If you’re lucky enough to live in places where spring vegetables were planted weeks ago, you could already have a crop of spinach or green onions or asparagus. Our past-frost date in Colorado Springs hasn’t yet arrived; it’s June 1 – June 10. For the first time, I’ve snuck a few things in early, but am nightly ready to rush out to bring pots in or run into the yard like a crazy woman throwing blankets over newly-planted beds. (We have upcoming lows of 32 F this week, for instance.)
Despite the fact that I’m a vegetable-crazy person, I often forget to put up a post for Meatless Mondays. I nearly always eat vegetables with eggs or, more often with egg whites, (the dogs get the yolks) for breakfast…
Above: Sauté spinach a minute or two in a teaspoon or two olive oil in a small, nonstick skillet with a little red onion or shallot, crack egg whites only (2-3) evenly on top, season with salt and pepper, and cover, cooking until whites are opaque. Garnish with salsa.
…but rarely write a recipe or post as the meals seem so simple–like the egg white and spinach omelet above.
Here are a few I have written and posted:
As summer wanes –– it was 50 degrees F this morning when I got up — the vegetables come in huge, lovely fragrant warm piles and a fresh, toothsome pasta salad feels perfect for supper in the lingering heat. No muss, no fuss, with fresh pasta that cooks in just two minutes; dinner is on the table faster than you can make the basil vinaigrette (thanks to David Lebovitz–scroll down for more) that simply makes this meal. Continue reading
Yesterday as I thought about what dinner might bring, I kept going back to some salmon fillets I had squirreled away in the freezer. The weather had warmed up — no snow except on the Peak — and grilling was back online. Note sun on the lentils….
There was also a pound of fat asparagus waiting for its dip in the olive oil bath before grilling (contrary to popular opinion thicker asparagus has more taste than the skinny variety), but as good as all that sounded, I thought there was something missing. A bed for the protein to rest in, so to speak. We were hungry, for goodness sake. We needed something that would make for another night’s meal all by itself or for a couple of lunches, but that would cushion the blow of the salmon on the plate. Continue reading
If I had to come up with a cooking mantra from friends, family, students, and neighbors, it could very well be,
I just don’t have time to cook.
Sometimes that makes sense to me. Like I’m in the middle of cleaning out closets, in a frenzied rush to pack and leave for a trip, or between a deadline, picking someone up from the airport, and a trip to the movies. Ok, I’ll have some cheese and crackers. Tuna out of a can. Slice an apple.
But when I take this little meme and run with it, I come away with the knowledge that includes visions of lives running and running on empty or on the fast track without a centered vision of what it means to live in a home. Kind of like we run around a lot because we can. We watch cooking on tv, talk “Chopped” with our spouses, and then refuse to grocery shop because it takes too much time. Don’t set the table and, instead, eat standing up dropping cracker crumbs in the sink.
Do we really have so much to do that we don’t want to feed ourselves well and healthily? It’s a question for which there’s no answer. Work triumphs. Health and emotional well-being suffers. Soccer, tv, and the computer win. Laughter, easy talk, difficult conversations, and connections around the table are lessened. Rather sad. Continue reading
above: soup without half and half
If you’re a soup cookbook writer, you probably love soup. I love soup. I’m seldom happier than when I’m heating up a kettle while chopping a big pile of vegetables. Perhaps I’m happier at the table with a hot bowl and a cold class of wine or driving home knowing there’s a big pot of soup in the fridge making me feel rich. I don’t know.
above: Vegetable soup was a puréed delight at a street cafe in Dubrovnik, Croatia last month
Coming up with a new soup happens in one of many different ways. Maybe there’s something on sale I drag home or someone somewhere has a special dietary need. I might be watching my weight. Perhaps someone leaves garden bounty on my front porch. Could be my sister’s in town and I’m cooking for her. More than once a freezer’s had to be cleaned out and some meat has to be cooked. Whatever happens, however it happens, a big pot of goodness somehow takes shape and comes to the bowl making us happy, healthy, and wondering where it came from. It’s a gift. That’s for sure.
above: my Guacamole Soup with Grilled Shrimp from the soup book–made for my sister’s visit
Come fall, I’m nuts about winter squash. I’m always looking for something to do with it. Something new. Or old again. I also have a heart for wild rice–which is not really rice, but a water-grown grass– having lived in Minnesota. Somehow, last week, needing a big pot of vegetarian soup for a church meeting (someone else was making a soup with meat), I kept thinking of butternut squash and I kept thinking of wild rice. I wasn’t sure how the two would come together, but I knew somehow it would work.
While this soup is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free for Meatless Mondays, it’s easily vegan (see notes to the sides of ingredients in recipe) or made with meat (cook’s notes.) Make it how you’d like. It’s good with or without half and half and, if you’d like a little smoother soup, purée a few cups and add them back into the broth at the end of the cooking time.
