Sampling of summer fare

In our extended group of friends, summer is a time of regular potluck gatherings, the venues rotating among the participants. We each contribute something to the meal, whether it be a munchie, salad, side dish or dessert.The contributions can vary from something as simple as a bag of chips to a new dessert recipe. And usually, when there’s a scrumptious dessert, it can be credited to the culinary skills of Myra Palmer.

Myra likes to experiment in the kitchen, and we friends are happy to be her taste testers.  Each Tuesday, she provides the dessert for the men’s golf league at Prairie View Golf Links, and the guys are always raving about the most recent offering, which last week was a chocolate chip cookie-cheesecake bar.

Myra has promised to share that recipe, too, but in the meantime she emailed the directions for another salad/dessert that she toted to a pre-Fourth of July casual gathering. Myra, who is a librarian at the Nobles County Library, credits it to her boss, Julie Wellnitz.

Simply Scrumptious Summer Fruit Salad

Mix 1 large box instant vanilla pudding (dry) into 16 ounces of vanilla yogurt. Fold in one 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed.

Prepare about 1 pint of fresh fruit of choice (Myra used strawberries, cut into quarters) and fold into yogurt-pudding mixture.

Keep refrigerated. (For the picnic, Myra kept the mixture cool by putting the bowl on ice.)

In recent years, a grilling method in which cooking meat or fish on a cedar plank has become popular. The idea is that as the piece of meat or fish cooks, it absorbs some of the flavor and aroma from the wood. I’ve seen packaged planks of wood for this purpose in specialty cooking stores and even a few grocery stores.

I believe Hubby Bryan tried this method of cookery a few years back, but he must not have been particularly enamored with the results, since he’s never tried it again, but I know other people have enjoyed good results with plank cooking.

Well, not too long ago, I happened across an idea that is a twist on the plank cookery, only you use the “bark” of the pineapple as the cooking surface. So, one day when pineapple was on sale at the grocery store, Bryan and I bought one, and when it came time to butcher it, we carefully cut off the skin in as large slices as possible before chunking up the flesh. Then we put the bark in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to await the next time we were going to grill chicken.

We chose to make chicken kebabs, alternating chunks of meat with onion, peppers and, of course, pineapple. After heating the grill, we arranged the pineapple bark, skin side down, on the grill grates and rested the kebabs on top. In about 20 minutes, turning a couple times during cooking, we had delicious kebabs that were moist and lightly infused with the scent and flavor of pineapple. I served them up with brown rice (cooked in the microwave to keep from heating up the kitchen) and a big green salad.

This method would also work well with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and fish.

So what food items have you been toting to summer gatherings or experimenting with on the grill? Please share your recipes and methods by emailing brickers@dglobe.com.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be contacted at 376-7327.

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