A Holiday Weekend or Not? Lemon Pasta & Shrimp with Olives & Capers

The Columbus Day Weekend is coming up. As kids, we learned all about Christopher Columbus, Queen Isabella and the perilous voyage of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Throughout elementary school, we made galleons out of construction paper, studied maps of Columbus’ journey and memorized poetry. Fourteen hundred and ninety-two is forever burned in my brain. More important than maps and poems, Columbus Day was an excuse for a day off.

Parades and celebrations abounded. During election years politicians made the rounds at any and all gatherings; offering up sound bites, shaking hands and kissing babies. But as far as I was concerned, Columbus Day was a great day to visit a pumpkin patch, rake up and jump into giant piles of leaves and eat birthday cake.

susie_brendaMy sister was born on Columbus Day. When we were little, she tried to convince me that the holiday commemorated her birthday. I admit to a touch of jealousy. A little of the wind was knocked out of her sails when the celebration was moved from the 12th to the second Monday of October.

In the mid-eighties I moved to Switzerland for an eight week internship. The internship went well and ended on time but, somehow or other, I forgot to come home. I stumbled into a job and then another, fell in love with expatriate life and stayed in Europe for seventeen years.

When I finally packed up and returned to the US, I felt a little like Columbus discovering a new world. Lots had changed in my absence. I was a foreigner in my own country. Rubik’s cubes no longer sat on every coffee table. Trivial Pursuit had lost its grip on the nation. AT&T had divided and multiplied into a passel of telephone companies. JR Ewing had retired from the airwaves. And that’s just the start.

Perhaps most confusing, the holidays had changed. No one dared mess with Thanksgiving or Independence Day but while I was out of the country, Columbus Day and a few more fell from grace. Sure, the post office shut its doors but it was business as usual for most companies, including mine. At ten, it would have felt like a victory. Yes, a small win but still a win. Even if she wanted to, which she didn’t, my sister could no longer claim that the entire nation celebrated her birthday.

But I wasn’t ten and dim memories of fun and festive foliage weekends had me ready for an autumnal adventure. A long hike would have been welcome or a hunt for the perfect pumpkin. I’d have been happy to rake leaves; anything so long as it wasn’t another day in a stuffy office. So I showed them, I took Monday off anyway, cashed in a bunch of frequent flyer miles and flew to New Hampshire for a long weekend.

A few years later, I left the corporate world for the fun, flexibility and fear of freelance writing. I don’t think Columbus Day had much to do with it. Then again, who knows? For now, I have no particular plans for the weekend. A long and relaxing paddle in my kayak or a hike sounds good. Of course, there’s also some yard work that needs to be done and a garage that needs organizing. Then again, Columbus was Italian so inviting friends and family over for a pasta feast would not be amiss.

Long or short, enjoy the weekend and bon appétit

Lemon Pasta & Shrimp with Olives & Capers
Whether you are off on Monday or not, a delicious combination of pasta and shrimp are sure to please your friends and family this weekend. Enjoy!
Serves 6

Lemon PastaLemon_Pasta_Shrimp_Olives_Capers_02
About 1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
12 ounces spaghetti
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Put the olive oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a large skillet and heat on low until the garlic starts to change color. Stir in the anchovy paste and cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving a little pasta water.

Toss the pasta with the garlic-anchovy oil and lemon juice. If the pasta seems dry, add a little pasta water. Add the lemon zest, basil and parsley, season with pepper and toss again.

Shrimp with Olives & Capers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered
2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine, lemon juice, olives and capers and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet, toss to coat and sauté until pink, 2-3 minutes.

To serve: transfer the pasta to individual shallow bowls, top with shrimp and sauce and sprinkle with chopped basil and parsley. Serve immediately.

