Read an Excerpt
Women in the Wild
Females of all ages love to run in packs in the outdoors, whether we're teenagers on a nocturnal trek to spy on some boy's house, young women stuffing eight of us into a tent made for four on a camping trip, or grown-ups invading an urban mall on the hunt for the perfect pumps. We are our best selves when we're en masse, tapping into ancient wild women energy that often lies dormant when we're on our own. An outdoor annual Women in the Wild get together is the perfect way to celebrate our kindred vibrancy at the end of a dusty trail, in the comfort of our backyards, or at the close of a tough week. So kick off your shoes, feel the grass beneath your feet, and gather the sisters around for some scrumptious treats.
Grilled Wild and Domestic Mushrooms
With Herb Butter
Marinated and Grilled Butterflied
Cornish Game Hens
Roasted New Potatoes
Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak
Fresh Tomatoes, Green Beans
Bread, Butter, Assorted Cheeses
Fresh Figs, Apricots, and Melon
Imported Beers, Wine Spritzers, Sparkling
Water, and Soft Drinks
Grilled Wild and
with Herb Butter
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
(4 ounces), softened
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely
2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 very large portobella mushrooms
(about 1 pound), cleaned and quartered
1 pound domestic mushrooms, cleaned
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 pound chanterelle or other wild mushrooms,
Salt and pepper, to taste Prepare the herb butter: In a small bowl combine the butter and herbs; mix well. May be kept in the refrigerator tightly covered for up to 3 days.
Prepare a charcoal grill. When the coals are medium hot (covered with a medium-thick layer of gray ash through which a red glow is visible), place the mushrooms on the grill and cook 15 to 20 minutes, rotating frequently to cook evenly. Cooking time will differ among the mushroom varieties because they vary in size and moisture content. Remove mushrooms as they become soft and aromatic, transferring them to a large platter. Immediately brush with the butter and season with salt and pepper.
Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
grill. When the coals are hot (red glowing coals covered with a very thin layer of gray ash), place the corn on the edge of the grill and cook 30 to 35 minutes, rotating frequently to cook evenly. Check occasionally for doneness. Exact time will vary depending on intensity of fire and size of corn. Remove from grill when done and serve immediately.
Although many of us have struggled with the inconspicuous removal of impertinent kernels stuck in our teeth, we did not realize, until reading Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette (the 1956 edition), that corn-on-the-cob presents considerable challenges to polite eating. Of the many rules included therein, we present some of the highlights here:
· You MAY break the cob in half.
· You MAY NOT butter and season the whole ear at once, but only a row or so a time.
· You MAY concoct a mixture of salt-and-pepper to season the corn, but only if it is piled unnoticeably on the edge of the plate.
· You MAY NOT roll the corn in the salt and pepper mixture but only apply it with a knife a little at a time.
· You MAY cut the kernels off the cob with a knife, but only if the cob is held on one end with the left hand and the kernels cut off a few rows at a time with the dinner knife.
Modern etiquette mavens tell us that it is okay to eat corn with our fingers, but buttering and salting should only be done a few rows at a time to keep the messiness to a minimum. Emily Post would clearly like to eliminate corn on the cob altogether, but reluctantly instructs: "[I]f you insist on eating [corn-on-the-cob] at home or in a restaurant, to attack it with as little ferocity as possible, is perhaps the only direction to be given, since at best it is an ungraceful performance and to eat it greedily a horrible sight!" Isn't it a relief to know that we do not need to be so formal with our girlfriends?
How do I know
when it's done?
One cannot think well, love
well, sleep well, if one has
not dined well.
A Room of One's Own (1929)
Marinated and Grilled
Cornish game hens are usually sold alongside chicken in the poultry section of the grocery store. If you're unsure of how to butterfly the hen, ask your butcher to do it for you. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
4 Cornish game hens (7 to 8 pounds total), butterflied
2 cups orange juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons ground coriander
6 cloves garlic, minced
Place each butterflied Cornish game hen in a heavy, durable plastic bag. In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients, stirring with a whisk to form a smooth emulsion. Pour the marinade over the hens, dividing it equally among the four bags. Seal bags tightly and place in a large, shallow container (in case the bags leak slightly) in the refrigerator overnight or for 24 hours.
Prepare a charcoal grill. When the coals are medium hot (covered with a medium-thick layer of gray ash through which a red glow is visible), place the hens, skin-side down, on the grill and cook approximately 20 minutes, rotating frequently for even cooking until juices run clear when meat is pierced next to the bone. Exact cooking time will vary depending on intensity of fire and size of hens. Do not overcook. Remove from grill and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Somehow everything always
tastes better when eaten outdoors
on a warm evening, accompanied
by great wine and great
Wynn McClenahan Burkett
Roughing It ...
