Welcome September Weekend Special

After a bunch of soggy days, I’m ready for a little sun. It looks like the weekend will cooperate. That’s not the case for our friends to the south facing Florence. To you, I send my best wishes for a safe weekend. Please don’t be heroes – get out of there. Go someplace safe; come here if you like.

Rain or sun, what will you be cooking this weekend? How about you invite friends in for the best of the harvest and a little spice?

Okay, lets start with… Summer Rolls. They definitely are one of my favorite summer appetizers. If you are short on time, whip up a batch of my Peanut Sesame Dipping Sauce and serve it with fresh veggies.

Now to the table … for a refreshing salad, give my Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad or Vietnamese Salad a try.

For your main course … the season is so short, you’ll want to get your fill of delicious local corn! How about you stir up a pot of my Spicy Shrimp, Corn and Coconut Soup. It’s delicious.

There’s always room for dessert … is it too late for local blueberries?
How about a Blueberry Pie or Almost Nana Nye’s Blueberry Cake. No – well … chocolate is always in season. You’ll love my Chocolate Panna Cotta.

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.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Namaste & Spicy Shrimp, Corn and Coconut Soup

I’m guessing that most all of my family, friends and acquaintances know about my daily walk around Pleasant Lake. A whole lot of other people probably know about it too. Not only do I mention these daily walks in this column from time to time but more than a few vehicles pass me as I make my way around. Take for instance, the school bus, all those plumbers vans and more than a couple trucks of trucks. As they pass me, I wave and the drivers usually wave back.

What you probably don’t know is that I also take a yoga class. It’s not a daily thing. Although for a little while, I was doing a couple of sun salutations every morning. However, it’s been quite a while since I gave a morning salute. These days, I pretend I don’t have time. Truth be told, I just haven’t made it a priority.

Once a week, I do make it a priority to throw on my yoga pants, grab my mat and get ready to stretch, bend and glide through an hour. Well, two of those things are sort-of but not really true. I did not go to the yoga pant store or even online. Instead, I found a pair of leggings tucked away in the shampoo and vitamin aisle at the supermarket. They’re mostly cotton and very comfortable. So comfortable in fact that I went back and bought some more. Once the weather turns cool, they are my hanging-out-at-home pants of choice. The other not quite true thing is, well, I don’t really glide. I can more or less hold my own with the bending and stretching but, try as I might, I tend to lurch more than glide.

If you’ve been thinking that you might like to take up yoga, there are lots of good reasons. Some are much too technical for me for me to explain let alone believe. So, here’s what I can say about my practice:

Yoga helps with balance … anyone who lives anywhere with an icy, snowy winter knows that balance is important. I suppose, the older I get, the more important good balance is. Plus, it’s fun to show off and stand on one leg in front of non-yogi friends.

Yoga helps me stay limber … my mom was a wonderful person and I love her dearly. However, arthritis is part of her legacy. (Running took its toll as well.) Yoga is great for deep stretching and bending and working all the little kinks out.

Yoga helps me build strength … with all the walking (and before that running), I have very strong legs. However, a number of smart people have been telling me for years that I need to develop better upper body strength. Yoga does that for me. Along with my arms and shoulders, it helps build my core muscles. Increasing core strength has been wonderful for the arthritis in my back.

Yoga helps me find peace and focus … to-do lists, telephones, texts, email, social media – they are all there, all the time. Together, they tag team to successfully distract and sometimes distress. However, for one hour each week, I can relax and focus on bending, stretching and, yes, lurching from one move to the next. Any noise in my head is stilled while I focus on that little spot on the floor, stand on one leg and find peace.

If you search for them, you can find one hundred reasons to take up yoga. From regulating your adrenal gland to weight loss. Like I already mentioned, some, make that most, of those reasons are too technical for me for me to explain let alone believe.

Namaste and bon appétit!

Spicy Shrimp, Corn and Coconut Soup
The local harvest is at its peak. It’s time to fire up the grill and make delicious magic with some of my favorite vegetables. Enjoy!
Serves 8

6-8 ears yellow or bicolor corn
Olive oil
About 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
About 12 ounces red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Sea salt to taste
2 quarts shrimp, vegetable or chicken broth or a mix
3 cups (2 15-ounce cans) unsweetened coconut milk
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Garnish: cilantro leaves, unsweetened toasted coconut flakes and/or chopped toasted peanuts

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and transfer to a bowl. Use the back of a dinner knife to scrape the cobs and release the milky juices into another bowl. Set aside.

