Roast beast. Or not.

My parents had one of those two-hot-dog hibachi grills. I’m not sure what it was good for, since it was cast iron and unsuitable for backpacking. I think it might have held half a dozen charcoal briquettes if you stacked them carefully. A burger would have overwhelmed it.

In later life, I attempted back yard grilling, but al fresco dining always resulted in el freezo. I seem to go for windswept properties designed to suck the heat out of food and/or blow dinner into the next yard. Happy crows, sulky me. Consequently, most of my satisfactory outdoor experiences have happened at other peoples’ parties.

One of my university friends had genius parents who could cook absolutely anything in tin foil. There I learned the joys of barbecue baked potatoes smothered in cheese, onions, bacon, and chilli if you had it. As a starving student, one of those babies could keep me quoting Swinburne for a week (three days if it was Milton involved—there’s got to be a 2:1 ratio of energy burn for Paradise Lost).

Other times, once we all got so busy that potluck became the norm and no one admitted to eating dessert anymore, I appointed myself salad girl. It was an easy role to uphold and dietarily correct.

Bean salad is a classic, but can be kind of boring. This recipe definitely is not and makes a good meal:

Cook 2 cups of fresh beans (green and/or yellow) chopped into 1 inch lengths
– 2 cans (drained) of mixed beans (kidney, white, pinto, etc.)
– 1 bunch freshly chopped parsley
– ½ mild onion, minced
– 1 cup mixed Italian olives (spicy is good)
– ¾ cup olive oil
– 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
– ¼ cup lemon juice
– Handful of fresh chopped herbs (basil, oregano, and marjoram are all possibilities)
– Salt and lots of pepper

Pour marinade over beans and chill overnight.

And (not so dietarily correct) this is the best berry ice cream you’ll ever eat:

Crush 1 quart of hulled strawberries or raspberries. Add 1 cup of sugar and stand for an hour.
Dissolve a package of gelatin in 6 tablespoons of boiling water. Stir into berries. Add the juice of one lemon and cool until nearly set. Fold in two cups of whipped cream and pour the mixture into a wet mold (or just a pan if you don’t wish to get fancy). Chill for 12 hours if you wish to unmold it. Or, if you’re impatient, freeze for a couple of hours.

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