Summer Is Back Weekend Special

For anyone worried that summer was over, well, worry no more. Or at least no need to worry for at least a few more days. Even a couple of weeks. The warm weather has return and some of the humid air from down south has funneled its way north. Why, it’s almost tropical. The weekend promises to be sunny and a tad less humid.

The bounty at the farmstand is unbelievable. Add to that, the sad fact that there won’t be a lot of warm evenings left. Don’t pout, make the most of the few that are left. String some lights or set out a bunch of candles. Here are a few ideas for a tasty, end of summer feast:

Start with a glass of wine and a delicious appetizer. Something a little different like my Corn Cakes, Crostini with Red Pepper Tzatziki & Greek Salad or Summer Rolls.

Next, instead of a salad, enjoy a tasty mug of Gazpacho. The tomatoes are fabulous. I can’t get enough of them.

Make good use of the grill. What could be better than a rack or half rack Hoisin Pork Ribs . Pair the ribs with my Asian Noodle Salad and Asian Slaw or Thai Salad .

Cap your meal with a beautiful end of summer dessert. For a sweet finish, try my Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard . Try the late summer strawberries – they are wonderful.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

What’s up with you 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? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Advertisements

More Kitchen Reno News & End of Summer Soup

I didn’t have a lot of renovation news to report last week. In case you forgot, we’d just finished off a week of drywall, drywall and more drywall. It was not the best week for it. Damp and rainy, the drywall mud was in no big hurry to dry. Out came the fans and air conditioner because, when in doubt, add more noise to the dust and commotion. As planned, I’ve been spending time with brushes and roller. The ceiling now has a clean, white coat. The walls are a soft and friendly OC-96. Benjamin Moore® Gentle Cream in case you’d like to know.

Once the drywall and painting was done, carpenters, plumber, electrician and tile guy were back in force. They wasted no time; didn’t even pause to tell me how much they loved the Gentle Cream. In what seemed like an instant, Bruce and Chuck had the new floor down … and promptly covered with a protective coat of heavy-duty paper. Peeking around the edges, the cork looks beautiful.

Yes, the kitchen floors are cork. No,it’s not made up of several months’ accumulation of popped corks. Perhaps I should have thrown a big party in July. That might have done it. Anyway, the floors, or what I can see of them, are wonderful. They are both good-looking and promise to be gentle on my back. The new tile floors in the half-bath/laundry room and front hall are perfect; thank you Dave. More thanks to Max for installing the half-bath and Bill for illuminating it all.

However, the absolute best part of the new kitchen is the cabinets. I am all agog. After a lot of back and forth and forth and back, I circled around to my first choice – red. Yes, red. I spent weeks agonizing and second-guessing. White cabinets are all the rage these days. Or so I’ve heard. I tried to convince myself to go with white. The kitchen faces north. It is not a sunny room. White would be light and bright. I tried to be reasonable; I tried to persuade myself that white was it.

I dithered and perused and checked them all – linen white, white pewter, snowflake … there are a lot of whites out there. I’d pick one and then, after a day or two, decide … no, it wasn’t quite right. This white was too cold; that one was too gray. It wasn’t the paint samples, it was me. All that cajoling and trying to convince myself, it didn’t work. Latest trend or not, beautiful or not, white was not for me. (To all my friends with white kitchens, believe me, I love them, they’re beautiful.)

I thought about compromise. A lovely buttery yellow hit my radar for a couple of days. Emphasis on a couple; it came to nothing. I couldn’t help it; I kept circling back to red. The name on the back of the sample was Red Delicious. What could be better for a kitchen?

And that’s not just me talking. Julio was here on Thursday to create the template for the granite countertops. He gave his approval. I’ve posted a few photos on Facebook and several friends have given a big thumbs up. A few have gone so far as to voice enthusiastic appreciation, even envy. The rest? Well, they’re keeping mum. You know what our mothers taught us, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” No, that couldn’t be it; they must be too busy with work, life and other stuff to comment.

