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Food Matters: From garden to grill - meat optional

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Vegetable gardening and grilling go hand in hand.

They are outdoor activities that keep us fed, but we still tend to think about meat when we talk about grilling.

Authors (and gardeners) Karen Adler and Judith Fertig hope to change that with their new book, "The Gardener & the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill," ($20, Running Press) which they will be cooking from at Lake Austin Spa this week.

Although the book does have a chapter on cooking vegetables and meat together, most of the book focuses on produce found in many backyard gardens and all the ways you can spice it up with a variety of sauces, rubs and dips and a few minutes over a hot fire.

"Caramelization is what you're going for," Fertig says. Unlike traditional stovetop methods, the quick blast of heat allows the vegetables to keep their color and crunch, even as leftovers. "We always say, 'Grill once so you can eat twice.'"

You can use grill woks to cook smaller pieces that would otherwise fall through the grates, but Fertig also suggests lining up long and skinny vegetables such as green onions or asparagus - a conga line is the way Fertig describes it - and sticking skewers through them to make a single flat sheet that you can easily turn all at once.

For vegetables such as turnips or winter squash that you don't think of as being grill-able, par cook them in the kitchen and then finish on the grill.

Fertig also suggests marinating vegetables in one of the many vinaigrettes and sauces outlined in the beginning of the book to help keep them moist during the cooking process.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Fresh Ginger-Soy Sauce

2 small heads bok choy, trimmed and halved lengthwise

For sauce:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill. Rinse the bok choy, drain well, and pat dry. To make the ginger-soy sauce, whisk together the melted butter, olive oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Brush the bok choy with the sauce and place cut side down directly over the fire.

Grill for about 10 minutes. Baste the leaves and turn, continuing to grill for about another 10 minutes until the bok choy is fork-tender. Serve with any remaining sauce. Serves 4.

- From "The Gardener & The Grill" by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig ($20, Running Press)

Rare & Fine Wine Auction aids anti-hunger campaign

The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas' biggest fundraiser of the year is Saturday. For almost 30 years, the Austin-based nonprofit has hosted the Rare & Fine Wine Auction to raise money for culinary scholarships, grants and viticulture research, and this year, it is adding a new beneficiary, Texas No Kid Hungry, a statewide child anti-hunger campaign.

The event, with starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Four Seasons Hotel, includes a buffet and a silent auction, but the highlight is always the live auction, which features collectable bottles and wine lots from all over the world. Executive director Marshall Jones says he hopes to raise $300,000 during this year's auction. Registration and information at winefoodfoundation.org .

'Girl Hunter' author to teach class at Whole Foods

- Georgia Pellegrini, the Austin-based chef and author behind "Girl Hunter," is teaching a class at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Whole Foods Market Culinary Center, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. She'll be teaching dishes including chicken liver mousse and quail en papillote. Tickets ($50) at wholecateringaustin.com .

- From 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, check out four urban farms in East Austin while sampling bites and sips from 25 Austin chefs, breweries and wine shops. Farmers at Boggy Creek, Rain Lily, Springdale and HausBar will be giving tours throughout the afternoon, and proceeds go to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. Tickets ($35 in advance, $40 at the farms, free for kids ages 12 and younger) at eventbrite.com/event/3099238907 .

- The Wimberley Institute of Cultures is hosting its 22nd annual pie social on Saturday. It will feature a pie auction, a pie contest and pies by the slice. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., stop by the Winters-Wimberley House to eat some pie, listen to music by the Distractions, check out a petting zoo or let the kids play in a bounce house. Admission is free, and proceeds from the auction and food sales will go to the Wimberley Institute of Cultures, wimwic.org .

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the wrong date for the Rare & Fine Wine Auction on Saturday. A headline also had the incorrect title for Georgia Pellegrini's book "Girl Hunter."