Tag Archives: Gluten-Free

Quick & Easy Julienned Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Thyme

<img alt="quick easy zucchini and yellow squash with thyme"/>

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve come across at least one comment I’ve made about squash in general.  It’s something I didn’t learn to like until I was in my early twenties with two babies at home and a small garden that produced zucchini the size of battleships.  I became quite adept at figuring out what to do with those behemoths, and more importantly, our resources were meager, so being creative with squash became a fascination in general.

It seems like that was a few lifetimes ago, and since then, although I continue to learn about and experiment with different kinds of squash, I am always amazed to find how good it really is even with very little preparation.

When the friend I was visiting recently on my trip east graciously allowed me to prepare dinner my last night with her, she volunteered to make a veggie side dish which happened to be squash.  She used a julienne peeler tool I’ve had in my kitchen for several years and have been less than successful with to slice some zucchini she’d purchased from a roadside stand that day.

I’ve only recently tried spaghetti squash and love it, but this was so much more easy — no baking required!  And yes, it really did remind me of pasta if I need to say that.

Have you tried squash prepared this way before?

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Simple Snap Pea and Radish Slaw

It really doesn’t get hot where I live until August.  I spend each summer quietly enjoying our temperate weather, often more chilly than some would like.   And so when we invite them to our house for dinner, we tell them to bring sweaters and then snicker about it because the idea of needing a sweater on a gorgeous 65 degree evening is funny.   The doors to our patio and several large windows  are open all the time to allow the fresh air in so it’s usually cool in our house — the way I like it.

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Southwest Tomato Gazpacho

For the past five years or so, my very best friend and I have diligently gone to Tomatomania each April when it comes to town.  We may have missed a year somewhere in that time, but still buy tomato plants elsewhere so we can make like suburban farmers and enjoy our own home grown, warmed by the sun orbs of summer lusciousness.  I have to fess up and say my friend’s plot is quite huge so she can let her tomato plants grow wildly over the sunny terraced hillside behind her house, whereas I am only a poser who keeps two large pots near the side of my house.  And if those tomato plants are lucky, they’ll get most of the sun they’re supposed to have.  I’ve had good years, and then I’ve had not so good years — like this year.

My plants are tall and scraggly, have been producing lots of blossoms, but very few tomatoes.  Yes, they’ve been appropriately watered and fertilized.  I even remembered to plant them making sure the first sprout of leaves was buried.  I tried egg shells around the stems this year, too, and ironically, this is the first year I’ve had stems rot.  I’m about ready to rip them out of their pots to plant something else.  However, my friend is having a bumper crop.

After paying $6 for a gorgeous heirloom tomato at one of our fabulous farmer’s markets last Sunday, she called to say she wanted to drop off some tomatoes, then the very next day sent me home with more.  What does one do with so many tomatoes outside of occasionally enjoying one sliced and lightly salted?

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Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Sorrel, and Hazelnuts

I like to think I’ve always enjoyed vegetables — especially those others would prefer didn’t exist, let alone show up on their dinner plates.  The what are those, how does one prepare them, cook, or eat them vegetables.  But my perspective was limited early on by what so many of ours has been:  the availability and affordability of certain types of fresh vegetables as well as what our mothers actually served us.

Which brings me to beets.

The only beet I recall sitting on my dinner plate was a deep magenta slice of somewhat gelatinous matter not too unlike the canned cranberry sauce sliced and served at our holiday turkey dinners.  It was smaller in circumference and served with iceberg lettuce suggesting it was a salad.  My mother might tell me otherwise, but I’d also venture a guess cottage cheese was involved — or something white — and remembering our fridge, know that had to be it.  Creamy, soft goat’s cheese, salty feta, or crumbly cotija would not have been regulars in our cheese drawer which housed my stepfather’s sacred box of Velveeta, a wax-covered package of American cheese slices, and a green can of Kraft Parmesan.

I never learned to enjoy the taste or texture of those beets,  an odd combination of sour and sweet and something I thought should be warm instead of cold.  Years and years would pass before I learned of how one  friend enjoyed them — from jars with spooned sauce drizzled over a homemade chicken pot pie hot from the oven.  I can hear her now singing the dish’s praises with the accent her small town Texas roots provided her, and remember watching the respective juices ooze and mingle across the bowl she served the meal in.

I did not want a bite regardless of how happy she was about the idea and suspect she knew it was an odd favorite, goading me to take a bite.  I loved her in spite of that beet fiasco because don’t we all have at least one oddball of a dish we secretly enjoy?