In case you’re concerned that I’ve gone overboard, now might be good time to mention that the pantry is not red but a lovely honey colored cherry. Delicious or not, even I can figure out how much red is too much.

As we head into week four of the renovation, I’m hoping the eighty-twenty rule doesn’t apply. In case you’ve forgotten… just when you think you’re eighty percent done; you’re bound to have eighty percent more to do.

Bon appétit!

End of Summer Cod, Corn & White Bean Soup
This delicious soup takes advantage of the end of summer tomato and corn bounty. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 2 pounds (enough for about 3 cups chopped) tomatoes*
Olive oil
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot sauce or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 cups fish stock juice or broth
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
5-6 cups small white beans, rinsed and drained**
2 pounds cod, cut into bite-size pieces
About 4 cups (4-6 ears) fresh corn kernels*
Fresh, chopped chives

Bring a pot with enough water to submerge a tomato to a boil. Fill a bowl with enough water and ice to submerge a tomato. Carefully drop the tomatoes, one at a time, into the boiling water and leave each for about 10 seconds. Remove from the boiling water and immediately submerge in the ice water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove the skin from the tomatoes. Core, seed and chop the tomatoes. Reserve.

Lightly coat a stockpot with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the carrots, celery and onion, season with hot sauce, paprika, salt and pepper and cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion is almost translucent. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Add the fish and chicken stock, tomatoes, beans, thyme and bay leaf, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the fish to the pot, season with salt and pepper and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to combine.

Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat. Add the corn and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls, sprinkle with chives and serve.

* You can use canned, diced tomatoes and frozen corn if the fresh, local versions are not available.
** You will need about 10 ounces of dried beans to soak and cook or 2 (15-ounce) cans.

Print-friendly version of this post.

Two Years Ago – Applesauce Scones
Three Years Ago – Roasted Beet Tatin with Goat Cheese & Walnuts
Four Years Ago – Fettuccine with Fresh Corn & Tomatoes
Five Years Ago – Chicken Parmagiana with Spaghetti Marinara
Six Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc
Seven Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Soup
Eight Years Ago – Rustic Apple Tart
Nine Years Ago – Oktoberfest Sausages & Sauerkraut

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

Do you have any reno advice to add? Feel free to share!

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

Welcome September with a Harvest Party & Hoisin Pork Ribs

First, a mini update on the kitchen reno adventure … a couple of old walls are out and a few new ones are in. In addition, some of the drywall was replaced. As you can imagine, it’s been a bit dusty around here. Coming next, I’m about to wield my

paintbrush and roller. I’m not worried about the walls but I’m a bit intimidated by the ceiling. Intimidated but not thwarted, I’m ready to roll away. Getting rid of the popcorn ceiling was so worth it. By the time you read this, Bruce and Co. will be installing the new counters.

For those of you who are not in the middle of a kitchen renovation, now is an excellent time for a harvest celebration. At least in New Hampshire, the fields are at their most abundant. The local farmstand is overflowing with tomatoes, corn, beans, beets, summer squash and more, lots more. Plus, you can enjoy some or all of the party outside. (Be sure to tell your friends to bring a sweater.)

Here are few ideas to put it all together:

Do your sun dance. With any luck, it will be warm enough and dry enough to enjoy cocktails on the deck. If you like, invent a signature cocktail for the party. Create a Harvest Bellini with Prosecco and plum purée. Or think grog and whip up an adventurous cocktail of rum and apple cider with a dash of maple syrup. For nibbles, you can go to town on a favorite appetizer or two. Alternatively, take it easy and set out a few nuts and some olives. Add a wedge of cheese, thinly sliced dried sausage and some fruit.

