Paula: Sweltering summer days don’t keep me away from the grill, but they do affect what I want to eat. With triple digit temps in Central Texas, the name of the game is keeping it simple. More often than not, that means giving a heap of colorful vegetables a quick char. With their vibrant colors, barely-cooked textures, and jammy sweetness, lightly charred asparagus and cherry tomatoes easily serve as the main event.

I typically grill the asparagus directly on the grates and blister cherry tomatoes in a preheated grill basket. But, you could fire off both of them in a preheated cast iron skillet over direct heat (bonus: you’ll preserve the delicious seasoned oil for a hunk of bread).

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Paula: I’m not sure if it’s cabin fever, or a deficit in my consumption of Zapp’s potato chips--but I’ve been dreaming about Saturday mornings at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou. Live broadcast of Zydeco, packed dance floor by the time most of us reach for our first cup of coffee, brunch and cold beer consumed soon after.

Unfortunately, there’s no Cajun boot-scooting in my immediate future, so I’ll have to cook myself there. The fun thing about playing with spice blends is that they transport a weeknight staple, chicken and rice, for instance, to a new locale. Take the following recipe. After I coat a chicken in Cajun seasonings, I’m inspired to give the rest of the meal a spin that would do Southwest Louisiana proud. (I tossed the rice with thinly sliced scallions, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice and sliced green olives.)

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Paula: Like most of us, I’m all about thrifty and time efficient shopping these days. In an effort to limit trips to the store, I’m trying to “cook ahead” for the days ahead. Why grill four chicken thighs when you can cook 12, for example, and have the following day’s Taco Night taken care of?

Scott: And tacos with all their inherent variety are such a good format for repurposing leftovers whether it’s last night’s chicken thighs or a picked-over pork shoulder.

Paula: Along those lines, I rarely buy individual portions of salmon. It’s much more satisfying to grill-smoke an entire side, which results in a show-stealing lunch or brunch centerpiece (especially served with new potatoes and a big salad). As a bonus, the tasty leftovers provide plenty of inspiration for the days that follow.

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Paula: The most common question I get at food events and book signings? (Aside from, “Is that your car in the No Parking zone?” And, “How can you possibly remain so youthful?”) Time and again I hear, “What’s your favorite meat to grill?” The answer is always chicken thighs, but I’m here to tell you why they’re also perfect for backyard parties as well.

Scott: I would like to take a brief pause for science, if you please. Anatomically, the chicken thigh is harvested from the top portion of the leg just above the knee joint. Just below said knee joint, you will find the delicious (and fun!) drumstick. Okay, carry on.

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