If They Can … You Can & Risotto with Fresh Corn & Grilled Tomatoes 

If NASA can put a man on the moon and bring him safely back to earth …

If Oprah can turn cauliflower into pizza …

If I can teach little kids to hit a baseball …

… you can more or less do whatever you set your mind to.

About the baseball thing, let me explain. When I was in the second grade my report card noted that, although I was a sweet little girl, I was a dismal failure at the bean bag toss. I’m sure the teacher didn’t use the words dismal or failure but you get the picture.

It was a family joke for years and still pops up from time to time. Quite simply, I was that kid. The one who couldn’t throw or catch a bean bag or ball, shoe, orange or whatever. Forget about connecting a ball to bat or ball to foot or racket or goal or anything else. Oh, sure, once in a blue moon I won a tennis game but never a match. I never hit a home run and tripped over more than one soccer ball. The whole eye-hand (or foot) coordination thing just didn’t work for me.

You can imagine my surprise when I was drafted to coach T-ball. Of course, the commissioner or whatever they call the guy who organizes the teams was desperate. I figure he ran out names to call when he stumbled across my number in his directory. Anyway, he must have caught me at a weak moment because I said yes.

Either that or I somehow realized that he wasn’t taking the light blue team seriously. Perhaps they were Geneva’s answer to the Bad New Bears. Yes, this all happened when I was living in Geneva and at least half of the team didn’t speak English. One little girl didn’t speak French either. Two American dads, they were the red team’s coaches, divided up the kids. They stacked the deck, filling their roster with Americans who knew at least a bit about baseball and spoke English.

However, while I knew practically nuttin’ about baseball, I knew a whole lot about concentration. In addition, I spoke more than enough French to communicate the few basics I was able to grasp. By teaching the kids to concentrate on the ball – to ignore their friend on second base and not to worry about the bat – I taught them how to hit. One on one, I whispered to each child. I assured them that as long as he or she kept their eye on the ball, they’d hit it every time. With all seriousness and no shame, I attributed this no-fail/eye-on-the-ball thing to magic. After all, who needs skill when you have magic on your side.

Anyway, it worked. The light blue team won every game – yes, EVERY game.

But it’s not just kids who need focus and inspiration. We all do. A healthy measure of confidence and a little magic never hurts either. From that first day of kindergarten, fall has always been a time for new beginnings. With New England’s beautiful foliage, it’s also a magical time. Whatever your goal is for the coming months, if you set your mind to it and focus; you might just hit a home run.

Here’s to hitting it out of the park and bon appétit!

Risotto with Fresh Corn & Grilled Tomatoes 

September is the perfect, maybe the only, time for this dish. Local corn is at its peak and temperatures are cooling down. Homey and comforting but far from ordinary, risotto is great on a chilly night. Enjoy!

Serves 6 as a main course and 12 as a side dish

  • About 1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • About 5 cups chicken stock
  • About 4 cups (4-6 ears) fresh corn kernels
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated plus more to pass
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves cut in julienne

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the tomatoes and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with just enough olive oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Put the tomatoes and garlic in a grill pan, place on the grill and, stirring from time to time, grill on high until lightly caramelized, 4-5 minutes. Return the tomatoes to the bowl and fish out the garlic. Finely mince the garlic, add it back to the tomatoes, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and toss to combine. Set aside.

Heat the chicken stock to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low to keep warm.

Lightly coat a large, heavy saucepan with a little olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until it starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring for another 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium low, add the wine and simmer until the rice absorbs the wine. Add 1 cup stock and, stirring frequently, simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock, 1 cup at a time, and stirring, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the corn and nutmeg and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter, cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted and combined. Stir in half the basil.

Spoon the risotto into shallow bowls, garnish with grilled tomatoes, sprinkle with the remaining basil and serve. Pass more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for those that like a cheesier risotto.

