A Different Kind of Black Friday & Turkey-Tortellini in a Tomatoey Broth

If you are one of those people who love Black Friday and thrill to the hunt for fantastic bargains, you have my sympathies. Yes, I love a bargain – but – Black Friday? I confess, I don’t get the alure of this annual shopfest. It’s hard enough figuring out what to buy for everyone on my list. I can’t imagine shopping in the midst of a a tryptophan-induced quasi-coma. Nope, unlike millions of Americans, coronavirus or not, you won’t find me at the mall.

However, for all those girlfriends, sisters, mothers and daughters with longstanding traditions of lining up in the dark for BF sales, I offer my condolences. I’m guessing it’s more than the bargains that draw you out of bed in the middle of the night.

In any case, the coronavirus is putting the kybosh on Black Friday this year. Not wanting to host a super spreader event, many of the big box stores began offering up deals right after Halloween. Spreading the sales over several days or weeks doesn’t produce the same frenzy or cachet as a one or few day event.

If you are a Black Friday fanatic, don’t despair. There are hundreds of interesting ways to spend the day after Thanksgiving. Forget waking before dawn and racing to the mall, instead, how about you –

  1. Sleep in, relax and ease into the day with another cup of coffee or tea.
  2. Cybershop for anything you can’t find locally.
  3. Shop small and local, at a leisurely pace, for everything else.
  4. Ski, skate, walk and/or hike off some of that turkey.
  5. Make turkey soup.
  6. Knit scarves or hats for all your loved ones.
  7. Clean out your closets. Donate anything that’s in good shape but you no longer use.
  8. Organize your Tupperware®. Throw out any containers without lids and lids without containers.
  9. Clean the garage.
  10. Rake leaves.
  11. Pry the frozen pumpkin off your front step and throw it in the compost pile.
  12. Decorate the house for the holidays.
  13. Cut down a Christmas tree.
  14. Telephone or video chat with everyone you haven’t seen in months.
  15. Research your family tree.
  16. Write down your favorite stories about your grandparents for the kids or grandkids.
  17. Put together a holiday playlist and listen to it.
  18. Watch a classic Christmas movie.
  19. Read a book.
  20. Dig through that stack of old photographs, scan your favorites and pass the stack on to a sibling.
  21. Take the annual family holiday photo. If you are apart, collect photographs from everyone and make a family holiday collage.
  22. Back up all the files on your computer.
  23. Clean out your phone.
  24. Play with your dog.
  25. Be thankful for everyone you love and who loves you.

Be safe and well. Be grateful and kind to others and yourself. Bon appétit!

Turkey & Tortellini in a Tomatoey Broth

Rather than eat Thanksgiving dinner over and over again, I like to create new and different soups. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups turkey stock
  • 2 cups turkey cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 rind from a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese* (optional)
  • About 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 8-10 ounces fresh or frozen tortellini
  • 4-5 ounces baby spinach
  • Garnish: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot, season with paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Raise the heat to medium-high, stir in the wine and cook, stirring frequently until the wine has reduced by about half. Stir in the stock and crushed tomatoes, add the thyme, bay leaf, rosemary and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the turkey.

Can be made ahead to this point, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.

Bring the soup to a rapid boil, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.

Carefully transfer the tortellini to shallow bowls. Stir the spinach into the soup and cook until it wilts, 1-2 minutes. Ladle the soup over the tortellini and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

* While the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind is optional, it makes a world of difference!

Print-friendly version of my recipe for Turkey & Tortellini in a Tomatoey Broth.

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How will you spend Black Friday? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

What to Do about Thanksgiving? & Spiced Butternut Squash with Tahini Drizzle

With ten days to go, the big question on many minds is – how to handle Thanksgiving? That uniquely North American holiday is just around the corner. Well, at least it’s just around the corner for the US. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October. And no, that doesn’t mean they have Christmas in November. Although, the Greeks and the Russians do celebrate Christmas in January. But that’s another story.

Anthony Fauci, America’s favorite immunologist, Brad Pitt look-alike and soon-to-be octogenarian recommends that everyone stay home and safe. Not an easy thing for families who have been separated for months. For many, Thanksgiving is that one time of the year when everyone gets together. Even families that don’t like each other very much get together. Sure, peace and harmony can be in short supply at many of these gatherings – particularly after a contentious presidential election. Nonetheless, we get together. It’s like some kind of unwritten commandment or amendment to the constitution.

Anyway, if you normally come together from far and wide, it’s probably not a good idea this year. Especially, if some of your clan lives in one of those northern states in the middle. You know, the square ones that pretty much look alike. They’re having a tidal wave of new covid cases. Likewise, you probably don’t want to mix it up with anyone who’s been in an airport or on a plane recently.