The sun dips behind the hill early these days and the evenings are growing cool. You might want to take dinner inside. After a summer of grilling, perhaps you’ll be delighted to turn on the oven and roast a chicken, some salmon or a tenderloin of pork or beef. Do roast up some of those beautiful beets, carrots and cute little potatoes that are filling the farmstand. If you’re not ready to give up the grill, that’s okay too. I don’t really blame you. A rack of ribs sounds pretty darn good. Don’t forget to throw a few ears of corn on too. Since the fire is already going, you must grill up some romaine for a terrific salad.

By the way, even if you cook outside, you might want to eat inside. Keep your decorations simple. There is no need to go all Martha Stewart with a bunch of hay bales and dozens of pumpkins. It’s a little early for pumpkins. They’re an October thing. No, for September, I’d go with sunflowers, lots of sunflowers. They are both cheery and in season.

Since the sun goes down at about seven, you can bring out the candles. As we all know women look best by candlelight. As for those floodlights in the backyard, skip them; they’re for bears and burglars. String up some of those little Christmas lights that have been sitting in a tangle in your garage since January. Or was it February or March when you finally took them down? Believe me, I’m not judging. Last Christmas, I wound a few strings around the tree and that was all I could manage. Anyway, this summer I put a couple of strings outside above the terrace. They are lovely.

While it’s a good idea to eat dinner inside, a campfire will make a perfect ending to an already fabulous harvest celebration. After all, what could be better (and easier) than s’mores for dessert? Give a look around the house and collect all those old blankets you’ve been meaning to take to the Salvation Army. Light the fire pit, cozy up with a blanket in an Adirondack or beach chair and star gaze with good friends and a gooey s’more.

Happy harvest and bon appétit!

Hoisin Pork Ribs
Slow roasted in the oven and then finished on the grill, these sweet and spicy ribs will make a delicious addition to your harvest feast. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Marinade:
1 cup hoisin sauce
4 cloves garlic
1/4 onion, roughly chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon or to taste Sriracha
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lime

8 pounds baby back ribs
Hoisin Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)

Make the marinade: put the hoisin sauce, garlic, onion, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha in a small food processor or blender and pulse to finely chop and combine. Add the white wine and lime juice and process until well combined.

Cut each slab of ribs in half or three pieces. Put the ribs and marinade into a large re-sealable plastic bag (you may need more than 1 bag) and marinade for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the ribs from the re-sealable bag and, slathering with marinade, wrap the pieces in a double thickness of aluminum foil. Place the ribs meaty side up in a single layer on rimmed baking sheets and slide into the oven.

Reduce the heat to 250 degrees and roast for 3-3 1/2 hours. Carefully remove the ribs from the foil, save the juices and cool completely.

Can be baked ahead, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Brush the ribs with the reserved juices and Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and grill, turning once, until heated through and nicely charred, about 5 minutes per side.

Cut into individual ribs, pile them on a platter or individual plates and serve with more Hoisin Barbecue Sauce.

Hoisin Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

Vegetable oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon or to taste Sriracha
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Juice of 1/2 lime

Lightly coat a saucepan with oil and heat on medium. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 2-3 minutes more.

Add the hoisin sauce, ketchup, sherry, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and Sriracha and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes.

Cool to room temperature, transfer to a blender or small food processor and process until smooth. Add the sesame oil and lime juice and pulse to combine.

Print friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Curried Carrot Soup
Two Years Ago – Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts
Three Years Ago – Baked Haddock with Fresh Tomatoes & Herbs
Four Years Ago – Pumpkin-Ginger Muffins
Five Years Ago – Roast Pork with Apples & Onions
Six Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc
Seven Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Soup
Eight Years Ago – Rustic Apple Tart
Nine Years Ago – Oktoberfest Sausages & Sauerkraut

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

Do you have any Harvest Party advice to add? Feel free to share!

