Don’t Jinx It & Lettuce Cups with Stir-fried Chicken & Vegetables

I haven’t seen so many teeth in all my life. Okay, that might be an exaggeration but it’s been just about year since I’ve seen so many and such big smiles. More or less everyone was beaming last Wednesday. At least for a day, it was not just summery, it was a perfect summer day. Blue sky, low humidity and eighty-five degrees, you can’t beat it. And it was only May!

Now here’s the question – what exactly was that perfect summer day all about? Was it a harbinger of more to come, a tease or a blip on the National Weather Service radar? Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. The challenge is simple – DON’T JINX IT. Come on; don’t play innocent. You know what I’m talking about – we’ve all got a million examples, some more memorable than others.

Here’s one … the first time I dressed down for casual Friday. To set the scene – it was long before I reinvented myself and became a plucky freelancer. Only a small handful of women executives worked in my employer’s European operations. I was one of them. On that particular Friday morning, I’d been out the office for at least a week and I was dragging. Half asleep, I grabbed a mug of coffee, threw on a pair shorts and headed out the door. Yes shorts, take your pick; you can blame it on the nineties or jetlag. Anyway, I was no sooner at my desk that a colleague asks me to meet with his client. Oh, and not just any client, a stuffy, British, pinstripe-type and I’m dressed like Gidget on her way to a pep rally.

Need more proof? Well, a few years later I was on the fence, dithering back and forth on whether to stay or leave Geneva. I ferreted around, investigated a few job leads but nothing looked promising. Deciding it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, I upgraded and bought new stereo equipment. Within three months, I was house hunting in California and the stereo was on the Swiss equivalent of Craig’s list.

The list goes on. You finally get the car washed and it rains on the drive home. There’s six inches of new powder and it’s still snowing. You lie, call in sick and head to the mountain. A half mile from the ski slopes, you slide off the road and wreck the car. It’s overcast but you don’t bother bring an umbrella to your kid’s soccer game. It doesn’t rain; it snows. You only run into your arch nemesis or an old flame on bad hair days. You sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000 and wait eighty-four years before winning another World Series. Like I said, the list goes on and on and on.

So what does all this jinx stuff have to do with summer weather in May? Simple, if you want it to last; don’t jinx it! In other words, don’t go running to the hardware store to buy a new air conditioner. Don’t drag the grill out of the garage and onto the patio. Leave the lawn furniture on the screen porch. Don’t swap out your winter and summer clothes. Sure, it’s a pain but day-by-day, dig through your storage containers to find a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and those sandals you love. If you want good weather to hold, you’ll keep tripping over that plastic box at least through Memorial Day. Flag Day, even the summer solstice, would be safer.

For the next month, maybe two, always bring your umbrella and bon appétit!

Lettuce Cups with Stir-fried Chicken and Vegetables
One of my after-the-movies, go-to restaurants took this off the menu a year or so ago. It is a great addition to any tapas-type meal. Time to add it to my regular repertoire. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth or a mix of both
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon or to taste sambal oelek or sriracha
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped*
1 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
About 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
About 1/4 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
About 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted cashews
Inner leaves – Boston or romaine lettuce, trimmed

Make the sauce: put the wine, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sambal oelek, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat,
add the onion and carrot and sauté for 1 minute,
add the mushroom and sauté 2-3 minutes,
add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute,
add the chicken and sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Add the water chestnuts and sauce and cook, stirring, until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has been reduced down and absorbed, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and sprinkle with cilantro, sliced scallions, cucumber and cashews. Let everyone help themselves to lettuce and spoon chicken and veggies into the leaves. Fold the lettuce leaf around filling and enjoy.

* You can use ground chicken if you want to save a little time.

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One Year Ago – Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta
Two Years Ago – Crostini with Fig, Stilton and Walnuts
Three Years Ago – Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Four Years Ago – A Duo of Aiolis
Five Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushrooms & Mustard Sauce
Six Years Ago – Crunch Salad with Apples & Grapes
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Mustard Pork Chops
Eight Years Ago – Rhubarb Crisp
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Steak

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

What will you do to ensure the sun keeps shining? Feel free to share!

