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
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.
“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
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.
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.