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Home for Lunch Bunch & Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Last Tuesday, families were back at bus stops during my morning walk around the lake. It was the first day of school. Cell phones were in camera mode and working in overdrive. Most of the moms were wearing bigger and brighter smiles than the kids, much bigger and much brighter.

While my childhood was split between Massachusetts and New Hampshire, our Monday through Friday life was spent in suburbia. That’s where I went to school. It was a much different world from our northern New England paradise. For one thing, in square mileage, the town was half the size. However, the population was about fifteen, yes, fifteen, times greater.

In the spirit of the post-war building boom, houses were packed close together. Not reach out the window and shake your neighbor’s hand close but close enough. Instead of one regional elementary school serving a couple of towns, there were twelve neighborhood schools and no corner bus stops. From the first day of kindergarten until we finished the sixth grade, we walked to school.

These elementary schools were strategically located so that no child walked more than a mile. Or at least that was the theory. There were a few outliers. My friend Joy was one of them. Her street fell outside the one-mile radius of any school. Joy and kids like her had to tough it out, ride their bikes or hitch rides with their parents.

We actually walked to and from school twice a day. That’s right, we went home for lunch. As you might guess, that put quite a crimp in any parent’s day. But those schools were built in another time for another era. Most moms were stay at home; taking care of kids, house and husband. I’m sure there were a few exceptions but I never met any.

It didn’t seem to bother Mom much when my sister and I were little. She was always there when we bounced back and forth, to and from Fiske School. All the mothers in the neighborhood were on the same schedule. If they complained about it; we never heard. Then again, what seven-year-old pays attention to the hassles and inconveniences her mother might face?

Things changed a bit the year my brother started kindergarten. While the town had twelve neighborhood elementary schools, there was just one high school and one middle school. My sister was in her first year at the high school and I had just move up to the middle school. (We called it junior high back then.)

Anyway, our house fell within inches of the one-mile rule so, middle school or not, I still walked. My sister took the bus. But here’s the important part, neither of us went home for lunch. The school board figured that once you reached the ripe old age of twelve, you could handle a cafeteria.

On the other hand, my kindergartener brother was home every day at noon. It was about that time that my generally cheery mom started to talk about the home for lunch bunch. At twelve, I couldn’t help but notice the not-so-subtle note of irony in her voice. After all, this daily interruption and rush to be home had already been going on for ten years … and, there she was – looking at seven more.

Happy back to school and bon appétit! 

Greek Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

You don’t need to roll out the grill for this grown up version of a childhood favorite. Next time zucchini is on the menu, grill up some extra for tomorrow’s lunch. Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • About 1/2 red onion, cut in thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Dash or to taste hot sauce
  • 1-2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta
  • Black oil-cured or Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the onion and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Put the vegetables in a grill basket and, stirring from time to time, grill on high until tender crisp.

Return the vegetables to the bowl, fish out the garlic clove, add the hot sauce and toss to coat. Finely mince the garlic, add it back to the onion and toss again.

Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the zucchini until nicely browned and tender, 3-5 minutes per side. Remove the zucchini from the grill and finely chop. Add the zucchini to the onion and toss to combine.

Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread. Set half the bread slices in a skillet – you’ll probably need to work in batches or use 2 skillets. Spread a dollop of grilled vegetables on each slice and sprinkle with mozzarella, feta and olives. Top with the remaining bread slices, butter side up. Cover the skillet and cook on medium low until the bread is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and cook until the cheese has melted and the second side is golden, about 5 minutes.

Cut the sandwiches into wedges and serve.

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Back to a New Beginning & Spaghetti with Grilled Eggplant

Well, my goodness, how the heck did that happen? Today, yes today, is the first day of school in the district. Not to mention, the long Labor Day Weekend is coming up. By the way, there is something very wrong, very out of whack with that. School is supposed to start the day after Labor Day not the week before.

It’s been quite a while since I had to worry about finding the perfect back-to-school backpack or notebooks. That said, Labor Day does stir those not quite forgotten memories of a new start. The almanac claims that the new year comes on January 1 but that feels like just another winter day. However, the Tuesday after Labor Day – that’s something else. It’s not just another day on the calendar. It’s for jumping into new adventures. As a student and then a teacher, I spent more than a couple of decades doing just that. It still feels like a good time to start something new.

