Category: Sides

Grilled Potato-Vegetable Salad

Grilled Potato-Vegetable Salad

Dedicated to Joyce Anderson Smith

While I love a good old American potato salad dressed with mayonnaise and sunshine mustard as much as the next midwestern girl, by this time in the summer I’m ready to change things up a little.

our Colorado front yard in its July glory

How about you? (By the way, my mother-in-law makes the very best potato salad and while she might not want you to know, pickle juice is her secret ingredient.)

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Green Beans with Ginger Vinaigrette and Green Onions

Green Beans with Ginger Vinaigrette and Green Onions

On the way home from the store today (where I bought all of the things I could find that didn’t require cooking),

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Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table

Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table

Grilled Zucchini and Corn Salad

This week marks the beginning of weekend picnics, warm holiday get togethers, nights in the backyard, weeks at the beach, days at the cabin, and all kinds of thrilling grilling on your balcony or patio!  For fun, I ran through my TOP FAVORITE original summer sides on More Time at Table and brought them all together in one place just before Memorial Day.  I’ll keep perusing my files and as I find other luscious things I think you’d like, I’ll stick them in.  Be cool!

Continue reading “Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table”

38 Power Foods, Week 15 — Winter Squash — Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit, Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette

38 Power Foods, Week 15 — Winter Squash — Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit, Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette

How are new salads born at my house?    Like this……

I’ve had some Israeli couscous (actually a blend) in my cabinet for a few months.  Waiting.
Typically I throw some leeks, garlic, and asparagus in a sauté pan come spring and throw those lovely things into a bowl of couscous or orzo with a handful of grated Parmesan and lots of black pepper.

When I realized this was the week to blog winter squash, a different group of ingredients started to percolate.  Despite the summer tomatoes still coming on (albeit slowly) and the basil crying for that last bowl of pesto to be made, I kept thinking fall food once the squash got in my head.  Cranberries, apples, pears, sharp cheese, nuts.

Fall..I adore pears…here I’ve just poached them slowly in port with some orange peel and cinnamon sticks.

Thursday I had a big pot of turkey chili on the stove and called some friends to run over and help eat it.  This salad, which began in my head days before it ended up in our stomachs,  started the meal.  I cooked the couscous and started chopping fruit and toasting nuts.  It came together that easily; it’s fairly fast, too.  I did think I might have liked walnut oil for the vinaigrette, but the only can I had was in the frig at our Colorado house where it’ll stay a bit fresher over the time we’re not there.

Could it be a whole meal?  Definitely.  Since it has oranges to keep the fresh fruit from turning brown, I think it’ll keep a day or so…but no more.  It might be a filling and happy side for a quick Thanksgiving meal:  roast a turkey breast, make this salad, and cook some of those green beans you’ve been freezing.  Anyway, here’s how:

Follow the photo-easy recipe:

Cook 8 ounces of  Israeli Couscous*  according to package directions. Use chicken broth in place of water. You can add a few leaves of fresh sage if you have them (remove before making salad).  When couscous is tender, add 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil while still hot.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper.  Optional:  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cool to room temperature.
Toast 1/4 cup pecans in a dry small skillet and chop, reserving a few whole nuts for garnish.
Dice (medium) 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 orange (peeled),  6 dried figs (or fresh), 1 small cooked butternut squash (see below for my microwave directions).  Dice (small):  2 oz. each sharp cheddar and Swiss cheese like Jarlsberg or Emmental or even Gruyere.
Mix fruit, squash,  cheese, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and pecans with cooled couscous.  Add the juice of another orange and 1 teaspoon honey.  Stir well, taste and adjust seasonings and/or dressing.  Serve in a bowl lined with fresh spinach leaves and garnish with reserved whole pecans.

 6 servings

We liked this salad with coffee cup pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.

*I used Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s (available on amazon.com as well), which is a “savory blend of Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo beans, and Red Quinoa.”  Regular Israeli or pearl couscous is fine and orzo or even farro would be easily workable substitutes.

