Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

About a week ago, we started talking about what to have for Memorial Day, grilling out never mentioned and taken for granted. We arrived at grilled clams as a starter with burgers and potato salad. And I had a surprise in mind for the kids.

This Memorial Day was a delightful day and we spent most of the day outside, the late afternoon hours when the temperature headed for 90 excepted. I started in the morning with the dogs on the patio for an hour before everyone else was up. And then Ann joined me just as I had poured our coffee. There is something incredibly peaceful about sitting in the back yard watching what will be seen while sipping coffee and relaxing in the incredible luxury of a Monday totally without work, something that almost never happens at our house.

And there is much to be seen in our back yard for those who will see. This weekend's sights included a six-foot black rat snake sunning on the patio, the Cooper's Hawk making multiple passes up and down the tree line looking for birds, Robins sitting on their nest in the arbor, the tiniest of Chipping Sparrows trilling and buzzing, penstemon in its full purple glory, fuzzy green dill plants growing like weeds, and bridal veil spirea with their cascades of snowy white blooms.

As Ann and I were finishing up our coffee and long before expected, Carter made an unusual early morning appearance to help me install new vintage-looking café-style string lights in place of the old rope lights that I put in 4-5 years ago. I know that the birds nesting in the pergola were very happy when we finished. After hanging the lights and working in the yard a bit, as the sun got up, we went inside and while Carter disappeared with his friends, we started prepping for dinner: hamburger fixings, potato salad, and a tomato-bacon topping for grilled clams.

Grilled Clams with Tomatoes and Bacon
Carter and his friends returned about 4:30 and so we kicked off the grilling early knowing that we had ravenous teenagers on our hands. I started by putting these clams on the grill, figuring that Ann and I could munch on them while the kids devoured burgers. We figured they wouldn't touch clams and we were right.

Grilling Clams
To grill clams, after soaking and rinsing the clams to rid them of sand, place them directly on the grill and they will open soon enough, in four to seven minutes. Discard any that do not open after this time. I removed them to a platter to cool and then Ann took charge of pulling off the top shells and detaching the clams from their lower shells and placing them back in their shells. Over this, I drizzled a mix of diced grape tomato, fine bits of crispy bacon, and red onion, dressed with a little melted butter, a little bacon grease, and a good splash of Sherry vinegar.

Bacon Cheeseburger, Potato Salad

Burger Fixings

Now That's a Cheeseburger

Red Potatoes, Herbs, Bacon, and Sour Cream
I made a big bowl of potato salad at Ann's request by mixing diced, still warm red potatoes with green onions, chives, parsley, bacon, and sour cream. This is about as good a potato salad as exists. There are other good ones, but bacon and sour cream is the best. I can't eat much of it because the sour cream really bothers me, but it tastes amazing.

Ann's Soba
Carter's girlfriend of the moment eats mainly vegan on advice of her doctor so Ann was kind enough to make her a big bowl of soba noodles. This I could eat all day, it is that good.

Strawberry Gelato
And finally as an especial treat for the kids, I made strawberry gelato, rich, dense, not very sweet, and vivid strawberry. It is the simplest recipe with four ingredients only: two quarts of strawberries, hulled and blended with the juice of a half a lemon and a scant cup of sugar. To this, add milk and/or cream to bring the total volume to a half a gallon.

It was another great Memorial Day, kicking off the summer on the patio and the grill.

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