Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend Celebration Special

Éirinn go Brách – it’s time to celebrate. Saturday is Saint Patrick’s Day. With all this beautiful new snow –  you’ve gotta love it – a parade is not the answer. Throw on a green turtleneck and cap and head to the mountain. After a day on the slopes, relax and enjoy a cozy dinner with friends. 

Let’s start with a tasty appetizer. The Irish are justifiably proud of their smoked salmon. I can’t think of a better start to your dinner. Enjoy thinly sliced smoked salmon or Smoked Salmon Mousse on Irish Soda Bread.

Gather at the table for a lovely salad. Can I suggest – Roasted Carrot Salad. While not particularly Irish, it is delicious and sports the colors of the Irish flag.

Now, for the main course. Forget corned beef and cabbage. For a truly delicious Saint Paddy’s Day try my Guinness Lamb Shanks with a hunk of Irish Soda Bread or my Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin. Unless you have a large crowd coming … then a big pot of stew might make more sense. If that’s the case, my Irish Lamb Stew is the answer.

Unless you’d prefer a simpler après ski supper. If that’s the case, stir up a pot of potato soup. (After all, the potato famine  sent our Irish ancestors to America in the first place.) Try my Potato & Cheddar Soup, Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup or Cheddar Ale Soup.

Ready for dessert? Dig into my warm and homey Apple Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Caramel Crème Anglaise – please feel free to switch out the Bourbon for Irish Whiskey. And finally, top off the evening with an Irish Coffee.

Have a great weekend and sláinte!

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


Saints, Sinners, Songsters & Scholars & Roasted Carrot Salad

Ireland has a long history of saints and sinners, songsters and scholars. Hundreds of impressive artistic, scientific, political and religious figures hail from the Emerald Isle. And yes, there have been a few scamps and scalawags. The roll call of luminaries is all the more impressive when you consider Ireland’s tiny population. Although it has had its ups and downs, less than five million people call Ireland home. By the way, close to thirty-five million Americans claim Irish roots.

Saint Patrick’s Day is this coming Saturday. In celebration, let’s name a few of the Ireland’s notable sons and daughters:

Established in 1662, students still memorize Robert Boyle’s Law (PV=K). In simple terms, Boyles’ Law shows that the relationship between volume and pressure is inversely proportionate. In other words, increase pressure and volume will shrink.

William Butler Yeats is remembered as one of the 20th century’s leading poets and playwrights. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. I think my dad in particular would appreciate a favorite Yeats’ quote … There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.

Add James Joyce to that list of influential authors. His masterpiece Ulysses is almost always on the list of top ten English language novels and frequently steals the number one slot. It may also have the dubious honor of being the most unread book of all time. Countless confessions suggest that while it can be found on millions of bookshelves, it is on almost as many to-read lists.

The Most Dangerous Woman in America, Mother Jones, was born in Ireland. After her husband and children died from yellow fever, she joined the labor movement. The passionate revolutionary coordinated strikes and helped found the Social Democratic Party and Industrial Workers of the World.

The original Typhoid Mary, Mary Mallon was fifteen years old when she left Ireland to cook for wealthy families in and around Manhattan. An asymptomatic carrier, Mary was the picture of health but infected scores of New Yorkers, a few of whom died. With no cure for typhoid, the health department quarantined Mary for more than twenty years. She died alone on North Brother Island.

In the tradition epic poets, Bono writes and sings tales of social injustice, poverty and politics. His band U2 has sold close to 160 million albums and won twenty-two Grammys plus a bunch of other awards. A noted humanitarian, he has met with princes and presidents and uses his celebrity to fight extreme poverty and disease.

And finally, the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick was not actually Irish. A devote missionary from Britain, he traveled all over Ireland doing good works. Throughout his journey, he talked countless Irish into converting to Christianity. One other detail, he might not actually be a saint. Then again, maybe someone lost his paperwork. After all, it was a long time ago, the fifth century.

