Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 31, 2015

Kay’s Cooking Corner

It’s hot! Time to get grillin’!

It’s hot outside! And we have just moved into the dog days of summer, so more than likely, it’s going to stay that way for a while. Have you ever wondered where “dog days of summer” originated? I checked the Internet for an answer, and as usual, I found several. Here’s the one I liked the most”

The “dog days of summer” occur during the hottest and muggiest part of the season. Webster defines “dog days” as the period between early July and early September, when hot, sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere.

In the summer, Sirius, the dog star, rises and sets with the sun. During late July, Sirius is in conjunction with the sun. The ancients believed its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named the period 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after it the dog days, after the dog star.

The conjunction of Sirius with the sun varies somewhat with latitude. The gradual “drifting” of the constellations over time means that the constellations today are not in the same place in the sky as they were in ancient Rome. Today, our dog days occur during the period between July 3 and August 11. Although it’s usually the warmest period of the summer, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a faraway star, regardless of its brightness.

Homer, in the Iliad, describes them in these words:

“Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky

On summer nights, star of stars,

Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest

Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat

And fevers to suffering humanity.”

We in the South just say it’s hot and humid outside, and it usually occurs long before Sirius the Dog ever starts panting!

With these days upon us, cooking in the kitchen, which puts your air conditioner into overdrive, doesn’t make the heat any easier to bear. So this is the perfect time to head to the patio and fire up the ol’ PK (the Portable Kitchen), Weber, or whichever grill you have, and prepare dinner outside – which is exactly what I’ve been doing.

Of the meals I prepare on the grill, I think pizza and nachos are the biggest crowd pleasers, and I’ve made both recently. The grilled nachos are one of the recipes this week. They’re very good, and easy to make!

These days, you can find recipes for grilling just about anything. One of the stranger ones I have found is grilled watermelon. I know – it sounds really strange, but don’t judge it before you try it! Above is a recipe for a wonderful salad that’s very tasty. Watermelon and arugula are a perfect match!

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.  

Grilled Watermelon Salad

1/2 (about five pounds) seedless watermelon

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

2 cups fresh baby arugula, washed and dried

1 cup goat cheese, crumbled, preferably a French Chevre

Fresh, finely cracked black pepper

Stand the watermelon half cut side down on a cutting board and slice away the rind, leaving a solid block of melon. Turn the block on its side and cut it into eight squares, roughly three inches in length and width and one inch thick.

Pour vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to a thick syrup consistency. Set aside.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Drizzle small amount of olive oil over watermelon slices and place on hot grill. Grill each side about two minutes; transfer to a plate and season with salt.

Place a helping of baby arugula on a salad plate, followed by a slice of grilled watermelon in the center; top with a tablespoon of crumbled cheese and one-fourth of a cup of arugula. Add another watermelon slice and another tablespoon of cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Finish each salad with a very light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic syrup. Add some black pepper and serve immediately.

Smoky Grilled Nachos

Now for the nachos. You’ll absolutely love these! They are yummy and fun to make!

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 pound hamburger meat

1 package nacho seasoning mix

Large bag tortilla chips

3/4 lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

3/4 lb. Monterey jack cheese, shredded

1 can refried beans

1/2 cup canned jalapeño slices

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

2 tbs. minced fresh cilantro

1/2 cup crumbled Queso Añejo cheese



Sour cream

Heat grill to medium. Meanwhile, inside, prepare hamburger and nacho seasoning as directed on package. Set aside.

Assemble the nachos: Place a single layer of tortilla chips on bottom of a grill tray. Sprinkle one-fourth of the cheddar cheese and then one-fourth of the Monterey jack cheese on top. Place several spoonfuls of refried beans on the cheese. Sprinkle one-fourth of the hamburger and then one-fourth of the jalapeño slices on top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to create 3 more layers, making each layer a bit more narrower, resembling a pyramid-shaped mound.

Place tray in center of grill, close the lid and cook 10-12 minutes, or until the top layers of cheese are bubbly and the bottom layers are evenly melted.

Remove tray from the grill and top the nachos with the tomatoes, cilantro, and Queso Añejo cheese. Serve immediately with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.