Surf-n-Turf and Grilled Celery

Peak grilling season is here in Minnesota! Our beloved Puerto Rico Char Broil grill would have never survived the move from San Diego to Minneapolis. We complained about that grill for years, but it was pretty reliable. You couldn’t touch it, as it’d fall over into a heap of rusty metal, but hey, it worked! We bought it in 2006, and it lasted 9 years of almost year-around grilling in Puerto Rico, Virginia and San Diego, so not bad for $300 🙂 So long Char Broil, hello Weber! Seth just purchased the corvette of grills a couple weeks ago now that we’re getting settled in MN, so we’ve been grilling every chance we get.

Last night we grilled surf-n-turf and celery (a random experiment). I had the biggest, fattest, most awesome hunk of sea bass with the skin on, Seth had an enormous T-bone, and grilled celery! We wrapped the sea bass in a foil boat with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and tons of fresh citrus slices-I used 1 grapefruit, 1 orange and 1 lemon – all fruit that needed to be used. Tip: fish with skin on is far more juicy and flavorful, and it falls right off after cooking, so don’t be scared of fish skin! Seth seasoned his steak with garlic, Lawry’s, salt and pepper. The flavor of the fish was extremely buttery.

I’ve never grilled celery, but I think you can grill just about anything, so, since it’d been in the fridge for a while we gave it go – man was it tasty and super easy! Wash the celery and trim the ends, toss in a bowl with olive oil, sea salt, pepper and garlic salt, then lay directly on the grill for approximately 12-15 minutes. When it came off the grill I sprinkled with just a little fresh sea salt before eating. It had great celery flavor, still crispy, less stringy, and a charred salty flavor. So good!


Home Cured and Smoked Pork Belly

Shortly before Seth deployed – we purchased our first (electric) smoker! We were somewhat excited and ambitious about it, so we immediately smoked a giant rack of ribs and a 7 lb pork butt. Needless to say, I ate pork for weeks after he deployed.

One of my biggest frustrations/annoyances/pet peeves, whatever you want to call it, is that it’s very hard to locally source quality bacon without additives/corn/sugar. It drives me nuts. So, I decided I would try my hand at home curing and smoking pork belly to make my bacon, where I control the ingredients. I’ve always tended to buy uncured bacon, and I’d like to eventually do uncured bacon at home, however, this being my first time and for food safety reasons, I bought curing salt. After all the reading and research I did – I think I’m fine with a 1/4 teaspoon of curing salt, because it kills salmonella and you rinse the pork belly well before smoking.

That said, I followed this recipe from SlimPalate for my first attempt. I love his story and really enjoy his blog. He does some amazing, beautiful things with food. I did add the optional coconut sugar, again, because most of it gets washed right off in the rinse. I let it cure for 7 days in the fridge, and then smoked it for about 2 hours at 200 degrees. My first few fried slices = heaven. I could not believe the differences! Not only, does it not sizzle/pop as much as store-bought bacon, the grease is so much cleaner (a different color even), and the flavor is just night and day! IMG_7260[1]IMG_7277[1]IMG_7289[1]

My second batch is now curing in the fridge, and I tried my own cure this time: Kosher salt, curing salt, black pepper, garlic, and coconut sugar.

Saturday = Grilling Party!

So…remember that time when Seth was at sea and I tried to light the grill and almost blew myself up? Me neither. But I feel like my grilling skills are improving.

I decided last Saturday I’d try again. Grill lighting, went perfect, but even better was the food (crazy to think this is all for me, hahahaha). But hey, I’ve been eating leftovers for lunch and breakfast all week long…which makes life a whole lot easier. Plus, I get to be outside on a Saturday evening in my backyard (which is newly landscaped), with my awesome next door neighbors and their amazing kids! Sounds like a win for me 🙂

I grilled 4 veggie boats: 1 with purple potatoes, white onion and garlic; 2nd with eggplant and carrots; 3rd with tri-color peppers, mushrooms and garlic; and last, I decided to put the rest of the large bag of whole garlic cloves I had into it’s own foil boat and see how it came out. Hands down, the garlic became so sweet and slightly charred, I can’t wait to do that again. It also was really good smeared on my steak!! So I ate all of that, that night. Ooops.IMG_4690[1]IMG_4691[1]IMG_4696[1]IMG_4693[1]IMG_4728[1]

I also grilled a prime filet from a local butcher shop, Iowa Meat Farms (shout out for Iowa, my home state that I miss dearly!). I complimented that with a side of grassfed butter for “sauce.” Don’t fear the fat.

Loose Leaf Tea

My new obsession. I’ve always been a tea drinker (of all kinds, thanks mom!), but am learning that loose leaf is so much better. For flavor, anti-inflammatory properties, health, calming, and just overall wellness (bitter herbs for digestion, aloe for inflammation, etc…).

While I was in Breckenridge I was out shopping with my girlfriend, and we stumbled upon the Breckenridge Spice Merchants, a quaint little store full of loose leaf teas and spices. Here is what I purchased:IMG_3951[1]

Of course then I had to purchase a TeaZe Infuser, and I absolutely LOVE IT. The tea tastes a million times better, you can make more than just a mug, steep and then place it on top of your mug and the fresh brewed tea strains right into your mug. It also came with a coaster, so any drippage is caught. I always thought loose leaf tea was such a hassle, but with the right tools in your arsenal, it’s wonderful. IMG_3955[1]IMG_3959[1]IMG_3962[1]

I also have this handy to-go mug from Aladdin. Simply fill the basket with loose leaf tea, once it’s done steeping, just flip the lever, and the basket pops back up into the lid and you can enjoy a mug of hot tea.IMG_3964[1]

Produce Stand

On any given day, we have gobs of fresh produce sitting on the island in the kitchen. We use bowls/platters to corral everything, nothing fancy. I secretly wanted to get more counter space back, and clean it up, but just couldn’t find a stand that I liked. My mom bought me a tiered produce stand for Christmas from Crate & Barrel, and we’ve reclaimed our island. I LOVE IT! It looks clean, organized, and simple 🙂

Before:photo 1 (21)

After:photo 2 (22)