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!Continue reading
Appetizer, First Course, and Side: Old Stars Shine Anew for Thanksgiving
…scroll down to bottom for links to many things thanksgiving–crafts for kids, wine advice, music….
When it’s only a week until Thanksgiving, we can go one of two ways: bury our heads in the sand of the past and recreate each and every one of the holidays gone by — could do that with your eyes closed, right; would it be so bad? —or what about spend a little time thinking about trying, even learning something new–perhaps in the way of Thanksgiving sides? If you’ve been reading along lately, you’ll know I’m totally taken with the idea of a curated Thanksgiving. That is to say, a more dinner party-ish meal– not dinner party-ish as in fancy pants table settings or overly-priced sparkling wines served in frighteningly expensive flutes, but rather in a limited number of precisely considered, perfect dishes. Ok, just ones that taste good, not necessarily perfect-perfect. One vegetable instead of 6. 2 desserts in the place of the buffet of pumpkin and pecan lovelies. A beautiful meal, not an eat-all-you-can til you bust your britches buffet. Less cleanup. Fewer leftovers. More energy for a round or two of Hearts or to watch “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” that all-but-required Thanksgiving movie. No, no. Don’t start the Christmas movies, please. Even football is better than that. Give Thanksgiving its due, its own time. Let’s not mash our day of gratefulness all up into December madness.Continue reading
I definitely got my love of soup from my dad, an inveterate soup maker, who would have turned 111 this past weekend were he still fishing on earth instead of on that perfect heavenly lake chock full of bass:
above: my proud dad in the same fishing outfit he wore for all the years I can remember
Soup is probably my most loved food if you haven’t yet figured that out. Right after pizza. Well, perhaps this is a difficult thing to discern. I could eat soup every day and sometimes do. While I lust after pizza–any kind except pineapple–I don’t think I could eat it every day.
Cauliflower Casserole with Gruyère Cheese–Make and Freeze (Right After You Donate to Your Local Food Pantry!)
Food bloggers, too, are in recovery-from-election mode. Skip down to recipe if need be.
In our difficult, name-calling, post-election country, our American world appears divided–though not shattered–by fear, unhappiness, anger, and misunderstanding. (The entire world is divided not just by politics, but between those who have food and homes and those who don’t.) As we move toward our usually happy day of Thanksgiving, we feel left and right, liberal and conservative, blue and red, educated and unscholarly, open and closed, Fox and MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh and NPR… I don’t feel as if we are split as much by religion (though some might not agree) if only because I drank the “justice for all and freedom of religion” kool-aid and do not want to believe any government of mine would pit one religion against another. The issue of race is, it seems, more complicated. A mix of cultures and religions is who we’ve always been and always will be, though; it’s the beauty and at times the ugliness of the United States. Right now it’s ugly. The train left the station long ago about this being a Christian country. And, truthfully, while Dave and I remain firmly entrenched, working and worshiping within a progressive protestant Christian community, the majority of people we know don’t even worship. Anywhere. (Though worshipers are still largely and sadly divided by race.) The believing who go to mosque, synagogue, or church regularly are, more and more, the faithful fewer–perhaps under 25% of our population. How could religion be key here? Hmm. When I hear, “The evangelicals are back in power,” I can’t help but wonder. Continue reading
Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower… … … … or My Love Affair with Vegetables
I occasionally buy too many vegetables because I’m crazy about them. That’s pretty close to how it is. While I like fruit, I love vegetables. I really like meat; I adore fish. But vegetables just do something for me. It has often occurred to me that I’m so attracted to them because they exist in infinite variety, colors, shapes, tastes, textures, sizes, and even styles–think Thai or Japanese eggplant and see below…
Meat comes in brown.