Now, to close – a toast for Saint Patrick and all the Irish –

To all the days here and after,
May they be filled with fond memories, happiness, and laughter.

Roasted Carrot Salad
Inspired by the colors of the Irish flag, sweet roasted carrots, peppery arugula and creamy goat cheese are a delicious combination. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1 sweet onion, cut in half and then in thin wedges
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
2-3 teaspoons sherry vinegar
12 ounces arugula
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the carrots and onion on a baking sheet, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, sprinkle with smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread the vegetables in a single layer. Roast uncovered at 400 degrees, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp and lightly caramelized.

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, sprinkle with garlic and rosemary, drizzle with sherry vinegar and toss to combine. Tossing a few times, let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Can be prepared ahead. The carrots and onion should be served warm or at room temperature.

To serve toss the arugula with enough Sherry Vinaigrette to lightly coat. Arrange the greens on a platter or individual plates, top with carrots and onion and sprinkle with goat cheese and walnuts.

Sherry Vinaigrette 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
1 chunk (about 1×1 inch) red onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
Dash hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the vinegar, garlic, onion, mustard, anchovy paste and hot sauce in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and process until very smooth.

With the motor running, slowly add olive oil to taste and continue processing until well combined.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a clean glass jar and let sit for 30 minutes. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before serving.


Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Irish Lamb Stew
One Year Ago – Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary
Two Years Ago – Not-Really-Irish and Not-Really-French Potato Gratin
Three Years Ago – Zucchini Pancakes
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Three Years Ago – Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Six Years Ago – Grilled Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Linguine with Sundried Tomato Pesto & Roasted Eggplant
Eight Years Ago – Fettuccine with Classic Bolognese Sauce

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

How will you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Feel free to share!

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

Persisting Women Pork Stew with Beans & Greens

It began with a simple grassroots effort. A school district in California realized that their kids had little if any knowledge of women’s contributions to the state, to the country and to the world. So, they dedicated a week to women’s history. There were special programs and curriculum. The grand finale was a parade and celebration. It was 1978.

In 1979, educators and activists got together at The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. A teacher from Sonoma shared her district’s success and it lit a fire. Spreading to schools and colleges across the country, Women’s History Week took off. Unable to contain the enthusiasm to just seven days, there were soon calls for a month of education and celebration. National Women’s History Month was declared in 1987.

This year’s theme is Nevertheless, She Persisted. The goal is to honor women who persist in fighting all forms of discrimination against women. Persistence, it is an amazing word. Could it be the secret to women’s success?

Take for instance, the right to vote. Today, most of us take that right for granted. Not my grandmother. In her time, the voting age was twenty-one. However, she could not go down to town hall and register to vote on her birthday. Women did not have that right. She was twenty-five when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified into law. The fight for suffrage began as one of twelve resolutions at the Seneca Falls Convention in the summer of 1848. Success took seventy-two years of persistence.

I remember when one of the credit card companies turned my mother down. Whether it was a holdover from laws limiting women’s property rights or misguided custom, it doesn’t matter. Mom was incensed. The person at the other end of the phone told her they would be more than happy to grant a joint card with my dad. She just couldn’t have one in her own name. Mrs. Nye was fine; Elizabeth was not. She finally got her card a few years later. I’m guessing it was after the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

At about the same time, I was appalled to learn that wage disparity of women to men was fifty-nine cents to the dollar. It didn’t matter that I was a teenager earning minimum wage at my summer job. Or that the busboys were also earning minimum wage. It was the principle. Since then, the wage gap has narrowed to seventy-nine cents. Persistence continues.

Throughout the month, let’s celebrate the women who came before us. Let’s honor the women in both our personal and collective histories. We’ll thank our mothers and grandmothers, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart. We shouldn’t forget our favorite aunts, cousins and neighbors along with Shirley Chisolm, Ella Fitzgerald, Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Julia Child, Billy Jean King, the 1996 Women’s Soccer Team and the 2018 Women’s Hockey Team. Because of them, we stand stronger, we are better educated and our lives are freer, richer and safer.

