Archive: Backyard Cooking

Help Fill My Vintage Picnic Basket

(Kim O'Donnel) A bluesy/gospel concert on the grounds of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo last week was the inspiration to dust off my vintage picnic basket and actually put it to good use (please don't tell my mother it's been hiding in the basement). Unfortunately, last week’s last-minute event left little time to plan a menu, which means said basket did little but look pretty on the lawn. I love the idea of a picnic but never can seem to get my al fresco act together. That’s where you -- -- the savvy bunch that you are -- can lend a hand as we gear up for the long holiday weekend. Should I keep things simple and make cheese sandwiches on artisan bread, pack a few pieces of summer fruit and call it lunch-for-dinner or should I get more elaborate, with a three-course feast of cold fried chicken, a couscous...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 3, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Wanted: Your Best Potato Salad

It’s rare of me to make generalizations, but doesn’t everyone in America make potato (pronounced ‘puh-tate-uh” if you’re from Philly) salad for the Fourth of July? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve got a hunch that no matter where you live or how you celebrate Independence Day, there’ll be a bowl of boiled spuds on this weekend’s picnic table. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving stuffing that way; Fourth of July wouldn’t be the same otherwise. From a cook’s point of view, boiled potatoes are like a blank canvas, an open invitation to play with color, texture and creativity. The possibilities are endless-- curry, anchovies, scallions, bacon, capers, yogurt, rosemary, roasted garlic, cider vinegar, hard-boiled eggs -- and yes, even mayonnaise. And as long as you season the spuds with plenty of salt, potato salad is difficult to screw up. As many of you already know, I live a mayo-free...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 2, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

Weekend Project: Chicken Barbecue in a Loaf Pan

I know what you’re thinking, cooking a chicken in a loaf pan sounds like a half-baked idea, particularly on the grill. How is the bird going to cook thoroughly while scrunched in a pan intended for bread, after all? It may seem counter intuitive, but the walls of the pan actually work as a protective cushion, a moist oasis (think clay pot) that keeps the bird from drying out. (Kim O'Donnel) Crazy? Maybe. But this method, courtesy of Alabama barbecue master Chris Lilly, works like a champ. If you know anything about barbecue, you know there’s usually a wet “mop” and a dry rub of seasonings applied to your intended protein. In this case, the “mop” comes first, a sweet-tangy mix of applesauce and Worcestershire sauce, which is lathered all over the bird, inside and out. Then comes a savory melange of spices that permeates the meat during its low,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 30, 2009; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (8)

Chat Leftovers: Fourth of July Vittles

We're going to the beach Friday! I'm excited, and wanted to make a picnic for lunch. What do you suggest would be a good, but cheap main course. I was thinking of baking chicken wings with a sweet soy glaze of some sort. Any other ideas? You'd get more bird for your buck if you roasted an entire chicken, quarter it and pack it in foil for the cooler. You'll have more variety of nibbles and a cut-up bird should prove to be less messy than a mountain of glazed wings. Here are the details for my naked chicken, a whole skinless bird infused with a curry-style rub. Bring along a baguette and you can make sandwiches. Getting into the Fourth spirit, circa 1970. (Family photo) Speaking of sandwiches, I've got cold meatloaf on the brain. Make the meatloaf the night before, but refrain from slicing it until the next...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 2, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Buz's Best Barbecue Ribs

With a name like Buz, he may as well have a Vegas lounge act, but Buz (that's right; one "z" is intentional) Grossberg is up to different kinds of theatrics -- barbecue. To add to the weird quotient, Grossberg, a former surplus tire salesman, is doing his barbecue in Richmond, Va. Not exactly the first place that slips off your tongue when you're hankering for some 'cue. Pitmaster Buz Grossberg. But he must be doing something right. Buz's joint, Buz and Ned's, (we'll get to Ned in a bit), which started out as a roadside stand in 1992, has morphed into quite the empire, with $2.3 million in sales last year, says Grossberg. He's also had a brush with barbecued fame; Grossberg is now known in Richmond as the "Flay Slayer," for slamming Bobby Flay last year on an episode of the Food Network's "Throwdown With Bobby Flay." These days,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 23, 2008; 08:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Adventures in Home Canning

It took a cross-country flight, a ferry ride, a two-hour drive and a lady named Midge from Indiana for me to learn the fine art of canning. While planning my trip to Seattle earlier this summer, I asked my friend Kate, a self-proclaimed hippie who's done her fair share of homesteading and living off the land, if she could teach me how to can. Much to my surprise, Kate was equally in the dark as this home-canning rube, so we agreed to embark on this adventure together. A view of the Olympic Mountains from Kate's front yard in Port Angeles. (Leslie Silverman) It was decided that the canning extravaganza would take place at Kate's house in Port Angeles, Wash. About 90 miles northwest of Seattle, Port Angeles is a funky Olympic Mountain town known for Dungeness crabs, endless lavender fields and its close proximity to Victoria, B.C. It's also where...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 7, 2007; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fourth of July Checklist

With the anticipation of fireworks, parades and red-white-and-blue jello desserts, we can get sidetracked while planning a holiday cookout, fiesta, barbecue -- whatever you may call it. Details are tough when pulling off a celebration of the outdoor variety, to boot. Below is a list of 10 things to remember amid all the hubbub. And please, share your tips in the comments area below. 1. It's hot out there. The forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid 90s. That means the "keep-cold-food-cold and hot-things-hot" rule is of particular importance. The last thing you want to interrupt your fireworks show is a visit to the emergency room for food poisoning. Simply put, if you're at home, keep meat in the fridge until ready to use and keep prepared food indoors (preferably with the A/C on), even when it's time to serve up. Arrange your spread buffet-style on the kitchen table...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 3, 2006; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (4)

Let's Eat Out (side)

After several days of pounding rain, Washington is getting a break with true-blue skies and sun. (I guess that means I'm off the hook from making mud pies.) As soon as those porch chairs finish draining, I think it's time to venture out into the dry outdoors. Although the ground may be a muddy mess for the next few days, a picnic is an effective way to embrace the weather change. But, as my colleage and shopping diva extraordinaire Janet Bennett points out, "Unless you're really sophisticated and have an old Persian carpet lying around, you're going to need something to keep your fanny dry." She recommends a look around at the oilcloth tablecloths made by designer Cath Kidston. Locally, Go Mama Go sells oilcloth by the yard for $10, so you can cut what you think you'll need. If you've got a crowd coming this weekend, have a look...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 28, 2006; 01:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

BBQ: What's the Secret to Your Sauce?

I am a Yankee girl. My family is from up North, too. When Fourth of July would come 'round, we'd eat burgers and dogs, corn on the cob and potato salad. And if we were good, we'd have "Wooder ice" for dessert. The word for such a feast was a "cook out, " which was also used as a verb, as in "We're going to cook out tonight." The word "barbecue" was not part of the vernacular, with one exception - when my Dad was feeling adventurous and bought a bottle of Kraft barbecue sauce to brush on chicken breasts. I'm not complaining, really. But coming from up North, we got the short end of the stick when it came to matters of the grill. In this case, I suppose ignorance is bliss as I had no idea what I was missing. Wasn't chicken on the grill supposed to charred...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 28, 2006; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (18)

 

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