So, how can you be together when apart this Thanksgiving? It’s not ideal but, if you can’t gather around the table, why not share an experience. It will be something to look back on. The year we stayed apart to ensure that we’d ALL be together in the future.

I’m guessing that most year’s, you’ve already chosen your menu by now. Plus, you’ve assigned side dishes or desserts to willing, and possibly at few unwilling, cooks. This year, why not choose a menu together. Then, have everyone cook the same dinner.

Now, there are a few things to think about. Normally, you have eight or twelve or more friends and family around the table. This year, multiple tables of twos and fours are much more likely. Unless you really, really love leftovers, a twenty pound turkey might not be your best choice.

Instead, let your creativity run wild. How about a duck or a stuffed turkey breast; an exotic stir-fry or an elegant scaloppini? Before you panic at the insurrection, remember, there were no turkeys at the Plymouth Rock feast. At the same time, include a few dishes that tie back to your family roots – Mom’s stuffing or Nana’s Cape Cod turnip. About that turnip, it’s okay to update Nana’s recipe.

Throughout the preparations feel free to call or FaceTime each other to check in, show progress or ask advice. A little one-on-one time is just as important as everyone together. Encourage one and all one to take and send photographs of their recipes in progress and beautifully set tables. Once you are ready to gather around the table, invite everyone to enjoy the meal together on Zoom.

No, it’s not exactly the same as sharing the same table but connection, no matter how, is always a good thing. Who knows, being apart could be a blessing this year. A few harsh words or braggadocios claims – the kind that come after one too many cocktails – might just be avoided.

Be safe and well. Be grateful and kind to others and yourself. Bon appétit!

 Spiced Butternut Squash* & Onion with Tahini Drizzle

Want to update Nana’s bland butternut squash puree? Roasting the squash (or turnip or your favorite root vegetables) with red onions and a little spice is the solution. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
  • About 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 red onion, peeled, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
  • Tahini Drizzle
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped and toasted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the spices in a large bowl and whisk to combine, add 2 tablespoons each olive oil and vinegar and the sriracha and whisk again. Add the squash and toss to coat.

Leaving any extra oil, vinegar and spices in the bowl, transfer the squash to a sheet pan, spread in a single layer and roast at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

While the squash roasts, put the onion in the bowl, add more olive oil and vinegar if necessary and toss to coat. Add the onion to the squash, toss to combine and spread in a single layer. Return to the oven and roast until tender, 10-15 minutes more.

To serve: transfer the vegetables to a serving platter or individual plates, drizzle with tahini sauce and sprinkle with parsley and pistachios.

* Not a fan of butternut squash? Try this recipe with turnips, carrots or your favorite root veggies.

Tahini Drizzle

Makes about 1 cup

    • 3 cloves garlic
    • Juice and zest of 1 lime Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup tahini
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2-4 tablespoons water

Put the garlic, lime juice and zest and vinegar in a small food processor and pulse to combine and finely chop.

Add the tahini and olive oil and process until smooth.

A tablespoon at a time, add the water and process until smooth and creamy.

Let the drizzle sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Drizzle can be made a few days ahead. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

Voted – What Now? White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut & Cranberry Cookies

Everyone I know voted, or, at least, they said they did. I’m assuming you did too. That’s a whole lot of ballots. In fact, it looks like 2020 had more people casting votes than ever before. Participation is a very good thing. It shows commitment to our democracy. However, with all those votes, a bunch of states had some trouble getting them all counted.

Of course, we pretty much knew what was going to happen. No, not the end result. No matter what poll said what, the outcome was always up in the air. Right, left or center, no one was assuming victory or defeat or anything else. As the hours and then minutes ticked by until the polls closed one thing was certain; it was going to be a long night. So long that it would stretch into days.

With no reason to stay glued to the television or social media for a final outcome, I for one went to bed early like I usually do. Yes, I’m one of those early to bed, early to rise types. Par for my course, I woke up in the middle of the night. Since I was up anyway, I checked in with the pundits and talking heads. You know, just in case there had been some earthshattering breaking news.

Wouldn’t you know it, I was just in time to see the President stroll to the podium. After throwing around a lot of numbers and percentages, he declared victory. Unfortunately for the President, the talking heads came back on to remind everyone that, depending on the state, it was too close or too soon to call the election. Saying so doesn’t make you the winner.