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

Le Premier Août & Szechuan Noodle Salad

Flipping the calendar from July to August sends the message home. Holy smokes, summer is half-over. I suppose some might say it’s more than half. In a few weeks, life in our little town will begin to get very quiet again. Moms, Pops and their kids will head south for pre-school soccer practice and back-to-school buying binges. But that’s them. For me, the first of August will always be summer’s midpoint.

Of course, I may be confused but I seem to remember that summer vacation always began the last week in June. I think the final school bell rang on Wednesday but it could have been Tuesday or Thursday. Ten weeks later, on the day after Labor Day, we returned to cinderblock walls and linoleum floors. By the way, if this description suggests that I attended reform school or kiddie lockup, I can assure you that is not the case. Most of the schools in my suburban town were built quickly during the post-WWII baby boom. They weren’t pretty but they went up fast. In any case, August 1 was more or less the midpoint of our summer vacation.

The first day of August also commemorates the founding of the Swiss federation. Having lived there for almost two decades, La Suisse will always be my second home. Le Premier Août (translation the first of August) is Fête Nationale Suisse or Swiss National Day. You might want to think of it as the Swiss equivalent of our Independence Day. You might but you’d be a bit off base. The day commemorates the peaceful start of the Swiss federation not the start of a revolution.

The hoopla (or lack-of) dates back to 1291. Maybe things have changed but to say that Le Premier Août festivities are understated would be an extreme exaggeration. At least when I lived in and around Geneva, celebrations were pretty low key. Then again, so are the Swiss. As a tourist wandering through, if you didn’t know something was happening, you’d probably miss it.

If you can believe it, Fête Nationale Suisse was more or less ignored until 1891. (America held its first birthday party one year to the day of signing the Declaration of Independence.) For most of the time I lived in Switzerland, August 1 was business as usual. You might see a flag or two waving in a window box but not much more. (The flags did lend a cheery, patriotic air to the geraniums.)

Now admittedly, there was at least a modest amount of enthusiasm for the seven hundredth anniversary in 1991. Low keyed as they were, those celebrations triggered something. I’m guessing someone in Bern realized that a few festivities were good for the economy. So with very little fanfare, Fête Nationale Suisse was finally declared an official holiday in 1994.

Now, I seem to remember celebrating Le Premier Août at least a time or two. If nothing else, it was a nice excuse to spend an evening by the lake. We’d reserve a table at one of the lakeside, seasonal cafés and enjoy filet de perche or pack a picnic and head to the town beach.

One year, it might have been 1994, I returned home to find a cheerful crowd gathered in the field across the road. At the time, I was living in the countryside outside of Geneva. I loved that apartment. It was one of three in an ancient barn renovation. The apartment was huge with a view of fields and hills on one side and the Alps on the other. As I got ready to call it a night, I paused to watch several families celebrate. The kids danced around and their dads helped them set off fireworks. It was a jolly gathering, filled with fun … and a bit of excitement. No ambulances were called but more than one fire was stamped out amid shrieks of glee.

Wishing you bonne fête and bon appétit!

Szechuan Noodle Salad with Chicken or Pork
So, no – this recipe is not Swiss. However, it was one of my favorite summer dishes to take along to a lakeside picnic when I lived in Geneva. Enjoy!
Serves 8

8-12 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon or to taste chili sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2-2 pounds cooked chicken or pork, thinly sliced or shredded
6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Put the vermicelli in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again.

While the noodles soak, put the garlic, ginger, soy, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce in a small food processor or blender, season with salt and pepper and process until the garlic and ginger are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until smooth.

Put the well-drained noodles in a bowl, add enough sauce to lightly coat and toss to combine. Let the noodles chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Add the vegetables and chicken or pork to the noodles and, adding more sauce if necessary, give everything a toss. Add half of the herbs and toss again.

