Food Friday: A Crop of Apples

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Crunch! Give me crunch. Walking through piles of leaves. Eating apples. The little bit of tooth that defines the perfect French fry. Bacon. The delicious snap of a thin, carmelized-along-the-edge chocolate chip cookie. To intone Martha, these are good things.

Apples always remind me of brown-bagged lunches, with warm, wax paper-wrapped cheese sandwiches. And they make me think of Jo March, scribbling in her cold New England attic, her inky fingers clutching apples as she gnawed away, reviewing her latest lurid tale. Apples bring knowledge and comfort, and at this time of year, there is a profusion of reasons to eat them often.

It’s a little early for the strolls through crunchy leaves, but the autumnal yen of eating crunchy apples can be indulged right now. You need to motivate and travel to your favorite farmers’ markets this weekend and stock up on freshly picked treasures, because there are so many good things you can make! Of course, it is always gilding the proverbial lily to do anything to an apple but wash it and take a bite. Even pies seem unnecessarily vulgar. Does an apple really need brown sugar, cinnamon and dabs of butter to taste better? Of course not! But any iteration of an apple is a good thing!

There is romance and poetry in the 7500* known varieties of apples: Adirondack crab-apple, Albermarle Pippin, Allen’s Everlasting, Ambrosia, American Mother, Annie Elizabeth, Cameo, Captain Kidd, Cellini, Coeur de Boeuf, Gala, Granny Smith, Maiden’s Blush, McIntosh, Red Jonathan, Rhode Island Greening, Winesap, and Zuccalmaglio’s Reinette. You should go to this site and read some of the apples’ characteristics. The Zuccalmaglio description reads: “Flavored with tones of wild strawberry, quince, pineapple, ripe ear and a fine floral touch. Rough sticky skin flushed brown-red with faint red stripes and some russeting. Fine grained flesh.” Sheer poetry. http://www.orangepippin.com/apples
(*Thank you, Serious Eats! http://www.seriouseats.com)

Our first world problems include having very few varieties of apples at the grocery store. Which is why you need to get to your farmers’ market. I would rather rummage through 19 varieties grown locally, than choose from 5 kinds shipped 2,000 miles across the country – fruits chosen for their long shelf life and bruise resistance. Here is an interesting article about testing 10 different kinds of apples to see which is the best for pie: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-lab-what-are-the-best-apples-for-apple-pies-how-to-make-pie.html

Now here are just a few ideas of what you can do with all those delicious apples: applesauce, apple butter, apple fritters, apple cobbler, apple cookies, apple fritters, apple jelly, candy apples, apple crisp, mulled cider, apple cake, apple chutney, apple-tinis, cider doughnuts, apple pancakes, apple turnovers, apple stuffing, Waldorf salad, apple tarts, baked apples, apple brown Betty, apple muffins, and, of course, apple pie (deep-dish or regular).

This Apple Crumble is easy peasy and so good!

6 Golden Delicious or Braeburn apples, peeled, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
4 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Grated zest of one orange
2/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked oats

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix apples, sugar, lemon juice and orange zest. In another bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with butter. Combine with apple mixture in a buttered baking dish.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a nice big splotch of whipped cream. Yumsters. All of the taste of apple pie with no fragile or temperamental pie crust to contend with.

For a boozier cream try this:
Bourbon Cream
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon good bourbon

Appletinis:

This is a serious treatise on the awful syrup-y sweet cocktails of the 90s. It treats apples with respect and good bison grass vodka:
http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/01/cocktail-overhaul-upgraded-appletini-better-apple-martini-vesper-variation.html

“Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard.”
― Walt Whitman

Food Friday: National Wild Rice Week!

