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August 2008 Issue
Food Outside the Kitchen
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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I do a lot of entertaining in the summer. I love having people to feed, of course, but I love the outdoor kind of entertaining. The kind of entertaining where you sit on the deck and enjoy the sun, the hot tub and great company. You share drinks and laughs, and then when the sun is about to set, you start putting together your meal.

I’m not your average outside hostess, though. While I love being outside in the sun and with company, I tend to prefer to move the meal indoors. I love the bar-be-cue, I’m just not a fan of the bugs. But that’s ok with me. We’ll cook it all outside and then bring it all in to be enjoyed at leisure . . . and minus gnats.

Recently, I discovered a local Asian market has something I’ve never heard of in their butcher case. It’s a cut of beef called a “beef chop”. I’ve never seen one before and it’s sold in a piece that you can then have them cut to your specifications; or leave whole. It looks sort of like a porterhouse cut but there’s much less of it that’s actually attached to the bone and what seems like more meat too. Nevertheless, I decided I’d try it. So I asked the butcher for a nice looking piece. When he weighed it up, it was a bit over four pounds, so I asked him to cut it into four “chops”. He thought he’d misheard me, but he did it. So now I had these four thick “steaks” and I was ready to experiment.

We had friends joining us for dinner, so when I got them home, I set about preparing a marinade for them. I wasn’t sure how tender this cut would be and a marinade is never a mistake. Here’s what I did:

 

BBQ’d Beef Chops

  • 8 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar, about ½ cup
Since this cut is well marbled, I didn’t feel they needed any additional oil. I liberally sprinkled both sides of the chops with the balsamic vinegar. Then I evenly spread the crushed garlic over both sides of the chops, top with a good grinding of pepper, covered them and left them to marinade for an hour or so, turning occasionally.

On a good hot bbq, grill to your preferred doneness. We like ours rare and these are perfect for that. I needn’t have worried about marinating them. They were so tender as to be melt-in-your mouth. I’m sure the vinegar in the marinade contributed, but the next time we cooked these chops, we did it without a marinade and they were just as tender.

 

There’s another dish I’ve started making recently that has become a fast favourite at pot lucks and bbqs. It’s an adaptation of a baked bean recipe that I make in my slow cooker, and it’s always a hit.

 

Slow Cooker Beans

  • 6 - 19 oz. cans beans, drained (I use a couple of different beans because I like the variations)
  • ½ pound bacon, cut into sixths (you can use less, or omit it completely)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups BBQ sauce (I like a honey flavoured one for this, but you can use your own favourite)
  • ½ cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup ketchup (optional)
Place everything into a slow cooker and make sure it’s all well combined. Set the cooker on low and leave to simmer for 9 hours, stirring often. For best flavours, make this the day before and then slowly reheat it when you’re ready to serve it. It makes enough that there’s always plenty for a quick wiener and bean lunch the day after that.
 

So much has been going on in my neck of the woods these days. I became an adopted grandmother when a good friend of mine gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Madeline Elizabeth on 20th June. This is exciting!!! I’ve also started a part time job at a Pet Centre. It’s the first of its kind anywhere that we know of, but more about that next month. And of course, as you’re reading this, we’ll be in my “birthday month”, as my kids laughingly call it. It’s true, I’ll be 52 in August. Seems hardly possible. And unlike many of my friends, I enjoy my birthdays, hence the “month”. By the time I’m done celebrating with everyone, we’ll have covered the month in dinners, bbqs and drinks. And that’s just fine by me. After all, every year that holds an August, is a year more that I’ve spent with my family and friends.

Which reminds me, Matthew is coming home!!! Not permanently, of course. He’s just been promoted again (that’s twice now in the space of about six months!!!) so he’s settling in to his job at Odette’s nicely. But he’ll be visiting us from the 13th to the 30th of September. I can hardly wait!!!

Here’s hoping your summer is filled with good food, great friends, and the kind of memories you want to write about. TTFN!!!



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