The back of the organ in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
SAY I LOVE BREAKFAST 3 TIMES FAST….
The back of the organ in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
SAY I LOVE BREAKFAST 3 TIMES FAST….
My friend Lani and I hit the St. Paul Farmer’s Market last weekend and came home with more than summer’s bounty; we arrived back with the crown jewels. Summer in the furnished apartment began to look somewhat more attractive. The market is the perfect place to grab just exactly how much you need for a yummy, packed with nutrition meal. Have a look at those baby red potatoes freshly dug the morning I bought them. Not only potatoes, but I also snagged bunches of fresh basil, baskets of the first tomatoes of the season, zucchini, Amish Sheep Cheese, carrots with foot and a half green tops, rhubarb (we’re up north, remember), raspberries –“no spray”–for my yogurt (and instant pleasure) and, perhaps a couple of other things I ate along the way.
Stands full of flowers, both cut and plantable, fresh meats, hand-made soaps and buckets upon buckets of you-name-it fresh produce filled the landmark market. To sell in this market, you must have grown (made, created) your sellables within 50 miles of St. Paul. No South American fruit here. Many organic lovelies to chomp at will. A brilliant sight to behold early on a Saturday morning. And, NO, you needn’t have had breakfast. You can grab a freshly-made bagel with egg and your choice of toppings and, of course, your favorite cup of coffee. (I’ll bring my camera some visit. Had smartly left my compact flash in the printer in Colorado.)
I struggled back to the third-floor walkup apartment toting my heavy load and spread it out all over the counter. Well, it had all looked stunning at the market, but what the – – – was I to do with it once I was home? I ‘m guessing this happens to a lot of people, and, friends, this stuff doesn’t hold forever. Nor is it cheap. It’s a bargain because it’s top quality fresh produce that will nourish your body and soul, but it is not inexpensive. Well, first I would wash it and store it; that seemed like an intelligent plan. While I filled the sink with water and dug out a scrubby (zucchini and carrots are filthy from any place), I began having pictures in my head of different meals.
A fresh pasta pesto with an uncooked tomato sauce. Well, possible, but I hadn’t bought enough basil for pesto, nor enough tomatoes for sauce. I could make enough for a half portion maybe. What else? Oh! I had carrots, potatoes, onions; what about pot roast? Actually, Alyce, it’s summer, honey, and….there’s just you for dinner. Not that I mind leftovers, which may be the most creative place in cooking. But, leaving that oven or stove on for hours in Minnesota summer? Probably not.
Now, I don’t mind cooking nearly anything for one. There was a time when I only made scrambled eggs (maybe with smoked salmon) and toast or grilled cheese and sliced tomatoes if on my own. “It’s just me.” Those days are long gone; I cook whatever I please. I set the dining room table. I put out wine; I light the candle. It’s a great venue for prayer and my long days end in a positive way. Somehow, you just finally decide to eat right even if alone. (A friend or neighbor will tell you they are sometimes invited to that table as well… “I have too much dinner, come eat.”)
Wine: Summer super: Ugni-Blanc Colombard (2007)Outstanding Another option: Aussie or French Viognier–You need something to stand up to lots of pepper and the depth of a meal with garlic, tomatoes and potatoes.
I don’t know anyone (except those who dislike seafood) who wouldn’t enjoy this meal. It’s light enough for folks who are into fish and salad, but is also deep enough for someone with a “I wanted steak” appetite. It’s fast, but not really furious. I made it again for friend Sue, (just to test the recipe once written) who pronounced it “delicious, delicious!” I think she was also pretty happy to have someone else cooking in her kitchen.
This week also marks our Emily’s entrance into seminary at Princeton Theological Seminary. It’s a big week for everyone in our family, especially for her Dad, who shared the cross-country drive with her last weekend while I schlepped all over the Farmer’s Market. Bear with me as I add the pics……………………..…
We pray for you, Emi!
Sing a new song,
(Summer nights in Colorado……….)
(Cherries almost ready while home;
Tony picked them for us…..
We’ll have them Thanksiving)
In the Springs, God is undeniably closer because he set Marigold’s Cafe and Bakery right over on the west side on Centennial, not too far down the road from my house. We hopped on over and let Dave take his pick out of the bakery case. He chose key-lime tart topped with meringue and what a light, airy, not too sweet little ditty it was for the warm night coming up. I had to really suck in my pride that day; I love to see Dave tuck into that cheesecake and watch his face after the first bite. (Another day………) While at the bakery, we grabbed a couple of baby whole-wheat baguettes, a miracle of baking Marigold’s accomplishes daily or more.