During the summer, schedules and routines seem to fall apart. One day, it’s too beautiful to stay inside and finish that project. Another is too hot to cook or write or think or do anything but float in the lake. My mother was always so sad on Labor Day. She loved our worry-free summers in New Hampshire. The first Monday in September always heralded the return to suburbia with its schedules and carpools.

If it’s not happened already, we’ll soon be back to our old routines or creating new ones. Long, lazy evenings on the beach will be cut short. Real shoes will replace flip-flops. Shorts will go into plastic bins and get stored in the attic. Book club and any number of other activities and responsibilities that were suspended over the summer will start up again.

Unfortunately, the whole idea, even the word routine sounds sooooo boring and, well, routine. However, there are some benefits. Creating routines that work for you, your priorities and your temperament will make you more efficient. With any luck, they’ll help you break a few bad habits and start a few good ones. Think of a new routine or return to an old one as a framework and a promise to yourself to accomplish a goal.

Now might be a good time to think about any changes you’d like to make. No, you don’t need to move across the country or start training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s okay to keep it simple. Maybe your new fall routine will include a walk every morning or cooking at home three times a week. Perhaps you’ll make room for a daily hour of quiet time to tackle that list of books you’ve been meaning to read. Or, you’ll finally take those Italian lessons, volunteer for a favorite cause or candidate or start tai chi. Whether it’s a skill you promise to learn or five pounds you want to lose, now is a good time to build a new routine to make it happen.

In the spirit of back-to-school, there will be rewards. Instead of a glowing report card, you will be rewarded in lots of small ways. Some will be intangible like the pleasure of getting lost in a wonderful book. Others will be easily discernible like the new found strength and stamina from regular exercise. While not always earth shattering, there’s something quite satisfying about taking on a challenge, large or small, and achieving success.

Carp diem and bon appétit!

Spaghetti and Grilled Eggplant
Farmstands and farmers markets are filled with wonderful local produce. Pasta tossed with fresh vegetables is a quick and easy dinner when the evenings start to cool. Enjoy!
Serves 8

  • 1 smallish red onion, cut in thin wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon or to taste your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • 4 smallish eggplants, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2-1 cup roughly chopped or cut in julienne basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or a combination of both

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the onion and garlic in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Put the onion and garlic in a grill pan, place on the grill and, stirring from time to time, grill on high until tender crisp. Return the onions to the bowl, fish out the garlic cloves, add the hot sauce and toss to coat. Finely mince the garlic, add it back to the onion and toss again.

Meanwhile, brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant on the grill, cut side down, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn the eggplant, reduce the heat to low or place on a cool spot on the grill and continue cooking until the eggplant is tender, an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from the grill and cut into bite sized pieces. Add the eggplant to the onion and garlic and toss to combine.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water, and return the spaghetti to the pan. Add the vegetables, pine nuts and basil, toss to combine, cover and cook on medium for about 1 minute. If the spaghetti seems dry, add a little pasta water.

Transfer the pasta to a deep serving platter or individual shallow bowls, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano or a combination of both.

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

Are you planning any changes this fall? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

 

 

 

Happiness Is … & Cucumber Bites with Goat Cheese, Tapenade & Tomatoes

The other morning, I ended a phone call with a grumpy comment that I was stuck inside waiting for the UPS man. I added that I was feeling pretty cranky about the whole thing. In reply, the person on the other end of the line told me that I didn’t sound the least bit cranky. Let’s chalk that one up to a sunny disposition.

I decided years ago, decades actually, that life is better for happy people. I confess, after a happy-go-lucky, cheerful childhood, I grew into a somewhat moody teenager. It was all part and parcel of trying to figure out the world and how I fit in. About the time I turned eighteen, I realized that it would probably be a while before everything made sense. It dawned on me that, in the meantime, my life would probably improve if I dropped the glum façade.

