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updated: 7/30/2013 7:40 AM

Gardening, grilling come together at meal time

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  • Video: Buffalo Mac and Cheese

  • Clark Garlock's love of grilling and gardening merge on the dinner plate.

       Clark Garlock's love of grilling and gardening merge on the dinner plate.
    photos by Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Clark Garlock of Grayslake chops onions and peppers for his Buffalo Mac and Cheese.

       Clark Garlock of Grayslake chops onions and peppers for his Buffalo Mac and Cheese.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Clark Garlock gives his macaroni and cheese the "Buffalo" treatment with spicy chicken, hot sauce and a crumbly blue cheese topping.

       Clark Garlock gives his macaroni and cheese the "Buffalo" treatment with spicy chicken, hot sauce and a crumbly blue cheese topping.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
By Abby Scalf
Daily Herald Correspondent

Clark Garlock has two loves: grilling and gardening.

And when he prepares meals for family or a rare gathering, guests can rely on the Grayslake cook to bring both to the table: meats cooked perfectly on the grill along with fresh produce that he proudly harvests.

Clark cites his dad for igniting his passion. He said his dad loved to cook everything on the grill, and now so does he.

"It's nothing for me to make a pan of lasagna and put it on the grill to cook," Clark said.

Clark said among the tips his dad passed on were don't overcook the meat and always keep a thermometer nearby. But the most important lesson was to never stop learning.

"He told me don't be afraid to try new things," he said. "The flavor may change, but you may like it. Don't be afraid to experiment." Clark often enjoys grilling a casual meal of burgers, chicken or steaks and for special occasions has been known to cook a turkey over the coals. He turns to fresh produce to complete the meal. Clark said much of it grows at a community garden plot he takes care of at nearby Saddlebrook Farms in Grayslake.

"I have a 20-by-20 (foot) garden plot where I have 18 tomato plants, 16 pepper plants along with cucumbers, zucchini, melons, peas, onions and chives," he said.

Clark particularly likes to use tomatoes and peppers to make what he calls a base sauce. He said it's a sauce he builds on for other recipes like his slow cooker lasagna, manicotti and Irate Penne, a dish that gets it's name from a healthy dose of cayenne pepper.

Clark also will utilize a variety of peppers and onions for his signature, and often requested, pasta salad. The salad combines the vegetables as well as multicolor noodles, pepperjack and cheddar cheese, pepperoni, salami and olives. But when it comes to the dressing, Clark will not share that special combination of ingredients.

"No one gets that," he said. "It's in my head."

One dish that he is happy to share is his stuffed peppers. Trying to make healthier choices and eat less red meat, Clark makes these with shredded rotisserie chicken.

Even with a home filled with a large selection of cookbooks, Clark uses recipes only as a starting point. Clark said he continues to follow his dad's advice to keep trying something new.

"To be successful, you have to be open minded," he said. "I love to go and create."

• To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to food@dailyherald.com.

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