Make-Ahead Christmas Eve Dinner with Activities for All
I’ve worked on Christmas Eve for many years, so our Christmas Eve dinner was always something like a soup I left in the crock-pot while I directed the choir at church. Or it might have been a made-ahead casserole like cassoulet that finished up in the oven while “Silent Night” was sung. One year I made a fish stew base early in the morning, heated it around 9pm, and threw in the seafood and fish for a few minutes until it had just cooked through. On a rare occasion we’d go out for dinner before the first service or in between services if I had to direct an 11 o’clock. (at left: PPUMC Choir, Minneapolis)
Curried Cauliflower or I Can’t Play my Piano
At Thanksgiving, when cauliflower is so very dear (and it’s supposed to still be in season), I’ll wish I’d bought a few extra heads in September. Made a little gratinee with lots of garlic, cream, and Swiss cheese. Thrown in an extra casserole for Jeanne. Maybe even made some cauliflower soup–even though it’s so very easy and is even good made with frozen cauliflower. Once in a while I get it all done, but not this year. The basement freezer isn’t bought, though it’s on the list (after paying the floor guy and the radiator repair guy) and I expect it’s not too far in the future. But right now, we’re eating what I cook and not putting much away for the winter. I did sneak a big bag of blueberries into the side-by-side and have a couple of on sale whole chickens (for chicken noodle soup) down in the bottom.
I’m not much for raw cauliflower. I’m not saying I don’t eat it from the raw vegetable platter; I do. But the mealy, cabbagy sensation isn’t what I’m after; it’s not my favorite. But steam it, stew it, boil it, roast it, fry it and I’m all over it. I don’t care if it’s a bit crispy or grandma-done; I like it. This curried dish is a mix of two preparations. First you briefly steam it. Next you saute some sliced onions and garlic with curry powder.
Then add the steamed cauliflower..
Stir and cook until quite golden and nearly tender.
1 head fresh cauliflower, cleaned, cored, and cut into florets
2T olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder (Penzey’s has a great variety; try a couple of different ones.)
Kosher salt, pepper, and ground cayenne (if your curry isn’t too hot)
Steam cauliflower in a veggie steamer (or in the microwave) for about seven minutes, until just losing its crispness. Meantime, in a large skillet, heat oil and saute onions for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder and sprinkle with salt, pepper and ground cayenne, if using. Add steamed cauliflower and stir well. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until cauliflower is nearly tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. (To increase cooking speed, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the skillet and cover for a minute or two.) Serve hot.
At least that’s what I did. And walked the five steps to the dining room to eat it paired with a little steak Dave and I had. That’s as far as we can go because the couch is in the dining room, too, due to floor repair and refinishing in the living room. Where the piano is.
|Can’t get to the piano. Or the bedrooms. Or the front door.|
|You could call it cozy.|
If I climb over the couch, and land in the perfect place, I can quickly scoot over and land on the piano bench. If. I haven’t tried it. If we didn’t have dogs, we would be able to walk through the living room tomorrow. If. But we do have dogs, so we’re waiting until Wednesday. Sleeping in the basement where we can watch tv lying in our great (no, really, it is) sofa bed.
Next they’re tearing up the kitchen floor (6 layers?) down to the sub floor in order to lay a new wood floor. And, yes, the stove and frig must come out for a two week period. Ought to be interesting in our dining room; that’s where they’ll go. I love fixing up old houses, don’t you?
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
|Came home Friday to find Alvin running around the kitchen….|
He jumped up in the window and I closed him in there. Quick thinking, huh? The floor guy, aka Bob, had left the door open. This chipmunk, aka Alvin, has been in our yard all summer, eating the painter’s lunches and jumping out into the path, scaring the crap out of us. Our painter and friend, Chris, kept telling us that chipmunk was too smart for his own good and was going to get in the house. We laughed. Until Friday.
Still, all was well. We finally snuck open the bottom of the window, pushed the screen out, reclosed the window and went around outside to pull the screen out and watch him fly through the air into the still-blooming (really) day lilies. None the worse for wear, he yelled as he passed my head, “Just wanted to see what you’d done with the house.”
|Still picking flowers from our yard.|
|Not quite the last rose of summer, but nearly.|
Meantime, come sing your heart out at Prospect Park United Methodist over in Minneapolis. We worship at 9:30 am and have coffee and then Sunday School after that. Wander over and see what we’re up to next Saturday, October 1 at 7pm when we present “Pops and Pies,” a toe-tappin’ evening of music followed by scrumptious pie and, of course, coffee…
Pie, me oh my: I love pie.
