50 Lbs. of Potatoes

I’ve begun sourcing for the massive auction dinner I will be preparing on Saturday night. While I was out shopping one day, I saw a 50 lb. bag of potatoes, and bought it.

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“So I guess you’re doing a baked potato bar?” my friend Katy asked.

“Yes, with no condiments,” I replied. “Just baked potatoes. People will ask, ‘Do you have any sour cream or butter?’ And we’ll say, ‘No, just potatoes. And beer.'”

“I like it.” More

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Soup for My Father

My dad’s teeth are falling out. Even the ones they put in to replace the ones that had already fallen out. He’s a few months shy of 87 — they’ve lasted a long time. (A friend was telling us recently that the one thing that annoyed his octogenarian mother more than anything was when people said things like, “Well, he lived a good long life,” or “Can’t be disappointed with that many years!”)

Salmon chowder, pumpkin soup and French onion soup (l to r)

This is not a cautionary tale about taking care of your teeth. I spend enough time on that with my children. Rather, it is a reflection on the one thing I could do for my father to help ease his burden: make soup. More

Waste Not, Want Not

I have an almost cellular aversion to wasting food. I don’t know if it’s the result of the steady drumbeat of “There are children starving in China!” I heard as a kid when I wasn’t finishing a meal (and which I now use on my own children, substituting a non-specific “somewhere in the world” for China). Or whether it’s just because I hate to see things wasted.

Wilted veggies from the Skinny Girls fridge

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before — I’ve written on this subject many times already in this blog. But it’s an issue that comes up often in my life, as I remind yet another dinner host to save the bones from the chicken they’ve just served to make a homemade stock. (Recipe: throw bones in a gallon of water with an onion, salt and bay leaf, cook until reduced by half.) More

Combating Watermelon Fatigue

One of the best and worst parts of summer is the watermelon. Sure, everyone loves watermelon, and nothing says summer like a cold, sweet slice on a hot afternoon. That’s the good part. The bad part is that even the “mini” ones are larger than a child’s head. And the big ones are the melon equivalent of a Cruise America RV.

By some point into the summer — usually early to mid July — I begin suffering from watermelon fatigue. My kids insist on watermelon, so I buy the smallest one I can find. And then people begin showing up with them. More

Summer’s glorious gazpacho

On a hot summer afternoon in Spain — and if you’ve not experienced a hot summer afternoon in Spain, you don’t know heat — nothing is as refreshing as a bowl of chilled gazpacho.

This is one of the world’s easiest dishes to make. I served it a couple nights ago, and when I told our friend how to make it, she said, “You’re kidding?” With the bounty of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes available at the farmer’s markets and upscale stores during the summer, you can go crazy with variety — a sweet golden gazpacho made with sun gold cherry tomatoes, a lusty maroon gazpacho made with cherokee purple tomatoes, even a green gazpacho made with green zebra tomatoes.

This recipe serves six as a first course, four as a light dinner with bread and cheese. I would recommend a fruity rosé for wine.

Gazpacho

1 lb very ripe tomatoes
2 cups water
3 thick slices crusty bread (ciabatta or slipper bread, not sourdough)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Put one slice of bread in a blender. Add water and vinegar. Cut other two slices into cubes, toss with a little olive oil and salt, and toast in a 250-degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden and hard.

Add tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt to the blender and blend on high until a smooth puree. Taste and adjust seasoning if it needs more salt. Place blender in fridge to cool soup for an hour or two.

To serve: reblend briefly, then pour soup into bowls. Drizzle a little olive oil over each soup, top with croutons and a twist of the pepper mill, and serve.