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

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Show Me a Hero & Pa Jun – Savory Korean Pancakes

The Olympic Games are an amazing tradition. Since the first winter Olympics in Chamonix, they have been a mix of spectacle and pomp, grit and determination, joy and misery. Last week, I saw the movie I, Tonya. It’s about the Olympics and so much more. Although this dark comedy is laugh out loud funny, it is also a tragedy. Of all the Olympians who have come and gone, I’m guessing that none has more lasting name recognition than Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

That got me to thinking. Hundreds of skiers, skaters, lugers and more have risen to the top of their game. Some have even climbed to the top of the podium while others have adorned a Wheaties box. But how many do we remember and for how long? For almost one hundred years, these stellar athletes have stirred our national pride and captured our hearts. Many hold our attention for a minute, some for a generation but few stay with us forever.

In this fast moving world, will our grandchildren and great grandchildren know the names Apollo Ohno and Shaun White? For that matter, before the movie, had we all but forgotten Tonya and Nancy?

Here are ten Olympians. How many do you recognize without sneaking a peak into Wikipedia? How many do your kids recognize?

Dick Button
Peggy Fleming
Dorothy Hamill
Eric Heiden
Charles Jewtraw
Kit Klein
Andrea Mead Lawrence
Phil Mahre
Penny Pitou
Picabo Street

At one time, these gold medalists appeared on the front page of every newspaper. They were the lead story on the evening news. Men admired them, women adored them and little girls with sparkly pink pads and pencils lined up for autographs. They were our heroes.

Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words in one of his notebooks in 1945. I won’t bet on it but I’m thinking Tonya’s story would have baffled F. Scott. Like many of his heroes, she was from the wrong side of the tracks. Raised in an abusive home out in Oregon, she was far removed from Fitzgerald’s world of gilded New York apartments and mansions on Long Island Sound.

Tonya loved to skate and was an exceptionally fierce and unconventional competitor. Defiant of the norms, she still wanted what we all want – love, respect and … why not … recognition and acclaim. Performing a perfect triple axel in 1991, the bad girl became a hero. But not for long. She didn’t just fall, she fell hard and lost it all. Tonya was remarkable athlete, an Olympian and a US champion but in the end, she became that saddest of fates, a punchline.

Wishing you the joy of continued victory and bon appétit!

Pa Jun – Savory Korean Pancakes
A delicious nibble to enjoy while watching the Olympics!
Serves 8

Spicy Korean Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated cabbage or coleslaw mix
1 carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/2-1 cup water
1/2 cup flour
Vegetable oil

Make the Spicy Korean Dipping Sauce (recipe follows) and set aside while you make the pancakes.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

Put the vegetables in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Put the eggs and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the flour and continue whisking until smooth. If necessary, add more water.

Pour the batter over the vegetables, toss to combine and let everything sit for about 10 minutes.

Lightly coat a large skillet or griddle with oil and heat over medium.

Working in batches and adding more oil as necessary, place spoonfuls (a small ice cream scoop works well) of batter onto the griddle. Fry until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Drain the pancakes on paper towels and keep warm in a 150 degree oven.

Serve immediately with Spicy Korean Dipping Sauce.

Spicy Korean Dipping Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon or to taste Asian chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon or to taste toasted sesame oil

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

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One Year Ago – Spaghetti with Mushrooms & Bacon
Two Years Ago – Oven Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions & Garlic
Three Years Ago – Capellini with Lobster & Caviar
Four Years Ago – Sour Cream Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
Five Years Ago – White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis & Fresh Raspberries
Six Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets & Lentils
Seven Years Ago – Chicken Niçoise
Eight Years Ago – Greek Pizza
Nine Years Ago – Triple Threat Brownies

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

What is your favorite winter Olympic event? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

Another Weekend Special – Holiday Cocktails

Will you invite friends in for cocktails this holiday season? A great way to entertain a crowd, a cocktail party lets your friends meet each other, mix and mingle. Whether you sport an ugly sweater or the classic little black dress, a cocktail party is a wonderful excuse to celebrate the season in your party best.

I’ll leave the fashion advice to someone else but here are a few foodie ideas …

Start with a cocktail … what could be more festive than a rosy red tini.

PomegranaTinis
Serves 8

1 cup vodka
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
2 1/2 cups or to taste pomegranate juice
Seltzer water, cold (optional)
Garnish: orange twist

Combine the vodka, Grand Marnier and pomegranate juice in a pitcher or jar, stir or shake and store in the refrigerator or freezer until very cold.

Stir again, pour into martini glasses, add a splash of seltzer and garnish with a twist of orange.

