Author: More Time at the Table

Salmon on Two-Cheese Tabasco Grits

Salmon on Two-Cheese Tabasco Grits

Sometimes dinner just looks like a party!

You either love grits or you hate them. They’re one of those kinds of things. If you grew up eating them, as did I, they’re comfort food par excellence — we so need comfort food now — whether buttered and tucked under a big plate of eggs over easy with spicy patty sausage or baked up all cheesy in a casserole dish for the Thanksgiving or any other buffet. They do not, as some folks will insist, taste like paste. (I always liked paste myself.) The trouble has come with the advent of instant grits, which while technically kinda-sorta grits, are nothing compared to the pot of goodness made with stone-ground grits that take longer to cook and definitely need more attention than mashed potatoes. I’d just as soon skip grits if they’re instant, but I’m sure they have their place for folks camping with a bunch of kids demanding a hot breakfast 10 minutes ago.

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Pumpkin-Ginger Crunch Cheesecake

Pumpkin-Ginger Crunch Cheesecake

I can’t remember exactly when the pumpkin spice thing took hold. Or how it came to be. You can google all that and get your own ideas. One thing comes to mind and it’s coffee:

By the early 2000s, some evil genius figured out that it sold well as a latte with plenty of cream and sugar. An early reference in a newspaper is “Springs coffee shops offer something to fit almost everyone’s taste” in the Colorado Springs Gazette in January 11, 2002, which describes Purple Mountain Coffee in Colorado serving up a “pumpkin pie latte.”

Melissa Mcewan: Chicagoist/October 31, 2014
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Cod with Arugula-Basil Pesto

Cod with Arugula-Basil Pesto

Even before Covid-Cooking Time, I for years stocked the garage freezer with everything from extra baguettes to whole chickens to cookies to quarts of chili and chicken broth. Pork chops found on a great sale were purchased in quantity and leftovers suitable for quick lunches had a home. Nights when I was too tired to cook meant I tossed a couple of quarts of stew under the stream of a hot kitchen faucet for few minutes, popped them out into a 4-quart pot, covered them, and set them over low heat until they bubbled up dinner. A frozen half baguette heated beautifully in about 20 minutes in the oven at the same time.

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Plum and Almond Crostata: Windfall of Covid-Time

Plum and Almond Crostata: Windfall of Covid-Time

While I might’ve, I’m not sure I would have made this a year ago.

Over the past few days, my eyes have been drawn to a number of accounts online and in hard copy that have zeroed in on some of the amazing benefits or windfalls of living life Covid-Style. Two keep coming to mind. In today’s Sunday NEW YORK TIMES on the front page, in an article by Ellen Barry entitled, “City Folks Flee the Virus, and the Bears Rejoice,” a man named Jonny Hawton is now working from home in Vermont instead of making a huge LA commute every day in California. He couldn’t imagine returning to the previous lifestyle where he only saw his baby daughter one hour a day. “If someone told me I would have to go back and do that tomorrow, I don’t know what I’d do.” Another woman — Juanita Giles — reviewing Misty Copeland’s new book, BUNHEADS, for NPR, provides interesting insights into now being with the kids at home all day. While she misses lots and fears her social skills are deteriorating, she does not miss one thing: after school activities. Running the roads to get to rehearsals and classes, changing clothes on the fly (think shoving sweaty little feet into ballet tights in the van), squeezing homework into a car ride (“I HATE MULTIPLICATION!”), and eating 5 slow cooker meals a week (all tasted the same–she obviously hadn’t cooked my slow cooker meals!!) weren’t her idea of a fun life. Did she know that before? Surely she did, but what to do? That was how things were. As a dancer, however, she did terribly miss dance and so did the kiddoes — enough so that the prima ballerina’s new book was an instant hit instigating leotards now quickly donned at home and endless pirouettes through the kitchen where non-slow cooker meals were now being cooked. Sometimes change, as hard as it is, is good.

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Easy Apple-Walnut Coffeecake

Easy Apple-Walnut Coffeecake

Start the coffee when you slide this baby into the oven because it’s done in 30 minutes!

