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Shish kabobs a great summertime dish

Back in the early 1960s, our big red Buick had wings like a spaceship but our barbecue grill was quite pedestrian.

Fueled only by charcoal, crumpled-up newspapers, a few matches and some hot curses from my Dad, it was a simple contraption: a round black dish made of steel that sat atop three spindly legs.

Although we lived in the city and our backyard was tiny, in the summer we ate most of our meals outdoors on a picnic table that was handmade by dear ol’ Dad.

Besides the rickety grill, I remember tall metal cups in jewel colors, yellow Melmac plates, the ubiquitous plaid Scotch cooler and a weird pink-and-yellow net dome decorated with little fake bees and flowers that was designed to keep insects out of the potato salad.

My mom, who wore her hair in a big blonde beehive that was stolen years later by Lady Gaga, was quite imaginative in the kitchen.

Special recipe

For special family gatherings, her favorite recipe was lamb shish kabobs, and once or twice each summer, those swords of savory meat were cooked on the rickety grill, infusing our backyard with an exotic, herbal aroma that was quite unlike the usual dogs and burgers.

Mom marinated the lamb and threaded it onto long metal skewers that hung over the edges of the grill. Chunks of potato, peppers and cob corn were spiked, too, and cooked next to the meat.

Several years ago, mom passed her skewers and 1960s recipe down to me.

Kabobs show up two or three times every summer at my house, and it’s the same recipe, with minor changes.

Mom always used lamb for the meat. I use beef. The original recipe calls for “salad oil,” and I use olive oil instead. The long metal skewers were difficult to maneuver on a gas grill, so I use shorter, wooden sticks.

I like to serve the kabobs with a mound of fluffy couscous and a big green salad topped with a refreshing homemade blue cheese dressing.

Mom’s Shish Kabobs

1 1⁄2 pounds beef, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 cup dried onion flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1⁄3 cup lemon juice or vinegar

In a big bowl, mix all ingredients except meat. Cut meat into cubes and put into bowl with marinade and mix together. Cover and keep in fridge overnight. A few hours before grilling, soak wooden skewers in water to prevent splintering. Thread meat onto skewers and grill.

Blue Cheese Dressing

1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
3 tablespoons low-fat mayo
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Mix well and chill for at least an hour.

Kabob road trip

If you love the flavor of shish kabobs, another option is to hop into your wingless car and fly down to Binghamton on Aug. 2-4 for the Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally.

Spiedies are pieces of lamb, chicken, pork or beef that are marinated, skewered and grilled, then served unskewered in a soft Italian sub roll.

Italian immigrants brought the tradition to the Southern Tier in the 1920s, and now Binghamton’s
Spiedie Fest attracts more than 90,000 people every summer.

This year, LeAnn Rimes is the musical headliner. Former New York Yankee Roy White will also be signing autographs.

For more info, go to

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