By Lisa Golden Schroeder
We’re escaping to the lake this weekend. And the Just BARE® tagline is my theme for this Memorial Day time out—I’m going minimal. My kids are still in school, so this annual passage into summer always feels a little rushed, like we really have no business going to the summer cabin yet. We’ll load up the car once the family gathers Friday evening, after ultimate Frisbee practice, a piano lesson, and a the conclusion of a long work week. I’m making my mental check list as I write this—what pantry staples do I pack, what’s about to expire in the fridge, what can I use from the freezer that will do double duty as an ice pack in the cooler, then be thawed for grilling?
When we’re at the cabin (since I didn’t grow up in this lake-crazy state of Minnesota, the collective “cabin” everyone goes to in the coming months always makes me smile) all pretenses fall away. The portable gas grill is a new favorite, replacing the beat up charcoal kettle grill we used for years. I let my husband take over as chief cook—I’m still the bottle washer—and I’m in charge of being sure there’s something to grill, with a few uncomplicated sides to fill up the starving boys after days spent canoeing and hiking. Grilled chicken legs and thighs are always a favorite, unless an unsuspecting fish finds itself plucked from the lake. And I keep everything super simple—I’m crazy for the vast array of dried seasoning blends available to rub on chicken, as well as the myriad zesty barbecue sauces and full-flavored marinades on the grocery shelf. So I toss recipes to the wind and can finish up my shopping list in the car. So what’s anchoring our menus this weekend? Two packages of Just BARE® boneless chicken thighs that I’ll cut into chunks, thread onto skewers, then brush with a mixture of Chinese hoisin sauce and peanut butter during the last minutes of grilling. I’ve also got some boneless chicken breasts to grill for CBLT’s—chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato “burgers” on onion rolls. I’ll add a few mix-and-match sides to my list—local wild rice, a bag of new potatoes to roast, some coleslaw mix for my youngest’s most often requested salad, whatever fruit looks good at the little market we’ll shop at…this list I can make in my sleep. Truly express cooking at its finest.