I can remember, but just barely, my dad scraping the flesh of an apple with a spoon and feeding it to me when I was a capital-T Tiny little kid. Was I spoiled? Oh, I’m sure I was. I was the fourth kid and born 10 years after the third. Did I learn to love apples? You betcha. And, because God was good (and yes, “God did make little green apples”), I grew up in the same house my entire childhood with apple, plum, and pear trees right outside one door or the other. To say nothing of a midwestern summer garden I’ve never since seen the like of. Of course that all meant work, too, even for the kids. There was planting, fertilizing, weeding, hoeing, picking, cleaning, and the final coup de grâce (crushing blow), canning. Lord, the heat. Apples, plums, and pears, but especially apples, however, didn’t necessitate those long three months of labor followed by a week of boiling jars in a steaming, no-AC kitchen. You simply watched as the trees blossomed in the spring, knowing somehow in the sweet fragrance on the breeze that when fall arrived, you could just munch away to your heart’s content by doing nothing more than reaching up to the low-hanging branches or getting your taller sister to do it for you. There was one thing, though. My mom liked to make jam and jelly, so there were still a few hot Mason jars for that, more’s the pity. She’d make it out of just about anything she could find, but because she had tons of apples in her own yard, we had apple jelly out the kazoo. If I ate a PBJ come wintertime, there’d be apple jelly on it nine times out of ten. Well. That was a lot of the same jelly, so….

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SLOW COOKER:  German Barley Soup (Graupensuppe)

SLOW COOKER: German Barley Soup (Graupensuppe)

Sliced bratwurst, root vegetables, herbs, and broth come together all afternoon in the slow cooker

Before fall arrives, Colorado usually has a day or two of winter just to keep us on our toes. Luckily he came; he went. Old man winter, you know.

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KIDS COOK FOR LABOR DAY: Blueberry-Peach Crisp

KIDS COOK FOR LABOR DAY: Blueberry-Peach Crisp

If you live in Colorado, the weather is often the topic of conversation. Like now. The rest of the country is looking forward to a warm Labor Day holiday weekend and, while we in Colorado are sort of doing the same, we also have our eyes stuck on the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday:

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Grandma Mac’s Zucchini Bread or What Memories are in Your Recipe Collection?

Grandma Mac’s Zucchini Bread or What Memories are in Your Recipe Collection?

It doesn’t matter what sort of baker you are, you’ve probably made zucchini bread. It’s that quintessential August oven project that comes up every year when there’s more zucchini than you know what to do with. Not that it uses all that much zucchini; it doesn’t. But it’s the thought that counts for this late summer pastime: I have lots of zucchini, ergo I make zucchini bread.

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Melon and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Lemon-Lime Vinaigrette

Melon and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Lemon-Lime Vinaigrette

This is best with a fresh mint garnish, though I forgot to get it on here before snapping the photo!

If you’ve been a food blogger as long as I have, you’ve been through a few different stages of the sport. At one time many of us joined in blog hops and all blogged around a particular subject, chef, or book for sometimes months on end. I belonged to several such groups over the years, but one of my favorites was INA FRIDAYS, which I organized, developed, and participated in April, 2013 – December, 2014. Our fun group of bloggers — many of whom are still blogging years later — cooked and wrote about an Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) recipe the first Friday of every month; I have wonderful memories of the entire escapade! We all learned lots, but for me, maintaining a job, two blogs, writing a book, and keeping up the house got to be a wee much after a while. I was relieved when we decided we maybe had eaten the best of Ina after all! There’s no doubt though I’m still a big Ina fan and you’ll often see a book or two of hers next to my reading chair or on my counter anytime of year. Type in “Ina Fridays” into the search box and catch a few Ina Fridays if you like.

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Red Curry Chicken with Green Beans and Mushrooms

Red Curry Chicken with Green Beans and Mushrooms

In my next life, I’m going to take photos for laminated menus.

In 2009, husband Dave, daughter Emily –for a couple of weeks anyway– and I spent the summer in St. Paul, Minnesota so I could take a few graduate music courses at University of St. Thomas. While there, we lived in a 3rd-floor walkup apartment on Grand Avenue above a Thai restaurant named — you guessed it — Pad Thai. (See below)

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