As elections go, it’s been kind of like 2000 but different. Election day and night 2000 went on for weeks. Even though it was twenty years ago, I have vivid memories of it. All that drama, the recounts and hanging chads, was my welcome home. After sixteen plus years in Switzerland, I returned to the US on November 6. The 2000 election was on November 7.

Through most of the recount process and legal battles, I was overcaffeinated and wired with jet lag and some combination of culture shock and reverse culture shock. Reverse culture shock because I’d been living abroad for so long. Culture shock because I was living in California for the first time. I’m not sure which combination is more different – New England and Switzerland or New England and California. I’m guessing it’s a toss-up.

Eventually, a winner was named and George W. became the forty-first president. In the meantime, I figured out the fastest and/or easiest routes to my office, Costco and Home Depot. In addition, I experienced many of the joys of new home ownership. Perhaps my favorite was coming home to no power. As a longtime renter, it never occurred to me to call the power company to let them know ownership had changed. Four days in the dark was a good reminder that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with anything? Well, not much but clearly, we all need to stay patient and respectful. The Biden-Harris ticket has won the day. Eventually, court battles will happen or not, get resolved and the dust will settle. The winners will be certified and, graciously or not, the loser will concede.

Stay safe and well. Be kind to others and yourself. Bon appétit!

White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut & Cranberry Cookies

Feeling a little anxious? Baking a batch of cookies about now might relieve some of the election stress. Share them with friends, family and neighbors. Enjoy!

Makes about 3-5 dozen cookies.

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

Put the flour, spices, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the butter and both sugars in large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until creamy. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until well combined.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Fold in the chips, nuts and cranberries. Using 2 spoons or an ice cream scoop, drop 1 tablespoon (mini scoop) of dough for small cookies or 2 tablespoons (small scoop) onto the prepared baking sheets.

Depending on the size of your cookies, bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden. Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Print-friendly version of my recipe for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cranberry Cookies.

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What are your thoughts on the election? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

VOTE! & Cranberry-Ginger Maple Syrup

By now there are two kinds of people in the US. Or at least two kinds of people of voting age. Those who have already voted and those who will vote today. I don’t even want to consider the possibility that there could be a third type. You know; someone who skips the polls. After all, this year we celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and women’s right to vote.

If you’re feeling apathetic, well, go put on your big girl or big boy pants and get a move on. You don’t have to do it for yourself. Do it for any and all of your ancestors who couldn’t vote. In case you missed it, Halloween was just a few days ago. It’s not too late for your great grandmother or great-great grandmother to come back and haunt you.

Besides, it’s not all about you. When you go to the polls, think of all the people you care about and who care about you. What are their needs; not just today but in the years to come? Whether you’ve got yours or not, consider how the candidates’ key policies will impact you and your loved ones.

Anyway, apathy is not a good look – on you or on anyone else for that matter. Your vote is your voice. Why would you even want to be silent? Your opinion is important, even when or if you don’t agree with me.

That said, your opinion only counts, if you fill in that ballot and drop it in the box. Whether you are satisfied with the status quo or think we need change, your vote sends a message to all politicians – local, state and federal.

Your one vote can make a difference. About 80,000 ballots across a couple of swing states sent Donald Trump to the White House in 2016. Not to mention, George Bush won the presidency by 537 votes in Florida in 2000. Both these guys, by the way, lost the overall popular vote. The peculiarities of electoral college gave them a path to the Oval Office.

Okay, so, you’re not thrilled to pieces with your choices. That’s okay. This election is not a once and forever thing. Last I knew, the position of All-Powerful Esteemed Lifetime Leader was not on the ballot. If we get it wrong; we can try to make it right in 2022 and 2024.

So, instead of worrying about the candidates’ lack of perfection, consider your critical issues and figure out who comes closest to your ideal. Whether you are worried about healthcare, the economy, the environment, social injustice, all of the above or something(s) else, choose the candidates who will get you in the neighborhood of where you want to be.

And finally, if your mom is/was anything like mine, she’d want you to vote.

So, if you haven’t voted yet; do it today. What could be more important? There’ll be plenty of time to go shopping tomorrow. You can wash the car another day. Today isn’t just the first day of the rest of your life; it is your last chance to vote in this election.

Stay safe and well. You matter, your voice matters and your vote matters. Bon appétit!

Cranberry-Ginger Maple Syrup

Wake up your fall breakfast routine with a special, seasonal syrup for pancakes, waffles or oatmeal. And if you’re not a breakfast person? You can always try it on ice cream. Enjoy?

Makes about 3 cups

  • 2 cups pure maple syrup
  • About 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Combine all the ingredients except the butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue whisking until melted and well combined.

Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to combine the flavors.

Serve warm with pancakes, waffles, oatmeal or ice cream.

Print-friendly version of my recipe for Cranberry-Ginger Maple Syrup.

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

I’m voting in person. What about you? Do you have a plan to vote? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

About Autumn in Northern New Hampshire & Asian Patties with Chile-Vinegar

There is no doubt about it, autumn is special in New England. While the season starts with a spectacular explosion of color, if it wasn’t for Thanksgiving, it would probably end in dreadful doldrums. Three events have always kept us active and engaged from the autumnal equinox through to the winter solstice.

The first, of course, is the fall foliage. Most years, vivid reds and golds beckon tourists from across the country and around the world. This year, with COVID-19, the tourists stayed home. There might have been one or two busloads of leaf peepers but I didn’t see them. However, quite a few summer people are still here. Since many have been around since March, do you suppose they’ve decided to move here for good?

The leaves peaked early but, in spite of fewer admirers, are still gloriously brilliant. Of course, you don’t have to be a tourist to love a New England fall. It is a wonderful time to hike and bike. Only the most cantankerous refuse to appreciate the clear air and bright hues of autumn.

Next comes Halloween. I guess the only thing unique about a northern New England Halloween is that costumes need to be large enough to be worn over a snowsuit. That and there are two kinds of neighborhoods. If your house or business is in the village center, you are inundated with hundreds of spooktacular kids. Anywhere else … well, I’ve lived in my house for sixteen years and I’ve had one trick-or-treater. Yes, only one, in all that time.

Like most everything else, Halloween will not be same this year. Thanks to COVID-19, many families will stay home. Houses that usually welcome a constant parade of children will turn off the porch light and ignore the doorbell. It’s probably best to skip traditional trick-or-treating this year. However, Halloween is on a Saturday, so, an afternoon, outdoor party with your pod could be a good alternative.

In case you’re wondering, a pandemic pod, overwise known as a quaranteam, is a small, trusted group of your nearest and dearest. Trusted because you’ve all decided to act responsibly during the pandemic. As a group, you’ve agreed to socially distance, wear masks and stay away from super spreaders. While you miss the hugs, these compromises keep everyone safe. As for the party, you might not want to bob for apples but a costume parade and a few treats should be okay.

As for nearest and dearest, yes, you should interpret that literally. While much of the rest of the US grapples with high infection rates, New Hampshire is below one percent. Even better, our local rate of infection is less than half that. A bubble of sorts, cases in the Kearsarge-Sunapee region are few and far between.

Looking forward, Dr. Fauci, America’s favorite infectious disease expert, suggests we avoid big gatherings at Thanksgiving. Ugh! Thanksgiving is what makes the gray days of November bearable. However, with infection rates climbing throughout the US, best for one and all to stay put. Just remember we are apart now so we can be safe and together later. Tell the out of state rellies to wait a bit. Better to celebrate later, even much later, than risk infection. As a consolation, use your creativity to come up with a clever and safe Thanksgiving pod party.

Stay safe and well. Be kind to yourself and to others. Bon appétit!

Asian Patties with Chile-Vinegar

Add tiny patties to your list of appetizers to serve at your post-COVID party. In the meantime, make larger one for dinner. Either way, they are delicious. Enjoy!

Serves 12 for appetizers and 6 for dinner

  • 2-3 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 (1 1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • About 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon or to taste sriracha
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Vegetable oil

Put the scallions, garlic, about half of the cilantro – leaves and stems, lime zest, hoisin, fish and soy sauces and sriracha in a small food processor and pulse to combine and finely chop.

Put the ground pork and turkey in a large bowl and break up into chunks, add the scallion-garlic-ginger-cilantro mixture. With clean hands, gently mix everything together and form into 1- or 2-inch patties.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. The patties can be prepped several hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.

To make the dipping sauce, put the vinegar, chiles, lime juice and brown sugar in a bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Set aside. The sauce can be prepared several hours in advance.

Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, working in batches cook the patties for 2-4 minutes per side or until cooked through.

For appetizers, transfer to a platter, garnish with the remaining cilantro leaves, and pass with toothpicks and dipping sauce. For dinner, divide the dipping sauce into individual small bowls and serve the patties on top of warm basmati rice and garnish with the remaining cilantro leaves.

Print-friendly version of my recipe for Asian Patties with Chile-Vinegar.

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How are you staying safe during the pandemic? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

 

Make a Plan – Work the Plan & Creole Chicken

After months of primaries, debates, virtual town halls and kazillion ads, November 3rd is finally just three weeks away. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make a plan to vote in the 2020 election. Sounds a bit funny, doesn’t it? Make a plan to vote.

