It was a cool, drizzly Sunday, but that didn’t stop the masses from descending on South Lake Union’s Discovery Center for the final day of Cowabunga, Seattle’s only food festival dedicated to the wonders of beef.

I grabbed a stack of pancakes, dodged dozens of brunch-goers clad in Seahawks gear, and settled into line for the massive bloody mary accoutrement bar stocked with anything a heart could desire to put atop the spicy beverage. To my right sat a mechanical bull that was, at that particular moment, being mounted by a gorgeous drag queen with a blonde bouffant and a gingham dress. What a way to ease into a Sunday.

Seattle Met’s annual Country Brunch was a chance for brunch lovers to recline on massive couches while listening to the sounds of the Jukehouse Hounds, surrounded by plates of hearty Japanese curry from Hurry Curry, fancy deviled eggs from Local 360, and breakfast tacos filled with pillowy scrambled eggs from Sunrise Tacos. There was even a photo booth styled to look like attendees were brunching in bed. 

There was a demo centered around boozy brunch cocktails with Fog Room’s Jesse Cyr, but before that began, I noticed Chef Saffron Hodgson at the Children’s Stage, showcasing how to make grilled beef kebabs with your kids using Laura’s Lean Beef. Bloody Mary properly dressed, I grabbed a seat in front of the stage.

Chef Hodgson is the talent and personality behind Bush Cooking. She’s an award-winning pit master, an expert in live fire cooking, and a pro at making things seem easy and fun when it comes to cooking with kids or while camping.

Right off the bat, she gives a tip: when camping, keep all your ingredients for a meal in a box or large Tupperware. You’ll never have to search around for ingredients, which allows you to keep your mind focused on the fun stuff: hiking, swimming, playing games, or reading. She also recommends keeping two coolers–one for drinks and the other for meat and any ingredients that need to stay cold.

“That way no one steals the apple you need for your recipe,” she says with a grin.

First, she whips up a yogurt sauce, dicing cucumber and garlic. She calls out to the kids in the audience, asking if they’ve ever used a knife before and shows the crowd how to curl your fingers in order to keep them out of the way of the sharpened blade. 

“Soft vegetables like cucumber are a good place to start,” she says, when it comes to getting kids in on the cutting and chopping. “Most of cooking is knowing little tricks." 

With the yogurt sauce finished, the chef invites kids up to the stage to help her mix up the beef kebabs. Two siblings leap at the chance to don plastic gloves and get to mixing in cumin, onion powder, rosemary, and oregano into a sizable bowl of Laura’s Lean 92% Lean Ground Beef, an all-natural beef with no antibiotics or added hormones.

After mixing the Laura’s Lean with spices, the beef is wrapped around wooden skewers and placed on the grill to cook. “This product is great because it’s a lean meat, meaning no flare ups on the grill because it has a low fat content,” Hodgson says.

The kids clamber back to their seats as Hodgson continues to prep, admitting that waiting for things to cook is often the hardest part. She banters with the audience, chopping cilantro and quartering soft pita bread. As she grabs a bag of coleslaw and slices a tomato, she remarks that we all need vegetables.

“You can’t live on beef alone, I’ve tried it,” she says. 

Before too long, the kebabs are done; Hodgson chops them up and adds them to bowls with the yogurt sauce and pita, inviting the crowd to come and grab a bowl.

The kebabs are nicely spiced and perfect for warming us up on this drizzly day. The yogurt, with the cool crunch of cucumber and a great hit of raw garlic, is a wonderful accompaniment. I’m tempted to grab another bowl, but there are plenty of kids looking to get in on the action; plus, breakfast tacos await.

Saffron Hodgson’s Grilled Beef Kebabs

Ready in: 50 minutes 

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Meat Kebab

1 pound (450g) Laura’s 92% Lean Ground Beef

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground garlic

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Yogurt Sauce

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 clove fresh garlic, finely diced

1/2 cucumber finely diced

Slaw

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

1 small carrot, grated

1 lemon, juiced

To Serve

4 flat breads, such as pita

1 tomato, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)

Equipment

Grill, medium heat

4 skewers

Recipe

 Meat Kebab

  1. Combine the lean ground beef and all the seasonings then mix thoroughly until well combined.
  2. Rest the beef kebab mixture in a cooler while you prepare the rest of the ingredients and light the grill.                                                              

Yogurt Sauce

  1. Combine the yogurt, diced garlic, and cucumber in a bowl. Place in a cooler for the flavors to meld until ready to serve.

Slaw

  1. Combine the cabbage, carrot, and lemon juice to create a simple salad.

To Cook

  1. Light the grill and preheat to a medium temperature.
  2. Divide the meat into 4 even portions, then gently wrap the beef mixture around each skewer.
  3. Gently place the kebab skewers on the grill and let slowly cook. As we want the beef cooked all the way through, it needs to be a gentle heat so the outside doesn’t overcook, while the inside remains raw. This also helps keep the ground beef from falling apart.
  4. When the first side is browned and cooked part way through, turn and cook the other side. The kebab needs to be cooked through or to a temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C).

To Serve

  1. Lay out the flat bread. Top with the simple slaw, tomato, cilantro, and the cooked kebab, removed from the skewer. Drizzle with the yogurt sauce.