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Monday, August 8, 2011

Campfire Grilling in Killarney


 It seems that this summer has been one long stretch of heavenly days and nights, and the Civic Holiday weekend was no exception.  We took advantage of these fabulous conditions and ventured up to Killarney Ontario at the north end of Georgian Bay for an overnight canoe trip.  But before setting out we explored some of the highlights of the town, our favourite of which was Herbert's Fisheries. This little gem consists of a tired old school bus painted red and white, where they dish out the freshest and most delicious fish and chips we’ve ever tasted.  Herbert’s sits on the edge of the channel, and as soon as the whitefish and perch are delivered by fishing boat, they are filleted in a little annex, then passed through the bus from batter, to fryer and out the window to streams of happy customers.  Next, a quick trip to the Gateway Marina for butter tarts or their famous Granny Cake satisfied the sweetest of sweet-teeth. 

Having been fortified by Herbert’s, we packed up our canoe and paddled out the channel and around George Island until we found our ideal campsite and pitched our tent.  There, on a smooth granite site, we barbecued our dinner and breakfast over a crackling fire.  Pluto accompanied us, and for him it was one of the highlights of his life:  because of our worries about attracting bears we offered up our leftovers to our dog, who had never had a scrap of human food before.  He couldn’t believe his good fortune, and once he dug in, he continued to push his bowl around our campsite in circles until he was sure he had consumed every morsel!

A great trick for weekend meal preparation, whether it is on a canoe trip or travelling up to a cottage, is to prepare your meat with a rub or marinade a few days in advance, pop it into a resealable bag, and throw it into the freezer.  Scoop it up as you head out the door and by the time you get to your destination it is thawed and ready for the grill!  With a few vegetables, a potato and a green salad, a perfectly seasoned dinner is ready in minutes.  

On our little trip we had a very basic menu:  steak, peppers, arugula salad and a grilled corn salad that was prepared in advance of the adventure.  Breakfast consisted of peameal bacon, fried potatoes and some scrambled eggs.  

At the end of the weekend, when we got back to the cottage we feasted on some jerk chicken which would be ideal for the kind of advance preparation we mentioned above:

Island Chicken
For the Marinade:
2 cloves garlic
Masuti and Chloe
2 green onions
1” knob fresh ginger
Handful fresh chives
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Small sprig fresh sage
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 chicken breast supremes (boneless breast with wing portion attached)

Place everything in a blender and whir until a smooth paste is formed.   Coat the chicken well all over, and allow to marinade for a minimum of ½ an hour, or as long as overnight.  Or place all ingredients together in a ziplock bag and place it in the freezer in anticipation of a future adventure!

We placed the breasts on the smoker over a low fire for 2 hours, but they could just as easily be grilled on MEDIUM LOW on the gas grill for a total of 12 minutes,  turning every 3 minutes for perfect grill marks.   

Another wonderful thing about the Civic Holiday Weekend is the abundance of fresh wild blueberries.  This is a short and precious season, and so it was a great treat to have Mom make a blueberry pie to wrap up our meal. 

Gretchen’s Blueberry Pie

For the Pastry:

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup vegetable shortening, divided
 ¼ cup cold water

4 cups (1 quart) fresh wild blueberries

½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ tablespoons corn starch
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/2 cup shortening, and continue blending until the crumbs are the size of large peas.  Add the remaining shortening, and continue to blend and cut in until it resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle water over the flour mixture, and toss lightly with a fork.  Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two. 

Roll out one disk and place in the bottom of a 9” pie plate. 
Mix together the sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and lemon zest.  Sprinkle a few tablespoons of this mixture over the bottom crust, then spoon in half the berries.  Sprinkle half the remaining sugar mixture, then the remaining berries.  Top with the remaining sugar.  Drizzle with lemon juice, and dot with butter. 

Roll out the pastry for the top crust and lay it on top.  Pinch the edges together and cut vents for the steam in the top crust. 

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