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One Year Ago – Roasted Sausages with Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Rabe & Polenta
Two Years Ago – Lobster Mac & Cheese
Three Years Ago – Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup
Four Years Ago – Soupe au Pistou
Five Years Ago – Mulled Cider
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How will you spend Columbus Day weekend? Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

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Final Exams & Asparagus Crostini with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese

Prison from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables

As we coast into June, the end of the school year is just around the corner. Thank goodness! As the weather continues to warm up, classrooms get stuffier and stuffier and kids and teachers get grumpier and grumpier. Knowing that summer vacation is almost here, it gets harder to sit still and figure out when or where those two cars will pass each other. Minds begin to wander. Who knows, maybe Charles will cheat and drive sixty-five instead of sixty. Maybe Emily will take a detour to the mall to look for shoes for the prom. The same holds true for biology, English class and French. Teacher or student, anyone stuck in a classroom figures nothing is more misérable than spending a glorious, early summer day inside.

My worse year had to have been when I was in the ninth grade. My sister Brenda was a senior in high school. It was in the days before Middle School, so I was over at the Junior High with the seventh and eighth graders. My brother John was in elementary school.

As soon as college acceptances arrived, usually no later than mid-April, the seniors slacked off. The faculty did their best to keep them at their books but it was an uphill battle. Facing reality and fearing they would somehow taint the younger students, the seniors were set free in mid-May. There were still a few assemblies and graduation rehearsals but more or less, mostly more, they were done.

At the same time the ninth grade teachers decided it was time to treat us like freshman even if we were the big kids at the junior high. To that end, they ramped up the end of the school year with final exams. Sure we’d had tests and quizzes in the past but these were our first final exams. Even the words, FINAL, as in this is it, don’t screw up, and EXAM, as in much bigger than a test, sounded daunting. Not to mention, our teachers had never before expected us to remember stuff we learned back in September!

The only good part was you got to feel a little bit older. After all, only high school students took finals, not little kids in junior high. I even had the lingo down; finals not final exams. It was a long time ago so maybe they were a big deal, maybe not. What’s important is, nerd that I was (and still am), I decided finals were indeed something to worry about.

And not just worry; they were definitely a cause for too much studying. Fortunately or unfortunately I have a tendency to over-prepare. (It’s small consolation but maybe I can blame my ninth grade teachers for this neurosis.) Anyway … there was my sister … sleeping late every morning and working on her tan every afternoon. And me … I was stuck inside dark, stuffy classrooms. (Several of my teachers turned the lights off on hot days pretending it kept the classroom cooler. It didn’t.)

In the afternoon and again after a quick dinner, I was at my desk studying and studying some more. Meanwhile, my sister was free as a bird, out gallivanting or just lazing around the front steps. And my brother? Sure he was still in school but he was only in the second grade. He didn’t have homework let alone FINAL EXAMS. He too spent the afternoons and evenings outside. It was just poor pitiful me slogging away at my desk while my family enjoyed the first warm and wonderful evenings of summer.

Here’s hoping that you are enjoying many warm and wonderful evenings. Have fun and bon appétit!

Asparagus Crostini with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese
A delicious hors d’oeurvre to nibble at your next cookout or serve at your favorite graduate’s celebration! Enjoy!
Makes 16 pieces

16-32 asparagus spears
Extra virgin olive oil
16 thin slices baguette, toasted
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (recipe follows)
6-8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus and discard. Neatly cut off the spears’ top 2 to 3 inches. (Save the remaining pieces of asparagus for soup. You can use these pieces on the crostini but the pointy spears look prettier.)

Heat a little olive in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus spears in batches (don’t crowd the pan) and stir-fry until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.

Assemble the crostini: spread a little pesto on the toasted baguette slices, sprinkle with goat cheese and top with 1-2 asparagus tips. Serve immediately or place in a 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes to warm through.

Sun-dried Tomato & Tarragon Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup oil packed sun dried tomato halves, well drained
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fresh tarragon*
1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

In the small bowl of a food processor combine the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, tarragon and parsley, season with salt and pepper and process to chop and combine.