I have a friend, Betty, for whom good food is always a priority in our gatherings. Once when we were about eighteen years old, Betty and I and two other friends went camping. We had very little camping equipment, but thanks to Betty, we had New York steaks, superbly seasoned and cooked on the campfire grill with sautéed vegetables, baked potatoes, and garlic butter. Before the night was over, we made lots of friends from the neighboring campsites and traded food and beer for such "nonessentials" as flashlights, toothpaste, and cooking pots.
Marinated and Grilled Flank Steak
The combination of salty, tangy, and sweet flavors in this marinade add an enticing flavor to grilled meat.
Makes about 8 servings.
2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable or light olive oil
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons each paprika and crushed sage leaves
1 teaspoon ground thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place the steak in a large, shallow container (glass, stainless steel, or ceramic) large enough to accommodate it in one layer. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread marinade over both sides of the steak. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Prepare a charcoal grill. When the coals are hot (red glowing coals covered with a very thin layer of gray ash), place steak on grill and cook 10 to 12 minutes for medium doneness, rotating frequently to cook evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Remove steak from grill and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
Women in groups often become a little bolder, a little less conservative than when they are alone. If you and your friends are feeling like "letting your hair down" in the outdoors, try some of the following:
* string some beads for anklets
* pin flowers in your hair
* apply temporary body tattoos with stamps and washable ink
Remember when applying temporary tattoos, the focus is on washable ink! Last summer some of our friends ended up wearing long-sleeved shirts and dark stockings to their very conservative offices after returning from a day at the beach (and stamping permanent ink on their bodies)!
The whole point of entertaining is for everyone to enjoy themselves. When hosting a party for your friends, the procrastinators among us can get a bit behind in the plans, and end up doing everything at the last minute! Anyone who has been in this situation knows the difficulty of enjoying an evening when you have had to cram in all the preparations that day. When throwing a party for your girlfriends, you can always ask them to help (likely they will insist on it). But when you want to put on a special outdoors event at home, for your friends and without their assistance, we suggest the following party countdown schedule. It will reduce stress and allow you to be relaxed and spend quality time with your valued guests.
· Party minus seven to ten days Telephone your friends with an invitation.
· Party minus three days Buy all the ingredients for the recipes except for the tomatoes and bread.
· Party minus two days Make sure you have all the serving dishes, napkins, plates, glasses, and cutlery you will need. Do you need any citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away?
· Party minus one day Marinate the Cornish game hens and flank steak and refrigerate. Prepare the spice blend for the corn-on-the-cob (don't put it on the corn yet) and refrigerate. Make the peach-blueberry crisp and refrigerate.
· Party day Earlier in the day, buy ripe tomatoes and fresh, crusty bread, and prepare the remaining food as much as possible before your guests arrive. Assemble all the eating utensils and serving pieces in one place in preparation for taking outside. Put any white wine or other drinks that should be chilled in the refrigerator, and if you are preparing any special mixed drinks, prepare enough to have a pitcherful ready about half an hour before your guests arrive. Later, as you prepare your grill, remember that the mushrooms and Cornish game hens should be cooked first over a medium-hot grill, then the flank steak and the corn-on-the-cob, which should be cooked over a hot grill. Turn your oven down to 300 degrees F after taking out the potatoes and warm the peach-blueberry crisp during dinner. While you are grilling, let your guests help you bring the remaining food outside. Enjoy!
Makes 8 to l0 servings.
8 large peaches, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pint blueberries, stemmed if necessary
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cornstarch (use 1/4 cup if you like the fruit portion a little runnier)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Generously grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch (3-quart) baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the peaches, blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice; mix well. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the fruit mixture and mix well, taking care to dissolve any small lumps. Transfer to a prepared baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, light brown sugar, and cinnamon; mix thoroughly. Add the butter in chunks. Using your fingers or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs (some pea-size bits of butter should remain visible). Do not overmix or the topping will be stiff and dry. Using your fingers, loosely sprinkle the topping evenly over fruit. Do not press it onto the fruit.
Place on lower shelf of preheated oven and bake 35 minutes. Move to upper shelf and bake 10 to 15 more minutes, or until topping is dark golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before cutting into serving pieces.
Include here pictures or stories of your favorite time with your girlfriends in the outdoorsremember that the outdoors includes your backyard and the terrace of your favorite restaurant!
Friday Night Film Fest
Let your hair downthe workweek is over and an entire weekend is just beginning. Who better to gripe about your job, gossip about your romances, and compare weekend plans with than your girlfriends? After you slough off the week's troubles and dive into some tasty finger food, get ready to slouch on the couch and watch some favorite films. Thank goodness it's Friday!
Excerpted from girlfriends get together by Carmen Renee Berry, Tamara Traeder, and Janet Hazen. Copyright © 2001 by Carmen Renee Berry, Tamara C. Traeder, and Janet Hazen. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.