Sunday, July 10, 2011

4th of July Recap and the Culinary Smackdown Is Back!

Fourth of July weekend at the river was a mellow time, in part because it was just too hot and humid out to do much.
Cindie’s menu planning also wisely stuck to the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) philosophy, with dishes like the fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries, peaches, and strawberries at the top of this post. Between the two of us, we also put together grilled sausages and green beans with blue cheese and bacon Saturday night, ribs, mac and cheese, and cole slaw Sunday night, and cottage ham, green beans, and potatoes for Sunday night, all of which went unphotographed. Per the usual request of Cindie’s husband, I made breakfast burritos Sunday morning.
Cindie pronounced these in the top 10 of the breakfast burritos I’ve made at her house (yes, I’ve made a lot of them). But one of the highlights for me was Cindie’s peach and blueberry pie with streusel topping, even if her new stove proved a bit tricky in the baking arena (she’s exchanging it for an upgraded model).
Another highlight of the weekend for me was seeing the Moscow, Ohio fireworks, which, surprisingly, I’d never seen in the 20+ years Cindie has lived there. Quite impressive for such a small town, and they drew so many spectators from the surrounding area, we were happy that rather than fighting the car traffic, we could toddle over to an excellent viewing spot in the golf cart Cindie usually uses to take Oscar to the park or for a swim in the river.
Monday afternoon’s weather was actually pleasant enough we could enjoy some time on the deck overlooking the river, although we did most of our hanging out indoors in the air-conditioning.
And fine hanging out time it was. For a while, we played on the computer exploring the possibility of going to South Dakota together this September (alas, that’s not going to happen). And of course we talked about food, and dishes we’d like to make this summer. We had such a rainy spring that crops are way behind – not much local corn or tomatoes available, as would normally be the case by the 4th of July. We also talked about how much fun we had last year cooking together for the Culinary Smackdowns. As luck would have it, I got a message from Grumpy Granny this week also asking about them. So on the theory that three is a trend, let’s revive the “original” Culinary Smackdown!
Despite the fierceness of the CS badge, this is actually a friendly (ahem) online cooking competition with a different theme each month. I’ve always thought of it as a good kick in the pants to research new recipes, get creative with old favorites, and gain culinary inspiration from others. As La Diva would say, this is a great opportunity to stretch yourself.

The Culinary Smackdown is a round-robin affair, where each month’s winner becomes the following month’s host, judge, and “theme picker.” I actually won in June 2010, with able assistance from Cindie. (If you click through the Smackdown badge on my sidebar and the photos beneath, you’ll find my entries from last year.) A few months later the Smackdown passed into the hands of bloggers I didn’t know, and our day jobs and other pressing realities caused Cindie and me to plum lose track of it.

Thankfully, some of those ding-dang realities have calmed down. So I’m hosting a July 2011 Culinary Smackdown and donating my blog namesake as the theme ingredient:)
Battle Eggplant!

Here’s how it works:

1. Prepare a dish that includes eggplant and as many other ingredients and fresh veggies as you choose. If you’re inspired to make more than three dishes, please self-select which you wish to enter.

2. Post at least one photo and as much description as care to on your blog, then come back and leave a comment here letting everyone know you’re “up.” If you don’t have a blog, email me, post on facebook, or something – I’ll do my best to include you.

3. Recipes are helpful but not required. If you base your dish on a recipe you found elsewhere, please do the right thing and credit/link to the source. If you wing it (as the “Intuitive Eggplant” often does), that’s fine too. But it would be swell if you gave us a clue as to your ingredients/methods even without measurements.

4. Deadline is July 31. Cindie and I will concoct our own dish(es), but will not be contenders. She and I will no doubt consult, but I will have the final say as to the winner to whom the Culinary Smackdown torch will be passed, and I will post the results the following week.

Also, please let me know if anyone is game to create a new Culinary Smackdown badge for 2011.

And if you’re not inclined to cook but would like to participate in some other way, let your creativity run wild. Garlands, a vodka fountain, and anything else you wish to contribute to the mix are welcome.

Let the games – and par-tay planning – begin!

P.S. After an oops yesterday, more photos from the Badlands and Devil's Tower are actually up now on my eggy facebook page to accompany my last post. They should be viewable via that link even if you don't do facebook.