So, for the most part, I did just that. I practiced cheerful optimism. Over time, I actually became a cheerful optimist. That’s not to say, that I’m never down in the dumps, sad, mad or fed up. I go through funks just like everyone else. However, I refuse to spend too much time wallowing in the doldrums. At a certain point, I realize it’s time to cheer up, smile and be happy.

It’s not always all that easy to cheer up. Sometimes, you have to work at it. However, on many occasions it takes nothing more than opening your eyes and your heart to the simple delights that surround you. Think about it. Above and beyond a warm puppy, there’s a whole pile of things to fill you with joy. For instance, happiness is …

  • Hearing the call of the loons in the early morning.
  • A weekend with no looming deadlines.
  • Watching a baby sleep.
  • Cooking and sharing a meal with friends.
  • Chatting with your sister.
  • Starting a challenging assignment.
  • Finishing a challenging assignment.
  • A new pair of shoes.
  • Helping someone.
  • Finding a dollar in your back pocket.
  • Exploring a favorite spot with a new friend.
  • Nonchalantly complimenting someone and then seeing their face light up.
  • A good hair day.
  • Losing yourself in a good book.
  • Hanging out with people you love.
  • Your favorite song coming on the radio just as you pull out of the driveway.
  • Dancing.
  • Singing, even if off-key, at the top of your lungs.
  • A big, loud, enthusiastic laugh.
  • A sunny day with a light breeze off the lake and sand in my toes.

… and a whole lot more.

Happy day and bon appétit!

Cucumber Bites with Goat Cheese, Tapenade & Tomatoes
Summertime is the perfect time for easy appetizers. As long as you have a jar of tapenade in your refrigerator, this one comes together in minutes. Enjoy!

Makes about 30 canapes

  • 1-1 1/2 European or 3-4 Persian cucumbers
  • About 8 ounces soft goat cheese at room temperature
  • About 3/4 cup homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought tapenade
  • 8-16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters or 1/2-1 tomato cut in small dice

Peel the cucumber and slice 1/4-1/2-inch thick.

Whisk the goat cheese with a fork until smooth. Spread each cucumber slice with 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese, top with a small dollop of tapenade and garnish with a cherry tomato half or quarter or diced tomato.

Homemade Tapenade

  • 8-12 ounces dry pack, oil cured black Greek olives or a mix of oil cured and Kalamata olives, pitted
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • Dash hot pepper sauce or pinch hot pepper flakes

Throw everything into a small food processor. Process until the mixture becomes a nice paste. If necessary, add a little more olive oil. Cover and let sit for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator before using to combine the flavors.

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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Begin with a Single Step & Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
From Tao Te Ching by Laozi

I need a new word; one that combines sad and angry. Three mass murders in eight days created this mix of emotions. These most recent crimes are on top of the tens of thousands of annual gun deaths and injuries. Foot-dragging politicians talk about mental illness, video games  and the need for more information. Then, if history repeats itself, they will do nothing. No study group will be formed. No funding will be provided. The outrage will subside. The moment for action will pass until the next crisis.

While I am sure that common psychological or sociological threads can be found, let’s face it – each crime is perpetrated by an individual. Some are fueled by hate, some by despair. Some are part of a larger criminal enterprise; others are powered by extremist religious or political fervor. Some are the product of mental illness, drugs or alcohol abuse. Some perpetrators were bullied. Others are bullies. There is no one root cause, no single, elusive answer. Gun violence is complex. There is a long list of explanations for each terrible crime. However, there is one constant, one common denominator. Regardless of the crime – mass murder, drive by shooting, burglary gone bad or family violence turned deadly – easy access to guns makes it possible.

We will never make any progress, if we don’t take a first step. The vast majority of Americans want sensible gun control. And yes, my definition of sensible may be different from yours. But again, we will never get anywhere if we don’t take a first step. We need to make the effort. We need to try. The step can be small. It can be a compromise. We just need to take the first step … and then another and one more after that. Eventually, what is now very imperfect will become a little less so.

