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July 2011

Old Grill Gives New Hope

I’ve always had a love affair with magazines. When I was a boy, I wasn’t allowed to go to many movies or watch TV on a school night, so I leaned about pop culture through the twisted osmosis of Mad. As a teenager, I fawned over the road tests in Car and Driver and the rich photographs in the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Those movies, cars, women may have been out of reach, but I loved reading about them.

I’m decades older, but I have the same feelings now about Bon Appetit. The current issue is all about grilling, and I swear each page makes me hungry. And there’s this, from the section Oliver Strand’s entry on steaks:

“Sometimes flavor should be earned. Which is why I bake bread with a natural starter, make my own vinegar, and grill over wood that I fell with a Stihl 290, a chain saw known as the Farm Boss. But when it comes to steak, I keep it simple: I walk to the butcher around the corner, pick up some dry-aged steaks—preferably thick, bone-in New York strips marbled with fat, aged at least four weeks—and call it a day.”

If only I could bake with natural starter! Make my own vinegar! And grill over wood I cut myself! But life—kids, work, real estate, extended family, visiting relatives—keeps getting in the way. Still I hold out hope. At my father-in-law’s house, there’s an old grill that is waiting to be fixed up (that’s a picture of it, above). And his garage is half full of firewood from his property. Someday, baby, someday. For the full Bon Appetit story about grilling, click here. Or better yet, pick up a copy.

Happy Fourth of July: A Basil, Green Bean, and Potato Salad Recipe

If you’re looking for a great side dish to go with what you may be grilling for the Fourth of July, I suggest Santa Maria’s amazing Basil, Green Bean, and Potato Salad. She made it recently for a big family gathering, and it is an unbeatable combination. It is dressed with a mustard vinaigrette; if you don’t like mayonnaise, this is the one for you.

Santa Maria’s Signature Basil, Green Bean, and Potato Salad

  • 6-8 red potatoes
  • 1 lb. green beans
  • 1 head fresh basil, washed
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and Pepper

Boil the potatoes until they are soft but not mushy.

Allow to cool, and then cut into small cubes (the size is up to you).

Trim and steam the green beans, allow to cool.

Tear up (or cut) as much basil as you might like.

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

Make the dressing with the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and lemon juice.

When you are ready to eat, dress the salad, and salt and pepper it to taste.