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Simply easy and light grilling

July 12, 2011
By Wendy Monro - Food Writer , The Journal

This morning, I had four things on my to do list: write my article, fold my huge mountain of laundry, weed my garden, and clean Mustard's this order.

Perhaps cleaning Mustard's infected ear should have been first on the list. Mustard is my dog; and, he hates having his ear cleaned. Afterward, I would end it all with a bath.

I sat here staring at my blank computer screen for about fifteen minutes before I decided to move on to Facebook. No, Facebook isn't even on my list. I know! However, I had no idea what to write. It's difficult to go back to your usual life when something tragic takes place which alters your whole existence. How do I just go on with writing about food? It seems trivial. Fa la la la la, I'm cooking this and I'm cooking that. It does not seem right.

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Submitted Photo

The grilled skewers are pictured here.

So, off to Facebook I went to see what everyone else was doing and writing about. I posted a few pictures, found an old high school friend, talked with my daughter, Ella, about her planned trip to fly out here from England in two weeks (I cannot wait to have her here with us).

Then, I came across a beautiful post Melanie Lemmer wrote, "Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart..." Oh yes, a normal day! I need to appreciate this for the blessing that it is. I am so lucky to have this normal day...a day to get all of my normal activities finished. I decided to switch up the order of my list. I wasn't ready to write. Instead, I went outside for some gardening therapy.

Some people run or walk, others fish or hunt. Many people compose or paint. Heck, some people actually go to a therapist for their therapy. All I have to do is put on some old shorts and tank top. I throw on a hat, sun block, and bug spray. I grab my spade and gloves and head out to the sanctuary I call my garden. I was surprised at the state of things when I arrived. I have ignored my garden for a while and boy did the weeds take advantage of my absence. I had a hard time seeing some of the plants at all. This is kind of how my head felt today when I stared at my computer without a clear thought of what to write.

Fact Box

Chicken and sausage skewers

Yield: 8 skewers

time: 30 minutes

2 chicken breasts (or thighs) cut into cubes

4 Andalusian sausages, sliced

2 zucchinis sliced fairly thin and chopped into about one inch pieces

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

cup balsamic vinegar

cup olive oil

Soak the skewers for at least an hour. Place the chicken cubes onto the skewer, followed by a sausage and then the zucchini. Continue this process to fill the skewer. In a bowl, mix the garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Pour this over the skewers. Marinate for an hour or up to 24 hours. Cook on a medium high grill turning occasionally until the chicken pieces are completely cooked (about 15 minutes).

Shrimp and zucchini skewers

Yield: 8 skewers

time: 30 minutes

24 large shrimp

24 thin ribbons of zucchini

cup olive oil

teaspoon chili flakes

tablespoon basil, cut into ribbons

salt and pepper to taste

cup olive oil

Soak the skewers for at least an hour prior to preparation. Alternate shrimp and zucchini ribbons (weaving them around the shrimp). Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour this marinade over the skewers, cover and marinade for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. Grill the skewers on medium high heat for about five minutes, turning occasionally (until the shrimp are completely cooked).

Shallot and herb potato salad

Serves: 8

Time: 45 minutes

4 pounds red potatoes

cup dry white wine

cup olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chives, chopped

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

While the potatoes cook, combine the shallots and red wine vinegar into a small bowl and let them soak. In a large bowl, pour in cooked potatoes that were cut into thin, small pieces. In another small bowl, combine the white wine, olive oil, chives, and Dijon. Pour the shallots and vinegar over the potatoes. Pour the dressing over the potatoes. Mix together well. Add salt and pepper.

No problem, I was up to the challenge. I took it one plant at a time. I tried not to think of it as a huge problem. Instead, it was a bunch of small manageable problems. I cleared an area around each plant and soon enough, everything looked pretty healthy again. It took me a couple of hours to get it done. I poured with sweat and was completely covered in dirt. I loved it!! Walking out of the garden, I felt a lot better. My head felt clearer.

The bath that was supposed to come at the end of the list needed to come next. Seriously, there was no other option. So, I soaked and cleaned off the dirt and contemplated my normal day. Sometimes, you just have to move forward with the simple stuff while appreciating how lucky you are to have the normal days. Slowly but surely, day by day, (hopefully) a sense of normalcy will come back. So, I decided to continue doing what I normally do.

I love to cook and to write. It's not trivial. Suddenly, things came into focus. I needed to cook something. I decided to come up with something simple and easy for us to eat. I wanted a great way to end this beautiful, simple, sunny day. I made skewers for the grill as well as a light potato salad. It's so easy to throw a few things onto skewers and to grill them up. It looks fancy; but instead, it is just simple and delicious. We sat out on the deck and ate dinner watching the sun set over the lake. We did not talk much; we just soaked it all in. When our tummies were full and the day was ending, I was ready to write again.

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