First Day of School & Dilly Beans

Susie_1st_day_schoolOver the past few weeks, the pages of Facebook and Instagram have been filled with first day of school pictures. It started with the big kids who were off to college. With anxious smiles, freshmen posed in front of their new dorms and bravely waved goodbye to mom, dad and the dog. Next, there came a flood of photographs with everyone else. This jumble included everything from sweet little kindergarteners to confident fifth graders, nervous middle schoolers and bored high school seniors.

Since I didn’t have an innocent, confident, anxious or bored student in my house, I didn’t take any pictures. Rather than mope or feel sorry for myself, I posted my first day of school photograph. At least I’m pretty sure that it was my first day of kindergarten. In the days before cameras-ready cell phones and easily posted digital images, most moms, mine included, didn’t document all of their children’s comings and goings. If for no other reason than they couldn’t find the camera. Or maybe they ran out of film. You remember film don’t you?

Anyway, I’m standing on our front step on Jackson Road looking adorable in a smocked dress and Buster Brown shoes. My smile is sweet and only a tad anxious. Brenda, my older sister, was already in the third grade. Since she seemed to be doing okay, I must have figured there wasn’t too much to worry about.

Nowadays, most schools teach kindergarteners a few reading fundamentals and a little arithmetic. Not my teacher, she focused on the basics. If nothing else, it reinforced much of what Mom and Dad were already trying to teach their two little girls.

So, in the spirit of Robert Fulghum and his legendary book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten here are ten things I learned in kindergarten:

Be nice.
Share.
Play fair.
Tell the truth.
Put things back where you found them.
If it’s not yours, don’t take it.
Don’t hit.
Wash your hands.
Look both ways.
Don’t wander off.

I’m doing pretty well with the majority of these lessons. Okay, I admit it; I’m terrible at putting my things away. And while I generally look both ways when crossing the street, I’ve made several metaphorical leaps without really looking. But no, I don’t regret them. Otherwise, I’d be in an office somewhere right now. Instead, I’m delight to be writing at my messy desk in my messy upstairs hall.

As for wandering off, all I can do is shrug and admit to being guilty. If I hadn’t, I would have missed out on a lot of fun, frustrating, interesting, challenging and wonderful times. Just think; I never would have wandered over to Switzerland. I can’t imagine my life without that fun, frustrating, interesting, challenging and wonderful chapter.

Here’s to the first day of whatever is next for you and bon appétit!

Dilly Beans
A little spicy and a little tart, these beans are a great addition to a late summer cookout … or anytime. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 quarts

About 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 red onion, cut in half length-wise and then in thin wedges
1 clove garlic for each mason jar, smashed and peeled
1-2 bunches dill
1 bay leaf for each mason jar
2 sprigs thyme for each mason jar
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Standing them up, pack the beans into pint or quart mason jars, adding the onion, garlic and herbs as you go.

Put the salt, sugar, mustard seeds, dill seeds and peppercorns in saucepan. Add the vinegar and water and, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Ladle the pickling liquid and spices into the jars and cool to room temperature. Cover the jars tightly and refrigerate for one week before serving.

The beans can keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 months.

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One Year Ago – All Grown Up Grilled Cheese
One Year Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Two Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Three Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Four Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Five Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Six Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Seven Years Ago – Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Omelet

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

What do you love about late summer? Feel free to share.

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

Pizza Party Weekend Special

If there are kids in the house, there is nothing better than a Spinach_Pizza_03pizza party. Make your own and you’ve got dinner and entertainment all rolled into one. BTW, it’s also fun for the young at heart. After all, who doesn’t love a good pizza?

Nibble while you work. Set out some raw veggies and a dip or two before you start. You can’t go wrong with White Bean Hummus or Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

Add a tasty salad. Set out some raw veggies and a dip or two before you start. You can’t go wrong with Asparagus & Radish Salad has a light and bright citrus vinaigrette which is sure to please. If you don’t mind firing up the grill, Mixed Greens with Grilled Asparagus, Cucumber & Avocado is a wonderful combination. Fussy kids? How about mixed greens with a Classic Vinaigrette?

