Bowls of summer
This is my go-to dish for busy summer nights: a hearty bowl of cooked grains, grilled or roasted veggies and fresh herbs or lettuces. The components can all be prepared ahead of time, including the grains, and assembled for a healthy, last-minute meal.
Keep it vegetarian — even vegan — with grains and veggies or a can of beans seasoned with olive oil. For a protein-packed dinner, top off your bowl with some grilled shrimp or chicken, or even a fried egg or tofu. Bliss in a bowl ... to your own design.
For the grains: I like to use either steamed rice (which I make in my rice cooker and keep on the "warm" setting until I am ready to serve) or quick-cooking grains such as quinoa (which takes only 10 minutes), bulgur (20 minutes) or pearl barley (30 minutes). Toss them with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper before serving or storing in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Veggies: Char some eggplant, zucchini or asparagus (or your favorite veggie — mushrooms, corn, you name it) on a grill pan (or on the grill, but who can be bothered to heat up the grill for such a quick dinner?). Throw a few beets into a packet of aluminum foil with a drizzle of olive oil and roast them at 350 degrees for an hour. Peel and slice into wedges, and season with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Toppers: Try an assortment of fresh herbs (dill, cilantro, basil), greens (arugula, romaine, spinach) nuts and seeds (marcona almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds, toasted or black sesame seeds), dried fruit (raisins, currants, cranberries) or tomatoes, green onions or sweet bell peppers. I love to throw in some sliced avocado, as well.
Dressing: You could go as simple as lemon juice and olive oil, or whisk up my favorite jar dressing: add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to a canning jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add about 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or your favorite vinegar and double that amount of olive oil. Season it well with salt and pepper. I like to throw in some chopped herbs. Chives, dill or parsley work nicely. Add zip with some crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese. Shake well until emulsified; the dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.
To assemble: Scoop some grains into a bowl. Arrange veggies around the bowl and sprinkle with desired toppers. Drizzle dressing over the top and serve.
Celebrating local crops … and ‘cue
Craving some ‘cue? The 2014 BBQ ‘n’ Blues Festival takes place June 14 in Cushing, as a thank-you from the city to the pipeline industry that plays such a vital role in the area’s business community. There is no admission fee. However, should you want to taste some of the most delicious barbecue for miles around, a "taster’s kit," which permits you to enjoy unlimited barbecue, will set you back $5. The barbecue is prepared on the "World’s Largest Permanent Smoker" by 15 cooking teams. For more information, visit www.cushingchamber.org.
Drop in on the Bixby Green Corn Festival, June 26-28 in downtown Bixby. Feast on roasted corn and watermelon, join seed spitting and sack races, or come for the live music — just a few of the offerings on the three-day schedule. For information, call the Bixby Chamber of Commerce, 918-366-9445, or visit www.bixbyoptimist.com.
In season: ‘U pick ‘em’
As much as I would love to have a field of wild berry bushes with unlimited picking rights, the reality is that I have neither the space nor the knowledge to care for them. Luckily, there are several willing growers around the area who do the dirty work for me. All that’s left to do is arrive with a big empty bucket for picking.
Here are some of the best "U pick ‘em" spots around. It’s always a good idea to call ahead in case some eager pickers have taken the day’s berries. For the best picking, I like to head out in the early morning — less sun and more berries. I see pie in my future ... or at least some blue-tinged fingertips.
Canyon Berry Farms in the beautiful rolling hills of Claremore offers naturally grown blueberries as well as honey from its own hives. 20126 S. Dickerson Drive, Claremore, 918-344-9191
Meadow Blackberry Farm will be ready for its first blackberry harvest in early June. 3200 Westgreen Way, Sapulpa, 918-227-1987
Owasso Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm offers blueberries as well as three varieties of blackberries: Kiowa (which produce the largest berries), Natchez and Osage (both thornless). The season normally starts in early June and runs for four to six weeks, weather permitting. 11039 N. 129th E. Ave., Owasso, 918-272-9445, www.owassotreefarm.com
Thunderbird Berry Farm is a family- owned and operated business that has been growing blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries since summer 2005. Pick berries from May through August for $3 per pound or partake in the "two for me, the third ones free" deal, where customers pick three pounds of berries, give two pounds to the farm and take a pound home for free. 7515 S. Hansen Road, Broken Arrow, 918-640-7168
The Toomey’s Black ‘n’ Blue Thornless Berry Farm has a field full of thornless blackberry bushes — and there’s nothing better. Come early for the biggest berries and slightly cooler picking conditions. 22629 E. 61st St., Broken Arrow, 918-595-5881
Where, oh, where to take Dad for a Father’s Day celebration? Downtown is having quite a moment, and options for delicious dining are endless.
From the ballpark to the Brady Arts District, activities also abound. After dinner, consider knocking down some pins at Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge, checking out the Guthrie Green’s varied festivities or finding some live music at one of downtown’s many venues.
White Flag Customers are waving white napkins after downing specialty burgers at Blake Ewing’s newest spot, the reincarnation of a space formerly home to Back Alley Blues & BBQ. White Flag features locally sourced, fresh-ground beef and buns from Tulsa’s Anaya Bakery. On my next visit I must try the Big Booty Judy with apricot jam, goat cheese, bacon, jalapeño relish and Sriracha mayo. Someone at White Flag sure knows a few of my favorite things. 116 S. Elgin Ave., 918-728-8300, www.whiteflagtulsa.com
PRHYME Downtown Steakhouse If Dad’s idea of a great dinner means sinking his teeth into a delectable rib eye, take him to PRHYME. Eat high on the hog (or the cow), for this steakhouse offers Tulsa’s only caviar service, and the U.S.D.A. Prime steaks are aged up to 30 days. Be prepared to shell out a hefty allowance; the dry-aged rib eye at PRHYME will set you back nearly $70, but it’s oh, so worth it. 111 N. Main St., 918-794-7700, www.prhymetulsa.com
Lone Wolf Banh Mi Don’t leave downtown without stopping at the Lone Wolf Banh Mi truck. Philip Phillips stunned Tulsans this past year by serving some of the most delicious food in town out of his tiny truck. I crave his roast pork banh mi sandwich and kimchi-topped fries, but he has since ventured into the world of curry. You can find Phillips and his gang most evenings parked next to Soundpony, 409 N. Main St. Check his Facebook status for exact hours and location. www.facebook.com/lonewolftruck
Fat Guy’s Burger Bar The best ballpark food in town is found a foul ball away from ONEOK Field. Fat Guy’s Burger Bar specializes in juicy burgers (patties are ground fresh daily) with quite a lineup of options — green chilies, grilled pineapple and jalapeño relish, just to name a few. Don’t forget the hot dogs, fresh-cut fries (dipped in malt vinegar aioli) and milk shakes made with hand-dipped ice cream. As for icy cold beer, Tulsa’s own Marshall Brewing Co. beers are on tap. 140 N. Greenwood Ave., 918-794-7782, www.fatguysburgers.com