Ingredients list:  8oz Israeli couscous or blend, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (optional), fresh sage leaves (optional), 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (used 1 15 oz. can plus a little water), 1 1/2 tablespoons each canola and extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pecans,  1 small butternut squash, 1 pear, 1 apple, 2 oranges (1 in salad, 1 juiced), 6 figs (fresh or dried), 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 2 ounces each sharp cheddar  and Swiss cheeses, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 cups fresh spinach leaves

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HOW TO COOK BUTTERNUT SQUASH IN THE MICROWAVE:

   Place squash in a large microwave-safe dish and, using a sharp thin knife, poke a few holes in the largest section for escaping steam.  Microwave on high 3-5 minutes (depending on size of the squash–a 1.5lb squash might take 5 minutes, for example) and remove the squash to a cutting board.   Using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half horizontally and  with a large spoon, scoop out seeds and strings.   Place the two halves back in the baking dish with a little (2 tablespoons or so) water and put the dish back in the microwave.  Cook another five minutes on high or so (depending on the size of the squash) until tender. Covering the squash with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe cover will decrease the cooking time.   I have also filled the center section with butter and a little brown sugar and served it just like that. (I often do this with acorn squash for a quick hot lunch.)  Otherwise, you can let the squash cool, and then peel and chop or mash it according to your needs.  This is much easier than peeling (or cutting) raw butternut squash, which is, at best, difficult.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I cook winter squash frequently and my reasons are many.  Here are a few:

1.  It’s delicious; it’s good for your body.
2.  It’s easy to prepare in several ways: Stick in oven, saute, braise, boil, or microwave.
3.  It’s useful as a vegetable or side, but is also hearty enough for a main dish. (Stuff with cumin rice, jack cheese and scrambled eggs for breakfast!)
4.  It’s an excellent addition to soups and stews.
5.  It’s a good substitute for potatoes with pot roast or roasted chicken.
6.  It’s inexpensive and easy to find nearly year round, but particularly now.
7.  It keeps on the counter for a long time–easily 2 months. (That’s about the limit for acorn; the others can keep much longer.)

Be brave and try whatever beautiful squash you find at the market.  Whatever you do with acorn squash, you can easily do with most of the others.  Even spaghetti squash is quickly cooked in the microwave.  Shred it with a fork, add a little butter (salt/pepper) and you have a beautiful meal.  And, yes, you can add marinara and stay on South Beach, phase 2!!

Don’t want to deal with the peel?  You can buy peeled and cubed butternut squash or pumpkin at some markets, but you will pay a premium price.

Nutrition Profile for Butternut Squash

Each cup of cubed butternut squash provides approximately 60 calories, 16 g of carbohydrates and 3 g of fiber. It also supplies almost 300 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, 50 percent of vitamin C, 7 percent of calcium and 5 percent of iron.

 Want more info on winter squash, including nutrition and recipes?  Visit the Snap-Ed (USDA) site here.

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If you liked this, you might also like this recipe from my Dinner Place blog.

rosemary chicken thighs with butternut squash, onions, and fennel

Throw it all together with olive oil; slip it into the oven on a big rimmed baking sheet.  Dinner emerges in about 35 minutes!

or you might like this:

roasted orange chicken and butternut squash (meal in a pan)

or my butternut and other squash soup

This is a lovely soup for someone who is not well or can’t chew, but is luscious as well for a first course at Thanksiving.

 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about beautiful winter squash this week at these sites:


Alanna –  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/

Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
.
Join us:

If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

Sing a new song and cook a new squash,
Alyce 

38 Power Foods, Week 13 — Swiss Chard — Vinegar-Chard with Apples, Shallots, and Honey

38 Power Foods, Week 13 — Swiss Chard — Vinegar-Chard with Apples, Shallots, and Honey

Not terribly photogenic, but quite delicious.

  I don’t cook Swiss chard a lot, though when I make it, I’m always happy I have and wonder why I don’t make it more often.  It’s a fast side for chops or chicken (chop/saute),  tops rice beautifully, and fills an omelet like nothing else.  Did I mention it’s gorgeous?

