Memorial Day BBQ Ribs

We’re a day late in wishing everyone a happy Memorial Day, but it’s never too late to reflect on what this holiday is all about — a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of our nation. When I was thinking about what to write that could somehow adequately express the gratitude we feel to those who selflessly serve in our military, I remembered a profound occasion that Dan and I witnessed in an airport several years ago. We arrived for a very early morning flight and found that most of the people flying out of our terminal that day were men and women in uniform.  I had never seen that many military personnel in one place before.  I don’t know what branch of the military they were in, nor do I know where they were headed. But they were clearly being deployed somewhere significant.

Airport security relaxed the usual procedures and allowed loved ones to accompany the departing service members beyond the security lines and x-ray machines to the terminal gates. We saw mothers and fathers proudly yet anxiously escorting young men who seemed barely out of high school.  Then there were couples, one parent in uniform and holding a baby or small child, the other alongside struggling not to cry. We also saw a few soldiers sitting alone, which was heartbreaking to me without knowing their stories and why no one was there to give them a proper send-off.  It was a truly humbling and unforgettable experience.  What Dan and I will always remember most from that morning at the airport is seeing those men and women about to embark on a journey that we realized was more than we could ever possibly comprehend in terms of commitment, duty and potential sacrifice.  We humbly say thank you to the people we saw that day and all the men and women of the armed forces who devote themselves to serving our country, especially those who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

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Beef Kebabs and Noodles

As we have mentioned previously, we often enjoy grilling meat in kebab form, especially in the spring and summer.  It’s relatively easy, looks cool and allows you to cook the meat to uniform done-ness (technical grilling term.)  We found this kebab recipe in The New Grilling Book by Better Homes and Gardens, which is a great cookbook in terms of volume and variety of recipes.  Not all the recipes we’ve tried have been hits, but several have been quite good, and we certainly won’t run out of new ones to try any time soon.  This kebab recipe is one of the better ones we’ve tried.  We especially like how it incorporates the starch, veggies and protein into a single dish.

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Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Last weekend, we traveled to Atlanta to attend our first-ever food blogger conference.  We had a great time, met some wonderful people (including our Charcutepalooza heroes and new friends!) and learned a thing or two along the way.  All in all, it was a successful trip that made us appreciate this community of bloggers that our little hobby has led us to join.  One of the highlights of our visit was an excursion to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, the oldest public market in Atlanta.

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BBQ Chicken Salad (with leftover chicken)

This recipe is one of our favorite uses of leftover chicken, especially for lunch.  It doesn’t necessarily sound like it would be as good as it is (nor does it photograph particularly well), but it’s a tangy and creative twist on the typical mayo-based chicken salad.  And it has a chipotle pepper in it, which adds a nice smoky / spicy flavor.  In addition to being delicious, it is really easy to make with just a few ingredients.

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Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables with Spicy Thai Basil Sauce

This is yet another recipe from our much-loved “Best 30-Minute Recipe” cookbook.  We mention the cookbook often because we use it All. The. Time.  In addition to all of its other wonderful cooking tips and taste offerings, the book has an entire chapter called “Mix and Match Stir-Fries” with several different stir-fry recipes and sauces to cook in various combinations — genius.  As much as we enjoy ordering take-out from our favorite local Chinese restaurant, we also find it very satisfying (and probably a tad more healthy) to cook an authentic-tasting Asian meal at home.

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Homemade Chorizo

Another month has gone by and that means a new Charcutepalooza post.  This month’s challenge is grinding — more specifically, Breakfast Sausage patties, Merguez or Mexican Chorizo.  We decided to make Chorizo because we have an excellent black bean soup recipe that calls for Chorizo.  As a bonus, we also decided to grind our own meat for a bolognese sauce.  Of the Charcutepalooza challenges so far, this one was relatively easy (the KitchenAid attachment does most of the work), but also one of the furthest from our comfort zones.  Handling raw meat is not something to be taken lightly.  As always, we thank Charcutepalooza organizers Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy for inspiring us to embark on new and interesting endeavors in the kitchen.

I’ll just go ahead say what some of you (and you know who you are) are probably thinking — a post about meat grinding obviously has great potential for jokes and innuendo of the “that’s what she said” variety.  But I’m going to keep it clean, so feel free to insert your own (See? It already started.)

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Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

I’ve mentioned before that I’m always on the hunt for good side dishes that are different than our usual rice, potatoes or pasta (not that there’s anything wrong with those.) When looking for something to go with a fish dish, I found a couple of recipes using quinoa, a whole grain that we had never previously cooked, eaten or even knew existed.  If you’ve never had it before either, it’s actually pronounced “keen-wa,” not “kin-o-ah,” something I did not discover until I saw the helpful pronunciation on the package and had repeatedly mis-pronounced it.  We combined elements from several recipes and ended up with a pretty interesting side dish (don’t you hate it when people describe food as “interesting”  — what does that mean?  Good?  Terrible?  “Interesting” could describe either one.)

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