Transfer the noodles to a serving platter or individual plates, garnish with the remaining herbs, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Feel free to add more veggies – thinly sliced red pepper, carrot curls, peapods, thinly sliced Napa cabbage and bean sprouts will all make great additions.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus
Two Years Ago – Cucumber-Mint Agua Fresca
Three Years Ago – Double Corn & Cheddar Muffins
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Clafouti
Five Years Ago – Blackberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt
Six Years Ago – Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato
Seven Years Ago – Red Pepper Dip
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Chicken, Shallots & New Potatoes
Nine Years Ago – Barbecue Chicken

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

What about you? Do you have a camp story to tell? Feel free to share!

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

Be Bold for Change & Shrimp Curry with Spinach

International Women’s Day is tomorrow. Although it has been around for more than a century, IWD is not particularly well known in the United States. I doubt you’ll find a large stock of cards to choose from at the Colonial Pharmacy or even your favorite gift shop. However, after the historic Women’s March in January, there might be a bit more interest and excitement this year.

So what’s it all about? A National Women’s Day was declared in the early days of the last century to honor the Garment Workers’ Strike of 1908. It quickly went international. From Armenia and Azerbaijan to Chile, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania, Zambia and more, people around the world observe International Women’s Day on March 8. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievement s and push for gender equality.

How can you, should you celebrate International Women’s Day? Be bold, be bold for change. IWD is a call to action to help make a better working world, a gender equal world. Think of it as an opportunity to commit yourself to change. Overwhelmed? Don’t be; it’s okay to take one simple step. And please, don’t be shy. Feel free to declare what you will do to help accelerate gender parity in your home, in your state or across the world.

The leaders of the Women’s March have suggested that, if they can, women should take the day off from work. More than forty years ago, the women of Iceland went on one-day strike and it changed the course of history. They skipped the office as well as the never-ending pile of laundry, cooking and childcare. They took to the streets for a massive demonstration and brought the country to a standstill. Schools, shops and offices closed. The businesses that remained open were bedlam with harried fathers trying to get some work done and keep their children entertained.

Next, women can exercise their economic power and stay out of the stores. Women drive seventy to eighty percent of all buying decisions in the United States. Decide to buy nothing on March 8. If you feel you can’t possible stay out of the shops for even one day, stick to small, local women- or minority-owned businesses.

And finally, you can put your pink hat away. The color of International Women’s Day is red. There may not be a march up Main Street in your town or mine. However, when you stroll into the local bookstore or visit a friend in the hospital, your red sweater will show your support.

Don’t forget to celebrate. Read a book by your favorite woman author, visit the Soo Sunny Park exhibition at the Currier Museum or see the stars at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. International Women’s Day is a time to honor women and feel inspired by their long list of social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

Be bold, celebrate and bon appétit!

Shrimp Curry with Spinach
Perhaps you will end your day with a gathering of friends to celebrate your own accomplishments, friendship and solidarity. Enjoy!
Serves 6

About 1/4 cup your favorite curry paste*
Olive oil
1/2 onion, cut in thin wedges
1 carrot, cut in small dice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2-1 cup shrimp or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
1-2 tablespoons butter (optional)
1 1/2-2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Chopped cilantro

Heat the curry paste in a saucepan over medium high. If the paste is stiff, add a little olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and stir to evenly coat the vegetables. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes more.

Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Can be made ahead to this point. Cool the sauce to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.

While the sauce simmers, cook the rice. Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the rice and return it to the pot. Stir in the butter, cover and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a large skillet and raise the heat to high. When the sauce is bubbling, add the shrimp and toss to coat. Add the spinach in handfuls and toss to coat and wilt. Continue tossing until the shrimp are pink and all the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime zest and juice.

To serve: spoon the rice into shallow bowls, top with shrimp and spinach and generously sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

* Curry paste combines many different and all wonderful spices. You can make your own or find a jar in specialty food stores and some large supermarkets. Look for curry paste NOT curry sauce. You don’t want to overpower the shrimp so start with a mild paste and continue experimenting from there.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Mini Tarte Tatin
Two Years Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Six Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Eight Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

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

What about you? Now that the seasons are changing, how will you spend time outside? Feel free to share!

