Tell Your Story & Grilled Broccolini with Tahini Vinaigrette

I don’t know about you, but I missed Grandparents Day this year. It was a few Sundays back. Before you get your knickers in a twist, Grandparents Day isn’t just another excuse to send a card or flowers. Instead, it’s about connecting across generations. It’s about spending time, not cash.

I was extremely lucky to have all four of my grandparents around until I was well into my twenties. Even when I was little, most of my friends had one or maybe two grandparents. In addition to the fearsome foursome, we were blessed with a great-great aunt and a couple of my grandfather’s cousins. Knowing these amazing oldsters was a true gift.

If you are a grandparent, make the effort to share your story with your grandchildren. If you’re not, then share your story with nieces and nephews or the kid next door. Senior family members are important links between past and present and the world around us. Personal stories put historic events in human context and make them real.

Don’t be shy; sharing your personal stories can be surprisingly easy, especially when you have a willing ear. Write them down if you want. If not, take a walk with your favorite kids. As you mark the miles, tell them about your childhood, your school days, your first job … the list is more or less endless. Even if you think they aren’t interested, give it a try. They’ll probably surprise you.

And by the way, don’t worry about keeping everything in perfect chronological order. It’s okay to share a tale about your first day of college today and, then tomorrow, skip back in time to childhood games on the ice. Eventually, all the bits and pieces will come together. In spite of the jumbled time line, a pretty good picture of the various people, places and events in your life will shine through. Your loved ones will get a sense of how all these pieces came together to create you.

What to tell? If you remember a certain person or event; if the memory makes you smile or laugh or cry, it’s probably meaningful. Focus on information that can’t be found in the history books and, yes, details matter. Pertinent details will bring your story to life but be careful. Irrelevant details will bog down your story and might even make it tedious.

Where to start? Why not with your nearest and dearest. For example, my dad was very close to his grandfather and loves to tell stories about him. Born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, my great-grandfather was a carpenter. As a teenager, he left home to learn his trade. Earning a pittance as an apprentice, he signed up for the night shift at the fire department to have a place to sleep. From that inauspicious start, he became the epitome of the American success story. He built a business and a good many double-deckers. A formidable patriarch, most of the family was afraid of him. Knowing full well that he put his socks on before his shoes, his daughter-in-law, my grandmother, refused to be intimidated. He loved her for it.

A few fun facts, Great-Grandpa Nye had two wives, a bunch of girlfriends, grew gladioli and drove big sedans. He adored my dad, his only grandson, and made a point of taking him along on his various adventures, wheelings and dealings. That’s the tiniest of mini-snapshots. Dad has the details so you’ll have to talk to him if you want more.

Bon appétit!

Grilled Broccolini with Tahini Vinaigrette

Broccolini makes a delicious first course as a substitute for a leafy green salad. It is just as good as a side dish. Enjoy!

Serves 8

  • About 2 pounds broccolini, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Put the broccolini in a large bowl, drizzle with just enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat and toss. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Arrange the broccolini on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender and lightly charred, 2-3 minutes more.

Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates, drizzle with Tahini Vinaigrette and serve

Tahini Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch chunk red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon or to taste harissa
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

Put the garlic, onion, spices, lime juice and zest and vinegar in a small food processor and pulse to combine and finely chop. Add the tahini and olive oil and process until smooth. A tablespoon at a time, add the water and process until smooth and creamy.

Let the vinaigrette sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors. Bring to room temperature and give it a good shake before serving.

Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Pesto alla Genovese
Two Years Ago – Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Corn
Three Years Ago – Cardamom Plum Tort
Four Years Ago – Easy Microwave Popcorn
Five Years Ago – Bruschetta with Fresh Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Pesto Oil
Six Years Ago – Lemon Pasta & Shrimp with Olives & Capers
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Sausages with Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Rabe & Polenta
Eight Years Ago – Lobster Mac & Cheese
Nine Years Ago – Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup
Ten Years Ago – Soupe au Pistou
Eleven Years Ago – Mulled Cider

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

Do you have stories to tell? What’s holding you back? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

 

 

 

Home for Lunch Bunch & Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Last Tuesday, families were back at bus stops during my morning walk around the lake. It was the first day of school. Cell phones were in camera mode and working in overdrive. Most of the moms were wearing bigger and brighter smiles than the kids, much bigger and much brighter.

While my childhood was split between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, our Monday through Friday life was spent in suburbia. That’s where I went to school. It was a much different world from our northern New England paradise. For one thing, in square mileage, the town was half the size. However, the population was about fifteen, yes, fifteen, times greater.