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It’s the 20th anniversary of National Wild Rice Week! Are you celebrating appropriately? Did you know that wild rice is Minnesota’s official state grain? There are very long winters in Minnesota…

(http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/wild-rice-september-grain-of-the-month)

Since we are weaning ourselves off the convenience of grilling many a summer meal outside, it is time to return to the kitchen, and to start thinking of warm, filling meals. I could be happy with a roasted chicken breast and a side of white rice with a small green salad every night of the week, however the people I live with like a little variety. (So quickly the young have forgotten the experiment we performed in 2006, when we tried to see how many consecutive meals of pizza we could rack up…) Even the dog likes something other than the plain old boring kibble every night. And so I am going to expand our horizons with a little wild rice, which is so apropos, considering the rounds of festive National Rice Week parties we are sure to be attending.

Wild rice, which is found mostly in North America, is really am aquatic grass. It reminded early explorers of rice paddies, thus the moniker. French explorers called it folles avoines or “crazy oats”; so poetic those French. It is a good-for-you whole grain— gluten free, low in fat and calories, high in fiber, protein and complex carbs, and it is quite tasty and versatile and importantly – it is easy to prepare. You can use it in salads or soups, combined with white rice as a side dish or even a stuffing. It goes well with fall foods like pumpkin and squash, and game— pheasant, duck, duck, goose!

Wild rice is expensive because of it laborious harvesting methods, but a little does go a long way. And wild rice is a breeze to cook! Rinse a cup of raw rice thoroughly. Boil three cups of water (or stock), add the cup of rice. Bring to a boil again and then reduce heat. Cover, and simmer on low for 50 to 60 minutes; wild rice bursts open when it’s cooked, so you can easily tell when it is done. Drain any excess water. Voila! C’est folles avoines. I like low maintenance meals, ones where I can walk away for half an hour, come back and stir, and look like a completely engaged cook. Never mind that I was curled up with The Miniaturist: A Novel by Jessie Burton for those thirty minutes.

Now comes the fun part. What can you do with cooked wild rice? Forget Starbucks’s overpriced pumpkin spice lattes, make some Pumpkin Wild Rice Soup!

2 cups cooked wild rice
2 tablespoons of good butter (remember the March Hare)
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups chicken broth
16 ounces canned pumpkin (although you should check the farmers’ market for fresh!)
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream (so much for counting calories)

Melt the butter in large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook until lightly browned and translucent. Stir in the broth and pumpkin. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wild rice and pepper, cook until warm and mixed through. Bon appétit!

Rice is like a newly stretched, taut, raw canvas: whatever you throw on it will determine whether you have something spicy or something bland. The folks I live with are just glad of something warm and different, that doesn’t involve organ meats or brains or kale…

And guess what? Next month we’ll have more fun, because it is National Dessert Month!

Here are some other wild rice ideas:

http://cooking.nytimes.com/search?q=wild+rice

http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/MAIN/rice/rice-glossary6.asp#wild

http://www.wildrice.org/iwrawebsite/html/recipes.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/15/magazine/food-the-luxury-of-wild-rice.html

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015806-roast-goose

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/2101-roast-pheasant-with-wild-rice-stuffing

“There was a Young Person of Bantry,
Who frequently slept in the pantry;
When disturbed by the mice,
she appeased them with rice
That judicious Young Person of Bantry.”
-Edward Lear

A Pear Tree and Pansies by Bobbie Brittingham

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I know that you all have had this question asked before as I have and I have tried to think of a different answer to it but for some reason I always end up back at the same time in my childhood with the answer. What and when is your first memory of gardening?

I have lived in this area of the Eastern Shore almost my entire life. A few exceptions, going away to boarding school and college, and two years in Elizabeth City, North Carolina when I was first married. Then I returned back to the Shore after those two years. So I have seen many changes and have many memories of my life in the garden. And I do say life sincerely.