Add olive oil a little bit at a time until the pesto is smooth and spreadable.

* Tarragon is wonderful with asparagus but if you can’t find it or don’t have any in your garden, basil is a tasty substitute.

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One Year Ago – Wheat Berry Salad
Two Years Ago – Not Your Ordinary Burger
Three Years Ago – Strawberry Rhubarb Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite end of school days story? 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? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2012

Happy 50th Birthday Toast to My Brother John

Last night we celebrated my brother’s 50th birthday. I brought mini cup cakes – 50 of them – Death by Chocolate  with Cream Cheese Frosting and of course I had to say a few words…

I met John before any of you. I remember the morning he was born. My sister Brenda woke me up at about 6 a.m. to tell me we had a new baby brother. She was obviously very excited. I think she asked me if I was too. I told her no, rolled over and went back to sleep.

We met him a few days later when he came home from Newton-Wellesley Hospital. That’s the day I became a middle child. That’s also the day he stole my bedroom.

But back to John. We called him Johnny then but he was often referred to as the god loved angel. In spite of my indifference he was a cute baby, a little skinny with long arms and legs, white gold curls and a charming disposition. My mother was putty in his hands.

We are all grateful that John was born because without him our family history would be vague at best.

For example … we are hard put to answer the question – When did you move to Jackson Road? Only answer we are able to come up with … well, it was before John was born so it was before 1962.

But ask … when did you build the house in New Hampshire? That one is easy. John was 4 so it must have been 1966. All major purchases, life changes and vacations can be dated by John’s age at the time.

When did you ski Aspen? Well it was February vacation. John broke his leg. He was 8. It was 1971.

When did Susan move to Switzerland? John was in his last year at BU so it must have been 1984.

When did my dad retire? Well, John graduated from BU the year before, so it must have been 1985.

How many years have my parents been married? Well the weekend John married Jen was their 40th anniversary. So John’s been married 21 years which makes it 61 for Mom and Dad.

Oh … and by the way we moved to Jackson Road in 1959. I had just turned 4.

So here’s to you Johnny, the god loved angel … may you have 50 wonderful more years! We’re counting on it. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to remember when anything happened! Happy Birthday!
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Thanks for stopping by! I invite you to take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2012

About My Teeth & Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp

When I was little we always took our summer vacation in August. I was just a toddler the first summer we rented Mrs. Bergenheim’s ramshackle old cottage. My feet were tiny then and they’re not terribly large to this day. Anyway, I was none too steady on my little feet and prone to tip over at the smallest provocation. One rainy afternoon, I was doing the toddler dash around the cottage. I’m guessing my sister Brenda was chasing me or I was running in hopes that she’d take up the chase. Running through the kitchen, I fell over, banged into Mrs. Bergenheim’s old cast-iron stove and lost a tooth.

I don’t remember much but I’m sure it was pretty scary at the time. That said, it’s not really clear who was more frightened, my mother, my sister, our baby sitter Ellie or me. What with all the blood, shrieks and tears, it must have been both loud and messy. Mom talked about it for years.

Although I steered clear of the stove for the rest of the summer and every summer thereafter, the event did not do any major damage to my fragile, little psyche. At least, I don’t think it did. I suppose if I was one of those people who hated to cook, I could blame it on Mrs. Bergenheim and her cast iron stove.

I soon recovered and by some dental miracle a new baby tooth grew in to replace the old one. Which is a very good thing since in all the confusion, fuss and bother, no one remembered to put the tooth under my pillow for the tooth fairy. I don’t know if she tried to visit or not but if she did, she went back to her tree hollow empty-handed. Well, not completely empty, she still had my quarter.

The little replacement tooth stayed put until I reached the second, or maybe it was third grade. That was the year that I lost most of my baby teeth to make way for permanent choppers. I spent a good portion of the year looking adorable with a toothless grin.

