Need Thanksgiving ideas? Scroll down to near the bottom of the post.
I grew up with a dad who was born in 1907 out on a Mount Herman farm an hour and a half north of New Orleans. You didn’t have to live right in the city proper to be steeped in its deep, full, and varied food culture. His family was champion at cooking and eating together. And whatever was available just might be on that stove. Insert turn of the century poor farm folk imagination here.
Trying to figure out what to name the dishes I dream up is not always easy. Many times the right recipe title does just pops up. Because, in my book, t should say what it is. Not be misleading or uninformative. (If you say, “Mother Morgan’s Favorite Dinner,” what does that mean? Steak and Garlic Green Beans on Mushroom Rice, however, says exactly what it is.) Other times, I’m lost. Nothing sounds right. I mull. I ponder. Here’s an example: Continue reading
If you’ve read More Time at the Table for long –and we’re just about to celebrate our fifth birthday — you’ll know I adore beans and particularly love bean soup. I feel overwhelmingly rich when there’s a ham bone in the refrigerator just waiting for me to throw it in the pot one morning. While I’ve made bean soup for many years, it rarely comes out exactly the same as it did the time before and while I’m not always sure why that is, I’m happy for it. Of course the taste is dependent upon which dried bean you use and there’s the rare occasion I’ve used a few different cans of beans when there was no time for the long indulgent soup pot. Or it might taste differently because of the seasonings or the type or amount of ham. In this case, I pulled out the Easter ham bone (originally a 7-pound ham that now had been nearly, but not quite, picked clean for sandwiches) and looked in the pantry for a bean just a bit different the typical white, navy, black, split pea, black-eyed pea (actually a legume), etc.
Last time I was at Williams-Sonoma, they had, as they often do, a basket of marked down food products. I’m willing to pay their price for several items I can’t get elsewhere and that are worth it. Great vanilla extract, for instance. California olive oil. But there are other items I’ll spring for only when they’ve made it to the mark down rack. This is where I’ll buy really expensive Italian or Spanish olive oil that I wouldn’t pay the original $50.00 for. I’ll pick up unusual cocoa or coffee at half-price. And this is where I bought Snow Cap Beans, which are heirlooms, for $5.99 (15 ounces) instead of $11.95. Continue reading
|Nothing like the fragrance of rosemary for remembrance filling the house in December.|
I’m not a cheap cook, but I have always looked for inexpensive ways to provide our daily bread. Raising a house full of kids, I often had no choice. Even today, when we’re empty nesters with a bit more funds than when the kids were home, I look for ways to save a bit here and there because it’s the right thing to do. It’s often healthy, too. I buy the best I can find for the least amount of money. If you’ve ever cooked for a soup kitchen, or worked in a food pantry, you’ll know that beans go a long way, are low in calories, and high in fiber. They’re filling and versatile. They can also be yummy. Hence this pot of smokey-fragrant “French” beans with lots of
What makes the beans French? Probably the herbs and the nod toward a très simple and abbreviated version of cassoulet, which takes three days to make using the traditional method. I use regular navy or white beans; the French often use tiny white beans called flageolets. (For my easier, but still two-day version of cassoulet, click here. I’ll freely admit it needs better photos…phewee.) If you don’t know what cassoulet is, it’s a holiday or large-group gathering winter French meal that includes beans, vegetables, sausage, duck confit, pork, and more. There are layers of cooking involved and a final, huge deep oven-baked pan of oh-my-cook goodness to feed the masses. Lots of lusty red Rhone wine is required, as are copious amounts of baguette to soak up the never-should-be dry bowlful. Cassoulet is a celebration I occasionally do for Christmas Eve. This year, I’m trying not to conquer the world in just one day; I have no idea what we’re having, though a great big bowl of Bolognese is in my freezer. (What riches!)
While this is not a fast recipe (nor is it the three-day marathon), it’s one to enjoy making when you need to be at home anyway. I think it truly is a one-dish meal. You could add a salad if you want, but I’m not sure you need bother. A little cheese afterward perhaps.
