Category Archives: food

Cold Weather Salads

In the colder weather, we want sturdier, starchier foods. The craving applies to salads, too. This selection of ‘cold weather salads’ relies on typical pantry items, which means with a well-stocked larder you can make most of them with little or no planning.
Nothing like toothsome barley to satisfy the need for something deliciously starchy! Add some chic peas, diced red onion, chopped green olives and orange pepper, toss with parsley and a vinaigrette and you’ve got yourself a Company Worthy salad! Unlike many others, this holds for days in the fridge.

IMG_6942Dress up red leaf with some deli-style olives and artichoke hearts out of the can. Yum! While I generally prefer white or rice vinegar, a balsamic vinegar adds to the visual sense of a dark and hearty mixture.

IMG_6951IMG_6953Sunflower seeds and cannellini beans, both readily kept on hand, dress up any salad — here find them nicely partnered with spinach and red cabbage.

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IMG_7289Hearts of palm and again, sunflower seeds, turn an otherwise pedestrian salad into something a little special. Scallions and radish add pizzazz. The dressing here is Marie’s Lite Blue Cheese mixed with lemon and garlic. It’s the only store bought dressing I ever use. If you’ve a brand you really like, let me know! Generally, I find that little compares with homemade mustard/garlic vinaigrette.
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IMG_7506This salad combines radicchio, sunflower seeds, chic peas and carrot ribbons with bitter greens. In the cold weather, it’s nice to have pops of color on our plates and even though we associate bitter greens with spring, they’re available all year ’round. Partner with a sweet potato for a light, mid-week meal.
IMG_7545  IMG_7548Roasted beets of any color constitute a real treat in my book. Wrap them in foil, throw ’em in a medium oven for an hour, use the foil to scrape away the skin and voila! — you have a tender, sweet vegetable that really needs no adornment. Here, I’ve mixed yellow beets with canned white beans, olives and lots of pepper prior to dressing with a vinaigrette.

IMG_7554If my friend Elizabeth ever produces another batch of this exquisite oil, I’ll let you know. It’s delicious on salads and good for direct application to hair and skin, too.

IMG_7555IMG_7558Escarole, mung bean sprouts, and radishes. Not sure why this salad made it into the ‘cool weather file,’ but I’d eat it this late November week for sure. IMG_7595IMG_7600

Chicken Waldorf Salad is special any time of year, but in November it’s particularly satisfying. I’ve skipped the greens and the grapes and added wild rice. Walnuts are a must, as are celery and some kind of onion. I didn’t do so here, but roasting the nuts briefly in a saute pan brings out their flavor. This is a wonderful use of leftover chicken.

Roux baby

Happy Thanksgiving American readers! Yes, I’m using French’s crispy onions for the green bean casserole topping but I’m firmly drawing the line at mushroom soup. Made a roux with real butter and real cream. Tons ‘o fat. I hope my sister in law’s too busy in the kitchen to read this because otherwise she might not have a serving!

Per usual, I found a great Bon Appetit recipe online. The hardest part was finding the setting on my phone to keep it awake. Greasy fingers and passcodes make for an unhappy partnership.

Sometimes when I’ve had it with the news (just hearing “Saudi Arabia” turns my stomach), I play with the dianaphoto app and make double exposures. It’s truly fun. (K and I may have gone out for burgers last night as a pretext to stop in at the Pottery Barn — how I love their Christmas displays! All that sparkle and dazzle show up nicely in photographs).

Here are a few pix. I’ll save most of the Christmas ones for (ahem) AFTER Thanksgiving.

The skyline is Charleston from 2017 visit.

The peace pin was a gift from Liz (I’m Going to Texas, sidebar) and created by Barry Smith of Australia.

Timberline Lodge Pork Posole

The first memorable meal of our trip was also our first meal and served in the stately Timberline Lodge at the base of Mt Hood.

We had a nice view and talked about a chair lift that was either there or not there (my assertion about an obvious, conspicuous feature of the physical landscape being met with discounting contradiction (“you mean that one?” No, I say, the one out front. “Are you sure?” Um, yeah. I took pictures of it) constituted what I am now calling a “mini #metoo moment.”

I said something but didn’t let it ruin lunch and only write about it now because it offers a soft echo to what is happening on the national stage. Whom do you reflexively believe? Whom do you reflexively discount? And why? And what about capitulation? There are so many moments when I had no dispositive photo to bolster my view (so to speak), when my go-to reaction would’ve been self doubt. “Um, I THINK so.” This pattern is part of why I find the push back by Dr. Ford’s lawyer so riveting. She offers some willingness to bend but it arises from strategy, not doubt.


The Pork Posole served to K and me was out of this world! I had to substitute frozen corn for hominy and used less heat, but my version was still delicious.

Pork Posole / serves five
Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Apply dry spice rub onto a pork shoulder after removing some of the fat and silver. I used a combo of chili powder, onion salt, and a prepared Moroccan spice mix.

Sear top and bottom in a Dutch oven covered in olive oil — about four minutes a side.

Rather than sear meat first, remove, then add veggies, I now add onions etc. while cooking the meat so that the pan doesn’t smoke.

For this dish: add one onion sliced in half moons, three whole garlic cloves and one cup of dry black beans.

When the meat is ready, throw in:

2 c chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
3 diced jalapeño rings
1 Tbs honey

Bake at low heat for three hours.
Once done, shred the pork* and add back into the pan with:

1 can tomato sauce
2 more c chicken stock
4 more jalapeño rings, chopped
Salt

Bring to a boil. Simmer briefly. Serve atop rice. Shredded cheddar optional.

A great meal for cooler weather. Will be better the second day.

*I stowed away enough meat for two pulled pork sandwiches and still had plenty for the Posole.

PS. Not to beat a dead horse here, but my response to someone mentioning a physical attribute of the landscape that I had failed to notice would’ve been, “Really? Show me on the way out, ok?”  And not, “Are you sure?”

Skip the lettuce

Every now and then I like a salad without lettuce. Here’s tonight’s version:

Diced base of green pepper / Small chunks of half a tomato / two celery stalks, chopped / 3 Tbs diced red onion / small handful of chopped endive / half a chopped avocado / one small cuke, peeled and chopped / chopped herb (cilantro or parsley).

Tasty with all kinds of dressings but my favorite is a tangy vinaigrette.

This is a single serving.

* * *

Great opportunity opened up last night: got a space at a writing retreat. I had moved on it late. It was full. Forgot about it. And then: ta da! I was first on the waiting list and a spot is mine!

Not only is it being held in my old stomping grounds just outside of Northampton in central Mass., it’ll be DAYS dedicated to writing and feedback. The timing couldn’t be better!

Brutally hot here again. Finn and I started our day in the lake!

I’ll be taking about a week-long break here.

Shovel and sweat

Just worked up a sweat putting a few plants in the ground (hyssop) and transplanting a few others (the rudbeckia that is asserting itself in the front bed). I’m done in! Not even as hot as it’s been.

Fortunately, I have reserves left to pick up a pen AND GO. And, to read.

PS. The full fat compensatory strategy to help eliminate sugar is, not over, but going to be subject to scrutiny now. Just joined Weight Watchers online (again). This morning while merrily munching away found out that half a cup of cashews is almost half my day’s allotment of points. See? Better to know these things.

Joy and Good Things

Friday’s First Joy: Wading with my guys at the lake. (Later, K and I will return sans Dog and take a dip and that’ll be another Joy) (autocorrect caps ‘Joy’ and ‘Dog’ on my phone – don’t you love that?)

While standing there in summer’s blue palm, another Joy arose — what else? — a vision of food.

Vichyssoise! Wouldn’t that be nice? I’ll make it with cream! (The sugar purge has begun and in honor of what works for me, some high fat allowances will be made).

This dish will also celebrate Anthony Bourdain. Maybe we’ll even watch his final episode while we enjoy it — then again, maybe we won’t. Another anodyne episode of “Anne with an E” (– a recent remake of Anne of Green Gables on Netflix) might suit the day better.

Soup recipe here.

Eight leeks is A LOT of leeks. Recipe calls for “whites only” and I wonder if I have included too much of the transitional green? — I’ll let you know.

Another Joy: a run to Whole Foods for ingredients (it’s the grocer closest to the lake). This always constitutes an exercise in both abundance and privilege. Look at those artichokes! The beautiful shallots!

Arriving home, yet another Joy: perennials. Rising up in the garden — a seemingly effortless miracle of return. Color and profusion. Soon there will be morning glories, too.

A surprising addition to this list: all the witty and astute and funny people on twitter. For example, George Takei. This morning I learned he has made a Cat-Trump app that’ll let you make videos. I think I better not get it.

Or, The Hoarse Whisperer.

“Tell me one good thing” is a weekly feature of his (hers?). After days of pithy and unavoidably depressing political commentary, the #OneGoodThing hashtag takes over. Hundreds of people respond and I often take the time to read dozens of them.

So, like him I’m asking my readers to tell me one good thing that happened this week. We all need this.

I’ll start: my sister’s new care arrangement will allow the aide to drive her around. This is terrific news!

Beets and radishes

Anyone who camps knows how even the most pedestrian meal is enhanced to a near-miraculous degree after a day in the wilderness. It happens all the time. “How can a bowl of pasta with canned sauce and chopped zucchini taste so good,” you wonder. And yet it does.

The visit to Salem was tense and then tenser. We didn’t manage to capture the cat. The aide had to leave a full hour earlier than expected. Plans had to be abandoned, limitations accepted. But before we got there, a fair amount of hostility was expressed. I spent a lot of time walking around the building, sort of wishing I smoked.

My sister blamed her temper on a transiting Mars / natal Sun conjunction and pretty much everything else on me.

She kept telling me to sit down and to stop moving. I kept suggesting that it might be time to put some pants on. The aide cleaned the kitchen. Then the bathroom.

My wish to get something done collided with my sister’s refusal to move. It’s often this way.

It’s a kind of wilderness, really — and I think it made the salad I made after getting home taste ridiculously good.

The gorgeous food blog, Harvest and Honey, inspired the choice of ingredients.

With the sweet, candy-like beets, the smooth and creamy avocado, plus a little goat cheese, chopped scallion, sliced radish and a handful of micro greens, it was beyond delicious.

Recipe (you hardly need one!)

1 large beet, roasted, peeled and diced*

1/2 scallion chopped, including white end

1 radish, sliced thin

1 1/2 Tbs goat cheese

Handful of micro greens

Dress with a tangy mustard vinaigrette (loaded with garlic).

* if you stow beets, post-roasting, in their foil wrappers in a large, unsealed zip lock bag, be very careful carrying the bag to the cutting board unless you want your kitchen to resemble a crime scene!