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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

So grateful!

 

 

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Bounty from Halsey Farm and Nursery, Southampton, New York

As a kid in the ’60s, I thought Brussels sprouts were absolutely heinous. When I encountered them, boiled and gray and sour, at my friend Nonni’s house (no offense intended–that was the way everybody cooked them in those days), I vowed never to touch one again. (Thank God my mother didn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with them, so we were spared at home.) Now of course, having discovered they can be just amazing, simply roasted in olive oil with salt and pepper, I’ve got immense plans!

That’s a honey nut kabocha up there on the right in front of that gorgeous cauliflower and between the green beans and the acorn squash. Can’t wait to try that! Any ideas?

I took two small butternut squashes tonight and made soup: so easy! I can’t peel and chop those things, so I cut them in half, took out the seeds, and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. I sauteed one chopped onion in butter, added the softened, peeled squash with 4 cups of chicken broth, and pureed the mixture until smooth. A dash of salt, pepper, and nutmeg and it was like the whole history of New England was playing itself out in my mouth.

 

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I’m sure this is not new to most of you, but for a kid who thought the Jolly Green Giant crossed his arms and, like Samantha on “Bewitched,” produced frozen vegetables with the blink of an eye, this is all so new and thrilling!

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Frozen, 1960s style

 

 

 

 

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Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Scones

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I missed Columbus Day by a few, but these savory scones from Ivy Manning’s Easy Soups From Scratch With Quick Breads to Match would be perfect for any Italian feast. They are so light and yet so filling. One was perfect and should be savored; I had to stop myself from gobbling it down in three bites. Buttermilk gives it more depth. Tastes like there’s Parmesan cheese in here, even though there isn’t. Perfect as is, but I’d recommend eating them fresh from the oven. Believe me, they’ll be gone in a flash if you have four or more people at the table any time of the day.

The prep work is simple and satisfying: chopping sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach; measuring flour and cutting in butter–Ivy promises easy and she delivers! 20 minutes in a 400° oven and they’re done–second promise delivered!

There is a lot in this Chronicle cookbook adapted from Ivy’s popular cooking class:

  • Egg and Lemon Soup With Toasted Orzo and Kale with Zucchini, Feta, and Dill Muffins
  • Lighter Broccoli and Cheese Soup with Beer and Cheese Bread (next up for me!)
  • Black Bean Soup With Roasted Red Pepper Cream which she recommends with these savory scones

And as always with Chronicle cookbooks, there’s some delightful design element.

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Two sewn-in grosgrain bookmarks!

If you can’t make your way to Portland for Ivy’s classes (or catch her on Facebook Live), this book will turn you into a top-of-the-class comfort food provider.

 

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Guten Abend!

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On the route du vin, Alsace 

Nostalgia time! Chuck and I took a marvelous trip to Brussels, Alsace, and Germany many years ago. Oh, the raclette, the riesling, the saucissons, the wursts, the potatoes, the ham!

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Cochem, Germany 

The scenery! I would go back in an instant. We have a friend in Hamburg… it’s a dream of mine to someday pay her a visit.

Tonight, we’ll just have to make do with a choucroute. Chuck got wursts, sauerkraut, and pickled beets from Schaller & Weber which, with the Heidelberg restaurant, is the last vestige of the old Yorkville, what was once Manhattan’s thriving German neighborhood. It was still there when I first came to NYC in the late ’70s: the Bremen House, Cafe Konditorei, Cafe Geiger, the Elk Candy Company…. all gone.

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I use this Simple French Cooking book for quiche, shortcut pastry, tuiles, choucroute, chicken and tarragon… it does the job when you have a little time and a big yen for the flavors of France.  Or in this case, that disputed territory that changed hands more often than the Globetrotters pass a basketball.

Sauerkraut’s the ingredient of the moment, what with its fermented probiotic benefits. Straight out of the jar, it’s pretty overpowering. But it turns so sweet when its flavor melds with a tart apple, apple juice, onion, a bay leaf, thyme, bacon, and the wurst. It makes you realize that time and warmth will soften just about anything!

 

 

 

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What We Need Right Now–Grit(s)

Grit will get you through anything: keep your head, focus on your work, and “illegitimi non carborundum.”

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Grits will get your through the day. At work, a colleague brought us a lovely basket of goodies from Charleston’s Own®, a specialty store in South Carolina. The Pecan Pralines went like the wind, the Cheese Zingers disappeared in a second, but the grits were left like an old stray hound at the shelter. Really?! I thought after a day or two and snagged them.

Does it get any better than a fresh bowl of hot stone-ground grits with cheese, ham, and spicy peppers? What’s the matter with people that they don’t have the time to stir a pot of this awesomeness for a half-hour or less (2 cups of water, a half-cup of grits, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 TBSP of butter took 20 minutes).

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They were heavenly. I’m ready for whatever this day brings me!

 

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Happy Oktoberfest!

Finally! The air is almost wrung out of all the humidity of late summer. The sunlight has taken on a softer golden glow and the leaves are drifting down from the trees. Turning on the oven to bake is not the torture it is in Manhattan in August/September. And with Oktoberfest upon us, pumpernickel is the flavor of the day.

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Made fresh this morning, these are easy and delicious. I made the batter last night; it rests in the fridge overnight. You pop the muffin tin into a cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and, in 20 minutes, you’re enjoying the hot, savory taste of pumpernickel.

The dark rye flour, molasses, and caraway seeds supply the traditional slightly sour flavor. The yeast (which rises as the oven warms) gives the crumb a texture more like bread than a muffin. Raisins and toasted walnuts give it even more savor. This goes into my rotation, for sure.\

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Heidi Gibson; Chronicle Books; $19.95 hardcover

 

Thank you, Heidi Gibson, for a healthy kick-start to this beautiful early-fall day. Next up from this charming cookbook, Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits!

 

 

 

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