Raindrops on zinnias. (food, week of 10.7.13)

Seasonal bloom

The first time Bernard came to visit me in Omaha, we had grand plans for making dinner that were thwarted by an unexpected half-day search for Ella dog who went off chasing a rabbit at the entrance to Platte River park and disappeared.  That tale’s another story for another day, but the net result was that instead of making Cuban pork roast, we had to make hamburgers because they were quicker.

If you want to get to know someone, go grocery shopping with them.  As Bernard and I cruised the store aisles for hamburger fixin’s we compared notes on brand choice.  It was like one of those Glamour magazine dating quizzes only in real time.  Had Bernard reached for Miracle Whip, for example, I would not now be the mother of his children.  About midway through the store he said, “There’s one thing you’ve got to know: It’s Claussen pickles or nothing.”  Luckily, I agreed.

One of the most important things about eating is knowing what you do and don’t like.  The list for each of us evolves over time, changing as we grow and as new foods and brands come to market.  “I like pickles” turns into “I like Claussen pickles” as we become more discerning about certain food tastes and textures.  And the best part is that new twists on old favorites are constantly being introduced.

Claussen pickles still rate way higher than Vlasic in our house (no contest), but our list now Wickles (I can eat an entire jar by myself) which weren’t even an option all those years ago when we were shopping for hamburger supplies.  Harney & Sons makes my favorite teas (Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey and Yellow & Blue in particular).  Noosa yoghurt.  Brianna’s French Vinaigrette.  Duke’s mayonnaise.  These, like zinnias in the garden, are a few of my favorite things.  What they share in common, I’ve realized, is a bit of a sharp taste – slightly acidic, that appeals to me.

As I think more about the foods we eat as a family and what my family likes, I’ve noticed that we each have a similar taste preference.  What I think about now, that I didn’t a year ago, is how to make sure the meals we share will have something that appeals to my children’s developing taste buds and leads them toward trying new things.  We started with basics that I knew everyone liked, and we’ve evolved more than I would have guessed.  Who knew?

For this week we’ll continue with a vegetable plate to celebrate the great produce available right now.  We’ll also try a new salad (new to my kitchen), dip the children’s toes in green curry, and then relax with a couple of easy favorites, pizza and quiche.  Not sure how the green curry will go, but there are always Claussen pickles in the refrigerator to fall back on.

Happy week.

menu and grocery list 10.7.13


Week of October 7| 2013


Farm PlatePeas & Greens | Roasted Squash | Sliced Tomatoes

To roast butternut or acorn squash (or combo) toss cubed squash pieces with olive oil, salt, a bit of sugar, and some minced garlic.  Roast at 350° for about 30 minutes.  While squash roasts, boil field peas in salted water.  While they’re boiling, sauté onion in olive oil; add some chopped greens (3 cups) and sauté until greens are tender.  Toss greens and boiled peas together in a large bowl with a red wine vinaigrette.

Seasonal bloom

Green Curry Salmon | Jasmine RiceI use the Thai Kitchen green paste for this recipe, but you can make your own if you’re feeling adventuresome.  Just remember to wear gloves when handling the hot peppers, and don’t touch your eyes.  Sear salmon in butter over high heat (a few minutes per side – should be just under done); remove to a plate and tent to keep heat in (fish will finish cooking while covered).  Add finely chopped shallots to the skillet and sauté until soft; add 1 can coconut milk and cook until thickened (15 minutes or so); add 1-4 Tbsp. green chili paste.  Transfer salmon to warm plates.  Ladle sauce over salmon.  Serve with/over jasmine rice with cilantro sprigs.

Lettuce and peppers

Wheatberry SaladI tried the new Panera wheatberry salad this week, and it’s delicious.  I looked for recipes and found one at epicurious that is easy and can be adapted to taste pretty much like the Panera version only better, because it’s homemade and not $8 per person.  Here’s the link to the recipe; just add crumbled feta and dried cranberries and serve on fresh green leaf lettuce.

Apple orchard harvest

Quiche | Orchard Fruit SaladArkansas Blacks are my favorite apples, thanks to my grandfather’s apple lessons in his orchard.  My kids prefer pears, which are great right now also.  If you’re a quiche novice, here’s a link to a great post and recipe on The Kitchn.  I’ll confess that I don’t always make my own crust.  Our family favorite quiche is your basic ham and cheese (Fontina), but bacon is pretty popular too.

Tomato and basil

 Pizza MargheritaWhether or not you make your dough from scratch, homemade pizza is a fun family project with quick results.  This recipe from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s Splendid Table is simple to follow for kids and adults both.  I use fresh roasted tomatoes or unroasted ones that I salt and drain to keep the pizza from being watery.  If you’ve never made dough, it’s really pretty easy and fun for kids to watch.  Promise.