In the past, planning was pretty simple for a lot of us. We looked at our schedules a day or two before the election and figured out a good time. If, by chance, that Tuesday was a particularly busy one, we stuck a yellow sticky note on the coffee maker or PC screen so we wouldn’t forget.

For others, voting was a little more complicated. Perhaps, you needed a ride. If that was the case, you called a friend or a volunteer for a lift. Same goes for anyone caring for young children or ancient relatives. You called for backup and dashed to the polls. Chances are good you took advantage of the time off and made two or three additional stops on the way home.

To get their absentee ballots, snowbirds walked into the town clerk’s office, filled in a form and handed it right back. By the time they arrived in the Sunshine State, ballots were sitting in their mailboxes. Absentee voters knew that their ballots would only take a couple of days to wing their way back to New Hampshire.

Simple or more complicated, planning was not that big a deal. That was then. Now, with COVID-19, voting has a lot more moving parts. Thankfully, New London is bending over backwards to make it easier for everyone. Hopefully, your town is doing the same.

Regardless of where you live, check your town website. That’s where you’ll find lots of information to help you navigate the 2020 election. If you are voting in person, make sure you know your polling place. You may think you know where to go but many towns have moved voting to larger spaces like the public works garage. If you’ve never been there, get the address.

If COVID-19 has you worried about voting in person, you’re not alone. The State of New Hampshire agrees that COVD-19 is a good reason to vote by mail. However, time is running out so act fast to request your absentee ballot. Your town website probably has a downloadable request form. If you have trouble, call your town clerk. Be patient, most town offices are swamped right now. By the way, New London is offering a special drive-through event this coming Saturday for voter registration as well as absentee ballot pick-up and drop-off. Maybe your town is too.

Now, take a minute, maybe two or three and figure out your plan. Whether you vote in person, drive-through or absentee, making that plan is not enough. You need to work the plan to make it happen. And, in any and all cases, read the fine print. Make sure your ballot is counted!

Two more things. First, don’t forget to get a flu shot. I have a confession to make. This year, finally, for the first time, I’m going to get a flu shot. I already have an appointment. As for the second thing, after voting – how about we each make a plan to reward ourselves with something nice? It doesn’t have to be big, a little something-something will do.

Don’t forget to vote and bon appétit!

Creole Chicken

With cooler weather, I’ve already put my braising pan and stew pot to work. This cozy dish is perfect for a crisp fall night. Enjoy!

Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon or to taste cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • About 1 1/2 cups (15 ounce can) crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour in a shallow dish, add 1/2 teaspoon each Italian herbs, cumin, paprika and cayenne, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess.

Heat a little olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, add the chicken, cook for 2 minutes, turn and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Reduce the heat to medium and add more oil to the skillet if necessary. Add the carrot, celery, onion and bell pepper, sprinkle with the remaining herbs and spices, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the sausage and garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup chicken stock and the bay leaf, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, wiggle it into the sauce and bring everything to a simmer. Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes. If necessary, add more chicken stock.

Transfer to a deep platter or individual plates and serve.

Print-friendly version of my recipe for Creole Chicken.

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

I’m voting in person. What about you? Do you have a plan to vote? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

Hate Has No Home Here & Cheesy Cheddar Corn Cakes with Roasted Tomato Salsa

As we head into the final weeks before the election, candidates’ signs are multiplying in yards all over town. Some promote one or the other presidential candidate and others tout local hopefuls. Several weeks ago, before this proliferation of red, white and blue placards began, my neighbors posted an interesting sign. Instead of declaring for a candidate, it offered up a welcoming message and promoted a sense of community with the simple phrase “Hate has no home here.”

It gives me much needed hope every time I see it. Between the pandemic and partisan politics, I admit I’m feeling a little stressed out. That, plus a few non-covid health issues with my two ancient housemates. In case I forgot to mention or I did and you just don’t remember, I adopted an adorable, seventeen-year-old West Highland Terrier in January. Then I March, my nonagrian father moved in. I’m healthy but between Dad and the dog, there is rarely a dull moment at our house.

Oh, and just to avoid any possibility of calm, I’m renovating – again. When it comes to houses, I’m one of those people who buys when the market is hot and sells during a recession. My latest trick is to renovate when demand and prices for any and all building materials is at an all-time high and subcontractors are booked solid for months. It seems that when the coronavirus sent everyone home in March, a lot of people discovered they didn’t have enough room or their kitchen was grossly outdated or something or other. Now, everyone and their cousin are remodeling – creating all kinds of shortages and wreaking havoc on my contractor’s schedule.

