Celebrate! & A Hint of Asia Barbecue

fireworks_101Hip hip hooray! Unfurl the flag. Throw a watermelon on ice and some chicken on the grill. It’s the Fourth of July and time to celebrate! Do you have big plans for the holiday weekend or are you still at loose ends? There is still a day or two to figure it all out. Need some help; here are few thoughts:

Hit the road. There’s never been a better time. Gas prices are down about a buck a gallon from last year. Add an improving economy and AAA estimates that almost 42 million Americans will hit the road over the long holiday weekend. What about you? I vote for staying put and letting the family come to me. What could be better than a weekend in New Hampshire? The days are warm, the nights cool and the locals are even cooler still.

Head to the beach. As a kid, I spent most Fourths on the Cape or at the lake. Somehow, water, sand and Independence Day all go together. Pack your swimsuit, towel and the latest best seller. Bring plenty of sunscreen and a picnic and spend the day … better yet, stash a flashlight in your beach bag and stay until well after the sun has set and the moon has risen.

Turn your bike ride into a parade. From tiny villages to big cities, there will be parades throughout the land. Whether there is a parade in your town or not, you can stage your very own cavalcade of festive bikes. It’s easy. All you need is a few old playing cards and a couple of clothes pins. Attach the cards to your wheel spokes and clackity-clack your way through the neighborhood. While not strictly mandatory, streamers on the handlebars are a nice addition.

Get competitive. What’s your family’s favorite sport? Tennis, golf or sand castles? Whatever it is, organize a round-robin, tournament or contest. Unlike Thanksgiving, Independence Day get-togethers are not fraught with a history of melodrama and rivalry. That’s easy to fix. More than fireworks will fly if you add a little healthy, or not-so healthy, competition to the mix. Never a dull moment.

Transform your backyard. Can’t get to the beach? Don’t pout. Invite the neighborhood over for fun, food and games. Break out the croquet set and volleyball net. Fire up the grill and fill the cooler with ice. Don’t let the setting sun put an end to the fun; those little white lights are not just for Christmas. String them in the trees or the porch rafters and turn your backyard into a magical garden.

Dress the part. No matter where you spend the Fourth, at home or away, get your red, white and blue on. No need to get all fancy; bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts and sneakers are just fine. Stay with the patriotic theme when it comes to your picnic or cookout. Decorate with lots of little flags and pots filled with red geraniums, white daisies and blue petunias. By the way, colorful red, white and blue bandannas will make cheap and cheerful napkins for your party.

Live free and let the fireworks fly. As kids, New Hampshire summers were exciting for many reasons. For the boys, the bottle rockets and cherry bombs were chief among them. Although these childhood favorites are now banned, the Granite State has a long list of incendiary devices available for sale for your Independence Day festivities. Just make sure you read the safety instructions and have a fire extinguisher handy. Sure, the firefighters and EMTs are great people but you really don’t want to set the house on fire or spend the evening in the emergency room. On second thought, maybe you should skip the do-it-yourself solution and head to a public display!

Have a wonderful and safe Independence Day and bon appétit!

A Hint of Asia Barbecue – Marinade & Sauce for Chicken (or Pork)
A little spicy, a little sweet – what more could you ask for in a barbecue. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/2 onion, roughly choppedGrilling_Chicken_01
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or sambal oelek or your favorite chili paste
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
About 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts

Make the marinade: put the onion, garlic, ginger and thyme in a small food processor or blender, add the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, honey and sriracha and pulse until smooth. Add the hoisin and ketchup and process until smooth and well combined. Makes about 2 cups marinade.

Marinate the chicken: put the chicken in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag, add enough marinade to generously coat, cover and, turning a few times, refrigerate for several hours.

Cook the chicken: preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve.

Or, if you prefer a barbecue sauce to a marinade …

Make the sauce: lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion and thyme and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes more. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, honey, sriracha, hoisin and ketchup, bring to a simmer and, stirring a few times, continue simmering on very low for about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature, add the sesame oil and process in the blender for a smooth sauce. Makes about 2 cups sauce.

Cook the chicken: preheat the grill to medium-high. Generously coat the chicken with sauce and arrange on the grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook for another 5 minutes or until it registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve with more sauce.

Can’t decide which method? I like to marinate the chicken but you can always combine the two for extra flavor. Whip up a batch of marinade and a batch of sauce. Marinate and grill the chicken and serve it with a spoonful or two of sauce. The marinade and sauce are also great with pork.

