The “Eat More Vegetables” Campaign: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Mozzarella and Golden Raisins

True Confessions: I’m always looking for ways to get the Grill-Meister to eat more vegetables. I like the challenge.

The latest effort was this salad with grilled vegetables and fresh mozzarella “pearls” on a bed of romaine, tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a surprise ingredient – golden raisins. It got the Grill-Meister’s Seal of Approval, a certification that is quite difficult to attain when vegetables are involved!

Here’s how to do it.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Mozzarella and Golden Raisins

Makes 6-8 servings as a side dish, 4 as a vegetarian main course

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh zucchini, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 fresh yellow squash, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced longways, in about 1 1/2 inch widths
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds and separated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, in all
  • 1 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella “pearls”
  • 2 cups sliced or torn romaine
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • optional garnishes: 1 green onion, thinly sliced, 1 tsp chopped parsley

Cooking Instructions

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.  Toss the vegetables in a medium bowl with 1 TBSP of the olive oil, then grill for 3-4 minutes per side until the vegetables have nice grill marks but are still nicely al dente. Return the vegetables to the bowl and toss the with the remaining tbsp of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, garlic and golden raisins. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and let the vegetables rest until they are room temperature, then add in the mozzarella pearls.

Distribute the romaine across an attractive serving platter, then place the grilled vegetable / mozzarella mixture on top. Add a little more pepper and garnish with the green onions and parsley.
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The Grill-Meister was amazed that he liked this, and especially amazed that it would be good at room temperature (he was expecting the grilled vegetables to be served hot as per usual). The sweetness of the golden raisins and the balsamic vinegar are a perfect foil for the earthiness of the grilled vegetables and garlic, and the crunch of the romaine alongside the creamy mozzarella pearls provides a nice textural balance. This dish is a easy stunner.

And one more thing: you can dress it up to be a main course by adding slices of grilled chicken, or if you’re going vegetarian, slices of grilled tofu or portobello mushrooms.

In pictures:

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Get nice grill marks on the vegetables
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Put the grilled vegetables back in a bowl for tossing
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Add the vinegar, oil, raisins and garlic while the vegetables are still warm
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This salad is a beautiful side dish or vegetarian main…
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…and a healthy side for a rich pasta course like the Spaghetti Carbonara we had that night

© 2018 Glover Gardens

A Mother’s Poem on Mothers’ Day

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the very best thing
that i ever did
was to procreate
(to have a kid)

the world is different
and much more real
my investment’s bigger
(a serious deal)

i watch in awe as
his life gathers steam
he acts on his instincts
(follows his dream)

no words can capture
the simple pure joy
i feel as a parent
(the mom of this boy)

enormous blessings
i take from his youth
he shows me new worlds
(unexpected truths)

the very best thing
that i ever did
was to procreate
(to have a kid)

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© 2018 Glover Gardens

New Orleans, the Kentucky Derby and a Boozy Bourbon Milk Punch

The Kentucky Derby is today. It seems to always coincide with the last weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which seems to always be the weekend that we choose to go. I’ve seen the annual “Run for the Roses” on a bar TV in New Orleans more times than I can remember, usually from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. Even though the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail is the mint julep, the libation of choice for the Grill-Meister and me is the Bourbon Milk Punch. It is lusciously, sinfully rich – a milkshake for grownups.

This year, we’re not at the Jazz Fest and we won’t be enjoying a cool, creamy Bourbon Milk Punch while watching the Kentucky Derby, but these things remain on our Replay List to enjoy again in the future. Read more about it and get the recipe for Bourbon Milk Punch here – and remember, one is enough!

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These boozy, grown-up milkshakes can accompany an afternoon snack

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While we’re on the topic of horse-racing, I heard a great story about the only Texas horse to win the Triple Crown on NPR /Texas Public Radio yesterday. Read it here: Remembering Assault, The Only Texas Horse To Win The Triple Crown.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

April in Paris: Museum of Montmartre and Renoir’s Gardens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApril in Paris is glorious, and that’s why there are songs about it.

And poetry, books, movies, operas, plays, drawings, photography, sculpture, tapestries and just about any other art form you can think of.

And blog posts, like this one.

IMG_2858I found the Musée de Montmartre & Jardins Renoir (Museum of Montmartre and Renoir’s Gardens) last April. I loved it so much that I went back in October and took a friend.

Located just down the street from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, it puts you square into the history of Montmartre in the “Belle Epoque” period (1870-1914) or Golden Age. The museum and gardens throb with a creative, imaginative and harmonious aesthetic that must be been the inspiration for the numerous artists and writers who lived and worked there in the era of impressionism.