This morning I made muffins. I find peace in the Zen of everyday activities. Simple tasks, done one after another, are grounding. Recipes, no matter how complex, are nothing more than taking one step and then another and another to make something. Something you can share. Something that makes the day a little better or brighter or at least keeps you from going hungry.

I measured flour, baking powder and spices. I preheated the oven. I chopped rhubarb and nuts. I whipped butter and sugar, added eggs, vanilla and sour cream. The dry ingredients gradually joined the wet, followed by the rhubarb. Not done yet, I scooped the batter into muffin tins and then slid them into the oven. All told, I guess it took about a dozen steps.

Fifteen minutes later, they were golden and delicious. However, if you arrived at my door hoping to find a big breakfast, an all-encompassing solution to your morning hunger, it wasn’t there. Only muffins, one piece of what could become a more comprehensive feast.

A friend did come over. I took two more steps; brewed coffee and heated milk. We sipped lattes and ate a few of the muffins. We had a lovely chat about writing and freelancing and making a living as well as life and a few other things. Progress of a different sort was made.

Although some may lead you astray, most steps take you at least a little closer to where you need to be; closer to a more perfect imperfection. If the life of one child, one teenager, one man, one woman can be saved by taking the first step, isn’t it worth the effort? Isn’t it worth a try?

Here’s to a safer tomorrow and bon appétit!

Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins
A neighbor gave me an armful of rhubarb the other day so I made muffins. They are delicious as a little something to nibble with coffee or tea. Or include them in your next brunch – maybe you refer to it as a comprehensive solution to morning hunger. Enjoy!
Makes 36 muffins

4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
12 ounces fresh rhubarb, cut into small dice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Put the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the walnuts and whisk again.

Put the sugars and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat until well combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Gradually add the rhubarb and continue beating until just combined.

Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter.

Bake in the middle of the oven until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool the muffins on a rack for a few minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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One Year Ago – Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Olives & Feta
Two Years Ago – Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn, Tomatoes & Salsa Verde
Three Years Ago – Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Cucumber & Feta
Four Years Ago – Bluebree Grunt
Five Years Ago – Almond Macarons with Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache
Six Years Ago – Watermelon-Limeade
Seven Years Ago – Filet de Sole Meunière
Eight Years Ago – Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp 
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Grilled Chicken
Ten Years Ago – Corn & Tomato Salad
Eleven Years Ago – Summer Rolls

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

How do find peace during chaos? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Summer’s Second Act & Blueberry-Lemon Shortcakes

Summer in New Hampshire is a special time. Perhaps because it is so brief. Oh sure, we get a little peevish when July turns hot and humid. Luckily, those heatwaves only last a few days. And by the way, for all of you who mutter, “it’s not the heat; it’s the humidity” – it’s both and more. Let’s not forget the insidious rattle and hum of those noisy old air conditioners we strategically place around the house. When the heat breaks, it’s a relief to turn them off and throw open the windows. It’s a joy to hear to birds instead of the air conditioners’ loud drone.

Anyway, imagine my surprise last week when I spotted the first signs of Hospital Days. My goodness, how did we reach midsummer so quickly? Before you get all cranky about what has passed or what you might have missed, now would be a good time to look forward. Just think of all the good stuff that is still to come before Labor Day. Think of it as summer’s second act.

First and foremost on the list, no doubt about it, it has got to be fresh local corn and lots of it. I’ve already had a few ears but they were from Massachusetts. If it isn’t picked in town or close by, it’s just not the same.

Of course, my favorite way to cook corn is also the easiest. Throw the ears into boiling water for four minutes (three if you are impatient), pull them out, slather on a little butter or your favorite spicy aioli, season with salt and enjoy. As for second best, that’s a tie between any and everything else you can and should make with fresh corn. Grill it, throw it into cornbread, stir it into soup or chowder, add it to risotto, polenta or salsa or toss it with pasta. The options are many; try them all.

