Author: More Time at the Table

Garlicky Two-Potato and Green Bean Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Garlicky Two-Potato and Green Bean Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Those of us raised by southern mothers might have grown up with Green Beans and Potatoes on the table come hot, dripping summertime evenings. Add a plate of heavy sliced tomatoes (well-salted, thank you) and a pan of cornbread with lots of butter, please, and that was dinner. Who needed meat? For the past few years, warm weather brings on the need to re-create that dish with my own twists and turns. Those often include tossing in whatever other vegetables I have on hand, turning it all into a salad, and whipping up a frisky vinaigrette I doubt my mom would ever have added. She might have thrown in a piece of chopped bacon or a tablespoon or two of bacon grease into the pot for flavor, though, now that I think about it. Oh, and that bacon grease never saw the inside of a refrigerator either. (We all lived.)

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One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with White Beans, Cabbage, and Tomatoes

One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with White Beans, Cabbage, and Tomatoes

Under 30 minutes!

My post about the cookbook gifts for Mother’s and Father’s Days a couple of weeks ago resulted in a tasty stack of books hanging around my office and kitchen. While I cook off the top of my head for the most part, I also know the road toward growth and innovation is paved with reading, seeing, tasting, talking, cooking and testing new dishes. When I had a minute or two –and let’s face it, we’re pretty much still staying home, so I do have time — I kept flipping through those books, enjoying them more and more. Given ingredients are a bit scarce, even though I wanted to cook a whole bunch of different recipes, unless I wanted to wait a week for the next grocery run, I probably had to punt to put one on the dinner table.

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Best of the Beans–Cornbread, too, of course

Best of the Beans–Cornbread, too, of course

Listen the the peaceful piano stream from Minnesota Public Radio while you read…. (click on “Listen: Replenish your spirit.)

“Cheap Eats” has a sort of nasty ring to it, but it’s a bit on the real-edgy side, too. I get it. I’ve been without a lot of bucks at the grocery store check out; I’ve had to feed six people three times a day for a lot of years. My stove has cooked many a meal for a big bunch of folks along the way. “Cheap,” though, is tricky to a serious cook; it’s not the thing we’re looking for. “Inexpensive?” Sure. That rocks. Who doesn’t like “inexpensive?” But “cheap” smacks of poorly made or tawdry (think cheapskate) — just not terribly positive, even in today’s world. But when I look hard at it, and we’re all looking hard at things right now, we might be in a place where we need to know exactly what cheap eats are. And I know. The thing is, they’re sometimes pretty good. In fact, if you know how to cook cheap eats that taste good, you’re a mighty special person. You know how to add a thick schmear of seasoned rice at the bottom of each bowl to stretch a few cups of chili. You probably are intimately acquainted with why God made potatoes fried in bacon grease. Or perhaps you can make a big platter of crispy butter biscuits served with a deep bowl of beans and a little chopped bacon and manage to feed 10 hungry people? In other words, you’re like a lot of people’s grandmas who knew from tough times.

my grandma and great-grandma (wish I knew the dog’s name)

And, if we look at what we think of now as beautiful, sophisticated dishes from any old country you want to name, they’re often the meals country people made out of what they had to feed everyone who was coming to the table that night. Tough old pieces of meat simmered for hours with whatever was in the garden or on the shelf or ancient hens cooked to smithereens and served over noodles…maybe vegetables with little other than an onion and some herbs to make them tasty. A few eggs stirred up with a bit of cheese served with yesterday’s bread grilled up with butter and served with jam. Kettle of lentils bubbling on the back burner. The meals made out of what was grown nearby, out of what was available, or out of what some smart cookie had preserved and stored from last season. The food made without a grocery store just down the street.

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COOKING THE BOOKS: Fun Gifts for Mother’s or Father’s Day

COOKING THE BOOKS: Fun Gifts for Mother’s or Father’s Day

Diana Henry’s FROM THE OVEN TO THE TABLE: Simple Dishes That Look After Themselves

While Mother’s Day — yes it’s this Sunday, May 10, 2020 — is absolutely just around the corner, Father’s Day, June 21, 2020, offers a little more leeway for thought…and shipping. Shopping, I mean. Wedding or graduation coming up later? Even a zoom ceremony/celebration? Whichever. If some lucky duck needing a gift anytime soon has a yen for cooking, I’ve got a few ideas for you. Scroll down for some fun info, recipes, and pix of stunning new and newer cook and drink books I’ve come to eat adore. Yes, there’s this: if you’re looking to get mom’s present there on time (lots of brownie points for on time–otherwise get on the phone that day), it’s time to click and pay. Today. So take a look at a book and see what you think. Links to amazon included for fast ordering.

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Air Fryer Cauliflower Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

Air Fryer Cauliflower Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

No air fryer? Links below for oven or pan roasting the cauliflower.