Armed with persistence and patience, women have fought and won the right to vote, to education, to work and to own property. The path has rarely been easy and the journey continues. In spite of a rapidly changing world, we still measure the timeline to equal rights for women not in days or even years but in decades.

With a toast of gratitude to brave and persistent women, I wish you bon appétit!

Pork Stew with Beans & Greens
Invite friends over for a cozy dinner and celebration of women. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 ounces slab or thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed (about 12 ounces dried beans)
4-6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 bay leaf
1 pound pre-cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into 2-inch slices
16 ounces baby kale or spinach

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the pork and cook for a minute or two per side. Remove from the casserole and reserve.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrot and celery, sprinkle with thyme, allspice and chili flakes, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Return the pork and bacon to the pot and add the beans, 4 cups stock, vermouth, mustard and bay leaf. Gently toss and stir to combine, bring to a simmer and transfer to the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Add the sausage and, if necessary, more stock to the pot, return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Add the kale in handfuls and stir or toss until it wilts. Return the pot to the oven for 5 minutes.

Spoon the stew into shallow bowls and serve with a chunk of crusty bread.

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

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

During National Women’s History Month, who are the heroes you most want to celebrate? Feel free to share!

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

In Defense of the Closed Kitchen & Fettucine with Mushrooms & Kale

I probably should have written this one last summer. That’s when the walls in my 1970’s closed kitchen did NOT come down. Anyone who watches HGTV (and who doesn’t?) knows that an open floor plan and open kitchen are all the rage. Combining the kitchen, living and dining rooms into one large space brings families together. Starting with the post-war housing boom, open concept design picked up momentum and continues to grow.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been plenty of holdouts. My house near Pleasant Lake is one of them. Built in 1973, it’s was a lot like my mother’s closed kitchen on Trinity Court. Although wider than most, both are essentially galley kitchens with a small eating area. Well, mine was and still is. Mom’s kitchen, along with the rest of house, has been torn down and replaced with a McMansion.

With the old cabinets heading to the dumpster and the walls about to go down to the studs, I received plenty of advice. Much of it entailed taking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining and living room. It was time to break down the barriers and enjoy the free flow of open concept living.

I don’t think so.

I listened and smiled politely. This long and relatively narrow space, takes up about half the front of the house. It was enough of a bowling alley already. I felt no needed to extend it. Besides, call me old-fashioned, a nineteenth century holdout but I like a closed kitchen.

I discovered this personal peculiarity years ago when I rented an apartment on a rose farm. Yes, I lived on a rosary. Anyway, my apartment was a three-story corner of an old barn. It had a wonderful farmhouse kitchen. Okay, it was a little dark but the work area was roomy and there was plenty of space for a large table. Signing the lease, I imagined it would be the perfect backdrop for Thanksgiving dinner.

It was fine for small dinner parties but Thanksgiving – no thanks. Any big, complicated meal generates a lot of mess. From my seat at the table, I could see dirty dishes piled high in the sink. A clutter of pots and pans plus the turkey carcass adorned the kitchen counter. Maybe no one else noticed but I did. How could I relax and enjoy my guests with pandemonium reigning in the background? Once was enough, that was my first and only open kitchen.

Post renovation, my shiny new, red kitchen breaks down into four sections. From either side, you enter through a hallway. At one end, a pantry and a powder/laundry room flank the hall. At the other end, there is another pantry (you can’t have too much storage) and a small mudroom. As long as we all like each other, the work area is big enough to accommodate two sous-chefs and me. Since everyone likes to be in the kitchen, I have a small eating area. A handful of friends can watch the cooks while they sip, nibble and enjoy lively conversation.