From the web site:

These residences, surrounded by gardens, housed the workshops and ateliers of numerous artists such as Auguste Renoir, Émile Bernard, Raoul Dufy, Charles Camoin, Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo. The writers Pierre Reverdy and Léon Bloy also resided here, as well as the sculptor Demetrius Galanis. It is here that Julien François Tanguy, otherwise known as Père Tanguy, one of the first collectors of impressionist paintings practiced his trade as an art supplies dealer.

The museum is excellent, with really interesting exhibits throughout the charming and small rooms of the buildings. In addition to the artwork in the permanent collection, homage is paid to the cabaret, Le Chat Noir and the Moulin Rouge with artifacts and multimedia, including the history of the can-can in films. The bar below is a typical “zinc bar,” so-called because the tops of the bars were made from zinc.

The grounds are full of old stone walls and steps, inviting arches and passages that lead you from verdant terraced courtyards to flower gardens. I spent almost two hours just wandering around outside. It is an incredibly peaceful and yet stimulating setting.

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Montmartre is situated at the highest point in Paris, and there are wonderful views of the city from the windows of the museum buildings and the back gardens.

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But wait, there’s more! During the time Renoir’s studio was here, he painted The Swing.

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The swing is still there. I found that really cool.

Renoir's Swing

There is so much more to this museum than I’ve shared with you today. Hundreds of paintings are in the permanent collection and special exhibits bring Montmartre alive. You walk in thinking of it as the Montmartre of today, with the funicular and famous steps that take you up the hill, the unmistakable hulking white buildings of Sacré-Cœur, and the artists and shops in the square. You leave understanding the soul of the place.

I fell in love with the Musée de Montmartre in the springtime, came back in the fall, and hope to go back and see it in the summer. It is a glorious way to spend an afternoon in Paris.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

Leftover Steak Makes an Easy but Sophisticated Sandwich

We had a lotta leftover steak recently, because we tried this recipe from the Food Network’s show, The Kitchen. It involves huge porterhouse steaks, a cast iron skillet, and a unique method. Our foodie-senses were intrigued when we saw this, and we just had to make it.

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Photo from the Food Network

It was good, but more work – and more food – than we anticipated. The instructions called for porterhouse steaks that were 2″ – 2 1/2″ thick, so of course I went for the thickest (wouldn’t you?). The butcher thought I was crazy.  Turns out, he was right! And in looking at the picture above from the Food Network, there’s no way that’s a 2″ steak or bigger.

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A 2 1/2″ thick porterhouse is a huge steak at about 3 1/2 lbs. (each)
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We didn’t have a cast iron skillet that was big enough for both steaks, so we had to use two. Geez!

I gave up the idea of getting photos mid-recipe because it was a bit overwhelming; just suffice it to say that we had steak for days. Steak salad, steak quesadillas, steak burritos, steak tostadas and steak sandwiches. (Did I say it was a lotta steak?)

Well, Gentle Reader, in this Steak Week Odyssey, the steak sandwich was the best. Sautéed onions and jalapeños enhanced the flavor of the steak, and we dressed the sandwiches with ripe red tomato, fresh mint from our herb garden, and shreds of crisp raw cabbage, serving them on onion rolls. Double-Yum! Creating this Steak Sandwich for 2 recipe more than made up for the somewhat disappointing experience of the original steak dinner.

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It wasn’t just tasty, it was pretty!

Steak Sandwiches for Two

Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb. of leftover steak, cut in very thin slices
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (I used part red and part yellow)
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, sliced (leaving in the ribs and seeds for the heat unless that doesn’t work for you)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 ripe tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded raw cabbage
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, sliced in ribbons
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 onion rolls
  • optional condiments of your choice – I used stone ground mustard

Cooking Instructions

In a medium skillet, sauté the sliced onions and jalapeños in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Heat the steak briefly to warm it without overcooking it; the microwave is fine for this. Try 1-2 minutes on half power. Assemble the sandwiches on warm onion rolls or other buns of your choice by starting with the steak on the bottom, adding freshly ground pepper, then the sautéed onions and jalapeños, then the tomatoes, cabbage and mint.


This sandwich was delightfully easy, with a very sophisticated taste. The crunch of the fresh cabbage and brightness of the mint were the perfect compliment to the juicy earthiness of the onions and steak. Pair it with potato salad and a quick black bean salad for an easy weeknight meal whenever you’re wondering what to do with leftover steak from the weekend’s barbecuing. Here’s a recipe for the black bean salad.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Turtle Friendships and Another Spring Haiku

Nature is restoring me this spring in a way I didn’t even know I needed. Everything seems brighter, fresher, more vibrant than usual. Haiku time!

joy in: new green leaves
sun-sparkles on spring grasses
April’s waxing moon

Or perhaps the difference is me; maybe I am getting more in tune and responsive to the remarkable beauty and balance that surrounds us.

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Anyway, these turtles at Lady Bird Lake in Austin tickled me, reminding me of the phrase,

I’ve got your back!

