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Fired up for summer

By Staff | Jun 8, 2018

Garden-fresh cucumber and tomato salad uses a variety of goods from the garden including peppers.


GRIT Magazine

When warm weather rolls around, you can often find me enjoying any type of activity that involves being outdoors, and this includes cooking. I’ve been stuck inside all winter, so I’m ready to spend as much time outside as possible. Why not take the kitchen with me?

Growing up, my friends and I would spend most of our summer weekends camping and cooking hot dogs and s’mores in a spot hidden among the cedars on my parents’ property. As we grew older and the adults found out just how cool our camping spot was, everyone started to join in, which made for even more fun. This meant we had to up the ante on our campfire cuisine, though.

My uncle, a handy blacksmith and avid cast-iron collector, quickly got us set up with a few campfire cooking basics: He fashioned two posts and a crossbar to place over the firepit, to hang a Dutch oven, and he donated an extensive collection of hot dog forks he made over the years, along with a cooking grate on which to set a coffee pot and my trusty cast-iron skillet.

South-of-the-border burgers put a twist on the traditional hamburger with chipotle pepper sauce.

For my 18th birthday, he gave me a commemorative edition Lewis and Clark Lodge Dutch oven and a few handmade cooking tools. I couldn’t have been happier. We spent many happy campouts dishing up burgers, beans, and awesome cobblers.

Even though everyone has their own busy schedules these days, we still make it a point to head out to our camping spot once or twice a year to sleep under the stars and cook up some of our favorite foods. Most other evenings, you can find us grilling in the backyard, enjoying the night air and the great company.

If you’re looking to cook up some delicious outdoor grub this summer, the recipes that follow will help you get started in the right direction.

South-of-the-border burgers

Yields 6 servings.

2 pounds ground bison or lean ground beef

3 tablespoons chipotle pepper sauce, divided

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 slices pepper jack or Monterey Jack cheese

6 hamburger buns

6 slices red onion

6 slices tomatoes

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into slices

6 leaves lettuce

Prepare grill.

In large bowl, combine ground meat, 2 tablespoons pepper sauce, and salt, and mix well. Shape into 6 patties.

In small bowl, combine mayonnaise and remaining pepper sauce, and mix well; set aside.

Grill patties over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Place cheese slices on burgers, and continue cooking just until cheese melts.

Spread mayonnaise mixture on each cut side of buns. Top each bottom bun with burger, onion slice, tomato slice, avocado slice, and lettuce leaf. Cover with bun tops.

Note: Try additional toppings, such as crispy bacon, sauted red onions, or sliced pickles.

Rustic grilled potatoes

Yields 4 servings.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 large russet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

Prepare grill.

In large bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add potato slices and turn to coat.

Grill potatoes over medium heat for 16 to 18 minutes, or until cooked through and nicely browned, turning once.

Carefully place wedges in serving dish, and allow to cool slightly before serving with your favorite condiments.

Garden-fresh cucumber and tomato salad

Yields 4 servings.

2 medium-large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup thinly sliced red or white onion

2 Roma tomatoes, cubed

2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill

1 cup sour cream

4 teaspoons salsa seasoning mix, such as McCormicks or Olde Westport Border Bandito’s Salsa Spice Blend, optional

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper, optional

Finely chopped jalapeno, optional

Thinly sliced radish, optional

Salt and black pepper, to taste

In large bowl with lid, combine cucumber, onion, tomatoes, dill, and sour cream. Stir in salsa seasoning mix, bell pepper, jalapeno, and radish, if using. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow flavors to blend.

Note: Other types of tomatoes can be used in place of Roma, but be sure to drain them well in a colander, or the sauce will be too thin.

Three-pepper beef kabobs

Yields 6 to 8 servings.

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano leaves

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/4 pounds boneless top sirloin steak, 1 inch thick, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 to 2 medium green, red or yellow bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 to 2 white or red onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

24 large mushrooms, optional

Prepare grill.

In large bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, water, mustard, honey, oregano, and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Add beef, mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion, and toss to coat.

Alternately thread beef, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms, if using, onto four 12-inch metal skewers.

Place kabobs on grill over medium heat. Grill, uncovered, for to desired doneness, about 9 to 12 minutes for medium-rare to medium, turning occasionally.

Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Note: You can use wooden skewers instead of metal, but soak them in a pan of water for 20 minutes before threading ingredients.

Skillet flat bread

Yields 6 servings.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Olive oil

Pepper, to taste

In large bowl, mix flour, water, and salt together to form dough that sticks together but is flaky and dry to the touch.

Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead for 1 to 2 minutes.

Roll dough into 6-inch log, and cut into 1-inch slices.

With floured rolling pin, roll out slices very thin. Set aside.

Heat cast-iron skillet on grill over medium heat until hot. Add a little olive oil and swirl over bottom.

Add dough rounds, one at a time, and cook until edges have hardened and bubbles form in center, about 60 to 70 seconds. Flip, and cook other side for same amount of time.

Remove from skillet, and season with additional sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Stack flatbread on plate until ready to serve. Serve hot.

Honey-lemon scones

Yields 8 servings.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lemon verbena leaves

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Rake out thin layer of hot coals. Place 12-inch Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet with lid on top, and cover lid with layer of coals. Allow to heat while assembling ingredients.

In large bowl, mix together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans and lemon verbena leaves.

In small bowl, whisk together egg, honey, yogurt, lemon juice, and vanilla.

Make well in center of dry ingredients, and pour honey mixture into well. Mix until soft dough forms.

Remove lid from oven or skillet. Coat cooking vessel with nonstick cooking spray or oil. With floured hands, carefully pat dough into oven or skillet. Score top into 8 pie-shaped wedges. Replace lid. Add more coals if needed.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until scones are lightly browned. (Check often so they don’t burn.) Remove scones with tongs, and set aside to cool slightly. Serve warm with additional honey drizzled over the top, if desired.

Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit “http://www.grt.com”>www.grt.com or call (866) 624-9388 to subscribe.

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