Author: More Time at the Table

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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A Chicken in Every Pot:  Recipes to Stretch that Bird and Other Stuff to Soothe the Soul

A Chicken in Every Pot: Recipes to Stretch that Bird and Other Stuff to Soothe the Soul

I’ll admit there’s a lot of anxiety around COVID-19 and some of it is justified. It’s not just that a frightening virus is making its way around the world, but also that our cornerstones feel as if they’re crumbling. Schools closing, sports on hold, people hunkered down, groceries tight, churches live streaming their services, restaurants and stores shuttered, long-planned trips and weddings postponed. 24-hour news cycle repetitions without meaning to, frighten us a la 9-11 and more. We’re missing being with the people we love and like — if we’re staying home more as we’re advised — and that’s a hard row to hoe, friends, despite it being for our own and the common good. Feels a little like a world war to me, though of course it’s not. Right?

So first a little about what I’m thinking for staying sane, in touch, and active. Because we need that to be able to cook! — for sure. Next, a couple of ways I’m using odds and ends in my kitchen this week–just for ideas about wasting NADA. Then, I’ll get to that chicken and lots of ideas for cooking–and if that’s your first priority, scroll down immediately. Read on…

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FRIDAY FISH: Oyster Po’ Boy with Horseradish Blue Cheese Sauce + Sweet Pepper Slaw

FRIDAY FISH: Oyster Po’ Boy with Horseradish Blue Cheese Sauce + Sweet Pepper Slaw

When you travel all over the gorgeous United States of America, it’s simply part of the journey to sample the local fish or seafood sandwiches. Think about going to Maine without eating a Lobster Roll or to Maryland and missing a Crab cake Sandwich? How about Minnesota or Wisconsin and skipping that Walleye Sandwich? You can’t do it. I mean, it’s just nearly a great big part of the trip. Let your mouth water over Fried Catfish Sandwiches, a big Shrimp Bahn Mi, Gravlax with Dill and Capers or even Apple and Kale, Smoked Fish Sandwiches, Lox and Bagels, Tuna Wraps, or my favorite thick crispy Fish Wiches — an outgrowth of the Midwestern Lenten Friday Fish Fry and served up at many a local bar and grill. I mean, if you live and/or work in the midwest, you send someone out for a bag of them for the office or house, right? Everyone waits all year for that to happen. These sandwiches have a cult following–maybe because they’re not available all of the time. (FISH/SEAFOOD SANDWICH HONOR ROLL HERE.) Even here in Colorado, I’m pushing for my Southwestern Grilled Fish Sandwich with Green Chile Goat Cheese and Jicama Slaw to soon become can’t-live-without-them standard fare. (Insert tongue in cheek.) And you know we have stellar trout we smoke and eat as is or in a spread or fry up for breakfast? Even though Colorado isn’t the first to come to mind when you think of fish, you might be surprised at our bounty and book a fly fishing trip for the summer. Could you make a sandwich with a Colorado trout fillet? Of course; let’s just dream about what it might be… … …

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6 Easy Pantry Meals if You’re Stuck at Home

6 Easy Pantry Meals if You’re Stuck at Home

Original recipe and post here for EASY CHICKEN-BLACK BEAN SOUP. Pantry version below.

Spending years as a working mom, I knew the value of pantry meals and we happily ate a lot of them. Still true today as I don’t always feel like running out to the store when it’s snowing, right? Today, for instance, I’m making Hold My Beer Slow Cooker Chili. My husband knows: I never get tired of chili.

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FRIDAY FISH:  Instant Pot Coconut-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup with Grilled Shrimp

FRIDAY FISH: Instant Pot Coconut-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup with Grilled Shrimp

You might be like me and LOVE butternut squash soup. The baseline, silky with cream French-herby sort that graces decent/decadent/expensive restaurant menus and fills you up to the brim while you sip an oaky California Chardonnay. Or maybe the chunky vegetarian variety chock full of not only squash, but also every other vegetable in the whole wide world and is best served up with a local icy-cold wheat beer. Could be the Thai version all curry-laden–both sweet and spicy, which is lovely with a Grüner Veltliner, by the way. What’s your favorite?

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Blueberry-Banana Bread–Kona Inn Banana Bread Redux: Lighter and Healthier

Blueberry-Banana Bread–Kona Inn Banana Bread Redux: Lighter and Healthier

Sunday, February 23, 2020 is NATIONAL BANANA BREAD DAY. I had no clue, but you know there’s a day for everything. I’d love you to make my loaf to celebrate the — uh-hem — holiday, but I’ll be totally happy if you make it tomorrow or even the next day, too. The original version of the famous Kona Inn Banana Bread has been a star in my baking repertoire for at least 35 years. Sure there’ve been other banana breads I’ve cheated with and lots of other sweet quick breads….but this is the one that has passed the test of time and feels like the world standard–at least at my house. The recipe for my bread came from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham, one of my go-to basic baking books in 1985, 2020, and all the years in between. (The book’s out of print, but there are used copies available. Don’t hesitate if you like to bake.) These days, you can also find the recipe in several places and versions around the web, even on Epicurious or Food Network!

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Sirloin Steak Tacos w/ Red Pepper Sauce and Blue Cheese + Root Vegetable Salad with Oregon Chardonnay Vinaigrette: Valentine’s Day at Home

Sirloin Steak Tacos w/ Red Pepper Sauce and Blue Cheese + Root Vegetable Salad with Oregon Chardonnay Vinaigrette: Valentine’s Day at Home

Fusion tacos with a French sauce that’s not hot as it’s made with sweet-natured roasted red peppers. Want heat? Sure, go right ahead!
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Chicken Meatloaf Marinara

Chicken Meatloaf Marinara

Stuffed with creamy mozzarella, this meatloaf is a little like pizza in a loaf pan!

If you’re a Meatloaf fan, I’m thinking you’d do anything for love, but… I’m more likely to do anything for meatloaf. Fond memories of my own mom’s meatloaf or even of my own sometimes nudge (read that, shove) me into grabbing the loaf pan soooo fast, simmering and mashing up some root vegetables, and then waltzing around waiting for the, “it’s meatloaf night” aroma sailing all over the house. I know sometimes meatloaf gets a bad rap and…I don’t know why. Does it seem cheap? Old fashioned? Silly? Oh-too-simple? Housewifey? Slow? Fattening? Full of dry oatmeal? I have none of those problems; I’ll eat it every which way. My beef meatloaf is one of those dinners I unapologetically still use a couple of packaged, processed ingredients in and couldn’t care less. (Dried onion soup mix and tomato sauce, in case you’re wondering.) Sometimes I make two to make sure we have plenty for leftovers as there is absolutely nothing like a meatloaf sandwich — something I never had until I was once visiting my old college friend Danny Izzo at lunchtime when he casually asked, “Would you like a meatloaf sandwich?” He had no clue what he was starting, but I’ve never since stopped making them. And I am not a sandwich person. (Don’t forget the mayo, lettuce, and tomato. Maybe a thin slice of red onion. Ok, bacon.) Thanks, Danny.

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