I can’t believe I am still checking off my list of 50 Things I Want to Do Before 50. Lately, Summer is keeping me busier than school days, so it is no surprise to me that the only thing I can seem to get done these days is cook. Actually, not really cooking, more like heating things up. It’s been so warm lately I haven’t felt much like cooking. But, I still want to stay on track with my “bucket list” and complete Number 37, “Make one new recipe a week.” So, that’s what I am doing, even if I am
three four weeks behind. Hot weather or not, I am using a new recipe a week, although the recipes don’t always involve food. For instance, one of my new recipes came from my trusted web site, The Food Network, and it involved this.
When life gives your neighbor’s lemon tree a lot of lemons, make lemonade. And when life gives you a garden full of fresh mint, and a hot day with cranky kids bored on a summer day, what do you do? Make Minted Lemonade, of course. Actually, it was sticky, sweet and delicious fun! Nevermind that the recipe called for a lot of sugar, and all I had was raw Turbinado Sugar. The raw sugar turned my Mint Lemonade, a
gross brownish color, but it was still tasty. I tried not to mind too much when the kid next door, who had designated himself the lemonade stand hawker, was shouting, “ICE COLD MINT LEMONADE! DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE COLOR! IT TASTES GREAT!”
My second recipe was from a favorite blogger’s website. And sticking to the beverages and kids formula, I thought a recipe that involved Nico and Erica’s favorite soda, Dr. Pepper, would be sure to please. I guess it would have been a kid pleaser too, if I had not overcooked it. What did I say about it being a busy summer? I asked my babysitter to put it in the oven to cook for me while I was at work. She did, but unfortunately, I did not come straight home after work and by the time I made it home, the dish was in the oven for over 6 hours. The meat was still tender, but there was no juicy Dr. Pepper sauciness. (Is that even a word?) Ah well. When life gives you a pork roast without sauce, make carnitas. That’s what it tasted like to me. So I made a little taco bar and we had “carnitas” for dinner.
The last catch up recipe on my list, involved no recipe. That’s right, I had planned on making my old stand-by meal, the-late-from-work-no-time-to-cook-dinner-ground -turkey-with-pasta-and-sauce-from-a-jar, when I learned about a recent ground turkey recall. Instead of making dinner as planned, I enlisted my girls to help in the kitchen, and we improvised. They are both surprisingly good cooks. We inventoried what we had in the pantry: 1/2 a box of penne rigate, and 1/2 a box of angel hair pasta, and garlic. We inventoried what we had in the refrigerator: a bag of frozen shrimp, leftover roasted red bell peppers from last night’s barbecue, fresh parmesan cheese, and artichokes. We also took stock of the wonderful bounty of fresh pear tomatoes that a friend had grown in her yard. Since there is no recipe, I’ll tell you what we did.
We chopped about 6 garlic cloves. I steamed the artichokes and then took out the hearts. Olivia made a dip with mayo, butter, lemon and dill and we noshed on the leaves while we finished the rest of dinner. Erica sautéed the shrimp in most of the garlic, with olive and a bit of butter. We squeezed lemon over the shrimp in final minute of cooking. We then removed the shrimp from the pan and Olivia began to work her sauce magic. She deglazed the pan using white wine, while I supervised, drinking white wine and nibbling on artichoke leaves, of course. She threw in some butter, more garlic, added some lemon juice and seasoned it with salt and red pepper chili flakes. Then, we kept it warm while we sautéed the already cooked peppers, chopped artichoke hearts, and the fresh pear tomatoes. We tossed everything in a big pasta bowl, added the sauce, and tossed in some fresh basil and parmesan cheese. It tasted as good as it looked.
The last thing I was able to accomplish these past few weeks was Number 20 on my list, Try a New Wine. On a trip to Napa Valley one year, Juan and I were persuaded to join a cellar club at Jessup Winery. We loved the wines there and so it really wasn’t a hard sell for us. We no longer are members of the cellar club, but that has more to do with economics than it does with the wine. Unfortunately, we have made quite a dent in our wine inventory and we only have a few bottles left. We have had this one lying around for a while, so we decided to open it.
Juan had never really had a lot of port before, and me, being the wine connoisseur that I am, told him it is usually poured with a dessert. Since I am also an epicurean, I told him that this port would go wonderfully with Smores. Yes, Smores. Because we are such wine snobs. Can’t you tell?
We lit a fire outside, roasted marshmallows and brought out the graham crackers. And because the port we were drinking had wonderful cherry flavors, and smokey undertones, I brought out the dark chocolate. Can you say, “food and wine pairings?” I think I have created a new classic pairing.
So, nine weeks in and I still have two recipes to catch up on, among other things. The kids go back to school in a couple of weeks, and my real job is becoming busier, so I’ll have to see how much cooking and checking things off my list I can accomplish.