Essay: What I did over end-of-summer vacation.

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    I am back!  One week on the sand went a long way toward restoring what little sanity I had left...  I regained my mind and then proceeded to leave half of it on the beach on the Cape Cod National Shoreline.  You will not see a single photo of food from this vacation.  The food we had was outstanding- goat milk mozzie in pesto tossed with heirloom tomatoes served with crusty bread, char-grilled hamburgers, homemade garlic dills and bread and butter pickles, garlic bean dip with homemade tortilla chips and more- but we were so hungry from all our time on the beach that we laid into each spread of food like a swarm of locusts before thoughts of photography even occured to me.     We left our indelible mark on South Wellfleet.  We terrorized a very tightly-wound, perfectly coiffed and tanned surf shop owner  by merely walking in the door.  Can I help you?  Oh!  Don't touch that!  Or that!  Oh!  Don't touch that surfboard!  Is there something you NEED?  Just DON'T touch that!  I suppose the fact that my husband, father-in-law and I were all present did nothing to assuage the woman's fear that we would allow our little fuzzy-headed minions to run roughshod over her precious laid-back surfer haven and up-end all her painstakingly polished gear.  Interesting, because the first thing inside the door was kiddie-sized boogie boards, water pistols and kites.  Here's a thought.  If you don't want kids in the shop, put up a sign- or better yet- don't carry toys.  Poor … {Read on...}

Carrot Cauliflower Soup with Sesame Yogurt Cream

The sesame yogurt cream, sesame seeds and croutons took this simple soup to an amazing place!

Remember all the salad bar goodies mentioned in my last post? Well, I decided I really needed to use up a lot of those carrots, and being a lover of warm soup on cool days, I naturally went in that direction. The soup I ended up making is fairly simple and quite flexible, and is a good way of using up some of those leftover veggies. I also had a small amount of yogurt which always works well with creamy soups, as well as a couple lonely slices of bread, which would work well for croutons. The bread had sesame seeds, which made me think of toasting some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top of the soup, as well as adding a little sesame oil to the yogurt for flavor. As a lot of you are already most likely aware, one thing leads to another in the kitchen...and using up all these bits and pieces gave me sort of a warm, frugal feeling all over, if you know what I mean. Anyway, to the soup...   Carrot Cauliflower Soup with Sesame Yogurt Cream   The instructions for all the condiments for this soup are at the bottom of this post, and they can easily be prepared while the soup is simmering away.   For the soup: 1 large onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil, or half oil and half butter 2 lbs. carrots, chopped, peeled or not, as you like 1 to 2 cups cauliflower florets 2 medium potatoes, cut in large chunks, peel left on 6 cups water, veggie broth or chicken broth 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf (1 tablespoon if … {Read on...}

Salad Bar Recycling: Sauce

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One of the things that can happen to me now and then when preparing food for groups is ending up with LOTS of veggies from the salad bar or veggie trays, and while we don't mind munching on carrot and celery sticks from time to time, as well as other fresh veggies, there are times when the amount left is rather daunting, at least it would be if we felt we HAD to eat these raw veggies before they begin to enter that tossable stage. Soups and sauces to the rescue!   We inherited a pile of leftover veggies and crudites from a recent event, and my stove has had a busy couple of days. The vegetables involved included piles of carrots, both baby and stick fashion, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and ripe-on-the-vine tomatoes and a couple of sweet peppers. First I started with a pasta sauce that I like to make, and which turns out differently every time I make it. It ends up being a nicely chunky sauce, not too tomatoe-y, and it's quite versatile. The amounts vary depending on what is at hand, but the basic ingredients remain the same. You will need your food processor, which will do a lovely job of chopping everything into bits, and you can have this in your pot, simmering away for a couple of hours, in as little as 15 minutes.   Vegetable Pasta Sauce     1/4 cup olive oil 1 lb. carrots, cut into chunks (or baby carrots or carrot sticks) 1/2 lb. celery sticks or chunks 2 medium onions (or 1 large) 6 cloves garlic 2 sweet peppers 4 to 5 … {Read on...}

Cornmeal Blueberry Muffin Souffle

Crunchy golden top, meltingly soft inside...mmmmmm

Well, remember those blueberry cornmeal muffins from my earlier post last week? The last time I made those, I made a LOT. More than our guests could decently eat in the time they were with us, and more than we could handle all on our lonesome. My freezer would not allow any more foodstuffs to be stored, most of the nooks and crannies being filled in with quart-sized bags of blueberries and black raspberries that my husband so nicely picked for our later enjoyment. And they were beginning to get a little dry--even a few seconds in the microwave did not perk them up very much. But my inner frugalista could not bear the thought of introducing them to the local compost pile. SO, what could I do with them?   One of the things we really enjoy is a good bread pudding, and that is the first thing that came to mind, but muffins are quite different from the yeast breads we normally use for this purpose. But, since no other ideas came to mind, I thought it was definitely worth the risk. With the help of some milk, a few eggs, a little sugar and spice, the muffins were transformed from slightly dry bits of breadstuffs to a beautifully light, souffle-like custardy dessert which, when topped with a simple blueberry syrup, made a great ending to an otherwise simple meal. I highly recommend making extra muffins just for this purpose!  And I'm thinking some other muffins might work just as well (those bran apple muffins come to mind...).   Cornmeal Blueberry Muffin … {Read on...}

Coffee, tea or cocoa? Name your poison! (A reprisal)

Last February, I asked the readers of the Record-Eagle this vastly important question and most of my responses came from family.  So I'm trying again with my 'Foodie' readers.  Don't get me wrong... I can listen to my family talk food all day and often do.  I just want some perspective.  Are we the only ones obsessed with our hot beverages?  It cannot be so...  I can't wait to hear what you all have to say to this:   Two very devoted coffee drinkers raised me. My Dad said he knew that he liked my then-boyfriend, now-husband the first time they met because Lindy offered to buy my Dad a coffee during the first period break at a hockey game. He did however, have reservations when my husband asked whether he’d like cream and sugar. Dad said, “Why would I want to wreck a perfectly good cup of coffee with that junk?” Dad likes his coffee really strong. In fact, he was banned from making coffee at his office because he was the only one who could drink it. My Mom drinks coffee so strong that it has, quite literally, given panic attacks to guests. Well, actually it only happened once, but I think my point is made. The son of one of her friends had palpitations, sweats and couldn’t sit still after drinking a demi-tasse of Mom’s joe. She occasionally drinks it with half-and-half (probably so that the coffee acids don’t eat through her esophagus and stomach lining…) Mom never measures. She doesn’t need to measure. If she fills the filter it’s probably almost strong … {Read on...}