Sausage_Pizza_03Now, what about the pizzas? Buy or make up a batch of your favorite pizza dough and let everyone have a whirl and twirl with Make Your Own Personal Pizzas. For those that can’t be bothered (and what fun are they), whip up a Greek Pizza. Or, for a bit of a change, try pizza’s favorite cousin and my Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach.

For dessert, think ahead and spend part of the afternoon keeping the kids happy and busy baking cookies. Perhaps you’d like to try my Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies or my Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies. Both are terrific. For something a little more special, try my Mini Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies.

Have a wonderful weekend and a great pizza party. Bon appétit!

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

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

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Spring Vacation & Homemade Personal Pizzas

dreary_day_Elkins_DamApril vacation is upon us. As a kid, I never quite got the point of a week off in early spring. Yes, in New England mid to late April still qualifies as early spring. In northern New England, it often qualifies as late winter. Anyway, it always rained. Not just for a day or two, it seemed like it rained every day for the entire week.

Although, I didn’t complain about the extra hour or so of sleep in the morning, the week was filled with a fair amount of grumbling. The weekend-to-weekend, nine day stretch could best be described as boring. It’s a pretty sure bet that I complained about being cooped up inside. I would have much preferred two weeks in February for skiing. Alternatively, it would have been nice to leave our stuffy classrooms a week early in June.

Of course, lots of kids embraced April vacation. They’re the ones who hopped on a plane and spent the week in the pool at their grandparents’ condo in Boca or West Palm Beach. My grandparents were smart enough to live in a one-bedroom apartment and so avoided the onslaught of three boisterous children.

Mom countered any attempt at a pity party with a reminder of our wonderful February ski vacation in New Hampshire. No, we were not exactly deprived. And yes, at least deep down inside, we knew how lucky we were. Still and all, it was hard to feel your good fortune when each day dawned rainy and you’d already seen “It’s a Mad, Mad World” and “Sword in the Stone” … twice. By Wednesday, Mom was probably more than ready to throw the three of us into a packing crate and ship us to her mother in Florida but she refrained.

If you’re stuck at home with kids or grandkids on a rainy day or, heaven forbid, week, here are a few ideas to keep them happy and you sane:

Bake cookies. Sure, it’s the go-to standby for rainy day entertainment but baking never gets old. Everyone but everyone loves cookies, especially if they are loaded up with chocolate chips.

Host a tea party. You don’t want to eat all those delicious cookies by yourself – do you? Share them with family, friends and neighbors.

Organize a film festival. Forget going out in the cold and wet; cuddle up on the sofa with your favorite on-demand provider or a stack of DVDs. Don’t forget the popcorn.

Get moving. After all those cookies and popcorn, you’ll want to get some exercise. Turn on your favorite tunes and dance or crank up the karaoke machine to sing and dance. Next, play charades, Mother May I or Pictionary, extra points for exaggerated gestures and enthusiasm!

Tackle that craft project. Turn a color copy of a favorite photo into a jigsaw puzzle, make a video or build fairy houses. When in doubt, Google rainy day crafts with kids!

Make your own pizza. Get everyone involved. Cut the dough for individual sized pizzas, offer a variety of toppings and let everyone assemble their own delicious pie.

Stay dry, have fun and bon appétit!

Homemade Personal Pizzas
More than dinner, homemade pizza is a great project to share with kids. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6

personal_pizza16-20 ounces pizza dough (your favorite recipe, store-bought or from your favorite pizzeria)
Marinara Sauce (recipe follows)

Your favorite cheese(s)

Mozzarella
Fontina
Parmigiano-Reggiano and/or Pecorino Romano
Feta
Goat cheese
Gorgonzola

Your favorite toppings

Caramelized onions or onions and peppers
Sautéed mushrooms, zucchini and/or eggplant
Sliced artichokes, sundried tomatoes, jalapenos, olives or capers
Pesto (spoon over a freshly baked pizza)
Fresh spinach tossed with a dash of olive oil and hint of balsamic vinegar
Crumbled sausage, pepperoni and/or chopped and cooked bacon
Sliced or cubed cooked chicken
Shrimp (to avoid over cooking, add after 3-4 minutes)
Thinly sliced prosciutto (drape over a freshly baked pizza)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you’re using one, place your pizza stone in the oven before turning on the heat. A pizza stone will cook your pizza evenly and give you a nice crispy crust.