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One Year Ago – Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream
Two Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Three Years Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Four Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Five Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Six Years Ago – Asian Slaw

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the long holiday weekend? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Welcome Summer Weekend Special

run_for_the_lake_2012_06Schools out and droves of summer people are spilling into our little town. It will be a busy weekend. The flares and fireworks are on Saturday night – yes, a week early. We’ll need to throw together a family cookout of some sort. Sunday morning is the fun Run/Walk for the Lake. It will be an early start but I’ll be done, showered and ready for brunch around 10!

We’ll kick off summer with a cookout on the beach before the fireworks. You must try my Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction. Serve them up on grilled country bread for a starter or enjoy them as a salad. Either way, they are delicious. Need another appetizer or two? How about Artichoke Pesto and/or Feta & Walnut Spread with pita chips or crostini.

For the main event, it’s time to get grilling. Nothing says welcome summer like a burger. Give my Not Your Ordinary Burger a try or lighten up with my Turkey Burgers with Greek Salsa. Add a couple of great salads like my Orzo Salad with Lemony Pesto & Grilled Tomatoes or New Potato Salad Dijon. Plus, something green like a traditional
Caesar Salad or my oh-so colorful Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette. Delicious!

If you want to take it up a notch, try my Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad. Not just elegant, it’s summer’s answer to the one-dish supper.

NYE_ASLPT_Springledge_Farm_Strawberry_FieldsWhen it comes to dessert, strawberries are in season. The pick-your-own fields at the end of my street is open and the berries are wonderful. Why not enjoy the quintessential early summer dessert Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream. For a lighter dessert, try my Strawberries with Yogurt Cream or enjoy the last of the rhubarb in my Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What will you throw on the grill this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

Banker or Ballerina? Graduation Advice & Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction

John_Christmas_Eve_1964When we were kids we had dreams. Some were big, others were small, some fanciful and a few were even heroic. We weren’t afraid to reach for the stars. At five, the boys imagined their future selves as policemen and firemen or operating enormous bulldozers. The girls dreamed of becoming veterinarians or artists. If we liked our kindergarten teacher, then teacher was added to the list.

When did we become so unabashedly realistic? Few if any little kids ever dream of becoming an insurance agent or a marketing manager. Chances are good that bus driver or accountant is not on many lists of dream jobs. Better to invent a walking-talking-poker-playing robot or drive racecars. However, most of us ended up in the real world not dreamland. We don’t wear capes and are more likely to punch a clock than a dastardly villain.

Somewhere along the way, we turned our back on those glamorous careers and chose Plan B. There were lots of good reasons. For some, it was the realization that they just weren’t the type to run into a burning building. Others discovered that as much as they loved animals, they had little if any aptitude for veterinary science. Or maybe an uncle offered them a good paying internship between junior and senior year of college and twenty-five years later, they’re still there … making widgets or counting beans. Let’s face it; it’s hard to turn your back on a sure thing and reach for the stars. We all have a cousin or neighbor who reached and stumbled. Playing at the Grand Ole Opry or inventing the next Facebook is hardly a sure thing.

This spring, more than three million bright and happy seniors will graduate from high school in the US. A million or so more will earn associate degrees and close to two million will bring home a bachelor’s. What career advice would you, should you, will you give these kids?

No matter how long I live, I will not forget the scene in The Graduate when Benjamin Braddock receives a word of career advice. Plastics. Laughing on the outside, that one word sent shivers of dread and horror through millions of idealistic, young Americans. Like me. The scene evokes visions of cubicles, tyrannical bosses and boring meetings. It suggests a life sentence of bumper-to-bumper commutes and endless conference calls.

That young, idealistic me knew there had to be something better. Most days I seesawed between ace reporter and artist. At the time, my list of personal champions was pretty diverse and included both the oh-so glamorous Brenda Starr and fearless Georgia O’Keefe.

But that was then and now is now. What career advice will you give the bright young graduates among your friends and family? Before you answer; stop and think. Is there another path you wish you’d taken? Sure, you can tow the party line and suggest healthcare, insurance or telecommunications but, maybe just maybe, you’ll take a step back and channel the voice of your younger, more adventurous self. You remember that one, the idealist.

So what wise words will you offer? Banker or ballerina? Computer analyst or cowboy? Doctor or DJ? It’s up to you. Before you decide, ask yourself (and answer honestly), “Is there anything you’d rather be?” Then, go ahead and advise those eager young people to follow the straight and narrow … or share the dream you set aside. Who knows, you might convince yourself it’s time for a new start.