Last night, after a long day full of lectionary study, lunch out, children’s music meeting, and grocery shopping, I walked in the door not knowing what in the world I was doing with my Swiss Chard for today’s post.  I also knew I wanted to be all done with dinner in time to watch the convention; I am, if nothing else, a sincere John Kerry fan. (And he was a superhero last night!! Yikes.)  I scouted around the kitchen trying to think what else could go in that pan and what I came up with was luscious–sparky with the apple cider vinegar-red pepper combination and crunchy with the added green apples, shallots, and chard stems.  A nice drizzle of local honey evened out the whole thing.  We ate it with some cold chicken and a slice of German vollkornbrot (whole grain bread) with a bit of sharp cheese.

Once in a while, just for grins, I write a recipe using only photographs and captions.  This is so simple, let’s see if I can accomplish it:

vinegar-chard with apples, shallots, and honey
 makes 4 small servings

                           Cook’s Note:  Wash chard very thoroughly before preparation.
  

Remove stems from 1 bunch of Swiss chard (1 – 1.5#) and slice thinly.  Set aside.  Roll up chard leaves and slice into 1/2″ pieces.

 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat.  Add pinch crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, and cook one minute.

                

Stir in one minced shallot, reserved chard stems, and 1/2 a chopped Granny Smith apple with skin.
Sprinkle with a generous pinch each of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Let cook a minute or two, stirring,  until a bit softened.

Toss in chopped chard.  Season with a little more salt and pepper.  Stir.
Cook 2-3 minutes until chard wilts.  Stir in 1 tablespoon each apple cider vinegar and honey (or to taste.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  (Optional garnish:  finely chopped pecans)

Low in calories and vitamin-dense (C, K, A, B), Swiss chard comes from the same family as beets and is also called silverbeet.  Full of antioxidants, it’s a cancer-fighter and usable in all of the ways you use spinach. A great addition to your shopping cart, saute pan, or soup pot, with its store of various minerals (including iron) it’s also a nutritional powerhouse.  Young chard makes great salad.  Read more here.

If you like this, you might also like this week’s post on my blog, Dinner Place — Cooking for One:

ratatouille-steamed salmon with jasmine rice and spinach

Could have used young, chopped chard.

I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: 

  Read more about Swiss chard this week at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
Alanna –  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/
.
Join us:

If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

~~~~

two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Finches have another brood.  Here parent eats while baby waits above at my kitchen window feeder.

Feed me, fast!

Gorgeous Thai eggplants (1.5″) from the St. Paul farmer’s market–used it in the salmon and ratatouille above.

 Sing a new song,
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 12 — Sweet Potatoes — Warm Two-Potato Salad with Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

38 Power Foods, Week 12 — Sweet Potatoes — Warm Two-Potato Salad with Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

from a June, 2012 post

(A note to my readers:  This blog has been publishing with an odd display and, in an attempt to restore its appearance, I’ve inadvertently deleted all of the comments from this post.  Please accept my apologies and thanks for your lovely comments!  Now on to today’s post….)

Necessity is the mother of invention.
As is a determination to use what’s available in the larder.
Tonight, I had probably half a pound roasted pork loin and a nice dish of my favorite barbeque sauce leftover from a birthday dinner for my friend, Lani.    I had, however, eaten the side that went with it for lunch.  Of course I knew what I was doing, but I love toasted Israeli couscous with vegetables.

If this were in your frig, you’d heat it up for lunch, too.  Along with a nice big shard of parm Lani brought over Friday night as a “coming to dinner” gift.  Yow.

Anyway, when it came time for dinner tonight (and we are eating outside every night now), it was kind of, “Well, I know what half of it is.”  The rest I had to throw my eyes around the kitchen for.  Bad grammar, too.  I spy:

  • sweet potatoes
  • Idaho potatoes
  • shallots
  • fresh tarragon (out the back door)
  • red bell pepper (in the frig)
  • broccoli

And what to with it?  My first idea was to grill the potatoes and make a salad, but I didn’t want to heat the stove long enough for my big cast iron grill.  It was warm.   Dave was busy upstairs; I decided to not have him pull out the big Weber grill outdoors for me.   My 14″ saute pan was on the stove clean from yesterday’s frittata.  A little olive oil, a little chop, and the salad began. Here’s how:

warm two-potato salad with mustard-tarragon vinaigrette                4 serving for a side  (2 for a main course)

  • 2T olive oil 
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t each  fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper
    In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil, salt and peppers over medium heat.  Add:
  • 1 ea:  large Idaho and sweet potato, medium diced (peel sweet potato only) 

Cook, stirring often, until softened but not tender.  Add: 
  • 1 small head of broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets  (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, small dice
Cook, stirring often, until broocoli browned (not done) and potatoes are tender.  Add:
 
  • 1 shallot (slice half for salad; mince half for vinaigrette)

Cook another two minutes or so until shallot is softened.   Spoon into a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette (recipe below).   Top with

  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • 2T grated aged Gouda cheese or Parmesan cheese

 Serve warm or at room temperature.

vinaigrette:

Whisk together:  
  • 1/2 large shallot, minced (see above-you’ll use other half with potatoes) 
  • 2T white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1T minced fresh tarragon (or 1 t dried)
  • pinch salt and pepper

Drizzle in, whisking, until well combined or emulsified:
 
  • 4T olive oil

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 Want more great sweet potato ideas?  Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
.
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

