One day it’s brats and beers on the sweltering deck. The next you’re turning on the heat along with the tv and searching for game day snacks. (Which still could be brats and beers.) It doesn’t seem as if that would be possible, but in Colorado, it often is. We could see just such a weather change several times over the course of any September. But there’s always one metamorphic day when our whole world definitely changes from summer to fall and that’s when “the mountain” (better known to the rest of the world as Pike’s Peak) looks like Brigadoon from my front yard:Continue reading
Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday. There’s no gift buying or wrapping, little decorating except the table, and it’s all about the food and wine. I’ve cooked for two times twenty and I’ve cooked for two, loved both and everything in between.
This year, with distanced or small Thanksgivings on tap for many folks, it could be the time to pull out all of the stops for a dinner-party style meal complete with several small courses and wine pairings. What if you dig out grandma’s china and crystal, throw on a table cloth, light the candles, and go big? It’s not something easily possible when there are 15 of you including 2 toddlers who eat nothing, a newly-vegan teenager, and aging parents (low sodium, please), but it is doable and entertaining for four who might share the cooking. Yeah, so that’s one idea.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
While chicken often tops the list of dinner ingredients in the U.S., (“Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” or “A chicken in every pot!”) it doesn’t take much to figure out those meals today are often based on ubiquitous, tasteless boneless chicken breasts instead of the flavorful cage-free chickens Herbert Hoover supposedly wanted for us. The American obsession with huge chicken breasts (hmph) is a sad one and continues for many reasons–one being it’s easy to not remember where meat comes from if you only have a slab of it and no fat, bones, joints, tendons, guts, or skin. I’ve had more than one adult student who, faced with putting a whole chicken (already cut up, by the way) in a skillet to brown for a tasty fricassée, admitted they had never before handled a chicken with bones. I, on the other hand, almost never buy boneless breasts, though I’ll admit I adore boneless thighs for everything from sandwiches to chili. There are several reasons–the main one being the taste factor–but here’s the critical other one. Because we demand outrageous and overwhelming numbers of inexpensive low-fat, protein rich boneless breasts (just try to buy bone-in breasts in today’s market) compared to other parts, chickens today are often–though not always– raised in incredibly poor and horrific conditions by inhumanely treated workers. How’d that come to be???Continue reading
I wasn’t taught to fast as a child; it wasn’t part of our tradition, but was something those interesting Catholics down the street did. I was happy as a clam about that because it meant I got cheese pizza on Friday nights at my Catholic girlfriends’ houses. This was so cool because, 1) to “give up meat” seemed a neat thing (foreign) to me and 2) There was no pizza, aka “junk food,” at my house.Continue reading
One of my favorite food writers has to be Melissa Clark, who isn’t just a writer I follow in the New York Times every Wednesday, but is also a happily prolific cookbook writer. I could look up how many cookbooks Melissa’s written, but suffice it to say….there are plenty and more than plenty. When Melissa’s newest book, DINNER: CHANGING THE GAME, came out recently, I threw a little Facebook party giving it the big HURRAH!
Home gardening in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains is occasionally a joy, but more often a frustration. While gardening is surely those things everywhere, with about 16 inches of precipitation per year in our area (let’s compare it to Williamsburg, Virginia with 48 inches), it’s not only hard to grow anything, it’s sometimes impossible. Very little grows without irrigation and by the time you add sprinkler systems and pay for water, it’s surely easier and certainly less expensive to simply buy what you need. Continue reading
One of my favorite fish preparations is to cook fillets right on top of vegetables. Could be tomatoes and chiles, eggplant and garlic, asparagus, celery and fennel, ratatouille (see below) or, as in this case, a big bunch of tender young greens stirred up with one big sautéed onion. Plain white fish is, after all, plain white fish. Vegetables make all the difference in the world. There’s still lemon, of course.
It just happens that a lenten Friday Fish and St. Patrick’s occur on the same day this year. This is no lie: if you live in Chicago (and several surrounding areas) and are Catholic, you have special dispensation from the archbishop to eat corned beef instead of fish:
Ours is a merciful God. Chicagoland Catholics may enjoy the traditional corned beef and cabbage this Friday, despite the church’s practice of avoiding meat on Fridays during Lent. Cardinal Blase Cupich, leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has granted a dispensation. So have the bishops of the Joliet, Rockford and Gary dioceses.