Maybe make this when snow flies or folks are on the way and a nice pot of anything will be the relaxed ticket for the evening. I’m convinced the reason many people don’t cook (or say they don’t have time to cook) is because they just don’t stay at home. Our running, crazy world keeps us distracted and sometimes isolated despite all of our “connectivity.” There’s a lot of feeling good to be done around a bit slower life that includes some cooking and sharing of meals. Invite someone over to play cards for the afternoon while this is in the oven (and everyone oo’s and ah’s over the great smells) or serve for a post-holiday meal to use up some of the ham you made for Christmas or New Year’s.
Here’s the “recipe” in photo form… It’s really a method and precise amounts aren’t truly necessary. Use your inner creative cook!
french beans with smoked sausage and chicken
Cooks note: You’ll need to soak a pound of dry white beans overnight just covered with water or
quick-soak them by covering with water, bringing to a boil, and covering for one
hour before beginning this recipe.
|Simmer over medium heat a minute or two in an 6-8 quart heavy pot*: 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper...until fragrant. (Flavor the oil.) Do not add salt until beans are at least half-way cooked.|
|Chop 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 3 stalks celery, and 3 carrots.|
|Add vegetables to pot with 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 teaspoon dried Thyme and 1 bay leaf. Stir. (The rosemary will come apart during the cooking. You’ll remove the leftover twig at the end.)|
|While the vegetables cook for five minutes, or so, chop 1/2 cup smoked ham, ham hock, or smoked pork chop. (I just cut some off a ham hock and froze the rest of the ham hock. Cook another five minutes, stirring.|
|To bring up the browned bits on the bottom (deglaze) the pot, add 1/2 cup white wine. Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring.|
|Pour in 5 cups chicken stock and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Add one pound rinsed and soaked dry white beans.* Reduce heat to simmer.|
|Cover and let cook an hour or so until beans have just begun to soften. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; taste and re-season if necessary. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Meantime, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet heated over medium flame. Salt and pepper well 6 chicken legs and thighs** and cook them about ten minutes on each side until nicely browned, but not done all the way through.|
|Slice about 8 ounces of smoked sausage into 1/2″ thick slices (I used Aidell’s smoked Italian Sausage with Mozzerella; Kielbasa would be fine) and..|
|add to the pan of browned chicken. Let cook about two minute or until hot. Add chicken and sausage to the pot of beans, gently pressing chicken down into the bean mixture not necessarily to cover, but to moisten.|
|Bring to a boil, cover, and place pot in preheated oven. Let bake until beans are tender and chicken is cooked through, about an hour. Taste and re-season as needed. Remove rosemary “branches,” but leave bay leaf in. Whoever gets it has good luck!|
|Serve hot in large, shallow bowls with sturdy bread and a big glass of red Rhone.|
*If you use a 6 quart pot instead of a 8 quart pot, you may not be able to fit all of the chicken in it. Put four pieces of chicken and all of the sausage in the pot before baking and continue cooking additional two pieces of chicken stove top until they are done. Cool and reserve to add to the pot when the beans are tender and you take it out of the oven. I used the Le Creuset 26, which translates to close to 6 quarts. Make sure you check your pot’s manufacturer’s directions for the safest oven temperature. Some pots are 350 degrees Fahrenheit; some are 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
**I like dark meat for slow cooking. If you like breasts (white meat), go ahead and use them, but I think they will get over done here unless you almost totally cook the beans stove top first and only
put the entire pot into the oven for the time it takes to finish the breasts.
about dried beans (from livestrong.com)
|One-pot, no soak Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken|
Hot, cold. Hot, cold. The weather here is like a menopausal woman. To be fair, it hasn’t been hot. Except in my house where there’s a radiator stuck on high. According to local legend, it can’t be fixed until summer. Who said? So when I clean the bathroom upstairs, I turn into a sauna. That’s right, I used the correct pronoun.