I was very fortunate to have had a mother who loved gardening and was a rabid propagator. She could start anything from seed, bulbs or by cuttings. Even collecting camellia seeds to cool in the refrigerator for a year or two and then germinating them, raising them with constant care until they were large enough to go into her shade garden that she had created out of an empty corn field. Now in someone else’s care, they are 20 to 30 feet, producing a spring display that could rival any North Carolina garden. Unfortunately, she is not here to see them.

photo (1)I was close to maybe seven or eight years old when I would go with her in the early spring to a couple of home-built cold frames under a huge twisted, eerie old pear tree. She would slide the heavy glass paneled tops over the back side of the frames to reveal hundreds of bright, cheerful, happy faced pansies.

Now these were the real pansies, each with a distinctive face and personality. Not like the meager, sullen ones on today’s market benches. We would situate ourselves so that I was to her left and she was in front of the frames. With her precious trowel worn down to a sharp blade, she would carefully dig each blooming pansy out cradled in a square block of dirt. Then she would hand it carefully to me to wrap in newspaper, in a special way so that the ends could be tucked into secure each plant. I would be so diligent and conscientious about my job. I wanted it to be exactly right because Mother would check them all over to be sure I did it right, and I had an arterial motive…..

In Easton many years ago, there was a small grocery store on Harrison Street across from the Tidewater Inn. It was Johnny’s Grocery Store. At least that is the name I recall. It was a real old fashion store that you left your list with clerk, and they would fill the order for pick up later. Well, Johnny would pay me 10 cents for every pansy plant I brought in.

Now I did not get rich with this project but since my mother had done all the work of preparing the cold frames, seeding the pansies, weeding, watering keeping them cozy and all I had to do was sit and wrap them in newspaper, I thought this was a fair price.

My piggy bank never really overflowed but I enjoyed that special one on one time that my mother as we sat under that old pear tree wrapping pansies and just talking about anything and everything a young mind might come up with. To this day every time I smell that delightfully fresh pansy perfume I remember the pear tree and my mother’s worn trowel handing me a precious pansy.

Food Friday: Eat Your Vegetables!

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Roasting and Grilling Farmers’ Market Vegetable Mélanges

Have you felt the weather starting to change? It’s just a little cooler in the evenings. I take Luke out back to toss the ball just before dinner, and we have been stopping to linger for a few minutes – the furnace of summer is cooling down. I sit in the Adirondack chair with a glass of wine and a section of the paper, he lolls in the grass, happily smelling all he surveys. The osprey pair has been doing a lot of fishing, and commentating raucously throughout the day. The geese are beginning to move through. And wasn’t that Harvest Moon a sight to behold?

There are still lots of veggies available at the various farmers’ markets around us. And while I think we have flipped the last burger of summer, there are some flavorful grilled and roasted vegetable meals ahead of us. I like the comic strip Mutts and its advocacy of meatless Mondays (although I slip up sometimes and do a spaghetti carbonara with bacon some weeks…) and any of these flavorful vegetable dishes would qualify. This weekend we’ll grill the veggies, and on Monday I will roast some more in the oven.

For grilling the vegetables outdoors there are some easy peasy rules to follow:

1. Grease them up: vegetables will dry out when they are heated without a little oil. Before grilling, toss them lightly with smackeral of oil.
2. Know your vegetables: some cook in the wink of an eye and others will take longer. Dense vegetables such as potatoes require the longest cooking times. To prevent burning, sear vegetables first over a high heat, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or parboil them first and just give them a few minutes on the grill to get some color and those yummy grill marks on the outside
3. Use a skewer or a basket: cherry tomatoes are great grilled, but they’re a little unruly. It is best to skewer roly poly tomatoes or tiny little red potatoes, or use a basket: fewer vegetables falling onto the coals, or off the grill into Luke’s eagerly awaiting maw.
4. Yes, size does matter. If you want the vegetables to cook quickly, chop and slice accordingly. Thin rounds of onion, with more surface area, will cook more quickly than fat wedges.
5. Try cooking in foil: if you don’t feel like babysitting your vegetables cook them in foil packets instead. This method works great for the dense vegetables and ears of corn. Unfurl a large piece of aluminum foil, lightly spray the surface with cooking oil and arrange sliced vegetables a single layer, slightly overlapping. Fold up into a nice neat little foil envelope and then place on the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 12 to 15 minutes, for potatoes). This way you can toss the ball for Luke for a few minutes and he will be forever grateful.

