Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pasta Primavera

What's not to love about fresh veggies?  Asparagus is still available here in Ohio...and still looks nice and fresh, so a couple weeks ago, we had pasta primavera for dinner.  Doesn't it look yummy? 

Here are the veggies sauteeing in some good olive oil.  I added in the baby bella mushrooms first, got them nice & flavorful...then in went the garlic, sliced leeks & yellow squash.  The asparagus was the next player to enter, and finally some grape tomatoes & thawed frozen peas.  If you look closely at this pic, you can see the steam rising from the pan.

Then the cooked pasta was dente, of course.  I used Barilla Plus Thin Spaghetti this time.  It does have a lot of extra good things for you, but at 2.5 times the price of a box of regular Barilla Thin Spaghetti, I'm not sure it's going to be a staple on our menu.  Once all of this goodness was tossed together, it was served & some grated Parmesan cheese added the final touch.  It could have used some Italian flat leaf parsley at the end, too...but we didn't have any that day.

The veggies & pasta were so yummy.  Each was done just right...even the asparagus was just tender, but crisp.  The only disappointment was the grape tomatoes.  They had a very bitter flavor for some reason.  Pretty color, but terrible flavor.  I'm afraid we picked around time I think additional color will come from sliced carrots or maybe some red peppers.  I'm not a big fan of cooked them raw, but cooked...not so much.  If I add them just at the end, they should be fine. 

This yummy pasta dish will definitely take on a lot of reincarnations on our summer menu.  Quick & easy...and good for you, too.  We have a Farmer's Market opening here in Parma around's at Stearn's Homestead, which is an actual farm right in the heart of Parma, OH!  With fresh off the local farm veggies, we'll be eating good in the neighborhood.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I learned to cook from Mom...

This has to be one of my favorite photos of my Mom, Eleanor.  The scene is Thanksgiving dinner...probably in the my Grandma & Grandpa's house.  The entire family would get together for was always an early early in the day Thanksgiving dinner. 

The female cousins would share the tasks of setting the table...including the kid's table in the living room.  It was an honor to be able to take the "good" silverware out of the buffet cabinet & place it just so on the table.  That table was so big that I remember after Grandma & Grandpa had both passed on, it was left in the house to be sold as part of the deal since none of us had a room large enough to accomodate it. 

All the women were in charge of the cooking...Grandma & Grandpa had put the turkey in early in the morning...the stuffing was made from cracker crumbs & parsley & eggs & chicken livers chopped VERY finely...with chicken stock to moisten it.  I still make it today...we're sure it has a connection to matzo balls somehow...even though the family was not Jewish but Hungarian.

The place to be was in the kitchen as the turkey was being carved...then you could "steal" some of the crispy skin from the bird.  We all fought over it...every year.  Now I leave the skin on the turkey, but only take a small bite as I'm concerned over the healthiness of that stuff.  How times change.

Dinner was the usual feast...and after dinner, the men retreated to the living room to socialize & the women & girls would do the clean up...VERY Ozzie & Harriet, no?  Then after all was cleaned up, we would draw names for the Christmas gifts...the parents drew the same number of names as they had children...and we would write out our Christmas wish lists to give to the aunt & uncle who drew our name. 

So on this Mother's Day...I want to thank my Mom for teaching me how to cook...even though at times I didn't like it very much.  I've taken many of her recipes & spiced them up for our tastes...but there's no comfort food like Mom's Scalloped Potatoes...especially since I've added lots of thinly sliced onions for extra flavor.  Hearty...not healthy...a once a year splurge full of wonderful memories.  And I still use a Feemster's Famous Vegetable Slicer to cut the potatoes &'s a dangerous device & you could easily take off pieces of your finger with it...but it's what Mom used, so I use it, too.   
Mom crossed over in November 2008...but her memory lives on.

Thanks, Mom & Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Great Peeps Debate

This little box of Peeps has been sitting on my kitchen table & open since March 18th so they can dry out & become good & chewy!!!  To me, that's the only way to eat these...they MUST be dried out.  And they must be the little yellow chickies of my youth...and only at Easter, please!  None of the pumpkin shapes or even black cat ones...those just aren't Peeps in my book.

Everywhere I've worked, the dried out vs. fresh Peeps debate comes up...well, ok...I always raise it.  And people do fall into one category or the other.  So how do YOU like your Peeps?  Dried out & chewy or fresh & mushy?  Inquiring minds want to know.

BTW...these will be good & chewy just in time for Easter!!! 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Corned Beef for St. Patrick's Day

OK...I know it's been almost a year since I started this blog...but I figured this is as good a time as any to get it going for real.  We'll see how it goes.  The problem is, I forget to take pics of the stuff I make, but last night I did the traditional corned beef & cabbage with red potatoes, onions & carrots & it was yummy.  Here's the platter before we dug in:
There were lots more potatoes & carrots in the pot as well as more cabbage, but at least I took a picture this time!

We get our corned beef from a local butcher shop, Thayer's...their quality is excellent on everything they offer...and it's mostly local.  Most of their meats are from Ohio farmers & I like that.  They've been in the same location for over 40 years.  Their chicken is from an Ohio Amish farm & is THE best chicken ever.  They make their own sausages, too...there's very little fat in any of them. Very nice people working there make the entire shopping experience a good one.  Be sure to go to their website & click on the products link so you can see the meat counter...a throwback to the 50s or 60s!

The corned beef they sell at Thayer's is from a place in Detroit, MI...which isn't far away from Parma, OH.  The corned beef is from Grobbel's & is the best tasting corned beef we've ever made at home.  We like the flat's less fatty.  I also braise the corned beef in about 4 cans of cheap light beer...low & slow for 4-5 hours before adding the potatoes & carrots.  The cabbage goes in last & only for a bit.  Phil's cabbage goes in first, as he likes it cooked through.  Mine goes in for maybe a minute or so as I like it almost raw.  The beer really helps tenderize the meat...I do a 6 pack pork roast, too...I'll do that one of these days & take some pics so I can share them.

We have enough beef, potatoes & carrots leftover that we'll enjoy a brunch of corned beef hash over the weekend.  YUM!  I hope you had a yummy St. Patrick's Day dinner, too. 

Feel free to comment with any tips you have for any of the posts as I go along here.  And be sure to visit my art blog, Kitten Creates.