Summer Is Back Weekend Special

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

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More Kitchen Reno News & End of Summer Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bon appétit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome September with a Harvest Party & Hoisin Pork Ribs

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

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

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

Here are few ideas to put it all together:

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

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

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

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

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

Happy harvest and bon appétit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoisin Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello September Weekend Special

September – it’s where summer meets fall. It is a month filled with contrasts. There are those spectacular days of clear skies and bright sun. Then, to keep you humble and avoid complacency with the sunshine, there is a run of not so great weather. Cloudy, rainy, dreary, foggy … you get the picture. We’re stuck in one of those right now. However, the weekend promises improvement.

Rather than take a chance on the weather and a cookout, you might want to take dinner indoors this weekend. Here are a few ideas for a tasty, end of summer feast:

Start with a glass of wine and my latest appetizer recipe. Crispy, crunchy with lots of flavor, my Savory Rosemary Biscotti may become your new, fall hors d’oeuvre. If you like, enjoy the biscotti with small dollops of Tomato Jam or Savory Fig Jam .

Next, sit down to a colorful salad. How about my Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette ? The name says it all.

Who wouldn’t love a bowl of pasta on a cool night? With the harvest at its peak, you’ve got to love my Fettuccine with Fresh Corn & Tomatoes .

Cap off your meal with a beautiful end of summer dessert. For a sweet finish, try my Cardamom Plum Tort .

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

The New Kitchen Adventure Continues & Savory Rosemary Biscotti

Well, the fun has begun. My forty-something year old kitchen is now nothing but an empty shell. I managed, just barely, to clear everything out before Bruce the contractor arrived. A pile of freebies, including several interior doors and a gas range, is sitting in my driveway. Most days, something disappears and, just as often, I add something to the pile. The rarely used deep fryer, some thermal mugs and most of the drawers are gone. At some point, anything left will go into the dumpster.

Yes, that’s right; I have a dumpster. In fact, we are on dumpster number two. I really don’t know how the first one filled up so fast. The kitchen isn’t all that big. Why, it’s not much more than a glorified galley. Glorified because instead of the typical eight by eight or ten feet you find in a classic galley kitchen, mine is a luxurious ten by twelve. By the way, those ten feet are just narrow enough that, no matter where he stands, my dad is always in the way.

Now, just because I have a dumpster – don’t go thinking you can come down here with your old television set or that ancient sofa or whatever else the dump won’t take. Sure, I know; it’s tempting but don’t throw any of that stuff in my dumpster. It may be half empty now but it won’t be for long.

So, you ask, what’s it like having your kitchen remodeled? Well, noisy is the first word that comes to mind, very noisy. Followed by dusty. God love Bruce. He can’t do anything about the banging and clanging but he has covered all the doorways with plastic sheeting. It should help keep the dust from spreading to every corner of every room in the house. And God bless my dad, who promptly bumbled through, creating puddles of plastic at every doorway.

Speaking of Dad, Joe Nye thinks the world of Bruce. You see, he reminds Dad of his own father. Grandpa Nye was also a builder. If he was still around today, Grandpa could have been one of those guys on the home and garden network. Not because he could remodel an entire house for $25,000 and then flip it for a huge profit. No, Grandpa Nye could see the whole picture and was all about the details. He made sure all the pieces fit together. In today’s dollars, it would cost more than $25,000 but you would have no doubt that it was worth every penny. I guess, maybe Grandpa was more PBS than HGTV.

Anyway, the key reason Bruce reminds Dad of Grandpa is that, along with his good work, they both sweep up after each task and at the end of the day. Renovations are messy. However, when I walk through the room that once was and will again be my kitchen, there are no dusty piles of bent nails or drywall rubble. There are no half-empty water bottles or coffee cups. As for the plastic sheeting, it’s been carefully re-taped to each doorway.