That was outside grilling – now for roasting inside: one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is roasting. I hate vegetables that have been boiled into oblivion. Roasting at a high heat converts a plain vegetable into a delicious caramelized treat.

You can roast any type of vegetable you want with this basic recipe. Adjust the amount of oil you use accordingly. We’ve roasted asparagus, garlic, squash, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, carrots, zucchini, you name it.

Roasted Veggie Mélange

1.Preheat oven to 450° F.
2.Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3.Divide the vegetables among two cookie sheets – mine have sides, for less spillage. Put fast cooking vegetables together, and group the slow cookers likewise. Few headaches!
4.Roast vegetables for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

The vegetables cook quickly — some vegetables may take only 15 to 20 minutes — but they still have a chance to brown nicely on the outside by the time they become tender inside. So keep an eye on them. Carmelized onions are one thing, blackened and incinerated are another.

It’s very important that you cut the vegetables in pieces of about the same size. Unevenly sized pieces won’t roast and brown in the same amount of time, and you’ll end up with both over roasted and under roasted vegetables. And if you have any fussy eaters, you won’t be able to persuade them to enjoy the rich roasted flavors of fall.

And here is some more inspiration for you – this week Mark Bittman of the New York Times wrote about some new restaurants in London where he has had some exquisite meals: “If you can get past all the glitter, you will find vegetables treated as respectfully as animals. Planks of sweetly caramelized roasted celeriac are served with walnuts, onions and greens, and though one would hardly argue that these are as killer as the wood-grilled rib-eye (served with chimichurri, which is the new pesto, I guess), they are plenty satisfying. Chargrilled Ibérico pork with collards and roasted garlic is difficult to write about without my mouth watering. A starter of roasted cauliflower in mayonnaise is sadly no longer on the menu. Grilled octopus with eggplant is, however, and I would grab that.” Now I am starving! How about you?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/dining/restaurant-story-chiltern-firehouse-gymkhana-and-barnyard.html?_r=0

“An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.”
Will Rogers

Krispy Kreme Shops Coming to Kent and Queen Anne’s

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From WBOC12

At least two new Krispy Kreme doughnut shops are coming to Maryland’s Mid-Shore, according to the doughnut company.

Krispy Kreme announced the opening of 20 new stores in Maryland, DC, and northern Virginia. The company said at least one will open in Kent County, Md. and another in Queen Anne’s County, Md., according to Lafeea Watson, a Krispy Kreme spokesperson. 

The company said it signed an agreement with Monument Restaurants VII, LLC, a Virginia limited liability company, to develop the new stores over the next several years.

Concurrently, Monument Restaurants VII (RM), LLC acquired ownership of Krispy Kreme’s existing Rockville, Md. location.

Krispy Kreme said it will retain ownership of its remaining Washington, DC and northern Virginia area locations.

“We are excited to partner with Monument Restaurants to expand the brand’s presence in the Southern Maryland and Washington DC area,” Patricia Perry, Vice President –US Franchise Development at Krispy Kreme said. “Tom Horton and the Monument team bring years of successful restaurant and operating experience, as well as, first-hand local knowledge of this important market.”

Tom Horton, a managing partner in Monument Restaurants, said MR looks forward to working with Krispy Kreme.

“My partners and I were attracted to Krispy Kreme not only for the strong brand recognition it already has in this area,” Tom Horton said, “but also because of its proven history of delivering great quality products, outstanding customer service and a unique restaurant experience to its guests. We look forward to making Krispy Kreme’s signature doughnuts and coffees even more accessible to its Maryland and DC area fans.”

