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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hello, Sunshine!

I love summer. I love the sun, the relaxed schedule, the late sunsets and warm evenings.

So, when we had about as beautiful a day as possible today, I decided to cook and eat dinner outside. It's not that I am avoiding the chard and the sorrel in my fridge, but for today, I grilled my asparagus, potatoes and steaks.

The kids cooperated as much as I could possibly expect. They all enjoyed the grilled potatoes. They came out a little crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. They dipped them in ketchup and said they were just like French fries.

The asparagus, of course, wasn't quite as easy of a sell. My younger son said that is was his favorite, and my daughter said it isn't bad, but not her favorite. Remember my middle son? The one who gave us hell over both bell peppers and brussels sprouts? Well, before he even sat at the table, the first words out of his mouth were "Asparagus? Do I have to eat the asparagus?"

But in the long run, he ate everything on his plate. And it was all with relatively no complaining, and relatively a TON of ketchup. He even admitted, at the end of the meal, that it isn't bad, but it isn't good either. I am going to count this as a success, attributable to a couple of things:

1. He could identify the vegetable. It wasn't coming out of left field, never seen before.
2. He has eaten it before. He didn't love it then either, but he got it down and lived to tell the tale. Maybe he had confidence that he would survive the experience again?
3. I gave him a decent amount of it. With the last few questionable veggies, I have only put a tiny taste on his plate. I think maybe that in doing that, I am admitting that it is horrible. I gave each child 3 full stalks. I know that isn't a ton, but it is close to a real live serving. I was actually prepared to bargain with the number of bits he had to eat, but he ate it all!

What a beautiful dinner we all had... sunshine, fresh veggies, fresh air, and conversation that wasn't just about how awful dinner is.

Too bad it wasn't that easy getting it onto the table!

this used to be a bowl, which I knocked off of the grill while I was cooking.

and these are the potatoes from the bowl that landed on my patio.

How to grill vegetables in three easy steps.

I think there is almost no better way to eat veggies. Grilling them allows them to keep some of their crispness, while enhancing their flavor. Plus, it is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, and leave yourself with no pots or pans to scrub!

First, you need to wash and cut your vegetable into grill-able pieces. They should be thin enough to cook through before the whole surface is charred.  In the case of my asparagus, I just snapped off the tough ends. For the potatoes, I sliced them into 1/4 inch slices.

Toss the veggies with some oil, and season them however you like them! For the potatoes, I just used salt, since I was going for a french-fry sort of experience. For the asparagus, I used salt and pepper. This is enough for most veggies, but you can add virtually any other seasonings you have.

That is all the prep work you need to do. Now, spread them out onto the grill.

In the case of my asparagus, it was so thin and tender, I didn't spread it out that much. I just threw it on the grill and sort of rolled it around. That way, the first pieces didn't burn up while I arranged the rest.

Keep a pretty close eye on it all. The veggies will cook pretty quickly. In the case of the potatoes, I turned them once the bottoms were starting to brown. The asparagus, I sort of pushed around as soon as it started getting a little wilty. That allowed it all to get a chance directly on the grill, to get those great grill lines.

When both sides are browned, serve it and enjoy!