As we had not planned our trip home, we had little in the frig and did not want to stock it fully, so planned an easily shopped for and cooked 60’s birthday meal as follows (Serves 2)………………….
Fat Asparagus with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Ranch Foods Direct Filets
Baked Potatoes with Butter and Sour Cream
Fresh Green Beans with Garlic Mushrooms
Whole Wheat Baguette (bought)
Key Lime Meringue Tart (bought)
Best Cab in your cellar *(Happy Birthday)
*(Cabernet Sauvignon from CA or
Bordeaux from France)
Ok, clear counters, do a few dishes and unload dishwasher before you start if you have to. (In heaven, this won’t happen; all kitchens will be ready to cook in whenever anyone enters them.)
Head for the stereo and put on the birthday person’s favorite music….
Keep it coming.
Preheat oven to 400 and place washed (Idaho) potatoes (poke 3-4 holes in them first) in the oven.
Note: You could choose sweet potatoes. Same drill. Skip butter and sour cream. I like them plain with a whisper of salt and pepper or ground cayenne and cinnamon.
If the weather is too hot, do them in the microwave while you grill the steaks. Take steaks out of frig and let them come to room temperature. Wash and trim green beans and asparagus.
Quick like a bunny: rinse mushrooms, trim and slice. Uncork wine to let it air (taste………..) and set table so that someone WANTS to sit at it. (All this. Just for me??) Set up coffee pot and put some pretty cups and dessert serving plates nearby. Slice bread and (because you’re at altitude!) cover; set on table with butter. Place a small bowl of sour cream, butter and salt and pepper on table. Ok, now you’re ready to cook.
Fat Asparagus with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
(file under: WHAT TO DO WITH FAT ASPARAGUS BESIDES SOUP!)
1 # fat asparagus
1/2 c crumbled gorgonzola (or any blue cheese)
3-5 T milk
freshly ground pepper
In a small, heavy-duty saucepan, mix milk and blue cheese. Set heat to medium-low. Meantime, place fat asparagus on a big dinner plate with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with another dinner plate (or plastic wrap if you are brave). Cook on high in the microwave 2-3 minutes until al dente. Remove from microwave and drain; place on small plate. Shower with a strong dose of freshly-ground black pepper. Stir sauce well and put a dallop (a cross between a dab and a dollop) on each plate. Dig in. Good hot or cold. Could be made ahead. (Eat while cooking steak.)
——– MAIN COURSE COMPONENTS————————————
Table is set; wine is airing; starter is on table. Potatoes have been baking half an hour or so………Begin with the beans… Here goes——————–
MUSHROOM GREEN BEANS
(not your mother’s green beans)
1# green beans, cleaned, trimmed and cut as desired
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1-2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
Salt and pepper
Bring about 2 qts of salted and well-peppered water to boil in a 3 or 4 qt. saucepan. Place beans and sliced onions in pan and lower temperature to medium. Let cook until as done as you like. I like them fairly well-done, which might take 20 minutes. Si place (do as you please in Italian.) Meantime, melt butter in a large skillet and add mushrooms. Cook until about half-way done and add garlic. Continue cooking until mushrooms are tender and smelling heavenly in your house. Drain beans well and add to mushrooms, stirring gently. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. (Return to heat and warm when steaks are almost done) Set aside while steaks cook.
——— RANCH FOODS DIRECT FILETS ———-
Meat market off Fillmore in Co Spgs
Preheat indoor or outdoor grill to medium high.Take filets and coat with canola oil on all sides. Salt and pepper them well. Sear them on both sides and outer edges. Lower heat and place in 350 oven if cooking indoors, or, close cover of gas grill and cook for around 5 -10 minutes, watching closely until 120 degrees for rare, 125 for medium rare, 130 degrees for well-done. Remove to serving plate and cover for 5 minutes. You will have steak beautifully cooked in a very even way. Goal: as little gray as possible on the meat.
Enjoy starter and Chardonnay while steak cooks………
almost a surreal steak……….
————- Meal plan continued—————————–
Re- warm beans in skillet as steak cooks. Remove potatoes from oven and check for doneness by inserting sharp knife into middle. If it goes in and out easily (and the potato “gives” when squeezed lovingly), it’s done.