Lightly coat a soup kettle with olive oil and heat on medium. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno, sprinkle with cumin and coriander and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the potato pieces and corn juices, season with salt, toss to combine and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer the soup for about 8 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. If you like, remove from the heat and use a potato masher or fork to lightly smash the potatoes.

Raise the heat and return the soup to a boil, add the shrimp and corn, season with salt and stir to combine. When the soup returns to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through and pink.

Add the lime juice and zest and stir to combine. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with cilantro, coconut flakes and/or peanuts and serve.

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

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

How do you keep fit? Feel free to share!

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

Back on Cook’s Corner – Roasted Cauliflower

With temperatures cooling down … it will soon be time to take cooking back indoors. I’m back on ABC affiliate WMUR’s Cook’s Corner today roasting cauliflower.

I love roasted vegetables. From Brussels Sprouts to Parsnips, they are wonderful. One of my favorites is the very versatile Roasted Cauliflower.

This delicious side dish pairs beautifully with roasted anything – chicken, lamb, beef or salmon. If you have leftovers, toss them with pasta, a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Shoes & Grilled Eggplant Caponata

I have this thing about shoes. I like them … a lot. It’s possible I like them as much as Imelda. However, since I don’t have her resources; my collection is both smaller and considerably more modest. Besides, unlike the Philippines’ former first lady, I’m a sneakers and flats kind of girl.

In my defense, my addiction to shoes has improved. Why, it’s been at least a year, since I bought a new pair. Okay, maybe six months and it was three pairs, I guess I should avoid alternative facts. In my defense, they were all on sale and a step above the definitely adorable but oh so casual flats I generally wear. What’s a girl to do?

Confession time – I do need to be careful with this buying on sale business. I love a bargain but it often means buying out of season. I have been known to purchase sandals in October and forget about them by the time summer rolls around. Same goes for buying boots in May. Oh, my goodness, the trials and tribulations of a first world woman.

Growing up, back-to-school shopping always included a trip to Bob Dexter’s Shoes on Central Street. To avoid a return visit in the busy weeks to come, Mom really took care of business. That’s when I learned an important lesson – never settle for one pair, when you can buy three.

First, foremost and absolutely mandatory – new school shoes were on the list. Mom always insisted we start there. If a fire broke out and cut our shopping short, we were not leaving that store without a sturdy pair of Buster Browns. I guess the doctor told her that young feet need lots of support. Until I was nine or ten, I was stuck with those dreadful brown brogues. In third or fourth grade, Mom finally relented and I was able to move on to penny loafers.

Now, Mom was hardly heartless. To make up for the brogues and salve my wounded feminine pride, she would let me pick out a new pair of patent leather Mary Janes. They were for Sunday school and birthday parties. Finally, after a summer playing outside, my sneakers were worn and torn – just the way I liked them. Mom didn’t agree and a new pair of Keds went into the bag.

Although, it has its roots in elementary school, this love affair with shoes began in earnest once I hit adolescence. That’s when things got both interesting and complicated. A woman in search of an identity, from one day to the next, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a perky preppy or a cool hippie.

The perky preppy in me coveted shiny flats and Pappagallo was the brand of choice. These sweet little emblems of conservative style came in a rainbow of colors and were decorated with flowers, buckles and cutouts. The bohemian wanted no name ballet flats or funky black cotton slippers. The slippers had orange rubber soles, straps like Mary Janes and were made in China. The hippie shoes were considerably cheaper than the colorful flats. However, they didn’t last more than a month or so.

For now, I’ll stay out of the shops. Better to stick with the trio of flats I bought last winter and then forgot in the back of the closet. Black leather, the faux snakeskin and shiny pink – what could be better – a different pair for every mood. Just like Mom, I like a bargain and buy in threes.

Happy Almost Fall and bon appétit!

Grilled Eggplant Caponata
The local harvest is at its peak. It’s time to fire up the grill and make delicious magic with some of my favorite vegetables. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon or to taste red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons or to taste red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons or to taste extra virgin olive oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into thick slices
1 large red onion, cut in thick rings
1 pint grape tomatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2-3 tablespoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Make the vinaigrette: put the garlic, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil and continue whisking until well combined. Set aside.

Preheat grill to high. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the onion and tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Put the onion and tomatoes in a grill basket and grill for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time. Grill the eggplant for 4 to 6 minutes per side until nicely browned and tender. Remove the vegetables from the grill. When they are cool enough to handle, finely chop the veggies.

Give the vinaigrette another whisk, add the vegetables, olives, pine nuts and capers and toss to combine. Add the parsley and mint and toss again. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with pita chips for an appetizer or use as a salsa with grilled chicken, lamb or fish.

