I’m taking Thanksgiving off this year — literally. My husband suggested we spend the better part of the week in San Francisco and visit with our youngest who is in art school there instead of flying him home for the holiday as we have the past two years. As much as I enjoy the holiday, I have to confess I am enjoying even more that I have not had to decide which recipes to try this year, make the extensive shopping list requiring more than one trip for groceries, write out the plan for when to prep what, or figure out who will come and whether I’ll need to set up more than one table for guests. I’m looking forward to my favorite city away from home and time with my husband exploring streets we’ve not walked before, and whatever hilly views we may find as a result.
September is my favorite month.
I suppose many would say their birthday month was their favorite — that is if they’re the type who thinks about such things — but that’s not why I love September. Countless years of its signaling promise and the beginning of so much that is new has me thinking this way — even when leaves are just now only barely beginning to show signs of seasonal change. I’ve been a schoolie most of my life, so I can’t separate September from that. New schools, new friends, textbooks, notebooks, pencils…sack lunches packed with all the best things…
Late in April each year the Cinco de Mayo ruckus begins. Ads on television air, local restaurants sport signs about Cinco de Mayo happy hours and don strings of red, green, and white flags, grocery stores advertise their specials full of bagged chips and cheese sauce in jars, and Twitter is abuzz with questions about what everyone will be making for their Cinco de Mayo parties.
“Interesting” but far from authentic variations on tacos and guacamole surface, there’s talk of new-fangled margaritas and cerveza, and for those interested in dessert, margarita cupcakes seem to be everywhere sporting that perfectly swirled, creamy top. “You want it with or without salt?”
It’s only a matter of time once the hint of Fall teases me with cool afternoons that I start thinking of soup. I’m not partial to any kind of soup in particular as long as it’s warm and satisfying. Sometimes I long for a clear broth and others something silky and smooth. This time, I was in the mood for something chunky with a bit of richness — like clam chowder — except I didn’t have clams. Seafood chowder sounded excellent too, but I wasn’t sure the tilapia I had in the freezer would be the right kind of fish for that. No, I’d have to settle for the plump pieces of shrimp I had and the sweet corn and potatoes that needed to be used instead. I just needed to find a recipe that wouldn’t take up an afternoon to prepare.
I enjoy my recipe searches because in the process I compare and contrast general quantities of ingredients, consider the variety of spices used and admire an unusual spin here and there. It’s always nice to find a version that is healthy without taking away the satisfying aspect of the dish, too. Every once in a while, I find a recipe that stuns me. In my search for Shrimp and Corn Chowder, I found a recipe that seems to be making its rounds, finding it posted at several different sites. Serving six, it calls for one quart of half-and-half, one quart of heavy cream, and one-half cup of margerine. Seriously. I just about fell out of my chair wondering why on Earth it was necessary to put that much fat into a recipe that could easily do with much lighter ingredients and avoid classifying it as diet food.
Thankfully, I found a great recipe at Nook & Pantry, and although I didn’t follow it exactly as written, my version is not too far off. Shrimp & Corn Chowder anyone?
The weather here surprised us all by hitting 90 degrees yesterday, and today, it’s nearly 100. San Diego is really a desert, so of course it gets that hot here, but rarely at this time of year, and even more rarely near the coast. The sweltering dry heat that we’re more familiar with comes late summer in August, or even September, and as much as individuals from the East Coast enjoy reminding us we don’t have to deal with humidity, heat is heat, and I’m not cut out for it.
Plans of baking and slow braising pork went out the window until I realized I could blow the dust off my crock pot. Literally. It’s been in the garage since our construction when I removed anything from my kitchen that doesn’t get regular use. Of course the crock pot could be perfect; no heat in the kitchen to make things worse, and a relatively fuss-free dinner after the sun dipped below the horizon.
Plan B allowed me to be able to sit on my patio alternating between the sun and the shade (because it will take a bit of effort to get some color into my winter legs and a trip to Puerta Vallarta with girlfriends is in the works…), reading my book, and enjoying the breeze we are lucky enough to have on this hill. By tomorrow, it’s supposed to be 30 degrees cooler if you can believe that.
I don’t. They never quite seem to get the weather reports right here!