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.
While the old deck disappears and the new one is added, our summer dinner spot is gone. This seems to be a theme in our lives lately. (Change is in the air.) Outdoor tables and chairs are stored in the garage; patio candles sit awkwardly in a living room corner. Cushions and pillows are propped up next to the piano or rest at odd angles under sofa tables in the family room. We have cabin fever this year in the summer because from May – September, we do not eat indoors unless there’s a horrific storm or we’re in a restaurant. Our life, from 5:00 on — when sun is on the western side of our house — is outdoors. But not, sadly, for two weeks. Continue reading
If you’re like me, there are some days you will not be going to the grocery store. Maybe it’s Sunday and you know how crazy the parking lot is or perhaps it’s a warm Thursday night and you’ve had it. (What is “it?”) Could be you’re too busy enjoying the irises blooming for the first time in eleven years – below. Or you’re avoiding the mama robin nested outside your back door so you can work in the garden without her defecating on you. (Second photo below: Yes, she did this to me.)
In reality, you unthawed nothing because you were, uh, working, reading a sleazy novel at the pool, running kids, on a hike, at a meeting, or watching movies. Could be you’re lazy, which is an admirable once-in-a-while quality. Do cultivate it. You are not lighting the grill and you’re not opting out by ordering pizza or Chinese. You could eat a green salad. Again.
Last December, these good cooking friends came to take a short Italian class with me and liked it so well (ah, gee) they returned en masse to redeem the class gift certificate one gave to the rest for a Christmas gift–on the condition that we attempt a grilling class. Onward, upward. “Sure,” I said. I also said, “I’m not a big outdoor griller. I grill inside. A lot. I have at least 3 stovetop grills. Dave, however, grills outside. I eat.” (Why should I learn to grill outdoors?!) But I figured between Dave and I, we could come up with a full grill menu everyone would lust after. Or, rather, I’d come up with the menu, and Dave would light and “man” the behemoth gas grill we bought to try and keep up with all his grilling love.
Often, on the blog, you see Dave thus:
And while, to you, it might appear his typical pose, he actually works very hard at his daily job, practices trombone as much as possible, takes excellent care of me, and then, in good weather, looks like this at home:
Did I say he cleans the kitchen quite a bit? All right, he walks on water.
If you’re looking for an entire meal on the grill for Memorial Day or any other day, this one just might be it. It’ll feed 6-8 people generously and could provide a few leftovers at the end of the day. First are a long slew of happy pictures, beginning with an overview of the menu; the recipes follow. At the very end is a link to click so that you can view the recipes in a printable form. ENJOY YOUR GRILL!
(Basic grilling technique link here.)
Grilled Caesar Salad (Chardonnay)
Grilled Lemon Salmon and Tinfoil-Packet Vegetables with Avocado Mayonnaise (Oregon Pinot Noir or Chardonnay)
Grilled Pineapple with Ice Cream and Maple Syrup (Sparkling Rosé)
Last Friday, I taught a class called, DESIGN YOUR OWN WHOLE MEAL SALAD, at First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs. This active church sponsors an excellent Health Ministry with lots of great wellness-promoting features including cooking classes that run from March – October. (If you’d like a copy of the booklet from the class, leave a note in the comments or email me/message me on fb.)
The class consisted of a couple of favorite salads, Salmon Caprese with Asparagus… (shown below in a bit neater variation than my very quick to fix and eat photo above… along with lots of tips, talk, and helps about making salads a weekly mainstay in your house)…
and Israeli Couscous Salad, right below here in all its attendant glory. I do love this salad! Both of them, if the truth be known. I’d like to have nickel for every time I’ve made either one, but especially the couscous. Continue reading
My favorite year-round company meals often include a big, thick pork chop. If you’ve eaten at my house, you’ve probably had one. I’m talking 1 1/2 – 2-inches thick, bone-in, please. Cold months I’ll brown them to a crisp, throw them in the oven to finish off slowly with a sprinkle of warming rosemary, and serve them nestled down into a buttery root vegetable mash of some sort with lemony green beans or spicy sautéed spinach and a creamy mushroom sauce. Insert Pinot Noir. 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
There’s little better pot of gold in the fridge than a lentil salad. Make that curried lentil salad and we’re nudging platinum; you’re rich! Full of protein (add rice for a complete protein), fiber, color, texture, and nutrients, it’s a hefty and quick supper that translates into a week’s lunches at home or work as it travels so perfectly well. Tuck it into a pita or a tortilla. Warm a big spoonful and eat with scrambled eggs; it will love you all the more. See below.
Lentils are that perfect landscape upon which almost anything can be planted, grown, and harvested. They’re a warming winter soup or a trusty spring salad. They’re a platter for big hunks of protein when need be.
Mid-winter, the perverse cook in me always has a hankering for a grilled burger and potato salad. Mid-summer, I crave chili. Given the weather in Colorado, I often am able to fulfill my deepest wishes right down to the sun or cold wind to go along with the meal. It isn’t a real oddity to see 65 degrees in January or 45 in July. It happens. Somehow out-of-season dishes occasionally rear their pesky heads.
The other day wasn’t so terribly warm, but it wasn’t cold either. In fact, I was making tomato soup and just wanted something real to go with it. A couple leeks languished in the fridge next to some waning baby zucchini; a big paper box of mushrooms nearly cried foul from the crisper.
What was a girl to do?
A quick bang of the cupboards–a favorite occupation– showed up a few packages of Minnesota wild rice* and, while wild rice has a truly indefinite shelf life (no joke), it sounded fine, just fine. While I wasn’t quite sure how the meal would come together, I trusted in the spirit of the rice* and began to cook. I was sure that by the time it was done — it takes nearly an hour–I would have figured out dinner. I was right. Try this luscious bowlful, which just happens to be both vegetarian and gluten-free, and is also simply altered for a vegan version. (See bold green notes for vegan version.) Continue reading