For a large party, quart Mason jars are a perfect fit for each batch of martinis. Keep them cold in the refrigerator or frosty in the freezer or out in the snow until ready to serve.

Now, what to munch? Why not cook up a few of my favorite appetizers. If you aren’t hosting but heading to a potluck, any one of these delightful little treats will be welcomed by your host.

You’ll want to start with a savory or two to pass. Here are a few ideas:
Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Cheese Tartlets with Sausage & Leeks
Spanakopita Triangles

You’ll also want a platter, maybe two:
Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Three to five of your favorite artisanal cheeses, thinly sliced sausage and Spicy Olives
Add some delicious artisanal crackers and toasted banquette.

A nice spread will make a nice addition …. how about
Chicken Liver Pâté
Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts
Artichoke Pesto

When it’s time to kiss everyone goodnight, pass a tray of sweet treats. Think …
Chocolate Mousse or White Chocolate Mousse served in tiny dessert glasses (even a shot glass) and top with a raspberry
Gingerbread Cupcakes or Coconut Cupcakes
Snowy Pecan Balls or Sweet Dream Bars

Happy holidays and have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

Check out the list of all the recipes with links on this blog!

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? or create your own. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Try one of my seasonal menus or create your own with the help of my extensive recipe index. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Christmas Red & Greenery & Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce

The Fourth of July has its parades and fireworks. Thanksgiving has turkey. When it comes to traditions, Christmas has cornered the market. We bake dozens of cookies and roam the streets serenading the neighbors with seasonal ditties. We hang our stocks on the fireplace, wait only somewhat-patiently for reindeer to fly and a jolly old elf to arrive. Hmm, if you stop and think about it, some of our favorite Christmas traditions can best be described as, well, odd. Take, just for instance, the foliage we bring into the house for the holidays.

First, there’s the tree. Forget settling for a houseplant or flower-filled vase. No indeed, we cut down a full-grown evergreen and drag it into the living room. If that’s not strange enough, we then foolishly think that the dog and cat won’t notice. Really? Even the most standoffish of felines can’t help but observe a tree in the middle of living room. Perhaps, we think our furry friends will just ignore it. Could that explain our astonishment when the puppy lifts his leg? As for our show of surprise at the cat racing up the tree and then refusing climb down; just who are we trying to kid?

Speaking of bringing the outside in, mistletoe could be an even odder choice to deck the halls. First of all, it’s a parasite. New Hampshire is too cold for mistletoe but I used to see it all the time in Geneva. It latches on to a tree and grows into a massive ball. As that ball of greenery and white berries grows, it robs the tree of moisture and nutrients and eventually kills it.

If that’s not bad enough, mistletoe is poisonous. It’s not so bad for humans. Rather than kill you, it might make you drowsy, blur your vision or cause vomiting, maybe even seizures. However, it can be very dangerous for the hamster, cat and dog. In spite of all that, we hang it in doorways throughout the house. Not because we want a stash of poison handy but to induce loved ones and strangers to kiss under it. What’s next? Hemlock wreaths.

However, when it comes to poison, poinsettias get a bit of a bad rap. By the way, what’s with the name? If it wasn’t for spellcheck, I couldn’t even write about these bright red beauties. Although no one sings about it, poinsettia is another one of those tomato-tomahto kind of words.

Growing up, everyone had a grandmother or aunt or a fancy-pants neighbor who pronounced it poin-set-ee-ah. The rest of us, and by that I mean everyone at my house including both Nanas, pronounced it poin-set-ah. Although, come to think of it, I think some of us added a -t- along with dropping the -ee- for point-set-ah. All that said; my Grandfather Westland might have used the la-di-da pronunciation once or twice. The family comedian, he delighted in making us giggle with, among other things, fancy-pants accents and pronunciations.

Anyway, regardless of an extra t, ee-ah or ah, poinsettias are barely toxic. There’s little reason to worry about kids or grandkids keeling over. They’d need to chow down about 500 leaves to become ill. That would be quite some salad for a little one. Given the awful taste, there’s little chance the children will indulge.

Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
My grandfather always brought cocktail shrimp to family celebrations. Dad continues the tradition. He serves boiled shrimp with ketchup-based cocktail sauce. I like to shake it up a little. Enjoy!
Makes about 36 pieces

Rémoulade Sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 finely chopped scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the mustards, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and zest, capers and anchovy paste in a bowl, season with the spices, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the mayonnaise, scallion and herbs and whisk again. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to mix and meld the flavors.

