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It seems like just yesterday I was emailing blogging friends to join in a new group-blogging venture called Ina Fridays.  Nearly two years ago, we began to come together monthly to cook just one special dish from Barefoot Contessa recipes, and we’ve been here the first Friday of the month ever since.  Some of us have been regulars; some have been in and out or left the team a bit ago.  All of us have adored having a reason to, just once a month, not be the typical all-on-our-own blogger.  (Blogging can have its lonely moments and we food bloggers need friends!)  Today marks the end of my participation in the group, though some bloggers may continue on.  I may pop in once in a while, but am mostly moving on to other blogging, writing, and cooking opportunities.  I’m grateful for the time we’ve spent together, happy to have gotten to know these fine cook-writers — if only online — and am mostly indebted to all of them for everything I’ve learned from all of the posts.    I’ll miss our monthly gatherings and will look forward to seeing what new food pops up on the blogs.  Many thanks, friends.  Cook on and don’t forget to sing a new song!

Want the recipe for the ginger cookies at the top of the blog?  Click here.

Now on to this month’s Ina post~~~~~~~

While the cooking websites and magazines are full of incredible holiday fare — and it’s all gorgeous and delicious — it occurred to me yesterday that what most home cooks are looking for are ways to cook awesome meals without much work or thought at all.  Great throw-in-the-oven or just put-on-a-plate recipes are the ones we go to over and over.  If you need an appetizer, are sick of vegetables platters or cheese straws, try this Marinated Herbed Feta.  While promoting Ina’s book (see below), Barnes and Noble put together menus of recipes from the book that’ll work for many of your December cooking or entertaining needs. The feta dish comes under “White Elephant Party.”  Check out the other party menus here. You might use feta regularly in summer salads, Greek dishes, or omelets, but this recipe promotes big hunks of the salty stuff on a perfect platter, topped with lots of herbs, spices, and olives, up to the level of the holiday cocktail-time nibble table.  Looking at the picture, what you see is what you get.  If you don’t have time to order the book for the recipe, you just might be able to figure out what to do here, she said.

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If you’re an Ina Garten fan, you wait for the next cookbook like Ina waits for Jeffrey on Friday nights.  Here it is! If you’d like to buy the book or make this recipe,  click here or go to amazon, which you knew. Lovely holiday gift.

Dave and I, along with several thousands of our closest friends, went to see Ina in November at the Paramount Theatre in Denver as she promoted her new book, MAKE IT AHEAD.  It was a great crowd–really excited and friendly and totally unlike a symphony or other concert crowd.  In other words:  very lively!   The format was question and answer and questions were asked by the talented Amanda M. Faison, the Food Editor for 5280 Magazine–Denver’s local entertainment, etc. magazine.  Ina was just the Ina we know from television, albeit with a little edge here and there, which we were happy to witness.  We heard  firsthand all about how she got into the food business, the story of the Barefoot Contessa Store (and the provenance of its name–film by the same name), how the first book was written, and why the Food Network got involved in her life.   She was joyful and fun, even noting she didn’t bring Jeffrey along because she was sure his clothes would be torn off.  (Whenever Jeffrey’s name popped up, the audience — mostly female — would ooooo and ahhhh.) I always enjoy him, but evidently he’s a bit of an icon.  If you ever have the opportunity to see Ina live, don’t pass it by.  She’s a hoot.

Below:  the feta appetizer in front of my south window where I attempt to herb garden through the winter months. Somethings work better than other; basil works not at all.
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Need an index to all of Ina’s recipes?  It’s on her website; click here. There are also lots of wonderful recipes, tips, and a “good” ingredients section.

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ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:

This month we have appetizers, but for the past many, many months we’ve had any sort of recipe you can think of .  Stop in this Friday  and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up or go through their posts and check out previous Ina posts.  Cook and use those books you’ve got sitting around!  Check in with some of the bloggers in the not-too-distant-future and see if new Ina posts are appearing.  A few of us plan to continue this journey; I’ll post Ina on occasion from here on out.

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TWO-DOG KITCHEN

I don’t spend much time watching night-time tv, but the past two nights have found me watching  The Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting and then Peter Pan live on NBC. I invited my next-door neighbor to share Peter Pan and a pot of chili; she accepted and we adored the new Peter Pan, all the while talking about Mary Martin and the great memories.  Tuck and Rose have been the quintessential couch potato pups.

IMG_2232Yesterday, Rosie discovered deer.  We have plenty and she was wild (ha) over their appearance in the yard.   Below:  Tucker silhouetted in the window next to our front door as a young female watched him.
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Alyce