However, when everything is going wrong or dinner is taking longer than planned, it’s really nice to know I can steer everyone (except maybe the sous-chefs) into the living room. Like Julia, there are times when I need the comfort of knowing, “You’re alone in the kitchen.” Even better is enjoying dinner without a pile of dirty dishes in the background.

Open or closed, I wish you happy cooking in your kitchen and bon appétit!

Fettucine with Mushrooms & Kale
I’ve been going a little nuts with pasta this winter. As long as you have the space, you can make this quick and easy dish with a handful of people looking on and chatting. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Olive oil
12-16 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch (or to taste) chili flakes and/or smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 onion, cut in thin wedges
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, trimmed and cut in bitesize pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons cognac
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
16-20 ounces fettucine
1 pound baby kale
1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for serving

Put a large pot of salted water on to a boil. Cook the fettucine according to package directions less 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the bacon and stirring occasionally, cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the onion, sprinkle with thyme, chili flakes and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned.

Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Add the chicken broth and wine and cook until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and cognac.

Reserving a little of the pasta water, drain the fettucine. Return the fettucine to the pot, add the mushroom mixture and kale and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add some pasta water. Cover and cook on low for 1-2 minute. Sprinkle with about 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss to combine. Cover and cook 1 more minute.

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve. Pass more grated parm for the cheese lovers.

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One Year Ago – Spaghetti with Cauliflower & Olives
Two Years Ago – Flourless Chocolate Cake
Three Years Ago – Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs
Four Years Ago – Panna Cotta with Strawberries
Five Years Ago – Decadent Mac & Cheese
Six Years Ago – Seared Scallops with Roasted Pepper Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Creole Shrimp & Cheesy Grits
Eight Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Nine Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

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

Open or closed? What is your idea of the perfect kitchen? Feel free to share!

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

Hindsight & Orecchiette with Cauliflower & Bacon

Banal as they may be, we use them all the time. Actions speak louder than words.You can’t judge a book by its cover. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. Then there is my mother’s favorite – What goes around comes around. So why do we use these clichés? Is it possible that we’re not clever enough or eloquent enough to share our thoughts in a more original way? Or perhaps we can’t be bothered. Oh no, that can’t be true. Alright, let’s be generous. We all have a lot on our minds. These platitudes are a quick and easy way to send our message.

Now just to be contrarian, I’m going to argue with one of these platitudes. Whoever said hindsight is twenty-twenty didn’t grow up skiing in New Hampshire. The line could be defined as oops-I-got-that-one-wrong or oops-I-guess-I-should-have-done-more-research. It’s what you might say when you discover the property you bought online is not beachfront but – uh oh, is that an alligator? – a swamp. When it comes to childhood memories and February ski vacations, hindsight is definitely not twenty-twenty. In fact, I suspect that hindsight is blind or, at the very least, wears rose-colored glasses.

I don’t know about you but all my childhood winter vacations were good. Once Mom and Dad built the little weekend and vacation house near Pleasant Lake, they were perfect. If anything, February was better than Christmas week. The start of the ski season could be a little iffy but by mid-February, snow was plentiful. The sun shone every day and there were never any lift lines. Okay, maybe that last one is wishful thinking … if not an outright lie.

Anyway, year in and year out, February vacation was nothing short of wonderful. One year, it was even stupendous. Thanks to a couple of well-placed nor’easters, the break expanded. Instead of a much too short one-week vacation, we enjoyed three glorious weeks in the snow.

The trouble (although I’d hardly call it that) began five or six days before winter vacation was due to start. Gentle but persistent snow began falling Saturday night and continued through Sunday. To play it safe, we stayed put in New Hampshire. By Monday morning, more than a foot of snow had fallen. All of New Hampshire’s roads were clear by noon. Across the border, snow and abandoned cars clogged the roads for days. We weren’t snowed in New Hampshire but snowed out of Massachusetts.