Literally. Don’t they just look like the two on the sides are comforting the pal in the middle, patting him or her on the back? I watched them for quite a while, and they didn’t move away from each other. Just three turtle friends hanging out in the late afternoon, watching the kayakers go by.

Life is good.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

A Swan Song

Well, not really a song, but a haiku.

I told you in my Earth Day post that I saw some marvelous creatures alongside Lady Bird Lake in Austin. I was alone with my camera in this beautiful setting for a couple of hours, and it was glorious. Mindfulness was easy; my soul was fed by the natural setting.

I think a group of swans did a performance just for me. As I stood and watched, they changed direction, got in position, and swam by in a line. #Awesome. #Haiku-worthy. #Serendipity.

statuesque splendor
swans sailing smoothly past me
synchronicity

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Earth Day 2018, Part Two

This is the second of two Earth Day posts.

I think Earth Day is a cool thing to celebrate. Way cooler than, say, National Jelly Bean Day, which is also today. Who thinks that’s a good idea???!!!

My first Earth Day post today was all sunshine, swans and squirrels, but earth day is about more than loving nature.

main-logoEarth Day reminds me that our world is fragile and needs care, and that I should be an agent for positive change.

This year’s focus for the Earth Day Network is ending plastic pollution. They have a great site; I learned a lot about the size of the problem.  Here’s one example:

Scientists predict that if nothing changes in our plastic consumption habits, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight).

That’s bad.  How to help:

  1. Reduce your consumption of plastics.
  2. Properly recycle the plastic you use.
  3. Remove plastic that is already in the environment.

If you’re interested, there are lots of great suggestions about how to do those three things in the Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit. The very first thing I’m going to do is to always, always, always use reusable bags when shopping.  Easy-peasy! And I’ll be taking many other steps now that I’m aware of enormity of the plastic pollution problem, like finding products that aren’t in plastic bottles or containers.

Don’t get me wrong – Glover Gardens isn’t about lecturing, posturing or sanctimony, but I’m musing today about the delicate balance between the way humans use the earth and its resources versus the way the rest of our ecosystem partners function within it. And resolving to be more mindful and have a smaller footprint so that my future grandchildren can enjoy the world the way I do.

On a lighter note, I didn’t use the photo below in my earlier happy-happy Earth Day blog post because I thought there was a drone in the background, just above the bird and slightly to the right. It made me really grumpy for a few minutes – “really, a drone in my bird picture, for an Earth Day post??? – sheesh!!” – until I zoomed in as far as I could and realized that in addition to wings, it has a stinger. It’s some kind of nefarious flying insect, but definitely not a drone.

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A bird and a bee, framed by a tree. Not a drone in sight!

Once again, Happy Earth Day.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

 

Happy Earth Day! Join Me for a Walk in the Park

The first of two Earth Day 2018 posts.

fullsizeoutput_23baI’ve lately lamented on the lack of time for the Glover Gardens blog due to time-consuming springtime chores around Glover Gardens. I shouldn’t complain, though, because every hour spent in the spring garden pays off exponentially as the yard comes into full bloom. More on that soon!

Today is Earth Day, a great day to bask in the glory of our wonderful, life-giving planet. My celebration here in the blog comes in a set of nature photos I took recently during a road trip to visit our Musical Millennial at college in Austin. I was at Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, along the edge of Lady Bird Lake. I was killing time waiting for him to finish a rehearsal for the next day’s University of Texas Jazz Orchestra concert, using my new camera to stalk humans and animals around the park and practicing with the zoom lens. This post focuses on the animals, who were perfect models. Like this squirrel – can’t you just hear him saying: “Got nuts?”

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It was a glorious couple of hours on a sunny, cool afternoon as I wandered through the park. Enjoying  the sights and sounds of nature with only my camera as a companion was tranquil and restorative. Just looking at the photos brings me back there – won’t you join me?

A Walk Around Butler Shores Metropolitan Park

A spirited dog chased a frisbee, over and over. 

She posed for me afterward. She acted just like the men in my family when I make them pose for a picture, resigned and mildly impatient: “Just get it over with!”

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There were turtles all along the water, sunbathing. This one was like me, having a solo day at the park.

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These turtles were having a social hangout. I watched them for ten minutes or more as they watched people gliding by in kayaks and canoes, and gently kicked their back legs to keep their log perch floating in their chosen trajectory.

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A purple bearded iris was opening up in the sunlight.

Birds of all kinds were everywhere, darting about and singing. And seemingly, posing.

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The swans did a whole routine for me, turning into synchronized swimmers. A haiku popped into my head when I was watching them, which I’m saving for a post later in the week.

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Thanks for joining the animals and me on this little excursion through Butler Shores Metropolitan Park. And Happy Earth Day!

© 2018 Glover Gardens