Makes about 1 cup. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Roasted Shrimp
2 pounds extra-jumbo (16-20 per pound) shrimp
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil

Put the shrimp in a bowl, sprinkle with the garlic and lemon zest and toss to combine. Drizzle with the lemon juice and enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss again. Let the shrimp marinade for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the shrimp on rimmed baking sheets in a single layer and roast at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and opaque. Don’t overcook.

Serve immediately or at room temperature with Rémoulade Sauce.

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One Year Ago – Bûche de Noël
Two Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Sautéed Greens
Three Years Ago – Very Ginger Gingerbread Muffins
Four Years Ago – Ginger Shortbread
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Grapes
Eight Years Ago – Savory Bread Pudding
Nine Years Ago – Triple Chocolate Parfait

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

How will you decorate for the Holidays? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Getting Ready to Give Thanks & Cheesy Pumpkin-Sage Biscuits

I thought we had another week at least! Ten days out, it’s past time to think about Thanksgiving. Professional chef or home cook, your most important tool is between your ears. If you are hosting the harvest feast, before you do anything, think it through and make your plan. No, I don’t mean one of those la-di-da, it’s-all-in-my-head, loosey-goosey plans. Get out your pencil and write it down.

Maybe you are skeptical; you’ve been doing this for years! Maybe you are nervous; it’s your first big sit down dinner. In either case, you can’t help but ask, “Okay, what’s in this plan?” Well, truth be told, it’s nothing more and nothing less than a series of lists.

It starts with the menu. That’s right, what do you want to serve at the great feast? Will you stay with tradition and pull Nana’s menu out of your memory bank? By the way, if you let tradition rule, are you absolutely certain that you want to make that green Jell-O mold again? You know the one – with crushed pineapple, grated carrots and mini-marshmallows. Just askin’.

Then again, maybe you skimmed the latest issue of one of those foodie magazines in the checkout line at the supermarket. If so, tried and true might be looking a little done and donner. If so, it could be time to change things up – a little or a lot. Hesitating? Don’t, it will be fun.

But where to start? That’s easy, the internet of course. Type in a few key words and to search for those intriguing recipes you perused in the checkout line. If you’re more of a cookbook person, spend an hour at the kitchen table leafing through your collection. You’re bound to find something similar. Regardless of your menu, make sure it includes a good number of make-ahead dishes. You have enough to do on Thanksgiving morning without whipping up another casserole.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, don’t be shy about accepting or asking for help if you need it. At least one or two guests will probably offer to bring something. When friends or family suggest something delicious, say yes, and answer quickly before they change their minds. I was delighted when my sister-in-law volunteered to bring the pies. However, kind as friends and rellies are, not all offers are equal. (Sorry, but there will be no green bean casserole on my Thanksgiving table.) Be kind and politely suggest an alternative to the rutabaga mash or Jell-O mold or assure them you’ve got everything covered.

Back to the grand plan, add whatever potluck offerings to your menu and adjust accordingly. If your cousin is bringing the aforementioned green bean casserole (hey, it’s your party not mine) then you can skip the broccoli gratin. Unless you are hosting a cast of thousands, you don’t need two kinds of yams, roasted and mashed potatoes and five or six different green and/or yellow vegetables.

With your menu done, use it to create your shopping list. Go through each recipe and your pantry and then write down any and everything you need to create your wonderful feast. Don’t forget to add the wine, cider, flowers and whatever else you might need.

Finally, create your to-do list and make a time line. Remember those make-ahead dishes? Figure out when you will make them plus set the table and run the vacuum cleaner around the living room. Be realistic about time. Whether it’s peeling the potatoes or finding the turkey platter, don’t let optimism get in the way of reality. It will take longer than think. By all means, enlist help. Remember those that can’t cook can run errands and the vacuum cleaner.

Wishing you good luck and fun with your Turkey Day preparations and bon appétit!

Cheesy Pumpkin- Sage Biscuits
Pass these versatile biscuits before dinner for a tasty appetizer or serve them with the main course. Bake up another batch over the weekend for extra special turkey sandwiches. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen dinner biscuits or 8 dozen minis*

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon or to taste chipotle chili powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut in small pieces
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Cream or melted butter

Position the racks in the top and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the butter and pulse until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add the cheddar and sage and pulse to combine. Transfer the dough to a bowl.

