A Different Kind of Celebration & Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad

Alzheimers Assoc BraceletsLast week I wrote about some of the fun and funny holidays that keep us busy celebrating in June. This week, I’d like to share something a bit more serious. Along with days to commemorate ice cream, yo-yo’s and donuts, June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

This tribute is particularly important in the Nye family; my mother has Alzheimer’s disease, as did her father. We are not alone. My mother is just one of the more than 5 million Americans with this disease. Even more worrisome, that number is expected to grow forty percent in the next ten years.

From our first wails in the delivery room, we baby boomers have fueled everything from hula-hoop sales to suburban sprawl and technology breakthroughs. The first of the boomers hit sixty-five in 2011 and the explosion of potential AARP members won’t begin to slow down for another fifteen years. Fueled by aging baby boomers, the number could jump to 7 million by 2025. Barring medical breakthrough, almost 14 million could suffer from Alzheimer’s by 2050.

In spite of the already big numbers and astounding projected growth, Alzheimer’s research is seriously underfunded. Alzheimer’s may rank sixth for cause of death in the United States but it falls way down to number fifty-one in federal research funding. Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top ten causes of death in the United Sates that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

At just under $600 million, research funding may be relatively low but costs of care are skyrocketing. Direct costs of care for Alzheimer’s patients in the United States are an estimated $226 billion, yes billion, for 2015. Half of those costs are borne by an increasingly burdened Medicare system. The patients and their families bear the remainder. This figure does not include the almost 18 billion, yes again, that’s billion with a b, hours of unpaid care which family and friends provide loved ones.

The Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging people across the country to join forces on June 21st and raise money to fight Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the longest day of the year so we’ll have plenty of time to complete our efforts. I’ll be cooking up a feast and inviting friends and family to make a donation and then join me for some good food and a glass of wine. Together, we will celebrate friendship and my mother’s unflagging optimism in the face of this awful disease. The 21st is also Father’s Day so I’ve corralled my dad into helping out. You can learn more about my longest day event on my website.

Alzheimer’s disease is different for everyone and every family. Progression can move at a snail’s pace or frightfully fast. Although we are not exactly sure when it began, Mom has been on her Alzheimer’s journey for probably twenty years. Along the way, this progressive brain disorder has stolen much of her memory. She can no longer complete simple tasks or sentences. That said, even as she struggles in severe, late stage Alzheimer’s disease, Mom continues to amaze me with her enthusiasm for life, her fortitude and courage.

If someone you know has Alzheimer’s, I hope that you will support them and their caregivers on the longest day. If you are a patient or caregiver, please accept my hug.

Thank you and bon appétit!

Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad
Fish, along with leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and olive oil, is brain food. Be good to your brain and try this delicious summer dish. Enjoy!
Serves 4-6

Lemon-Herb Quinoa Salad
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Put the lemon zest and juice in a large bowl, add the garlic and mustard, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and slowly add the olive oil until well combined. Let the mixture sit at room temperature while you prepare the quinoa.

Put 1 1/4 cups water in a saucepan, add the quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Add the quinoa to the lemon and olive oil and toss until well combined. Tossing several times, cool to room temperature. Add the nuts, herbs and scallions and toss again.

Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for several hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Salmon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds salmon fillet, skin-on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to high heat. Drizzle the salmon with lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the salmon, skin side up, on the grill. Depending on the thickness of the fish, grill for 5-6 minutes. Carefully turn the salmon with a wide spatula and grill for 3-5 minutes more or until cooked through but not dry. Transfer the fish to a cutting board, skin side down, and let the fish rest for 5 minutes before cutting into thick slices. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Can be made ahead, cooled to room temperature, covered and stored in the refrigerator for several hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

To serve: mound the quinoa on a large platter or individual plates and top with slices of salmon.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart
Two Years Ago – Salsa Verde
Three Years Ago – Blueberry Crumb Cake
Four Years Ago – Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce
Five Years Ago – Strawberry Gelato
Six Years Ago – Asparagus Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have a favorite healthy meal? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

A Summer Solstice Celebration Special

beach_binPack a picnic, find a beach, sing, dance and celebrate long into the night. Saturday is the longest day; the summer solstice. Summer is here!

Need help with your menu? I’m happy to help!

Let the Scandinavians and the North Sea inspire you. Start with a few tasty treats. How about Artichoke Leaves with Shrimp and spicy Curried Green Bean Pickles?

When it’s time for the main event, let Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce take center stage in your smorgasbord. Serve the salmon with Asparagus & Radish Salad and Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables.

And for a sweet finish, local strawberries are coming into season. I’m a big fan of Strawberries with Yogurt Cream. If you want to be a little fancy, then try my Strawberry & White Chocolate Fool Parfaits or Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup.

beach chairs on pleasant lake

Enjoy the longest day and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate the summer solstice? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Celebrate the Summer Solstice & Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce

summer_sunset_pleasant_lake_06Saturday, June 21
Sunrise: 5:25 am
Sunset: 8:31 pm

15 hours and 6 minutes of sunlight!

Oh, how we dreamed of this day back in November, December and January. Back when gray skies made the dark days of early- and mid-winter even darker. The sun was slow to rise but fast to set. It felt like the day had barely started before the sun slid down behind the hills. Finally, the long wait is over. This Saturday marks the summer solstice. It’s the first day of summer and longest day of the year.

The summer solstice may not be a national holiday, heck we don’t even capitalize it, but it is cause for celebration. Particularly for those of us who live more north than south. Yes, yes, I know that New Hampshire can’t really compare to the far reaches of Alaska, Russia or Scandinavia. Except for Alaska, I’ve been there in the middle of winter and, believe me, those guys have my sympathy.

