When you’ve just come home from a month-long vacation and the much-loved older sister of your childhood best friend is traveling through town with her husband and two dogs, you have them for dinner. Of course, you do. The house may be a little musty-dusty; the yard is definitely overgrown. Since the fridge is sadly empty, it’s time run to the store, throw a couple of whole chickens on the grill, roast new potatoes with Herbes de Provence, make your best green beans with lemon, toss an apple pie into the oven, dust off a favorite Oregon Pinot Noir, and hope for the best. You choose a meal you can (nearly) make with your eyes closed and, God is good — as God is — it’s all fine. It’s all fine. It’s just so good to see old friends.Jump to Recipe Continue reading
I like to cook almost as well as anyone you know, but I also enjoy days when dinner is done and in the fridge, ready to go — especially come summer. (Though I’d admit real summer has yet to arrive in Colorado–no complaints.) Instead of turning on the stove, I can crawl up into my comfy reading chair with its humongous hassock, fall into my latest mystery or sleazy novel, and sip something very, very cold indeed. Typically, and you know this, it’s a pot of soup that has me all comfortably cozy-lazy with the latest Ruth Galloway (Elly Griffiths) or Louise Penny’s most recent Gamache thriller. But recently I’ve discovered a nice stash of protein heavy pasta salad will do the trick just as well. I like to bring a mammoth, heavenly pasta salad to a potluck or cookout (a great one-dish side) or on a road trip, but come hot weather, it’s happy at home right in my kitchen fridge just waiting for me to get hungry. With a little extra meat, cheese, beans, or fish, my salad feels perfect for dinner and leftovers are then easy offerings for lunch. Did I mention they’re whole meal deals? Nothing else is needed. Well, wine.Continue reading
Like many of you, I have probably for most of my life made tuna salad pretty much like my mother did. A can of tuna, a few spoons of mayo, one chopped hard cooked egg, a little onion, pickle and celery and — Fanny’s your aunt — hot weather lunch was served with little or no stove time. Over the years, though, as my cooking developed, so did my tuna salad. One year I was shocked to see that a happy little bit of lemon zest had slipped into the mixing bowl by “mistake.” Whoa! Another time a dab of perky horseradish became a sudden, but happy addition. Soon, though not always, cucumbers/fennel/carrots/bell peppers joined the party along with a good healthy spoonful of Dijon-style mustard, cornichons leftover from a wine and cheese event I catered, and —wait for it — a big splash of red wine vinegar. The biggest change was the consistent use of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, along with the occasional herbs, no matter what else I dumped in. Why didn’t I ever season my tuna salad before? (Mom, you didn’t tell me.) Of course I often ate it on toast, but sometimes I went with the old school ladies’ lunch counter lower-carb style: spooned into the middle of a quartered tomato, hopefully ripe. Other weeks, I thinned it out and ate it scooped up with potato chips or Triscuits (HELLO, TUNA DIP!!) — Triscuits being one of my most unknown addictions. (The rye were the best, but they discontinued them–sob, sob. Now I’m even more stuck on the organic thin variety. Try them and see. Nope, I’m not on Nabisco’s payroll.) After a while, my tuna salad was never the same twice in a row. Who knew what would happen next to my trusty, inexpensive summer fun food? And, by the way, how did we come to eat so much tuna fish??Continue reading
“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…”
―Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
What’s life without bacon? A dog and a beer at the ball park? Brats on the 4th of July? Just a ham sandwich for supper, for goodness’ sake? Luckily I have this guy in my life who smokes meat like he was born to it, so we can skip A Lot from the store and leave the nitrates right where they sit. But once in a while…you have to let up. Go for the gold. Grab the salami, as it were. Scratch that. Insert eye roll. And so we, every once in a while, splurge on something like salami and cheese with crackers and a cold beer or a “Chopped Salami Salad” along with a glass of rosé. No stove. No grill. Thank you very much. In the summer, I’m fond of what I label, “Shop and Chop” meals. It’s a hot day. You go to the store, buy what looks good, come home and — with no or nearly no cooking — make big with your chef’s knife and create “dinner” out of whole cloth. This is one of them.Continue reading
One day last week I went out to the garage refrigerator for carrots. It’s a common occurrence at our house as I typically buy and store a 5-pound bag of carrots in the produce bin of that fridge. While it sounds like a lot of carrots, they’re cheap in that quantity ($2.99 for 5 pounds–what else is less than 60 cents a pound?) and they last a long time. Even better, I’m never out of them for soup, stew, or just for a vegetable. It’s also not terribly unusual for me to make carrot soup as it’s lovely, healthy, fast, and can be made in several different flavor profiles. I didn’t start out with carrot soup in mind on said day, but I certainly got there pretty fast as my carrots were growing white hair — sprouting, getting ready for planting! I peeled and used the carrot I needed, but knew carrot soup, cake, bread, soufflé, salad, or gratin was in the offing. Because I wasn’t throwing away 8 or 9 carrots no matter how little they cost.