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

Feed a Cold? Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

slippers_02As the last few days have progressed, it has become increasingly clear that a cold has finagled its way into my head and chest. If there is any doubt, I’ve got the cough, aches and pains to prove it. It’s all my dad’s fault. Yah, yah, I know, when in doubt blame the parents. In this case, it really is his fault. It was his cold to begin with.

Three or four years ago, my now ninety-year-old father moved the few miles between the house I grew up in and the one I live in now. As roommates go, he’s not a bad sort. We are two messy-messers but we agreed to hire someone to clean one morning a week. We both adore Sarah and Dad is very fond of my cooking.

Dad is remarkably hale and hearty and claims he never gets sick. That’s interesting (for lack of a better word) because he was recovering from a very serious illness when he moved down here. On top of that, over the past five years, he’s made numerous ambulance trips and spent more than a handful of nights at both New London Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. But as I like to say, “He’s ninety and good at it.”

After fighting a bit of a head cold for several days, the bug moved down into Dad’s chest. (It also jumped across the dinner table and into me.) A trip to the doctor and a dose of antibiotics seemed to slow it down; at least for a day or two. Unfortunately, Dad’s improvement was short-lived.

I guess I should have known. After all, it has been more than six months since his last hospital stay. Obviously, Dad was overdue for a visit with the EMTs, a ride in the ambulance and a few days in the hospital. As robust and healthy as he is, his chest cold had escalated into pneumonia. Let’s not forget, he is ninety (and he’s good at it.)

Perhaps if the nurses and LNAs weren’t so nice to him, he’d decide it wasn’t worth the trip. For his part, Dad charms the staff and they can’t help but be nice to him in return. Regardless of Dad’s charm, these women and men are phenomenal, as kind and caring as they are professional.

Anyway, as I started to say, between work and visits to the hospital, I’ve been nursing my own cold. Only problem, I can never remember, do you feed a cold or starve it. The same goes with a fever. And what the heck do you do if you have both a cold and a fever? Since I lost my thermometer more than a few years ago, I guess I don’t have to worry about that one. When in doubt, assume 98.6.

Since Dad comes home tomorrow, I’ll soon have two colds to worry about. I think I’ll go with feeding. A nice hot mug of soup sounds like a delicious cure for the sniffles.

Here’s to good health and bon appétit!

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup
There is nothing like a mug of soup when you have a cold. Let the steam open your sinuses and the hearty goodness warm and heal you. Enjoy!
sweet_potato_red_lentil_soup_05Makes about 4 quarts

2 (about 1 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
2 cups red lentils
8-10 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Sea salt to taste
1 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Grate zest and juice of 1 lime
Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro

Put the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a sharp knife. Bake at 450 degrees on a baking sheet until soft, 1–1 1/2 hours.

While the sweet potatoes bake, heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium-high. Add the onion, celery and carrot, season with cumin and coriander and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and sriracha, and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold, running water. Drain the lentils and add them to the vegetables and stir to coat and combine. Add 8 cups stock and the herbs, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to very low and simmer the lentils for 30 minutes or until very tender. Season with salt.

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, halve the sweet potatoes, scoop out the flesh and it add to the lentils. Use a potato masher to break up the sweet potatoes and mix them into the soup. Or for a smoother soup, remove the bay leaf and thyme twigs and puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender or in the food processor .

Add the coconut milk and more stock if necessary to reach the desired consistency.

Can be made ahead to this point, covered, cooled to room temperature and refrigerated.

Reheat the soup to steaming, stir in the lime zest and juice, ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Tomato Soup
Two Years Ago – Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego
Three Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Roasted Broccoli & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Four Years Ago – Red Bean Chili with Pork & Butternut Squash
Five Years Ago – Piri Piri Prawns
Six Years Ago – French Lentil Soup
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup
Eight Years Ago – My Favorite Chili

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

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!

