When one reaches a certain age, the excitement over Christmas presents diminishes somewhat. It truly becomes a situation of it being better to give than to receive. That’s where we are. We lavished (as much as two people on fixed incomes can) gifts on our children and grandchildren, and enjoyed the glow of their happiness.
We have wonderful children who are raising wonderful children of their own. They were both thoughtful and generous in the gifts that they gave us. One son gave us a dinner at a small cafe in the city because he knows that we love going into Chicago and discovering out-of-the-way places to eat. The other son knew that one of the things we’ve missed most with our smaller home is grilling out. If you’ve been following my adventures over the last year or so, you know that grilling is our cooking method of choice much of the time. So imagine our delight at receiving a small grill from him for Christmas.
While this grill is small, it gives us a platform to resume our favored cooking method. It meets the guidelines for the complex we live in and has ample space to grill enough food to feed two people very well. We’ve used this more than a few times since we’ve received it. Steaks and turkey tenderloin have turned out well, even though my husband, Jeff is virtually cooking in the dark. (note to self…buy a lantern or some kind of outdoor light source).
Our latest team effort was some wonderful pork steak. I created a smoky rub and Jeff worked his magic on the grill. In what turned out to be a genius touch, I topped each steak with Apple Cinnamon Goat Cheese. It added another dimension to the pork steak and complimented the smokey rich meat beautifully. This is most likely a seasonal item at Trader Joe’s that will be gone by the time I get back there, but there’s always next year.
As we get a better feel for what the grill is capable of, we’ll expand our grilling repertoire to include side dishes. For now, the oven has been a marvelous platform for healthy sides. A recent salad that tweaked the summer favorite, Panzanella is the perfect case in point. We’ve been having a serious love affair with roasted brussels sprouts. We often roast them to golden goodness with bacon, but a new year and a return to healthier choices caused me to choose red onions and colored bell peppers instead. They didn’t miss the bacon, and honestly, neither did we. Panzanella is after all, bread salad, so bread had to join the fun. I opted for some sour dough that had seen fresher days. Cubed and lightly coated with olive oil spray it was helped along by a quick toast in the oven, to get ready to absorb the bounty to come. A simple vinaigrette with white balsamic and lemon juice was a perfect partner. Some mini heirloom tomatoes were tossed in to give it a touch of the traditional panzanella. The result was a side that perfectly complimented the grilled pork.This turned out so well that I plan to create other panzanella salads this winter. There are lots of veggies and many varieties of bread out there that would undoubtedly love to get together in a salad bowl.
Try this basic recipe and come up with your own bread salad. One can’t live by bread alone, but it does make life more delicious.