I’m reminded of a simple meme that says volumes. It goes something like, “A single carrot doesn’t seem too awfully important. Unless it took you 3 months to grow it.” And, by the way, if you’re lucky enough to get carrots with all the green frills on top, the green part is edible, too. A little carrot top pesto might be good for the soul. VEGETABLES ARE AMAZING!Jump to Recipe Continue reading
SUMMER WEEKNIGHT MEAL PLANNING IS DONE. MAKE THESE 20 FUN RECIPES 3X EACH. Print them, along with a shopping list, place in a 3-ring binder or save them to a word file so you know just where they are for the next couple of months. Then make them again…and again!
Tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner on any given night in June, July, or August? The summer struggle is real even if you sometimes take the time to write down the week’s menu and make a grocery list. Cooking at home for yourself, friends, or a family is a big commitment, but it’s also a wonderful thing to do to focus on health and togetherness; improve the use of your time; and rein in that food budget. Here’s a post highlighting 20 fun, MORE TIME AT THE TABLE lighter/easier recipes you can make over and over again — or with variations. I had an awful time choosing between so many yummy dinners and had to leave out things like Shrimp Ratatouille and BBQ Chicken Grilled Veggie Stack — next time, right? You can be sure your planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will become simpler/faster as you become better acquainted with each meal. Just click on RECIPE HERE to take you to the post, then scroll down to the recipe (there is sometimes a “jump to recipe” button) and print. Do throw in a COOK’S OFF! night every now and then so you can order pizza, go out, or let someone else make eggs and toast when you’re tired. If you like, make a big batch soup or extra chicken breasts once a week you can then also use for lunch. After the recipes, I’ve included some seasonal desserts, meal-planning basic information, cooking with kids ideas, and a few great links to get you going. So choose your favorites, make that grocery list (keep it on your phone from month to month?), and then it’s time to get busy with happy summer cooking!Continue reading
Typically “peaches” and “melba” and “ginger” don’t belong together in one recipe title because melba indicates peaches with raspberry sauce and vanilla cream of some sort (in other words: no ginger anywhere there) — said dessert named for the famous late 19th-early 20th century opera singer, Australian Dame Nellie Melba. Perhaps you don’t care one way or another. Or, on the other hand, you might remember her from DOWNTON ABBEY days if you were both a Downton and an opera fan:
On Sunday, U.S. Downton Abbey fans were served a double dose of divas — one from the present and one from the distant past. Viewers may have recognized Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the creamy-voiced soprano whose radiant beauty graced the world’s top opera houses from the 1970s through ’90s. But far fewer probably know about Dame Nellie Melba, the Australian-born superstar Te Kanawa portrayed in the episode. Even some opera buffs may have forgotten Melba. But in her day she was colossal, an artist who dominated European and American music for a period, one so adored that Melba toast and Peach Melba were created in her name by famed chef Auguste Escoffier.NPR, Jan. 17, 2014
Readers’ Note: This is the 2nd and middle segment (SEASONINGS) of a three-part blog cooking class about making your salad a better place to eat! Click on the red links below to read the other two posts and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad. While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens. Salad on, my friends.
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”― Laurie Colwin
- Read part 1, SUBSTANCE. Ingredients–how and why.
- Read part 3, STYLE! How to make the salad look like you want to eat it. “Wow! That looks good!”
CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT CORNER: Kalamata olives, hummus, potato chips, tortilla chips, sliced cucumbers, Triscuit Thin Crisps, sweet cherries, Green Chile-Pimento cheese, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, guacamole, and onion dip.
Americans, in the heavy heat of summer, are known for flocking to cold-cold air-conditioned restaurants for dinner–and staying a while. Maybe a long while. (Like until it cools off at home.) I mean, who’s going to turn that stove on when it’s that warm? Even if you have AC (and a lot of Americans do), it makes no sense to make that blessed machine work any harder now, does it? In Covid-Time, though, quite a few of us are still not going to restaurants–at least not to sit inside. We may do drive-throughs or pick-ups, but restaurant dining rooms are still kinda high up on the scale of risk factors. In some places, they’re closed again. Let’s face it, I’m thinking it almost sounds as if it’s not quite worth it, despite my desperately wanting to support my fave local eateries. And even if we do go, we can’t stay there; that’s only fair. There are fewer tables and, in restaurant parlance, “They need to turn.” In other words, you need to eat and git. Drink and run. Maybe, until a few more things move around, it’s still better to spend most dinnertimes at home. Yeah. As in the past four months.Continue reading
For many Americans of my generation, meatloaf was a regular dinner event as we were growing up. Perhaps it still is? And while meatloaf is easy and simple, it’s neither easy or simple to make well. Just bring up meatloaf when you’re gathered with a few other people. The responses will range from…Jump to Recipe Continue reading