Throughout the Commonwealth, schools and businesses were closed. It took at least three, maybe four days to dig out. By the time traffic was flowing, February vacation was more or less upon us. (I think we might have played hooky on the Friday. Hey, there was no need to drive all that way for one measly day of school.)

The vacation week was delightfully snowy but uneventful. There were no major storms or upsets, just sunshine and plenty of skiing. Then as if by a miracle, it started to snow early Sunday afternoon and showed no signs of slowing down. Using the recent debacle on Massachusetts highways as justification, we stayed safe and warm in our little house in the New Hampshire woods … and then spent another week on the slopes.

There is nothing like a Sunday nor’easter to make a skier smile. Bon appétit!

Orecchiette with Cauliflower & Bacon
A cozy après ski dish. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Olive oil
8 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large cauliflower, cut in bite-sized florets
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch (or to taste) chili flakes and/or smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
16 ounces Orecchiette
Grated pecorino Romano cheese
Fresh, chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly coat a large, heavy skillet with olive oil and heat on medium. Add the bacon and sauté until brown and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve.

Put the cauliflower in a large roasting pan, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and 3/4 of the bacon fat, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast the cauliflower at 375 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, cook the onion in the remaining bacon fat on medium until translucent. Add the garlic, sprinkle with the chili flakes and/or paprika and remaining thyme, season with salt and pepper and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the broth and wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and bacon to the skillet, toss to combine and set aside.

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

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, less 1 minute. Saving 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta, add it to the vegetables and bacon and toss to combine.

If the pasta seems dry, add more or less pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer on low for 1 minute. (If you add too much water and the pasta is soupy, don’t worry. Uncover, raise the heat to high and simmer for 1 minute.)

Transfer the pasta to a serving platter or individual plates, sprinkle with pecorino Romano and chopped parsley. Pass more grated pecorino Romano for the cheese lovers.

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One Year Ago – Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad
Two Years Ago – Sausages with White Beans
Three Years Ago – Chocolate Panna Cotta
Four Years Ago – Turkey Scaloppini with Prosciutto & Sage
Five Years Ago – Cheese Fondue
Six Years Ago – Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach
Seven Years Ago – Tuscan White Bean Soup
Eight Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Risotto
Nine Years Ago – Swimming Pool Jello

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

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

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

Winter Olympics Weekend Special

Uh oh, I’m feeling a little achy, my throat is a little scratchy and my nose is stuffy. With any luck, it’s a blip. Without that luck, it could be a weekend on the sofa. Thank goodness, the Olympics are on. There will be plenty to watch.

Hopefully, your immune system is holding up better than mine. After all the Olympics are a terrific excuse for a watch party and delicious dinner with friends. Buffet or around the table, you choose. Either way, here are a few ideas for a tasty Olympic feast with a bit of Asian flair:

Let’s start with a tasty appetizer, maybe two. There couldn’t be a better time to give my Savory Korean Pancakes a try. Need more? Let everyone help themselves to a beautiful platter of fresh vegetables, Roasted Shrimp and Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce?

Start your dinner with a lovely salad. Can I suggest – Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad or Thai Salad.

Now, for the main course. How about a delicious combination of Hoisin Pork Ribs with Quick Braised Asian Vegetables and Dandan Noodles.

Ready for dessert? Green tea or ginger ice cream and/or fresh fruit works. If you’d like to take it up a level, you might like to try my Ginger Crème Brûlée or Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard. Neither is Korean or even Asian but both are delicious!

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!

Photo courtesy of  IOC Media © Dave Thompson/IOC. All content exclusive of IOC photo © Susan W. Nye, 2018 

Fun Facts – Winter Olympics Edition & Quick Braised Asian Vegetables

The Olympics trace their origin back to 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. The first celebration honored Zeus and featured only one athletic contest, a 600-foot run. Adding competitions along the way, the festival continued for almost twelve centuries. After a 1,503 year break, the modern Olympics debuted in Athens in 1896. Feeling a bit left out, snow and ice enthusiasts put together the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924.

