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IMG_6629The first Friday of the month, I group-blog Ina Garten recipes with a great group of writer-cooks. Scroll down for more info and to click on the links for more soups, salads or sides.  Come back October 3 for Ina Fridays main dishes….

Finding a way to cook and blog when there’s no kitchen in the house is an effort. A problem.  Perhaps a puzzle.  A frustration, despite looking forward to the kitchen I’ll have by mid-October. I hope. We’ve been gone to Europe (a few pics at bottom) and had a new grand baby (ditto) since I last posted…and, in the meantime, the kitchen was gutted and the rebuilding was begun.

securedownloadAbove:  East wall.  Long pipe is the vent from the basement to the roof for the hot water heater.  Shorter pipe–at right–is the vent for the range hood.  This wall used to be all cream, melamine “Euro-style” cabinets that were incredibly easy to keep clean. (Wipe off with clean dishcloth or spray with Windox and paper towel dry on really industrious days.)  I had them when we lived in Europe and then loved them in this house.  They fell victim to the hue and cry to update.  (What does that mean?  Does anyone tell that to the people in colonial houses in Williamsburg?)

One of the oddest things is that I keep starting to go to the kitchen.  Which isn’t there.  It seems my world is in that room, though as a musician I know that’s only part of my life.  But my feet, my heart, my mind…continually move toward a now nonexistent room.  The construction has also cut off our living room (plastic-shut for dust/dirt), filled our guest room, master bedroom, laundry room, and garage with boxes, and often prohibits us from entering the house due to ladders, men on stilts, spray guns issuing forth, load of wood in the entry, and so on.  In other words, we  SHOULD HAVE MOVED OUT.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING?

photo-47Above:  We cut a big hole in the former exterior wall of the house to open the kitchen up to the sun room, which began life in 1973 as an outdoor, private patio–accessible from the inside, but not the outside, of the house.  Yes, you can remove a load-bearing wall.  As long as someone knows how to put a very large beam across the top of the opening!! The kitchen walls will be painted a gorgeous light gray/green called “Gateway Gray.”  (SW7644 — Sherwin Williams.)

photo-46It’s fun making coffee in the bathroom. (Not.) I bought a nifty Nespresso machine (raise eyebrows and smile out loud) because my regular coffee pot (a 12-cup Krups) carafe wouldn’t fit under the faucet in the downstairs sink. Nice, huh? I splurged on a big box of Mini-Moos, which are the tiny containers of half and half you often get with restaurant or take-out coffee.  Ok; I’m spoiled.photo-45 Because otherwise I have to go up the stairs not fully awake, through the dangerous (read that holes in the floor) kitchen to the garage to find the milk in the fridge–edge visible at left in above photo– behind boxes of materials and in between old cabinets.  By the way: our old cabinets are being donated to Habitat for Humanity; they’ll pick them up–good to know.

But lest I sound like I’m kvetching, we actually find ourselves grateful for a 2,500 square foot ranch with a walk-out basement (our kids just moved out of it after waiting 8 months for their house to sell) that has a door from the comfy family room that exits to a deck with a hot tub, grill, and big outdoor table with six chairs.  We cooked the salmon and asparagus I used for this salad the night before and made a little caprese to go with it. (Ok, Dave did the grilling.)  In other words, we now have sort of an outdoor kitchen.  As long as the weather holds. (High of 63 F tomorrow.)

Kitchen design and construction:  Aspen Kitchens, Colorado Springs.   Designer:  Jacquelyn O’Neil

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photo-53photo-50photo-52And then, the next day, I was lucky enough to find an Ina salad that used the salmon; I added a few more ingredients (like the asparagus) that also made the salad a bit more of a complete meal.

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Grilled Salmon Salad is from THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA COOKBOOK, Ina’s first cookbook, and is a recipe from her retail/catering days at The Barefoot Contessa shop in the Hamptons.  This book is one of my favorites and makes a great coffee table book, too, because the pictures are so spot on.  The recipe is also on the TODAY website; find it HERE.

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The salad is simple, filling, and while it’s elegant, it still feels a bit homey in a very good way. Maybe there’s a memory of the canned tuna or salmon salads from my (your?) childhood, though Ina skips the ubiquitous mayo and opts for a raspberry vinaigrette.  While is sounded scrumptious, it spoke to me of a spoon heaping salad onto crackers while sitting in a boat–which I love–but isn’t what I pictured for dinner.  Here are the things I did differently….

