Fourth of July

Why doesn’t somebody make a hamburger bun that also fits a hot dog?  It would be hinged.  That way, if you had a small family, you would only have to buy one package of buns.  Here’s what it would look like...

bun.jpg

From the Los Angeles Times

grapeleaves.jpgIn the beautiful economy of the forest – or the urban backyard garden – leaves are nature's brilliant cookware. Banana leaves can be cut down to make plates or unfurled into wrappers perfect for steaming fish on a low-slung grill. Fig trees and grapevines yield leaves the exact size for enclosing, then grilling, a cube of feta, a recumbent sardine or a mint-studded lamb meatball.

Before the invention of tinfoil or grilling baskets, pragmatic cooks picked their kitchen supplies from branches and found what they needed in the trees.

Going green was logical – OK, obvious – long before it became chic.

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salmonpeas.jpg The “old timers” in Maine always eat salmon and peas for their fourth of July family feast. This tradition was started a long time ago when salmon still came “up river to spawn” and people still rushed in the Spring to plant their peas so they would have the first peas of the year, hopefully by the 4th, if the weather was good.  (I still have customers that plant their peas in the fall so they sprout when they are ready come Spring.)

The old tradition is to bake a center cut chunk of salmon at 350 degrees till it is less than moist, (so all the relatives like it) than nap it with a white sauce, better known as a béchamel sauce to which you add in chopped hard cooked eggs.  And peas, lot of peas cooked with butter, salt, pepper and a little water. The rule of thumb was to cook them till when you blew on a spoonful they wrinkled.

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patrioticpotatoes.jpgGenerally I'm not one for "themed" food. But a girl's gotta have some fun. So for the 4th of July, I'd like to share a patriotic potato salad made with three kinds of spuds: old fashioned white russet, delicate red-skinned taters, and sassy All-Blue potatoes (which are sometimes labeled purple Peruvian).

This potato salad is just kitschy enough without being tacky. Though I recommend using red-white-and-blue checkered cloths, I don't think sticking sparklers or miniature American flags in the potatoes is necessary.

The potatoes you see here are called All-Blues. They are slightly starchier but the same color as purple Peruvians, which are technically fingerling potatoes -- smaller, thinner potatoes. Apparently, both get their brilliant color from iron. The color will fade when cooked, but try this trick to minimize the fading: add a couple of splashes of white vinegar to the cooking water.

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bacon-shrimp-grill.jpg I started teaching my sons how to cook when they were barely tall enough to reach the kitchen counter. The first thing anyone needs to learn is good knife skills. I still remember his mom looking in horror when she walked into the kitchen to find me showing 5 year old Frank how to use a 10" chef's knife to chop Italian parsley. No blood was spilled that day, but the quality of my parenting was a topic of discussion for many months afterwards.

When Frank went away to UC, Santa Cruz, I put together a cookbook with recipes I thought would be quick, easy, and economical. Periodically I'd get calls from him for cooking tips, like the time he was in Costco and he wanted to know what he could do with frozen red snapper, since it was on sale for $1.35/lb.

What's really fun is when the student becomes the teacher.

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