Summer Solstice with Sally (and Brunhilde) = Savory Satisfaction

21 Jun

Dear Emma,

Your cherry-rhubarb preserves look incredible – what a perfect favor for your guests!  When Nina and I had our love-ratification party, we gave everyone seed bombs – little packages of three clay-and-dirt balls with seeds inside which you can throw anywhere and flowers will sprout.  Unfortunately, we forgot to explain this to anyone, which is how my poor cousin Suzie ended up trying to eat one!  Yours look much more self-explanatory.  Looking forward to hearing all about your adventures in party planning.

Love and luck!


About one week from today last year, and the year before that, and the one before it, I get a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach that summer is passing and I haven’t been paying enough attention.

For today is that dependable day when the sun seems like it might spend the night. It’s still bright at 8:00 and by 9:00 twilight is still lingering and all the little children are giving their parents a hard time because the sun is still up and the big children are still outside yelling and running around and why can’t I?

Today is the summer solstice.

And so, in the desperation to cling to summer like there is no summer tomorrow, Nina and I sacrificed most of a perfectly good work day to create the ultimate homage to the longest day of the year: BBQ.

And not just BBQ…

also strawberry shortcake!

Here’s what we did:

BBQ Chicken

Nina can to take all the credit for this one because I am still too squeamish an ex-vegetarian to cook meat. Last time I tried cooking chicken I had a meltdown/tantrum and didn’t eat any dinner at all.  I am proud to say that this time I summoned the guts to smear the spice rub Nina prepared onto the meat, but if I’m going to accept credit for that, I should also admit that I named the chickens Sally and Brunhilde and they weren’t even whole chickens, just thighs.

The Rub

It's like spa day for the dead, a nice exfoliating rub.

Nina used all whole spices, which she ground with a mortar and pestle.  This is great, but powdered spices will also work fine.  Once the spices were ground, we smeared the rub evenly on each of four medium-sized chicken thighs.

Combine 1T of each of the following:
Chili Powder
Black Pepper
Mustard Seed (or just Dijon)

The Sauce

Once again, Nina made this from scratch. She used rice vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, ketchup, and a little BBQ sauce we had in the fridge. All in all, it came to about a cup of marinade.  If you’re trying this, just keep adding a little bit of each ingredient until you get some proportions that taste good to you.

Nina let the chicken sit with the rub on in a bowl in the fridge for about 15 minutes and then for another hour smothered in the sauce while she prepped the grill and finished some renaissance novel she’s been reading.

Brunhilde loves the luxurious mud bath.

Truth be told, our grill was pretty gnarly and, in spite of all of Nina’s ministrations, we were still leery of putting Sally and Brunhilde on those greasy wires.  So, tinfoil to the rescue!  Which, as it turned out, may have helped keep the chicken from drying out while it cooked for basically ever on the hot grill.

Juicy and just-past-pink inside.

Chicken is not something you really want to eat raw, even Sally and Brunhilde who got to play outside and eat bugs and things to make them healthy.  According to Nina, it can be hard to cook chicken on a grill and still get the same, juicy effect as you would in the oven.  Nina has some sort of magic power over chickens that keep them juicy, which she’ll have to explain to you all some other time, but she thought the tinfoil helped.

Oh yeah! The Brussels sprouts.

Succulent and fresh.

This was just awesome.  We cut up about two cups of Brussels sprouts into halves or quarters, trying to make all the pieces about the same size.  Then we stuck them in some tinfoil (which we greased to prevent sticking) with a generous sprinkling (really almost a dumping) of salt and pepper, as well as a drizzle of olive oil and one medium tomato, sliced.

The whole foil-wrapped package was placed on the hot grill for about 30 minutes, at which point the sprouts were a dark golden color and very tender.  The moisture from the tomato helped to steam the sprouts – the tomato was almost completely macerated by the time it was done.

But wait!  It gets better.

The sprouts would have been great just like this, but Nina took it to the next level by smothering them in a yogurt mint sauce.  Yogurt and mint and chives and pepper.  The end.  Simple enough, and it added a lovely, summery fresh balance to the meal.


This whole episode was actually part 2 of a summer-lovin’ adventure that started at the pick-your-own strawberry farm in Western Ontario last week where Nina and I picked something like 16 quarts of fat, red strawberries, most of which are now strawberry balsamic jam.

My first attempt at canning! Still tinkering with the recipe...we'll keep you posted.

The rest of them went into one pie, and the most delicious of all strawberry treats save the one Zoe made for us (a blog post about which is forthcoming): strawberry shortcake.

it's incredible that you can get so much yumminess for so little effort.

First I baked a half batch of Jess’ insane buttermilk biscuits (which really are as easy to make as she says).  Then, we cooked 2 cups of strawberries with 2T brown sugar and 1t pure vanilla extract until the berries were hot and the sugar melted.  As we didn’t have any whipping cream, we substituted greek-style plain yogurt, which I think is even better.  Biscuit. Berries. Dollop of yogurt. Fork. Mouth. Mmmmmmmm.

Having done all this, I am now desperate to continue savoring summer with other savory concoctions.  What would you sup for solstice?  Let us know, and we’ll try it out!


2 Responses to “Summer Solstice with Sally (and Brunhilde) = Savory Satisfaction”

  1. Jess June 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I do hope Sally and Brunhilde were as delicious as this sounds. Alas, i still haven’t succumbed to meat-eatery and won’t be trying them. But the rest sounds delicious! Makes me want to BBQ. It is in the low 60s and rainy here though, so maybe next week…

    I love you!

    • Robin June 27, 2011 at 12:15 am #

      Made the biscuits and warmed the fresh strawberries from the Farmer’s Market. You’re right, vanilla yogurt was better than whipped cream! A fine dessert. Thanks for all these tips!

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