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1. I added vegetables including 2 cups of salad greens (seasoned with salt, pepper, and a quick sprinkle of red wine vinegar and olive oil), 1/2 pound grilled, chopped asparagus, and a dozen cherry tomatoes.  So instead of a bowl salad, I ended up with a composed salad on a platter.

2. I had no regular raspberry vinegar, but had raspberry balsamic, so I used half raspberry balsamic and half red wine vinegar, which gave the salad a bit more zing.

3.  I added a generous pinch of crushed red pepper, which didn’t make the salad hot, but did add a lot of flavor and zip.

There was easily enough for four hungry people.  It was plenty to eat with lots of bite and crunch, along with a balance created by a variety of textures and an even dressing.  We adored it.  Dave just stopped after every bite, saying, “This is so good.”  We both had seconds and wanted thirds.  Instead we stored it for one more day.

MAKE  IT A MEAL: A bite of cheese ahead and a bit of bread and butter alongside with some minted melon with creamy yogurt  after would have made it a larger, more comfortable meal for guests.  A light red like a Pinot Noir would be nice for wine, but the vinaigrette might fight it.  You could think of an off-dry Riesling –the edge of sweetness in the wine would balance the acid of the salad– or maybe even an Oregon Pinot Gris instead.

I’m really a scientist. I follow recipes exactly – until I decide not to. And then I’ll follow something else exactly. I may decide I could turn this peach tart into a plum tart, but if I’m following a recipe, I follow it exactly.

~Ina Garten

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Above:  This platter is probably 70 years old.  It was my mom’s and I grew up eating pot roast with carrots, onions, and potatoes served on this big plate.  It has a golden leaf  or blade of of wheat at the center and a gold band (visible) at the edge.

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Ina’s coming on tour…check out the schedule here!

Click HERE for link to the Barefoot Contessa website for lots of great information, including news on Ina’s new book (due out late October and called MAKE IT AHEAD).  There is also an invaluable index that covers all of Ina’s cookbooks as well as an individual index for each book.

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AROUND THE ‘HOOD

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Grandma Alyce with Piper Jean Morgan, born 8/20 at 9 pounds 6 ounces while we were in Europe. At altitude, oxygen isn’t unusual.  We hope she’ll be weaned from it next week.IMG_1592And a few favorite photos from our trip below.   We took a Holland America Line cruise out of Rotterdam and visited 3 locations in Ireland, 3 in Scotland, and 3 in Norway, before sailing back to Rotterdam where we took a bus to Amsterdam and stayed for a day before flying home via London.
IMG_1580 IMG_1576 Above two:  Amsterdam traffic on the street and on the canal.IMG_1564 Above:  off the Auslandfjord in Norway, a farm that’s been in existence since 800–Common era.IMG_1507Above: A small cruise ship at anchor behind us in Flam, Norway.IMG_6619 Above:  St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands UK

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Above:  Dave at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.

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ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:

This month we have soups, salads, or sides, but next month — on Friday, October 3, 2014 –we have super main dishes.  Mark your calendar and plan on visiting and cooking up lots of fall goodies.

Stop in this Friday or beyond  and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up.  All writers will not participate every month, but check out the blogs anyway.  If you’d like to participate on a monthly basis, email me at afmorgan53@yahoo.com.   If you’d like to join in occasionally, just follow the prompt for the “linky” or blog hop and add your post – Ina Garten recipes only, please.  Use those books you’ve got sitting around!
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If you liked this, you might also like my One-Pot Salmon with Pasta and Vegetables meal. Click HERE for the recipe and story.

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Below:   Gaelic sign in the Glengoyne Distillery, near Killearn (Glasgow), Scotland.  (Translation:  Good health.) Glengoyne makes single malt scotch (or whisky, as they call it there).

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Above:   Gaelic sign in the Glengoyne Distillery, near Killearn (Glasgow), Scotland.  (Translation:  Good health.)

Glengoyne makes single malt scotch (or whisky, as they call it)

Sing a new song,

Alyce

Local readers:  I’ll sign/sell books and cook at SHOUSE APPLIANCE (SE corner North Academy and Austin Bluffs Hwy.)  on Saturday, September 13, 10am – 1pm.  See you there!

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