First is the weather. Today was about 77 degrees and perfectly sunny. I've mentioned before that I'm just dying for the warm weather to stick around. That's the official reason.
The second reason I'm not so eager to share, but in the interest of full disclosure, I will come clean: Husband has convinced me to enter the 2014 World Championship Squirrel Cookoff. Yes, that is a real thing, and yes, it is hosted exactly 1.0 miles from The Sparkle Kitchen.
And yes, I will definitely be the only contestant wearing Kate Spade. Initially, I didn't understand his motivation for pushing me to consider entering. I believed him that it would just be a fun thing to do. Then, once I threw out a single non-committal "yeah, maybe," his true colors began to show. Contestants have to BRING THEIR OWN SQUIRREL to the event! Husband is using this as an excuse to get outside and go hunting. For real. He already bought a new gun. He's such a giver, isn't he?
Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head. And start whipping up marinades that can perhaps disguise the flavor of squirrel meat. I have no idea what squirrel tastes like, but the contest requires the dish to be 80% squirrel, so my standby fancy-salad recipes are not going to fly. I'm going to have to find some way to make squirrel delicious. This is how he got me hooked onto the challenge - baited me with a new goal. It's just too easy to convince people who are obsessed with goals to do things, isn't it?
I'll keep you all posted on whether I can find a valid reason NOT to take part in this event, but honestly, it looks like some good old-fashioned Arkansas fun. And how ridiculous would it be to be able to claim winning the World Championship Squirrel Cookoff? I'd never have to be witty at a cocktail party again. I'd just let my squirrel trophy do the talkin'. Lord help us.
In the first (of what I can assume will be many) marinade recipe experiments, I went far east. I used a flavorful yellow curry blend and added zingy ginger and red pepper for a bit more heat. The mellow lemongrass and deep, dark sesame oil provide additional flavor contrast. It's great stuff. Or, it was on these brussels sprouts - no promises on how it will taste on squirrel. Bless my heart.
Lemongrass & Yellow Curry Marinade
Yield 1 1/2 - 2 cups marinade
You will need:
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemongrass or lemongrass paste
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. yellow curry powder
- 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. dried cilantro (or 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro)
- 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. dried orange peel
- dash salt and pepper
- Whisk all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until evenly combined.
- Marinade fresh asparagus or brussels sprouts for ~ 12 hours. Grill, saute, or bake. Serve hot, drizzled with Sriracha (or other garlic-chili sauce).