Bless Your Spoon: Time for pool parties and cookouts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2022

By Stephanie Williams Dean

By the time June rolls around, swim season has officially opened and so have our griddles and grills. The holiday ushers in a laid-back style of entertaining. That’s where I spent the last weekend in May — poolside at an old-fashioned cookout at Sapona Golf Swim and Tennis Club in Lexington. Simple, premium beefy burgers and hotdogs were served hot off the grill with a few sides to go alongside. A tray of assorted oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter cookies was enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

Davie County is uniquely situated and centrally located. We border many small towns and larger cities, usually no more than 25 minutes in any direction. We have several options for swimming — state and county parks, public pools, country clubs and lakes with boat rentals. Your family can even rent a hotel room and enjoy almost exclusive pool use all day. I’ve done it and we took our electric griddle with us. I advocate supporting our own county’s resources first. Beyond that, residents have an advantage — easy access to a plethora of additional options.

When I was a kid, pools weren’t so common. Fortunately, Mom’s friend had one and we’d pack a sandwich lunch and spend hot days cooling off in the water. Occasionally, we headed to public pools at Willow Plunge or the Cascades. There was at least one swim session at day camp after horseback riding. On holidays, Mom’s large family met at a state park where we spent the day grilling out and swimming in a lake.

I want to encourage you to swim and exercise in water. As we get older, pool exercise is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. Water acts as a form of resistance, putting less stress and pressure on our joints. Water exercises help reduce arthritis and joint pain, increase flexibility and balance, and help decrease bone and muscle loss. Plus it just feels great. I have an 83-year-old friend who hadn’t stepped foot in a pool in 30 years. I encouraged her to get in and oh, how she loved it. Sometimes we have to push ourselves past our comfort zones. Pool exercise might not be on the top of your workout plan, but it’s a great alternative to a gym.

We want to take care of the place where the Holy Spirit dwells. Our bodies are holy. And a healthy body provides us the vehicle from which to do God’s work. In the Bible, our bodies are referred to as temples.

In 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, Paul asked, “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

God created our bodies and he cares about how we take care of them and how we use them. We don’t want to make a god from our quest to be healthy or obsess over how we look physically. Our priority is serving God and living out the purpose God has for each of us. And we can do a better job of serving with a functioning and healthy body. Take care of yourselves, friends. Get out this summer, and enjoy the waters.

Your body will thank you for it.

Grilled Cheeseburgers

• ½ tsp. Kosher salt and black pepper

• 1 lb. ground sirloin

• ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

• 4 thick slices red onion

• 4 split whole wheat buns

• 2 Tbsp. ketchup

• 1 Tbsp. sriracha chile sauce

• ¼ cup premium mayonnaise

• Fresh spinach leaves

• Sliced pickles

In a bowl, mix sirloin and ½ tsp. salt and pepper. Shape meat into 1/8th-inch patties. In the center of each patty, press your thumb to form a slight indentation. Season meat again with salt and pepper. On a medium-high grill, grill 4 minutes on one side until charred. Flip and cook 2 minutes on other side. Divide cheese on each patty. Cover and cook 2 minutes until cheese is melted. While cooking, grill onion slices for 4 minutes or until lightly charred and tender on both sides. Grill buns 1 minute with cut side down until toasted. In a bowl, combine catsup, chile sauce, and mayonnaise. Top bun bottoms with meat patties, then onion slices, spinach, and pickles. Spread bun tops with mayo mixture. Yield: 4 burgers.

Hot Cheeseburgers with Pepper Jack

• 1½ lb. ground sirloin

• 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

• ½ tsp. cumin

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• mayonnaise

• Lettuce, sliced fresh tomatoes, and jalapenos

In a bowl, combine sirloin with cheese, cilantro and cumin. Loosely shape into 4 patties that are ¾-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 minutes while turning once over medium heat. Serve on toasted buns.

Cheesy Beefy Burgers

• 1 beaten egg

• 1½ lbs. ground chuck

• ¾ cup fine bread crumbs

• 1/5 tsp. garlic powder

• 2 tsp. smoked paprika

• ¼ tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Thinly sliced Havarti cheese

In a bowl, beat egg. Add ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. Form the meat mixture into thin patties. Place cheese in center of patty, leaving ½-inch margin. Place another patty on top of cheese. Press sides together all the way around to form a burger. Grill approx. 5 minutes per side or according to your desired doneness.

Chili Grilled Cheeses with Chutney

• 1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

• 1½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

• 1 minced jalapeño pepper

• 2 Tbsp. minced cilantro

• 3 Tbsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 8 Sour dough bread ½-inch slices

• Salted butter

In a large bowl, combine cheeses, jalapeño, cilantro and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. For the chutney, in a skillet, heat oil and cook onion 5 minutes or until softened. Salt and pepper. Add vinegar, sugar and ginger. Cook while occasionally stirring for 2 minutes. Add mangoes and red pepper. Cook over high heat for 5 minutes while stirring until mixture resembles chutney. Set aside and allow to cool. Season with salt to taste.

For sandwiches, brush 1 side of all bread slices with butter. Arrange buttered side down on grill. Top with cheese mixture and chutney. Put bread slice on sandwich, butter side upward, and grill 3 minutes on each side. Allow to cool 2 minutes and then cut into halves. Yield: 4

Mango-Onion Chutney

• 1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil

• 1 minced onion

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• ¼ cup white wine vinegar

• 1 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 Tbsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger

• 2 chopped ripe mangoes

• ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper

For the chutney, see above recipe.

