SXSW Food For The Soul

Well, it’s that time of year again. We complain and complain about all the folks from out of town descending upon us here in Austin during SXSW, but then again, we also have the chance to show off our town and the sweet life we enjoy here. So I, for one, don’t complain too much.

As a musician, I know the value of having a good friend’s home to stay in while on the road. It makes for a nice change from generic, soul-less hotel rooms, and often ends up with some sort of home-cooked meal offered as a panacea for being on the road. So whenever we have the chance to offer a friend a bed, our very homey back porch, and a home cooked meal or two during SXSW, we do.

This year, our pal Grant Johnson from Nashville is coming to stay for a week, and while he buzzes all over town playing with a variety of bands, we will do our best to make things nice and tidy back at our place, including making sure to stock the fridge with plenty of nourishing treats. Grant’s wife Kathryn is a fine cook herself, so I’ll make up a batch of grilled corn-black bean salsa, pickled peaches or nectarines, and a goat cheese spread that will all keep well and make for a hearty late night snack after Grant has been picking guitar on his feet all day.

Of course, we’ll be playing here and there around town too, so I also want to make sure to have meals ready to throw on the grill without much fuss when the time comes. I’ve been making up various BBQ sauces and marinades this past week in preparation, and look forward to the goodness that will come from being so ready.

One of my favorite marinades is chock full of ginger, curry, coriander and garlic. And once I throw whatever has been marinating in that concoction onto the grill, it’s fairly easy for me to make up Jorge’s favorite sauce with peanut butter, coconut milk, brown sugar and vinegar. We add some asparagus to the grill, or steam a head of spinach or mustard greens, and call that a fine home cooked meal on the fly.
So after we’ve finished inhaling queso, tacos al pastor, and a variety of BBQ all week long with Grant, it’s a nice change to come home, fire up the grill, and kick back on the back porch with a frosty beverage and the scent of home cookin’ coming our way. Here’s my Indonesian-inspired peanut sauce recipe. I hope you like it as much as Jorge does!

Jorge’s Favorite Peanut Sauce
¼ c peanut oil
1 sm onion, finely chopped
2 cl garlic, finely chopped
2 t curry powder
1 t chili paste- red, yellow, or green
1 can coconut milk
½ c peanut butter
3 T lemon juice
2 t white wine vinegar
3 T brown sugar
½ t cinnamon
Bay leaf

• Heat oil in large skillet over medium low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes.
• Add curry powder and chili paste. Stir for 2-3 minutes to blend flavors.
• Add coconut milk, then stir in the peanut butter, lemon juice, vinegar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Once all stirred together, add bay leaf.
• Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, stirring until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with grilled chicken, steamed spinach or greens, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Keep it tasty, and I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen sometime soon.

Published March 13, 2012 Associated Press