In the spirit of the post-war building boom, houses were packed close together. Not reach out the window and shake your neighbor’s hand close but close enough. Instead of one regional elementary school serving a couple of towns, there were twelve neighborhood schools and no corner bus stops. From the first day of kindergarten until we finished the sixth grade, we walked to school.

These elementary schools were strategically located so that no child walked more than a mile. Or at least that was the theory. There were a few outliers. My friend Joy was one of them. Her street fell outside the one-mile radius of any school. Joy and kids like her had to tough it out, ride their bikes or hitch rides with their parents.

We actually walked to and from school twice a day. That’s right, we went home for lunch. As you might guess, that put quite a crimp in any parent’s day. But those schools were built in another time for another era. Most moms were stay at home; taking care of kids, house and husband. I’m sure there were a few exceptions but I never met any.

It didn’t seem to bother Mom much when my sister and I were little. She was always there when we bounced back and forth, to and from Fiske School. All the mothers in the neighborhood were on the same schedule. If they complained about it; we never heard. Then again, what seven-year-old pays attention to the hassles and inconveniences her mother might face?

Things changed a bit the year my brother started kindergarten. While the town had twelve neighborhood elementary schools, there was just one high school and one middle school. My sister was in her first year at the high school and I had just move up to the middle school. (We called it junior high back then.)

Anyway, our house fell within inches of the one-mile rule so, middle school or not, I still walked. My sister took the bus. But here’s the important part, neither of us went home for lunch. The school board figured that once you reached the ripe old age of twelve, you could handle a cafeteria.

On the other hand, my kindergartener brother was home every day at noon. It was about that time that my generally cheery mom started to talk about the home for lunch bunch. At twelve, I couldn’t help but notice the not-so-subtle note of irony in her voice. After all, this daily interruption and rush to be home had already been going on for ten years … and, there she was – looking at seven more.

Happy back to school and bon appétit! 

Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

You don’t need to roll out the grill for this grown up version of a childhood favorite. Next time zucchini is on the menu, grill up some extra for tomorrow’s lunch. Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • About 1/2 red onion, cut in thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Dash or to taste hot sauce
  • 1-2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • Black oil-cured or Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the onion and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Put the vegetables in a grill basket and, stirring from time to time, grill on high until tender crisp.

Return the vegetables to the bowl, fish out the garlic clove, add the hot sauce and toss to coat. Finely mince the garlic, add it back to the onion and toss again.

Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini until nicely browned and tender, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the zucchini from the grill and finely chop. Add the zucchini to the onion and toss to combine.

Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Set half the bread slices in a skillet – you’ll probably need to work in batches or use 2 skillets. Spread a dollop of grilled vegetables on each slice and sprinkle with mozzarella, feta and olives. Top with the remaining bread slices, butter side up. Cover the skillet and cook on medium low until the bread is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until the cheese has melted and the second side is golden, about 5 minutes.

Cut the sandwiches into wedges and serve.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

 

Happiness Is … & Cucumber Bites with Goat Cheese, Tapenade & Tomatoes

The other morning, I ended a phone call with a grumpy comment that I was stuck inside waiting for the UPS man. I added that I was feeling pretty cranky about the whole thing. In reply, the person on the other end of the line told me that I didn’t sound the least bit cranky. Let’s chalk that one up to a sunny disposition.

I decided years ago, decades actually, that life is better for happy people. I confess, after a happy-go-lucky, cheerful childhood, I grew into a somewhat moody teenager. It was all part and parcel of trying to figure out the world and how I fit in. About the time I turned eighteen, I realized that it would probably be a while before everything made sense. It dawned on me that, in the meantime, my life would probably improve if I dropped the glum façade.

So, for the most part, I did just that. I practiced cheerful optimism. Over time, I actually became a cheerful optimist. That’s not to say, that I’m never down in the dumps, sad, mad or fed up. I go through funks just like everyone else. However, I refuse to spend too much time wallowing in the doldrums. At a certain point, I realize it’s time to cheer up, smile and be happy.