Here’s to new beginnings and bon appétit!

Balsamic Reduction with Heirloom Tomatoes
Not just for tomatoes, drizzle Balsamic Reduction on other veggies, grilled meats and chicken or your favorite brie or goat cheese. Enjoy!
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Serves 12

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 small clove garlic, minced
2-3 springs thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon or to taste honey
1/4-1/2 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 pounds heirloom tomatoes
1 loaf country bread, thickly sliced (if making bruschetta)

Put the vinegar in small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil the over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the shallot, garlic and thyme and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Using a rubber spatula to press on the solids, strain the vinegar through a sieve into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and whisk in the mustard and honey. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil until thick and well combined.

heirloom_tomatoes_02Slice the tomatoes or cut into wedges, arrange on a large platter or individual plates and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle sparingly with Balsamic Reduction and serve.

Alternatively, make bruschetta. Grill slices of country bread and, while the bread is still warm, top with tomato and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle sparingly with Balsamic Reduction, cut into wedges and serve.

Cover and store extra Balsamic Reduction in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream
Two Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Three Years Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Four Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Five Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Six Years Ago – Asian Slaw

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What advice will you give your favorite graduate? Something you hear at least a couple of times a year? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Father’s Day Special

Dad_SailingSorry to be late with a few Father’s Day ideas. My dear dad had a health issue this week and I spent a good part of the week running back and forth to the hospital. Never a dull moment, today, I was busy with a garden photo shoot up at the Cornish Art Colony. Anyway, Dad is glad to be home again, tired but recovering nicely.

So what’s on his list of must-eats for Father’s Day? Here are a few of my dad’s favorites.

To start, he can’t have too much salmon. And specifically, he is a big fan of my Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce. I’ve run out of time to make for Father’s Day so he’ll have to wait until next weekend. Meanwhile, Smoked Salmon Mousse is great alternative and very fitting for the summer solstice.

For the main event, well, nothing says Happy Father’s Day like barbequed ribs. My Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs have just the right balance of sweet and heat. Serve the ribs with my Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil and Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint and Peanuts. Delicious!

When it comes to dessert, what’s your dad’s favorite? In season or not, my father will always ask for a Blueberry Pie. On the other hand, strawberries are in season and delicious with a scoop of Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato or in a Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream.

Have fun with all the dads in your life and bon appétit!

What are you cooking for Father’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

Fatherly Advice & Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs

Most dads love to give their kids advice. It doesn’t matter how old their children are or if they bother to listen. When it comes to advice, the average dad doesn’t really seem to care if you are a renowned expert. He can have less than a smidgen of knowledge of the topic at hand but dear ole Dad will still add his two cents. A detailed report to Congress? Design specs for a better mousetrap? Most dads are convinced that their brilliant kids are never too old or too smart not to need their sage wisdom.

Yes, indeed, somewhere along the way, most dads decided that doling out advice was part the job description. You know the drill. First, he winds up, “Now, I don’t want to tell you what to do here but …” Then, he gives the pitch. Depending on the when and the why, it might sound something like:

1. Use the crosswalk and look both ways.
2. Go to school.
3. Do your homework.
4. Stay in school.
5. The little, wild strawberries are the sweetest.
6. Get a job.
7. Do good work and lots of it.
8. Don’t make any mistakes you can’t fix.
9. Fix your mistakes.
10. Learn from your mistakes.
11. Don’t order chicken in a steakhouse.
12. Look a person in the eye when you talk to them.
13. Give a firm handshake.
14. Ask for the raise (or promotion or transfer). You earned it.
15. Pay your bills on time.
16. Save your money.
17. Buy a house.
18. Buy a plunger before you need one.
19. Fertilize your lawn.
20. Fill up the gas tank when it gets down to a quarter full.
21. When you grill a steak, turn it once and only once. Slide a hunk of butter on it after the turn.
22. The customer is always right.
23. Don’t burn any bridges.
24. You can never have too many friends.
25. Get married.
26. But … whatever you do, don’t marry HIM (or HER).
27. Keep your feet off the dashboard.
28. Keep your eye on the ball.
29. Always order ice cream with your pie. If the pie isn’t any good, you can still enjoy the ice cream.
30. Tell the truth. It’s harder to keep track of lies.
31. Call your mother.
32. Never lend anything you can’t afford to lose.
33. Don’t complain.
34. When the going gets tough; keep going.
35. Don’t take any wooden nickels.