Cut the pizza dough into 4-6 pieces. Let everyone stretch a piece of dough, give it a spin or roll out into rounds. Place the rounds on parchment paper.

Invite everyone to spread a little sauce to their pizza and then sprinkle with their favorite cheese(s) and toppings. Transfer the pizzas, parchment and all, to the baking stone or to baking sheets and slide the pizzas into the oven.

Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly, about 10 minutes with a baking sheet and about 8 minutes with a pizza stone. The crust’s thickness and the toppings determine how long it takes.

Marinara Sauce
Makes about 4 cups of sauce – you’ll need 3-4 tablespoons for each individual-sized pizzaSausage_Pizza_01

Olive Oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 small carrot, finely shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes

Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the herbs, garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Optional – cool the sauce for about 20 minutes and put it in the blender and process until smooth.

Freeze leftover sauce for the next rainy day pizza party.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Swordfish with Chimichurri
Two Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Grilled Ham & Swiss Cheese Sandwiches
Three Years Ago – Peanut-y Chocolate Chip Cookies
Four Years Ago – Thai Curried Shrimp and Green Beans
Five Years Ago – Asparagus Risotto
Six Years Ago – Fennel & Feta Salad
Seven Years Ago – Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak, Potatoes & Asparagus

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

What’s your favorite combinations of cheese and toppings on a pizza? Feel free to share.

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

Back-to-School Shopping & All Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Susie_1st_day_schoolYikes! What happened to summer? Labor Day has come and gone. Except for a stray flip-flop, the beach is empty. Squawking geese fill the sky and the first red leaves are dotting a big maple up by the college. When we were kids, the end of summer meant that it was time to go back to the reality of suburbia and back to school. We traded in long lazy days on the beach, hikes in the woods and fresh air for stuffy classrooms and chalk dust.

When first my sister and then I started kindergarten, an annual ritual began. Mom took us downtown for school clothes and shoes. We would visit Filene’s in search of that perfect first day of school dress. Although more often than not, the first day of school had come and gone by the time we embarked on our back-to-school shopping. It was simple physics, the space–time continuum. We couldn’t be in two places, the beach and suburbia, at the same time.

Anyway, these shopping trips were early lessons in dress for success. What is it about a new outfit? Or an old favorite for that matter? When it fits well and the color is right, it just inspires confidence. Whether we’re striding across the playground or the boardroom, our back’s a little straighter and our step’s a little surer when we know we look good. Don’t be modest, go ahead and admit it. Every closet has its stash of superhero garb. Maybe it’s your lucky jeans or a favorite power suit but once you put them on, you are invincible.

As any baby boomer knows, a Polly Flinder is the perfect dress to start kindergarten or the first grade. These cotton dresses were pure confection with smocking across the front, puffed sleeves, Peter Pan colors and full skirts that swirled when you twirled. At Easter, the dresses came in soft flowery pastels. For back-to-school, they came in darker, fall colors and tartans. Between a few of my own and my sister’s hand-me-downs, I had several. And yes, I looked absolutely adorable.

If we didn’t lollygag or misbehave, Mom took us to Bailey’s for a post-shopping ice cream. Bailey’s was part of a long-standing back-to-school tradition. When my grandmother outfitted Mom for back-to-school, she included both Filene’s and Bailey’s on their itinerary. Bailey’s was always cool on a warm Indian summer afternoon and the hot fudge sauce was thick and devilishly rich. Our little town’s premier ice cream emporium, Bailey’s was reserved for the special-est of occasions. The new school year definitely merited a trip to Bailey’s.