~~~~~~~~~~~

On my Dinner Place (Cooking for One) blog right now:  

shrimp-quinoa salad with feta and tomatoes:


 Hot nights:  if you skip the quinoa and buy cooked shrimp, this is a no-cook dinner.  Another option is microwave rice.

Sing a new song
Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 8 — Carrots — On the Loose

38 Power Foods, Week 8 — Carrots — On the Loose

I have no idea what you’d do without carrots.  I think I just couldn’t cook without them.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, “Oh, I love carrots,” but there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t buy them. I can’t imagine my crisper without carrots.  But I don’t think I ever thought much about them before.

Two carrot stories come to mind…after this gorgeous salad:

Moroccan Carrot Salad

 We were camping in Texas once where we spent long days tubing on the Guadalupe River.  (Folks floated by with six-packs tied to their inner tubes.)  It was so hot the ice was a constant puddle in the coolers and we worried about our food.  (Why didn’t I sell ice in south Texas?  Once again I had chosen the wrong profession.)   Insert bad language; there were six of us to feed three times a day for a week.  One poor woman stopped to say only one thing to me, “Even my carrots rotted today.”   I knew how she felt; I was down to cabbage, potatoes, and onions, though I always have cans in the back of the van.  If your carrots betray you, you’re in trouble.  She was heartbroken and I understood why.

And the other story….

Once, when I’d been on Weight Watchers forever, Dave said,

I liked you a lot better when carrots were no points.

You see, carrots, along with all the other vegetables in the world, were FREE–point-wise, that is.  Until one year, somebody smartened up and figured out they had a little sugar.  Wowee-zowee; they were then 1 point.  Broke my heart.  (Since then, a WW friend reports carrots are once more free.  I’m breathing a bit easier though I simply use myfitnesspal.com to track my weight and exercise now.  Love that site and there’s an app for it.)

Took this at Pike Place Market.  Gorgeous sentiment, “Carrots on-the-loose.”

 
Carrots make nearly everything taste better. Without them, how could you make soup?  If you skip them and just add the onions and celery to flavor the broth, it’s just not the same.  What about stew?  Roast chicken with vegetables?  Salad?  Veggie tray?  Pot Roast? Carrot cake? 

I make carrot cake cupcakes at Easter; recipe here.  It’s for the sheetcake, but works just the same.

 How about…

Alyce’s  Egg Salad?

or…

Split Pea Soup for One?

 

Pasta out of the Frig and Pantry??
Lentil Soup?

  or..

Could you bring potato salad?
Make your own Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch?

Chicken Noodle Soup in Under an Hour (above)  has morphed into a soup with a 30 minute finishing time for cookbook I’m working on…It works. Just wait and see how.

