- Member for
- 1 year 4 months
If you come home after a long day of work, toss a frozen Lean Cuisine dinner into the oven and hit the television remote control to tune into the food channel, you're not alone. Just when I was feeling confident that people were getting back into the kitchen to cook, often using recipes and tips from their favorite television chef, I attended a session at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference called "The Death of Recipes?" and learned otherwise. Recipes are everywhere, yet many people still don't know how to cook, or just aren't bothering to do it.
"What are a few things you always have in your pantry?" I'm often asked this question by curious cooks. There are actually more than a few pantry staples that I couldn't be without. But the one that always comes to mind first is olive oil. Right now, one of the pull-out shelves in my pantry is groaning with the weight of several bottles of extra-virgin olive oil.
I've always thought walnuts tasted best in cookies, particularly chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. Quick breads have also been a logical place to put some chopped walnuts. My mom used to add chopped walnuts to tuna salad.
My love affair with shortbread began seven years ago with my first bite of a homemade heart-shaped cookie that melted in my mouth. Rich, buttery dough had been packed into cast-iron heart-shaped molds and baked until they were set but not brown. The cookies had been made by my daughter-in-law's family using a recipe provided by their good friend, Laura. They were prepared just in time to be served at the reception that would rejoice the marriage of my younger son and his new wife.
For years, I've stayed far away from fish. I didn't prepare it or serve it and I would never even consider ordering it at a restaurant. I'm not fond of that "fishy" flavor that I thought all fish naturally carried. Over the last few years it seems my taste buds grew up and they've developed a fondness for salmon and some other fish and seafood. I'm sure this new development can be attributed to my new friend in town. It's the guy at the grocery store who is in charge of the fish and seafood.
"Mom, you've got to try edamame." It was my son, Andy. He was calling me from Texas where he was a senior in college. That was seven years ago. I had no idea what he was talking about. Was he learning a new exotic language? "Just boil them and sprinkle them with salt. They taste great." Oh, so he was talking about something edible. Apparently, he had prepared them in a gourmet foods class he was taking at Texas Christian University. He said it was a healthful, easy-to-make snack.
As I pulled my copy of "All New Square Foot Gardening" from the shelf in my office, my mind wandered back almost 30 years to 1981. My mom was so excited about a new book she'd discovered. Apparently, a man named Mel Bartholomew had come up with a way to take all the frustration out of vegetable gardening. By condensing single-row garden space to 4 by 4 feet and amending the soil, he created a system of gardening that yielded more produce in less space.
A slight resemblance to custard, but so creamy and smooth it could be mousse. Only the texture is a bit more dense than mousse. These little cups of silky smooth lusciousness are called Pots de Crème in French. It's perfectly all right, though, to just call them little pots of chocolate with a billowy cream topping. Or just call it chocolate pudding. Once you taste it, though, you'll want to call it Pots de Crème. In February, I was browsing through an antique shop in south central Minnesota when I spied a set of four espresso cups and saucers.
If a large succulent ham will be the centerpiece of your Easter meal, there's a good chance at least a small chunk of it will remain when the last diners push away from the table. And if you will be celebrating Easter at someone else's home, you may be lucky enough to head out the door with a foil-wrapped chunk of ham in hand. According to a recent survey by the National Pork Board, 67 percent of households will be celebrating Easter with a ham dinner this year. Ham is easy to prepare with few ingredients and no worries.
In many homes around the world, Good Friday isn't Good Friday without egg- and butter-rich Hot Cross Buns, fragrant with spices and topped with a cross to signify Christ's sacrifice. I learned to make Hot Cross Buns many years ago when I took a class focused on dough made with yeast. I was a young mom at the time, I didn't have much experience working with yeast dough, and it seemed a little intimidating to me. I soon discovered the great pleasure of watching yeast come to life, foaming up in a cup as it bubbled and grew.