Thanksgiving-An Intimate View (Redux)

This post is an update from a Thanksgiving post in 2009 and features new text/ photos, printable recipes, and more.

While some Americans are having a larger Thanksgiving, quite a few are again limiting numbers and thinking about a smaller menu. A turkey roulade (roo-LAHD) — a rolled up, stuffed turkey breast served up with a pan or two of roasted vegetables is for just that more intimate occasion and will serve 1-2 with plenty of leftovers, 4 with some, and 6 without much at all in those pesky where-are-the-lids Tupperware containers. (You can double it all for a larger group if need be, but do plan on more time. I also include a couple of other options for one-pan sides.) With some prep, this beautiful meal goes into the oven all together and is done in less than an hour — which makes it a lovely small dinner party menu as well. If you can get a boned turkey breast and don’t have to bone it yourself, you are way ahead of the game. Not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and gravy or …? You can surely add other dishes though you don’t need them. (See TIPS below for links to Brussels sprouts I made, gravy without drippings, my spicy cranberry sauce, etc.) Easily purchased appetizers and a bakery pumpkin pie help give you most of the day off, a lot less dish washing, and time to watch “Home for the Holidays,” with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, and Charles Durning– one of my favorite Thanksgiving movies. No movies, but want music? Here are some listening ideas.

Note: While this meal is basically gluten-free, do check all purchased ingredients, including turkey, for GF labels. Our Honeysuckle frozen turkey breast did not contain gluten, but other brands might.

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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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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!

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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.
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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.

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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.

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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. 
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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