Sing a new song,
Curried Cauliflower Soup or The Rite of Spring on Bach’s Birthday
|Hot lunch on a cold spring day|
Outside the window in the new/old (1915) St. Paul house, it’s fairly gray. Everything’s gray, in fact. Melting snow, sky, sun, trees…even the birds appear kind of gray. But spring it is!
|Jack Sparrow and Friend|
When you’ve moved, the chores are myriad. It seems you’re always running to the hardware store for a light switch cover or to Target for garbage bags and peanut butter. If you’re not running, you’re on the phone with the phone company or recycling folks. If you’re not on the phone, you’re looking at paint samples or asking where the post office is. (What happened to phone books?)
Sooner or later, plates seem to be on shelves and towels are clean and folded in the bathroom. You know where to turn the light on for the basement and have figured out what that horrible sound is between the floors or in the walls. (Hot water pipes.) You have the turn to your house memorized and don’t have to count houses from the corner anymore. And one day, you start making meals again–hardly noticing the skipped nights or that you’re in a different kitchen. Well, I wouldn’t go that far. I am definitely in a different kitchen, though I’m feeling the similarities as I get things squared away.
I had things to do this morning like
- clean the back porch
- scrub the basement stairs (honest-to-God linoleum)
- wash rugs and bathmats
- bleach down the bathrooms, one of which has an old-fashioned claw-foot tub
Cool thing was, these are typical house chores–not moving chores. We’ve been here long enough for the bathrooms to need a scrub.
So when I got done with the morning work-out, I wanted real food for lunch. I was sure my hard-working husband wanted some, too. Scouting out the frig and pantry (still not full, of course), a big cauliflower reared up its head called me by name. A quick look around the counter and I located onions, shallots, garlic, apples and one lone pretty ripe pear. I thought I’d throw most of it in the oven to roast while I did one last chore and then puree it all with some chicken stock and curry powder. Here it is just for you.
As Dave and I sat down to eat, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (1913) came on the local NPR and the day just came together. A spring-like light, but warming soup with a kick. I just couldn’t figure out how Bach’s birthday figured in, but it’s today, too. Happy Birthday, Johann. And thanks for Bach, God.
Curried Roasted-Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 apple, peeled and cut up into eighths
1 large onion, same drill
4t olive oil, divided
Sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 shallot, cut in large pieces
1 garlic clove, same drill
1 small carrot, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
1 ripe pear, peeled and cut up
1 t curry powder, divided
Pinch each cinnamon and crushed red pepper
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c each white wine and water (or 1 c water)
1/3 c parsley, chopped
1/8 t cinnamon
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t white pepper, ground
Preheat oven to 350 F. On a large baking sheet, place cauliflower, onion and apple. Drizzle with 2t oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place sheet in oven and roast for about 30 minutes.
Meantime, in a small soup kettle (4qt), saute shallot, garlic, carrot and celery in the other 2t olive oil about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care to not burn the shallot and garlic. Add pear, 1/2 t of the curry powder, parsley, cinnamon and crushed red pepper. Stir and saute another minute or so. Add stock, wine and/or water, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a bare simmer.
When cauliflower, apple and onion are roasted, add them to the stockpot and stir. Bring soup up to a boil and lower heat to a slow boil. Add rest of curry powder. Let cook 5-10 minutes. Puree with immersion blender or in batches in the food processor (carefully). Taste, adjust seasonings and serve hot with a piece of buttered whole wheat toast.
Easier yet: Roast everything, add to stock and puree. Leaving out fruit, celery, carrot, etc. will produce a more pronounced cauliflower-tasting soup, but also makes things simpler.
Now I’m off to Ace to buy a mesh strainer for the end of the washing machine hose. Oh well.
Sing a new song or warm up your fingers and give Bach a whirl,