A lot has changed since then. Sixteen nations competed in Chamonix; there will be ninety-two at PyeongChang. Nigeria is making history with two firsts at the Winter Olympics. Competing in the bobsled and skeleton, the team of three will be both the first Nigerians and the first women to represent Africa at a Winter Olympics. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia and Singapore will also compete in their first Winter Games. Meanwhile, a doping scandal has banned Russia. Clean athletes can participate under the generic Olympic flag.

There will be a few new events at the PyeongChang Games taking it over the top with more than 100 medal events. When it comes to winter medals, you can’t beat Norway. In spite of its small population, just over five million people, little Norway has earned 329 winter medals. That’s more than any other country.

The estimated cost for the PyeongChang Games is a hefty $12.9 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a B. As impressive as the number is, it doesn’t compare to the cost of the Sochi Olympics, a whopping $51 billion. Only one city has had the audacity to reject the honor of hosting the Olympics. Denver won the bid for the 1976 Winter Games but, after looking at the price tag, the people of Colorado voted it down.

Athletes from the divided peninsula of North and South Korea will join forces for a joint Olympic team. They will march together under a unified flag in the opening ceremony. Athletes from both sides of the demilitarized zone will train together. The women’s hockey team will take it one step further and send a unified team out onto the ice. It is not the first time an Olympics has united a divided country. West and East Germany competed together in 1956, 1960 and 1964.

Fielding the largest winter team ever, the US is sending 242 Olympians to South Korea. These athletes hail from coast to coast and thirty-one different states. Four are from our very own New Hampshire. Four more are immigrants from Ghana, South Korea, England and Canada. The youngest member of Team USA is Vincent Zhou, one of six seventeen year olds and a figure skater. The oldest US Olympian, Brian Gionta, is still playing hockey at thirty-nine. Speaking of hockey, anyone who remembers the miracle on ice at Lake Placid in 1980, stay tuned. The National Hockey League will not break for the games so NHL players will not skate at PyeongChang.

The Olympics can be a family affair. Seven sets of US siblings will compete in PyeongChang. Twins Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux play hockey for the US while the Brandt sisters are on different teams. Hannah is a forward for the US and Marissa plays defense for the unified Korean team. Adopted and brought to the US at four months, Marissa will play under her birth name Park Yoon-Jung. Seven more athletes are following their parent’s footsteps, including skiing great Barbara Cochran’s son Ryan. Then there is the Caldwell cross-country ski dynasty. Patrick will be at PyeongChang, his father competed in 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1984 and grandfather in 1952.

Enjoy the games! Wishing all of our athletes the joy of victory and bon appétit!

Quick Braised Asian Vegetables
A great side dish for your Olympics viewing party. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Vegetable oil
8-12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon or to taste sriracha
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 cup chicken stock
About 1 1/2 pounds bok choy, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut in match sticks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves

Lightly coat a large wok or skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium-high. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Add a little more oil to the skillet. Add the onion and carrot and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the ginger, garlic and sriracha and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and chicken stock, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium-high, return the mushrooms to the pan, add the bok choy and bell pepper and toss to combine. Stirring frequently, cook until the vegetable are tender, 3-5 minutes.

Drizzle with sesame oil and toss to combine, garnish with scallions and cilantro and serve immediately.

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One Year Ago – Scrod Florentine
Two Years Ago – Lemon Risotto with Spinach & Herbs
Three Years Ago – Black Bean & Beef Chili
Four Years Ago – Coq au Vin
Five Years Ago – Crostini with Beef Tenderloin & Stilton
Six Years Ago – Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach
Seven Years Ago – Lemon Cheesecake
Eight Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms
Nine Years Ago – Raviolis in Broth with Meatballs & Escarole

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

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Opening ceremony photography courtesy of

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