Although it’s nothing new, the other fallout of renovation is insomnia. Without fail, I wake up around two o’clock every morning for a round of second guessing. Will the utility closet be big enough to hold the vacuum cleaner? A predawn trip downstairs solves that one; the answer is yes, just barely. Should the door slide on the inside of the laundry room or outside? I’m going with outside. The cork flooring is due on Tuesday. Does Tuesday mean before noon or after five? We’ll see. Should the modem stay in the kitchen or move to my office? TBD. Granite or butcher block for that cabinet on the far wall? I have a day or two to figure this one out. Did I remember to email the appliance guy and postpone delivery until Tuesday? Not yet. Does it make sense to have a drain board carved into the granite by the sink? Hmmm, maybe but what would it cost?

… and perhaps most important, what to cook that first night in the new kitchen?

… Bon appétit!

Savory Rosemary Biscotti
Although I have cooked in a convection oven, I have never owned one. That’s all about to change. I’ll be baking up this savory take on the Italian classic for the kitchenwarming. Enjoy!
Makes about 6 dozen biscuits

3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cut in small cubes
2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, cut in small cubes
4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into small cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Put the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put the cheeses in a food processor and pulse to grate and combine. Remove about 1/2 cup of cheese and reserve.

Add the flour, rosemary, baking powder, salt, pepper and paprika to the food processor and pulse to combine with the cheese. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the dough to a large bowl.

Put 3 eggs in a bowl and whisk to combine, add the sour cream and whisk again until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dough and stir until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into four pieces. Using well-floured hands, pat each piece into a flat log about 10-inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Placing them about 3 inches apart, transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheets.

Put the remaining egg in a bowl and whisk until pale yellow. Brush the logs with the egg and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the biscotti for 15 minutes, turn and swap the position of the pans. Continue baking until the logs are golden, about 15 minutes more. Cool the biscotti for about 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

With a serrated knife, slice the logs about 1/2-inch-thick on the diagonal. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in a single layer on baking sheets. Turning once, bake until golden and crisp, 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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

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

Help! Do you have any renovation advice to share? Feel free to share!

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

Labor Day Weekend Special

Well, here it is – the last hurrah of summer. School has already started – just in time for a long weekend. Some of the summer people will be back to close up the cottage. Locals will see the rhythm of their days and weeks accelerate. So for one last weekend, take it easy. Spend some time on the lake and get together with friends for a cookout. By the way, it looks like Saturday will the best day of the weekend.

Here are a few ideas for a tasty, end of summer cookout:

Is there anything better than a fresh, local tomato? How about Tomatoes with Burrata Salad and Grilled Bread ? I can’t get enough of this one. Throughout the summer, it has been my go-to supper whenever I’m home late from yoga or a meeting. Want something a bit less messy? Then try my Crostini with Cucumber, Radish & Feta. Alternatively, think of Provence and try my Pissaladière .

What about a salad? Since the grill is already going, I suggest you go for my Grilled Romaine Salad or Grilled Zucchini & Feta Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette .

On to the main course. How fancy would you like to be? You can go high end with a delicious Grilled Steak with Rosemary-Balsamic Glaze . Serve the steak with my Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn .

If you’ve got a big crowd, you can’t miss with my Grilled Lamb with Fresh Mint. Serve it with Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn or take your dinner in a different direction and try my Szechuan Noodle Salad on the side.

If you are thinking ultra-casual, then you can’t miss with my Southwest Turkey Burgers or Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn, Tomatoes & Salsa Verde . Serve either with Jicama Slaw .

Finish up the evening with sweet blueberries. I can suggest two wonderful blueberry desserts – Blueberry-Ginger Cobbler and Blueberry Bread Pudding .

As for me? I won’t be doing a lot of cooking this weekend. As I sit here tapping the last of my kitchen is being torn away. All of my dishes are piled on and under the dining room table. The old stove and dishwasher are in the driveway. Thank goodness for the grill, hotplate, microwave and salads.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

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

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

A New Kitchen Adventure & Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn

My forty-something year old kitchen is about to be transformed. With any luck, this adventure will take about three, maybe four weeks. I am filled with excitement, enthusiasm, fear and dread. Fear and dread because of my last foray into renovation. It was a simple job – transform two dated bathrooms into timeless classics. However, there were a few ugly diversions. The sills were the biggest calamity. Not the windowsills, I’m talking about the part that joins the house to the foundation.