Put the pumpkin, sour cream and maple syrup in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dough and stir to combine. If necessary, add an extra tablespoon or two of sour cream.

Divide and pat the dough into 2 balls, place on a lightly floured work surface and shape each piece into rectangle about 9×12-inches and about 3/4-inch thick. Cut the biscuits into 3-inch* squares and place them on the prepared baking sheets.

Brush the top of each biscuit with cream or melted butter and bake at 425 until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the biscuits from the oven, cool for 5-10 minutes and serve warm.

* For tasty appetizers, cut the biscuits into 1 1/2-inch squares and reduce the baking time.

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One Year Ago – Butternut Squash Tartlets
Two Years Ago – Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad
Three Years Ago – Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Four Years Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Five Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
Six Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
Seven Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Broccoli Puree
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Are you ready for the next power outage? What are secret survival tricks? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Lights Out & Warm Brie with Cranberry Chutney

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain was coming down in buckets. The wind was blowing a gale. And the trees, they were toppling like Legos struck down by a petulant four year old. Suddenly, I was wide awake. I seem to have this uncanny knack to wake up just as the lights go out. Maybe it’s the sound of wind in the trees. Then again, maybe it’s some sixth sense.

Perhaps, it’s not the noise that awakens me but a premonition of doom. Anyway that feeling of doom yanked me out of bed. After a bit of fumbling, I found the electric company’s telephone number and I stumbled downstairs to call them. I then spent most of the rest of the night tossing and turning.

Finally, it was morning. Never wanting to miss my daily walk around Pleasant Lake, I set off. I figured I would check out the reason for the power failure and get some exercise. The sun was doing its best to break through the murky fog but failing miserably. It didn’t take long to find an answer to the power outage. Less than a mile down the road, I found the culprit. An enormous hemlock had tipped over and rolled itself up in the electrical wires.

Careful to stay clear of any downed wires, I skirted the tree and continued. Not more than a quarter mile later, another massive tree had flung itself across the road, downing still more wires. Further on, more curious then damaging, a large branch was nonchalantly hanging from a wire in the center of the road. Next, not another tree but a jumble of wires lay on the road surrounded by a few downed branches.

I kept moving and found an even more exciting trouble spot. This time the wires were actually on fire. Scrambling through the woods, I managed to avoid electrocution. Was that it? No, certainly not. Just at the corner, not a stone’s throw from my house was the last of the fallen hemlocks. Caught in the wires and suspended over the road, it looked like an accident ready to happen.

How disappointing is that? Not only was the power out but seeing that tree made me realize something. I probably don’t have a sixth sense after all. That tree must have made a hell of a racket when it crashed. It was a conifer and not some mystical psychic power that woke me in the night.

Anyway, let this outage be a reminder. If you are like me, you went to bed on Sunday night completely unprepared for two days without power. In my case, I had a large stash of triple-A but no flashlight batteries. Then again, the flashlight I faithfully keep in my bedside table had been moved. Yes of course, by me. Who else? And yes, I know better.

Furthermore, to answer the next question, no, I had not filled my five-gallon lobster pot and a dozen jugs with water. In fact, I threw out a bunch of old gallon jugs when I stripped the kitchen for the remodel. The lobster pot is somewhere in the garage.

I did manage a bit of luck though. Although I forgot to charge my cell phone before going to bed, it wasn’t dead. At twenty-six percent, it had more than enough power for me to call the power company, be cut off, call back and be put on hold, cut off again and, finally, get through and register my outrage … oops … I mean outage.

Stay safe and dry. Bon appétit!

Warm Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Although it is still early, I’m already thinking ahead to Thanksgiving. May I suggest that you start the festivities with a bit of warm brie topped with a dollop of sweet and spicy chutney? Enjoy!
Makes about 30 pieces

Cranberry Chutney (recipe follows)
1 (16 ounce) wheel Brie cheese
Your favorite artisanal crackers

Make the Cranberry Chutney (recipe follows).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the brie wheel on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until soft and starting to ooze, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the brie to a cheese board, add a bowl of Cranberry Chutney and a basket of your favorite artisanal crackers. Invite your guests to help themselves.

Cranberry Chutney
Makes about 2 cups

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces (2 cups) whole cranberries
1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup or to taste light brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider or water
3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, carrot, ginger and spices, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in the cranberries, apple, raisins, brown sugar and cider and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chutney reaches a jam consistency, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature and stir in the vinegar.