According to Krispy Kreme, the company currently has more than 260 shops in the United States. About 160 of those stores are franchised.

The company said it has more than 590 locations in more than 20 countries outside the United States, all of which are franchised.

By Rachel Rea

 

Chestertown Garden Club Notes

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The Chestertown Garden Club opened up their 2014 – 2015 season with a presentation by Dr. Bill Schindler on foraging in our local environment. Dr. Schindler is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washington College, with a PH.D from Temple University. He introduced the club to the “open-air food court” that exists in Chestertown and surrounding areas. What a treat! Who would have guessed that we have so much available to eat at our doorstep – all we have to do is harvest it!

The Chestertown Garden Club was organized in 1931 and federated in 1948. The Club meets monthly from September – June during the year at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown .We have several continuing projects : Beautification & Maintenance of Town Parks (Committee members work bi-monthly during the season in Fountain and Memorial Parks located in downtown Chestertown. The flowerbeds are designed and planted using club funds raised at May Mart and the Pilgrimage), Fountain and Memorial Park Holiday Decorations (members provide greens, bows, and natural elements and participate in a garland and wreath-making workshop and assist in hanging the decorations in the park) and Wilmer Park (Restoration of a Wetland through the planting of native wetland plants which began in 2005). In addition to these programs, the Club works with Youth Gardening, Maryland House & Garden Tour, and monthly programs centering on the topics of gardening, conservation and environmental studies, and horticulture. Our next meeting will be a “Flower Show Team Challenge” where members in teams will prepare a tabletop setting/display. This is in preparation for Club and District Flower Shows.

Many of our meetings are open to the public. The next open program will be on November 4 with John Bartram, “The King’s Gardener”. If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact Jeanne Johnson, President, at flicka16@gmail.com or 724-272-7676. We hope to see you at one of our meetings!

Ask the Plant & Pest Professor: Cherry Laurels, Toadstools, & Harlequin Bugs

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“Ask the Plant and Pest Professor” is compiled from phone and email questions asked of the Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), part of University of Maryland Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland.

Question #1: I have established cherry laurels in a landscape bed in the front of my house. They have always been very healthy until this summer when I began to notice some branches that have brown leaves. Upon closer examination I noticed this white-fungus looking stuff on these stems. I am concerned that this will spread and cause further damage. What is this and what can I do to stop it?

Answer#1: We have been hearing from many homeowners with similar concerns about their cherry laurels. What you are noticing is not a fungus but a type of scale insect called white prunicola scale. This is an insect that sucks sap from twigs and branches. This can cause dieback, which is usually preceded by leaf yellowing, browning and premature leaf drop. The white substance you describe is the covering that is cast off by the male scales. If you look closely you may see round, orange objects which are the egg-bearing females. To control this pest prune out any dead or heavily infested branches. Then use a soft brush dipped in water to scrape off the remaining scale, as best you can. Spray with a horticultural oil, according to label directions, in the dormant season (November – March) or after the eggs hatch and the crawlers are present (this is when the insect is the most vulnerable to sprays). The timing for this is June, July or September.

Question #2: Why do I have toadstools or white mushrooms in my lawn? I first noticed them when it began to warm up in the spring, but I still see them. What can I do to get rid of these mushrooms?

Answer #2: A mushroom is the spore-bearing or fruiting structure of a fungus. The fungus feeds on decaying wood buried in the soil. The source of organic matter can be dead tree roots, buried logs, stumps or even buried wood or lumber. When conditions are right these fruiting bodies form. The mushrooms are an important part of the natural world. They are not harming your lawn. There really is not a practical or permanent way to prevent them. If needed you can rake them up and dispose of them.

Question #3: I garden every year but the last several years our organic vegetable garden has been infested with harlequin bugs. I even stopped growing most of the greens these bugs love. Word around the community garden is that gardeners have not been having problems with them this summer. I’d like to plant cabbage and kale again soon do you think it is safe to do so?

