Persisting Women Pork Stew with Beans & Greens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Girls’ Night Out Special

Susan_Nye_FriendsNot only was Tuesday International Women’s Day but March is Women’s History Month. This weekend is a natural for a Girls’ Night Out. Get ready for good food, good wine and great conversation. Here are a few suggestions of what to cook:

Start with a few great nibbles. Think Mediterranean with Steamed Artichokes with Bagna Cauda or Warm Lemon-Garlic Sauce, a few Spicy Olives
and Roasted Almonds.

Move on to a light and bright salad. How around my Asparagus & Radish Salad or Fennel & Feta Salad ?

Next up, delicious seafood sounds good. A nice piece of salmon is perfect for a group. Give my Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc a try. Serve the salmon with a spoonful each of Whole Grain Pilaf and Broccoli Puree. Or, keep it cozy and enjoy my Creole Shrimp with Cheesy Grits.

End the evening with a creamy and oh so delicious treat. You and your friends will love my Panna Cotta with Strawberries. If you are chocolate fanatics, try my Chocolate Panna Cotta instead. Then again, it’s maple sugaring season. Perhaps you’d like to celebrate with my Maple Mousse with Apple Compote.

(I won’t tell if you don’t but this menu will probably work for men too!)

Have fun! Bon appétit!

What are your plans for this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

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, 2016

More Girls’ Night Out & Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette

table_set_for_dinner_02March is perfect for a potluck and a Girls’ Night Out. After all, it’s Women’s History Month. Can you think of a better excuse to get together with friends and create a little history of your own? Last week I gave a few tips for a Girls’ Night Out Potluck. “Okay for the host,” you say, “but what about the potluckers who join in the fun? How about some advice for the guests?” All right then, here goes!

Follow your host’s lead. I admit it; I’m of those. A host who tries to bring a little order to the potluck clutter and chaos. It’s not that I don’t understand your frustration. I hear you when you extoll the deliciousness of your recently perfected Korean short ribs recipe. In spite of my empathy for you and your ribs, I’m declaring a theme and it’s not a Korean banquet.

When your host declares a soup and salad night (or tapas or an Italian feast or …), can you, should you ignore the theme? Remember, you love your friend, even if she is a certifiable control freak. Go with flow; toss a salad, roast some shrimp or whip up your world-renown brownies. Instead of the usual potluck hodgepodge, you may very well enjoy one of the best dinners of your life! And by the way, I’m free for ribs on Friday!

Come prepared. We’ve all heard the ancient saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. Don’t be one of them. If at all possible, your dish should be ready to serve when you arrive. And by ready, I mean on a serving platter with utensils. Your host has enough to do without hauling out the stepladder and pawing through the upper reaches of her cupboards for another platter. And it’s definitely not okay to arrive straight from the market with a bag of fresh veggies to wash, spin, chop and toss.

If you are going to need oven or stove space, call in advance. Or try my favorite trick. When you pull your casserole out of the oven or chili off the stove, wrap the dish in one, maybe two, old (but clean!) beach towels. Slide the whole thing into a cooler and it should stay piping hot for at least an hour.

We’re all busy and it’s okay. A Girls’ Night Out potluck is a wonderful opportunity to take a break and relax. That said, everyone will understand if you have to work late. Just don’t volunteer to bring an appetizer. Your fabulous artichoke dip is not so fabulous for dessert. Come when you can, we do want to see you but, if you know you will be late, sign-up for cupcakes.

And what if you need to leave early? Again, we get it; your babysitter has a Spanish test and must be home by 8:00. We’ll be delighted to see you, even for a short time. Bring an appetizer, grab a glass of wine and stay as long as you can.

“Ha!” you bark. You only wish it was about arriving late or leaving early. We all have days, weeks, months, when there’s no time to cook. Not even one, little dish for a potluck. Instead of turning down the invitation or showing up with a half-empty bottle of ketchup, be clever. Beautiful dishes don’t have to be complicated or homemade. Hint: a beautiful box of artisanal chocolates will be the hit of the party. Another hint: tired looking baby carrots with dried out hummus will not.

Have a fun. It’s been a cold and snowy winter. Although it’s not over yet, we’ve changed the clocks and temperatures are creeping upward. Give a good stretch and a big yawn and kiss the weeks of hibernation goodbye. It’s time to spend an evening with old friends, new friends and soon-to-be friends.

Bon appétit!

Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
A salad is always welcome at a potluck. This one has an interesting combination of bitter greens, salty feta and olives, sweet cherries and crunchy peppers, cucumber and almonds. Enjoy!
Serves 12Rainbow_Salad_Olive_Vinaigrette_01

5 ounces baby arugula
1 small head radicchio, cut in ribbons
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 European cucumber, peeled and chopped
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
Black Olive Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
4 ounces feta, crumbled
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries

Combine the arugula, radicchio, bell pepper, cucumber and scallions in a large bowl and toss to combine.

If you are bringing the salad to a potluck, put the feta, almonds and cherries in separate containers or plastic bags.

Just before serving: add enough Black Olive Vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss. Sprinkle with feta, almonds and dried cherries and serve.

Black Olive Vinaigrette
12-15 black oil cured Greek olives, pitted
1 clove garlic
About 1-inch chunk red onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the olives, garlic, onion, mustard, anchovy paste and vinegar in a mini food processor, season with pepper and pulse to combine and finely chop. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth.

Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Two Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Three Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Four Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Five Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Six Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Do you have any special plans for Women’s History Month? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

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