You can imagine my surprise when, bought out or gone bust, all three of these venerable companies from my childhood upped and vanished. Yes, Filene’s, Polly Flinder and Bailey’s are now nothing more than a fond memory and a few lines in Wikipedia. It’s a good thing that after some trial and error, I developed my own decadent chocolate sauce. As for sweet little dresses with smocking and Peter Pan collars, I think I’m more of a jeans and turtleneck kind of girl these days.

Okay, it may have been years since we graduated from anywhere but we can still celebrate September with any and all of our favorite back-to-school traditions. Bon appétit!

All Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Even if it’s been a decade (or more!) since you spent your days in stuffy classrooms, celebrate back-to-school with this grown up version of every kid’s favorite lunch! Enjoy!
Serves 4

8 slices really good artisan bread
Butter, at room temperature
Arugula Pesto (recipe follows)
About 4 ounce fontina cheese, grated or thinly sliced
4-8 thin slices Prosciutto de Parma ham
Pickled Onions*(recipe follows)

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Generously butter one side of each bread slice. Smear the other side with a generous dollop of Arugula Pesto and place the bread butter side down in a large skillet(s). Evenly distribute the cheese across the bread. Cook over medium-low heat until the cheese has melted and the bread is nicely browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Top half the bread with prosciutto and sprinkle the other halves with pickled onions.

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Carefully flip one half of the sandwich onto the other, let sit for a minute, cut into wedges and serve.

* I always add some onion to my homemade pickles. If you do too, use them in sandwiches, including this one. Otherwise, my Quick Pickled Onions will do the job.

Arugula Pesto
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5-6 ounces baby arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
About 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Put the walnuts, garlic and vinegar in a small food processor, season with salt and pepper and pulse until finely chopped. Add the arugula in batches and pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil and process smooth. Add the cheese and pulse to combine.

Cover and refrigerate the leftover pesto. Try it with pasta or spread it on pizza or sandwiches.

Quick Pickled Onions
1/2 Vidalia or red onion, halve the onion length-wise and then cut in thin wedges
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Put the onion and thyme in a small bowl.All_Grown_Up_Grilled_Cheese_08

Put the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a saucepan. Stirring until the sugar and salt dissolves, bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cover the onions with pickling liquid. Let the onions sit for at least 20 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cover and refrigerate the leftover pickled onions. Try them on any and all of your favorite sandwiches.

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One Year Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Two Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Three Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Four Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Five Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Six Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Seven Years Ago – Brie & Sun-dried Tomato Omelet
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What is your favorite back-to-school shopping story? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

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

Grubby, Little Boys & Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard

Within minutes of the bell on the last day of school, we were in my mother’s big, blue station wagon and headed north. It would be the first of many long, lazy summers on Pleasant Lake. It would also be the inaugural year of the Grubby, Little Boys Club.

This rambunctious group of four, five and six year olds were just the right age to appreciate all that New Hampshire had to offer. With only a few exceptions, they were from one or another tidy suburb outside of Boston. Plucked from a world of green lawns and hard-topped playgrounds, they were in heaven. They had the lake. They had the woods, complete with a little brook. They even had a pond brimming with frogs and tadpoles. What more could a little boy ask for?

From first light to dusk, they were busy, in and out of the lake, slip sliding into the muddy pond and exploring the woods. More often than not, they fell asleep in the middle of dinner. Not willing to wake them for a shower, their mothers shrugged and put their grubby, little boys to bed.

Along with my brother Johnny, this rat pack included Richard, Rip and Randy as well as Scott and Chip. There was at least one Peter, possibly two. I’m not quite sure. There was Swizzy but his family didn’t stay long after he lost part of his finger playing in the brook. There were two Davids, O’Donnell and White.

Each of these grubby little boys had some claim to fame, some more interesting than others. As noted, Swizzy lost part of his finger. One of the boys, I’m not sure which, had a seemingly endless supply of cherry bombs and bottle rockets. David White had wheels. Or rather, his dad had a collection of interesting vehicles and was pretty relaxed about sharing. By the time most of the boys were eight or nine, okay, maybe ten, they had driven the Mini Moke around the White’s field.