Answer #3: Insect populations ebb and flow and can be difficult to predict. In general we are getting fewer questions about garden pests this season. However, you should still be prepared just in case you see them. You can find detailed information about preventing and controlling harlequin bugs on the “Grow It Eat It” section of our website. Also look for the photo of the egg cases. If you should find any on your plants you should crush them to prevent large populations from building up.

To ask a home gardening or pest control question or for other help, go to http://extension.umd.edu/hgic Or phone HGIC at 1-800-342-2507, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Food Friday: After School Snackums

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Is everyone getting into the swing of back-to-school? Are you the very model of efficiency and good nutrition, whipping up tasty lunches with oodles of hidden kale? Are you using your leftovers wisely? Did you get cute little Bento lunch boxes for everyone? More importantly, are you an after school superhero?

Yes, you should prep and cube up some watermelon (which is really sweet and delish right now), and have it in the fridge next to the yogurt and the carrot sticks and hummus dip. But if you really want to make an impression on those malleable little minds, every once in a while throw caution to the autumn winds, and bake some homemade Ding Dongs.

We called them Ring Dings in Connecticut, where I grew up, but apparently the rest of the world knows them as Ding Dongs. I don’t know which is sillier…

I grew up in a house where, embarrassingly, my mother insisted on giving out tiny little boxes of raisins at Halloween. I had no street cred in a kid world where full size candy bars, distributed with the UNICEF pennies, were the norm. After a couple of years of raisin dispersal, our house was given wide berth at Halloween. There were probably invisible plague markings over our front door: Avoid this house, there be raisins here, and not the chocolate covered ones, either! (We also received new toothbrushes in our Easter baskets. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were in cahoots with my mother.)

Luckily, my brother and I grew up without too many other psychic scars. We went on to college, jobs and marriage. While in college I discovered that one of my friends had the best sort of mother – one who appreciated the value of a good treat. Whenever we descended on her house, whatever the season or time of night, we could be assured of finding a pristine, still-wrapped-in-cellophane box of Ring Dings in their refrigerator, and being good and thoughtful house guests, we would devour them all with tall, cold glasses of whole milk. Remember whole milk? The Ring Dings had developed a crisp chocolate carapace from being chilled in the refrigerator, which yielded to the soft cake interior, and the creamy goodness at the center. (Twinkies, we later discovered, also benefitted from being refrigerated…)

You can tell that this eating experience made a lasting impression upon me. I vowed with all the fervor of Scarlett O’Hara that I would take a page from this family’s book, and in the future I would make Ring Dings freely available whenever we had were young house guests. And sometimes even for an ordinary after school snack. Yumsters!

But this is even better: baking your own. Forget the falafel. Overlook the granola. Dismiss the dried apricots. Consider the sweet chocolate coating, the crumbly cake, and the delicious cream filling, which will be oh so tasty when you make it yourself. Sweet memories are made of this.

http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/deliciously-dandy-ding-dongs/

And here is a vegan approach, though you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb: http://thetolerantvegan.com/2011/04/homemade-ding-dongs/

You will of course be doing your baking with this oven – not my middle-of-the-line Kenmore electric range: “THE “ULTIMATE” // La Cornue Château Series: These ranges would be equally at home at Downton Abbey and the world’s greatest restaurants. Grand Palais 180 in stainless steel with polished copper trim, $54,700, Purcell Murray, 800-457-1356”. As seen in Wall Street Journal.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/culinary-cult-objects-worth-the-price-1409268010?KEYWORDS=best+ovens&cb=logged0.12614128203131258

(Here is a very handy dandy column from the New York Times in case you can’t be as devil-may-care about lunches as some of us are: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/dining/no-pbj-allowed-put-dips-into-lunchboxes.html?ref=dining&_r=0 )

“Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.”
― Dave Barry

Food Friday: End-of-the-Summer Grilling

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It’s the end of summer, and sadly, we are not jetting to the Hamptons or the Vineyard, (though no one else is either because of the President!) but are having a little three day stay-cation at home. It is still plenty hot, so we will not be waxing nostalgic about the summer weather, but we will be standing around the grill, wearing white, twirling kebabs, and hoping that the high temps cool down sometime soon.