In spite of my dental miracle, my luck didn’t hold. As they are apt to do, those permanent choppers grew in crooked and overcrowded. First, the dentist yanked four of them out by the roots. Then the orthodontist encased them in steel bands and wires. Every month for three years I visited the orthodontist’s torture chamber. He was constantly stringing more wires and tightening them to the breaking point. To add insult to injury, he added rubber bands which periodically broke free and sprung across the dinner table or classroom. My once charming grin was a blinding flash of metal.

Braces couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was thirteen and at my most vulnerable. My nose was already too big and beaky. Or at least, I thought it was. My very curly hair had a mind of its own. Like an overanxious teenager, it refused to calm down, preferring to jump out in a million different directions, especially on a hot, humid summer days. What’s more, I was about five pounds heavier than my glamorous older sister. Yes, the very same older sister whose perfectly straight teeth didn’t need braces. And yes again, the very same sister whose perfectly straight hair could have been featured in a shampoo ad in Seventeen magazine. Or so I thought.

Somehow I managed to survive it all, the teenage traumas and dramas. The braces came off. Either my nose shrunk or my face grew into it. Or maybe it was never all that big in the first place, just a charming little beak. I’d like to say that my hair was transformed from a frizzy mess to gorgeous waves. I’d like to say it but it wouldn’t be true. (After all these years, is it possible that a few of those teenage traumas or dramas are still hanging around!?!)

Stay safe and enjoy the backside of summer. Bon appétit!
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Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp

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A few easy steps and definitely worth the effort. These artichoke leaves are one of my favorite appetizers. Enjoy! 

1-2 large artichokes, trimmed
Sun-dried Tomato Dip
Small shrimp, peeled and cooked
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Put the artichokes in a steamer basket set over just enough water to touch the bottom of the basket. Bring the water to boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and steam for 45 minutes or until you can pull the leaves off easily and the flesh is tender. (You may need to add more water to the pot before the artichokes are cooked through.)

Remove the artichokes from the pot. When the artichokes are cool enough to handle, gently pull off the sturdy outer leaves. Reserve the floppy inner leaves and choke for another use.

Dab a little Sun-dried Tomato Dip at the base of each artichoke leaf and top with a small shrimp. Arrange the leaves on a platter and pass.

Sun-dried Tomato Dip
Makes about 1 cup

4 halves oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Dash hot pepper sauce
About 1/3 cup mayonnaise
About 1/3 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, herbs and hot sauce in a small food processor and process until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and sour cream and process to combine.

Cover and refrigerate extra dip and serve it with raw veggies or serve it with cocktail shrimp.

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One Year Ago – Spicy Grilled Chicken
Two Years Ago – Corn & Tomato Salad
Three Years Ago – Summer Rolls 

Did you suffer through braces in middle school and high school? 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.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or photoblog Susan Nye 365. You can find more than 250 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more on my website. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

End of the School Days & Not Your Ordinary Burger

It is always a tough time, the end of the school year. Classrooms become hot and stuffy. Shades are drawn in the halfhearted hope that the room will stay cooler. Both teachers and students start to feel more than a bit lethargic. As we slide into June, everyone is feeling like they are long overdue for a vacation.

It wasn’t so bad when we were in elementary school. Maybe it’s changed, but if memory serves me the month of June was sprinkled liberally with field trips, performances and class parties. There were trips to Benson’s Wild Animal Farm and the Franklin Park Zoo. There were pilgrimages to Sturbridge Village and Plimoth Plantation. In sixth grade we got to go to Fenway Park and watch the Red Sox from the bleachers. It was a magic day with Yaz, Tony C., Ken Harrelson, Jim Lonborg and Rico Petrocelli.

When we weren’t gallivanting around the greater Boston area we were kept busy with special projects and performances. We decorated our classrooms and school hallways with our artwork. We were hustled outside for field days. Ostensibly designed to show off our athletic prowess, I suspect these events were purely an excuse to get us outdoors.