The sills had rotted. Renovations came to a grinding halt. To make the repair, the siding had to come off the bottom third of the house. Almost forty-years old, the vinyl siding was very brittle. Instead of coming off in neat lengths, it crumbled into a thousand pieces. Except for the few stray odds and ends in the attic, it was no longer available. So, you guessed it, all the siding had to be removed and replaced. Then, to avoid future rot, a new ventilation system was installed in the crawl space under the house. Heck, since you’re down there anyway, let’s add some foam insulation.

Oh well, the bathrooms are beautiful and I never liked that vinyl siding anyway. The house is now clad in cedar and stained a lovely gray-beige.

It took a few years to recover but now I’m ready to tackle the kitchen. To calm my nerves, I’m thinking good thoughts, taking deep breaths and putting my hand on my heart. I might like to sit and watch the sunset but I’m too busy emptying cupboards to take a break.

As you may know or at least guessed, I have a lot gadgets. I love kitchen gadgets. Some women buy jewelry or shoes; I buy gadgets (and shoes). Between paragraphs, I’m dashing up and down the stairs to the kitchen to empty cupboards. So far, I’ve covered my dining room table with dishes, casseroles and 9”x13” pans. The coffee table too. Next, I’ll be stashing pots and pans under the both tables. At some point soon, I’ll need to branch out and put a bunch of stuff out on the porch.

Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention. The new cabinets are stacked almost wall to wall and floor to ceiling in the living room. So, that’s not an option. But why so many? I can’t figure it out; the kitchen is not all that big. They are still in giant cardboard cartons. The mystery will remain until the grand opening next week. Perhaps a few stowaways are sitting in my living room.

Anyway, it’s a little like having a corn maze, only made of cardboard. I’d invite your kids or grandkids to come over to play hide and seek but I’m afraid they might get lost in the jumble. Or worst, wedge themselves between two boxes and be stuck for hours.

My trick for keeping track of what’s done and what’s not is simple. As soon as I empty a cupboard, I remove the door. Gaping holes dot my kitchen. Yippee, progress is being made. There are just enough gaps to spur me on. Then I realize; I haven’t touched the pantry, laundry room or front hall closet. In one way or another, big and small, each of these areas is also getting a facelift.

Not surprising, I’ve discovered that the eighty-twenty rule applies to clearing out the kitchen. In case you’re thinking of another version of this rule, let me clarify. Just when you think that you are more or less eighty percent done, you realize you have at least eighty percent more to do.

Back to work … and bon appétit!

Cheesy Polenta with Fresh Corn
While this dish is great with a delicious ragout or stew, if you are without a kitchen -all you need is a hotplate and grill to whip up this tasty side dish. Try it with grilled shrimp or spicy sausages. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

3-4 ears corn
Olive oil
2 cups whole milk
2 cups or more chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
4-6 ounces grated or crumbled cheese* plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the grill to high.

Lightly oil 1 ear of corn. Place the corn on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, turn and cook 2-3 minutes more. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob and reserve.

Cut the kernels from the remaining ears of corn. You’ll need about 2 cups of raw kernels. Reserve.

Bring the milk, broth and salt to a simmer in heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly, slowly add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the polenta starts to thicken, 2-3 minutes.

Add the raw corn, cheese, herbs and butter and continue to stir until the corn is tender and the cheese and butter have melted, 2-3 minutes more. If the polenta seems too thick, add some more broth.

To serve: spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and sprinkle with grilled corn kernels and grated or crumbled cheese.

* Choose your cheese based on what’s for dinner. A mix of mozzarella and Parmigianino-Reggiano will be delicious with anything Italian. Think of France and add goat cheese for polenta and braised chicken or short ribs. Cheddar or queso fresco works well with a Tex-Mex ragout or spicy grilled sausages.

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Two Years Ago – Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado
Three Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Four Years Ago – Chocolate-Orange Tart
Five Years Ago – Chicken Liver Pâté
Six Years Ago – Blueberry Crisp
Seven Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Nine 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!

Help! Do you have any renovation advice to share? Feel free to share!

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