Thursday, November 27, 2008


I get very sentimental and irony-free on Thanksgiving. I say uncool things like: I'm so grateful for everything little thing in my life. And I'm thankful for living in a country that is made up of such generous and wonderful people. Not being a natural born American, Thanksgiving was something I came to later than sooner, but I have embraced it with the zeal of a convert.
I don't get those people who harrumph about the Holidays, especially Thanksgiving. What's not to like? It's a uniting national holiday that cuts across religious divisions and political orientation. It celebrates the bounty that is in our lives, and asks us to examine the little (and big) blessings that fill our days and often go unnoticed and unappreciated. And there's some really good eating involved- sounds like a winner to me!

Cranberry Chutney
In a med. saucepan combine 1 c. water and 3/4 c. sugar, bring to a boil. Add 2 c. fresh cranberries, 2 cored, peeled, and diced apples, 3/4 c. apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, mix and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Final Fond Farewell

So I now have proof that we are indeed in the throes of a nasty recession. Forget the graphs, mindnumbing stats, and the stuffed shirt's frantic proclamations on the evening news- my favorite local cafe is closing! A cafe that has been in this area longer than I have. I loved going to this place- it was where I snatched up a few moments of luxury and indulgence, in the middle of the day, after drop off- before pick-up. Sometimes I'd hide behind a book or a magazine, savoring the solitude and freedom over a sandwich. Often times, I'd play the lady-who-lunches routine with a friend or two. We'd trade news and the inevitable kiddie-tales over a couple of crunchilicious salads.
The food was solidly pleasing, the menu was nothing if not reliable. I knew it by heart, as it never changed. I had the 3-4 dishes that I rotated between: If I was in breakfast mode I'd always get the egg-white omelette #3 (sundried toms, cheese, and fresh basil), I turned to the tuna sandwich when I craved protein. My most frequent request was #5- a hearts of romaine salad made stupendous by crisp apple slices, pungent blue cheese crumbles, balsamic sesame vinaigrette, and the spiced cashews were the salad's piece de resistance. When I was feeling downright extravagant I'd get the melted brie and apple sandwich.
This afternoon as a final farewell I met a couple of friends for lunch at our nearly departed cafe. I had my good ol' #5. We tried to identify an alternate locale- I really hope that Burger King isn't our only option after this economic twister wreaks it's full damage.

#5 Salad- as deconstructed by me
Dressing: pour about 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 3-4 tbsp. (to taste) honey, and 1/4 c. toasted sesame oil into a jar or cruet-shake well.
Spiced Nuts: In med. sized bowl mix 2-3 tbsp. maple syrup, 1 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar, a nice pinch of cayenne, a sprinkling of salt, dash of cinnamon. Add 1 c. pecans or walnuts or cashews, mix until maple syrup concoction coats the nuts/ Place on a baking sheet in one layer. Put in oven at 375F- for about 10-15 mins. Cool.

Divide chopped hearts of romaine leaves onto salad plates, place granny smith slices on top of romaine, scatter a handful of crumbled blue cheese, feta, or goat cheese over salad. Then sprinkle spiced nuts over, douse with the balsamic sesame vinaigrette.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Answer Is Soup

Does your life ever feel like a maelstrom of activities, chores, responsibilities? Maybe that's the definition of life? A tumultuous, disordered, whirlwind of people, events, and commitments. And at the end of the day, if you're very good and a little bit lucky, you get a delicious bowl of hot soup to savor, and unwind over.
This is my kitchen sink soup, I just throw a bunch of things in it, let it simmer for a while, and then enjoy.

Kitchen Sink Soup

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan, add 1 chopped yellow onion, saute until soft and translucent. Add 1 qt. veg. or chicken stock, 1 chopped red pepper, 1 can of cannellini beans, 2 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 1 tsp. oregano, 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Raise heat to high, until soup begins to boil. Lower to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 mins. Add a handful or two of small shaped pasta. Cook until pasta is ready.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cheese 'n Crackers Soup

I'm trying to get the recipes right for this article I'm writing on winter soups that would appeal to the kidfolk. I came up with 2 cutesy-cute ideas: Cheese & Crackers Soup and Spaghetti 'n Meatball Soup. I promised my editor that the recipes would be great- tried, tested, and truly tasty- and that the piece would be print-worthy in about a week. My road to hell is paved not so much in good intentions, but really, a distorted sense of time.
For the past couple of days I tried a few cheddar cheese recipes that were just OK- definitely not great, there was a bitter aftertaste probably due to the copious amount of sharp cheddar. The kiddles are my mini-guineas and they were totally underwhelmed.
This evening experimentation produced a better result- smoother, milder, more kid-friendly. A word of warning: this soup is not for the lactose intolerant and although I used low-fat dairy products it's definitely on the richer end of the spectrum.
Tomorrow night: the Spaghetti 'n Meatball Soup trials begin....

Cheese & Crackers Soup
Melt 3 tbsp. butter over med. heat in a pot, add 1 c. chopped red pepper and stir until pepper softens. Add 1/2 c. flour and mix in until peppers are coated. Pour 2 c. heated milk (I used 2%) and 2 c. heated veg. or chicken stock. Stir until creamy and smooth. Add 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar and 1 c. shredded mozzarella. Stir until melted in. If necessary thin with stock or milk. To serve: crumble a few saltines (or your favorite type of cracker) on top and season with salt and pepper to taste.