Oh man, this was an awesome day! So on Monday, not only did we pick up our second share in our CSA and tour a farm to get some chickens, but we also had a picnic in the park! Our fridge was really running low and so I had trouble figuring out what to bring. We had two ears of corn so that was easy, I love grilling corn on the cob in its husks until they’re nice and charred. I wanted to grill another vegetable, but all I had was some English cucumbers, so decided I’d experiment with how to grill a cucumber. The only meat we had was shrimp so I scrounged around for a marinade and decided on garlic, ginger, lemongrass and sweet chili sauce. The shrimp was amazing! I mean amazing! In fact it was so good that Eric scarfed down 3 of the 4 shish kebabs, thinking he’d only had two. He felt terrible but I took it as a compliment 🙂 The shrimp we had was pre-cooked, which means we didn’t grill it as long as you would need to with raw shrimp. Either way, shrimp cook up pretty fast.
Another grilling option for those of you who, like us, live in an apartment with no lanai (balcony), is to go to a nearby park. I’m surprised I don’t see more people doing this in our area. In Hawaii, every beach and park was always filled with friends and families cooking teriyaki chicken, kalbi short ribs and pulehu wings on their little hibachis. But at our park, people kept staring at us in fascination with looks that said “I’m shocked they’re doing that but I so wish I was eating their lunch right now.” In fact we had several people say that it looked like we had an amazing meal, and a four year old boy pretty much begging us for corn as his friend showed us the baby and daddy ladybugs he’d caught. Once again, we were apparently cool for grilling.
In addition to the yummy healthy food, we also had dessert which actually isn’t too unhealthy either. It was cherry rhubarb skillet pie made with fresh cherries and light on the sugar compared to most rhubarb recipes I’ve seen. Promise, recipe coming soon! I’ve loved playing with the rhubarb we’re getting in our CSA. Eric wasn’t crazy about the cucumbers, he didn’t like having them warm and thought they were mushy, but once they cooled down he liked them just fine. I liked them either way and thought the dressing was great! Now, for perfect grilled corn on the cob, keep the corn in its husks but tear off the silk and any bits of dried husk hanging off. Place on the grill and rotate every 5 minutes until the husks are charred (15-20 minutes). Carefully peel them back (it’s hot!) and the corn will be perfectly steamed and juicy. If you want to know how to boil corn on the cob, check this out.
The best thing about the park across the street from us is the little water park for kids. We love watching the little kids run around splashing, screaming and giggling as they discover the joy of water. Some kids bring buckets or watering cans to carry out sneak attacks on “unsuspecting” parents who play along beautifully. Little girls in giant sun hats and frilly bathing suits stomp their pink sandaled feet in the puddles and look around to make sure mom sees how clever they are at splashing. Little boys get as wet as they can, then find someone dry to shake their sopping hair at. It is hours of entertainment! If you have a fun park near you, go barbecue, but don’t be creepy! A couple who is barbecuing, smiling, and talking to parents (us) is a lot more normal than a silent staring man standing on the sidewalk with his bicycle for an hour (creeped me out!).
Grilled Garlic, Ginger, Lemongrass and Sweet Chili Shrimp serves 2
16 shrimp shells on
3 cloves garlic
2 inches fresh ginger root
2 inches fresh lemon grass (or two tablespoons lemongrass paste)
3 TBS sweet chili sauce
4 wooden skewers
Soak skewers in water, then prepare the shrimp. You want the vein (digestive track) and legs removed but the shell left on. This is easy to do with a pair of scissors, simply cut up the back of the shrimp, pull out the vein, and cut or tear the legs off. The shell will protect the delicate shrimp meat on the grill.
Use a microplane grater to grate the ginger, garlic, and lemon grass (or very finely chop). Mix them in a medium sized bowl with the sweet chili sauce. Stir in the shrimp until well coated with marinade. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes in the fridge.
Thread 4 shrimp onto each skewer. Once coals are ready, place shish kebabs flat on grill. Grill 2-3 minutes for pre-cooked shrimp and about 4-5 minutes for raw. Flip and cook another few minutes on the other side.
Grilled Cucumber Spears in Asian Vinaigrette serves 4
1 English cucumber 1/4 cup rice vinegar 1 tsp sesame oil 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 TBS chopped fresh mint (or 1 tsp dried)
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the ends off of the cucumber. Slice crosswise into three sections, then cut each section lengthwise into 4 spears. In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients and whisk well.
Grill cucumber 2-3 minutes on each cut side. Remove from grill and place in the vinaigrette. Mix well and serve warm or cold.
Approximate Cost/Serving: Corn 15 cents each, shrimp 30 cents each, cucumber 25 cents/serving, condiments 4 cents/serving TOTAL: $2.84 per person
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Of course the veggies are vegetarian, and all three are gluten free
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