Our fun with the airstream, selling cookbooks and seeing the country continues . . .
Saturday (Day 6) we drove across Iowa to a fabulous national park called Fisherman’s Corner on the banks of the Mississippi River, which was actually in Illinois (the river is the state line). It was a very small campground run by the Army Corps of Engineers, with beautiful, roomy sites:
We had a delicious dinner, planned by Robert – grilled bison dogs with chili, and broccoli slaw on the side, Yum – and super easy as we purchased an organic, vegetarian chili at Whole Foods:
Note our new picnic tablecloth and matching bench covers from Camping World – highly recommended, as picnic tables in campgrounds are often very dirty!
The next morning (Day 7) we headed back across the river to the darling town of Le Claire, Iowa.
If you are a viewer of a show on History Channel called “American Pickers”, you will be familiar with Le Claire as this is home base for the shop that is the central focus of the series. We went there – it’s called “Antique Archeology” – and no, Danielle wasn’t there. After our visit there, we explored the cute little town.
The favorite for us was a visit to the Mississippi River Distilling Company. They make their own vodka, “artisan spirit” (basically a vodka with a bit more ingredients in the process), gin, and whiskey in very small batches. And, the vodka and artisan spirit were great! The latter reminded me of liquor in Holland called gineveer. We bought a few souvenir bottles:
We stopped for lunch (that turned out to be brunch) at the Faithful Pilot Cafe. Robert’s crab cakes with poached eggs and hollandaise were not that great, but my fried egg tostada with chorizo sausage and cilantro was delicious:
The weather was starting to change (rain on the way) so we headed to the Laundromat to do a few loads of wash, then back to the campground for a dinner of chicken and beef kabobs with ginger couscous (the latter recipe is in A Well-Seasoned Kitchen).
Later that night, the heavens opened up to a most amazing thunderstorm, complete with lot of lightening – for several hours! It rained most of the night and the next morning. Once the rain stopped, we packed up (now day 8 of our trip) and headed to Indiana to Turkey Run State Park.
What a fabulous campground and park – including an Inn, canoeing on the Sugar Creek, and several miles of hiking trails. We took a night off from cooking and dinner at the Turkey Run Inn – quaint, kind of quirky but fun (I wouldn’t go there for the food however). Next morning we hiked a bit then headed for our next stop – Cincinnati.
More to come!
My good friend Mary Rolph Lamontagne recently began blogging about her cooking and food experiences in South Africa, where she and her husband moved in 2005 (you can find her blog at http://goodfoodquest.com). Having trained at the Ritz-Escoffier culinary school in Paris, Mary is a fabulous cook and has started to create her own African-inspired dishes. A recent post for North African Lamb Kabobs with Grilled Eggplant Salad caught my attention, so on evening last week I decided to make them for dinner. Since the kabobs and the eggplant are both grilled, and it was raining outside, I decided to cook indoors using my new Le Creuset Bistro Grill Pan. My next blog will include a review of the pan (which I love!).
This dish is absolutely delicious – and fun to serve. In the style of my cookbook, it is uncomplicated to make yet still sophisticated and scrumptious. Below is my version of Mary’s recipe (and I borrowed her photo of the final dish as my camera battery died!). Make sure to check out Mary’s original blog and recipe (links are above), in which she includes some beautiful photos along with interesting information on various types of kabobs.
Lamb Kabobs with Grilled Eggplant and Mint-Yogurt Sauce
(Photo courtesy of Mary Rolph)
1 pound ground lamb
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
2 eggplants, thinly sliced (around 1/4-inch) lengthwise
1 cup mixed lettuce, torn
12 wood skewers, soaked in water or wine/water mixture for an hour
Place the lamb, garlic, ginger, pine nuts, cumin, paprika, coriander, 2 teaspoons mint and red pepper flakes in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix together. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Place the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, parsley and mint in the bowl of a food processor and process until well mixed. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour to allow flavors to blend. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving.
Rub each side of the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with sea salt. Grill on a grill pan or barbeque over medium heat until cooked through and softened, turning once. Set aside.
Shape lamb mixture into 2-inch long oval sausage shapes around skewers (you should have 12 kabobs). Rub with olive oil and grill in a grill pan or on a barbeque over medium heat until cooked through, turning occasionally – around 20 minutes for medium-rare on a grill pan.
Divide eggplant slices between 4 serving plates. Top with mixed greens. Spoon yogurt sauce over the top. Place Kabobs on plate around the sauce.
Note: You will have some of the sauce leftover. The next day, I made a sandwich wrap of roasted turkey, grilled asparagus, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and the mint-yogurt sauce and it was yummy!