About me…

My friend suggested I put up a little bio about me.
I wasn’t intending that when I started the blog but she had a point.

My readers might like to know who I am.

So here goes…
Here’s me, still not fully vested in showing the whole old face.
I am holding my two favorite kitchen tools, whisk and knife. Leave me on a deserted island and that’s all I need besides salt and a spatula.

Born and raised in the Netherlands my mom was your typical cook, meat potatoes and veggies. My dad was an excellent re-heater of my mom’s food.
Nothing great but as kids we never were hungry or wanted for anything.

I had an “uncle” who was a cook at the Train Station in Amsterdam.

I remember walking with my best friend to visit him and he’d always give us Fries with Mayonnaise.
The place has always held my imagination, when I visited as an adult a year ago I recaptured the feeling of glamour all over!

Ultimately I went to an accelerated course at the Culinary School in Amsterdam fully intending to become a dietician down the line.
I learned all there was to know about cooking at the school and then went to work in a nursing home kitchen for the following 1.5 years.
Sadly I was “let go” 5 months before I got my degree and I never went back to school to complete my schooling.

We moved from the Netherlands to Lyon and that is where my palate developed even more.
Lyon is the food capitol of France and we ate our way through the cuisine over the next 3.5 years.

How I loved the food there!
And then we moved to the US where my schooling became very valuable in creating the food I loved from back home.
I DETESTED the food here, never having had much of a sweet tooth everything tasted sweet and I was so used to certain foods that I could not get back then.
This was before “ethnic” food was big, we didn’t have a Starbucks on every corner and Whole Foods was out of our reach.
Slowly we got used to the food and the ingredients available and I learned a new skill set with my cooking.

I still love cooking and people started to ask me for recipes. At the grocery store, in line at the bank or even at my dentist office!
This blog was born as a way to show ANYONE how to cook simple food and yet have it look good and taste good.
My family loves new recipes and food so they are excellent guinea pigs.
In a way it is a science experiment and so far I’ve been enjoying it greatly.

My family consist of Resident Teen (17) and Little Man (13) as well as Himself.
When HS and I met in 1983 he knew I could cook, we weren’t dating but floor mates in Student Housing and he did a fair amount of cooking for the few girls I met before we started dating.
As soon as we started dating his cooking skills withered. Recently however he did start cooking dinner out of necessity after I had surgery on my foot and was laid up for 3 months.
His recipes come by occasionally, he makes a mean Fritatta.

Himself has only twice in our 28 years together said “no” to some dishes.
Once when a dish was so against his taste, Braised Endive with bacon, he went and got Chinese food.
The other incidence was when I tried to throw a meal together from steak and sauerkraut.
In my defense I didn’t know I was pregnant and had no taste or desire to make food.

Most of my recipes take a little preparation, cook up fast. Sometimes I will have slow cooker foods, soups or foods that can be prepped the night before.
I don’t cook low-fat, be warned.
And I do try to avoid white carbs as much as possible.
Everything I post is for 4 persons, however with Resident Teen soon to be College Kid and out of the house I’ll scale it down to 3 which makes it for 2 plus leftovers.
All the food I post has been taste tested twice or if it is an old recipe cooked by heart.

Please feel free to leave comments and

Enjoy!

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Party on!

Usually I put up a Swedish chef today.
However today I wanted to blog about the graduate party we threw for both kids yesterday

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.

There was a lot of food and friends.

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I made a cake
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That we allowed the teen boys to cut, this was the outcome:

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And when all was said and done we were left with good memories and sense of fulfillment after a great party.
Oh, yeah dishes too!

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So this was my Sunday morning with the leftovers right before work.

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My take on Gazpacho

Party tonight and I’m doing what I love best, cooking for a large group of people.
One of the kids is Vegan and I decided to try out a simple tomato “soup” but a little thicker to go with grilled Portabella mushrooms.
Because I do not want peels in the soup I used a simple chefs trick to remove the peels.