Start the coffee.
Plate the meal and head to the table.
Give thanks to God for the blessings of your life, the birth of your loved one and toast the birthday person. Enjoy the meal slowly and be proud of yourself. You didn’t have to go to a steakhouse for a birthday meal, did you?
Notice how some of the blue cheese sauce ended up on the steak——-yes!
After the meal, love that bakery dessert together………
No one cares if you didn’t make it. (except you!)
Sing a new song,
Lovingly written………in memoriam
Noah Robert Wilkerson
on earth: June 26-June 30, 2009
in our hearts: Forever
1. the great food available in the season in which you’re traveling
2. your own good sense and ingenuity
Maybe you brought a spice rub or two for grilling in the park, but, for the most part, you must rely on being able to shop and cook out of those ingredients you’ve just purchased. You probably are not going to want to spend an extra $100 on the right oils, vinegars, spices, condiments, etc.
That’s what these summer blogs will be devoted to as I attend music graduate school at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. And, oh, by the way, I’ve been so overwhelmed with the study (and entranced, too) that the blog hasn’t been posted since right after I left. Looking at turning that around, but frequent postings won’t return until I finish this semester.
— the furnished apartment kitchen———-
So, a kitchen with an old, thin, cheap, warped 8″ omelette pan and a similar 3 qt saucepan. That’s it for pans. There’s a wooden spoon or two, a plastic spatula, something that might pass for a knife, 4 small glasses, 4 small plates, 4 larger plates and some assorted bowls. Perhaps a couple of other oddities (including an electric hot water maker that makes one cup at a time) make up my kitchen equipment. No whisk. No saute pan. Nothing in which to bake. NO tea kettle, coffee pot, no cups. Definitely no Cuisinart. I think the idea was to eat cereal or sandwiches…most likely take-out from the Thai place downstairs.
And, yes, this is a 3rd floor walkup. (Legs getting in shape for sure.)
—– i brought from home———–
I knew the drill, having been here before, so had brought along my favorite grill pan, a 12″ skillet with 4″ sides, a tea kettle and French Press for coffee, my favorite whisk, tongs, etc and, of course, a few spices. ( not really necesary as Penzey spices-order online!- is right down the street and you can buy small quantities) I broke down and bought a colander, a small iced tea pitcher and a $6 toaster from Target. Oh, and I had also thrown in my favorite 3 knives along with a wine opener. I borrowed a thing or two (like a couple of wine glasses and a cutting board) from a nearby friend Sue Hall (also babysitting our puppy Gabby–that’s another story) and we were all set. Right.
–making the best of what’s available locally—–
The best thing about St. Paul (and there are many great things) for me is that we live in the midst of phenomenal food shopping and, if you’re not in the mood to cook, there are quick bars in which to jump up and grab a burger and a beer (you’re in Minnesota) or a glass of wine if you’re not a beer drinker. So far, our favorite local bar is the Groveland Tap, where you can also order (Sundays only, I think) great toasty broasted chicken and a cool glass of wine on the sidewalk cafe outside. You’ll probably make a friend while sitting outdoors. There are also lovely cafes with super salads and desserts (Cafe Latte, Shish) where you can pop in for lunch or supper or just while away a gorgeous midwest summer afternoon poring over your Analysis of Choral Scores (from Greek Chant through Late Baroque) textbook.
All this and still time to practice organ…………balance is the goal.
For you, it might be the local sightseeing taking up your days.
Within a couple of blocks of our apartment (rented from Macalester College) there are two really good grocery stores (most stores here are local), Coastal Seafood, a tiny holeinthewall cheese shop, Breadsmith, Dunn Brothers (best coffee on earth)…. Thomas Liquors (maybe you’ll be there in time for the 20 percent off sale!)… You get the picture. Want something for dinner? Run down the block and be there and back cooking in 10 minutes. And, since you had to go up and down 3 flights of stairs, you got some cardio workout in as well. Don’t want to cook? Pick up a lovely small meal already cooked. Or just go for the cheese, get some wine and head for Como Park or one of the tuneful outdoor concerts in St. Paul or, even in Shoreview on Wednesday nights. Saturday mornings, don’t miss the downtown St. Paul Farmer’s Market, which includes flowers and top-quality locally produced meat (including smoked fish), to say nothing of the produce.
