Athens, NY (WIBX) - This year presented another opportunity to spend the Memorial Day weekend with renowned foodie and cook book author, Marie Rama, also known as the Lemon Lady, for her official role with Sunkist Growers.

Rama, an independent food, beverage, and media consultant, is currently putting the finishing touches on her latest cook book about bacon inspired dishes--over 100 of them!

Rama has a wonderful way with food. Sure, there's a saying to never trust a skinny cook and yes, Rama is a picture of health, but her knowledge and appreciation for good food is simply inspiring. She can create harmony among different food groups that one has to wonder why we're not using her as a broker for world peace. Over the weekend Rama made a unique dish that included fresh fruit and vegetables. It was absolutely delicious! She brought together yellow squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and apples--among other ingredients--to serve her guests a healthy mouth watering dish that sparked conversation all weekend long. There were other favorites at the party too, like the bean dish recipe I shared last year. Another addition to the Memorial Day weekend flavors in Athens was a local favorite PJ and I brought to the gathering; Utica Greens from Georgio's Village Cafe in New Hartford. What a great meal...

First and foremost, Memorial Day is a day to thank and honor our nation's Veterans but it's also about friends and family coming together over delicious and well prepared food. Rama's bacon cook book will be available later this year. Her other co-authored cook books include, Cooking For DummiesCooking Basics For Dummies, and Grilling For Dummies, and can be purchased at book stores or on line.

Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

  • 6 slices bacon, medium dice
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into 1-inch dice, kept warm
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Heat pan over high heat. Add bacon and cook until just crisp. Remove bacon to a towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Remove pan from heat, add vinegar, olive oil, sugar and reserved bacon. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, pour the dressing over and season with salt and pepper. Fold in the green onions and parsley. Serve at room temperature. *This recipe is courtesy of the food network.

Best Barbecued Meat and Homemade Barbecue Sauce


For the marinade:

  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bunch fresh thyme or lemon thyme, leaves picked
  • Bunch fresh rosemary, leaves picked, a few whole sprigs reserved
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 bulb garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 4 heaped teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup organic tomato ketchup
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 1 (3-pound) free-range or organic chicken, spatchcocked or 1 (7-pound) leg of lamb, on the bone, slashed evenly 1/4-inch deep or 4 1/4 pounds pork rib racks
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and light your barbecue about 40 minutes later.
  • To make your marinade, grind the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and cloves in a pestle and mortar with some salt and pepper. Chop the thyme and rosemary leaves, orange zest and garlic together finely. Put into a bowl with the ground spices, then add the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix together.
  • Rub your chosen meat all over with the marinade, really getting it into all the nooks and crannies and, in case of the lamb, the slashes. Place the meat in a snug-fitting roasting pan, top with any leftover marinade and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake the meat in the preheated oven until sweet and tender. This will take 1 1/2 hours for the pork ribs and the lamb (but if you like your lamb pink, it will only need 1 hour), and 1 hour and 20 minutes for the chicken.
  • Now you're going to finish your meat on a medium hot barbecue. Place it carefully on the bars of the barbecue and sear it well on 1 side, then turn it over. While it's cooking, use your reserved rosemary sprigs to baste the meat with the sticky juices from the bottom of the roasting pan. Keep turning and brushing the meat until you've built up a lovely sticky, charred crust, then take it off the barbie and rest it on a serving dish for a few minutes. Meanwhile, pop your roasting pan on the barbie or over a gas burner and let the juices reduce a bit.
  • Cut the pork into individual ribs, carve the leg of lamb into slices or tear the chicken into pieces, and serve with a bowl of the lovely marinade juices from the roasting pan. *This recipe is courtesy of the Food Network from the show, Jamie at Home.

Marie Rama with Husband, Mark Reiter, also an author, at their lake house in Athens, NY.