Okay, then – to summarize, the pandemic, partisan politics, a new valve and a pacemaker, swollen ankles, a spot that isn’t melanoma after all, a tummy ache and a whole lot of hammering has wound me up a little tighter than normal. As a consequence, messages of love and peace are warmly received. Hate has no home at my house.

And you know, I can’t help but think that everyone, or at least everyone I know and care about, shares that sentiment. I’m more than confident that hate has no home with my friends and family – and with a whole lot of people I’ve never met.

In this crazy time, in this terrible, awful, no good, very bad year of 2020, is it possible, probable or the least bit likely that somehow or other, all of us – that’s every single one of us – can give hate the heave ho? And no, this is not the time for you-go-first or I’ll-do-it-if-you-do negotiations.

Although it might not be a bad idea, I’m not asking for a national kumbaya moment. No one’s saying you have to love everyone on the planet. You don’t even have to like everyone. However, we all need to be is open to others. And by others, I mean people who don’t look the same as you or me, think differently, have another political point of view, speak a different language or worship differently or not at all. We all need to be open to the wonderful diversity of all that is human. A simple goal but difficult to achieve.

If it helps, think of the unlikely friendship between Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia. Polar opposites, they seldom agreed on the cases brought before them. However, they bonded over a shared love of opera, travel and the law.

A passion for cooking and good food? A love of football, live music or mountain hikes? Let’s find some common ground to share and bon appétit!

Visit the Hate Has No Home Here website to learn more about the project.

Cheesy Cheddar Corn Cakes with Roasted Tomato Salsa

The corn season is almost over – so be sure to indulge in the last ears every which way you can. Serve these Corn Cakes as a main dish for bunch or a side with dinner. Enjoy!

Serves 8

  • Roasted Tomato Salsa (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • About 4 ounces grated (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups (4-6 ears) fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2-3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Olive oil

Make the Roasted Tomato Salsa.

While the tomatoes roast, put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cheese and toss to combine. Add the corn, scallions, garlic and herbs and toss again.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sour cream until smooth. Add the liquid ingredients to the cornmeal-vegetables-cheese mixture and stir to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Lightly coat a griddle or large skillet with oil and heat over medium. When the skillet is hot, drop spoonfuls of batter onto the pan. Cook the corn cakes for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Serve immediately with Roasted Tomato Salsa.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Put the tomatoes and their juices and the onion in a large, ovenproof skillet or roasting pan, drizzle with enough equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar to lightly coat and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the spices, season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Stir in the garlic and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

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What are your favorite ways to find common ground? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

The Notorious RBG – A Justice for All & Orecchiette with Sage-Walnut Pesto, Sausage & Butternut Squash

The news of the death of Justice Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG, sent shockwaves. I actually wailed when I heard. With a lifetime of service, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero, an inspiration and an icon to millions of women and girls. From her landmark wins before the bench to her brilliant decisions and descents while on the court, Justice Ginsburg leaves a vast legacy.

For instance, I remember coming home from school one day to find my generally unflappable mother muttering and stuttering. She’d been refused a credit card and was livid. The bank had magnanimously told her that, of course, she could have a card as Mrs. Nye – as long as her husband signed the paperwork. A few years later, Mom got her first credit card in her own name. Thank you RBG. And that’s not all …

Over the years, I have had a couple of mortgages and been called for jury duty twice. Women have served as administrators for family or friend’s estates. Widowers have received social security benefits to help with the care of their children. Husbands and families of women in the military have received housing benefits. Men have been granted tax credits against the costs of care for invalid family members. The list goes on and we have RBG to thank for it.

All judges and justices bring life’s experiences to the courtroom. Few, if any, can leave that baggage, both the good and the bad, at the door. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s baggage gave her a unique perspective on the court. The daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant father and a first generation Polish-American mother, RBG grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn.

In spite of a brilliant mind and excellent education, she faced adversity throughout her early career. At her first post-college job with the Social Security Administration, she was demoted when she became pregnant. One of nine women in her class of more than 500 at Harvard Law School, the Dean ask them, “Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?” After transferring to Columbia Law School, she graduated number one in her class. In spite of her academic success, New York’s law firms were not interested in hiring a lawyer who also happened to be a woman, a mother and Jewish. In addition, her application for a Supreme Court clerkship was summarily rejected – simply because she was a woman.