You’ll need:
Pan deep enough to cover tomatoes with water
paring knife

Boil the water
Using your paring knife score the top of the tomato cross wise
Immerse into hot water, reduce the heat!
Peel will come off after about 5 minutes
Take tomatoes out of the water and once they are cooler gently peel the skin off.

For the Gazpacho
4 tomatoes, I prefer vine ripened for taste
1 shallot
garlic, 2-3 cloves
2 tbs olive oil
2-4 Basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste.
water
Prepare tomatoes
saute shallot with garlic in olive oil until soft
in a food processor mix all ingredients together but do not overmix.
Keep one basil leaf on the side, cut it fine
At this point you can decide how thick you want the soup by slowly adding water to the mixture.
Cover and chill, when you are ready to serve it taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Garnish with basil.

Enjoy!

Spicy Baby

In anticipation for a Graduation party this weekend I decided to clean my kitchen up and get rid of broken plastic cups as well as other small clutter that tends to amass there.
My cleaning faeries had been here Wednesday prior so it was surface clean.
I was ruthless, the kitchen is not terribly cluttered but what was I going to do with 2 metal tins that were empty?
How about the Bazillion spices that were holding a cabinet hostage?
I had brand new Penzey’s spices cluttering up my sideboard that needed to go somewhere.


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I have to backtrack here a little to when I was younger and my brother and I would make “recipes” by mixing my mom’s spices together.
I remember being scolded over wasting good spices.
It was such fun though!
Once I was an adult and living in the US I started collecting spices, as a result my spice cabinet is to the brim.
I never throw anything out either, it feels as if I’m truly wasting the spices if I do.

The staples such as salt and pepper, nutmeg and paprika we go through pretty fast.
The more exotic spices linger for much longer.
I have spices that span a few countries, mostly Asian, Indian or Indonesian.
As a result opening the spice cabinet is a little trip to a different country with lovely smells all mixed together.
But I have new spices, spices that are more “American” such as Shallot Pepper and Shallot Salt.
This company is a Genius!
Shallot anything makes me happy.
They had to bring in more shallots at my local grocery store because I was buying it all up.
2 little heads of shallots lasts one meal in this house and they were not cutting it with 4 on the shelf.
I would feel bad if I bought it all at one time so one day I just asked and now they carry at least a pound or two worth.

I tackled the cabinet and here is the result, the new spices are contained and not allowed to mingle with the older spices just yet.
I couldn’t throw too much away because I need to figure which is oldest or used the least.
Lemon pepper however was the first to go together with a very suspicious bag of marshmellows no doubt put there by Himself.
Yummy, Curry flavored sugar!

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I think a trip to the organizational store is in order.

And is it ever ok to throw out salt?
It seems I have 3 containers, don’t use that anymore.
Because after all, isn’t it bad luck?

Bad luck will follow the spilling of salt unless a pinch is thrown over the left shoulder into the face of the devil waiting there.

Enjoy your weekend!

It’s warm, I’m not cooking much.

Graduation is right around the corner for my youngest and the weather has finally turned warm,very warm.
Ventilation in our house isn’t the greatest and Himself year after year proclaims we do not need air-conditioning.
Our kitchen is open and in the center of the house.
In the summer it becomes a “sport” to figure out how to cook the least in the oven or stove.
This salad is fresh and easy to make on short notice and requires no cooking.
It goes well with anything from the grill.

Cucumber tomato salad.

1 container cherry tomatoes or
2-3 vine ripened tomatoes
1 cucumber
3 ounces of feta
16-20 Kalamata olives
2 table spoons olive oil
1/2 to 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
If you are using regular tomatoes cut them in 8 parts (quarters?)
Peel and cut cucumber in 1-2 inch cubes
Combine olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper and set aside.

I don’t like to make this too much ahead as the tomatoes get mushy and the cheese tends to take on too much of the dressing.

Enjoy!

First day of Summer Camp, let’s grill!

