flying the coop

I'm leaving town. I'm leaving the state, actually. More specifically, I'm leaving the country. In three days. I'll be searching for some new recipes, and hopefully creating some new stories to go with them. Adios, faithful reader! See you in a few weeks!


Fowl Obsession

Chicken Salad 1 c. chopped cooked chicken 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (the real stuff, none of this fake lite "spread" now, you hear?) 1 Tbsp. chopped dill pickle (or 1 Tbsp. pickle relish) 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill 1/4 c. chopped red or green sweet pepper 1/4 tsp. black pepper 1/8 tsp. curry powder (only if you like curry, though) 4 slices of the best quality bread you can get your hands on (or the free kind that occasionally ends up at our house - you know, like when a grocery store or bakery gets rid of its day-old bread? We've got half a freezer full of day-old bread. It's best when toasted ... kinda hides the staleness factor.) Toast bread. Combine all ingredients. Place filling on two bread slices and top with other two. Or, forget that you made enough for two people and heap the entire amount on one slice of bread, top with the other slice, eat it, and feed the two leftover slices to your spouse/roommate/friend in the form of a PB&J. I don't know what has come over me in the past week. I've had chicken salad SIX TIMES in seven days. You'd think I'd be tired of it by now, but not yet. I'm kinda wishing I were tired of it. I'm running out of chicken. This is so unlike me. I usually don't get obsessed about food, or have cravings for specific foods (unless, of course, you count the 3 half-gallons of ice cream and the tub of sherbet in the freezer ...). Food is food. Yes, I love it, but I usually don't come home at the end of the day thinking, "Man, I'm craving a [insert food here] tonight. I have to make it or I can't go on living." I made myself (another) chicken salad sandwich to bring to work today - I added about 1 tablespoon of mustard and a few drops of tabasco sauce. Left out the dill and black pepper. It was good ... but I think I prefer it the other way. With the curry and dill and peppers. But I do like the mustard in it, and I might run with that for a while. You can add or delete ingredients to your liking - I will say though that it's nice to have a little crunch in there (pickles or sweet peppers) and some seasoning/herb, especially fresh, adds a little something eggstra (sorry. I couldn't help it. Puns run in my family). Good cluck to you all! OK. I'll stop. No more paltry puns.


Five Threes

Fruit Sherbet 3 bananas, sliced 3 peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced 3 c. strawberries, capped and halved 3 c. sugar 3 c. water Combine bananas, peaches, strawberries, and 1 cup of water in blender or food processor - pulse until almost smooth. Mix in remaining 2 c. water and sugar. Mix well. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Only a quick note on this one - SO good! I had a hankering for homemade ice cream and stole ... er, borrowed ... my parents' ice cream maker. I decided to go with this sherbet because (a) I had all the ingredients on hand, (b) I didn't have much milk on hand, and (c) one of my friends doesn't eat dairy and I wanted her to be able to have some. The recipe came from my dad who said that his mom (my Nano) used to make this - and I feel like if a recipe has been around for that long it's bound to be good. None of this crazy fad stuff ... just good old fruit sherbet. You could use other fruits for the bananas/peaches/strawberries ... I think Nano made it with oranges, grapefruit, and bananas. Go. Make Five Threes now. Or Four Threes and a Four. Or Seven Threes and a Two. Whatever. Just make it and let me know!


Stuffed and Fried. Yum.

Fried Squash Blossoms: A Photo Essay
Begin by cutting 8 squash blossoms from the garden. Leave at least 1 inch of stem - you can trim it more later, but it really does help to have something to hold onto. Visually inspect for bugs or dirt and gently clean - most are relatively clean unless you just had a dust storm pass through. No need to wash.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. flour with 1 tsp. salt until smooth. Set aside.
Prepare filling:
2 oz. chevre (still not sure how to pronounce that one. I just say "goat cheese" if it comes up in conversation, but I like to write chevre when I get the chance),
2 oz. cream cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt (optional - the chevre is salty already)
Mix until smooth and well incorporated. Add chives if you want to.
(Just in case you cared to know, I'm salivating right now.)
Use a spoon or small spatula to put about 1 1/2 tsp. of filling in each blossom. Twist the ends of the blossom shut. Lick excess cheese mixture off fingers. Trim stems to 1 inch.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan. Oil is ready when water spatters and sizzles like crazy.
Dip each blossom into the flour mixture, coating the blossom completely. This is where it's handy to have about an inch of stem to hang onto. Place blossom into hot oil. Fry until brown, then turn over.
When brown on both sides, remove to paper towels.
Salivate some more.
Eat the squash blossoms with circle of friends (see below) or by self (I'm never going to let another squash blossom go uneaten, by the way)
And now ... your very own amazing-looking, crazy-cooking, restaurant-booking food! (OK. That rhyming is a little over the top but I couldn't help myself.)