However, with the help of one of her Columbia professors, RBG did land a clerkship with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. From there, she entered academia and worked with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on gender equality issues. The ACLU Women’s Rights Project was founded in 1972 under Ginsburg’s leadership. RBG and her team of lawyers helped pave the way for the next generation of women. She continued the good fight for gender equality, civil rights and human rights on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and then on the Supreme Court.

How should we honor the Notorious RBG at her passing? In ways both large and small, we can help pave the way for the next generation of women. Today’s student may not be one of nine women in a graduate class of more than 500 men but she faces many challenges. Women still earn about eighty percent of what men do. Venture capital continues to snub women-owned firms. Only thirty-seven companies in the Fortune 500 have a woman CEO. And that’s just the tip of the glass ceiling.

Finally, we can honor the Notorious RBG by voting this November. If you haven’t already, make your plan to vote and bon appétit!

Orecchiette with Sage-Walnut Pesto, Sausage & Butternut Squash

The nights are getting cooler. Time for a cozy pasta supper. Enjoy!

Serves 4

  • Sage-Walnut Pesto (recipe follows)
  • About 1 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage links
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in thin wedges
  • About 8 ounces orecchiette or your favorite short pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more to pass

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the squash in a single layer and roast uncovered at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Add the sausages to the pan and roast for another 10 minutes. Add the onion and more olive oil if necessary, toss to combine with the squash and cook 15-20 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender and the sausage is cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Saving about 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add enough Sage-Walnut Pesto to the orecchiette to lightly coat plus 2 tablespoons of pasta water and toss to combine. If necessary, add a little more pasta water.

Transfer the sausage to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch rounds. Add the sausage and vegetables to the pasta and toss again. Add more pesto and pasta water if necessary, cover and cook on medium for 1-2 minutes.

Sprinkle the pasta with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss to combine. Transfer the pasta to a deep serving platter or individual shallow bowls and serve. Pass additional grated cheese.

Sage-Walnut Pesto

  • 1-2 cups loosely packed fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped and toasted walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Put the sage, walnuts, thyme and garlic in a small food processor, season with salt and pepper, add a little olive oil and process until finely chopped and combined. With the motor running, slowly add more olive oil and process until you have a smooth sauce.

Cover and store any extra pesto in the refrigerator.

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How will you honor the life of the Notorious RGB?  Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

Falling for Fall & Lemony Sautéed Cod

Every year, fall sneaks up on us. No, not the glorious foliage peak – we can generally see that one coming. No, I’m talking about the sudden realization that summer is over or almost. From one day to the next, by late afternoon, we need a seater. Moreover, sunrise comes later and later and sunset earlier and earlier.

The transition from summer to fall is not always smooth. Let’s face it, it’s never smooth. You wake up one morning in late August and it’s all of forty degrees outside. Naturally, you think – now might be a good time to take those noisy air conditioners out of the windows. After all, it’s been a while since you needed them. As always, your day is overscheduled, so, you leave them be. But within a day or two, a heat wave hit

s and you’re ever so glad you didn’t lug those ACs back into the garage.

Anyway, today it’s official; the autumnal equinox, the first day of fall. And by the way, it’s my favorite season or at least the first half is. September and early October are generally warm and sunny with low humidity. It might be a little chilly for a swim but it’s perfect for walking, hiking and biking. It’s also good for tennis, pickleball and golf or a few hours lazing in the sun with a good book. Outdoor dining is still a delight for lunch but questionable for dinner.

Although January marks the start of the calendar year, September reeks of new beginnings. It’s when we make all sorts of improvement plans and buy new sneakers. Fall is when people think about starting a book club, buying tickets to live performances or planning trips to the museum.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has put a halt to large indoor gatherings. There won’t be many, maybe any, concerts or plays this fall and winter. To make matters worse, before long, icy rains and snow will put an end to friendly gatherings on the deck. It’s one thing to hike when the temperature hovers around freezing and quite another to host a dinner party out in the cold.

So, what can we do to make this fall feel a little less strange? What activities will keep us engaged and happy? What plans should we all be making?

Stay active. When the weather starts to turn cold, a lot of people go into hibernation. Daily exercise become a once in a blue moon workout. Weekend activities are often cancelled. If fall tends to turn you into a couch potato, have a backup – especially if you’re not ready to go back to the gym. Consider going online to look for a stationary bike or rowing machine to adopt. Anything and everything to keep you moving.

Take up that hobby you’ve been meaning to try. This could be your year to knit Christmas scarves for everyone you know or invent the world’s best curry paste or both or something even more interesting and fun. Whatever makes you happy – go for it.

Finally, if you haven’t already, figure out your plan to vote. November will be here before you know it. Whether you vote early, absentee or at the polls on November 3, have a plan to make sure your vote is counted.

