Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer suppers 1: Greek-inspired (and a blog note)

As my sister so astutely pointed out after my most recent post, it has been a heck of a long time since this blog was active regularly. What's been nice is that people haven't forgotten about it - I still get asked whether I'll be blogging a particular meal or restaurant outing, and I'm flattered and heartened that friends and family still want to read what I have to say about food.

I won't lie, it's been a rough year around here - lots going on around me, both personally and professionally, led to me feeling pretty overwhelmed a lot of the time and not in much of a mood to write anything. But my smart husband recently pointed out to me that I'd given up all of my hobbies save for cooking, and that doesn't really count since I do it mostly so we both have food to eat on a daily basis. It may BE fun, but it's not FOR fun, if you will.

So I took his message to heart: I've taken a couple of sewing classes (and loved them) and I'm trying to pick up the threads of this blog again. I'm mulling over taking a photography class, or possibly learning to speak German, or maybe both. Most of all, I'm trying to remember to find joy in creating things, rather than simply reading and half-absorbing a thousand silly internet things a day. I hope some of you are still interested in hanging out here. I like writing for you, and I'm going to try to do more of it.
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So. On to supper. We all have to eat an evening meal, even when it's hot outside or we just got back from vacation and haven't cooked much in two weeks and are feeling spoiled and lazy. This meal is simple (though it requires some advance prep), but it could certainly be simplified further. If you do one thing, make the chicken skewers. They really do taste amazing - the marinade soaks in and invigorates the boring chicken breast meat; if you have a talented griller on hand, the meat stays tender and juicy and flavourful.

Cut two large chicken breasts into one-inch chunks. In a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken, squeeze the juice of two fresh lemons, then toss in two of the lemon halves as well, for extra kick. Mince a fat clove of garlic and add it to the bowl. Drizzle in some olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and then add salt, pepper, and about a teaspoon of dried dill or oregano (or both if you like). Dump in the chicken pieces and toss well to coat. Slam it in the fridge for at least one hour, but three is better (no longer, or the lemon juice will "cook" the chicken.)

Soak some wooden skewers in water for an hour and then string the chicken pieces onto them, being careful not to push the pieces too tightly together. Grill gently over medium fire until chicken is done (this part is Chris's job, but it takes about fifteen minutes). 

After all that, you could buy a bag of salad, slice up some good bread, open a store-bought container of tzatziki, and you'd be all set.

But if you're up to a little more, the rest of what you see on the plate up there doesn't take that long and is so satisfying. Cut six well-scrubbed medium-sized Yukon Gold or other yellow potatoes into wedges (no need to peel). Toss them in a metal roasting pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the pain tightly with foil and roast at 425 F for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and toss the potatoes with salt and pepper, then roast uncovered for another 30 minutes. They will get golden crusty brown on the bottom and be soft and fluffy inside.

Meanwhile, put about 1.5 cups of plain Greek yogurt into a small bowl. Peel and seed a small cucumber or half a large one, and mince it up small. Dump it into the bowl and add half a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder, and a half teaspoon of dried dill (or minced fresh dill if you have it). Stir the tzatziki well and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to meld.

Finally, make a quick salad of chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, and halved grape tomatoes. Use your favourite salad dressing or dress with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Smack some of everything onto a plate, open a bottle of white wine or a beer, and toast your own awesomeness, summer, and the Greeks, who clearly know how to eat in a civilized manner when the weather gets hot.

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