One of my favorites is your basic "okie" dinner. My late wife, Juanita, introduced me to it and it became a favorite of mine from the first time I had it. Since my father-in-law is an Okie who actually migrated to California during the Dust Bowl I don't find the term Okie to be a put-down. Anyway, to my mind the basic Okie dinner is beans (preferably pinto beans) cooked with either smoked ham, smoked ham hocks, salt pork, bacon or, in a pinch, Spam (tho spam isn't really satisfactory for this purpose), cornbread, fried potatoes, chopped onion, and, as we discovered, a few pepperonicini on the side. Need to make plenty since seconds seem to be inevitable and leftovers can be very good. My mother-in-law makes bean dumplings out of the leftover pinto beans.
A friend of mine introduced me to a delicacy that is best made in Northern California where the stores carry an abundance of Fisherman's Wharf style extra sourdough bread. These days sourdough bread is a lot easier to find outside of N. California but for some reason it isn't sour enuff. So...slice the sourdough bread into 1/2" slices, spread one side with a really garlicky butter and sprinkle on a generous amount of Parmesan cheese...put on a pan and stick under the broiler til browned. That and a green salad can make a very satisfying meal.
For a number of years I really got into cooking on a charcoal grill and developed my own methods to suit my tastes which fortunately seemed to suit everyone else as well. I started with an hibachi, graduated to a larger round grill with a rotisserie and did my post-graduate work with a large Weber. I discovered that using mesquite charcoal, natural not those funky briquets, and an electric starter gave me an edge since I didn't have to deal with charcoal starter and the petroleum flavors imbued within briquets.
Among the foods I came up with was turkey breast marinated in Wishbone Italian dressing, whole turkeys up to 23-25 pounds which just fit under the dome of the Weber (and when done were suitable for framing!), ground lamb with lots of garlic, polish sausage cooked sliced open to drain off as much fat as possible (still will be plenty left but not as greasy) and any good cut of beef marinated in all sorts of things. Served with a green salad, baked-stuffed potatoes, and the aforementioned garlic-cheese-toast and its amazing how food disappears.
I learned that a good meat thermometer was essential, that there is no such thing as too many potholders, that long-handled forks and spatulas can disappear in a heartbeat, and that if I didn't tell my son that I had plans for the leftovers there wouldn't be any.