The fun and festive holiday season is upon us. In my quest for keeping my stress levels low and my spirits high, I'm keeping everything as simple as possible this year. Spicy Cranberry Cream Cheese Pastry Bites is an appetizer I will be making all through the holidays to take to every single event that I'm asked to bring nibbles to share. And everyone who comes to my house will be served these luscious little sweet, tart, spicy, creamy, crispy bites. I've stocked up on cranberries, cream cheese and boxes of frozen puff pastry.
Bill, I just mixed up some crullers. It seemed a much less intimidating task when you were in charge. Wish me luck! Sue As I mixed up the dough to make puffy crullers, I recalled my introduction to the sweet treat. It was one of those unseasonably hot days we experienced in October. The thermometer in Willmar, Minn., read 80 degrees as I joined my new friend, Bill Strong, in his kitchen. Bill was ready to teach me how to make crullers. Bill, a loyal reader of my column, loves to cook and bake.
One morning I was sitting in a small café having breakfast, taking notes on the unique combination of ingredients in the scrambled eggs I was eating. The next afternoon I was sitting in a movie theater watching Harrison Ford playing the part of a grizzly, grumpy, serious journalist-turned-begrudging-morning news anchor, Mike Pomeroy, in the movie "Morning Glory." The dour anchor who refuses to utter the word "fluffy" on the morning program, eventually softens, swallows his pride, dons an apron and prepares a mean and "fluffy" frittata on the air. The next day I was in my kitchen roasting a p
One day in 1960, a woman in Connecticut asked her daughter, Irene, to drive her to Stamford, about an hour away from their home. Craig Claiborne was going to be giving a cooking demonstration. Irene, who was barely beyond 20 years old at the time, didn't care much about cooking. But she agreed to take her mother to see Claiborne in action. Just three years before that cooking demonstration delivered on a stage set up with a bare-bones primitive kitchen, Craig Claiborne had been named food editor at the New York Times, the first male in the country to take on that position at a newspaper.
Ten years ago I could say I'd never seen a ruffed grouse. I definitely had never tried to cook one. Then I moved to northern Minnesota. My first peek at a ruffed grouse happened one day when I heard a loud crash against the living room window. There was the large speckled bird, lying dead on the ground. My neighbor came to fetch the feathered creature, affirming my suspicion that indeed it was a ruffed grouse. He grabbed the bird, took it home, cleaned it and brought me the meat. His wife told me how to cook it.
It's magical, really. As the family gathers around to observe, your sharp knife skillfully passes through pale yellow skin of a cylindrical fruit that has been cooked to tenderness. Curiosity mounts as you prod the halves apart. With a fork, you gently scrape the seeds away from the steaming hot flesh. And then, with the same fork, you amaze your audience as you pull out noodles. Well, they look like noodles. And that's why the steaming food before you is called spaghetti squash. Although some would say spaghetti squash is a substitute for pasta, that is a bit misleading.
A snack of warm, buttery, freshly popped corn has been one of my favorite treats for as long as I can remember. It stems way back to my childhood when my mom would make popcorn for the family to munch as we sat in front of the black-and-white television watching Dorothy and the little Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. Holiday TV specials also warranted a bowl of popcorn. Back to the stove my mom would go to shake a pot of corn kernels over a hot burner. I've gone through many phases of my own popcorn-making techniques.
I love the rituals of autumn. All those things and places that mark the passage of time that I wait for all year. Visits to apple orchards, raking leaves, pulling sweaters and sweatshirts from their summer storage, morning walks in the crisp air, apple crisp, weekend drives to enjoy the dazzling colors of fall - all the pleasant delights of the season that seem to slow down the rush and chaos of daily life. It's the pumpkins, though, that seem to mark the official "Howdy!" of the season.
With a new puppy in our house since the middle of July, I wasn't able to do my usual weekend treks with my two biking partners. But finally, the first weekend in October, the three of us headed to southeastern Minnesota for a full day on the Root River Trail in the Lanesboro area. The day we planned to be on the trail was not the sunny, pleasant autumn day we had envisioned.
I discovered brown rice around the same time I bought a yogurt maker. I was on a mission to provide only healthful food for my toddler-aged son. I was determined to keep as much sugar out of his little body as possible. The yogurt maker wound up on a shelf in storage around the same time our family grew to include another young son and life just got too busy for preparation of brown rice. Brown rice, a whole grain, hasn't gone through the milling and polishing process of having its bran and germ removed, as is the case with white rice.