Al Fresco

Today was our warmest yet this year, which was to be expected since I spent most of it hunched over the pile of tax-related paperwork that helps keep Spring from being too completely pleasant. Dinner was to be super simple- rice, greens, chicken, and salad- but when I ran outside to take a much needed break in the garden, I realized that by cooking and eating outside we could make a mundane meal into something momentous. It was kind of like in high school when a cool teacher would conduct a class outside on a perfect day.

So I came back into the kitchen, mixed up a batch of the secret espresso rub, and dredged the chicken (thighs) generously in same. I washed the greens (bolting cabbage and kale) and the salad as well. The greens got a good simmer with a splash of cider vinegar while brown rice did its thing in the rice cooker, and I lit a fire. We were low on charcoal, so I gathered a bunch of fallen sticks and branches from the maple tree and used them to supplement the meager pile of glowing coals; by moving the chicken around I was able to get a good combination of smoke and heat while basting the meat liberally with the last of our homemade barbecue sauce.

As the sun began to go down, we sat and ate and toasted Spring, grinning at the decadent chicken, silky greens, and buttery-tangy salad. Somehow the boy ended up pantsless, as is his wont; for once it was warm enough to leave him that way. Nothing goes with our rub-sauce combination like Pleiades, so we drank some and reveled in the simple luxury of this dinner, and the anticipation of many more in the coming months (though at some point we’ll have to retreat to the screen porch to avoid the bugs.)

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  1. cook eat FRET
    April 8

    what possibly could be lovlier than that? sounds like a perfect evening.

    although the secret rub thing – well, that’s just plain not nice. why ever a food secret? why not share with the world? i mean afetr all we’ve meant to each other i would SO tell you…

  2. peter
    April 8

    Claudia, you’re right. After all we’ve been through, it’s the least I can do.

    Thing is, it’s kind of a joke; the mix changes every time depending on what’s around. It’s espresso, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, herbs, salt, pepper and a bunch of other things, all in wildly fluctuating percentages.

  3. Zoomie
    April 8

    As in espresso powder? My mother was one who never shared recipes, figuring that she’d just eat them again at friends’ houses and get bored, but I like sharing. Thanks.

  4. peter
    April 8

    Zoomie: I grind beans every morning, so there’s usually some around.

  5. Heather
    April 8

    I’m kind of with Zoomie’s mom on this one – I taught a friend of mine my pasta salad recipe and now she ALWAYS makes it and everyone compliments her on it.

    Although I’m usually forthright to a fault, I think everyone’s entitled to secret sauce. Yours looks suspiciously like mine.

  6. peter
    April 8

    I think secrets are a good thing too, which is why I only listed half the ingredients.

    Also, it resembles yours because we’re both geniuses, and great minds think alike.

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