Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens ... wait, scratch the kittens since I'm horribly allergic to cats. However, while I'm pondering my favorite things I would definitely have to put cheese on my list. In my early cooking life my roommates and I would joke that any culinary disaster could be salvaged by a thick layer of cheese - which usually did work, though sometimes it needed to be in tandem with a lot of garlic.
I'm pondering a lot of recipes lately. Mainly because I have family coming into town next week, so meals will be for a larger group. Let's just say an average of 17 - mix of adults and children. Since I'll have nine additional people actually staying at our house (still trying to figure out where to put them), and I don't want to be tied up in the kitchen (though I suspect we'll spend a lot of time hanging out in it anyway), we'll be doing the standard kid pleasing meals - tacos and hamburgers - but also trying for a bit more sophistication on occasion.
Peaches! May is the month for locally grown peaches and a big deal at our house. The kids and I like to schlep out to Schnepf Farms (in Queen Creek) and pick our own, which apart from being fun, also pretty much guarantees us more peaches than we know what to do with.
April is a bit of a painful month for me. I am chomping at the bit for summer fruits to come in season. I love to make huge fruit salads, throw the bowl in the refrigerator and then the family eats off it for the next day or two. The downside is that everyone seems to pick out their favorites and, eventually, I'm left munching on whatever they all don't want.
My daughter and I spent part of last week trying to get the rest of the lemons off our tree. This resulted in the usual, what are we going to do with all these lemons - apart from juicing, and juicing, and juicing them? With more than a gallon of lemon juice frozen in 8-ounce containers, we are anticipating a good run of homemade lemonade this summer (our formula is 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and add water until you have half a gallon of lemonade).
Several weeks ago I, like so many unfortunate others, was laid up with the flu. The sole advantage of this was that it gave me time to vegetate with Netflix.
One of the most interesting things about following food trends is watching the uses of a particular food evolve. It was just a few years ago that we only thought of cranberries as a canned jellied annual tradition or a juice component of cosmopolitans. Well, maybe not cosmopolitans in particular, but cranberries were primarily bought or prepared for gel or juice. Ninety-five percent of commercially grown cranberries go into sauce, juice or sold dried. Only 5 percent is sold as fresh cranberries (wikipedia.com).
October seems to be about everything pumpkin. Apparently at one time pumpkin was recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites. I can see where smudging a thick orange puree on your face might cover your freckles, but not so much remove them. And snake bites, well, these days I think antivenin is probably a better bet. Also, in colonial times pumpkin was used in the crust of pies, not the filling. However, Colonists sliced off pumpkin tops, removed the seeds and filled the inside with milk, spices and honey. The filled shell was baked in hot ashes. This is considered the origin of pumpkin pie.
What is the best thing about football season? Seeing your team win? Taunting others about their team's loss? The come-from-behind win? Relief that a lead wasn't blown? Winning the office pool? Sucking down brews and foods that would make a cardiologist cringe? The chance to leave the house and buy as many shoes as you want because you know it's not going to be noticed?
I am grateful that no matter what the temperature is outside, chocolate is always in season. Science has obliged us - or enabled - depending on how you look at it, by reporting that it's also good for us. Of course it also depends what you pair the chocolate with. Red wine? Strawberries? Nuts?
I’ve often told guests they can have great food or a clean house when they come over. Most opt for the great food, but I really prefer to have the clean house as well, in spite of the challenges of my schedule. One way to free up time for the ancillary entertaining preparations is to use recipes where most of the prep is done ahead of time.
Salads are so much more inventive than when I was growing up. Our standard dinner salad was iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, cucumber and carrot. Sound familiar?
“Eat your vegetables” is one of the time-honored parental directives. Growing up, apart from salad, vegetables were either steamed/boiled and coated with butter or slathered in cheese or hollandaise sauce.
I can picture it now. Some little boy decides to go down a snow-laden hill in the most dangerous manner possible (though he’s just thinking it will be fun), doesn’t get hurt, does it again and again. He shows his friends and, before you know it, a new Winter Olympics sport is born.
One of my favorite things about the weekend is our muffin ritual. Usually on Sunday mornings I throw a quick batch of blueberry muffins together. Sometimes it’s hard to think of fresh baked items being quick, but they can be. On a morning that is not rushed, it’s a great way to start the day.
Ah, the holidays. I love baking and all the treats shared among friends, but after a while sweets are as desirable to my palate and pancreas as the endless loop of cloying carols are to my ears. Enough already!
It’s fun to go through food magazines this time of year. There are numerous variations on traditional recipes, tempting me and taunting me to try something new. I’m all for new, but for Thanksgiving, I’m a bit leery to stray from what’s become the norm in our family; recipes we only break out once a year, not because they’re difficult, but because they are traditional for us. Additionally, some of them are loaded with ingredients like butter and cream so year-round consumption would result in multiple butterballs at the table.
Editor’s Note: Ahwatukee Foothills resident Lori Rossi will write about her passion – cooking – every month. If you have a food topic you’d like addressed, you can find her e-mail address at the bottom of her first-ever column.
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