Kebab kebab kebab


*all the notes in this recipe are my mom's. I will go ahead and tell you that the kebabs tasted amazing, so you should do as mother says.

lean pork steak (cut into 1" cubes) Marinade: 1 cup sliced fresh onion 6-8 cloves garlic 1/2 cup oil 1/4 cup water 1/4 bottle soy sauce (I used about 1/4 cup because of the salt in it) 1 tsp. red pepper 2 tsp. fresh ginger salt and pepper some drops of lime Leave the pork in the marinade for 4-12 hours (I didn't do this). It must be completely covered. Put the pieces of meat on skewers; 4-5 on one skewer - 4-5 skewers/person. Grill them above a charcoal fire for about 5 minutes. Serve with peanut sauce.


1 cup finely chopped onions 5-8 cloves of garlic 1 tsp. hot pepper 1 tsp. ginger 1 Tbsp. brown sugar 1 cup peanut butter or crushed groundnuts sprinkled with some drops of lime or lemon 3 Tbsp. soy sauce a mixture of 1/2 coconut milk and 1/2 regular milk (I used about 1/2 cup of reg. milk - use the amount of milk that makes it the consistency that you want)

Fry the onion in 5-7 Tbsp. oil (never olive oil, although I used olive oil) until light brown. Add garlic, hot pepper and ginger, stir well. Add the peanut butter or crushed groundnuts. Add milk - you can add more as it simmers but sauce should be thick. Add salt, sugar, soy sauce and drops of lime or lemon to taste. Bring to boil again and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Another motherrecipe! I prefaced this one with the admonition to follow her notes, and I'll end with the same advice: do as mother says. She raised four children in the wilds of the jungle. She knows what she's doing.

This is really good with rice. The sauce is thick, but it makes the rice round up rather nicely onto a fork.

It's also really good with homemade biscuits (topped with homemade strawberry jam), sauted snap peas and squash from the garden, a large porch, a family reunion, and three dessert options (blueberry pie, chocolate pound cake, and ice cream. Notice the "and" there instead of the "or" ... you get my drift, right?).


Welcome Home Hamburgers

2 lb. ground beef (or 1 lb. ground beef and 1 lb. ground turkey) 1 package dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix 1 c. grated cheddar cheese 1 Tbsp. worstershire sauce Mix all ingredients together in large bowl with your hands if you're adventurous or with a wooden spoon if you're not. Let set 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours) ... according to my dad, this time allows the meat juices to rehydrate the soup mix and make it tastier... Divide the meat mixture into 8-10 sections. Make into hamburger patties. Cook on grill over medium heat until desired doneness. Serve with the usual lettuce, tomato, and onion on a bun, or with the unusual fried egg, chips, and ranch on a bun. Welcome Home Hamburgers are exactly what they sound like: the meal that celebrates any homecoming, big or small. I believe that my grandfather Marvin (who I never had the privilege of meeting) began the tradition of grilling burgers for his children (my dad, aunt, and uncle) when they came home from college. Dad has perfected the recipe over the years. We just celebrated a pretty big homecoming this past weekend: my youngest brother Will is home on leave from his Army station in the Middle East. His 15 days at home began with the announcement that he was not going to make his bed. (Mom winced). We were all at home: older brother, wife, me, husband, younger brother, youngest brother, and parentals. Oh yeah, and five dogs. We're working towards a one-to-one family member-to-dog ratio, I think. Side note about the dogs: Honey (a 75-lb German Shepherd) doesn't know she's as big as she is and likes to chase her tail in the grass; Ginger (50 lbs of friendly mutt) lived at my parents' house for a year and so used this visit to re-establish her neighborhood circuit; Salem (our 25 lb Australian Shepherd/Beagle mix) tried to play with the "big kids" but didn't really know what to do with himself when faced with 11 acres of play space and crotchety old dogs; Max (13-year-old lab-something mix) laid on the porch and gave the occasional bark to confirm his alpha position; and Prince (9-year-old, 25 lb rat terrier) hid under the porch and gave a great show of pouting. Who needs kids when you've got dogs? Back to the point. Great family time. Awesome food (I'm going to post another recipe from the weekend soon). Lovely memories. Can't wait for the next reunion ...


Big Booty

Oh, the booty of the earth!
Big booty #1:
squash on the vine
Big booty #2:
squash and sugar snap peas in my hand
Big booty, big booty, big booty! Oh yeah, big booty!
(PS. We have over a billion grape and roma tomatoes growing. OK, not a billion. But we do have 40 tomato plants in the ground. A (conservative) tomato-per-plant estimate is 10. I'm going to stock up on lycopene this summer.)