Monday, July 21, 2014

Rustic Cuisine?

     More fan-girl gushing here, my friends. This time about simple, delicious, so-called rustic cuisine that people have been eating for hundreds of years and will continue to eat for hundreds to come. That's probably the biggest disadvantage to being an American. We have no historic food culture. (That, and the fact that through our own actions {broadly speaking} we have a reputation of being pushy, loud-mouthed, arrogant bastards. If I ever get to travel, I swear I will use the very good manners I have been taught.)
     Granted, this reason is because we are a country of many different cultures, and believe me, I'm not complaining. We have access to so much amazing food, music, art, that there's plenty to 'borrow' if you're like me. (And, let's face it: being of English, Swede, Irish, Scots, Welsh and German descent, my own food cultures leave a lot to be desired. Unless you like scones. Which I do. Though I haven't had an opportunity to try any authentic or even Americanized {i.e. ruined} German food...except sauerkraut. Which I love. German readers, share recipes, I beg of you!)
     Anyway, here is what I made for dinner this evening. Probably (broadly) Italian (maybe Sicilian?), definitely delicious. Another Rachael Ray (which is why I'm thinking Sicilian): Parmesan Polenta with Mushrooms and Chard. Simple, unfussy, delicious. Comfort food at its best.

  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 cup quartered white mushrooms (I used an entire 10 ounce package) 
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (I used grated Asiago. I don't like Parm.)

     In medium pot, boil stock. Add polenta and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, 20 minutes. In large skillet, cook garlic in EVOO over medium until golden, 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook 5 minutes. Add chard and cook until wilted, 3 minutes; season. Stir cheese into polenta; season. Serve topped with mushroom mixture.


     And no, I'm not going to post daily about my dinner adventures (unless they get really wild) but if I manage to make something that makes me salivate while I'm cooking (I LOVE the smell of garlic cooking in good olive oil!!) and the first bite makes me say "Oh my god, this is GOOD!" I am definitely going to share it. Because something that causes gastric happiness should be shared with the world. Or at least with the people that drop by to read my ramblings.
     Speaking of olive oil, I am currently reading Mort Rosenblum's fascinating, informative and entertaining book Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. It's making me want to plant olive trees and make my own olive oil. I live in Massachusetts. Not going to be a success. However, one can dream.
Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit

And still more family summer fun....

     If you live in Massachusetts (or are planning to visit), the Highland Street Foundation is hosting their annual Free Fun Fridays series: 67 museums and cultural venues open for free on Fridays all summer long. As I cannot seem to copy and paste (gr) the link is below:

This Friday the choices are:

   The Freedom Trail Foundation (Boston)
   Battleship Cove (Fall River)
   The Children's  Museum in Easton (I have NO idea where Easton is, lol)
  Tower Hill Botanic Garden (Boylston)
   Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (Boston)
  Cape Cod Museum of Art (Dennis)
  Danforth Art (Framingham)

    Admission is free to all of these places this Friday; you'll want to bring cash or credit with you for food, souvenirs, etc., not to mention a camera, and if you're going to do the Freedom Trail, very comfortable shoes. (I've done it. Great walk. Long walk.)   Enjoy your Friday!

Food Fan-Girl post

     I'm going to rave about food for a moment here. I promised you food earlier, and failed to deliver, but I am about to make it up to you in this single post. Last night I made the most kick-a$$ burritos for dinner: spicy, tangy, zippy, everything people like me love in Tex-Mex cooking. I take no credit for this. I have a subscription to Rachael Ray magazine. Thank you, Rachael Ray.

7 Layer Burritos


  • 2 cans spicy vegetarian refried beans (16 ounces each)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 3 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped, divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Salt
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 3/4 pound pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
Serves 4


In a medium size saucepan, heat the beans with the stock, hot sauce and cumin over medium-low, stirring until warm, about 10 minutes.

In a medium size bowl, combine half the onion and jalapeños with the lemon juice and garlic. Season with salt; let stand for 10 minutes. Mash in the avocados to make the guacamole.

In a small bowl, toss the remaining onion and jalapeños with the tomatoes and cilantro to make the salsa; season with salt.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add one tortilla and cook until it starts to blister, about 1 minute per side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Place one tortilla on a work surface. Spread on a quarter of the cheese, some romaine, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and olives. Roll it up, burrito-style. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings.

Cut the burritos in half; divide among plates.

This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, visit

     Somehow my stepson ate 3. It was all I could do to finish one, and I felt like I was going to pop. Fortunately, there are leftovers. I will be having a very happy lunch today. Enjoy!!! (I know I did!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WildSister Magazine

To celebrate their third birthday, WildSister is offering everyone free copy of the July 2014 issue! Check it out here:


Are you living your life consciously?

If not, how can you change this? If you're not sure, read more.

How do I know I am living my life consciously? This question came to me as I stood at my kitchen counter preparing a morning cup of tea, gazing out at the neighbor's immense apple tree. I pondered it as I sipped my tea. How do I know? I realized I know when I'm not, and that seemed like as good a place as any to begin exploring this new question.

Dropping in....

This is just a quick line to say I have not forgotten about my pathetic little blog; I have a bunch of things to share: more family activities, posts for SageWoman, links to WildSister magazine, garden updates and food...and I will be back, hopefully later today, to begin this stuff! Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer plans...?

     Saturday. No plans, no beach visits or day trips scheduled: my husband's work schedule is just too busy. I suppose I should be thankful for books (well, more than the obvious, I mean) for the escapism they provide. I have recently visited the glittering court of Catherine the Great; now I am walking the dark streets of Victorian London as killers stalk their prey. (Despite the fact that I am a reasonably well-adjusted person, Jack the Ripper holds endless fascination for me. Sick, I know. Ditto the incredibly violent movie The Crow. I don't get it either.)
     And so, instead of packing my family up and heading to some unknown destination (fun as that would be) I will tuck myself into a leafy corner of my vine-engulfed back steps with book, tea and journal and travel the vicarious wordways of others' works.
     Here's a few of the more interesting 'armchair travel' books I've read recently:

     I'll stop now! Not all of these are travel books; some are works of fiction that are so perfectly crafted that they take you away from where you are and place you squarely in the middle of the story's landscape. Happy travels!