Well, the Blackout of 08 has come and gone.  I more or less survived with only minor food losses.  I happened to be out of chicken stock and had only half a bag of IQF shrimp and about 8oz of pork shoulder in the freeze.

One of my two office mates endured some pretty serious house damage. The other told me that his next door neighbor had life-sized cardboard cut-out of John Wayne… and put it at the streetcorner with a huge sign reading, “THIS IS THE ONLY DUKE WE’VE SEEN.”

Anyway, when my power went out I was at a cookout at my friends’ place.  My own contribution to the event was two fold:

1.  A par-braised rack of pork ribs ready to be finished on their grill
2.  An eagerness to watch their two young children attach each other with every available household object.

It should be noted that my friends are vegetarian.  As per our usual practice, It was understood that I would bring meat.

and I am happy to submit Leslie’s description of the event:

Bacon connoisseur and food blogger Jeff is coming to our house for a cook-out.  Absolutely nothing qualifies us for this affair other than knowing Jeff for quite a long time.  We don’t eat meat, let alone bacon, and as working, community-engaged parents of two precocious young boys, cooking at our home usually means making boxed macaroni products with “cheese” in a foil packet.  So aside from the directive of BYOM, how do you prepare?

First you buy your cook-out staples otherwise known as BBQ potato chips and store bought mustard potato salad.  My husband is actually quite the home-made potato salad aficionado but for quick cook-outs, store bought mustard is the way to go.  I decided on two side-dishes that I would make myself and dessert.

I am also a lazy gardener and found that I was able to salvage sufficient decent leaves from my basil plants to do a plate of insalata caprese.  I will suffer the chiding for the big box store-bought pre-sliced fresh mozzarella and tomatoes (being a lazy gardener I only had a few tomatoes) as I consider this a summer classic and celebrating summer is what a cook-out is all about.
Insalata Caprese
Place thick slices of mozzarella on plate

Top with thick slices of tomato

Top with fresh basil leaves

Drizzle on olive oil

Season to taste with salt & pepper
Nostalgia is also a really big thing for me.  Jeff and I used to like to stop off at Chili’s after shopping at the Tri-County Mall or cruising for video games at Best Buy.  The big appeal was always that awesome blossom onion appetizer thing (or the creamy dipping sauce that came with it).  I actually made one of these the first time that I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner.  I realize that pilgrims didn’t eat at chain restaurants but it seems that you don’t cook an onion blossom to eat at home alone.  Thus I arrived at my second side-dish selection.

Editor’s Note.  Lies.  Filthy Lies.  I have never eaten at Chilli’s or any other culinary whorehouse.  Never.  ALL LIES!!!
Chain Restaurant Rip Off Onion Appetizer

Sauce:  equal parts mayonnaise & sour cream
Chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Garlic Salt

Onion:  Large peeled onion (Vidalia)

Oil for frying

Slice onion in a cross-hatch pattern.  Place in cold water for 1 hour to open up the onion.  Mix together ¼ cup flour, egg and 1 Tblsp. Milk. Coat onion with batter and fry in hot oil until golden brown.
Finally I offered to make dessert.  I rarely make any kind of dessert but when I do it is generally a guise to use whatever fruit is still in my fridge/pantry.  Today I have bananas.  After quick perusal of my cookbook archive, the gem is found — Moosewood Cookbook recipe for Banana Cream Cheese pie.  Sounds yummy!
Graham cracker crust (you can make it but you can also buy it!)

12 oz. cream cheese
2 ripe bananas (1 mashed & 1 thinly sliced)
¼ cup yogurt
3-4 Tblsp sugar
2 Tblsp lemon juice
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ tsp. vanilla

Make the graham cracker crust, if you didn’t just buy one.  Toss all of the other ingredients sans the sliced banana into a bowl and mix with electric mixer until smooth.  Fold in sliced bananas.  Pour into graham cracker crust & spread evenly.  Refrigerate (the recipe said for 24 hours….), slice & serve.

The natives are restless so cross your fingers & wish me luck!