Unless you have spent a lot of time thinking about it, you’ve just realized the cooking world

would be a very different place without carrots. (One note: if you like them in spaghetti sauce or marinara, be careful; too many and you’ve ruined it.  I sometimes like just a bit of carrot in my marinara.)   Naturally, they’re good for you.  Didn’t your mother tell you to eat your carrots so you could see better?  A deficiency of vitamin A can cause night blindness, according to several sources, but it doesn’t appear carrots truly help you see better. 
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of potassium, and contain vitamins C & B6, copper, folic acid,thiamine and magnesium. The high level of beta-carotene is very important and gives carrots their distinctive orange colour.
Carrots also contain, in smaller amounts, essential oils, carbohydrates and nitrogenous composites. They are well-known for their sweetening, antianaemic, healing, diuretic, remineralizing and sedative properties.
In order to assimilate the greatest quantity of the nutrients present in carrots, it is important to chew them well – they are the exception to the rule – they are more nutritious cooked than raw.

Did I mention they keep a good long while?   How long?

2-3 weeks fresh in the refrigerator
12-18 months blanched and stored well-wrapped in the freezer

~Stilltasty.com

Read a poem about a pea who wants to be a carrot here.
National Carrot Day?  February 3,  naturally. 





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 38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
.
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
 

two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Our eastern view the morning after the big rain storm.  Roads washed out and a bridge collapsed.

Next afternoon, more rain while our house was being painted.  I just can’t capture the rainbows in Colorado, but here’s my try.  This is just off to the southeast from the mesa up on the west side of Colorado Springs (up above I-25 if you’ve ever driven through north to south in the state.)

My temp office to write the book.  I love being alone to write.  We moved out the bedroom furniture to give me space.

One of two soups I worked on this week:  Alyce’s Spicy Cucumber-Feta photographed in my tiny herb garden.

Sing a new song; chew your carrots up, honey,

Alyce

38 Power Foods — Green Peppers — Alyce’s Ratatouille

38 Power Foods — Green Peppers — Alyce’s Ratatouille

IMG_0692

Ah, summer.  Here’s my favorite use for green peppers.   Right after my mom’s stuffed green peppers, that is.

I loved the movie (Ratatouille).
Also “The Big Night”
And “Babette’s Feast”
Try them.   Food movies.  Ah.

I love the real deal better.   If you become a devoted cook, your world will revolve around the seasons.  Stews in winter.  Apple pie in the fall.  Berries in the spring.  And…
High summer: Tons of vegetables at their peak.

Continue reading “38 Power Foods — Green Peppers — Alyce’s Ratatouille”

Summer Lamb Chops or "It’s Too Darned Hot"

Summer Lamb Chops or "It’s Too Darned Hot"

I do, I do, I do, I do love lamb chops.  Any time.  But I really love them in the summer when you can grill them up in a few minutes time while you make a salad, warm some bread, or grill some veggies, too.  For a long time, I’ve been looking at harissa with lamb chops (Tyler Florence has a recipe for it in TYLER’S ULTIMATE), and, you know how it is:  You go to cook something you’ve cooked a zillion times (I wish I’d had lamb chops a zillion times.) and you just do it that way for a zillion and one.   Another pass by a harissa recipe and I’d put it aside, sighing theatrically.  This is getting to be like why I don’t make croissants.  (Trust me, just buy them.)   Maybe I had no lamb then.  Who knows.  But this time.  This time.  I did it.  I made the harissa and a little cous cous (redundant, isn’t it?) with sauteed onions and raisins.  I stirred up a big pan of eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow peppers and onions.  Conjured up a bottle of Australian Shiraz (a mistake, but a good mistake) and off we went.  Sounds like a lot of time?  40 minutes tops.  I could be dreaming, but it wasn’t too very long. I didn’t time it.  Here’s the drill for

Harissa Lamb Chops with CousCous and Sauteed Vegetables  serves 4

1.  Roast 2 red peppers under the broiler or grill them until they’re blistered.  No sunscreen needed.  Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.  Meantime, in a skillet, toast 1 t ea whole cumin, coriander and caraway seeds.  Keep the heat low and stir occasionally.   When they smell really good, but aren’t burnt, grind them in a coffee grinder you’ve cleaned.  Into the food processor, throw in a couple of cloves of chopped garlic (trust me, it won’t get it chopped as finely as you’d like; chop it first), the ground spices, and 1/2 a chopped jalapeno-minus seeds and membranes. This sauce will be medium-hot.  If you want it mild, use 1/4 jalapeno.  If you want it ha-ha-ha-HOT, use the whole jalapeno. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch each salt and pepper.  Squeeze in the juice of a whole lemon.  Whirr this mixture up really well by pulsing several times.  When the peppers are “done,” peel the blistered skins away, rolling them in a big towel and peeling afterward, and throw them in the food processor.  Pulse until the vegetables are about like apple sauce.   Taste this and decide if you need more salt, more heat, more acid, etc.  Adjust accordingly.  Set this aside while you grill the chops and fix the rest of the dinner. (Easier:  Used jarred peppers and already ground spices.  Easiest: you can buy a jar of harissa.)

