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Guess Who's Back... Back Again... (Safe Summer at Home #1)

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

Hey, everyone! I'm back after another long hiatus...

What am I up to? I'm just trying to get by. I have a fun recipe to share that will be up later, but as for today, I'm just sharing my plans for the weekend. Everyone's been a bit down with the pandemic and the constant barrage of police brutality images, so I'm looking to cheer us all up a bit and remind us that life can (and should) be joyful for black families.

A pineapple with sunglasses superimposed onto a lit charcoal grill.
Safe Summer at Home: My Holiday Weekend Family Fun BBQ Menu

Friday is Juneteenth! I'm working, but there are a lot of video meetings for us black employees and allies to chat about the day. We're also having a little company-wide celebration at the end of the day! Saturday is the first day of Summer, and I can't wait for the Solstice, even though we can't see the eclipse from where we are. Then there's Fathers' Day on Sunday, and I have a little present ready for my dad. It's the middle of an intense heat wave, and we're gonna make the most of the backyard. In preparation, I'll be throwing together some stuff at home to enjoy with the fam for the holidays.

Playlist: my Jimmy Buffett and Reggae Pandora stations, max volume.

On the menu: zobo drink, chickpea salad, regular salad, sautéed bok choy, pineapple-grilled salmon, and iced tea.

Tonight, I will steep some zobo drink to be strained and iced tomorrow. What is zobo drink? You may know it as roselle, sorrel, Jamaica drink, hibiscus drink, or another similar name. It's basically hibiscus tea! The flower buds from the Roselle variety of hibiscus (sometimes sold as flor de Jamaica) are boiled and steeped with ginger, pineapple skin, allspice peppercorns, and sugar; cooled for some time; and served over ice, often with rum. You can also have it hot! My zobo will have hibiscus, ginger, pineapple skin, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, pineapple juice, limes, and a few drops of stevia extract to sweeten it further. I will freeze some chunks of pineapple to serve the zobo sangria-style! No rum, though...

The chickpea salad was made in advance on Tuesday. I lived off of How Sweet Eats's recipe last summer, and this time, I grilled a ton of corn on the cob (28 ears for the family to devour, plus 2 extra for this salad) and cut off the kernels. I also added diced red onion, as well as mint and parsley from the garden. I've even used key limes before, but I wasn't able to get any this week. It's perfect hot or cold, but it's better on the second day, after the dressing has marinated a bit. My favorite way to enjoy it lately is with a bit of baby spinach, crumbled goat cheese, and falafel in a pita pocket. A quick and easy vegetarian lunch I can practically pull straight from the fridge, especially using Trader Joe's frozen falafel that microwaves in a snap.

We've got a bunch of greens in the garden finally getting big enough to eat! My mother will likely make a salad because we love dark, leafy greens, and they're tastier when you grow them yourself! I don't know what route she'll take with those, but it'll undoubtedly be delicious. We have an abundance of a particular green that will go great with salmon: bok choy. I'm thinking of lightly sautéing it in avocado oil with some minced garlic (might roast it on the grill to deepen the flavor first), a bit of grated ginger, some Yondu, salt, pepper, and a bit of toasted sesame oil to drizzle on top.

For the pineapple grilled salmon, I'm using some more of the leftover pineapple from the zobo project. I'll cut it into planks, whip up a savory marinade of some sort for the fish, and grill the salmon on the pineapple planks to impart some sweetness onto the dish. I grabbed a bit of inspiration from this recipe, but I have been looking at a bunch of methods to cobble something together. This can go with the greens and some jollof rice (as a Nigerian, there is always—ALWAYS—some rice in the fridge, and 99% of the time, it's jollof. Consider jollof the grandparent of jambalaya and the cousin of paella. A West African fried rice).

For the iced tea, I'll have a separate post on the perfect recipe. It's the best!

My favorite part? Everything on this menu pairs well with a water gun fight and some sidewalk chalk.

How will you be celebrating this holiday weekend? Are you taking Juneteenth off? Is Fathers' Day your own personal Christmas? Are you safely attending a protest? Are you just hanging out? Let me know in the comments!

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