It’s not always all that easy to cheer up. Sometimes, you have to work at it. However, on many occasions it takes nothing more than opening your eyes and your heart to the simple delights that surround you. Think about it. Above and beyond a warm puppy, there’s a whole pile of things to fill you with joy. For instance, happiness is …

  • Hearing the call of the loons in the early morning.
  • A weekend with no looming deadlines.
  • Watching a baby sleep.
  • Cooking and sharing a meal with friends.
  • Chatting with your sister.
  • Starting a challenging assignment.
  • Finishing a challenging assignment.
  • A new pair of shoes.
  • Helping someone.
  • Finding a dollar in your back pocket.
  • Exploring a favorite spot with a new friend.
  • Nonchalantly complimenting someone and then seeing their face light up.
  • A good hair day.
  • Losing yourself in a good book.
  • Hanging out with people you love.
  • Your favorite song coming on the radio just as you pull out of the driveway.
  • Dancing.
  • Singing, even if off-key, at the top of your lungs.
  • A big, loud, enthusiastic laugh.
  • A sunny day with a light breeze off the lake and sand in my toes.

… and a whole lot more.

Happy day and bon appétit!

Cucumber Bites with Goat Cheese, Tapenade & Tomatoes
Summertime is the perfect time for easy appetizers. As long as you have a jar of tapenade in your refrigerator, this one comes together in minutes. Enjoy!

Makes about 30 canapes

  • 1-1 1/2 European or 3-4 Persian cucumbers
  • About 8 ounces soft goat cheese at room temperature
  • About 3/4 cup homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought tapenade
  • 8-16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters or 1/2-1 tomato cut in small dice

Peel the cucumber and slice 1/4-1/2-inch thick.

Whisk the goat cheese with a fork until smooth. Spread each cucumber slice with 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese, top with a small dollop of tapenade and garnish with a cherry tomato half or quarter or diced tomato.

Homemade Tapenade

  • 8-12 ounces dry pack, oil cured black Greek olives or a mix of oil cured and Kalamata olives, pitted
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • Dash hot pepper sauce or pinch hot pepper flakes

Throw everything into a small food processor. Process until the mixture becomes a nice paste. If necessary, add a little more olive oil. Cover and let sit for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator before using to combine the flavors.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Fireflies & Other Fragments & Sriracha Aioli

Summers past and present are a kaleidoscope of this and that. Snapshots of ordinary life and historic events fill both real and imaginary scrapbooks. Or in the case of my family, instead of scrapbooks, we have decades of photographs jumbled together in an old pine chest. On top the pictures, each of us has hundreds, maybe thousands, of mental images of summer days and nights. From the July night when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon to an afternoon catching tadpoles, we each have a vast collection of stories. Some are filled with intricate details; others are mere fragments.

When you are little, there is something inexplicable thrilling about being outside after dark on a warm summer night. I suppose it’s the natural byproduct of living under the cardinal rules of suburban life. Close to the top, if not the top, was – drop whatever you’re doing and go home as soon as the streetlights come on.

On weekends and during vacations on the Cape, that rule was suspended. We did our best to spend every waking minute outside. Forget the kitchen. Still in our jammies, we ate our morning cereal on the backsteps. Lunch was a picnic on the beach. Every night was a cookout with dinners hot off the grill. Soon after the s’mores or blueberry pie were finished, the grownups were driven inside by the mosquitos. No, not to the living room, it was too hot and stuffy. Instead, they settled onto the screen porch to catch a breeze and wait, in vain hope, for the house to cool down.

Meanwhile, we kids were told to stay outside and play. Yes, during the school year, the exact same parents threaten to ground us for life if we didn’t report home the minute the streetlights came on. There is something quite magical about summer. Normal rules are suspended and everyone relaxes. Anyway, before you go thinking that we were somehow imperiled or neglected, forget about it. We were within easy earshot of the porch. Malaria does not creep that far north and, if they existed in New England at the time, no one had ever heard of West Nile virus or zika. For our part, mosquitos or not, we were more than delighted to be out under a starry sky.

Besides Nana always gave us each a punk. No, I’m not talking about some yahoo hoodlum or one of those wild bands from the seventies. This is my Nana, we’re talking about. No, she gave each of us one of those incense sticks that are supposed to keep the mosquitos away. We would run around, waving them in the air. If luck was with us, no one got burned and mosquito bites were few.

Some nights we skipped the punks and hunted fireflies instead. Fireflies don’t like punks. However, they did like to flit and flirt in the seagrasses down the road. Nana gave us mason jars and Pop used an old awl to punch holes in the lids. In our excitement, someone was sure to trip over a piece of drift wood or something or other and end up sprawling. Even so, a summer didn’t go by that we didn’t catch a few fireflies

The thrill was in the catch so we set them free before gathering up our stuff and trudging home. Grateful for their freedom, some of our fireflies showed their appreciation by tagging along. Just as my eyes were about close for the night, a little green light would blink and bring me back from the edge of slumber. If I was lucky, two or three would wink back and forth until I finally fell asleep.