Just a note on the heat of harissa.  I do not like terribly hot things; I’m more interested in spices and flavor.  I made my harissa with 1/4 of a jalapeno and, when I tasted it all by itself, it  still seemed pretty hot.  Once I added it to my chop, however, it tasted much milder.  I added Tabasco.  So remember that the sauce dumbs down with the meat.  Sort of like once you take marinara and put it all over a plate of pasta.  You might want to try it out with something else ahead of time.

2.  Set the table and light the grill if you haven’t done that yet.  Wait while the grill heats (sing your favorite song)  or grill the  6-8 lamb chops (Oil, salt and pepper them first.) Throw them on a hot fire to sear for one minute on each side.  Remove to spot that’s not so hot or turn down flame and cook for another 3 minutes or so on each side for medium- medium rare.   If you want them rare, just cook on a hot fire for 2 minutes on each side.  I think lamb is best medium to medium-rare, but you don’t have to trust me.  If you want it bloody, have it bloody.   Remove chops to a medium-sized platter and cover with foil for five minutes before serving.  Have to leave them there  for 15 while you cook the sides?  Not to worry; they’ll be great at room temp.   In fact, they’re damned good stone cold out of the frig tomorrow if you really get involved in something else.  You could even throw them in a skillet with your eggs. —  Ok, you’re eating them tonight, so just partially uncover so they don’t cook and steam to bits.) 

One important thing.  If you don’t have friends invited to eat these, you won’t be able to chew the bones.  So don’t invite the new boss.  Invite people you know and love.  The bones are what it’s about.

3.  Cous Cous?  Buy a package…And!  Before following the directions on the package, put a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a 2qt saucepan and cook up 1/4 c chopped onion and 1/4 black or golden raisins with a little salt and pepper.  Add the water and seasonings (I like the olive oil and garlic variety of cous cous) as the package directs and throw in the couscous when the water boils.  Turn off and let sit  covered for 5 minutes.

4.  Meantime (or earlier if you’re that way)  peel and chop an eggplant 1-2″ pieces.  Cut up a zucchini and a yellow squash into 1-2″ pieces.  Ditto 2 medium sweet peppers, red and yellow or orange (no green.)  Ditto 1 medium purple onion.  Into a large skillet, pour 2-3 T olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add veggies and season with a liberal shower of salt and pepper.  Cook for about 6 or 7 minutes and add 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook another 5-7 minutes until browned, crispy and tender.  Plate with the CousCous and add a lamb chop.  Top with harissa.  Smile.  All of you.
Wine:  Try a light rose on the edge of sweetness…maybe even a big riesling.  Reds just don’t mix with the heat of the harissa.  Of course, I had to have my own way with the wine and drank red regardless.  Bad me.
Some folks would go the route of beer.  Some would drink sweet tea.  Makes sense.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the Hood or in my Heart, Including
What’s in my frig?
We hiked the Crags. Phew.  Temps from 70’s that dropped to 54 when the storm arrived.  Nice day, though.   Below:  cheese and cracker lunch by the stream:

Dave picking the cherries.  Not as many as I’d have liked.
A new toy for Dave.
Heather spends the night and helps me cook.  The dogs want to help.
Our once a year rain arrived and we couldn’t grill.

