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A Labor Day Message + Asian BBQ in case you’re hungry

September 5, 2011 by Joan Nova in Appetizers, Asian, BBQ, Fish/Seafood, Salads | 15 Comments

Labor Day: what does it conjure up to you? Last barbecue of the summer? New school term? It’s been both of these things for me plus, in my family, we celebrate 2 birthdays the first week of September. I wondered today if anyone thinks about the origin of the holiday anymore. Until that moment, shamefully, not I.

I had to go to wikipedia to be reminded that the first Labor Day was observed on September 5, 1882 by a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families.

This year with so many Americans out of work, there’s not much to celebrate. But, I wanted to take a moment to pay homage to all those who are anxious to be part of a productive workforce again. I hope this Labor Day and the first week of September marks a turn in this very trying time and that prosperity for all is reachable in the near term.

•     •    •

Four generations of us, totaling 17 people plus occasional drop-in friends, makes for one raucous event. Adult conversations get started and never finished. We’re talking food, computers, art, school and everything in between in clipped soundbites as the children run through the house or jump in the pool or otherwise call our attention — and we love every minute of being together. It’s family. There’s nothing better! And we eat. :)

In un-American fashion (but typical of my foodie family), we bypassed ‘franks + burgers’ in favor of an Asian BBQ. Since the party was at my niece’s house (her husband is one of the birthday people), this was the perfect backdrop for the menu because their home is heavily influenced by Asian art.

My niece, sister (the other birthday person) and I were the chef/preparers and my son manned the grill. I made the edamame dip + wontons; my sister made the seafood skewers and Teri made the chicken, steak and the fried rice. (Other items were sourced.)

The Menu (or what I can remember)

Appetizers: Edamame dip, baked wontons, sugar snap peas; Asian bar snacks; sushi

Dinner: Individual chicken, steak, shrimp and scallop skewers, each of which had been marinated and dressed differently with Asian spices and sauces; fried rice; pot stickers; edamame (the kids love it!); salad.

Dessert: pistachio ice cream, fresh baked almond cookies and a fortune cookie. I was delighted with this dessert which took me immediately back to the Chinese restaurants of my youth. And instead of the usual Carvel ice cream cake, the candles were put in the ice cream containers.

I will be posting the recipe and photos of the preparation for the edamame dip and wontons later this week.


NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Ben says:

    I also hope this situation turns around soon. Hard working people are the base of a healthy society.

    Great food too :)

  2. bellini says:

    Nothing like taking summer out with a bang Joan!!!!!

  3. Manu says:

    Wow! That sounds like a great celebration! I miss having family around… Great food, I love the theme and I am looking forward to the recipes!
    Manu recently posted..Comment on TAGLIATELLE ALLA BOLOGNESE by ManuMy Profile

  4. norma says:

    It was good seeing you and the wontons look really good. It will be a must try when I get back…
    norma recently posted..Puerto Rico, My Lovely Island, Part 2My Profile

  5. Arlene says:

    My kind of BBQ. Until DSO and I got together, I never made hamburgers and hot dogs at my BBQs either. An Asian-style cookout is something I can get down with. Looking forward to your recipes.
    Arlene recently posted..Hoisin Pork with Garlic NoodlesMy Profile

  6. Thanks for a nod to the unemployed. My husband had lost his job during this mess, but he is again gainfully employed. Still recovering from it, and I can’t imagine what its like for those who have lost hope. I pray they still know how to enjoy friends and family and what matters in life.

  7. Well said about the meaning behind Labor Day Joan. Looks like a great birthday celebration. All of our celebrations relate to food in our family.
    My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Dinner at the Inn on Biltmore Estate & a Tour of the Antler Hill FarmMy Profile

  8. I was not aware of this concept until I read your post Joan – good for you for celebrating and highlighting. I just want to dive right into that edemame dip too.
    Sally – My Custard Pie recently posted..Solving summer surfeits – Courgette cluster breadMy Profile

  9. Lovely pics it sounds and looks like you all had a stunning time.

  10. Nice spread Joan…as per usual, i love your whole take on things!

  11. sippitysup says:

    You entertain in style and your heart always speaks so clearly. GREG

  12. An awesome party menu, everything sounds superb!
    5 Star Foodie recently posted..Fennel and Apple GratinMy Profile

  13. Marie says:

    You sound like you have so much fun when you get together and such adventurous eaters you all are! Your dip looks beautiful and I bet it tasted fabulous. Like I always say, I love your creative mind! And your words are sooo true regarding work or shall I say “lack of work”!
    Marie recently posted..Cooking Class with Pamela Sheldon Johns author of "Cucina Povera"My Profile

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