Roses said...

Eggplant...or aubergine is a staple round this house (when I can be arsed to cook).

I'm not sure I can resist a smackdown...

I love that you go round to Cindie's to cook. The sign of a strong and good friendship.

ThatJewCanCook said...

Hmmm, I have a great chicken and eggplant dish, but it looks like hell, doubt it would survive a smackdown. My schedule has been nuts, but let me see if I can join the fun!

Jenny said...

Great timing! I brought this up over the weekend and here you ready to go. I'm in. I'm actually allergic to eggplant but that won't stop me!

Thanks for bringing it back. Love you 4th recap.

Buzz Kill said...

I think I'm in on this too. The Mrs actually likes eggplant (one of the few vegetables I'm allowed to use) and I have an eggplant almost ripe from our garden. I will do some checking on new recipes because I want to "stretch" myself for LaDiva. Bwahaha I have no photoshop skills, so someone else will have to create a new badge (it should probably have an eggplant in it somewhere). Thanks for hostessessing.

Sharon Rudd said...

Roses, yeah - I would love for you to join in!

Andy, I know what a fabulous food photographer you are, but the Smackdown isn't just about how your food looks. I'm intrigued by your chicken and eggplant dish and I hope you'll find a way to make time to join us!

Boxer - hmm, maybe you were making ears burn subliminally :) Let's make a par-tay out of this, even for the aubergine-allergic!

Buzzy! Glad you're back! Who knew this theme ingredient would be something the Mrs actually likes? I'm happy to hostessess :)

xoxo, eggy

Aunty Belle said...

A good revival!

j'adore aubergine.

Stephie said...

Oh my goodness, I would love to be a part of this! I'm so excited now. It will be a lovely distraction from my sister's wedding cake!

And also, I really enjoyed the photos from your trip, they are beautiful!

chickory said...

oh dear. eggplant. bleech. you KNOW i will be taking the alternative route. But I am in. the river looks lovely -great way to spend the 4th. Loved the cheesy green beans and lovely strawberries!

GrumpyGranny said...

I'm in! Our eggplant is just coming on but I'll see what I can do with "boughten" ones.



Sharon Rudd said...

Yeah, Aunty! Looking forward to what you come up with!

Stephie! I'm delighted you will join in!

Chickie - I'm sure you'll do something fabulously creative along that alternative route :)

GG, thanks so much for helping to kick start this revival, and I know you'll come up with something spectacular :)

moi said...

Coolio! I think I can hack a dish before the deadline. I love eggplant.

Jen said...

If i can think of somethign awesome to make with the eggplant I'm growing, I will join in!

Anonymous said...

Okay, Part 1 of my entry is up:

Sharon Rudd said...

Granny, you rock! I saw your blog post before I saw your comment over here. Thanks so much - especially for helping me kick-start the revival of the "original" Culinary Smackdown! You're way ahead of schedule, and I'm hoping you save Part 2 for next weekend. Cindie and are I are just starting our farmers marketing tomorrow for next weekend's festivities :)

LaDivaCucina said...

Of course I'M IN! La Diva can't resist a good challenge and I love eggplant. The challenge to me is to get the DJ to like my offering as he finds eggplant too mushy. That, of course, never stops me from making it! Bring on the eggplant, Eggy!

Aunty Belle said...

Eggy, I thought of your t'other night--thar' wuz a cookin' show program on a food truck called Great Balls on Tires. The chef-owners do meat balls from nearly every cuisine ya' can imagine--Indian (uses chicken), Philippine, Vietnamese, fer the American hamburger meatball, they use Kobe beef on a brioche slider bun...anyhow, doan know if thar's a version of that in Cincin, but it did make me think of Eggy!

I got mah eggplant dish in mind, too.

Alessandra said...

Done! Just in time, I am off on holiday... hope that you will like it



Anonymous said...

Part 2 is now up!


Couscous & Consciousness said...

This is such a great challenge, as eggplant is one of my favourite ingredients. I have made a Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad - here is the link

I've just tried editing my post to include a link back to your post and the challenge, but right now for some reason Blogger is not letting me edit my post, but I'll keep trying.

I don't have the skills to do it, but I think a new badge is a great idea.

Sue :-)

Stephie said...

It's up! thanks for letting me join in!