So we made it inside.  Where we…
Grilled chicken. Grilled Eggplant. Grilled Tomatoes.
 Made Whole Wheat Linguine.  Tore off  Big peels of Parmesan and Chopped Basil.
Try it. 
—————————–
While we cooked:
Not sure what they did, but I’m sure they did it.
Just finished reading  THE MERMAID CHAIR by  Sue Monk Kidd.  What a story…  Guess I missed it when it was published in ’05.  This was our book club book for July.  Thanks, ladies, for a great discussion. 
I’m playing:  “Feels Like Home”  by Randy Newman…
A lot of the Iona Worship Book…
I’m listening to:  George Winston playing Vince Guaraldi.
Recipe spots I’m tuned in to lately:   NYTimes on Wednesdays or online (Follow on Twitter)
All of Tyler Florence’s books
ad hoc at home
SILVER PALATE (the gift that keeps on giving)
my own brain as the produce comes
Dorie Greenspan’s blog
Chocolate and Zucchini blog
David Lebovitz’ blog
Ina Garten when I have time to watch
What’s on my counter? 
California peaches
Yellow and orange tomatoes
Plums
Lemons
Leftover grilled eggplant from lunch
Shallots
Garlic
Purple onions
New potatoes
3 kinds of vinegar
2 kinds of olive oil
Kosher salt
Sea salt
2 kinds of pepper
2 kinds of honey
Cochetti zin (3/4 of a bottle)
What’s in my frig?
Strawberries
Grapes
Blueberries (Just froze 2 gallons for winter)
Watermelon
Parsley-both kinds
Whole carrots
Celery
Baby carrots
Lettuce that needs to be composted, but we can’t compost.
We have bears.
Greek salad I made this morning for lunch
Leftover fruit from breakfast already cut
Greek yogurt-a couple of different kinds
Leftover turkey burger w/ colby cheese
Tillamook extra sharp white cheddar cheese
Goat’s cheese
Leftover pizza from Mollica’s
La Baguette whole wheat and 7grain bread
Boiled eggs
Cold Washington State Riesling
Leftover red wine for cooking
Pomegranate juice
Limes
It was 95 degrees today.  I think dinner can be found out of the mess above, don’t you?
Sing a new song; eat leftovers
Alyce
Thanksgiving-An Intimate View

Thanksgiving-An Intimate View

Thanksgiving by Walt Waldo Emerson

For each morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything thy goodness sends.

Visiting my friend Sue last month, we talked a little about Thanksgiving.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I don’t know; I haven’t decided. I would so like something really simple,” said she.

“I know exactly what you should make,” said I.

Well, of course, I had the idea and, truthfully, had done something like it before, but I had to flesh out the menu and, naturally, try it all out. And, while I adore Thanksgiving, I know it can get out of hand. You don’t know it’s gotten out of hand until you start the dishes and are still washing glasses the next day. Mostly, it’s worth it. Occasionally, though, you want a holiday to BE a holiday for everyone, including you. Well, you and one other person, a special one.

This menu is for that Thanksgiving. I include directions for a Thanksgiving for two, which is delectable. To be two, I mean–and, yes, the food, is, too. I’d say it’s more for two with plenty of leftovers, so perhaps I’d say there’s enough for four people. The whole thing easily doubles to serve eight and so on. I began cooking this meal at 6pm and we sat down (after taking boocoo pics) at 8:15. I had time in there to have a glass of wine and a couple of teensy starters, though I did have to set the table earlier in the day. I think it could have been done more quickly if I had had the recipes worked out ahead; I was improvising and writing as I went. If you try it, let me know the time!

I had so much fun doing this meal. Isn’t that what it’s about? Hope you do, too.

MENU

  • Starters:Olives and Pistachios–set out in small bowls with wine
  • First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (bought from deli)
  • Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
  • Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
  • Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
  • Bread: Corn Muffins from the bakery
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350—No crust)
  • Drinks: Wine: A to Z Riesling and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have both! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream

Cook’s Hint: Get the turkey and root vegetables in the oven and then make the brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce. Set the coffee up to be ready to push the button as soon as the meal is done. If you had no time to set the table, get your friend to do it while you cook! He or she is in charge of the wine, too. Why not?