Outdoors yesterday, the temperature hit about 41 degrees Fahrenheit. The Macalester College running club (We live about 4 blocks from “Mac.”) ran by in T-tiny shorts singing,
“We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave. The temperature’s rising; it isn’t surprising…”
While I’m the first girl to put on her tee shirt and grill (actually I don’t grill outdoors and don’t care to learn–that’s what Dave is for), I’ll always have to admit I adore indoor and cozy cooking. I like it cold enough to leave the oven on for hours happily braising while I read. (“I’m cooking today.”) Or for a soup to giggle and pop all afternoon on the stove. I’m the woman Hillary Clinton didn’t want to be…I did stay home and bake cookies. Among other things. So I’m the only person in the Twin Cities who is glad it’s still kinda cold. (It’s 67 in Colorado Springs; I’ve been watching.) Everyone else is giving their flip flops a test run in the lingering snow while I am snug in my Clarks’ boots. I’ll give you this: my blood is still thickening after 15 years in Colorado where the beautiful weather is a well-kept secret.
What’s the pits is that the dogs are so funky dirty stinky from the melting snow-mud that I’d like to drop them off at the groomers and let them live there for the next month. We’ve got a dog shower in the basement (no joke) that I guess I’ll break down and use, though they’ll just be filthy again in ten and my back will hurt.
|Dad’s in a big meeting on the phone; we have to stay out. Whah.|
All that said (are you tired of that phrase?) I’m still in the mood for homey, warming soups and stews. Not only because the weather calls for them, but also because they feed us well, healthily and economically. Who doesn’t like to cook once and eat thrice? Or eat once, freeze and eat once a week for the next two? Or share like we’ll do tonight with a friend. I’ll take some bread to a neighbor who adores bread, too.
|Here’s the No-Knead Bread I made for the soup.|
What’s food for if it isn’t shared? Speaking of which, the book TAKE THIS BREAD, by Sara Miles is life-changing (as I mentioned at the end of the last post). A “radical” conversation about communion, the book is also a lot about food, feeding people, and what that all means to you and me. In my world (in my heart), we are called to feed one another in many ways…but I believe firmly that we are called to share, eat and love one another because of it. While there are no atheists in fox holes, there might also be no enemies around a dinner table. What? We could toast,
Here’s to you. I hate you.
I don’t think so. Touching bread together is a means of healing. In many ways.
Here’s to this soup; it’s something you could easily share. Don’t be afraid. People love to be invited. They don’t care if you haven’t swept (and if they do, they need to get over THAT), but they care that someone is interested enough in them to want to spend an evening –a morning, an afternoon– with them. They care that someone loves enough to cook. A restaurant meal (much the thing now) isn’t the same. To begin with, the restaurant:
All right, I’ll give you this: they might. Many cooks/chefs really want the best for their customers, but just as many simply want it to be nine o’clock.
|Beans, water, ham hock and rosemary…it starts like this.|
So call a friend(s), throw the place mats on the table, turn on the music, light the candles, pour the wine, and make this soup. Not in that order. Some tiny bit of a crunchy salad and a chewy boule or baguette round out the meal and the bread’s great for dunking. A couple of tiny cookies or a small scoop of gelato would be sweet for an ending. (Wine? I like a Cotes du Rhone here, but you might prefer a light Italian red like a Moltepulciano.) Here’s the story in pictures:
|Start with a great ham hock.|
|Cook the beans with onion, rosemary and the ham hock. No salt.|
|Remove the hock, add stock, chicken pieces, and veg.|
|Throw in a couple of tomatoes with the chicken and vegetables; remove to cool, peel easily, and chop.|
|Chop the rosemary finely this time; you don’t want to eat a Christmas tree.|
|Carefully chop meat from hock. Remove fat and tendons; check for bones.|
|Now that’s an easy way to peel a tomato.|
|The chicken, simmered in liquid, is done quickly. Remove, cool, skin, bone, and shred.|
|Put it all back in the pot and let her roll. Turn down and simmer.|
Cook’s Note: No cooking and letting the beans sit for an hour; no overnight soak. You just start cooking the beans for this soup in one pan and add EVERYTHING else in a row. Total cooking/prep time is 3 hours, perhaps less. I gave it an extra 30 minutes simmer to come together at the end. Of course it’s great the next day after all the ingredients swam in the same sea, slept in the same bed, washed in the same water, or whatever metaphor floats your boat.
Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken makes 5 qts approximately
1/2-3/4# dried cannellini or northern white bean/navy beans
1 ham hock (I used half a large one)
2 large onions, peeled and chopped, divided
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, divided (Leave one whole; mince the other.)
3 pieces chicken with bones and skin
1 qt chicken stock, low or no salt
1 c white wine or water
2 firm red tomatoes (or 1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes)
1 c chopped carrots
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
(1/4 c chopped cabbage, 1/4 c chopped green beans, optional-I had them and put them in.)
1/4 c chopped parsley
Kosher salt; freshly ground pepper (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/8 t pepper)
Several drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce (or a pinch of crushed red pepper or ground cayenne)
1 c fresh spinach leaves
1/2 c Parmesan
Zest of 1 fresh lemon
*You want a soup that shows all of its elements–beans, vegetables and meat–merely thickened by the small amount of pureed soup. You don’t want a totally pureed soup.
In St. Paul, spring wants to come. People and animals (see brave bunny below) are all ready for warming sun, a day in the yard, a stroll in the park. I must say they are hardy creatures, though. There hasn’t yet been a day when folks aren’t taking a walk, shopping, etc. Snow, 14 degrees, wind, whatever. These are outdoor people. One day when I thought it was WAY too cold to venture far beyond the warm car, I saw a dad wheeling a stroller, taking the kid for a spin. I got on my boots, tied up my scarf, and went for a walk. I’m learning.
|Pat the bunny. Our reason to bark. A lot.|
|Dad loves us again and is off the phone with people. Office furniture on order. Also paint.|
|We really didn’t.|
Sing a new song,
|Easy, healthy and truly yummy, as a good friend would say|
I’m sure this could have a better name.
Sometimes people ask how I name recipes and my answer is always the same, “It must say what it is.”
Do I want catchy names? Yes.
I just seldom use them. How about Taco Trouble Soup? Tonza Turkey Soup?
Of course, as a working cook of sorts, the recipe must also be FINDABLE IN WORD DOCUMENTS. You could think about that and come up with wonderful storage ideas for people who cook on multiple levels and must maintain articles, recipes, photographs and so on.
This could be Turkey Chili Soup or Taco Soup (of which there are many) or Turkey Vegetable Chili–etc., but it’s very soupy and it tastes like tacos. Without the gazillion calories of the tortillas. Without the cheese (though you could add that at the end, if you’d like.) And it’s quick.
This hot bowl of fuel fulfills the black bean, onion and tomato portion of my series on meals or dishes including the “12 best foods,”
Nearly everyone I talk to about food just wants things fast. I like everything at Alyce-speed. I don’t like to rush; I don’t think it’s worth while. If I don’t have time to cook, I always can have an omelet or grab a piece of cheese and an apple. But, hey, I hear you. I hear everyone who works, everyone who has kids, everyone who just wants time to veg and I don’t mean eating them in the kitchen. So, for all my students, friends and family hard-pressed for time, here’s something scrumptious that makes a ton (save some little containers for lunch) and can be frozen in batches. So you can skip cooking next Saturday, too. See below…. (For more really quick recipes, check out my examiner.com recipe page –link at right and below–some are labled “Dinner Now!”)
Frozen Soup in the Crock-pot: Place your container of frozen soup (or stew or casserole) upside down in the sink and turn on the hot water over it for a minute or two. Dump that container into the crock-pot; add a 1/4 c water to the bottom, cover and turn on low. Dinner that night is on the way. You will have a hot and ready meal by late afternoon. (Make sure you freeze your meals in containers that will easily turn out into your crock-pot. This is worth buying a couple of extra containers just for this very purpose.)
Turkey Taco Soup serves 6-8 generously
Note: These ingredients can be changed to suit your tastes or what’s in your cupboard. The ingredient police will not arrive if you change what goes into this soup. Add corn if you like. Use no rice at all. Cut down on seasonings. Add canned chile peppers or roasted red peppers. Leave out the zucchini. Add a bag of mixed frozen veg. Drop in a little Tabasco sauce or let a big jalapeno cook whole in the pot. Get in there and cook, honey.