Spend a few dark December days in Stockholm or Oslo and you’ll understand the joy and excitement that greets June and the white nights of summer. The summer solstice is arguably Sweden’s biggest holiday. Some say bigger than Christmas. Unable to limit the festivities to a single day, the Swedes celebrate the solstice with a week of singing, dancing, games and bonfires. Sweden or New Hampshire, after a long, dark winter, it’s time to make a little merry in the long light-filled evenings.

So what does a summer solstice party look like? Well, it’s your party and you can do what you want to … but I have a few fun ideas! Living in the country, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the start of summer than with a long, lazy picnic.

Enjoy some of the magic that comes with the longest day. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and you can take your party to the beach. The backyard or deck will also do. Singing, dancing and bonfires are all part of the summer solstice tradition. Before a giant bonfire gets you in trouble, consider a modest fire pit or check with the fire department. Get out the guitars and harmonicas or unearth that old boom box, sing along and dance. Don’t let the setting sun drive you indoors. Light votive candles or lanterns and gather around the fire to share tall tales of summers past.

Think of the sea when you work on your menu. Forget the all-American hotdogs and hamburgers; prepare a smorgasbord of Scandinavian delicacies. On beaches up and down the coasts of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, merrymakers will be picnicking with North Sea shrimp, herring and gravlax. They’ll add lovely salads of baby greens and new potatoes.

With just a little bit of luck, the first strawberries of summer will be ready. The season is short so don’t hold back! Nibble fresh strawberries with cocktails or whip them into a festive drink and, by all means, include them in dessert. Whether you make a fabulous pie or drizzle them with a little cream, fresh strawberries are a reminder of just how delicious summer is.

Make merry during the long days of summer and bon appétit!

Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard SauceGravlax_Tarragon-Caper_Mustard_Sauce_04
At least for foodies, mention Scandinavia and gravlax is one of the first things that comes to mind. I’ve switched out the more traditional dill for tarragon so feel free to switch back. Enjoy!
Serves 6 as a main course, 12 or more as an appetizer

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or red onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped tarragon leaves
About 2 pounds skin-on, center cut salmon

Put the sugar, salt, pepper and coriander in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the shallot and tarragon and whisk again.

Put the sugar mixture in a large re-sealable plastic bag, add the salmon, seal the bag and shake to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag. Put the bag in a pan which more or less just fits the salmon, place a plate or cutting board on top of the salmon and weigh it down with a clean brick or 2-3 (28 ounce) cans.

Turning every 12 hours, marinate the salmon for 48 hours. Remove the salmon from the bag and rinse under cold water and pat dry. Thinly slice against the grain at a 45-degree angle. Serve with a dab of Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce.

Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Dijon, spicy brown or whole grain mustard or a mix
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Put the capers, shallot and wine in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and process to finely chop and combine. Add the sour cream, mustard, tarragon and zest and process to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to combine the flavors.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Salsa Verde
Two Years Ago – Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro, Mint & Peanuts
Three Years Ago – New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola
Four Years Ago – Spicy Hoisin Wings
Five Years Ago – Grilled Steak & Potato Salad
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate the summer solstice? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good.

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Longest Day & a Super Moon!

sunset_pleasant_lake_03Tonight is the summer solstice or the longest day of the year! Sunday is not just the full moon but it’s the Super Moon, the biggest and brightest of the year. Talk about hitting the jackpot.

With all that sunshine and moonlight, this is the perfect weekend to be outdoors. Head for the beach for an evening picnic or invite family and friends over for some fun. Here are a few ideas:

Relax and watch the sun slowly set! Enjoy some good company and a glass of wine while you a little snack. Dips and spreads are a good bet, try some of my Feta & Walnut Spread or White Bean Hummus with pita chips and fresh veggies.

Around the picnic table … It’s a good time to be grilling. How about a perfectly grilled Rib-eye Steak with Compound Butter or Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli? Complete your dinner with some delicious New Potato Salad with Gorgonzola and a garden salad with a Classic Vinaigrette.

For dessert, what could be better than cupcakes. Fun and festive, cupcakes are easy serve and take to a beach or backyard cookout. My Coconut Cupcakes are both pretty to look at and pretty delicious. Strawberries are just coming into season in New Hampshire …a big bowl of fresh, local strawberries will be welcomed by all!

Have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2013

Out of the Kitchen & the Summer Solstice

Today is the longest day of the year! And a hot one at that. On the beaches of Scandinavia, Great Britain and Ireland there will be bon fires. Given that the temperatures are threatening to top out at 100 in New England, I think you can skip the fires … but not the beach.

Celebrate the Solstice with a long lazy evening on the beach. Keep cool with a refreshing Shandy. Or spice it up a bit with a Caribbean Shandy, a fifty-fifty mix of ginger beer and beer over ice.

Thinking about Scandinavia, dinner has got to be salmon or shrimp. You can grill salmon or shrimp. Or keep it very cool with a beautiful platter of smoked Norwegian salmon with slices of lemon, red onion and capers. Add a lovely cucumber salad. Peel, seed and chop cucumbers, add thinly sliced scallions and roughly chopped oregano and parsley. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar and toss. Then again, a salad with a few shrimp sounds good. Try a few precooked shrimp on a refreshing Thai Salad for a delicious too hot weather meal.

And when the temperature tops out above ninety … top it off with ice cream. Whether you make your own gelato or pick up a quart of your favorite ice cream, enjoy a cold and creamy finish!

Have a lovely evening and stay cool. Bon appétit!

More Tips, Tricks & Tools

How will you celebrate the summer solstice? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2012