Through the Kitchen Window

Summer is on the way . . . Regardless of what the weather actually feels like! June is here, can July and August be far behind????

We've had a strange spring to say the least. There are some here who say the two or three days of good weather we've experienced are about the only ones we'll see. "Summer has been and gone!" they aver.

Never one to "go with the flow", I hold out hope that summer is still to visit us. Sure we've had some good weather AND some not so good. But visions of days baking under the sun still persist in my mind.

And so, with that in mind, I'm thinking of back yard BBQs and all kinds of warm weather food -- big juicy slices of watermelon, ice cream, fruit ices, lots of tall fizzy drinks, lovely garden fresh vegetables on the grill or in salads, and fresh field berries with crème fraiche. I make a pretty close approximation of the European "crème fraiche" this way: Simply blend together equal parts of 35% cream and sour cream till they're well amalgamated. Cover loosely and leave in a warm-ish place for 24 hours (I use my microwave to keep the cats out of it). After the 24 hours, stir again and refrigerate. It keeps well for up to a week and is great as an accompaniment to fresh fruit and many other desserts you would normally use plain whipped cream for. The slightly tangy taste is a great foil for the sweetness of a berry mixture or a summer fresh fruit salad. It's also the secret ingredient in my "killer quiches" … but that's another column.

My all time favourite summer food is salad -- any kind, any time, anywhere. I sometimes make a big garden fresh tomato salad. My favourite way to make it is to cut some ripe tomatoes into rough chunks, add green onion, celery, diced yellow hot banana peppers, fresh basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. I also have lots of fresh crusty bread on hand for dipping.

My other salad choice is a salad of mixed young greens, sometimes topped with grilled chicken or fresh broiled tuna or salmon. Instead of heavy bottled dressings though, I prefer to use a vinaigrette that I make myself. It's basically two parts olive oil to one part red wine vinegar and seasonings. For instance: 150 ml red wine vinegar, 300 ml extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp dry mustard. I usually put it all in a jar, close the lid and shake well. It keeps indefinitely just in the cupboard so make a big jar of it and it'll be ready whenever you are. You can vary the flavour by changing the vinegar or oil that you use. There are so many kinds on the market these days that the possibilities are endless. Add herbs to complement whatever else you add to your salad -- tarragon or rosemary with chicken, or chopped garlic (but if you add this, then refrigerate any leftovers just to be safe).

Recipe Exchange

We have one "found" recipe . . . A sharing recipe and a new request. Of course, there are always previous requests still awaiting the ultimate answer.

Don't be shy now, we're all foodies here and any recipe is a good one, even if it might not be just the right one!!

L.J. Cornwall writes in to tell us about:

    "A shrimp dip I had around 20 years ago. I know it had celery, cream of mushroom soup, green onions, and the small canned shrimp. Knox gelatin could be added to make it a molded salad."

And a reader who preferred to remain anonymous (you may remember that I mentioned that we have no problem with that) sent this in:

    "I wanted to share this favorite recipe for fruit jam.

    Cranberry-Banana Jam

    • 3 cups cranberries
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 2 cups mashed bananas
    • 7 cups white sugar
    • 1/2 (6 fluid ounce) container liquid pectin
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

    In a large saucepan over medium heat combine cranberries and water; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in mashed banana and sugar. Increase heat to medium-high; boil 1 minute. Stir in pectin and lemon juice.

    Seal in hot, sterilized jars.

Sidney credits the following Recipe Goldminefor this recipe which answers one of our previous exchange requests (at least we hope it does!):

    Coney Island Hot Dogs

    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 4 T. shortening
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 c. thick tomato purée
    • 1 tsp. cumin powder
    • 1 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 16 to 20 hot dogs

    Brown beef in shortening, mashing as it cooks so meat will not be lumpy. Add onion when meat is half cooked. Add remaining ingredients, except hot dogs, and simmer about 30 minutes. Serve hot with hot dogs and buns.

Etcetera This month in Etcetera, I've got something different. I got the following in my e-mail last week so I guess it qualifies as the dreaded "spam" but it was cute so you can all consider yourselves "spammed"!!!

For all of you that will never make "Jeopardy", "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" or even "The Weakest Link"...
Here is the world's easiest quiz! You're on your honour not to peek at the answers till you're done!!! Oh yeah, just so you know, passing requires 4 correct answers.

  1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?
  2. Which country makes Panama hats?
  3. From which animal do we get catgut?
  4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
  5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?
  6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
  7. What was King George VI's first name?
  8. What color is a purple finch?
  9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

All done? Check your answers below!

  1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?
    116 years
  2. Which country makes Panama hats?
    Ecuador
  3. From which animal do we get cat gut?
    Sheep and Horses
  4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
    November
  5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?
    Squirrel fur
  6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
    Dogs
  7. What was King George VI's first name?
    Albert
  8. What color is a purple finch?
    Crimson
  9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
    New Zealand

What do you mean, you failed??????????????
Well, I guess there's always "Wheel of Fortune"......

And with that I bid you all farewell for yet another month. Take care, God bless and remember these words to live by from Silvia Drescher (Fran -- The Nanny -- Drescher's mom): "No matter how heavy you happen to be, sell it to the world as voluptuous, with confidence and no apologies, and the world will respond as such."

TTFN

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