While we’re on the subject of food, August is prime time for blueberries. Blueberries always make me think of my Nana Nye. She baked a lot of blueberry pies in her day. I don’t think a week went by in late July or August that she didn’t pull at least one blueberry pie from the oven.

A favorite tradition in our house is pie for breakfast. When I was kid, by some good luck, more often than not, there would be an extra piece of blueberry pie at the end of the evening. Whether we were six or a dozen or more, whether Nana baked three pies, two or one, there always seemed to be just one piece left over. If you wanted pie for breakfast, you had to be the first up in the morning.

There is still plenty of time to take in a summer bandstand concert. The first bandstands were built in urban parks. After a seventy- to eighty-hour work week, weary factory workers were grateful for an afternoon of sunshine and music. Today, bandstands can be found throughout New Hampshire from old mill towns to rural communities. Throughout the summer, both locals and vacationers gather to enjoy an evening of fun and music. At least three, maybe four, days a week, you can find a free concert playing somewhere within thirty miles or less.

The full moon will rise on August 15. A full moon is great anytime but it is especially wonderful in the summer. Perhaps it reminds me of playing hide and seek in the dark or catching fireflies as a child. It’s wonderful to be out on a warm summer night. There something special about watching the moon rise over the water or a mountain. For that matter, watching the moon rise over the trees in your own backyard isn’t so bad either.

If you are still pouting, just remember, it’s summer until the autumnal equinox at the end of September. Enjoy act two and bon appétit!

Blueberry-Lemon Shortcakes
Be sure to make enough to have one leftover for breakfast. (if you are hankering for pie, you can find my blueberry pie recipe here.) Enjoy!
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
About 1/4 cup sugar plus more for the berries
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2-2 quarts blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.

Put the flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter, pulse until it is fully incorporated and the dry ingredients resemble fine meal. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Put the sour cream, 1/2 cup heavy cream and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until the dough comes together. The dough will be sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, pat into a ball and knead a few times.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, pat into rounds, place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining cream.

Turning the sheet pan at the mid-point, bake the shortcakes in the center of the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. While the cakes bake and cool, make the Mascarpone-Lemon Cream.

To assemble: toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon sugar. (If the berries are very fresh and local, you may not need sugar.) Slice each shortcake in half horizontally. Top the bottom halves with blueberries and dollops of Mascarpone-Lemon Cream. Add the top halves, more blueberries and cream. Serve immediately.

The cakes, cream and blueberries can be prepared in advance and assemble right before serving.

Mascarpone-Lemon Cream
6 ounces mascarpone
2-4 tablespoons Lemon Syrup (recipe follows)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups very cold heavy cream

Put the mascarpone, Lemon Syrup and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. With the mixer running, slowly add the heavy cream and beat until smooth. Continue beating until soft peaks form.

Lemon Syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup sugar

Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Stirring frequently, cook on medium until the sugar melts. Increase the temperature to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Store extra Lemon Syrup in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Nana Nye’s Blueberry Cake
Two Years Ago – Blueberry-Ginger Cobbler
Three Years Ago – Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde
Four Years Ago – Corncakes
Five Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas with Fresh Tomato Salsa
Six Years Ago – Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese
Seven Years Ago – Shrimp Salad Niçoise
Eight Years Ago – Insalata Caprese
Nine Years Ago – Mojito Melons
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Antipasto
Eleven Years Ago – Nana Nye’s Fish Chowder

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

Do you have a favorite blueberry recipe? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

The Summer of ’69 – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly & Greek Salad

So, I was a kid, hanging out on the beach with my friends. Life was simple. We swam, sailed, water-skied and played tennis. I’m sure we washed a few cars to raise money for Hospital Day. We probably went to a dance or two or maybe a movie on a rainy afternoon. On a scale of one to ten, it was a perfect life. Out in the real world, far from the idyllic hills and lakes of New Hampshire, a whole lot of everything was happening in the summer of 1969.