Best if made ahead, covered and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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One Year Ago – Butternut Squash Tartlets
Two Years Ago – Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad
Three Years Ago – Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Four Years Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Five Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
Six Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
Seven Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Broccoli Puree

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

Are you ready for the next power outage? What are secret survival tricks? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Stuff Happens & Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Crema

It started about four years ago. I desperately wanted to re-do my kitchen and began saving my pennies. However, since a bathroom renovation had turned into what seemed like an endless saga, I needed reassurance. I needed a timeline. Bruce, my eternally optimistic contractor, provided me, the eternally optimistic client, with the magic number … three weeks.

In case you think these two optimists are crazy, Bruce had a plan and I bought into it 100 percent. Here’s how it worked. Week one Bruce tears everything apart. Week two, he puts it all back together. The cabinets are installed, the appliances arrive and the plumber, electrician and painter make their magic. On Friday of week two, the countertop guy draws up the template. Week three is busy with a long list of odds and ends until the grand finale on Friday. The countertops are installed.

For my part, I insisted that demolition would absolutely, positively not begin until everything was ready to go. Cabinets, flooring and appliances had to be stacked from floor to ceiling in every available nook or cranny. At bare minimum, materials had to be on a truck and headed my way. There would be no delay because the refrigerator was on back order.

As we neared the start date, there were a few hiccups. Throughout the process, a few more setbacks demanded solutions. In spite of our optimism and mostly careful planning, stuff happens and lessons are learned.

Sorry, those floors are no longer available. In fact, the company has gone out of business. Bruce got on the phone and online. His favorite supplier got on the phone and online. Nothing. I got online and then in the car. Nothing until I fell in love with plan B, a kitchen-friendly cork. That said; the lead-time was three weeks. Anyway, stay flexible.

Speaking of floors, that old linoleum is not coming up without a fight. There were actually two layers of linoleum. The first ripped out easily. The second was put down with super glue or some other miracle adhesive invented by a super-secret government agency. In the end, it was no match to Chuck’s resolve. Tenancy is good.

There is working time and waiting time. You see both during a renovation. As promised, it took less than a week to install the new floors and cabinets. The only problem, it didn’t happen until week three. Blame it on the new laundry/half bath and mudroom. Installation was delayed a week while these two, itty-bitty spaces were framed and drywall was installed, mudded and sanded. Be patient.

Wait a minute, that’s a joist exactly where the flange should go. When the plumber went to install the flange for the toilet in the new half bath, he discovered a floor joist in just the wrong spot. However, within minutes, a return/exchange order was in the works for a new toilet to fit the tight space. Yes, a big box store would have taken the return but I’m very glad I didn’t need to cram a toilet in the back of the Mini. Thank goodness, I bought local.

Now, the confession – in spite of my sunny disposition and optimism, I knew from the start that the kitchen would take more than three weeks. You remember my eighty-twenty rule: just when you think you are eighty percent done; you have eighty percent more to do. Well, I figured the first eighty percent would happen quickly, in about three weeks. I was hoping the second eighty percent wouldn’t take more than a week but realized another two, okay maybe three weeks, was more likely.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be cooking again this weekend. Bon appétit!

My temporary kitchen – microwave, hotplate and toaster oven on an old door in the garage.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Crema
With September winding to a close, it’s time for a favorite early fall treat. Fry up some of the green tomatoes that won’t have time to ripen on the vine. Enjoy!
Serves 8

3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil
4-6 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Chipotle Crema (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.

Put the cornmeal, flour, salt, cumin and pepper in a shallow bowl and whisk to combine. Put the eggs in a separate bowl and beat well.

Generously coat a heavy skillet with oil and heat over medium-high.

Dip the tomato slices in the egg and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Working in batches, carefully, place the tomatoes in the skillet and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan and place in a warm oven. Adding more oil to the pan if necessary, continue with the remaining tomato slices. Serve hot with a dollop of Chipotle Aioli.

Chipotle Crema
Makes about 1 cup

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon or to taste pureed chipotle in adobo*
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
Sea salt to taste
About 1/2 cup or to taste sour cream

Put the mayonnaise, chipotle, garlic, mustard and lime zest and juice in bowl, season with cumin and salt and whisk to combine. Add the sour cream and whisk until smooth. Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors.

Cover and store leftover crema in the refrigerator.

* Toss a can of chipotle peppers along with the adobo in a small food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a clean glass jar, store in the refrigerator and use as needed.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017