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Sriracha Aioli
Aioli is the perfect condiment or dip for summer cookouts. Skip the ketchup and try aioli on your next burger or slather it on grilled corn. Use it instead of tartar sauce with seafood or as a dip for fresh veggies. The list goes on and on. Enjoy!
Makes about 1 1/4 cups

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-3 tablespoons Sriracha
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup mayonnaise
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the garlic, sriracha, lime zest and juice in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Add the mayonnaise and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and whisk again.

Let the aioli sit for 30 minutes at room temperature to combine the flavors. If it’s a hot day or you’re making ahead, let the flavors mix and mingle in the refrigerator.

Cover and store left over aioli in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese & Rosemary-Tapenade Aioli
Two Years Ago – Blueberry Bread Pudding
Three Years Ago – Crunchy Quinoa Salad
Four Years Ago – Cheesecake Brownies
Five Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Tequila-Lime Butter
Six Years Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper Salsa
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Red Potatoes with Lemon-Garlic-Herb Oil
Eight Years Ago – Tandoori Chicken
Nine Years Ago – Blueberry Muffins
Ten Years Ago – Peanut Butter Brownies

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

What do you put on your burger? Ketchup? or something else? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Welcome Summer & Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Bites

Every May, people get all excited and cheer the unofficial start to summer. Well, I can tell you, it’s a bunch of malarkey. Or at least it was this year. I don’t know about you but I’ve had to turn the heat back on at least two or three times since Memorial Day. So, let’s just forget all about this unofficial stuff. I don’t think I’m alone when stating that I am more than ready for the real thing.

No, that’s not the fourth of July. The first day of summer or summer solstice finally, happily arrives this coming Friday. The longest day of the year, I love everything about the summer solstice. The myths and legends, the rituals, the parties, the extra hours of sunshine, you name it – I like it.

It must be the combination of Swedish and Scottish blood that courses through my veins along with a splash Danish, some Irish and English. By golly, maybe some of my ancestors were druids. Or maybe I was a druid in another life. Perhaps, that’s why I am such a fan of standing stones. Years ago, I visited Stonehenge. Many believe that the circle of massive stones was built by druids. A few others think it might have been built by extraterrestrials. Either way, the site is awe inspiring.

Druids or ET, no one is altogether sure what Stonehenge is all about. After all, it was completed almost four thousand years ago. However, many believe it pays tribute to the longest day of the year. If you stand in just the right place before sunrise on the solstice and look towards the northeast, you will see the sun rise over what’s known as the Heel Stone. It’s quite dramatic and more than amazing. Thousands of years ago, without cranes or a backhoe or whatever else, ancient people created this incredible monument.

If you like, you too can channel your inner hippie or inner druid and join the summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. Unfortunately, you are more likely to see the back of someone’s head than the sun coming up over the Heel Stone. Over the years, the annual vigil has become more than a bit of mob scene.

Just as intriguing, are the more modest rings and rows of standing stones found throughout the British countryside. I’ve seen them in the south of England and maybe Scotland. I took a walking tour of Scotland one summer but the trip’s details are now a bit hazy. If you like, or at least don’t mind, a long walk across the moors, you might stumble upon a group of stones. Too small or remote to attract tour buses, there are no souvenir stands or tea shops. There’s a good chance you’ll have the stones all to yourself. The locals know where they are. Ask around, some kind soul is bound to send you in the right general direction. It’s quite something to see them.

Across the North Sea, the solstice celebrations are no less festive. To many Scandinavians, the solstice is as, if not more, important than Christmas. From Denmark to Sweden and Norway, everyone turns out for parties and bonfires by the sea and picnics in the park. After a long, dark winter, everyone is happy to stay out late and enjoy the midnight sun.

The Scandinavian solstice is a wonderful time for family and friends. It is certainly less frenzied than the gathering at Stonehenge. Whether you have a Swedish grandfather like me, a Danish grandmother or no particular ties at all, think about a Scandinavian picnic to celebrate the longest day. You don’t want to miss a minute of sunshine in our too short summer.

Have a great summer with family and friends and bon appétit!

Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Bites
Salmon – smoked, cured, grilled, roasted or poached – is a favorite throughout Scandinavia. This light and bright hors d’oeuvre is perfect for summer picnics and cocktail parties. Enjoy!
Enough for about 4 dozen pieces

Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)
1 1/2 – 2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
About 1 pound smoked salmon, cut in small pieces
Chopped chives

Make the Horseradish Cream.

Top cucumber slices with smoked salmon, add a generous dab of Horseradish Cream and sprinkle with chives.

Horseradish Cream
Makes about 1 cup sauce

2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup or to taste prepare horseradish, well drained
2 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Grated zest of 2 lemons

Put the cream cheese in bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. A spoonful or two at a time, add the sour cream and continue beating until smooth.

Add the horseradish, capers, mustard and lemon zest and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour to combine the flavors.

Cover and store leftover Horseradish Cream in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Vietnamese Beef
Two Years Ago – Grilled Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic & Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze
Three Years Ago – Grilled Potato Salad
Four Years Ago – Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs
Five Years Ago – Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Six Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Seven Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Eight Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola 
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

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

How will you celebrate the summer solstice? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Many thanks to Mystic Realms for use of the photograph of the sun coming up over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge.

Shoo Flies & Asparagus with Lemony Aioli

The street sweeper came by in the middle of last week. With all the rain in April, I think it was a bit behind schedule. Anyway, the combination of the sweeper and Mother’s Day signals the end of mud season. Unfortunately, that means black fly season has arrived. In other words, hardly-spring has morphed into sort-of-like-spring or, maybe, spring-bites.

Mud and flies are fundamental to our two-part spring. Sounds awful but it’s not too bad. With longer and warmer days, it’s a happy time. Or at least mostly happy. Okay, make that happy when/if it doesn’t rain every day for a month. Anyway, moving on. With mud season in the review mirror, trees are budding, daffodils and tulips are bobbing in the breeze and people are sneezing.

The second phase of spring in New Hampshire raises a big question – how to cope with those d#$%m black flies? There are two parts to the issue. The first is the females. These vampires really know how to take a bite out of life. Bloodthirsty dames, they will attack any exposed skin. Depending on your luck or lack of, you are left with itchy bumps or oversized welts.

Now, stop for a minute and think of the tragedy here. After months wrapped in layers of fleece and down, it’s finally warm enough, or almost, for T-shirts and shorts. We are soooo ready to soak up a little natural vitamin D. Sorry, the black flies have a different idea. Instead of the cold, we need to cover up against these beasts. By the way, pants and a long sleeve shirt aren’t enough. Covering up includes your ankles, wrists, hands, face, neck and scalp. If you don’t have one, be sure to get one of those nets that goes over your head. Believe me, it’s a wonderful look.

Now for the male black flies. Happily, they don’t bite. Instead, they flit from flower to flower, sipping nectar. Unfortunately, they do not have an insatiable appetite. Once they’ve had enough, they look around for someone to pester. Like silly boys in middle school, they buzz around and get in your face. Annoyance, sometimes to the point of insanity, rather than pain is the operative word here.

So, here’s the scenario, it’s finally warmed up. If you’re lucky, the sun is out. All you want to do is spend the day outside – hiking, gardening, paddling your kayak, sitting in a café – the list goes on and on. Stepping outside, you are met by a swarm of biting and buzzing flies. What to do? Here are a few hints –

  • Go out in the middle of the day. The flies are apt to be napping or whatever they do when they aren’t pestering you.
  • Black flies congregate in and around running streams. Unlike mosquitos, they like moving water so take your paddling to a quiet pond or lake.
  • They’re not that fast, so trade in your hiking boots for a bicycle and out run them.
  • Wind is your friend. Flies have trouble tracking you down on a breezy day. If you are planning a few hours outdoors and have some flexibility, check the weather report.
  • Stick with light colored clothing. Not only is it more spring-like but dark colors attack flies.
  • Try a natural repellant and reapply frequently. I like lavender but some people swear by vanilla. About lavender, it’s not infallible. At some point, the flies will figure out that you’re a person and come back to bite, buzz and annoy.

Happy spring and bon appétit!

Asparagus with Lemony Aioli
One of the first vegetables of the season, who doesn’t love asparagus? Steamed, roasted or grilled, add a quick and easy aioli for a delicious first course or side dish. Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 pounds (more for fanatics) asparagus, trimmed
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Forget the pencil thin asparagus. Sure, they look elegant but the nice, fat spears have the best flavor and texture. Steamed, roasted or grilled, asparagus are best cooked until tender-crisp. Cooking time will vary depending on thickness.

