem to have a real knack for timing. Not only did they visit the first week we had a solid run of exceptional weather, they also timed it so they could help us christen the grill. After hearing our chatter about lamb burgers, they had to see what all the fuss was about. In perfect summer tradition, we hit up the PSU Saturday market. We scored some local grass fed lamb and located lots of beautiful produce.

I was planning to grill miniature tomatoes that wouldn’t require slicing and also wouldn’t fall through the grate.

Before I start, let me give you an overview of the toppings. You may pick and choose but the sauce is an absolute must.

  • Lightly toasted brioche or other worthy bun
  • Roasted tomatoes (you can either slice and roast in the oven, grill, or cheat and buy them from the Zupan’s olive bar) or sun-dried tomatoes
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Leaf lettuce (we used romaine)
  • Diced kalamata olives
  • Cilantro Mint Chutney
Lamb Burger Toppings Bar

Lamb Burger Toppings Bar

If you’ve got at least two able bodies in the kitchen, I would suggest that one person work on the chutney and the other person work on the lamb patties. In our case, we had a few extra able bodies so it was something of a circus atmosphere.

Cilantro Mint Chutney

1/3 cup         plain greek yogurt

2 T.                onion, chopped

1                jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped

1 ½ T.           fresh ginger, chopped

1/3 cup         fresh mint leaves

¾ cup           cilantro leaves

1 lg. clove     garlic, chopped

½ t.               salt

pinch            sugar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

My love/hate relationship with the food processor: love its efficiency but hate how annoying it is to clean.

 

Lamb Burger patties

1 pound           ground lamb

1 ¾ T.              ground cumin

¾ T.                 ground coriander

1 t.                     onion powder

1 lg. clove        garlic

2 T.                   balsamic vinegar

to taste             salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well in a non-reactive bowl and form into patties.  Do not press patties too firmly.   1 pound of meat yields 3 respectable patties.  Patties are best when thicker than normal, helping them to not over cook on the grill.

Grilling Instructions:

Heat grill to medium high.  Brush grill surface with oil.  Grill lamb patties to a nice medium doneness.

Fire and Meat

Toast buns as the burgers finish cooking.

Some of the best grill marks around. Kudos to both the grill and to the grillmaster!

Add all the toppings and see if you can actually fit your mouth around it. I suggest pairing it with a Greek salad.

Lamb Burger

The Best (and probably only) Lamb Burger You’ve Ever Tasted

Did the parents like the Mediterranean lamb burgers? I’d have to say so. I think my mom is a fairly bird-like eater. She’s always doling out half of her sandwich, steak, etc, to her hungry tablemates. (Is she really your mom, you ask?). Both of my parents had polished off their plates completely. I even checked under the table to see if they’d stashed the remnants in the napkins on their laps (this was an old trick my sister and I employed with peas). Nada. Just a couple of distended bellies and satisfied grins.