I’ve been working for a few weeks on ideas for a Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 10, 2020) post featuring new and/or newer books I’m recommending for great gift-giving, especially since a lot of it will need to be done long-distance in some way. (Books ship easily. Amazon will even wrap them.) Could even be for Father’s Day, right? Or graduation? Or wedding? (I’m unsure how those last two are being accomplished this year. Lord, Lord.) And lest you think I’ve given up on it, I haven’t. I bought the books, have pored over them happily and have been, ingredients being what they are these days, cooking the books to coin a phrase. I’m just not done. Soon. It’s gotta be soon as we’re getting full cooking this stuff! Two of the books lean French; the other veers toward the Brits, though my version is written for Americans. It is too fun to cook from other people’s recipes, to see how they put the book together, and do little but enjoy the whole process from looking at the photos to eating or drinking the beautiful victuals. Writers who’ve recently published a book are simply not getting the chance to promote their work as they have in other years; there are no book tours, many fewer media opportunities, and so on. It’s a good time for food bloggers to step up to the plate and lend a hand promoting our favorite authors. It’s just that I’ve a few things left to do before you see it all!

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More Time (for) Eggs

More Time (for) Eggs

“What would you like for breakfast?” I asked. “I never met an egg I didn’t like,” said my very dear friend Chris Kliesen Wehrman with a gleam in her eye one morning after she had spent the night at our house.

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How to Make Quiche out of Just About Anything

How to Make Quiche out of Just About Anything

French home cooks always seem to have a dozen wonderful things up their sleeves to make on the spur of the moment. Great ideas to use up leftovers come awfully naturally, as well, and they all appear to know about how to feed 6 people with a cup and a half of milk, 3 eggs, a bit of ham, and a handful of grated cheese. How DO they do it? These folks are always frying croutons, whipping up homemade hot chocolate, baking an apple tart using apples from the backyard tree, simmering cream soups or vegetable pastas, stirring up something tasty with canned tuna … or even making quiche! How is it that even carbs aren’t a problem for them? This is proven routinely by the unending ubiquitous photos of yard-long baguettes being carried home by slim citizens riding bikes down tree-lined sunny Paris streets. (Well, right now they’re limited to an hour out a day and can’t go far from home. Sigh.) Over the years I’ve been writing the blog, I’ve read and seen quite a lot about this phenomenon, but staying in France for two weeks a couple of years ago gave me a much more complete and definitely personal insight. I’m finding it all definitely useful in today’s cooking world.

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Mesa Apple Tart and Other Miracles

Mesa Apple Tart and Other Miracles

While our world feels like a fearful, indescribable mess — and it is, dear friends — I can handle it better if I’m baking. Especially for a holiday and, like it or not, Easter’s coming. Think renewed life, rebirth, clean beginnings — positive thoughts for anyone of any faith or none. We need this now, even if only two are gathered. A holiday for a duet is a tender occasion and while there’ll be a gorgeous lamb chop a piece and not our huge traditional Italian roasted leg of lamb for a crowd, we’ll also have dessert to remember this spring by.

One of my Easter tables.

I’m looking at Susan Hermann Loomis’ recipe for lamb chops. You might, too. (Do you know Susan’s work? She’s one of my very favorite cooking teacher/writers.) I squirreled away the chops weeks ago, but there’s still time for you to get some. Or something else you fancy more.

Need more Easter or Good Friday ideas? Just type “Easter” into the search window. You can also type “brunch,” “eggs,” “lamb,” “Friday Fish,”etc.

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FRIDAY FISH: Skillet Lentils and Tuna for Dinner

FRIDAY FISH: Skillet Lentils and Tuna for Dinner

Flexible is this meal’s middle name. Change out the vegetables, broth, protein, and/or herbs to make it your own.

I don’t remember eating lentils as a kid. Even lentil soup — on many tables this week as it’s such a pantry-friendly meal — came to me in adulthood, albeit from a much-loved friend and oddly enough during a hot week at the beach on the Outer Banks. If I ate it earlier, I have no memory of the meal and more’s the pity. The “Lentil” I knew was the Lentil of Caldecott Award- winning author Robert McCloskey (MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS) fame since I’m a lifelong avid reader and also trained and worked as a school librarian at one time in my life.

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Split Pea Soup with Ham — Putting One Foot in Front of the Other in the Fog

Split Pea Soup with Ham — Putting One Foot in Front of the Other in the Fog

Fog along the Front Range in Colorado isn’t terribly common, but we have it. What we have more often are low-hanging clouds over the mountains. This last week, though, there have been days of it along with rain, wind, and snow…obscuring views and sadly forcing people indoors even more than usual. In such weather, I need some extra grounding and daily take my “centering” walk–a slow amble around the house, counting my steps up to 1,000 or more, stopping at each window to make myself aware of three things outdoors that I don’t usually notice–or even stopping in a room to notice three items. In my office, I leave out a prayer book and stop there to read the same prayer each time I pass through the room. By the time I’m done, I can breathe and even see better.

Grounding Techniques from Healthline.com

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