Summer is winding down, and it’s making me really sad.
I love this extra time with my kids. We’ve been wearing ourselves out swimming almost daily for hours, then hitting the pizza place on the way home for carryout so that we can continue the long summer evening at home, eating pepperoni or cheese pizza while watching movies and, more often than not, having sleepovers with neighborhood kids on any random night of the week.
It’s been lovely, and this year, like every single year of my life since my pretty damn idyllic childhood, I don’t want it to end.
A few days ago, I ran into a neighbor as I was loading my boys and their light saber pool noodles into the car for yet another fun day of swimming. “Ah,” my neighbor said, smiling at me as he got into his own car since his lunch break was over and he had to get back to work. “Enjoy it now, Shay, because summer’s almost over!”
Sometimes, you guys, I find it hard to express real emotions. I think it’s because they make me uncomfortable, and so I’ll make a joke in order to push the real feelings aside.
It’s served me well in life; I’ve hardly had to deal with anything difficult or sad. I just shove those feelings way down into the pit of my belly and hope they don’t ever surface in some really awkward way. That’s healthy, right?
So that day, when my neighbor was wishing me a good day (but admittedly, in a really shitty way), what I wanted to do was have a heart-to-heart with him. This is not unusual for us; my husband and I have sat on the back deck with him and his wife several times, drinking a beer while talking about everything from God to our kids to our jobs to the weather and the latest ballgame.
I wanted to ask my neighbor if the end of summer had ever made him this sad, and how in the hell he could possibly be dealing with one of his daughters getting married this summer while his son is heading off to college. If I’m this much of a damn basket case just because summer’s ending, how the hell will I handle all of that kind of real shit?
(By the way, did you know that Moses was a basket case? I read that on a church sign a hundred years ago and still have not stopped laughing about it. Brilliant, I tell you!)
But instead, when I opened my mouth to tell him all of this, what I actually said was, “Suck it, dickwad.”
And I meant to say it in a funny way, but instead, it came out like kind of a…bark. An angry bark.
Anyway, I wanted to get this recipe recommendation written up before summer ends, because it’s one of my all-time favorite summer recipes—and dammit, there’s still time for barbecues with friends before the kids have to go back to school. You’ll just have to go get the ingredients, like, right now, and plan to make them sometime this week or this weekend.
First, a small backstory on how the recipe originated.
When the hubs and I were newly married, we lived in an area of the South where there simply weren’t that many things to do. On top of that, we lived in a dry county, which totally wasn’t conducive to our lifestyle. We made the best of it, though, meaning that every Friday night after work, one of us would head to the wet border town, fill up a grocery cart full of booze, and come back to our house to eat, drink, and be merry with our other young, mostly single, similar-minded professional friends who were also stuck in the bowels of the South for work.
One night, after a few of us had drunk ourselves out of our boredom, we sat around sifting through my and the hubs’s wedding presents. We had only gotten married a couple of months before and hadn’t gotten around to putting everything away. One of my co-workers and I came across this little number:
“Hubs,” I announced, “we’re making kabobs tomorrow.”
My husband, a professional type with a passion for guitar, looked up from a discussion on the couch about Stevie Ray Vaughan. “Have we ever made kabobs?”
“No,” I shrugged, “but how hard could they be? You poke a bunch of random shit on a stick.” (I later learned that the sticks were actually called “skewers,” and I was as proud of knowing this fact as I was when I finally learned to start saying “browning” instead of “frying beef.”)
And they were easy. And delicious.
The next day, a Saturday, we had our friends back to our house for what would later become known as my famous chicken kabobs. As they all tucked into them out on the back patio, two of our friends with a penchant for smoking a bunch of pot began raving:
“SHAY,” one of them said, sliding a piece of chicken and a bell pepper off of the skewer and stuffing it into her mouth, “this is seriously the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”
“Seriously,” the other agreed. “Like, in my whole life!”
My husband and I shared an amused look. “You guys are high as goddamned kites,” I said. “I could put a pile of shit in front of you right now and you’d gobble it down, too.”
The laughter at that table in response to my joke was uproarious, and so I just kept repeating it, feeling really good about my funny self until I realized…they were high as goddamned kites. Just as they would eat anything placed in front of them, they’d also laugh hysterically at anything.
“So what’s your excuse?” my husband said out of the blue.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“What I mean is, you’re snarfing the shit out of those kabobs and we don't smoke pot. So what’s your excuse?”
This time it was my turn to laugh, and when I did, a little piece of mushroom flew out and landed on my lower lip. It is really hard to hold onto any dignity that you might’ve thought you had when you’re eating so quickly that little pieces of food fall from your mouth onto your own face. So I didn’t even try.
“These kabobs are actually really fucking good,” I answered, using my finger to push the little mushroom particle back into my mouth. “Plus, I’m a fatass.”
The hubs and I have made these about a gazillion times since that fateful night so many years ago, and every time, they’re just as delicious. You’ll notice in the pictures below, however, that most of our original skewer set is now a goner. We haven’t used it since a few years after we had kids—who found what they thought was a better use for it when they made it into make-believe torture device for their war games. (Of course I’m not talking about the skewer part; those are sharp and could potentially be dangerous, so we keep those safely out of reach of our kids. I’m talking about the rack that came with the first set that we had.)
The last time I saw that rack (that’s what she said), it was busy rusting in a pile of backyard lawn debris. Because we’re the trashy neighbors of the 'hood—and we have fun living up to the label.
So here’s what you need:
- Skewers and a rack (You’ll notice below that we’ve used a similar set of skewers to the original, and we’ve also used a disposable wooden kind that you can get at Wal-Mart)
- Chicken, thawed and cut into pieces
- Bell peppers (We always buy the green because they’re cheaper and anyway, your high friends don’t care what color you use; they’ll eat anything and love it. Seed them and cut into skewer-able pieces)
- Onions (These are actually kind of hard to skewer. They like to fall apart, so I always try to sort of pin a few layers together with the skewer so the piece is thicker and doesn’t fall off when you put it on the grill)
- Mushrooms (Leave them whole if you’ve got mushroom lovers coming to the party…there is nothing better than a grilled mushroom. Yum!)
Stick all of that shit onto skewers, spritz butter spray liberally onto all sides, and shake a shitload of lemon pepper seasoning all over them. Grill until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, and then ENJOY!!
**We used to have a specific pattern that we used when pushing the ingredients onto the skewers. We all agreed, back in the day, that one of the other ingredients (Was it the bell pepper, mushroom, or onion??) tasted really good paired next to the chicken, but for the lives of the hubs and me, we could not remember which ingredient it was. We even tried all different patterns the last time we made them, but dammit, every single bite tasted as good as the last.
So play around with your own pattern and see what you like next to what. And of course, you can opt to leave some of these ingredients out or add a few of your own. This is just the specific recipe we’ve always used…and come on, a couple of high-as-kite young professionals from back in the day can’t be wrong, right?
Chicken kabobs, not yet cooked
Cooked chicken kabobs
Wooden skewers that can be found at Wal-Mart