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One Year Ago – Savory Rosemary Biscotti
Two Years Ago – Dilly Beans
Three Years Ago– All Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Four Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Five Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Six Years Ago – Curried Green Bean Pickles
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Ratatouille Stacks
Eight Years Ago – Apple Crisp
Nine Years Ago – Ravioli with Sage Pesto
Ten 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’s your not-so-secret indulgence? Feel free to share!

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

Another Labor Day Weekend Special

And just like that … it’s Labor Day Weekend. The time certainly passed at warp speed. It will be a busy weekend – with last minute hikes and bike rides as well as end of summer chores.

Make sure you save some time for a cookout with friends and family. If you aren’t sure what to throw on the grill this year … I’ve got a few suggestions for a delicious cookout.

Start the evening with appetizers loaded with fresh from farm produce. You will love the simplicity of my Fresh Tomato Crostini. Chip and salsa lovers with flip for my Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa.

For fabulous summer salad, try my Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Olives & Feta. Fresh, local green beans are a treat you will miss all winter long.

Now for the main course. How about my Citrus & Spice Grilled Chicken? It is delicious. If your cookout is at home on the deck, add a spoonful of my Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn. If you’re picnic-ing in the park or on a beach go with my Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts.

For dessert, local blueberries are calling. Try my Almost Nana Nye’s Blueberry Cake. If you like, add a few candles and raise your glass to toast … what would be my mom’s eighty-ninth birthday.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend. 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.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

The Final Days of Summer & Citrus & Spice Grilled Chicken

I’m one of those people. Sound intriguing – sorry, it’s not. I’m the kind of person who arrives at the supermarket at the exact same time as the rest of humanity. The parking lot is always full. It’s not just that the aisles are crowded with shoppers and their carts. No, that would be too easy. During my shopping excursions, traffic is further stalled by employees frantically restocking shelves. It doesn’t end there. No, the checkouts lines are always miles long.

Imagine my surprise last Thursday morning. First, I found a parking space close to the store. Next, the aisles were smooth sailing. Finally, each checkout line had one, maybe two people in it and no one’s cart was filled to overflowing. I was in and out in minutes. That’s when I realized, the summer people or at least a good many of them have up and left. It was a sign.

I headed to the farmstand, again, no lines. As I drove home, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of the first red leaves. I reassured myself that a few trees always turn early. As I unpacked my groceries, I planned a pleasant evening on the porch. Fast forward several hours, with silverware in hand and ready to set the table, I realized with dismay that it was too chilly to eat outside.

The signs continue to pile up. The dawn’s early light is getting later and later while sunset comes too soon. I suddenly find I need a long sleeve shirt on my early morning walk. Like it or not, summer is singing its last swan song.

As for the summer people, even with shorter days and cooler mornings, I’m sure most of them would rather be here than wherever they are. Who wouldn’t – but I guess they don’t have a choice. After weeks of silence, school bells are starting to ring. The first yellow buses have been spotted. Practice fields are filling up in the afternoon.

With the days flying by, it’s time for one last celebration of summer. Back-to-school shopping can wait. You know everything will be on sale Columbus Day weekend, right? For now, I can’t think of anything better than playing and relaxing outside. To help you get started, here’s more than a day’s worth of ideas –

How about you …

… start the morning with yoga and a sun salutation.
… visit a farmers market.
… pick blueberries.
… take a hike.
… go on a long bike ride.
… sit on a beach.
… read a book.
… swim.
… waterski.
… paddle a SUP or sail a boat.
… sit some more, wait until dark and skinny dip.
… cook dinner over a campfire.
… make s’mores
… raise your glass and toast the moon.
… sleep under the stars.

Happy Labor Day and bon appétit!

Citrus & Spice Grilled Chicken
Take your grilled chicken to the next level with citrus, spice and fresh herbs. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup roughly chopped onion
1-2 tablespoons or to taste harissa or sriracha
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 lime
About 2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
Garnish: Citrus Salsa Verde

Put the garlic, onion, harissa, cumin, cinnamon and cloves in a small food processor, season with salt and pepper, add the olive oil and pulse until the garlic and onion are finely chopped. Add the orange and lime zests and juices and process until smooth.

Slather both sides of the chicken with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and several hours if you can.

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Place the chicken on the grill and cook about 5 minutes per side or until nicely browned and cooked through.

Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes and serve with a generous drizzle of Citrus Salsa Verde.

Citrus Salsa Verde
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2-1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup mint leaves
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Put the garlic and jalapeno in a small food processor, season with salt and pepper, add the olive oil and pulse until finely chopped.

Add the cilantro, mint, orange and lime zest and juice and process until smooth.