RECIPES——

OVEN-ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES W/ ROSEMARY

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
5 new potatoes, cut into fourths (don’t peel)
2T olive oil
1t Kosher salt
1/2 t freshly-ground pepper
3T fresh rosemary, minced

Place all vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet, mixing them well. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Using your hands, toss. Bake about 40 minutes until tender. You can cook these at the same time you roast the turkey; times are similar. Put these in the top oven rack and put the turkey in the bottom of the oven.

TURKEY ROULADE, STUFFED WITH PROSCUITTO/SAGE/ONIONS
1 boneless turkey breast 3-4 pounds
6 slices proscuitto
3T olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T fresh sage leaves, sliced very finely
Kosher Salt
Freshly-ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a small skillet, cook onion for five minutes in 1T olive oil. Add garlic and sage and saute until onion is limp. Set aside.

Lay turkey breast out flat and roll with a rolling pin until breast flattens out a little. You might need to pound it lightly. Salt and pepper the turkey well. Lay the proscuitto on breast, one piece at a time to cover, and top with the onion-sage-garlic mix. Using both hands, roll breast up gently to form a roll @5 ” thick, placing seam at bottom. Cut four 15″ pieces of kitchen twine. Slip each piece of twine under the turkey roll and tie roll together gently in four places, spacing the ties out evenly. Salt and pepper well.
Place other 2T olive oil in roasting pan and warm over medium heat on stovetop. Gently remove turkey roll to the pan and brown for 4-5 minutes, searing meat. Turn over and salt and pepper that side as well. Brown again for 4-5 minutes.

Place in bottom third of 400F oven and bake another 35-40 minutes until thermometer registers 160. (Your root vegetables are in the top of this oven) Remove from oven and let rest five minutes or so. Slice into about eight slices or as you desire.

If vegetables are done, you can still leave them in to keep very warm while the turkey rests.

PAN-ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PARMESAN AND PUMPKIN SEEDS

12 fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (Take l layer of leaves off and
cut off bottom tiny core) and cut in half
2T olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in long pieces with a potato peeler
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add brussel sprouts. Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook brussel sprouts for about 10 minutes. Add parmesan and pumpkin seeds. Turn down heat to medium-low and cook until sprouts are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the parmesan; it should be quite brown. Salt and pepper well.

Homemade Spicy Cranberry Sauce with Lemon and Apple

1 package fresh cranberries
Water
1/2 c brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 lemon, cut into fourths
1/2 large apple, diced, leaving peel on
1/8-1/4 t red pepper flakes to taste

In large, deep skillet, place cranberries. Add water to cover well only. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Let boil 2-3 minutes and lower heat to simmer. Cover and simmer until fruit is tender and liquid is syrupy, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room-temperature. Also good cold.

–Cook’s Note:

Easy to serve the meat and all the vegetables on one big platter:

Very easy!!! Here are my pumpkin custards…. Pie without crust.

“There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy:
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie.”
(well, almost!)
Some Thanksgiving Books You Might Enjoy (in no order):
CRANBERRY THANKSGIVING, by Wende and Harry Devlin. (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1971; also Aladdin Paperbacks, 1990)
This book contains a great cranberry bread recipe….
GIVING THANKS: THANKSGIVING RECIPES AND HISTORY, FROM PILGRIMS TO PUMPKIN PIE, by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver and Plimoth Plantation. (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2005)
THANKSGIVING 101, by Rick Rodgers. (New York: William Morrow, 2007; also in 1998 by Broadway Books)
HAPPILY GRATEFUL, compiled by Dan Zedra and Kristel Wills (Seattle: Compendium, 2009)
THE FIRST THANKSGIVING by Jean Craighead George; illus. by Thomas Locker. (New York, Putnam, 1993)
Some random thoughts about Thanksgiving——
Thanksgiving as a spiritual discipline or as a way of life is something quite interesting and lovely on which to meditate. Try it; I’d love to know what comes up.
Here are a couple of my thoughts:
I think thanksgiving is a way of living responsibly…
As a faithful person, I know I am healthier when I have a grateful heart. To not be grateful in all circumstances introduces the possibility of becoming a victim– to which there is no solution or cure.
When I live thankfully, I then live in a better place in all ways.
We all just keep working on it!
Thanksgiving, it’s not just for dinner anymore.
Sing a new song as you give thanks,
Alyce