We’re really getting a taste of spring around here now with our temps moving up from the mid to upper 60’s on Saturday to the low 80’s tomorrow and for the foreseeable future…whhaaaat???? Am I living in Florida? Pinch myself…nope, still in Atlanta. Whoa, that’s more like early summer!
Anyway, the birds are returning and the bees are buzzing, and all this activity resulted in some rather demonic energy on my part last weekend.
Since the day dawned a bit warmish, it put me in the mood to make sorbet out of fruit I’d had in the fridge for a while, allowing me to use up some buttermilk in the process. So my first endeavor was this strawberry-orange buttermilk sorbet with Grand Marnier from one of my very early blog posts, and you can see that recipe here. I like to have it in the freezer when it’s warm out for a nice, fresh and tasty little dessert.
Next, as it was past time to tend to my poor neglected little raised bed organic garden, I headed outside to inspect, replenish and turn my soil. My little garden sits just below our back deck and is approximately 5 x 8 feet with an inset to reach the different areas. The little garden manages to provide us with some herbage and greens year round, and struggles a bit with other veggies I test in it. The pictures below explain a lot…this is about as much sun as it ever gets…and the trees haven’t even filled in yet! Yep, surrounded by 100 foot tall pines and poplar understory…not a terribly veggie friendly place for a garden, but still, I try.
It’s warm enough here now to direct seed some things, so once I’d awakened my earthworms and given them a little more compost, I planted some French Filet bush beans, some arugula, thyme and flat leaf parsley. One of my nice neighbors leaned over the fence and offered me some extra small cabbage and collard plants that he couldn’t use (they have a wide open sunny spot that I’m quite jealous of), so I planted them on the shadier side in the hope that they will muddle through. My seeds need all the sun they can get.
Then, as this time of year often conjures memories of our spring honeymoon in Greece, I began to think of Greek flavors and decided to go to the store for some supplies and whip up my favorite marinade for some veggies and chops to put on the grill for dinner. And since no Greek flavors are complete to me without some tzatziki to go along with, I made it, as well.
This marinade is so simple. It can be used for vegetables on the grill, pork, chicken, and of course, fresh fish. Some version or variation of this is always my first thought for a quick marinade, and it’s made from things I usually have on hand, including the fresh herbs…oregano, marjoram and thyme, which winter over in pots on the back deck.
I made extra veggies for a veggie lasagna the next day, then I didn’t get to it, so instead we had them with pita and tzatziki for Sunday’s dinner…and with the filling baby portobello mushrooms that were part of the mix, it made for some mighty good eats.
The veggie kabobs and two nice, local pork loin chops were grilled over medium high heat, with the kabobs situated on the cooler part of the grill and the chops in the middle. Turn your veggies periodically and watch them closely, and turn the chops once or twice. We removed our chops when they were medium well done (about 15-20 minutes on our grill) and let them rest for 5 minutes covered with foil before serving.
As we sat out on the deck enjoying the fruits of a good day’s labor with a nice glass of wine and some sorbet for dessert, I felt that sense of renewal that spring always brings. The warmth, the blossoms, the longer days, the energy, gardening and the grill…that thing about spring…I just love it!
Greek marinade for meats or veggies
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or a mixture of oregano and marjoram (I like the mix)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together. Divide evenly amongst the items you wish to marinate, coat them well, seal them in a ziplock bag or a bowl, and allow them to sit in the marinade for at least 2-3 hours, turning or stirring a couple of times. Terrific for grilling!
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt, I use Fage
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small cucumber, peeled, split vertically and seeded
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
(Note: you can add a tiny pinch of dill to this if you like the extra flavor boost and the extra color…I usually don’t, but I had it both ways in Greece)
Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Stir in the olive oil until completely combined, then season to taste with black pepper. Grate the cucumber into the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate 2 hours. Serve alongside pork, veggies, roasted potatoes or as a dip with pita.