Every year there was recital or show of some sort. Mostly we sang a few songs although one year we did a square dance. In third or fourth grade, we learned to play the recorder and showed off our tooting talent at the yearend recital. I use the terms “we” and “our” loosely. I was absolutely hopeless at reading music. Pulling even one decent note out of my little plastic flute was impossible and melodies were certainly beyond me. I stood there quietly twiddling my fingers, pretending to play and hoping that no one noticed.

It was all bearable, or at least almost bearable, until we got to junior high. And it only got worst from there. Suddenly, the month of June was not for ticking off the final days but for writing papers and taking exams. The older we got the worse it got. Gone were the days of simple book reports and dioramas made from old shoe boxes. Yes, there was an assembly with musical performances but the preparations didn’t take any time away from our science, math or English classes. There were no trips to the aquarium to swim with the fishes or strolls along the Freedom Trail. And there were certainly no cupcakes during homeroom.

Only the seniors escaped. Some official, in his or her infinite wisdom, realized that seniors checked out as soon the first college acceptance letter hit the mail slot. Senior-itis was rampant; especially on hot days. To avoid a lot of hassle, fuss and fight, seniors finished classes a month early and did not take final exams. By late May, they were free to play, start summer jobs or pester their parents.

When I was a freshman, my sister Brenda was a senior. It was my first year of high school and my first real final exams so I was particularly jealous of her good fortune. To make matters worse, that particular June was warm and wonderful, picture perfect. (Or at least that’s how I remember it.) Every morning I reluctantly hauled myself out of bed while she lollygagged around until noon. Brenda spent the afternoons working on her tan while I slaved over biology and algebra. Every evening after dinner, I reluctantly dragged myself to my room to study. Meanwhile, my sister was outside enjoying the fresh air or out and about with her friends.

Justice was not served for three long years. Finally, it was my senior year and I too got a few extra weeks to play! Enjoy the first days of summer and bon appétit!

Not Your Ordinary Burger
No need to settle for the same old-same old. Liven up your next burger with a little goat cheese and a delicious Sun-dried Tomato Aioli. Enjoy!
Serves 4

4 good quality hamburger buns
1 pound ground beef
4-6 ounces fresh goat cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish:
Arugula
Sun-dried Tomato Aioli (recipe follows)
Feel free to pile on additional topping to your heart’s content!

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Divide the ground beef into 8 pieces. Gently form thin patties and season with salt and pepper. Crumble goat cheese in the center of 4 patties. Top each with one of the remaining patties and seal the edges.

Cook the burgers on the grill, flipping once to desired doneness, 3-5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Meanwhile, toast the buns or wrap in foil and warm on the grill.

Serve the burgers on buns, garnished with arugula and topped with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli.

Sun-dried Tomato Aioli
Makes about 1 cup.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 halves oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1 small chunk red onion, about 1-inch square
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of a small food processor. Process until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a serving dish, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to combine the flavors. Whisk before serving.

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One Year Ago – Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? 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.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Get Out your Bicycle & Shrimp with Jicama Slaw

Spring has sprung. I can tell because the cyclists are out. Dressed from head-to-toe in body-hugging, brightly colored miracle fibers, they are hard to miss. Some ride solo while others travel in packs. Or perhaps the proper term is horde or herd or gaggle.

I still remember the first time I rode a bike without training wheels. It was a glorious spring day and I wandered down the street looking for my little gang of friends. I hit the jackpot because I found more than my three best pals. There was a whole bunch of kids hanging out behind the Dosdall’s house. I hadn’t been on training wheels all that long but for whatever reason, one of the older girls decided it was time for me to get down to two wheels.

