The Aztecs had the life. These guys could hang out on their temple patios honing their summer cooking skills making the best braai all year round (when they weren’t sacrificing one of their guests). We aren’t so lucky. Most modern men are too busy (or too lazy) to get much practice wielding the old braai tongs. The result: we waste valuable pool time toiling over food that ends up requiring its own sort of human sacrifice to choke down.
But that’s ancient history. Turning our pens into pickaxes, we did some excavating and unearthed something that’ll help you out: the long-lost ‘Secrets of Summer Cooking’.
There are eight, and they cover everything from preparing perfect mielies to grilling the most tender steak on the block. And because you’ll eventually get full, there are also low-kilojoule, low-fat recipes for turning the leftovers into backyard legends in their own right. Now get out there and celebrate the start of the summer season.
For burgers that sizzle, add four tablespoons of ice water to each half-kilogram of lean chopped sirloin. The heat from the coals will seal in the extra moisture, making your homemade monster macs juicier than your usual hockey-puck patties.
The sweetest ears will be slightly immature (just like you) with kernels that don’t go all the way to the end of the cob (uh, not like you). Toss them, husks and all, onto a medium-hot braai fire. Cook for 10 minutes and then peel back all but the last layer of husk. Braai five more minutes for that just-smoked flavour.
Left-overs? Make this grilled corn salsa: 2 cups grilled corn, removed from the cob, 1 finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 finely chopped jalapeno chilli pepper, 1 large diced tomato, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper and a dash of chilli powder or ground cumin.
Directions: Mix it all together and serve. Makes three cups.
Per serving 300 kilojoules, 2g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 1g total fat, 2g fibre, 142mg sodium
Hold two skewers half a centimetre apart. Proceed to impale your meat and vegetables so that both skewers are threaded through each piece. Repeat for all of your kebabs. The meat won’t spin as it would on a single skewer (and end up cooking unevenly), and the vegetables won’t be able to take a suicidal leap into the coals.
Before you buy strawberries or raspberries, flip the carton over. You’re looking for nature’s expiration date: juice stains. See, dripping fruit is one step away from rotten fruit. If you’ve already bought berries that are going soft, place a single layer of them on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes.
Left-overs? Make this rum berry sorbet: 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup skim milk, 2 cups strawberries or raspberries, 2 tsp Bacardi rum
Directions: Mix the honey with the milk, and microwave until the honey melts. Add the berries and rum, and blend until smooth. Fill four dessert bowls, freeze, and serve.
Per serving 410 kilojoules, 1g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 0g total fat, 2g fibre, 9mg sodium
Skip the deli variety and the after-dinner angioplasty. Instead, make this better-tasting and less artery-plugging mac salad: mix one diced boiled egg, one diced onion, one diced tomato, 115 grams kidney beans, one tablespoon light mayonnaise, and two tablespoons each relish and white vinegar into 1.5 cups cooked macaroni. Sprinkle with paprika, chill, and serve.
Before you can hold a proper seed-spitting contest, there needs to be an official weigh-in. Grab a few similar- size watermelons and plop them down on the scale. Heaviest melon wins. Why? Because the extra weight means the melon has more water, and water is what gives a melon its flavour.
Here’s something you can do with an overripe banana that doesn’t involve a tailpipe. Peel, put in a plastic container, and mash. When you’ve got half a cup, mix in a dash of lemon juice and freeze. You have six months to use in the daiquiri or margarita of your choice.
Everything tastes like it, but nothing takes as long to cook through. To speed up the process, spread your chicken in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and nuke it for six minutes on medium- high heat, or until the meat just begins to turn white. Brush with barbecue sauce and slap on the braai.
Left-overs? Make this chicken tortilla casserole: 2 cups chopped, grilled chicken, 1 can rinsed and drained black beans, 1 bottle drained chile peppers, 1/2 cup Old El Paso enchilada sauce, 3/4 cup crumbled nachos chips, 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese.
Directions: Stir together the chicken, beans, peppers, and enchilada sauce. Now place it all in a 20x20cm baking dish, top with the crushed chips and bake at 200.