I just love this quotation from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal: “Protein prices are just so visible to people because they build their meals around it,” says Stacie Rabinowitz, a senior analyst with research firm Consumer Edge Research. “All incomes feel it.”

http://online.wsj.com/articles/high-food-prices-lead-to-trade-offs-even-in-upper-income-households-1409094494?tesla=y&mg=reno64-wsj

Prices are soaring, so we need to analyze the best way to deliver protein to our families. Yikes. Beef prices are up, but so is everything else. We were planning on grilling chicken this weekend, eating economically and eating “more better”, to quote Dan Pashman from The Sporkful podcast.

We didn’t feel as if we were scrimping when we whipped up these kababs last weekend: skewered chicken, Vidalia onions and red, green and yellow peppers, served with grilled ears of corn, a nice green salad and the usual accompaniment of cheap white wine. Beer was available for the non-bon vivants.

Best Beloved’s favorite chicken strategy is to allow the chicken to marinate in one of his concoctions for about an hour. First he chunked the boneless chicken breasts (bought on sale) and let the large cubes steep in a bowl of white Worchestershire sauce, with a handful of capers, some good quality olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. And then he threads the ingredients onto metal skewers. Then he wrapped shucked corn in aluminum foil, with a big pat of butter. He tossed skewers and the ears of corn onto the grill, drank a beer, threw the ball for the dog and then walked inside to sit down to eat. In the interim, I managed to boil up a pot of rice, wash a bowl of salad, lighted some candles and poured the wine. Phew! It is had work being a weekend sous chef!

Now, if you want to get fancy, like our friends at the Wall Street Journal did, then you could add a couple of hundred people, vats of potato salad, fancy drinks, and a band, and then wonder why hamburger prices have gone through the roof. We aimed for a more modest production. We listened to jazz on Pandora, lighted the candles and ate dinner. Enough is as good as a feast, as Laura Ingalls Wilder often wrote.

We also returned to childhood and had a Famous Wafer refrigerator cake. The recipe and the informative photo are right on the side of the box, in case you have forgotten how to whip cream and stack layers of cookies. Food52 gussied it up a little bit, as is their wont, although they did say, “The best summer dessert is also the easiest.” How right they are! https://food52.com/blog/7061-how-to-make-any-icebox-cake-in-5-steps

This “Chicken Under a Brick” recipe from Bon Appétit sounds first rate: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chicken-under-a-brick

But if you want to stick to skewers, this is far more exotic than ours: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sambal-chicken-skewers

Martha weighs in with her fancier-than-thou chicken skewers: http://www.marthastewart.com/341224/cajun-kebabs-with-chicken-and-andouille#Grilled%20Chicken%20Recipes|/275423/grilled-chicken-recipes/@center/276943/grilling-recipes|341224

Here is another podcast I enjoy: The Sporkful. (http://www.sporkful.com/) Dan Pashman gets to the root of many a food conundrum: Is a hot dog a sandwich? What is that gizmo in the Guinness can? What is the best weather-themed dessert? So many concerns you had never before reflected upon! It is a highly amusing and informative podcast, which often brings a smile to my face. Give it a try!

Enjoy the end of summer. It’s hard to believe it is really here, though the children are back at school already, and it is still stinking hot out there. But have you noticed the light is changing? Most nights Luke-the-wonder-dog and I walk out to the end of the street to get a good view of the sunset, and last night we dawdled a minute or two sniffing some most fascinating leaves of a bush, so we were too late for that golden moment. The pinks were fading to grays and the cardinals had started singing their nighttime songs. Revel in your long weekend!

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck