After the Snow Storm

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” – Mary Oliver

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We Are All Artists

It is school vacation week here in Western Massachusetts and Susan and I were volunteers in a special children’s art project on Monday and Tuesday at the Boys and Girls Club. Here are a few of the artists above.

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Roasted Pasta Primavera

My wife and I were having lunch and she asked me “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Why not make some past primavera? And be sure to add some squash. My mom always stir-fried squash for me; sometimes with scrambled eggs.”

And I did. So delicious.

Ingredients
Vegetables
  • 1¼ lbs. (about 6 cups) fresh vegetables cut into strips or diced (I used corn, squash, zucchini, red and green pepper—all from a local farm. And Japanese Eggplant, Jalapeno Peppers, and tomatoes—all from my garden. And some spinach.)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta + Sauce
  • One package of fresh Rana linguine
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden brown.
Pasta + Sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add stock and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 13-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter until melted and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add the hot pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then gently stir in the vegetables and Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve.

ROOTS

I had my DNA analyzed.
I analyzed my DNA.
I had expectorated into a test tube
and sent it off to Ancestry months earlier.
I was hoping for a surprise.
I was hoping to learn 
I had ancestors
From a country I did not know
About. But there was
No surprise.
Italy.
Great Britain.
Scandinavia. 
Maybe there was a surprise.
I see Scotland.
So maybe, just maybe
The following story is true:
Mary Queen of Scots
 
It is rumored from whom
 
I am descended, it says here
 
Questa famiglia originaria della Scoizia
 
E nobilissima in molte citta,
 
Ed e divisa in molti rami
 
The Barone family, my family
 
Originated from Scotland
 
Mary’s son King James VI of Scotland
 
Became King James I of England
 
King James great grand daughter married
 
The King of Itlay
 
It is noble in many cities and
 
Is divided into many branches it
 
Had many fiefs and illustrious men in court
 
In the magistrature, in the army
 
And in the church it was
 
Conferred high chivalrous honors and
 
Was vested with the holy orders
 
Of Malta from the 15th Century
 
It includes, as branches, the Counts
 
Of Casola and the Marchesi di Liveri
 
The title was granted in 1710
 
To the celebrated literary figure Domenico
 
Director, San Carlo Opera, Naples
 
Praised even by Giambattista Vico
 
In an assembly of praise of him
 
Made by the Academitrician in 1735
 
The family is listed in the Registry of Neopolitan
 
Feudal families and numbered among
 
The patricians of the Republic of Marino
 
The Republic was represented in Lisbon
 
By the Court of Casola and Marchese di Liveri
 
By Napoleon Barone son of Marchese Pasquale
 
Who had as his grandmother Maria Filomarina
 
Of the Principality of Bocca
 
Title to Alfrede Domenico Barone
 
Held from 1869-1952 also as the Count
 
Of Casoli in the Registry of Nobility
 
Melchizadek descendant of Pasquale
 
And likewise Alfred my father
 
Or so the story goes there is
 
A castle and a title
 
Or at the very least a story
 
That belongs to me in Italy
 
I write to know

 

 

Asian Glazed Chicken Thighs

Simple to prepare. Slightly spicy. Slightly sweet. Simply delicious!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons pure sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2-3 cups spinach with 1/4 cup sesame seeds (cooked separately)
  • sliced green onions/shallots

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to  425°F
  2. Whisk the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and orange juice in a bowl until smooth. Pour half the marinade into a large plastic zipper bag; retain the other half of the sauce. Place the chicken thighs into the bag containing marinade, squeeze all the air out of the bag, and seal. Shake a few times to coat chicken; refrigerate for 1 hour, turning bag once or twice.
  3. Pour the other half of the marinade into a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often, to thicken sauce. Take off heat and allow to cool.
  4. Remove the chicken from the bag; discard used marinade. Place chicken thighs into an oven proof pan/skillet or baking dish and brush with 1/3 of the thickened marinade from the saucepan.
  5. Bake 30–45 minutes, basting one more time after 10 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chicken thigh should read 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
  6. Change oven settings to grill/broil on medium heat and grill until the skin changes to deep golden in color (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle with sesame seeds before broiling.
  7. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with spinach and sesame seeds or steamed bok choy, shallots/green onion slices.

Based on recipes from Café Delites and Allrecipes.

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Cod In Miso Broth

Light. Comforting. Satisfying. Delicious. Japanese-like.

Cooked in one skillet (if you don’t add red lentils).

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 5  shiitake mushroom caps,  sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, dark-green parts reserved for optional garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons peeled, finely minced fresh ginger root
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste
  • Two 6-ounce pieces of cod
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cooked red lentils (my addition)
Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are browned. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the scallion whites, garlic and ginger; cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant.

Add 2 3/4 cups of the water to the skillet and bring to barely a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. While the water is heating, whisk the miso paste with the remaining 1/4 cup water in a liquid measuring cup until dissolved, then whisk that mixture into the skillet.

Season the fish with the salt and pepper, then place in the skillet. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes over low to medium-low heat, maintaining a gentle bubbling, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is fairly firm.

To serve, place one piece of fish in each wide, shallow bowl. (Before I did this, I spooned the cooked red lentils into each bowl.) Stir the sauteed mushrooms and the spinach into the liquid in the skillet, then remove from the heat. Pour the broth with spinach and mushrooms around the fish in each bowl. Garnish with the scallion greens, if using.

Serves 2. Recipe based on one from Ellie Krieger.

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Roasted Chickpea and Fennel Ratatouille

This is a great recipe. My wife Susan found it for me and suggested that I make it.

If you have made Ratatouille on the stove-top, adding ingredients one at a time, you are going to love this. Rich and hearty. So delicious. And so easy to prepare!

The recipe is from Mark Bittman and he writes:

“This ratatouille with chickpeas and fennel is among the best I’ve ever made. It’s a recipe for what you might call A Vegan Day. Being a vegan is not my point, and anyway, it’s as easy to create an unhealthy full-time vegan diet as it is to eat brilliantly as a part-time vegan.

“When fruits and vegetables are at their best, they give you insight into how the vegan thing can work for you, if only for a day. And given a moderate degree of freshness, most conventional vegetables from ordinary supermarkets can be made to taste good when gardens go dormant.”

Ingredients

  • 1 pound eggplant (smaller is better), peeled if you like, and cut into large chunks
  • ¾ pound zucchini, cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound Roma (plum) tomatoes, cored and chopped, or 1 28-ounce can, drained
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced (I didn’t have these so I used 3 seeded and sliced jalapeno peppers.)
  • 1 fennel bulb (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients except oil, chickpeas and herbs in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and toss to combine.
  2. Transfer to oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender and some water has been released from the tomatoes to create a sauce, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Add chickpeas, stir and return to oven until beans heat through, 5 to 10 minutes. Add herbs and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

 

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Hoppin’ John

For years, and always a few days before the New Year, Susan will say, “Bruce, would you make Hoppin’ John for New Year’s Day?” It is a Southern peas and rice dish traditionally served on New Year’s Day.

And finally I make it this year. Not on New Year’s Day but a few days ago on January 9.

It was delicious!

I based my dish on the instructions on the GOYA Blackeye Peas bag. Noted below are my additions.

Ingredients

1 bag of GOYA dry Blackeye Peas
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped (my addition)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup cooked, chopped ham (my addition
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (my addition)
1 teaspoon oregano (my addition)
1/2 teaspoon thyme (my addition
4 roasted tomatoes (see previous Blog post.)
3 cups water
1 cup rice (I cooked the rice separately.)

Directions

Sort and wash beans. In an large 8 quart pot, soak  beans in 4 cups water (I used homemade chicken stock.) DO NOT DRAIN!!! Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Add onion, peppers, celery and cook until tender. Add mixture to beans in pot. Stir in remaining ingredients except for the rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Beans should have about 2 cups of liquid when they are tender. Serve with cooked rice.

Note: a vegan Hoppin’ John could be made by leaving out the bacon and ham. Might want to add some Liquid Smoke.

You can read about the history of the dish at Wikipedia and Serious Eats.

 

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Curried Butternut and Coconut Soup

The recipe called for carrots but I didn’t have any. So I used butternut. Delicious!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ medium onion, roughly chopped
  • ¾ pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins (I used 1/2 butternut.)
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander, to taste
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used my homemade chicken stock.)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • Juice from ½ lime (I used lemon juice.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Cilantro if you have it

Preparation

  1. Heat the butter until the foam subsides. Add the diced chopped onions, sprinkle with salt, stir to coat with butter. Add the chopped carrots/butternut along with the spices. Stir and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock; there should be enough to cover the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the carrots are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. If you have an immersion blender, purée the soup in the pot. If not, wait until the soup cools slightly, and purée in a food processor. Add enough coconut milk (and a little more stock or water if necessary) to bring the soup to the consistency you want. Adjust the seasoning (depending on the stock you use, you may need more or less salt), and lime/lemon juice to taste. Garnish and serve.

Based on a recipe from Mark Bittman.

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Sunday In My Garden

 

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