WILD RICE INFO:
Wild Rice is actually an acquatic grass and is the official state grain of Minnesota. Please buy Native-American grown, hand-harvested rice to support this important mid-west and Canadian industry. If it’s not available in your grocery, drive to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, or Canada and buy some! It’s worth the trip. Or ask your grocer to carry it. Why not? Otherwise, order on line.
What Native-American rice growers say…
“Manoomin, or wild rice is a gift given to the Anishinaabek from the Creator, and is a centerpiece of the nutrition and sustenance for our community. In the earliest of teachings of Anishinaabeg history, there is a reference to wild rice, known as the food which grows upon the water, the food, the ancestors were told to find, then we would know when to end our migration to the west. It is this profound and historic relationship which is remembered in the wild rice harvest on the White Earth and other reservations-a food which is uniquely ours, and a food, which is used in our daily lives, our ceremonies, and our thanksgiving feasts.” From www.saveourwildrice.com.
Wild rice is a nutritional bonanza:
Wild rice is also a great source of folate, manganese, zinc, and iron, which is great for gluten-free eaters and grain-free eaters who don’t get those nutrients in typical grains like oats, rye, wheat, and other types of grains like brown rice.
above: soup with half and half Continue reading
While we were in Santa Fe for the opera a couple of weeks ago, we were kindly invited for dinner with nearby family of old friends. While we love eating anywhere in Santa Fe, it’s usually a restaurant. We not only saw Santa Fe in a whole new light by breaking bread in a home, but made new friends who then next day took us for a picnic and hiking in the Santa Fe National Forest (do it, do it, do it).
A gorgeous summer meal was prefaced with a slew of Dorothy and Tom’s grilled peppers, which have been part of their cooking repertoire for what sounded like a long time. We had to make them ours! Thanks, guys! Skip the relllenos; ditch the frying pan. Get out the grill while summer and the peppers are still available. You’ll fall in love with this.
Above: Mama deer and fawns strolled in front of our house as I cooked.
Dave and I tried them out earlier in the week for ourselves and then served them to our wine club as an appetizer last night. You can choose whatever kind of peppers you’d like; this will work. Unsure about the heat of those you’ve chosen? Cut off a tiny bit of one and put it on your tongue. You’ll know if you want to eat it or not. Chiles come in many variations and not all poblanos or Anaheims are really hot, but some are! If you’ve a group coming, some will love the heat and dig right in. I chose to also buy a number of regular Sweet, Tiny (bell) peppers that come in a bag at Costco and we grilled those, too, for folks who just can’t do heat. Yum. While it’s nearly a whole meal, I did flesh it out our trial run dinner with a luscious vegan avocado-brown rice salad and some end-of-summer olive oil-grilled Colorado corn.
DOROTHY AND TOM’S GRILLED CHEESE PEPPERS
aka Dorothy’s Chili Thingers
Count on at least 3 per person for appetizers as some are quite small. Leftovers are lovely chopped up and tossed into eggs or with rice or are good right out of the fridge.
- 24 assorted fresh chiles (poblanos, Anaheims, etc) and tiny bell peppers
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups grated Colby-Jack cheese (this mild, meltable cheese is a good foil for the heat or sweetness of the peppers, but use whatever you like)
- Salt and pepper
- Neutral oil
Wash and dry the peppers. Lay each pepper flat and cut out a canoe-shaped piece leaving enough room at the sides for the pepper to sit upright and also to hold the grated cheese. With a tiny spoon or your little finger, scrape out the membranes and seeds; turn over and tap the pepper to remove the last, stuck seeds. Gently fill about 1/2 – 2/3 full loosely with cheese. Push the cheese down lightly. Sprinkle evenly with a tiny bit of salt and pepper.
Brush indoor grill pan or gas grill grates lightly with oil. Heat to medium. Grill peppers with lid down (on outdoor grill) until the peppers are tender, charred to your liking at the bottom, and cheese is melted–perhaps 10 minutes? (Time is dependent on the size of the peppers and the heat of your grill!) Watch carefully to make sure cheese doesn’t overrun and drip down into the grill.
Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold.
AVOCADO-BROWN RICE SALAD with tomatoes and lime
- 4 cups cooked brown rice, warm if possible
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 4 avocados, peeled, seeded, and chopped in large pieces
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced and chopped red or sweet onion
- Juice of 2-3 limes or to taste
- Hot sauce to taste, optional
Toss rice with a couple tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Gently stir in avocados, tomatoes, and onions. Squeeze lime juice over all–try 2 limes first– and drizzle with a little olive oil if you’d like more. Stir carefully, taste, and adjust seasonings, adding more lime juice as needed. Add hot sauce if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Only make what you’ll eat in one meal; this doesn’t keep.
Cook a new pepper,
IN MEMORIAM Milton J. McClendon, Jr. (Pete)–a Great Cook and a Fine Baker!
If you follow my blog, you could know I cooked a 50th birthday dinner for my next-door neighbor Mike a couple of weeks ago.
Maybe you made the Blueberry-Strawberry Pie I made him in lieu of cake; Mike is a pie-boy!