1T olive oil
3 slices bacon chopped into 1″ pieces (optional)
1 large onion chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1# ground turkey breast
1t freshly ground black pepper
2 t kosher salt
1T ea dried basil and oregano (or 1T Herbes de Provence)
2-4T chili power to taste (You can make your own or I like Chili 3000 from Penzey’s–Spice Islands is next)
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper, opt.
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (no salt)
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 c salsa
1 zucchini, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 yellow squash, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 c red wine or water
2 c low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 c raw rice or use 1 c cooked rice or cooked small pasta (if cooked, add later)
1 can no-salt black -or pinto- beans (if you use regular ones, rinse and drain)
2T Dijon-style mustard (like Grey Poupon)
Toppings: 2 ripe avocados, chopped; 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped; 2 c shredded lettuce; 1 c grated Cheddar, 1 c crushed tortilla chips-can use any, all or none
Around the ‘Hood +Two-Dog Kitchen
Why didn’t anyone tell me to read THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE? I couldn’t put it down. I ran into June at Costco and she, omnivorous she, had read it and seen the movie–which she didn’t think anyone would understand if they hadn’t read the book. Often the case, I think.
We watched “The American” with George Clooney. Well done, slow-moving, sadly violent and just sad. How many people are that lonely in our world…and why?
Maybe you noticed I updated colors and pics on the blog. Tell me if you liked it the other way better. Or if you like this.
Prayers for my friend L’s dad in the final stages of cancer. Prayers for healing for C.
Snow: On the west side of Mesa, you can’t walk ecause of the snow. On the east (and by our house), it’s all melted except in odd, shaded spots. It’s 40’s and 50’s every day. Spring in the winter is what I call January and February in the Springs.
Planning a trip …we are, if I didn’t tell you, in the midst of serious move plans. To somewhere around the Twin Cities. A several year topic around the house. It is a huge thing in some ways; we’ve been in Colorado 15 years nearly. How I walk away from my loved ones here is more than I can figure out. To not worship at First Congregational …ach. On the other hand, this is our 23rd house and…why not have 24? To live and cook at sea level has long been a goal for us…to be able to plant a big garden and eat a little off our own land is another…for me to find a job is a biggie. That just hasn’t happened here.
So, it’s time. There are a few people I’d like to put in my suitcase and you know who you are.
Drank some Chappellete cab Friday night–a soooo sweet Christmas gift from someone we love. Ye gods and little fishes, that was a tasty wine. 2006. Mymymy. And did it have a steak? Yes. Thank you!!
Going to the Mondavi wine dinner at The Blue Star Tuesday…a great night and someone’s birthday, too. Happy Day.
I am working on BLUE CHEESE Biscuits w/ Steak. Sneak Peak:
Happy Birthday on Monday to our much loved son, Sean
Be well in 2011 as you sing a new song,
|Pico de Gallo Halibut on Warm Rice Salad with Bacon Pintos|
|Warm Rice Salad in process.|
|If you never cooked beans, you don’t know how non-descript they can look in the pot while all the while tasting scrumptious. Definitely not my photographic skills, right? And, yes, they take a while at altitude. They’re good in the microwave, though. I cooked these earlier in the afternoon so they were very tender by dinner time. You could choose canned beans, unsalted or drained and rinsed very well indeed.|
|The beginning of cooking the halibut–salted and peppered, it just goes into a very hot skillet with some olive oil. Cook it for 4 minutes, turn and throw it into the oven (400 F) for about 6 minutes and it’s done.|
|Cilantro, tomatoes and avocado for the rice salad.|
|When the halibut is cooked, pull it out and top with pico de gallo, thus warming the salsa.|
|Add the rice “salad” to warmed bowls or plates, top with fresh tomatoes, cilantro and avocado and lay the fish w/ salsa on top. Spoon some beans along side and squeeze fresh lime over all. Maybe a quick dust of black pepper? Eat while it’s hot.
Pico de Gallo Halibut with Warm Rice Salad and Bacon Pintos serves 2
Beans: (Follow directions below or use canned, drained and heated beans.)
