Spring has been off to a slow start, but I haven't given up hope that summer is on its way.
In fact, the unseasonably cool weather has me yearning even more deeply for summer and I'm already planning my first big cook out. Rummaging through my recipe files (piles really is a more fitting description), I came across Grecian Orzo Salad that I ran in the Food section back in 2009. It quickly became a favorite among family and friends and, yes, I'll be trotting it out again this summer.
So, I wondered, what's your tried-and-true summer side dish? A potato salad that's been in your family for generations? The pasta salad you tossed together for a last-minute gathering that guests couldn't stop talking about? Baked beans? Grilled potato skins? Zucchini ribbons in herb vinaigrette?
Send me the recipe for your favorite summer side dish, tell me why it's your fave (100 word max, please) and I'll pick four recipes to share with readers later this summer. Email the recipe and story to email@example.com by May 28. Those who enter will also be eligible to win cookbooks and other summer swag.
Grilling gear: Throughout the five weeks of our Get Your Summer On grilling series, I'm going to highlight some new products aimed at improving the outdoor cooking experience. Today, the Cookina Barbecue Reusable Grilling Sheet hogs the spotlight.
This slick, flexible black mat reminds me of silicone liners I use on cookie sheets, but it's not made of silicone. It's made of fabric encapsulated by a plastic polymer composite called PTFE. PTFE also is used as a nonstick layer for cookware as well as medical applications.
It's more economical than lining your grill with aluminum foil or oiling the grates (and causing possible flare-ups). The mat is thin enough that your steaks still get those nice grill marks on them. It can withstand temps up to 500 degrees and you can cook on either side of the mat.
When food starts to stick, it's time for a new one.
The Grilling Sheet comes with a scrubber and cleans up easily. Let it dry, roll it up and stow it away until your next grill day. Look for it at Home Depot for $14.99.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at dpankey@dailyherald. com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter @PankeysPlate.