–so I decided to cook——————————
We’ve done a variety of things, but, in the interest of health and wealth, we’ve also cooked quite a bit and had some tasty tidbits and whole meals, too. One of the easiest things to do is to buy some meat that’s quickly grillable and fix a salad chock full of vegetables, running through the bakery on the way home to grab a baguette and an already-made pound cake to round out dessert. Enjoy this meal even if you’re home, but want no-fuss or muss summer cooking. If you have a friend to grill the chops while you make the salad, you’re eating in 15 min.
Grilled Rub of your choice Bone-in Pork Chops
Summer Greek Salad
Pound cake with strawberries, pineapple and ice cream
Pork chops (4)
Things I packed: Rub (a sm bag of Montreal Steak seasoning), Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Recipes (such as they are):
Chops: Heat grill pan over high heat (if the burner will do it)
after giving it a quick rub with a little bit of olive oil. (You could do this over the tiny park grills, too, if you get a cheap, disposable pan of charcoal) Meantime, sprinkle ribs with about 1/2 t your choice dry
rub on each side. Sear the chops on one side for 2-3 minutes and turn to other side, repeat. Lower heat and let chops cook until just a little pink remains (it’s safe). Remove to plate and let sit 10 minutes while you prepare salad.
Salad: Chop cucumbers, 1/4 c onion, zucchini, 1 large tomato,
1 large green pepper, radicchio and place in large bowl (or pan; I have
no large bowl here!). Mince the mint and parsley and
stir. Squeeze the lemon over all and drizzle with olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste. Crumble feta over all. (note: no large bowl)
I need a bigger meal: Add penne pasta to the salad (buy it already cooked a the deli or fix your own)
Dessert: Slice pound cake and place on plates. Slice the strawberries, take the pineapple out and place over the cake.
Top with ice cream.
Wine: We had on hand a mellow California Petite Syrah that was smooth and tasty with this meal, but you could also try a dry Rose or even a no-oak Chardonnay as a foil to the kind of middle-Eastern salad approach.
After dinner: Go for a walk and breathe. Try smiling at a few people.
One of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor, calls it “the spiritual practice of putting one foot in front of the other.”
I have to tell you that, in Minnesota, more likely than not, folks will actually greet you on the street walking… maybe even engage you in chat about the weather, your dog, the kid on the scooter, the incredible blooming yards. My daughter is convinced people are just happier here. Hmm. My husband says his company calls it “Minnesota nice” when they desire a softer, kinder approach…
Hey, nice is free.
Summer Reading (besides text books) AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD, A GEOGRAPHY OF FAITH by Barbara Brown Taylor and PASSION ON THE VINE by Sergio Esposito.
Summer music reading: Organ Chorale preludes, many chants, Renaissance masses and motets, German cantatas, oratorios,Passions, madrigals (Italian and English) and chansons.
Sing a new song (or play it on the organ),
-I think my family is most happy I’ve roasted a chicken the next day. There are chunky chicken sandwiches (with salt and mayonnaise) for lunch or even dinner.
-Salad? Put some on top of your favorite Caesar (check out my recipe for Caesar Salad to Call Your Own) or tear onto top of mixed greens. If you choose the mixed greens version, add some grated cheddar and top with salsa and crushed tortilla chips.
-Easy pedestrian chicken salads for toast, crackers or greens:
Mix into chopped chicken a small amount of onion, double that of celery and add a little poultry seasoning and pepper. Stir in mayonnaise and add salt, if needed.
Mix into chopped chicken some green grapes, pecans, pineapple, onion and curry powder to taste. Add mayonnaise to moisten. Sprinkle with salt and pepper after tasting. Mix well; serve on bed of greens or as is.
-How about chicken tacos? Roll up chicken and chopped green peppers in tortillas and add salsa to satisfy.
-Do you love frittatas? Use potatoes, chicken, onions and basil in this one.
-What about fast soup? In a small kettle, sauté one cup each chopped onions, celery and carrots. Add 2 quarts of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add some fresh vegetables such as asparagus, green beans, cabbage, zucchini (or all). Turn down heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are done. If you have fresh spinach and basil, add them now. Stir in 1T chopped garlic. A little chopped leftover pasta or rice would serve to make the soup heartier. Potatoes? Why not? Stir for a minute and add chopped chicken. Check for seasoning. Serve w/ grated parmesan.
– Call it anything but leftovers; you’ve got a meal!