To say that these boys were intrigued by anything with a motor would be an understatement. All of these grubby, little boys had a man crush on Mr. Jewell. Unlike their fathers, Mr. Jewell didn’t put on a white shirt and tie and go to an office every morning. Mr. Jewell wore jeans, t-shirts and big, heavy work boots and drove huge bulldozers and dump trucks. Since he was building the roads in our still-new neighborhood, the boys saw him often. At least once or twice a day, they’d stop their play and jealously watch Mr. Jewell riding high atop one of his giant earthmoving machines.

About four o’clock most days, Mr. Jewell climbed down from one giant machine or another and headed home. His oversized Tonka toys sat in a field overnight, admired and often climbed upon by grubby, little boys on their way home from the beach. It was on one of those late afternoons that the other David, David O’Donnell, gained his claim to fame. Sitting high on one of Mr. Jewell’s bulldozers, he somehow managed to turn it on. Delight and panic erupted as David hung on for dear life and a bunch of grubby, little boys leaped around in glee and awe. The blissful panic was cut all too short. Someone’s father, probably in a white shirt and tie, happened by, saw the commotion and rescued David by turning off the bulldozer.

Have a wonderful summer filled with both glee and awe. Bon appétit!

Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard
A refreshing dessert for boys and girls of all ages. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Lime Curd, store bought or homemade (recipe follows)
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
1/2 cup very cold heavy cream
About 2 pounds fresh berries – whatever is in season!
Brown sugar to taste (optional)

Make the Lime Curd and refrigerate until cold.

Put the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier in a bowl, beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Increase the mixer speed to high and very slowly add the heavy cream. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Add the cream slowly or it will splatter everywhere.

Fold the cream-cream cheese mixture into the chilled Lime Curd, cover and refrigerate the custard for several hours.

To serve: gently rinse and dry the berries, hull and chop strawberries, leave everything else whole. Put the berries in a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier and brown sugar to taste. Spoon the berries into dessert or wine glasses, add a generous spoonful or two of Creamy Lime Custard and serve. The custard is also delicious with peaches or nectarines.

Lime Curd
Makes about 1 cup

4 large egg yolks
Zest of 2 limes
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Create an ice bath by filling an oversized bowl halfway with ice and water. Put half of the lime zest in a small bowl and set the bowl in the ice water. Reserve.

Put the yolks, remaining zest, juice and sugar in a small saucepan and whisk until smooth and well combined. Set over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the curd registers 170 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove the pan from heat and, 1 piece at a time, whisk in the butter until smooth. Pass the curd through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl in the ice bath. Stirring frequently, let cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.

The Lime Curd can be made ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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One Year Ago – Grilled Tomato Crostini
Two Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Three Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Four Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Five Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
SixYears Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

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

Do you have any special summer memories with one or more of your siblings? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

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

Vertically Challenged & Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote

Susan_Nye_MatterhornI am the shortest person in my family. And by family, I mean the extended one of parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Heck, even my grandparents were taller than me. One by one, the younger generations of Nyes have taken considerable pleasure in looking down on their little auntie. Truth be told, I’m not all that little; a mere inch and a half shy of average. Anyway, who in their right mind would want to be average? So let them chortle. From my vantage point, my nieces and nephews could easily be mistaken for lean and lanky giants.

That said, below average stature does have its challenges. Okay, a much-too-cheery short person might turn any shortcoming around and insist it’s all sunshine and rosy. I’m not sure I would go that far.

We vertically challenged end up with an inordinate number of stepstools. I personally own four. First, I have one for the kitchen. Without it, I’d lose at least a third of my cupboard space. That said; I have been known to climb on the counters to grab a dish off a top shelf. The second is in the bedroom closet and used to reach the shelves over the hangers. Without it, I’d be tossing stuff up onto those shelves, which, we all know, invariably leads to an avalanche of sweaters tumbling to the floor. The third stepstool lives in the garage to access the floor to ceiling shelves that are filled with everything from Christmas decorations to almost empty paint cans, window fans and duct tape. The fourth showed up during the renovations I had done on my house a few years ago. It’s in the garage too.