Grilled Stuffed Dogs

• All-beef wieners

• Artisan mustard

• Cheddar or favorite cheese

• Sauerkraut

• Lean thin bacon

• Strips of dill pickle

Cut a long slit lengthwise in a wiener to form a pocket. Keep seam intact. Brush with artisan mustard. Add a thin strip of cheddar cheese and tablespoon of sauerkraut. Spiral wrap bacon around wiener and secure with toothpicks. Grill until bacon is brown and crispy. You can also stuff with a thin dill pickle, if desired.

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

• 4½-inch thick slices country bread

• 3 Tbsp. garlic olive oil

• 4 oz. thinly sliced smoked mozzarella

• 1 thinly sliced fresh tomato

• 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

For each grilled cheese, brush one side of bread with oil. On the other side of bread, arrange cheese, tomato, basil and cheese. Top with bread slice and place on a medium-hot grill oil side down. Brush tops of each sandwich with oil. Cook 5 minutes on each side or until evenly toasted.

Fresh Watermelon Salad

• 2 cups ½-inch pieces seedless watermelon

• 1 cup 1/2-inch pieces peeled, seedless cucumber

• 4 thinly sliced green onions

• 2 cups trimmed watercress

• ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

• 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 1½ Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil

• 2 tsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger

• 1½ tsp. grated lemon peel

• 1 minced garlic clove

In a bowl, combine watermelon, cucumber, green onions, watercress and cilantro. For dressing, in a bowl, combine vinegar, vegetable oil, fresh ginger, lemon peel, and garlic. Mix well. Pour over watermelon mixture and toss to coat. Chill.

Tortellini Pasta Salad

• 2 cups chopped celery

• 2 pressed cloves garlic

• 1 tsp. chopped basil

• 1 tsp. chopped thyme

• 1 tsp. chopped oregano

• ½ cup premium mayonnaise

• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

• ¼ cup red wine vinegar

• 1½ tsp. Dijon mustard

• 1 tsp. sugar

• ½ tsp. salt and ground black pepper

• 13 ¾ oz. drained, chopped artichoke hearts

• 13 oz. drained, chopped sundried tomatoes

• 20 oz. pkg. cheese tortellini

In a bowl, combine celery, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, mayonnaise, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt/pepper. Mix well. Combine chopped artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes. Gently fold into salad. Mix well. Fold in prepared tortellini. Mix well. Refrigerate.

Cherry Tomato Bake

• 24 oz. cherry tomatoes

• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

• 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

In a baking dish, pour olive oil. Add tomatoes and turn to coat thoroughly. Salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Top with parsley.

Bake tomatoes in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes or until swelling but not split. Turn oven to broil and cook 2 minutes until tomatoes begin to split and cheese begins to brown.

German Potato Salad

• 10 medium potatoes

• 1 lb. diced, cooked bacon

• 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup vinegar

• ¾ cup water

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 chopped onion

• Chopped parsley or chives

In a pot, boil potatoes with skins. In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and crumble. To the bacon grease in skillet, add flour, vinegar, water, sugar, salt and onion. Mix and bring to a boil for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Into a bowl, pour the vinegar mixture. When potatoes are cool, peel and slice. Gently fold the sliced potatoes and bacon into vinegar mixture. Mix well. Sprinkle top with chopped parsley or chives when serving.

Two Bean Bake for Cookout

• 2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

• 1 lb. ground sirloin

• 2 Tbsp. prepared mustard

• 2 tsp. cider vinegar

• 1 cup catsup

• ½ cup water

• 1 envelope dry onion soup mix

• 2 lbs. Bush’s pork and beans in tomato sauce

• 1 lb. drained light red kidney beans

In a skillet, melt butter. Brown meat and crumble. Drain any fat off. In a bowl, combine mustard, vinegar, catsup, water and dry onion soup mix. Gently fold in beef and beans. Mix well. Pour into a 2½-quart baking dish. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.

Candied Dill Pickles

• 3 cups sugar

• 2/3 cup cider or tarragon vinegar

• 2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices

• 1 quart dill pickles

In a saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar and pickling spices. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Drain jarred pickles and discard juice in which they were packed. Cut pickles in ¼-inch slices and repack in the empty jar. Strain out pickling spices from sugar syrup. Pour warm syrup over pickles. Store in refrigerator for 7 days.

Mud Hens

• ½ cup softened salted butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 whole egg

• 2 egg yolks

• 1½ cup all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces

• 2 beaten egg whites

• 1 cup brown sugar

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the whole egg and 2 egg yolks. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Spread batter into a well-greased and floured 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle top evenly with nuts, chocolate pieces and marshmallows. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in the brown sugar. Spread over top of cake. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup white sugar

• 1 cup Crisco shortening

• 1 cup peanut butter

• 2 eggs

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 3 cups flour

• 1 tsp. soda

• 2 tsp. water

In a mixer bowl, cream sugars, shortening and peanut butter. Beat in eggs, beating thoroughly between each addition. Add vanilla. Mix well. Add flour and soda that’s been dissolved in water. Mix well. Roll in 2-inch diameter balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten down with tines of fork in a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Apple-Oatmeal Cookies

• 1 cup softened salted butter

• ¾ cup sugar

• ¾ cup brown sugar

• 3 eggs

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 2 cups quick oats

• 4 peeled, chopped Golden Delicious apples

• 1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

• ½ cup raisins

• ½ cup chopped walnuts

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time, thoroughly mixing between each addition. Beat in flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Fold in oats, apples, orange rind, raisins and nuts. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls a few inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15-17 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool.