An Elderly Weber Grill Repurposed into an Outdoor Bar Cart (plus a bushel of tomato, squash & corn recipes)

What do you get when you cross a 26-year-old Weber grill frame with boards, leftover deck paint, galvanized screen, and rope?

A party on a bar cart! Just in time for the Labor Day weekend. We got the idea from daughter, Greta. She’s developing a line of bar carts to complement her Coleman (bar) stools. Richard and I share her love of repurposing, particularly when integrating industrial aesthetics into the design. We came up with our own, easy-to-make, bar cart.

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Our new house came with a Weber gas grill, circa 1988. Although it still worked, we decided to update to a new Weber (natural gas) Spirit Grill, but decided to keep the original sturdy frame (pictured).

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We sanded a few of the rusty areas, wiped them clean, and painted the base with a rust-resisitant spray.

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To make trays for the cart, Richard inserted screws (with an electric screwdriver) into mitered corners of his prepared wood to secure them together.

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He finished the sides of the trays with outdoor (deck) paint.

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To make a bottom for the trays, he tacked two layers of heavy galvanized screening into the frame. Over this screen, for added stability, I placed two removable lucite trays.

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For decoration, we glued rope around the top tray lid; made rope handles for bottom tray; and wrapped remaining rope around two-thirds of each handle.

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The bar cart comes in handy when juggling several items to cook on our new Weber grill.

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We placed lucite trays on the top and bottom of the galvanized screening and VOILA! Instant bar!

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Our new, fixer-upper lake house came with a Weber gas grill, circa 1988. Even though the geriatric grill worked like a charm, we decided to upgrade to a natural gas grill, to complement our charcoal grill. The old frame was very sturdy, so we decided to keep it. It was easy navigate, and the base and wheels are in excellent shape. I’ve included a “recipe” below for making your own cart, if you’re lucky enough to have access to an old grill frame.

Side note: Here are favorite recipes for “repurposing” the plethora of fresh local produce that’s filling gardens and stands right now. In Michigan, we’ve got another 8-10 weeks to revel in the glory!

Fried Green Tomatoes with a Tomato-Corn Relish

Fried Green Tomatoes with a Tomato-Corn Relish

Appetizers: Fried Green Tomatoes with a Tomato-Corn RelishTomato-Cucumber RaitaTomato-Zucchini Tapas; Tomato-Mozzarella Bruschetta;  Super-Fast Caprese Canapes

Salads: Tomato Bulgur SaladPanzanella; Jerusalem Pita and Vegetable Salad; Quinoa with Black Beans, Corn and AvocadoRoasted Corn and Barley Salad; Corn and Coconut Salad

Soups: Tomato-Zucchini Soup; Chilled Zucchini Soup with Tarragon; Gazpacho; Cherry Gazpacho;

Tomatoes Stuffed with Walnut -Tarragon Chicken Salad

Tomatoes Stuffed with Walnut -Tarragon Chicken Salad

Main Events: Pasta with Fresh and Easy Tomato Sauce;  Sun-kissed Tomato-Basil Angel HairWhitefish with Tomato Caper Relish; Grilled Pork with Romesco Sauce;  Zucchini & Yellow Squash Gratin; Fried Green Tomato BLT; Tomato stuffed with Walnut-Chicken Salad; Corn and Tomato Farrasotto; Baked Peaches with Savory Ground Turkey

Sides: Butter Beans with Tomato Relish; Grilled Mexican Street Corn;  Southwest Corn and Zucchini Fritters; Blistered Baby Zucchini; Grilled Vegetables with Mediterranean Breadcrumbs

Desserts: Fresh Peach and Limoncello Sorbet; Ricotta topped with Honey, Blueberries and Fresh Thyme; Apricots stuffed with Mascarpone and Pistachios; Super-Simple Fresh Fruit Cobbler

Recipe: Outdoor Bar Cart

Ingredients

  • 1 (formerly used) Weber (or other) grill frame
  • Sandpaper, if needed
  • Rust-resistant spray paint, if needed
  • Enough 1×4-inch pine boards to construct two box side frames
  • Nails and screws as needed
  • Wood glue to secure corners of boxes and glue tile onto tray
  • Enough 1×2-inch pine boards to build one extending tray
  • Desired paint color (we used grey deck paint)
  • 1-inch wide wood trim, as needed
  • 1 piece of decorative tile to fit extending tray (we needed 9×13-inch)
  • Heavy galvanized wire mesh screen (comes in a roll)
  • Hot glue to secure rope trim
  • Decorative rope
  • Tacks to secure rope to top box
  • 4 hook eyes to secure rope handles to bottom box
  • Lucite trays to fit top and bottom finished boxes

Instructions

  1. If grill base is rusty, sand, wipe clean, then paint according to directions on spray can.
  2. Construct two box frames to fit top and bottom dimensions of cart: Miter corners to form a diagonal cuts on each end of the boards; glue sides together and secure with nails or screws, or use pneumatic nail gun. (Note that the top box frame will be secured to the top grill frame and the lower frame will rest on the existing bottom shelf.)
  3. Construct a new extending tray, to replace the extending wood tray on the original grill cart. Original grill cart had existing holes in the frame, which held original shelf. These holes were used to insert wood screws to hold new shelf secure.
  4. Paint the box frames, the extending shelf, and trim.
  5. Glue tile on top of extending tray to accommodate hot dishes.
  6. Cut screen to box frame size using wire cutter scissors. Stretch screen tight, then staple to the bottom of the wood frames. For added stability and strength, add a second layer of screen and secure in the same manner. (Note that you may substitute pine for the screen. We prefer the aesthetics of the screen.)
  7. Cover staple lines with a thin, 1-inch wide trim. (Note that we mitered the trim sides, as well.)
  8. To decorate, glue rope along top edge of the top box, then secure with tacks. For the bottom box, form rope handles on each end of  box: Drill two small starter holes and screw in hook eyes, and thread rope through hook eyes. Tie knots at the end of each rope hoop. Using hot glue, wrap rope 2/3’s along each handle of cart.
  9. Place lucite trays on top of wire mesh box bottoms.                                          *We drilled through the bottom of the grill’s frame into the bottom sides of the box. We secured this in place with wood screws. This was not necessary for the bottom, as our cart had a bottom shelf. We placed the bottom box on the shelf. ** The boards to form the top box frame to fit our grill frame were 27-inches long x 18-inches wide. The boards to form the bottom box frame were 23-inches long x 14-inches wide.

Number of servings (yield): 1  (49-inch long X 34-inch high) outdoor bar cart

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

 

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Lamb Burger Sliders with Beetroot Relish and Tzadziki

The burger – be it White Castle or Farmer’s Market Veggie-Grain – could be the most telling testimonial, the most apt memoir of the 20th and early 21st century American palate.  Little sis “Slider” drills into this hypothesis.

The Slider, especially, is suited to our national temperament and accommodates our multitasking lifestyle. It’s easily held in one hand while the other hand performs a variety of tasks. Be it holding a brew, tapping a screen, or guiding your steering wheel through traffic, The Slider understands the American temperment.

Rachel Ray, our own Slider Queen Miss USA, and her battalion of food marketing gurus must agree. About this time every year, and then again in Superbowl season, Sliders pelt us like BB’s. Why not? When properly executed, they’re delish.

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My new obsession are Lamb Sliders – been fine-tuning the following recipe through the summer. For mass appeal, I cut the gaminess of lamb by mixing with a bit of beef. The sweetness of the beetroot relish is the perfect foil for the garlicky, dill creaminess of the yogurt sauce. At first try I was messing up a pan by sautéing the onions and beets. No need. Grated raw beets soaked into the vinegar are a lovely texture.

A word about the bread. Back in the day I turned my nose up to Hawaiian rolls, those pillow-puff sweet buns. I’d choose a crusty artisan bun or roll everytime. But the Hawaiian rolls are quite wonderful as a slider encasement. Save the artisan for everything else. My soon-to be  daughter in law, Lucy Carnaghi, recently opened a diner  – Rose’s Find Foods – with her cousin Molly in Detroit. All of their breads are scratch made, including the  soft, subtly sweet, mashed potato dough bread. I’d like to see them, or some scratch-made similar, available in my local groceries.

Other great  slider recipes, and burgers  that can be adapted to sliders: Sliders with Pimento Cheese, My Favorite Turkey Burger, Bacon-Jam Burger, Black Bean Burgers, Caprese Pesto Burgers, Blue Cheese Burgers.

Note: The Beetroot Relish and Tzadziki may be made several days in advance.

Recipe: Lamb Burger Sliders

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 pound of ground beef (chuck makes the juiciest burger)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 16, 2-inch slider rolls
  • 1 recipe for beetroot relish (see below)
  • 1 recipe for tzadziki (see below)

Instructions

  1. Gently knead the lamb, beef, garlic, mint, cardamom (if using), salt and pepper together. (Cook a small bit of the batch, taste, and adjust seasonings to palate.) Divide and formn Oil grill grates, and heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill the burgers for 3 minutes. Cook for 3-5 minutes longer for medium-rare burgers, or until desired level of doneness. Grill the buns until lightly toasted, if desired.
  2. Spread one side of bun with relish and the other side with relish. (Recipes follow.) Place burgers in buns and serve.

Cooking time: 35 minutes, if tzadziki and relish are made

Number of servings (yield): 16 sliders

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Beetroot Relish

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium-sized red beets
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Wearing plastic gloves, trim greens* and both ends, peel and grate. (You should have about 2-plus packed cups of grated beets). Remove outer skin of onion. With a box grater, grate beets and onion.
  2. Whisk together oil, vinegar and sugar. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir grated beets and onion into vinaigrette. (May be made several days in advance.)

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Tzadziki

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, cut lengthwise, seeded, then cut into small (1/4-inch) dice (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (dill or mint, or combination of both)
  • 1 scant teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup plain, strained, Greek-styled yogurt (I use Fage 2 percent)

Instructions

  1. Place diced cucumbers on paper towels or in a fine mesh sieve; lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Let drain 15-30 minutes, pressing into towels or sieve with spoon to release excess moisture.
  2. To make the tzadziki, combine cucumbers with herbs, garlic and yogurt; season to taste with kosher salt, if needed, and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

 

 

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Black-eyed Pea and Bacon Crostini (plus fresh cherry recipe ideas)

I’ve fallen off the blogging grid. Not from lack of cooking – grilling/entertaining season is at its peak – but from taking the time for studious recipe notation and accompanying photographs. For instance, the Feta-stuffed Lamb Burgers with Tzadziki and Beet Relish I made last week were masterful. But the photograph I dashed off  looked more like a UFO landing than a burger.

Edamame Cups with Wasabi Caviar

Edamame Cups with Wasabi Caviar

I did, however, manage to take a decent  photograph of crostini with a black-eyed pea spread.

Always on the prowl for (reasonably) “healthyish” munchies, I’ve long been a fan of economical bean dips. Edamame dip spreads, stuffed into a cucumber cup or spread over rice crackers, Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Bean Dip) served with chapatis or flatbread, Fava Bean Spreads on bruschetta… (Since writing that blog, I’ve noticed frozen lava beans at Trader Joe’s; not as flavorful as fresh, but  they save a good bit of time.) And of course there’s hummus. What’s not to love about hummus? Especially when it’s scratch-made, using fresh squeezed lemons, tahini, chick peas and garlic.

Coarsely smashing black-eyed peas to a spreadable consistency.

Coarsely smashing black-eyed peas to a spreadable consistency.

It’s hard to describe the flavor of a black-eyed pea. Maybe akin to a pinto bean? The meaty peas certainly have an affinity to bacon. They haven’t ventured far from the American South until recently; now I see them often, dotting a relish, in savory fried cakes, or as a simple side. The following recipe was inspired by a recipe I make for Hop ‘n John. Several months ago a friend made a black-eyed pea dip, as prelude to dinner, which she served warm. It was so good with the melted Jack cheese; I’ll beg that recipe soon.

I served the following recipe spread over basic crostini, which can be made well in advance. I followed the recipe, seasoning the crostini with thyme. The dip’s best served slightly warm, or at room temperature.

Local Forecast: Michigan black cherries are as good as they’re gonna get, Traverse City farmers telling me they’ll keep picking them for another 3 weeks. Here are some great recipes using their bounty: Cherry Gazpacho, Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce, Cherry-Quinoa Pilaf, Goat Cheese-Fresh Cherry Crostini.

Recipe: Crostini with Black-Eyed Peas and Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound dry black-eyed peas*
  • Bay leaf
  • White sugar**
  • 3-4 raw pieces bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

*Soak, simmer and sit time can be radically reduced by using frozen or canned peas.

**A bit of sugar brings out their natural sweetness, but you don’t want the peas to taste  sugar sweet. Make sense?

Instructions

  1. Rinse dry peas, picking out and discarding cracked or yellowed. Soak 6-24 hours in cold water.
  2. In a large pot, combine soaked peas, fresh salted water to cover peas by 2 inches, bay leaf, and a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, with lid slightly ajar, until peas are almost tender, 40-75 minutes, depending on heat and age of peas used. Turn off heat, cover pot, and (if time allows) let peas sit in cooking liquid 1-2 hours until tender and creamy, but not overly soft and mushy. Drain and place in a bowl. With a fork or potato masher, smash peas until they are a spreadable consistency, but still somewhat coarse.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, fry bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
  4. Whisk together oil and vinegar. Discard bay leaf from peas and toss peas with cider vinaigrette, scallions (reserving some for garnish) and reserved bacon. Season to taste with kosher salt, cayenne and thyme. If desired, add a pinch of additional sugar, to balance the acidity.
  5. Spread mixture over crostini and garnish with scallions and chopped tomatoes.

Number of servings (yield): 3 cups (2 dozen crostini)

Active Time (if crostini are made): 40 minutes

Soak Time (if using dried beans): 6-24 hours

Simmer Time: 45-70 minutes

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