1/2 # pinto beans (you’ll have alot left over for huevos or chili)
2 onions, chopped (divided–1 for the pintos and 1 for the rice)
3 cloves garlic, minced (divided–2 for the beans and 1 for the rice)
4 thick-cut pieces of bacon, diced
Fresh ground pepper
Warm Rice Salad:
1 T olive oil
(onion and garlic from above)
1 Medium zucchini, diced
1 Yellow squash, diced
2-3 c cooked rice
1/2 c fresh cilantro, divided
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 Avocado, ripe, diced
1 Lime, divided
2 T olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pieces (4-6 oz) fresh or unthawed and patted dry halibut filets
1/2 c pico de gallo, home-made or store-bought
What I’m Reading, Listening to, Working at or Doing around the ‘Hood:
Had neighbors for dinner Sunday night at the spur of the moment.
Enjoyed my husband at home…no travel this week.
Wondered about a job for me..did some work on that.
I’m reading DEVIL’S TRILL by Gerald Elias (I told you that.) and ordered DANSE MACABRE, too. Ah, violin mysteries.
I also picked up, and started, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. (I know–you read this in ’03)
I’m still reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD. Superb.
The book club book is Isabel Allende’s DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE. Not yet, either. Nope, I haven’t begun it.
I taught piano lessons and learned alot. I let a student choose a piece to work on and it was Bach.
I did my best to listen to myself playing and singing old standards. Piano bar retirement plan. You know those jars that say, “Piano Player’s 401K?” They’re real. Put something in them, please.
We watched “Did You Hear What Happened to the Morgans?” Glad it happened to them, though the bears are here, too-so that wasn’t so funny to me.
I think I finished washing all of the linens from Christmas.
I’m looking at local hunger issues for examiner.com and figuring out a series of articles on same.
There’s a second article about where to drink just a glass of wine in Co. Springs in the works as well.
I played with the dogs every chance I had.
Today–reupping my “Y” membership.
Talked to my daughter on the phone twice and texted back and forth to Jeanne…several times.
Spent a long time on the phone with Sue..,..such a treat. A treat to have the time and a treat to have Sue. Prayers here and now for Sue’s father-in-law, in the last stages of cancer in Virginia. Also praying for friend, C, recovering from surgery.
Kept up with my family via fb. My nephew is deer hunting and I wish I could get some sausage. One of my nieces is on the way to new health after a long New Year’s hospital stay.
Went out for supper at old-time family Italian Luigi’s to share a pizza and salad with Dave in front of their fireplace. Listened to his work stuff and was grateful my jobs don’t involve that kind of stuff. The tough ones for me are getting mah, may, me, moh, mooo right. Or answering questions like, “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t sing that hymn this Sunday. You tell me why?” I get to help make people happy, healthy and wise as they sing their hearts out or cook yum food for loved ones.
Nice work if you can get it.
Be well in 2001 as you sing a new song,
You’ll have to bear with me and read a while to get the recipe for this salad. Yum. It needs a better name. Be thinking as you scroll down.
What IS in a name? I’m pretty good with words–usually. But once in a while I’m just stuck for a name for a recipe I’ve developed. Once it was, “What do you call a Fish Taco Salad?” I had some great answers, but just thought “Fish Taco Salad” really told the tale. Same thing with the pinto bean rice tunzveg salad I made for tailgating last week.
Or, just for kicks, I threw in this photo (above) of the kid and the pumpkins. It’s October. I don’t know this kid’s name. I don’t remember where I got this picture. I’ve looked and looked. Who is this kid? What’s her/his? name? It matters; it really does. But I dunno. If you know, tell me.
Recipe names are important, too. They should say what the recipe is, but they should draw you in, too. Make you want to cook, as it were.
How about here? This is my Mom and my nephew Michael in the above pic. Many years ago. Mom’s been gone since 1985 and Michael’s in his 30’s, married with children. Mom; she was my mom. But she had a name. Even to my kids, she was our “Mom’s mom” or “grandma.” But she definitely was Faiery Elizabeth Denny McClendon. Born today in 1917. Happy Birthday, Fay. You’re my screensaver, Mom.