I was an agreeable sort so I hopped on a little two wheeler and just started riding. No drama, no fears, no tumbles or tears. I surprised myself at how easy it was, nothing like my older sister’s trials and tribulations. I still remember watching my Dad and our neighbor Mr. Caruso patiently (at least Mr. Caruso was patient) teaching Brenda to ride a two wheeler. It took an entire afternoon, maybe more. It certainly took long enough for me to get bored and wander off before she got the hang of it.

Perhaps my most exciting bicycling adventure occurred a year or two later. That’s when I flew into a five-way intersection at death-defying speed. My mother and sister happened to be in the front yard. They watched in terrified, jaw-dropped horror as I roared down Jefferson Road, flew across Oakland Street and Comeau and then careened into our driveway.

I was grounded for two weeks.

I complained loudly and blamed my high speed antics on faulty brakes. My bikes were hand-me-downs and had a tendency to rattle, shimmy and shake. They were passed down from my sister and weren’t always new when she got them.  But my mother would hear none of it and I was on foot for fourteen, long days.

I finally got my first new bike when I was eleven. After years of rattley old second-, third- and fourth-hand bikes, a shiny new, 3-speed Schwinn appeared under the Christmas tree. I was just entering that icky stage. You know it. That time in a girl’s life when being cool goes beyond important or critical; it’s a categorical imperative. Bikes were not cool in my sixth grade class. Neglected and rejected, my beautiful, blue Schwinn was relegated to a corner of the garage.

At some point in high school, bikes became hip again and I rescued mine from the dust and cobwebs. I rode it everywhere, especially to school. My bus picked up an ungodly hour. By bicycling to school, I could grab an extra hour of shuteye and still slip into homeroom before the last bell.

I rode that bike through high school and college and a few years more. It took me up hill, down dale and all over town. It eventually developed a few rattles but it was always reliable and virtually indestructible. We finally parted ways when I upgraded to a 10-speed model. But bicycles never die, they just move to someone else’s garage. I don’t remember who took over my no-longer-shiny Schwinn.  After hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles it was a little worse for wear. Hopefully it went some agreeable sort who didn’t worry too much about being cool.

Bon appétit!

Tequila Shrimp with Jicama Slaw  
Celebrate Cinqo de Mayo with some spicy shrimp and a refreshing slaw. Watch me cook up this dish on Cook’s Corner with Sean McDonald on NH’s ABC affiliate WMUR.  Enjoy!
Serves 6

Olive oil
1-2 tablespoons (or to taste) finely chopped jalapeño pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup tequila
Juice of 1 lime
About 2 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro

Heat a little olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the jalapeño, garlic and shallots; season with cumin, salt and pepper and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the tequila and lime juice; raise heat to medium high and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced at least by half.

Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes or until pink, do not overcook. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature with Jicama slaw.

These shrimp are also a great alternative to that same-old-same-old shrimp cocktail with the red cocktail sauce. Put the shrimp on a large platter, sprinkle with cilantro and pass – don’t forget the toothpicks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Jicama Slaw
Not just for shrimp, Jicama Slaw is also delicious with  chicken and pork.

Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or to taste) minced jalapeño
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 jicama, peeled and cut in julienne or shredded
1 European cucumber, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut in julienne
2 carrots, shredded
4-6 radishes, cut in julienne
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Let the vinaigrette sit at room temperature to combine the flavors while you chop the veggies.

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Place the jicama, cucumber, peppers, carrots, radish and cilantro in a large bowl; toss to combine. Lightly coat with vinaigrette and toss.  Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature (or longer in the refrigerator) before serving.

Wonderful with seafood, this slaw is also great side dish with grilled chicken or steak.

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One Year Ago – Pork Mole

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? 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.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website at www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Sibling Rivalry & Braised Beef Bourguignon

The long Columbus Day Weekend is coming up. With any luck we will enjoy a glorious three days. The sun will shine in a bright blue sky and the autumn leaves will astound us with a gorgeous display of red and gold. Anticipating the ice, sleet and snow to come, family and friends will gather for one last hike in the mountains or a final picnic on the beach.

