It’s a snow day. I don’t currently have a paying job–this isn’t to say I don’t work– but I’m still thrilled to think I needn’t go anywhere and perhaps could be excused from accomplishing anything. Too many years of kids in the house or teaching makes me stand up and cheer when the school closings begin. Usually I spend the day in the kitchen with a big pot of soup bubbling away –and I’m about to do that after I’m done with the blog– but today a little perking dream took life.
Food bloggers, too, are in recovery-from-election mode. Skip down to recipe if need be.
In our difficult, name-calling, post-election country, our American world appears divided–though not shattered–by fear, unhappiness, anger, and misunderstanding. (The entire world is divided not just by politics, but between those who have food and homes and those who don’t.) As we move toward our usually happy day of Thanksgiving, we feel left and right, liberal and conservative, blue and red, educated and unscholarly, open and closed, Fox and MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh and NPR… I don’t feel as if we are split as much by religion (though some might not agree) if only because I drank the “justice for all and freedom of religion” kool-aid and do not want to believe any government of mine would pit one religion against another. The issue of race is, it seems, more complicated. A mix of cultures and religions is who we’ve always been and always will be, though; it’s the beauty and at times the ugliness of the United States. Right now it’s ugly. The train left the station long ago about this being a Christian country. And, truthfully, while Dave and I remain firmly entrenched, working and worshiping within a progressive protestant Christian community, the majority of people we know don’t even worship. Anywhere. (Though worshipers are still largely and sadly divided by race.) The believing who go to mosque, synagogue, or church regularly are, more and more, the faithful fewer–perhaps under 25% of our population. How could religion be key here? Hmm. When I hear, “The evangelicals are back in power,” I can’t help but wonder. Continue reading
Her ’70s old school style was to take pot roast — yes, pot roast — cut it up and marinate it for a few days–yes, days– before grilling the pieces along with whatever vegetables hit her fancy. I seem to recall canned small potatoes. I’ll admit I liked this meal just fine. I couldn’t believe it was pot roast and neither could anyone else. It was just like steak. Well, nearly. Continue reading
As summer wanes –– it was 50 degrees F this morning when I got up — the vegetables come in huge, lovely fragrant warm piles and a fresh, toothsome pasta salad feels perfect for supper in the lingering heat. No muss, no fuss, with fresh pasta that cooks in just two minutes; dinner is on the table faster than you can make the basil vinaigrette (thanks to David Lebovitz–scroll down for more) that simply makes this meal. Continue reading
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
A scant cupful of sautéed or grilled vegetables from last night’s dinner–-or even the night before’s. Eggs. Fresh tomatoes and basil. Or not. Maybe a little grating of cheese or a little chopped cheese that’s about to mold. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner is then served in under 5 minutes if you make your very own little vegetable frittata, which is just an Italian word for open-faced omelet. Have a little meat, too? Throw it in. Freshly cooked vegetables are good 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Cooked chicken, by the way, is ok for 3-4 days, too–as is cooked bacon. Using up your leftovers will make you feel better about living a green life and will make your wallet happy, as well. Continue reading
I occasionally buy too many vegetables because I’m crazy about them. That’s pretty close to how it is. While I like fruit, I love vegetables. I really like meat; I adore fish. But vegetables just do something for me. It has often occurred to me that I’m so attracted to them because they exist in infinite variety, colors, shapes, tastes, textures, sizes, and even styles–think Thai or Japanese eggplant and see below…
Meat comes in brown.
My friend Mary Pat’s September birthday is always a reason for celebration. I often cook her a birthday dinner and find it a happy excuse to make a fallish meal after a long, long summer. (Is it fall YET? The garden’s dying, but it’s still in the 80’s. We sat out last night on the deck at 8 o’clock with a drink watching the blood moon.)
below: my front walk milkweed grown for the monarch butterflies
Here’s the menu that included her favorite dessert (after Cherries Jubilee, Baked Alaska, and Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie):
I like six people for dinner, eight at the most, so that I can truly pay attention to and hear each person. Otherwise, it’s a party–cacophony– and I approach it very differently. I also like to cook a lot of recipes that only serve eight. Continue reading
I try to eat as many meatless meals as I can. It’s hard; I love meat. My husband Dave is perhaps even more of a carnivore, but snarfed this down as fast as he could the other night out on the deck. In Colorado, our al fresco dinners are numbered. Within a couple of weeks, lunches outdoors will work wonderfully, but dinners will simply be too cold. In the meantime, we’re loving every meal we can get at the patio table with something fun on Pandora going and the dogs running around enjoying the breeze.
This meal is will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Did I say very happy, too? It’s fast, luscious, full of happy-mouth flavors, and is like a whole Mediterranean diet on one plate. Easily vegan or Gluten-Free, it’s also filling without making you feel stuffed. Try this:
Quick Provençal Summer Vegetables on Rosemary Couscous
The vegetables are changeable; if you have red bell peppers, add them. Mushrooms? Sure. This is my favorite combination and is like a tiny and easy stovetop pan of ratatouille plus fresh greens. No huge vegetable prep and no hot oven heating the kitchen like the big pan of ratatouille would. Keeps several days well-covered in the refrigerator and is lovely on its own, with scrambled eggs, on a sandwich, with pasta, or as a side with some grilled fish, poultry, or meat. Just good to have on hand. In about 20 minutes, dinner is served.
This dish is vegan without the cheese or anchovy garnishes and Gluten-Free if you make rice instead of couscous.
- Olive oil–any
- 2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced (save fennel fronds for garnish if you like)
- 1 large eggplant, peeled, trimmed, and chopped into 1-inch cubes (If you use 2 small, young eggplants you may not have to peel them.)
- 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium yellow or summer squash, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or more to taste
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes–fresh or canned (save juice for another use if using canned tomatoes)s
- 1-2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence – to taste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup kale or other greens, sliced very thinly (stems, too)
- Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil, optional
Garnishes: Chopped fennel fronds, fresh basil, olives, anchovies, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese–your choice– none, any, or all.
In a large, deep sauté pan (I used 5.5 quart) with lid, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat for a minute or two and add onions and sliced fennel. Let cook down 2-3 minutes, stirring, and add eggplant, squashes, and garlic. Lower heat a bit and let cook another 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are softening; add tomatoes, Herbes de Provence, and wine. Add more olive oil if necessary. Let simmer another few minutes or until wine has cooked down; add kale. Season well with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cover and cook until all vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold over rosemary couscous* or rosemary rice for Gluten-Free option. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, if desired, and with your choice of garnishes.
*Rosemary Couscous: I take the easy route and make a box of Near East Couscous–Olive Oil and Garlic variety albeit with a couple of additions. Here’s how:
To a 2-quart sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium flame. Sauté 2 tablespoons medium dice onions and 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary until onions are tender. Add 1 1/4 cups water, a tablespoon or so of the seasoning packet, and bring to boil; add couscous, cover, and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork before serving.
*Rosemary Rice for Gluten-Free Option: Follow directions for making 3 cups of rice, but add 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely minced onions, and 1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary with the water before bringing to a boil and adding rice. You’ll have about 3/4 cup rice for each serving.
Wine: If it’s cool enough, red Côtes du Rhône.
Dessert: Sliced melon and berries
Sing a new song for meatless Mondays,