Easy days ahead with summer looming

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With 2 growing teenagers and a half marathoner in the house protein is a must. Leftover proteins even better as the flavors “sit” for awhile and become more intense and tasty. I like these kebabs because you can make them ahead. They are good for any day of the week, cut them up in the morning and let them marinate for a few hours. Then when you are ready to make dinner all you need to do is turn on the BBQ and grill them.

I use pork tenderloin but you can substitute chicken just as well. If you do you want plump chicken breasts because you are going to be cutting medium sized “cubes” from it.

Rosemary Kabobs

For 4 people

1 or 2 pork tenderlions, they sometimes come packaged as 2 in one. If you have 2 double the seasonings.
juice of half a lemon
2-4 cloves of garlic, this is your taste. We like it garlicky.
1 tablespoon dried Rosemary or 2 fresh sprigs.
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoon olive oil, enough to coat the meat completely
8-10 skewers, if you use wood immerse them in a water bath for a few hours. This will prevent them from burning.
You can add some pieces of bell pepper or onion between the meat as well.

Cut tenderloin in 1 to 2 inch sized chunks, you will have smaller pieces, make sure to skewer those together so meat can cook evenly.
Combine the remaining ingredients.
If you use fresh Rosemary pull some leaves off and add those and the stalks to the mix
Add marinade to the meat and coat thoroughly.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.
About 10 minutes before grilling take meat out of the fridge and let it sit for a bit as the marinade may have set.
Make skewers, large pieces about 4/5 to a skewer, smaller pieces 6/7
The meat should not be “crammed” on the skewer as this will make it cook slower.
Kebabs will cook in about 4-8 minutes on a hot grill, do not overcook they become dry!

Enjoy!

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Swedish Chef Sunday

On the shelf.

I love cook books, and read them as if they are short stories.
Short delicious stories.
I have a few books and Himself (the husband) made my day a few months ago by taking them all out of storage where they had been languishing for almost 6 years.
Among them is the cook book that started it all, my culinary school course book.

It’s the green one and it was a hard book for me to work through, it’s all techniques and you had to pass each section before you were allowed to move on to the next.
Somehow I never made it through as fast as my co-students.
Looking back I was a tiny thing in 1977 and even though I could peel 30 pounds of potatoes just as fast as them my size was against me.

My current collections is a bit eclectic, *yes* I own an Atkins book as well as a South Beach diet book.
There was a time I was told to lower my carbs and it was a totally unknown territory for me so I bought the books.

As a knitter as well I have some knitting books, however it seems by looking at this picture that shelf doesn’t get as much respect as the cook book one.

Swedish Chef Sunday

Enjoy!

Tarragon Chicken with Mustard

A blast from the past
When we lived in France this was a dish we ate at restaurants. I was surprised how easy it was to make in my own kitchen.
I had tarragon left over from making chicken stock and decided to reprise this recipe with great success.
It’s nice and simple yet tastes like you slaved over it for hours.
The tarragon is what gives this dish a kick and the cream makes it smooth.

Tarragon Chicken with mustard and cream
For 4 people
4 chicken breasts
4 tbs Dijon Mustard, the smooth kind.
1/4 cup heavy cream or Creme Fraiche
1/4 cup white wine
3 tbs butter
2 tbs dried tarragon or 1 tbs fresh chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly pound the chicken breasts to make them a little thinner
Salt and pepper the chicken, do not over-salt though.
melt butter in a frying pan big enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer
When butter is brown add chicken and cook evenly for about a minute to each side.
Remove chicken and keep warm
Add wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape off all the brown “bits” into the wine.
On medium heat mix the heavy cream, mustard and half of the tarragon in with the wine.
Put the chicken back in the pan and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, make sure you check it and pour some of the sauce over the chicken as it cooks.
The sauce will thicken but should not bubble, if needed you can add a little broth to the sauce as it cooks.
When it is fully cooked sprinkle the remaining tarragon on the chicken.
We like to eat this with either mashed potatoes or butternut squash.

Enjoy!

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