Since that time, I’m embarrassed to admit that as much as I realize how good beets are for my body, I still have not quite learned to fully enjoy them.  I see them among the other vegetables I routinely purchase and pass them by unless I see rainbow beets, or golden beets.  Somehow their beautiful color tempts me to stop and wonder an extra second or two before I give in and throw them in the basket, giving them the benefit of my persistent doubt.  But rarely do I consider picking up a bunch of red beets unless I’ve seen a recipe somewhere that suggests I might reconsider trying them.   And I’m still reconsidering, because I do try them, then decide not to share the recipe.  What favorable comments might I make when the recipe isn’t what’s lacking, but my palate?

Beets leave me thinking that sure, the flavor is okay, and possibly bordering on pleasant,  but I can’t shake the memory of those Harvard beets years ago sitting on my lettuce and making everything pink.  We’ll call this salad made of roasted golden beets with arugula and sorrel picked from my sad excuse of an herb box a truce of sorts.  My continuing attempt to enjoy beets.

I’m not quite there yet, but maybe.

You?

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Chocolate Ganache Whiskey Tortes

I believe I can chalk up my extended absences here to a variety of reasons.  Experts tell me I’m not supposed to address it but I’ve decided to ignore them because these days, it seems everyone is an expert on how to blog.   To some extent, mentioning it does feel a bit like having to explain to a teacher why my homework isn’t done.  And sadly, I no longer have a dog, but if I did she wouldn’t have eaten my homework so I cannot use that excuse.  Excuse as in please excuse me for my absence here.  

Let’s chalk it up to the following:

  1. Not wanting to look at, be around, or discuss food that isn’t in the realm of possibility for me right now — even in moderation.  If I want to enjoy recipes clicking about the web, then ogling cheese seductively oozing from a simple grilled sandwich on white bread will not work — I don’t care how fantastic the quality of the cheese or bread is.  Nor will stuffed cookies or cupcakes, or recipes drowning in fat.  Sorry.  This isn’t to mean I will never enjoy these indulgences again, but that I’m working hard to understand I cannot have them whenever I want.  And I’m succeeding with great progress so don’t want to spoil that.
  2. Avoiding sitting on the ginormous ball I roll up to the Mac when I write or edit photos.  Regardless of whether I take numerous opportunities to do strength exercises on said ball throughout the time I’m on it (no, there will never be photos), I have been trying to stay physically active with projects around the house — and goodness knows, there are plenty.  Closets, the garage, a kitchen cupboard reorganization, keeping up with the deadheading on the patio plants.  Busy.  Well, except for this week.  I’ve been keeping that ball warm and procrastinating.  I can be very good at it.
  3. Getting caught up in what seems to be the mode of the food blogging day.  Everybody has a list of what to do and not to to if you have a food blog.  It tires me to no end having to think of doing this as one might approach a job.  I just can’t wrap my head around it and it annoys me so I have to step away from the Mac in search of a bit of balance.  This usually involves absentmindedly reviewing why I started this blog while sweeping my old cat Precious’ fur balls into a neat pile for the third time in a day.  And then I snap out of it.
  4. I’m just now figuring out I’m retired.  Honestly, if you could wake up every day and think as I do that you might do just about anything you’d like, would you sit in front of a computer?  I did for years until I realized it was perfectly fine to enjoy life and so that’s what I’ve been doing.  (see the first two items above)  It’s not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, but I look forward to it every day.
  5. Walking.  Lots and lots of it.  I try to average an hour or more a day four times a week and although I’ve logged quite a few miles, I’m constantly fighting with myself to get out there.  I’m not obsessed, but processing what’s important to me at this point in my life (being mentally and physically healthy as I age) takes time and thought.  It’s a pity that all my rumination doesn’t burn calories.
  6. Preparing less complicated, healthy food.  Trust me, I love a decadent recipe with eight-thousand steps.  I do.  But for the last five months, I’ve been thinking less is more — just to reboot my system.  I will always be someone who indulges in an amazing recipe with all the right ingredients, but for now, I’m restraining myself.  This adds up to not much to post on the blog, but  I’ll get there.  I will.  Maybe.  But I’m thinking posting a hummus recipe and shooting it with my usual bowl of sliced cucumbers isn’t going to work.  Editing photos and writing the post would take longer than making the hummus!

The good news is we do enjoy dessert, although not nearly as much as we used to.  I’ve given it some thought and would say we average about once a month and the occasion is usually connected to a dinner party or informal get together.  I think that’s good because I’ll never give up eating dessert.  Considering what kind of dessert, how much, and how often is more the idea.  With that in mind, we enjoyed these Chocolate Ganache Whiskey Tortes on the evening of the Academy Awards when one of my older sons was visiting.

If you love chocolate and only need a little bit to satisfy a sweet tooth, this is a perfect dessert.

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