This is Buster. Just shy of 14 years old. Family dog. Studio mascot. Champion. Our buddy. Voracious eater and sniffer. Lover of all carbs. Buster is a beagle with crinkly ears and soulful brown eyes that are turning cloudy. His nose is the same shape as the insignia on Superman's chest. Abandoned by his lifelong owner at the age of nine, he now lives like a prince splitting his time between his comfy day bed and his comfy night bed.
Hico, Texas, where I grew up, was a one restaurant town. We had no red light...not even a movie theater. The only restaurant, the Koffee Kup Kafe was home to daily hot plate lunch specials, chicken fried steaks as big as your face, hand dipped deep fried onion rings and freshly baked pies topped with mile-high meringue sculpted like the hairdos of the waitresses. This is the stuff I grew up on. As a result, I never developed a taste for typical fast food fare. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of weaknesses. They generally involve butter, white flour and refined sugar. It's just fast food I don't have much use for. But I do think food can be fast and good.
Here is my grown up version of what I think fast healthy food should be. I call it the Layered Lunch and here is the first of endless variations that I will bring to you.
This version consists of rinsed black eyed peas from a can, brown rice, chopped celery and leftover roasted cherry tomatoes. Layer it like sand art and pour some delicious vinegar over the top.
This nifty container is from The Container Store, where I have a part time job. You can order it online if you're not lucky enough to have a store in your town.
Right now, our yard is no show place. Somewhere during these past 19 years our yard became an afterthought. I think I'm ready to reclaim it. Just last night we were lamenting the sorry state of our yard. We have unsightly bald patches in our ground cover. Even The Donald couldn't comb over these spots.
This morning, I went on a particularly fortuitous run through our neighborhood.
I happened upon some large mounds of freshly dug vinca, roots intact, that had been placed on the sidewalk. It was the exact variety I needed to patch our yard.
Later in the morning I left a note asking if it was for the taking.
The generous homeowner gave me the go ahead.
What have we learned? Keep your eyes open and you might stumble into just what you need.
While Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California was roasting a freshly laid hen's egg over an open wood fire on a recent edition of 60 Minutes, I was staring into a pantry chock full of limitations.
Unfortunately, I had no fresh picked organic vegetables from a friendly farmer down the road. The only fresh vegetables I had to work with tonight were celery hearts and green onions. I was off work today, so I goofed off with my daughters and didn't go to the grocery store. I've got Alan petrified to shop for us in fear he won't use the right coupons, buy my favorite canned beans, etc.....I've got myself to thank for that.
So, I grab for an old childhood standby. No, not goop on toast, aka chipped beef on white bread smothered in white gravy (that's the delicacy my siblings will think of first), but salmon croquettes. Our mom mixed up a mean batch of salmon croquettes. I'm fairly certain she fed a family of 7 on one can with lots and lots of crushed saltines and eggs added in. She could also stretch a pound of ground meat like you wouldn't believe. But, that's another story for another night. I can assure you not one of us starved.
My dinner was delicious. Now, if I could just get my kids to try these tasty little morsels.
Here's the salmon recipe using the ingredients I had on hand:
1 can salmon
handful of feta cheese crumbles flavored with lemon and oregano
chopped celery hearts
chopped green onion
panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
I mixed together all of the above and pan fried them in minimal amount of canola oil in a non stick skillet.
I served them with haricot verts from the freezer that I topped with a tad of butter and salt and pepper.
Not what Alice would've served, but I made the best of what I had on hand.
Here is a nice spring pasta recipe from Alice Waters
Fettucine, Wild Mushrooms & Prosciutto - serves 2
1/4 lb. sugar snap peas
4 slices prosciutto
2 cloves garlic
several sprigs fresh parsley
1/3 to 1/2 lb. Lepiota rhacodes mushrooms ( chanterelles or shitakes also work well in this dish)
2 to 3 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 c. chicken stock
Fettucine for 2
Clean mushrooms and cut into thin slices.
Wash and string the sugar peas and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the prosciutto slices into small strips. Peel and chop the garlic. Peel and dice the onion. Finely chop the parsley.
Saute the mushrooms in hot olive oil. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper.
After a few minutes, lower the heat and add the garlic and the peas. Cook another minute or
two and add the the prosciutto and chicken stock. Cook the pasta and add to the mushrooms. Toss all together, taste for seasoning, and serve garnished with parsley and more black pepper.
I love to make things. All kinds of things. If you can sew or cook or make something beautiful with your hands, you've got the beginnings of a very satisfying day. I donated this handmade ottoman for a recent auction fundraiser at my daughters' school. It was inspired by an ad I saw in the New York Times a few months back. The top is pieced from hand dyed wool remnants that I already had in my stash. You can order these beautiful wools from Beth at www.aplaidwool.com Her colors are phenomenal and she is lovely to work with.