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VOL. 38 | NO. 13 | Friday, March 28, 2014

Springtime yearning for fresh vegetables, grilling

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SPRINGTIME! Fresh vegetables will be here soon!

This weekend was busy. I had kids and grandkids here, and it was so much fun. Busy, but one fun moment after another.

My youngest granddaughter, Gwynn, 3, loves to help in the kitchen. She has a rolling step-stool I keep in the pantry, and she knows that every time we walk toward the kitchen, she can go get her step-stool and say, “I help you.” And help she does.

One thing I learned that I do in the kitchen is to “pop” eggs. That’s right. Have you ever stopped to think about it? We normally say we are “cracking the eggs,” which we do, but that doesn’t get the egg out of the shell – that just cracks the shell.

Gwynn says we have to “pop” the eggs after cracking to get the egg out. She is great at “popping” the eggs.

Cooking with kids is always fun – and quite an experience. We have to have both bacon and pancakes almost every morning when they are here. I supervise very little with this breakfast because the girls are very well-versed in making this particular one.

The most I do is turn the bacon while it is cooking, and pour the pancake batter on the griddle. They do most of the rest of it.

Cooking at grandma’s house is always a special treat. I remember always cooking at my Maw-maw Bouldon’s house. The other grandmother’s house, Maw-maw Smith, I didn’t cook at so much, but she did grow flowers that we loved, and she had a huge pecan tree, and so always had pecans readily available.

Maw-maw Smith always had such an interesting house, too. She loved greeting cards, and almost every one she’d ever received was hung on her walls or spread out on a tabletop somewhere. You could always spend hours just looking at the cards on her walls.

Grandparents’ houses are always fun and create such good memories when you get older.

Well, spring is finally here – at least it says so on the calendar. Although we have had a few cold spells here and there, we have had some beautiful sunny days, and they are just going to get better from here!

I made a trip to our local hardware store and bought a few flowers and plants. Not many because there are not many out yet, but it did temporarily fulfill my yearning to be outside and planting.

All the spring vegetables were out and ready to be planted, which got me to thinking about fresh, springtime foods. I’m pumped up about them now.

And one of the sandwiches I’m anxious to have when the fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes come in is a Caprese.

These are my very favorite; however, I know I’m going to have to wait a bit on those if I’m wanting vine-ripened, locally grown tomatoes.

But, it won’t be but a few months. The farmer’s markets will be opening and fresh tomatoes will be abundant!

In the meantime, if you’re like me, and you just can’t wait for those vine-ripened tomatoes, here’s a fresh salad recipe that’s good for springtime dining. It will get you out there on that grill, getting you even more anxious! Enjoy!

Grilled Pita and Pineapple Salad

1 pound of boned, skinned chicken breast

1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Half of a fresh pineapple

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves

1 tablespoon of fresh Rosemary, slightly diced

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

4 ounces of block feta cheese, broken into chunks

2 cups of halved grape tomatoes

1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives

3-4 fresh pita bread shells

Flaked sea salt

2 cups loosely packed baby arugula

Prepare your grill for high heat (450 to 550 degrees). You’ll know it’s ready when you can hold your hand five inches above the cooking grate for only two to four seconds.

Coat the chicken breasts with one tablespoon of oil and then cook them, turning once, until they’re no longer pink in the center and grill marks appear – about seven to eight minutes total. Let them rest for 10 minutes and then slice them.

Place the pineapple on the grill; grill them until they’re tender and grill marks appear on them. Cool and cut the pineapple into bite-size pieces.

Brush the pita bread lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle flaked sea salt onto it. Place the bread on the grill and grill it until it’s slightly crisp and grill marks are visible. Remove and cut into triangles. Set aside.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, oregano, rosemary, and pepper; set aside.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, drop in the asparagus, and cook it until it’s bright green – about two minutes. Drain and rinse the asparagus thoroughly with cold water to stop the cooking process, then cut the asparagus into bite-size pieces.

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, grilled pineapple, cheese, asparagus, tomatoes, and olives. Pour dressing over the mixture and toss gently to coat. Add arugula and toss once more to combine. Place on plate and arrange grilled pita triangles around the salad.

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