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

The Sounds of Summer & Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Throw open the windows and give a listen. The air is alive with distinctive, summer sounds. Some are rarely heard and fill us with nostalgia. Others play day in and day out but are still much-loved symbols of the too-short season. There are sounds unique to early morning while others wait until after dark. Here are a few favorites:Field Day Wheel Barrel 06

  • Light sleepers know that up with the birds is more than a cliché. Our feathered friends begin their chorus at first light.
  • From breakfast until dinnertime, the drone of lawnmowers fills the neighborhood.
  • As the heat builds, so does the hum of insects. So no, you’re not crazy; there is a buzz in the air.
  • Just when you think you can’t take another minute of sweltering humidity, a New England thunderstorm explodes with pelting rain, earsplitting claps and deafening booms.
  • Can’t wait for the inevitable storm? Head for the multiplex and sit back in air-conditioned comfort while the thunderous crescendo of a summer blockbuster surrounds you.
  • If you decide to stay home, you can enjoy the deafening hum of an ancient air conditioner. (Since we rarely use them, some of us New Englanders keep them forever.)
  • There is something timeless and inimitable about the bang of an old screen door when it slams shut. Just as timeless is the shout, “Don’t slam the door!” that inevitably follows.
  • Get ready for a symphony as soon as the sun goes down. Crickets come out to chirp, owls hoot, peepers peep and frogs croak.
  • Speaking of symphonies, at least half a dozen local bandstands fill the air with music every summer weekend. From John Philip Sousa to jazz, doo-wop, rock and country – it’s all good.
  • Rarely heard these days but fondly remembered, with a bit of luck, you might catch the jingling bells of an ice cream truck.
  • The crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd are the telltale sounds of the nation’s pastime.
  • The buzz of a motor boat whipping through the waves and a water-skier’s shouts of glee are sounds of victory.
  • Hide and seek, Red Rover and Capture the Flag – we welcome the shouts and laughter of children playing outside.
  • At the end of every long, sunny day, neighborhoods ring with the calls of moms yelling for their kids to come home for dinner.
  • Not just wonderful smells, summer cooking is filled with delicious sounds. Consider a steak sizzling on the grill, a crackling campfire ready for marshmallows or the crunch of crispy veggies in a salad.

Enjoy the sounds of summer and bon appétit!

Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
A great addition to your next picnic or cookout, this salad has a delicious crunch. Enjoy!
Serves 8Asian_Noodle_Salad_Spicy_Peanut_Sauce_01

12-16 ounces rice noodles
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
3-4 radishes, chopped
1 carrot, cut into curls (use a peeler)
1/2 European cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
About 1/3 cup chopped salted peanuts

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again, shaking off any excess water.

Put the well-drained noodles in a bowl, add enough Spicy Peanut Sauce to coat and toss to combine. Add the vegetables, sprinkle with the herbs and about 2/3 of the peanuts and toss to combine.

Transfer the noodles and veggies to a deep platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and serve.

Can be made in advance, covered and refrigerated.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons or to taste soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup roasted peanuts (if salted, quickly rinse and drain)

Put the garlic, ginger, lime zest and juice, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and sriracha in a mini food processor or blender and process until combined. Add the peanut and sesame oils and process until smooth. Add the peanuts and process until finely chopped and smooth.

Let the sauce sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for several hours to combine the flavors. Bring to room temperature before tossing with the noodles.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Blueberry Crostata
Two Years Ago – Orzo Salad with Lemony Pesto & Grilled Tomatoes
Three Years Ago – Watermelon & Cucumber Salsa
Four Years Ago – Grilled Chicken Salad Provencal
Five Years Ago – Lobster with Corn, Tomato & Arugula Salad
Six Years Ago – Greek Green Beans
Seven Years Ago – Blueberry Pie
Eight Years Ago – Grilled Lamb

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

What is your favorite sound of summer? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016