During this challenging time – have fun, be flexible and, most of all, be kind. Bon appétit!

Lemony Sautéed Cod

If you’re looking for a quick dinner, look no further. Perfect at the end of a long day, this recipe is one of my go-to quick-fix dinners. Enjoy!

Serves 2 but easily doubles or triples

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8-10 ounces cod filets
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Put the flour, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper in a shallow dish and whisk to combine. Dredge the cod in the flour mixture.

Lightly coat a frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium high. The pan should be large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Add the cod, reduce the heat to medium and, depending on the thickness of the fish, cook for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip the fish and cook an addition 2-4 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the fish from pan, add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the butter and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice and bring to a simmer. Return the cod to the pan, spoon the sauce over the fish and cook for a minute or less.

Transfer the cod to individual plates, drizzle with sauce and serve.

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What your thoughts/strategies for dealing with the coronavirus during colder weather? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020

What’s in a Name? & Grilled Scallops with Tomatoes & Feta

A new, some might call it snarky, meme has hit the U.S. and much of the English-speaking world. I’ll call it the Karen phenomenon. My sympathies go out to any and all women whose name has suddenly become the brunt of jokes. It’s my understanding that Susan was a candidate but lost out in the finals. It seems that for the purposes of the insult, the K in Karen has an appropriately harsh sound. Lucky for me, the soft and squishy S in Susan doesn’t cut it.

So, who is this Karen and where’d she come from? As I understand it, Karen is of a certain age. Peaking three in 1965, her name was popular throughout the fifties and sixties. I guess that makes most of them either Baby Boomers or Gen X. And while we Baby Boomers think we are the best thing since the shirt pocket and sliced bread, not everyone agrees. In fact, I’m betting those Gen X Karens don’t.

Along with age, Karen is a certain type. Words like entitled, selfish and white privilege are used to describe her. Moreover, when things aren’t going her way, no matter how trivial the inconvenience, Karen immediately defaults to her favorite catchphrase – “Can I speak with the manager?”

Around the neighborhood, Karen is a petty enforcer. You guessed it; she’s the one who calls the cops on a ten-year-old with an unpermitted lemonade stand. Conversely, Karen can be a rule breaker. Keep your eyes open at Cosco or Trader Joe’s – she’s the one refusing to wear a mask. It’s important to understand; Karen will not be muzzled. Or maybe she’s just above the law.

Thankfully, none of the women I know who happen to be named Karen are even remotely like this caricature. Unfortunately, I do that a few acquaintances bearing different monikers that sort of fit the Karen profile. And no, I’m not giving any hints.

Now, I do have one question when it comes to this Karen thing. How come there are no Karls or Keiths? Is it possible that only women exude this sense of entitlement and self-importance? Silly me, I was not aware that women alone were guilty of selfish behavior.

Taking a broader view, it’s not the first time a name has been used pejoratively to describe a group of people. Throughout our history, specific names have been used as descriptors for immigrant and ethnic groups, alien enemies and more. No, I won’t repeat any. They weren’t nice then and they’re still not.

But why now? The meme has been around for a few years but it feels like it’s suddenly exploded. With the 100 year anniversary of women’s right to vote, shouldn’t we be celebrating not stereotyping women? No, of course, we don’t want to celebrate bad behavior. But, my goodness, we are suddenly inundated with Parking Lot Karen, Starbucks Karen and a whole bunch more. Everywhere you turn, another Karen is behaving badly.

I suspect, like many things, the pandemic has something to do with it. Some combination of too much stress and too much free time could be the culprit. Is it possible that the pandemic has created a bunch of new Karens or made some of them a little more Karen-ish? Or could it be that all of us, the Karens and the not-Karens are all feeling a bit less tolerant? During this challenging time, let’s all practice kindness, acceptance and patience.

Bon appétit!

Grilled Scallops with Tomatoes & Feta

Grilled scallops have been one of my go-to quick meals this summer. With beautiful tomatoes at the farm stand, now is a good time to combine the two. Enjoy!

Serves 4

  • 1-2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  • About 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • About 1 teaspoon finely chopped oregano
  • About 1/2 cup crumbled feta

Put the onion and 1 clove minced garlic in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Put the lemon juice, olive oil and remaining garlic in a bowl and whisk to combine, add the scallops, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat and combine. Let the scallops marinate for 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill to high.

Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with oregano and toss to combine.

Place the scallops on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more.

Serve the scallops with a dollop of the tomato salad and a sprinkle of feta.

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How’s your tolerance level these days? Is it time for you to dial-it-back? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2020