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
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.
Give me a cold day. Any cold day. Let me have time and peace to stir together something that incubates in my oven gently easing its teasing, come-hither aromas throughout the house and drawing near all who enter. Add an entrancing, captivating book waiting for me during that 3-hour parole and I am a happy girl. Ok, include a balanced, but lofty bottle of wine and the deal is sealed.
My niece Jamie is a married mom of three with a demanding full-time job as an accountant for a big company. With no time to cook, she just laughs and says, “I don’t even know how to feed my family!” Husband Jerry is not an admitted cook, either. And that’s the way it is for lots of young moms and dads. Continue reading
EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME: 2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @ SHOUSE APPLIANCE- THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5: 5-7PM. INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1. $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. Email me or leave me a message. Can’t wait to cook with you! (Will repeat class at home 2/14 10a-12p–1 opening left.) Ok, now on to football food…
I have this sad, old, worn-out, and tired collection of game food recipes. I nearly hate football; I take the Sunday New York Times to Super Bowl Parties and only look up when the food’s served or people are screaming at such a pitch that I’m frightened out of my reverie. Anyway, because it’s just not my thing, I make whatever someone asks me to (once I made gorgeous gingerbread cupcakes-see below ), or if we’re home, I make Dave’s -GAG- hot sausage dip (recipe at bottom) followed by a very-healthy-indeed-chili with a six-pack of beer and call it done. Last year, our son Sean was home and made a half-dozen gorgeous rah-rah dishes including some sort of really hunky stuffed potato skins; he loves football and he’s an ace in the kitchen. Breathe out. This year he’s in his own home and I’m up to bat all alone. Ok, not up to bat; I’m up to the goal line all by myself. Yuck.
So I decided this week to figure out a couple of fun and healthy game day picks ahead of time. I tried out two of them today and I have to say they make me want Sunday to come. No, not really. This Sunday there are football games all afternoon and all evening. (I’ve saved a new Louise Penny book for the long haul.) I’ll say the thought nearly makes me want Super Bowl Sunday to arrive (one game only), which, if you don’t know, is February 1. I had to look it up. Honest. But I absolutely cannot wait to cook and eat this meal again. Continue reading
EASY FRENCH 3-COURSE MEAL FOR VALENTINE’S DAY AT HOME: 2-HOUR COOKING CLASS @ SHOUSE APPLIANCE THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5: 5-7PM. INTRODUCTORY OFFER 2 FOR 1. $50.00 for two students–includes food, recipes and ideas for wine pairing. To sign up: Message me on fb if we’re friended, email me, or leave your email or phone in a comment at the end of the blog and I’ll get back to you. (Menu: Carrot Soup with Fresh Herbs, Chicken Fricassee, Chocolate Mousse.) Class limited to 6 students. I’ll repeat this class at home if needed to accommodate more students. Can’t wait to cook and eat with you!
Next week, I’ll be attending a DACOR training session (I work as a chef for them twice a month and demonstrate their products) and of course I’ll feed the team that morning so our brains will absorb the information a bit more quickly. Who doesn’t learn better with eggs, bacon, and cinnamon rolls? I’ll throw in a beautiful bowl of chopped fruit and we’ll have coffee from the built-in coffee system that makes on-demand espresso faster than you can say, “Just sugar, please.” I do lust after that coffee machine, I’ll be honest. Recently a customer bought their second one for the family room in their basement. We do have an electric kettle in the basement. Somehow it just isn’t the same. Hmph. If you’re at home, add a spicy Bloody Mary or a sweet Mimosa along side the coffee. Continue reading