Bartering is alive and well! Years ago, a tax accountant friend offered to do our taxes as a thank you for the help and guidance my husband offered her kids. This continued for a few years. She would do our taxes, and we’d bring her a thank you gift of wine or dessert. Her kids grew, and still she offered to do our taxes since she already had all of the basic data in her system. Mind you, she works crazy hours during tax season, but still she held open the offer. Finally, we told her that we’d need to pay her for her services, as this was just not right. Remember here that by doing our taxes, she knows our finances pretty darned well. Her response? “You can’t afford me.” Gulp.
Instead, we’ve worked out a deal where everyone feels like a winner: she does our taxes and I cook a big ol’ dinner for her family on April 16. How great is that? Her family is simply wonderful, active, healthy, and loves to try anything I cook. And, they’ve been living on bagged salads and frozen this and frozen that for the past few months. I tell ya, its a match made in heaven!
April 16 happened to be the date of a swim meet for her teens. It was also the date my father in law came to visit. Lucky me! He is great company and a talented cook. We’d cook together. Meal planning meant something the kids can quickly nosh on while sitting down to the main dish, sides, and dessert. These beef skewers are great on their own, but show even more love in lettuce cups topped with carrots, roasted nuts, and peanut sauce. One platter held tons of skewers and another had the lettuce cups makings. The meal was rounded out with rice salad, mango and jicama salad, grilled asparagus, and cream puffs with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Both the marinade and peanut sauce are from Steve Raichlen’s most amazing Barbecue Bible: Sauces Rubs and Marinades, Bastes, Butters and Glazes. This is one of the best reference books for folks who are a bit adventurous with their food and are addicted to grilling.
(adapted from “The only marinade you’ll ever need” in Steve Raichlen’s book)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 strips lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a chef’s knife
1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup herb mix (basil, cilantro, dill, oregano)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
chicken or beef, sliced into 1 inch strips
1. Combine the lemon juice, hot pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt in a bowl, whisking until salt is dissolved. Whisk in olive oil. Add the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and herb mix and stir to blend.
2. Transfer marinade to zip lock bag, add chicken or beef, gently mix to combine, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
3. Bring chicken or beef to room temperature and put on skewers, being careful not to bunch the meat tightly together. Grill over medium high heat, turning after 3 minutes.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tomato, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green onions, trimmed and minced
1 to 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (and a bit more as needed)
2 TBS fish sauce
3 TBS fresh lime juice
1 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Toss it all in a blender and process until smooth. Taste. The sauce should be salty, tart, and sweet. Correct seasoning by adding more fish sauce, lime juice, or brown sugar as needed. The sauce should be thick, but pourable. Add more broth as needed.
- These foods are quite simple, but the depth of flavor is amazing!
- Just the skewers and dipping sauce are great for a crowd.
- The original peanut sauce recipe calls for cilantro, which is great if you’re into that.
- This marinade is truly fantastic. Don’t spend a ton of money on all those herbs, but just use what you have.
- Yes, fish sauce. If you don’t have any yet, this is a safe opportunity to try.
- I’ve made this sauce many a time, and yes, if you have that good peanut butter and not the processed stuff, it really is better.
- After dinner we got a call. Our friend’s son decided that she ~needs~ to do our taxes until she retires. 🙂 Sweet success.