Broccoli salad with bacon and pecans

March 5, 2013 § 13 Comments

broccoli salad dressed

It is decidedly not spring here yet.  In fact, it’s blowing ferociously and snowing several inches outside right now (just a stone’s throw further south they’re getting close to 10 inches, but we’re getting only brushed by the storm).

I remember the day in March in 2nd grade when our teacher taught us the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”  She even had a paper cut out lion and lamb thumb tacked up on the cork board to drive the point home.

We were all mystified.  No, no, no.  The saying was all wrong, we pointed out (after the metaphor had been explained).  March comes in like a lion and it goes out like a lion too.  Maybe an ever so slightly more docile lion, but a lion nonetheless.

blanched broccoligreen onions for slicing

That’s Minnesota for you.

So, no, no spring yet.  It makes me miss the other places I’ve lived, the places where crocuses and daffodils start intrepidly strutting about in March.  However, the yearning for spring isn’t desperate yet.  Not desperate, but on the other hand, I’m definitely not as into root vegetables as I was a couple months ago.

In my need for a change of pace, I found myself craving broccoli salad a few days ago, something that does not happen often at all, except for the odd day midsummer when it sounds good, or when I’m several time zones out of my element, running late for a wedding rehearsal, and my stomach is growling audibly, and I’m standing in front of a deli counter.  It happens sometimes then too. « Read the rest of this entry »

Twice baked butternut squash

October 31, 2011 § 30 Comments

There’s a crack that opens up in the earth today, letting all manner of little demons and naughty spirits out to roam the earth for the night and make mayhem.  I just thought I’d let you know that, in case you hadn’t heard already.

It’s the original reason behind dressing up on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), actually.  If you were disguised as a witch or demon, then it was highly unlikely that the real demons wandering about would notice you and cause you trouble.  They would think you were one of them and leave you alone.  Which, on the whole, makes sense, don’t you agree?

A similar thing happens on the solstices, and at periods of your life when you’re in transition.  Those pesky demons come out and can make a muck of any number of little things, or even make you sick.  Nowadays we blame things like stress, which often increases in times of transition.  But, those of us who are in the know – and now you’re in the know! – know that it’s actually demons.

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Sweet potato ricotta gnocchi…for breakfast!

December 10, 2010 § 13 Comments

So, I just had a revelation.  Or at least, it felt like a revelation at 6 am, when I was still rubbing sleep out of my eyes.  We’ll see how it stacks up now that I’m in a slightly more awakened state.  I was thinking about why I like eating breakfast in my PJs so much.  Even if I take a shower before breakfast, I have a tendency to put my pajamas – and usually a big fuzzy sweater – back on, then go and eat breakfast, and then finally get dressed and gussied up for the day.  This morning, I suddenly realized that while many people need the time it takes to shower, spruce up, and generally get ready to go to work before they can gather the where with all to grab breakfast, I need the time it takes to eat breakfast and sip a cup of coffee in order to work up the gumption to put on my clothes for the day.  Not particularly revelatory yet?  Well, wait, it gets better!  I also realized that one of the most relaxing parts of vacation, for me at any rate, is sitting for a long time at the breakfast table in my pajamas, browsing over the newspaper and making my way through a little too much coffee.  And, even if I’m not on vacation, if I wear my PJs at breakfast, I can still conjure up a little hint of that leisurely feeling, starting the day off on a more tranquil note.

We are heading due north into the season of laid back, drawn-out holiday breakfasts, and I can’t wait.  No, really, I can’t wait.  I’ve totally jumped the gun and have been cooking all manner of scrumptious, not your everyday toast, this is the most important meal of the day so why not seriously enjoy it, breakfasts.  Even though it’s still a couple of weeks until vacation.  (So, if I proceed to write a string of breakfast posts, that’s why.)  On this one, though, I outdid even my breakfast-obsessed self.  It’s simply so good, I’m not even sure what to do with myself.  I want to make it over and over and over again.  And I probably will.

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Chicken and pumpkin tagine with garlicky couscous

December 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

I love having people over for dinner. Love it! Throwing a “dinner party,” inviting “guests,” that’s kind of stressful and I develop this performance anxiety about it (though, I find it exhilarating at times as well). But, having folks over, gathering them around the table, making new connections, strengthening old ones, and most importantly filling everyone up with delicious food, now that is one of my favorite things in the world. In fact, I think it may actually be one of my greatest life aspirations, more so than work or other achievements, to make sure that my table is a warm and comfortable place where people always feel welcome to drop in for a moment and then stay for a whole meal and conversation.

Because of this, I have a tendency to improvise and experiment when I’m cooking for friends who come over, just as much as when I cook for myself. I know the general wisdom is that you should never try out a new recipe when you’re having company, and in concept I agree. But, I still find myself standing at the stove, pulling out random spice jars and saying to myself, ‘let’s see if this works’ even as I’m waiting for the ring of our doorbell (which, on a side note, is the most awful doorbell sound you could possibly imagine and always makes me jump a foot and half when it goes off) and know that people are about to come piling in, excited to be fed. Sure, there have been a couple of unfortunate incidents with rubbery, flavorless chicken, or curdled mango-cream sauce, but life went on, and overall it has worked out for the best. And there’s been more fun for everyone! « Read the rest of this entry »

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