It was a turbulent time. Nixon was president and the Vietnamese War was raging. The evening news was filled with stories of war as well as protests, demonstrations and lots more. We didn’t watch a lot of news during the summer or any television for that matter. Our old black and white television had rabbit ears and a snow-filled screen. It played two stations, both ABC – one out of Portland and the other out of Manchester. While some memories are more vivid then others, here are some of the stories I recall from the summer of ’69 – the good, the bad and the ugly …

Enough was enough. A Saturday night police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York on June 28 sparked the gay liberation movement. Long hassled by the police and homophobes, it was one raid too many. The gay community fought back and the Stonewall Uprising continued for several days.

Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island on July 18. Mary Jo Kopechne, one of his brother’s campaign aides, died in the accident. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. He continued to serve in the Senate until his death in 2009. His long tenure and influence earned him the title – Lion of the Senate.

Two days later on July 20, Neil Armstrong took, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He fulfilled the ambitious goal set by the late President John F. Kennedy to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. We never looked at space or the moon the same again.

A few weeks later, a group of love-struck, teenage followers of cult leader Charles Manson went on a violent, drug-fueled murder spree. On the night of August 8 and 9, they killed five people, including the very pregnant, actress Sharon Tate. Not finished, they killed two more on August 10.

Thirty-two acts played between August 15 and 18 at the Woodstock Music Festival on Max Yasgur’s farm. They expected 50,000 but a half million kids made it to the rain drenched celebration of music, peace and love. Max proudly told crowd, “…you’ve proven something to the world … A half a million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music, and have nothing but fun and music, and I – God bless you for it!”

On August 18, as concert goers sat for hours in traffic trying to get out of Woodstock, Hurricane Camille came ashore in Mississippi. She brought widespread damage from the Gulf Coast to Virginia and 259 people died. Although the infamous Hurricane Party at the Richelieu Apartments never actually happened, the myth lives on pop culture.

And finally, Labor Day afternoon, September 1, the Nye kids piled into their mom’s station wagon along with the dog and two or three turtles and returned to suburbia. The kids grumpily nudged each other and bickered in the backseat while their mother silently wept and said goodbye to summer.

Fifty years later, I hope your summer is more good than bad or ugly.  Bon appétit!

Greek Salad
A classic summer salad, you can toss it together or dress it up by arranging everything into a lovely salade composée. (That’s French for composed salad – beautifully arranged ingredients provide a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.) Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small red onion, cut in half horizontally and then into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes – a mix of large, small and cherry tomatoes in different shapes and colors if you can find them
1-1 1/2 European cucumbers
8 ounces feta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
16-20 Kalamata or a mix of your favorite Greek olives, pitted and halved

Put the oil and vinegar in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the onion and minced garlic, sprinkle with oregano and toss to combine. Tossing occasionally, let the onions marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, cut the larger tomatoes in wedges. Peel and seed the cucumbers and cut into chunks.

To serve – put everything into a large bowl and gently toss …

… or create a beautiful salade composée. Start by artfully arranging the tomatoes and cucumbers on a large platter or individual plates. Reserving the olive oil and vinegar, drain the onions. Drizzle the tomatoes and cucumbers with the oil and vinegar and sprinkle with onions, feta and olives.

Serve at room temperature. Cover and store extra sauce in the refrigerator.


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One Year Ago – Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Carrots with Chickpea-Quinoa Salad
Two Years Ago – Szechuan Noodle Salad
Three Years Ago – Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus
Four Years Ago – Cucumber-Mint Agua Fresca
Five Years Ago – Double Corn & Cheddar Muffins
Six Years Ago – Blueberry Clafouti
Seven Years Ago – Blackberry Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt
Eight Years Ago – Brown Sugar Yogurt Gelato 
Nine Years Ago – Red Pepper Dip
Ten Years Ago – Grilled Chicken, Shallots & New Potatoes
Eleven Years Ago – Barbecue Chicken

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

What salads are you arranging or tossing up this summer Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019