I’m not exactly techy…anymore. But, I’m finally moving from the wordpress.com domain, to a self-hosted one. Whatever that means. But, it does mean I have more flexibility, if nothing else. Let’s just say, I’m learning a lot and I’m calling help desks. I think I’m their worst nightmare.
So, click here, and you’ll get to the new site. All of the posts, comments, recipes and photos are on the new site. See you there!
I love summer!!
On Thursday night, when Grandma and WG joined us for dinner, I combined grilled steak with fresh, home made pesto. I’d never done that before. Why?! It was delicious. Forget sweet barbeque and steak sauces, which I rarely use. This is a combination that I will definitely make again. S also put some hickory wood chips on the fire and that also enhanced the flavor without making it smokey tasting. Mmmm.
And, what goes with steak and a mediterranean sauce? Polenta.
I made way too much – the reference recipe from Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” said that it would make 4 cups. I actually used slightly less polenta and came out with much more. Definitely enough to serve 8, which meant that Grandma and WG got to take home some leftovers to eat grilled or fried on another day.
We all liked the addition of corn to the polenta. It added a texture and burst of flavor that were delicious and unexpected. I made the polenta a little creamier by combining milk and water for the cooking liquid, plus some parmesan and a little butter at the end. Another keeper. The girls are not big soft polenta eaters, but they do like it grilled. I will make this for them when they get home!!
The girls are still at camp. S & I are finally home after a lot of traveling. I don’t know how people who travel constantly for business do it. I’m exhausted and I’ve done no work. The travel just takes it out of you. That, and not exercising enough. And, eating too much.
We are home for a while and I’m going to cook very healthfully – which, for me, means a focus on cooking dinner and not on making dessert. Luckily, the farmer’s market was open today with its summer bounty there for the feasting. I am going to use it as an inspiration.
I’m only looking forward 3 days. Keeping my options open. Here goes:
Wednesday: Grilled wild salmon, roasted beets and fennel, sauteed rainbow chard
Thursday: (Grandma & WG for dinner) Grilled steak with home-made pesto, polenta with fresh corn, roasted tomatoes and carrots
Friday: Brown rice with chicken, spinach, mushrooms and ginger, red cabbage slaw with asian seasonings
Last night I made an assortment of grilled vegetables. All of the ones that are in a typical Ratatouille, except the tomatoes. Actually, I bought tomatoes, but decided not to include them because they seemed too special to grill.
My idea was to layer the grilled vegetables, and have a deconstructed ratatouille. I took lots of pictures, but none of them turned out as well as the dish.
It wasn’t bad at all! Here is what I did:
Zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant sliced lengthwise into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
Red onions, sliced widthwise into 1/2 inch slices
Red pepper, charred, steamed and peeled (or jarred roasted red peppers)
Salt and pepper
Feta cheese (a nice soft flavorful one)
Herbes de Provence (or some fresh thyme)
Brush one side of the slices of vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Put them on a grill (medium heat) and, while they are cooking, brush the other side with olive oil. Turn the vegetables when they are browning on the first side. Cook until brown on the flip side.
Layer on a platter or in a casserole, as follows (or however you want!): Eggplant, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Red Pepper, Onions. Crumble feta on top of the vegetables. Rub/sprinkle the herbes on top, then drizzle with a fruity, flavorful olive oil.
Serve at room temperature.
Monday night, without my kids, but with two of my nieces, my sister-in-law, and Grandma and WG, we sat down to a meal of: pappardelle with bolognese sauce, salad, garlic bread, ice cream with raspberries and chocolate sauce. It was the last night of a visit, after all. The dinner was fairly uncomplicated, when you think about it. Then again, when I consider what it takes to put food on our table I become overwhelmed by the enormity of the process.
Over educated though I am, I wouldn’t consider myself a deep thinker. I have a lousy memory, especially for history and important facts (but an exacting one for minutia). And, even though I try to “get the big picture” – a phrase I fondly remember from driver’s education when I was seventeen – I become stuck in the narrow tunnel of everyday life. Suddenly, though, I’ll find myself in, say, a restaurant and I’ll begin to imagine all of the people involved in getting my dinner on the plate. I don’t mean just the servers and cooks. I mean EVERYTHING, down to the carpeting, the napkins, each element of the food (who made the big cans that held the tomatoes for the sauce?), the cooks’ uniforms, the wood for the tables, the plate itself (china made in China?). The web of people, industries, transportation, raw materials, machinery, etc., becomes so intricate that it is overwhelming to me. The sheer number of people who touch my life each day, who I don’t know, but are probably within six degrees of separation, is unfathomable. The global economy that supports the system is even more baffling. How can and does it all work?
The first time I had an alfajor cookie was at our local tacqueria. Two thin shortbread cookies with that mellow caramel, dulce de leche, in between, rolled in powdered sugar (as if it weren’t already sweet enough). It was soooo decadent and delicious. As is my usual, I thought, “I can make these”. But, finding a recipe was difficult. And, seemingly, there are several different varieties of alfajores depending on the country of origin.
There are cookies that are more crumbly, others that are more crisp. There are those that are flat, others that are domed. Alfajores can also be rolled in shredded coconut on the edges, instead of powdered sugar. I’ve seen recipes for the cookies to be dipped in dark chocolate. One can use dulce de leche made from cow’s milk, or the kind made from goat’s milk (cajeta). Many recipes use a lot of cornstarch, and little flour – perhaps because corn is such a staple of South America. Then there is also a Spanish variety that is not a cookie at all, but a candy made of almonds, sugar and spices. I received some Spanish alfajores as a gift last year when I was in recuperation mode.