This Father’s Day give dad the gift of a lifetime. At least for an hour or so, listen to any and all advice he cares to dole out. Thank him and then get on with your life.

Happy Father’s Day and bon appétit!

Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs Maple-Bourbon_Pork_Ribs_01
Slow roasted in the oven and then finished on the grill, these sweet and spicy ribs are sure to please Dad on his day! Enjoy
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2-1 teaspoon or to taste hot chili paste
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup maple syrup
2-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4-5 pounds pork ribs

Make the barbeque sauce: lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, paprika, thyme and chili paste and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes, bourbon, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire and salt. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cool to room temperature. For a chunky sauce, leave as is; for a smooth sauce, puree in the blender. Can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.

Cook the ribs: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each slab of ribs into two or three pieces and slather sauce on both sides of each piece. Place the ribs, meaty side up in a single layer on 1 or 2 rimmed baking sheets and add a 1/2-1 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Carefully place the ribs in the oven, reduce the heat to 300 degrees and roast until tender, about 2 1/2 hours. After 1 1/4 hours, check the pan, add more water if necessary and slather another coat of sauce on the ribs.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Remove the ribs from baking sheet, slather with more sauce and grill, turning once, until nicely charred, 2-5 minutes per side.

To serve: cut into individual ribs and pile them on a platter or individual plates. Pass the extra sauce.

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One Year Ago – Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Two Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Three Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Four Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola
Five Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Six Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Does your dad have a favorite piece of advice? Something you hear at least a couple of times a year? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Raising Money – Raising Hope on June 21st for the Alzheimer’s Association

mom_susie_hikingMy mother has Alzheimer’s Disease and I’m fighting back by raising money to end it. I’ve joined the Alzheimer’s Association’s Longest Day fundraising initiative. Instead of riding my bicycle across the state or building an epic chain of dominos, I’ll be cooking up a storm and then inviting donors to join me for dinner.

Sunday, June 21st is the longest day of the year with 15 hours 23 minutes and 21 seconds of daylight. Plenty of time to whip up a great feast!

Make a donation of $25 or more and join the fun at my Longest Day’s dinner!
It’s first come – first serve so here’s what you do …

First – reserve your spot by emailing me asap.

Next – confirm your reservation with a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.

You can make your donation on-line on the Team Libby page (named for my mom – Libby).
or
By check. Make your check out to the Alzheimer’s Association and send it to me (PO Box 1875, New London, NH 03257). I’ll group the checks together and deliver them to the Alzheimer’s Association’s New Hampshire office.

You can donate any amount, large or small, every dollar helps. $25 per person is the minimum for dinner. More is heartily appreciated.

I’m combing my files and cookbooks for summery dishes with at least a hint of Scandinavia. In case you don’t know, the Longest Day or Summer Solstice is a favorite Scandinavian holiday. This year, Summer Solstice falls on Father’s Day so I’ve recruited my dad to help me.

We’ll be serving dinner around 7:00 and you are welcome to arrive at my house any time after 6:30. Please bring a bottle of wine to the dinner. (If it’s white, please make sure it is chilled.) To learn more visit the Eat Well-Do Good page.

Even if you cannot attend the dinner please feel free to join the battle against Alzheimer’s and make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association. Just send me a check made out to the Alzheimer’s Association or donate on-line on my Team Libby page.

Many thanks and,

Bon appétit!

Susan

Mostly Sunny Weekend Special

lupin_poppies_02It looks like we are in for a mostly-sunny almost summer weekend. It promises to be a good weekend for outside activities, including dinner on the porch or deck. This reminds me, the porch furniture is covered with a fine coat of yellowy pollen. One more thing for my Saturday morning to-do list!

Once the work (or play!) is done … it’s time to relax with friends and family. But, what to serve? Here are a few ideas:

Keep it simple with a few quick treats to nibble. My Rosemary Cashews are addictive. Add some White Bean Hummus or Tapenade with fresh veggies and a few pita chips and you’ve got it covered.

Keep it healthy with a dinner of super foods. My Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad is delicious plus you can make it up in the morning if you’ve got a busy afternoon of tennis or hiking or gardening planned. Add a salad of Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado. Yum!

For dessert, stay in easy mode. You can’t go wrong with ice cream and a fabulous sauce or two. Try my decadent Death by Chocolate Sauce or amazing Maple Sauce or both.

Enjoy the sunshine and the weekend. Bon appétit!

What are you cooking this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015