Cooking and Gadgets

mustardroastedpotatoes.jpgIn addition to being an absolute pasta freak, I am passionate about potatoes. I could eat pasta everyday and potatoes, probably every other day. I love them every which way. A number of years ago Oprah's personal chef at the time wrote a cookbook called In the Kitchen with Rosie. It was a huge bestseller and featured very low fat recipes. There were some good recipes and techniques in the book. One of the recipes that made a big impression on me was called Mustard Roasted Potatoes.

The Mustard Roasted Potato recipe was red potatoes tossed with Dijon mustard, cumin, paprika, chili and cayenne. The potatoes roast in the oven and become all crusty and delectable. It's a great technique and can be endlessly varied. I've incorporated plain yogurt, fresh herbs, and different kinds of mustard. I like the Moroccan mustard from Dulcet Cuisine for this recipe because it has so much flavor you don't need to add any additional spices, but feel free to experiment and try any spiced mustard you like or add some spices.

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guysIf your idea of a good time is to peruse a calendar of naked men (and definitely of a certain age) then join the Gentlemen of the Garden at their next outdoor bash in Palm Beach. No? Do it anyway – the party is a hoot!

It’s not every night that one can whoop it up with 100 caring but crazy gentlemen dedicated to maintaining the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach. Count on near naked dress codes among some of them, but also count on a dinner menu not usually found in the best books on Entertaining Lavishly – I rather favor their homemade tamales… but that is another story.

This story revolves around a pair of GoGs that love life, putti, fruit trees, and home cooking! It can’t get better than that!

David Miller and Ray Wakefield have been growing exotic fruit bearing trees for decades, and the line waiting for Ray’s Calamondin Marmalade features some of Palm Beach’s most famous Swans!

So what trees do they have you ask? Over the years – Calamondin, carambola, mango (OMG the Florida mangos are drop dead wonderful this time of year) avocado, kumquat, loquat, Meyer lemon, sapote, guava (which apparently makes divine jam if it weren’t for the thin skin and tedious process) grapefruit, sour orange and perhaps the most exotic of all - monstera deliciosa! (Not sure about you, but I insist all my monstera be deliciosa! No?)

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ants-on-a-log.jpgI hate 3:00 p.m. on a school day. It means I’m a failure. Once again, I’ve failed to come up with a “healthy snack” for my ravenous Varsity Cheerleader.  Our routine was to just go over to Chipotle which wasn’t really great because those burritos, even though they were pretty clean, would stuff her until around 5:30, at which time, I’ve lost the will to live because I’m tired and I don’t want to come up with any kind of dinner, so she’s left to forage which makes me feel like an even worse failure.

And, for the record, all those parenting books that suggest those ‘healthy snacks’ are full of it. No kid I’ve ever known, except maybe one that grew up on a commune, would ever think that shit is good.  “Oh yummy, celery with peanut butter and raisins! Ants on a log! Thanks mommy!” There’s also Amir. He’s the Fox that led Pinocchio to the world of the Lost Boys, otherwise known as the guy with the snack truck parked outside the gym. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter has come to the car with a piece of cellophane wrapped cake bigger than her face along with a jug of orange Gatorade. Jesus!

It’s a landmine of insulin torment out there. BUT…there are flashes of genius.

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ImageAlthough accustomed to a table full of eaters, eating alone at home is no problem for me. Cooking for one, however, is. My usual repertoire for solitary meals includes either heating up leftovers or making sunny-side up eggs and toast. The meals with leftovers vary, of course, but the eggs and toast is a bit of a never-boring treasure. Now there are people I know who cook fairly extensively for themselves, but I am not one of them.

My own mother was known to sit down to a fully set table and enjoy a first course of homemade soup followed by a meat, potato and vegetable main course, all topped off with a cup of brewed coffee and possibly a cookie or piece of cake, once again homemade. Not me. That much effort without the pleasure of watching someone else relish what I made, or at the least, having them eat it with no complaints is just not worth the trouble.

On one recent solo evening though, the meal I made both cracked me up and delighted me. On a lark, I spent a couple of hours baking Ina Garten’s Honey White Bread. (Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten, Honey White Bread, p. 57). As the contessa claimed, it was an easy recipe to follow, and the bread was delicious.

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arturo.jpgI think I'm taking this cooking business a little more seriously than I thought I would.  You may not actually call it cooking.  It's more Sandra Lee than, say, Ina Garten.  But I think I am truly more Sandra Lee than Ina Garten.  In the days when my kids were actually kids, I got a meal on the table every night.  Sometimes I did a complicated dish, but mainly it was throw together.  And they loved it.  To this day, when asked, any of the three of them will point to my tuna casserole as the finest of meals.

Noodles, canned tuna, canned peas, parmesan cheese, buttered dish. Who couldn't turn that baby out.  In my present circumstance, cooking for one but cooking lots of it for "later", kind of rules out the fabled tuna casserole.  So I'm turning to some of the other family favorite standbys, that actually also involve cans.

Did you know, for example, that a truly delicious way to make sweet and sour meatballs involves simmering a can of  Sauce Arturo with a can of whole cranberry sauce and then dropping meatballs of your liking in, and cooking, is foolproof.  If only there were canned rice.

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