Tag Archives: food memory

The Starving Artist Eats Burgers on the BBQ

17 Jun

WP_20140606_003

WP_20140606_008

Summertime was all about BBQing when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey. (So much so that it even found its way into my memoir!) We spent many humid nights outside under a canopy of green leaves and stars, swatting away mosquitoes, as we ate food from the BBQ. Most of the year, my family didn’t eat dinner altogether too often because my father worked long hours and got home late—and because he didn’t eat the same “American” foods that the rest of us ate. In the summer, when it was too hot to turn on the oven, he’d fire up the grill.

Now maybe it’s a regionalism, but I recently BBQed with someone not from the TriState area and discovered that “BBQ” to them meant something entirely different. BBQ to them is its own separate category of food. It’s a big deal. An art. What I call “BBQ,” they think is just basic “grilling.” To my ears, grilled anything sounds like something off a health-food menu. As in, you order grilled chicken when you’re on a diet, even though what you really want to eat is fried chicken.

But grilling doesn’t have to be equated with flavorless meat topped with zero-calorie iceberg lettuce. Nope, we made stuffed burgers. We stuffed it with Fontina cheese and mushrooms and onions and peppers and so much deliciousness. Or at least it looked delicious to me. As a vegetarian, I made due with veggie burgers luxuriously slathered in Stubbs BBQ sauce. My skinny little soy burgers weren’t nearly as exciting as the juicy stuffed burger. Sigh.

I just came across a recipe for a Feta-Stuffed BLT Burger, and my Greek American heart skipped a beat. I may not be able to eat it as a vegetarian, but for all you Greek cheese-loving carnivores out there I thought I’d pass it along: Feta-Stuffed BLT Burger recipe. And for those of us who abstain from meat, I’ll offer this alternative Greek vegetarian burger recipe:

  • BBQ your favorite veggie burger (I like Boca burgers) per the directions on the box
  • Grill some onions
  • Lightly grill a piece of pita bread
  • Once everything is grilled, place the veggie burger in the pocket of the pita
  • Stuff the pita with the BBQed onions
  • Also stuff the pita with a salad of feta, tomatoes, and cucumbers soaked in olive oil and oregano

Eat and enjoy!

This is part of a new series I’m doing called “The Starving Artist.” I used to do posts called “Tasty Tuesday,” but I’m switching it up a little now to focus on budget-friendly recipes for writers.

I’m always on the hunt for vegetarian-friendly Greek foods for the BBQ, so if you have any suggestions please post them in the comments section.

Also, did you know Greeks have a whole holiday devoted to BBQed meat?

If you’re not a meat-eater, you might also like this Greek vegetarian BBQ idea.

 

Advertisements

Tasty Tuesday: Memories of Orzo

11 Oct

When I was a kid, I loved going to Baltimore to visit my cousins.  We’d pile into the Volvo station wagon and drive the three or four hours from New Jersey to Maryland.  Along the way, we’d stop at McDonald’s.  Nowadays, most McDonald’s have a playground but back then in the 1980s, we didn’t have one like that near where I grew up, so it was always super exciting that we got to make a stop at a McDonald’s that had a playground outside of it on our trip down to Baltimore.  We almost never ate McDonald’s when I was growing up.  My mom said it was “disgusting,” and my dad called it “plastic food.”  But we always got to have McDonald’s on our way to visit our cousins.

When we got to Baltimore, my aunt would always have dinner ready for us.  It was always the same thing that first night: orzo and meat.  My mom isn’t Greek and never cooked with orzo, so this meal always stuck out to me.  I wasn’t sure what orzo even was.  Was it rice or was it pasta?  It turns out it’s a rice-shaped pasta.  Now I know.

My aunt still makes orzo when I visit.  Sometimes it’s orzo in a tomato sauce, like the kind I remember her making when I was a kid; other times it’s spanikorizo, Greek spinach orzo.

I’ve never made orzo before.  Strange, isn’t it, how a food that has such a strong memory attached to it can be something you’ve never even attempted to make?  I think it would be an easy, filling dish to make in bulk so I don’t have to worry about cooking in the beginning of the week when I have both work and grad school.

I looked up a few recipes:

Epicurious’ Orzo with Feta, Tomatoes, and Dill

Holy Apostle Orthodox Church’s Spanikorizo