Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Match Not Found On

A few days ago I roasted turkey breasts on the barbecue and added wood chips for some smoky flavoring. I made enough so we could eat as leftovers for lunch for several days—the turkey, not the chips.

In my endless quest to find more excuses to eat blueberries I made a blueberry sauce two days ago, uncertain as to how I would use it. We had banished ice cream from our house weeks ago, a traditional calorie-loading treat. We have learned that there is no weight loss without pain.

Today, staring at the open refrigerator I noted the turkey breasts but wanted to add something. The blueberry sauce sat next to the turkey breasts. Hummmm…I wondered.

The match worked, combining the smokiness of the turkey breast with the sweetness of the blueberry sauce.

Friday night I will throw some pork tenderloins on the barbecue and pair them with what’s left of the blueberry sauce.

There are lots of recipes for blueberry sauce. Just enter the term in the search box at

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lettuce Lessons

With the all-too-frequent packaged lettuces scares lately, I’ve made some changes.

In my book I advised vigilant shopping when buying packaged lettuce such as, make sure the expiration date is at least five days from purchase, and to not wait that long and use it within 1-3 days of purchase.

Sometimes you can simply see the lettuce turning dark in a bag that says it has several days of use left. Use your eyes. They don’t lie.

Now I only buy unpackaged lettuce, even if there are no dates stamped on the leaves—with one exception, arugula. I don’t know where to find fresh arugula when my farmer’s market doesn’t sell it. I like to mix arugula in with other kinds of greens and for a favorite side dish, a watermelon-arugula-toasted pine nuts-feta cheese crumbles-herb salad. I can’t remember the last time I bought iceberg—too many other interesting flavors and colors. Iceberg is the white bread of lettuces.

The lettuces we buy are washed, spun, and laid out on paper towels to dry. After an hour I use more paper towels to soak up any obvious moisture, layer them between more paper towels, roll up, bag and finally store in the refrigerator. Still, we use or toss the lettuce within five days. Costco is going to name a store after me for my multiple uses of their Kirkland paper towel brand.

Lately I have added Caesar Salad to the menu options, and made-from-scratch dressing. Instead of croutons I make my killer onions rings, quarter them and mix as the final step. None of that canned French’s French Fried Onions for me*. Romaine never tasted so good.

PJ is not a big fan of spinach. We are still on speaking terms. But she is fine with a recipe for a spinach and pine nut pesto that we use to coat skinless chicken breasts. We bake them first.

So, if you ever let us entertain you, be assured we are looking out for you when we serve a salad.

*You won’t be thrown into the C.I.A (Culinary Institute of America) jail if you cheat and use the canned version.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fridge Cleaning

I like cleaning the refrigerator about as often as I have a root canal.

You know it’s time to clean the fridge when:

· Some “Use By” dates are from 2007

· You need to use a sharp knife to dislodge some jars

· You could supply your local high school’s science labs with cultures.

A PJ mishap forced the issue. While re-filling her water glass in the middle of the night she spilled most of the chilled container, half of it onto the floor, and the other half throughout the bottom half of the fridge. Of course, she only wiped up the floor, leaving the fridge clean-up to me. Her rationale was that since I was the cook, she should leave such food-related issues to me.

As is my wont now and then — don’t put off today what you can put off longer— I put off the clean-up. Two days later I noticed that the lettuce bag was compromised. Wet lettuce in the fridge is not an optimum sanitary food condition.

Actually a few weeks ago I had purged the fridge of out-dated containers. Fortunately I hadn’t been using those anyway. A good cook’s rule would be to occasionally forage around in recesses of the fridge. Not sure why I thought I needed three large bottles of store-bought barbecue sauce, since I began making sauces and rubs from scratch a couple of years ago.

A good indicator of when to probe the recesses is that when you open the door, the stuff closest to the door falls out. That can get pretty messy if they are glass containers and you have kitchen tiling.

Something akin to finding a dead rat (or several) when you clean the garage, a package of dill had climbed out of the veggie/lettuce drawers and lay hidden in the back. It’s “Use By” date was 12/30/2008. Since that is a bit old for fresh dill, I tossed it.

I think that when it is time to clean the fridge again, I’ll buy a new one.