Here’s Michael today. With daughter Allison. Hmm. I wish they were here!
But then there’s this little punkin.
Aaron Noah Wilkerson.
Named for himself.
And his big brother, who’s no longer here, but is among the names God calls daily in heaven.
Nearly 9 pounds and 20 inches long. A solid chunk of humanity. So loved. So awaited. So beautiful.
They knew just what to call YOU!
Welcome to our world, Aaron. We’ll love having you here. When you’re bigger, you can eat some of this salad. That I’m unsure what to call. Maybe your Mom can help; she’s good with words, too. Good with making beautiful babies, too. Well, Dad helped. And everyone prayed. And prayed. I cannot wait to see you baptized!!
Still. This IS a food blog. Most of the time. So here’s my tailgating salad. Try it. Put different vegetables in it. Play with the seasonings. I found it needed citrus–acid and then a little sweetness–the butternut squash and the honey. This makes a LOT. And, maybe you can come up with a name. See this little bowl I used for photography? You’ll need a bigger bowl than that, I’d guess. We adored this.
Pinto Rice Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing or Here it is, Loren–you asked for it!!
This was great with chicken enchiladas and sour cream. It’d be lovely with tacos–fish or meat. It is also an awesome vegetarian meal…leave out the cheese for vegans. Pretty nice for gluten-free folks, too. WhooHoo.
3 cups cooked pinto beans (do it yourself or use rinsed canned ones)
3 cups cooked white rice
1/2 c cabbage, finely sliced
1 c cubed (small) white cheddar cheese
2 small zucchini, diced **
1 small yellow squash, diced **
3 stalks celery, diced
1 c butternut squash, cooked, peeled and diced* (or use acorn squash)
1 avocado, barely ripe, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off* (or 1 c frozen, defrosted corn)
1 bunch green onions, chopped (white and green)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
Dressing: Juice of 3 limes and 1/2 c olive oil, 2 cloves finely minced garlic, 1/2 t kosher salt, 1/2 t freshly ground pepper, 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper or to taste
Juices of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 lime, 1 orange; 2T honey
1 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
In a very large bowl or 10 qt stockpot, mix the beans through cilantro gently. Pour 1/2 the dressing over all and mix again easily. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Squeeze over all the lemon, lime and orange juice. Drizzle honey over all. Mix again and taste for and adjust seasonings. Garnish with cherry tomatoes. (Don’t mix them in; they’ll mush up by the next day if you keep any of this that long.) Have the courage of your convictions and make this salad your own, changing up any of it. I really just made it up as I went along, after beginning with the idea of a bean-rice salad that felt and tasted very fresh.
Eat now or chill and serve within 1-2 days. Use remaining dressing at table or to moisten salad next day.
*Cook the corn and the squash in the microwave:
For the corn— Place whole ears of corn with husks and silks on dampened paper towel. Cook two ears about 4-5 minutes total. Remove ears from microwave and wrap in foil. Let steam for 5 minutes in foil and take off husks/silk. Cut kernels from corn by holding cob perpendicular to (and resting against) the cutting board. Slice downward, cutting between the kernels and the cob itself, moving around and turning the cob as each section falls to the board.
For the squash–Cut squash in half. Cook one half at a time. Place the squash in a 8″ square microwave-safe glass container and pour about 1/2″ water in the bottom. Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or so. Let sit another 5 minutes and remove squash from skin to dice on cutting board. Make your winter squash like this often and save lots of time.
**I sauteed the zucchini and the yellow squash for just a couple of minutes before adding it to the salad; you can leave it raw or cook it, even in the microwave, too–just as you like. Another option: throw in for the last couple of minutes with rice or beans.
Above: Winter Squash Fast, left, and my drained beans, right. Try cooking the beans in the microwave, too. They get done without getting mushy. I like them cooked up with lots of whole onions (peels, too) and a couple of cloves of garlic..as well as a whole jalapeno and lots of salt and whole peppercorns. You get a little heat without overwhelming the beans or the salad. Don’t forget to remove the peppercorns before eating!
Happy Fall, dear ones. Cook a pot of beans. Make some winter squash. Feel autumn come.
Sing a new song,