Because…… my mom decided to teach me to cook when I was in fifth grade and I decided that I would NOT learn to cook in fifth grade. I was all Marlo Thomas and William Wants a Doll and Parents Are People (People With Children) and it just felt like she was training me to cook for my husband. And my eleven year old self was like “Hey! That’s not okay!” and “Hey! He can cook for his own damn self whoever he is!” I just could not envision a future in which my husband didn’t have two fully functioning hands (my apologies to those who really don’t have two fully functioning hands and I will totally cook for you if you need it. Without heat, of course).
So we have a system in our house in which I do all the meal planning and grocery shopping and Mike willingly and skillfully does all the cooking with heat. I’m happy to whip up a salad or a side dish or some kind of appetizer, I just don’t know what “braise” means. Basically, I could eat dinner with Cher in the movie Mermaids every day and be perfectly happy.
When I plan food for the cabin (because I am the meal planner), I settle on a single breakfast to be repeated twice, a single lunch to be repeated twice, and two dinners to cook on the grill (with heat. Mike, you’re up).
Here’s what I’m packing for this holiday weekend, all of them winners from past cabin weekends:
Peaches, granola and Thai Kitchen coconut milk (from the can!).
When I rise, I’m usually alone. The boys are out fishing and it’s quiet. They’ve presumably eaten something but I have no idea what and I need a little something to tide me over until they get back for…..
Eggs and bacon are the traditional makings of “second breakfast,” which comes after fishing and before hot dog thirty.
Hot dogs. Just hot dogs. Every time hot dogs. It doesn’t even deserve a photo. Don’t get fancy with lunch because no one appreciates it. Save yourself a giant headache in the middle of the day and just stick your wiener on the grill (if you’re laughing right now, you can party at my house).
Here’s where we get creative. Dinner is nice and long because we’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to go so we might as well take the time to make it good. The following are some of our favorites so far.
Adapted from the May 2015 issue of Saveur Magazine, we call this “Two Day Chicken” because it requires two days of marinating. Don’t skimp on the marinating! I’m going to go all Rachael Ray here because the only descriptive word I have is “Mm…Mmm” (pointing at food with mouth full). You’ll be fighting over those little blackened pieces of charred chicken skin.
We use bone-in thighs for extra flavor.
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup honey
1⁄4 cup ketchup
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
1⁄2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1 (4-lb.) chicken, halved lengthwise, backbone discarded
2 tbsp. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Mix sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin, and Chinese five spice in a bowl. Toss marinade with chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days.
2. Build a medium-heat fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. Remove chicken from marinade, and season with salt and pepper; grill skin-side down, turning once, until charred and cooked through, about 30–35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 165°. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes before carving.
Also adapted from the May 2015 issue of Saveur Magazine. Again with “Mm…Mmm” and the pointing at food with mouth full.
1⁄4 cup fish sauce
1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
1⁄4 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 serrano pepper, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 lb. boneless pork collar or shoulder, trimmed
Sliced cucumber, lettuce, and tomato, for serving
- Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, serrano pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl with pork. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
2. Build a medium-heat fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium.) Remove pork from marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper; grill, turning as needed, until slightly charred and cooked to medium, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the pork reads 140°. Let pork rest 10 minutes; slice against the grain into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices. *this is like a foreign language to me.
3. Serve with sliced cucumber, lettuce, and tomato
There are lots of hot dogs at the cabin. And that’s okay. But sometimes I crave something a little more adventurous in the woods. Maybe a little less juvenile. Ketchup is a children’s food and we big girls prefer veggies and fancy mayo on ours. I got the idea from My Name is Yeh, a food blog by a New Yorker living on a North Dakota farm.
In addition to hot dogs and the optional bun, you’ll need the following:
sriracha mayo (1/2 c mayo + 2 tsp sriracha, or more if desired)
fresh cilantro sprigs
pickled veggies (see recipe below)
Drizzle, stack, sauce your dog and eat.
I use the pickling recipe from Recipe Girl’s Bread and Butter Pickles but instead of using sliced cukes, I use thinly sliced carrot, onion and red pepper along with some diced cucumber. I use it like a slaw or a sauerkraut, adding a quasi-addictive tang to hot dogs, burgers or chicken.
Don’t be afraid of this. This is a lot of directions for me but it’s definitely worth it – I even had to turn on the stove but I didn’t mind because it was a simple “dump and heat” situation; don’t ask me to put something in a pan, do something with heat, and then put other things in the pan at different intervals. That is just too much.
5 1/2 cups (1 1/2 pounds) thinly sliced and diced carrots, peppers, and cukes
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1. Fill glass jars with chopped veg.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
3. Pour hot vinegar mixture into veggie jars; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
You’re welcome. Now make a list, go to the store and get your holiday weekend on.