When we were little, Columbus Day was not celebrated on the second Monday in October, but on the 12th. It commemorated the day Columbus first spotted land after his perilous voyage across the Atlantic. My sister’s birthday is October 12th. Every year Brenda tortured me by claiming that all of America took the day off to celebrate her birthday. And even though I did not really believe her, I was green with envy.

Yes, indeedy, throughout my childhood sibling rivalry was alive and well at our house. Or at least it was alive and well in my heart. I was sandwiched between my older sister and little brother. I was and still am the poor, pitiful middle child. Everything they tell you about middle children is true. Check our empty baby books; we’re lucky if our name and birthday are scribbled on the first page. Go through the family photo albums and just try and find a picture of us. Throughout our childhood, we wear hand-me-downs, ride our sister’s old bike and never, ever get to ride shot-gun. Yes, we are a pitiful lot.

About the time she became a teenager I decided my sister was perfect. Brenda, with her long, straight locks, never had a bad hair day. My curly mop was always out of control. She showed off her perfect gams with brightly colored mini-skirts. She wore black eye liner and pale pink lip gloss with cool confidence. She was in control. Heck, she had hurricanes named after her. They called off school every year on account of her birthday. She had a driver’s license. It seemed to me that if my teenage sister wasn’t perfect, she came pretty close. And it drove me nuts.

And then there was my brother. After seven years of basking in the glory of being the youngest, the baby, suddenly I had a brother. Well I guess not so suddenly, we were given about nine months warning. My brother was nowhere near as perfect as my sister, BUT, and it’s a big but, he was a boy. John was the charming, fair-haired son that every mother and father dream of having. Even when he was a tiny baby he was gregarious and funny and made everyone laugh. He was the God-loved-angel.

It took some time but I eventually forgave them their sins of perfection and of charm. I don’t just love my sister and brother, I really like them. Oh sure there are still times when I might want to throttle one or both of them. Heck, I’m sure there are lots of times when one or both of them want to throttle me. But I know that I can always count on them, as they can count on me.

I am looking forward to the long holiday weekend. If I’m lucky I’ll get to spend some time with my sister and brother and their families. We’ll take a walk through the woods or around the lake, share a meal and, with the elections less than a month away, maybe enter into a lively political debate.

However you spend the long holiday weekend, enjoy the autumn sunshine, foliage and the time you spend with family and friends.

Bon appétit!

Braised Beef Bourguignon
This delicious braised beef recipe removes many of the steps in a classic French Boeuf Bourguignon. It is still delicious; warm and comforting on a crisp fall evening. Try it out at your next family get-together and enjoy!
Serves 6-8

3 pounds thick-cut London broil
4 ounces thick-cut bacon, roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-5 stalks of celery, chopped
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes, or to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup tomato puree
3-4 cups dry red wine
3-4 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 pound frozen pearl onions
1/2 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook the bacon in a heavy casserole over medium-low heat until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon and reserve. Pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat and reserve.

3. Brown the beef over medium-high heat 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the beef and add to the reserved bacon.

4. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat to the pot (if you run out of bacon fat, substitute with a little olive oil); add the onion, carrot and celery; sprinkle with herbs de Provence and chili pepper flakes and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more.

5. Put the beef and bacon back into the stew pot. Add the tomatoes, wine, beef stock and bay leaf. Cover the pot; transfer to oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

6. Sauté the mushrooms in a little olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms, pearl onions and sour cream to the stew pot and stir gently to combine. Check for seasoning; add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Return the pot to the oven and continue cooking, covered, until beef is very tender about 1 hour. If the stew gets too dry, add more wine and/or stock. Remove the meat from the casserole and cut across the grain in thick slices. Garnish with parsley, serve with the vegetables and a little sauce.

This dish can be made 2 or 3 days ahead. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove and then transfer to a 350 degree oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until the meat is warmed through.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? 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.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010