To steam: put about 2-inches of salted water in a large skillet or sauté pan and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus, cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.

To roast: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 8-12 minutes.

To grill: Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Put the asparagus in a large dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange the asparagus on the grill, cook for 1-3 minutes.

To Serve: Arrange the asparagus on a platter or individual plates. Serve warm or at room temperature with Lemony Aioli.

Lemony Aioli
Makes about 3/4 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in small bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to combine the flavors. Whisk again and serve.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Chickpea Salsa
Two Years Ago – Pissaladière
Three Years Ago – Tabbouleh
Four Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado
Five Years Ago – Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
Six Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Seven Years Ago – Israeli Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables
Eight Years Ago – Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Nine Years Ago – Feta Walnut Spread
Ten Years Ago – Bruschetta with Grilled Vegetables & Gorgonzola

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

How do you deal with black flies? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Life Is Like a Horse Race & Parmesan Popovers

The wisdom of Forrest Gump’s mama tells us that, “Life is like box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” That might be more or less true but not the whole truth. It’s not just possible but highly likely that there is more to life than sampling the mysteries of a box of sweets. Along with chocolates, maybe life is like a parachute, a bowl of cherries, monkey bars, a rat race or …. or a horse race.

With the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, the Triple Crown is about to play out. Now is as good a time as any to explore why life might be like a horse race. Last year, Justify was the thirteenth horse to win all three jewels in the Triple Crown. At this point, it’s anyone and everyone’s horse race. Who will make it to the winner’s circle this year – once, twice or three times?

Running a race takes training and a lot of hard work. When it comes to sports, the arts, all sorts of things, it’s easy to sit back claim it’s all about talent. You got it or don’t. As important as natural talent is, training and hard work are what get you over the finish line first.

It takes teamwork. The jockey and horse need to operate as one. However, the trainer and owner, plus the breeder are all part of the team. Looking at our own victories, we may proudly declare we did it on our own. Sometimes that’s true but not always and probably not often.

You have to pace yourself. Thoroughbred horses can only run about a quarter mile at top speed. Setting a good pace out of the gate and then unleashing the final burst of speed at just the right moment are critical to winning. Throughout life, we find ourselves in situations where we need to decide when to cruise and when to go full out.

There are uniforms. Every jockey wears brightly colored racing silks. In the days before public address systems, those flashes of yellow, green and blue helped fans find their horse in the pack. But not just the jockey, the fans wear uniforms too. For women, showy hats are de rigueur. The most conservative of men will sport navy blue blazers and white flannels. For everyone else, it’s a pastel paradise. Women flounce in flowery dresses. Brave or colorblind men wear jackets in colors most often found in Easter baskets.

Most days most of us wear a uniform of some sort or another. For the executive, it’s a $3,000 suit. The middle schooler must have perfectly torn jeans. Some choose a uniform to stand out while others just want to blend in.

It’s a gamble. From the owner who literally bets the farm to buy, train and run a horse to the little old lady who places her $2 wager, horseracing is a gamble. So is life; who to marry or whether to put pineapple on your pizza, it’s all a bit of a gamble. Betting the farm on a new job or trying a new pub, sometimes we do our research and (maybe) all goes well. Other times, we trust our gut and hope for the best.

There’s one thing for sure, unlike a racehorse, we don’t peak early. While thoroughbreds can run for about five years, most retire after three. Not humans, we don’t get older; we get better. Fifty is the new thirty and eighty is the new sixty. At any age, it’s great to look forward to the next fabulous chapter.

Step into the winner’s circle, you belong there. Bon appétit!

Parmesan Popovers
Derby or Belmont, popovers will make an excellent addition to your watch party. Enjoy!
Makes 12 popovers

2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon or to taste freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a muffin tin or popover pan in the oven while you make the popover batter.

Put the eggs, salt and pepper in a blender and process on low until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the milk and process until well combined. A little at a time, add the flour and process until smooth. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and chives and pulse until well combined.

Remove the pan from the oven, place a teaspoon of melted butter in each cup and return the pan to the oven for 1-2 minutes more.

Remove the pan from oven and fill each cup about halfway with popover batter.

Return the pan to the oven and bake the popovers for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until the popovers are puffed and browned, about 10 minutes more.

Remove the popovers from pan immediately and serve hot.

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

Is your life like a box of chocolates or a horse race … or something else? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Race track photo courtesy of Noah Salzman under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.