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My Friends' Recipes

(post, West End Farmers' Market)

I am the associate market manager for the West End Farmers Market in Alexandria, Virginia.  When the market opened near my house three summers ago, I found myself there pretty much every week, so the next summer I volunteered and this year I help Julie run the market.

I help run this market because I really love it.  I love the way it looks on bright Sunday mornings, the shadows and light of the vendor’s tents nestled up against the green manicured perfection of Ben Brenman Park. I thoroughly enjoy the chance to meet my friends, my neighbors, and acquaintances and chat for a bit – it is like the world’s best brunch party.   I adore the smells that assault my senses as I walk through the market, fresh orange juice at Fresh Joseph’s, hot coffee brewing at Williams stand, the yeasty aroma of fresh-baked breads, the heady smell of onions, tomatoes, garlic, peaches, and other fresh fruits and vegetables when I step under a vendor’s tent.  For me the West End Farmers Market is an experience that never fails to deliver.   

I also love the promise of those colorful, fresh veggies and fruits, tantalizingly laid out, just waiting for some clever cook to create a scrumptious dish.  This is an ironic statement because - that cook, the one dedicated to daily preparation of gourmet dishes – that’s not me.   I do enjoy a good meal, love cooking for parties, having dinner guests and even occasionally creating those multi-course gourmet meals.  I like being creative and will scour the internet and my cookbooks for the perfect recipe: but I always choose one that does not include seven hours of prep time, overnight anything, deglazing, deep-frying or seventeen exotic ingredients.   I am dedicated to dishes that are exquisitely tasty, and quick and easy.  That is my motto; quick, easy and tasty.  

Over the years, I have acquired a goodly number of quick and easy recipes, covering every contingency, including spontaneous entertaining.  I try new recipes all the time, but if I want to pull off a real coup, I haul out the tried and true dishes.  Most of these have been given to me by my friends.   

This particular blog and several following are dedicated to other people who, like me, enjoy their food, quick, easy and tasty.  The recipes I am going to share with you are ones that my friends and acquaintances have, in turn, generously passed on to me.   

Some of the recipes I am going to share with you have become signature dishes – the ones I consistently create for parties, potlucks and shared meals, including this one for grilled vegetables.

My friend Jane Miller taught me this recipe.  Jane lives in Berkeley California, and we have known each other for twenty years.  From Jane I learned the graciousness of welcoming spontaneous visitors with a pot of tea or a glass of wine and comfortable munchies.  Her house was always a haven of warmth and generosity.  She made this recipe two years ago for an outdoor birthday party and I promptly brought it home to Virginia and made it my own.  Everyone thinks I am a culinary genius when they taste this, but really, it is Jane’s genius.  

This recipe takes about twenty minutes to grill in my oven, but my oven is crazy weird.  It only took Jane a little over 10 minutes in her oven.  I usually start and finish this in about fortyfive minutes.  

Ingredients for 1 bowl of Grilled Vegetables that will feed 4 to 6 people:
Seasonal vegetables including:

3 potatoes
4 carrots
1 onion – red or white
2-3 squash medium
2-3 zucchini
1  Broccoli
1  Cauliflower
½ Eggplant
1 -2 Peppers – red, green, or yellow

Sea Salt or rock salt  to taste
Old Bay Crab Seasoning to taste
Ground pepper to taste
2 - 3 tbs Olive Oil

Choose no more than four different vegetables for this dish and three will do just fine.  Potatoes and onions provide a nice solid base to build the rest of the recipe around.

Preheat the oven to high broil

Cut the vegetables into approximately one inch chunks and place in large bowl.  Pour the olive oil into the bowl and mix the vegetables in the oil until well coated.

Lay the Vegetables out on a cookie tray, lined with foil, one layer deep only and not too close together.

Sprinkle the rock or sea salt over the vegetables.  Don’t be stingy, it is the salt that makes the vegetables hum with goodness.

Shake pepper over the vegetables sparingly

Shake Old Bay Crab Seasoning liberally over the vegetables.

Place on the top shelf of the oven, so they can get brown on top.  Check after about seven to ten minutes and turn vegetables over.  Don’t worry about getting all the vegetables, it will all taste really good anyway you do it.

Take out when you can stick a fork in the potatoes or the vegetables are nice and hot with some browning taking place.  The vegetables can still be crispy – it is not important to thoroughly cook anything but the potatoes.

Place in a bowl and serve hot, warm or cold.  They always taste good.  The salt and seasonings, combined with the vegetables, should make your tastebuds hum with pleasure.  If you have under-salted or seasoned, just add some, if you have over-seasoned, eat it anyway and make the dish better the next time.

Do you have a recipe that you got from a friend?  Share it here on my blog!  Send me your best quick, easy and tasty recipes that have been handed on to you by your friends.