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One Year Ago – Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn
Two Years Ago – Fresh Corn with Sriracha Aioli
Three Years Ago – Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado
Four Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Five Years Ago – Chocolate-Orange Tart
Six Years Ago – Chicken Liver Pâté
Seven Years Ago – Blueberry Crisp
Eight Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Sauce
Nine Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Ten Years Ago – Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

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

What’s on your final days of summer bucket list? Feel free to share!

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

Enough Is Enough & Grilled Swordfish with Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salsa

About a month ago, drought warnings were all over the news. The gardens were looking thirsty and the lawns parched. It seemed like we were only minutes away from an outdoor watering ban. On the other hand, we were happily walking, running, hiking, biking, playing tennis, golfing, swimming, waterskiing, paddling and sailing. Now, we’re stuck in the house and all we hear is one flood warning after another.

As soon as we think the weather is going to change for the better – it doesn’t. For a while there, all the gardeners were giving us glass-half-full platitudes. Mind you, these oh-be-joyfuls were happy to join our rants about the oppressive humidity. Then, they’d shrug and say, “Well, at least the gardens are happy.”

Okay, enough already with the happy gardens. The steamy weather is doing nothing to help me maintain a sunny disposition.

Let’s turn our collective energy towards sunny days and clear nights. Some psychologists call it magical thinking. If you’ve not heard about magical thinking, it’s when the sheer force of thinking or wishing something makes it happen. Some might try to call it karma but it’s more akin to thinking is reality. If you think it; it will happen.

Consider this current situation, back in July every gardener in New England was shaking her fist at the sky and crying out for rain. The town was threatening a water ban. Obviously, someone heard all the wailing and threats, turned on the faucets and, then, forgot to turn them off.

Hello? Are you still there? It’s okay, we’ve had enough for now. Please? If for no other reason than each and every curly headed woman and girl in New England is about to go out of her mind. We can take only so many bad hair days … in a row.

Until these new pleas are heard, how about a little good news to cheer us up:

For sports fans, the football preseason has started but, more important, the Red Sox are on winning streak. With six weeks to go, the Sox might even break the record for the winningest season ever. With a .705 wins percentage, they are now tied with the 1897 Boston Beaneaters for ninth place. The 1906 Chicago Cubs claim the number one spot with a .763.

My nieces are coming for a visit. Not all at once but the four will have breezed in and out of town at least once before Halloween. (Yes, one isn’t coming until October but I’m grabbing at straws here. The humidity has left me with mush for brains.)

Finally, forget sports and my family’s good fortune. Somewhere close by and far away, a bunch of people are doing something nice, not because they have to but because they want to. Somewhere a teenager is running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. He’ll be rescued by some nice lady. Meanwhile, an older gent is helping some mom load groceries in trunk so she can buckle in her two rambunctious children. Later today, once it cools off a bit, someone will mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn. And more, a lot more, because, as we all know, there can never be enough kindness.

Stay cheerful and bon appétit!

Grilled Swordfish with Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salsa
Last week, the woman at the farmstand told me the corn is loving the steamy weather. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Juice of 1 lime
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon or to taste minced jalapeno
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6-8 ears corn, shucked
Olive oil
2 pints cherry tomatoes in a mix of colors, quartered
2 avocados, peeled, seeded and chopped
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
2-2 1/2 pounds Swordfish steak

Put the juice of 1/2 lime, 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon jalapeno, 1 teaspoon cumin and the extra virgin olive oil, in a large bowl, season with salt and whisk to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes to combine the flavors.

Preheat the grill to high.

Brush the corn with a little olive oil. Lay the ears directly on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes, turning to cook evenly. Remove from the grill and when they are cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cobs.

Put the corn, tomatoes, avocados and scallions in the bowl with the lime juice mixture and toss to combine. Add the cilantro and toss again.

Put the remaining lime juice, garlic, jalapeno and cumin in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Coat both sides of the swordfish with the marinade and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Place the swordfish steaks on grill and, depending on thickness, cook for 6-8 minutes, turn and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove the swordfish from the grill and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Cut the swordfish into 1-inch slices.

To serve – place a generous dollop of salsa on each plate and top with swordfish.

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One Year Ago – Zucchini Muffins
Two Years Ago – Berry Peachy Crisp
Three Years Ago – Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
Four Years Ago – Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes
Five Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad
Six Years Ago – Blueberry Soup with Mascarpone Cream
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa
Eight Years Ago – Crostini with Goat Cheese
Nine Years Ago – Corn & Chicken Chowder
Ten Years Ago – Joe Nye’s Perfect Lobster

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

Were you a free-range kid? Where was your favorite place to roam? Feel free to share!

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