Short girls are handy with a needle. We have no choice because we never met a pair of pants or shorts or a skirt that didn’t need to be shortened. Although, I confess in a pinch, packing tape has worked wonders on more than one occasion. With summer approaching, I can avoid playing tailor and wear capris. Of course, fashionistas debate the wisdom of these cropped pants and, on me, they look more like high-waters. You might remember that unfortunate kid in high school; the one who outgrew his jeans in mid-February and didn’t bother replace them until the following September. Admit it, you probably sniggered and snickered, at least a bit. Well, now I’m that kid but I didn’t outgrow anything. I’m hoping to grow into the darn things.

Our feet don’t always reach the floor. There is nothing more Alice in Wonderland-ish than nestling deep into a chair and having your feet dangle in the air. On top of that indignity, my friends invariably notice and comment on my little feet. No worries about the feet part; any razzing is nothing more than envy of my dainty toes.

It doesn’t take much to block our view. Shorties quickly learn to lean left or right to catch the show or parade. This leaning can lead to an embarrassing misunderstanding with the stranger in the next seat. I’m sure you are very nice but I don’t want to snuggle. On the other hand, no one in the movie theater minds sitting behind us (as long as we don’t chatter through the film or play with our smart phones).

We’re pretty good jumpers and climbers. If you’ve ever been to a supermarket, you know why. We have no choice. Our arms aren’t long enough to reach everything on the top shelf. Yes, I suppose we could stand around in the aisle patiently waiting for a gracious tall person to come to our rescue. But who has that kind of time? Better to scale the shelves and hope they don’t topple over. Perhaps, I should just bring that fourth stepstool with me.

Stand tall and bon appétit!

Ginger Shortcakes with Rhubarb Compote
Sweet and tart dessert that is sure to please people of all shapes and sizes. Enjoy!
Ginger_Shortcake_Rhubarb_Compote_02Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
About 1/4 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
About 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups plus 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided
Rhubarb Compote (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.

Put the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, crystallized ginger, zest, baking powder and spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter, pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal and transfer to a large bowl.

Put the sour cream, 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a bowl and whisk until smooth Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir to combine, the dough will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, pat into a ball and knead a few times. Divide and pat the dough into 8 equal rounds. Place the rounds on the baking sheet and brush the tops with 1-2 tablespoons cream. Bake the shortcakes in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, turn the pan and continue baking until golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

With an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup heavy cream with 1-2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Slice the each shortcake in half horizontally, top the bottom halves with Rhubarb Compote and dollops of whipped cream. Add the top halves, more compote and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb Compote
2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup or to taste brown sugar
Juice of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 tablespoons minced gingerroot
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

Put the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a saucepan. Stirring frequently, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is just tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the compote from the pan, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold.

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One Year Ago – Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Two Years Ago – New Potato Salad Dijon
Three Years Ago – Asparagus Crostini with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese
Four Years Ago – Wheat Berry Salad
Five Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Six Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Short? Tall or just right> Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

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

Kids in the Kitchen Weekend Special

Cathalina_CamSince Saturday is Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, it’s a good weekend to spends some time in the kitchen with your favorite kids. Spread the fun throughout the neighborhood. Invite friends over, kids included, and make it a potluck.

So, how to start? If you’ve got kids at the party, you can’t go wrong with some chips, Salsa and Guacamole. If you want to be a little fancier and in season, try my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa

How about the rest of the menu?

Burgers are a delicious idea for a family party. Let your kids help mix up a batch of Turkey Burgers and Greek Salsa. Alternatively, beef lovers may prefer a Not Your Ordinary Burgers with goat cheese and sun-dried tomato aioli. What to serve with the burgers? How about a fabulous spud salad? Try my Potato Salad Niçoise or New Potato Salad Dijon. For something green, add a Caesar Salad. Or take advantage of the first apples of the season with a Crunchy Salad with Apples & Grapes.

For a chocolaty finish … How about my Triple Threat Brownies or Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes.

Have a great weekend with the kids and bon appétit!

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. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

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

© Susan W. Nye, 2014