A parting gift

From its beginnings a little more than five years ago, The Skillet Chronicles has been great fun.  For a veteran food journalist used to working in collaboration on assignments, it has been exhilarating to connect directly with readers and write about whatever fascinated me at the moment.  I learned so much along the way, exploring unfamiliar produce and expanding my culinary chops.  The best part was hearing from you, dear readers, about recipes that delighted you and nourished your families.

Now, I’m afraid I need to take a sabbatical for at least a couple of months.  Some health issues require me to focus my attention elsewhere.

But I didn’t want to take my leave before I shared with you this simple snack cake recipe I’ve been fiddling with for nearly a year. Continue reading

Pumpkin scones to dress up a holiday brunch

 

There was a dusting of fresh snow on the ground this morning and warm pumpkin scones on the kitchen counter.

I’ve been on a pumpkin kick lately.  Cold weather seems to call out for the sunny color and mellow flavors of  winter squash. Besides, nothing goes better with festive spices, fresh cranberries and walnuts. Continue reading

Thanksgiving sides – Part Three

The finishing touch for any Thanksgiving feast is warm homemade rolls on the table.

Far too often, though, it’s the last straw for the harried cook.  Who has time to wait for rolls to rise when you’re up to your elbows in turkey, pies, salads and vegetables?

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois have the solution: make your dough ahead, stash it in the fridge, and bake it off with only half an hour resting time before it goes in the oven.  You even can take it a step further and partially bake the rolls until they’re almost done. Then pop them back into the oven to brown while the turkey is resting before it’s carved. Continue reading

Thanksgiving sides – Part Two

 

Apart from the turkey, few dishes are sacrosanct on our holiday table. Mashed potatoes are one of them.

It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a big bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes to serve as a counterpoint to all the bold, savory flavors of the feast.  We may steer away from spuds most of the time in the interest of limiting carbohydrates, but not on the fourth Thursday of November Continue reading

Thanksgiving sides – Part One

 

The Thanksgiving countdown has begun.

Right now, we’re still deciding the menu.

There’s no question a large bird will take place of honor at the center of the table. After years of experimenting, I’ve finally determined that a free range turkey, roasted simply,  beats all elaborate preparations hands down.

The big decision is what to serve with all that protein.  Every year, I like to introduce something new just to mix things up. Continue reading

Going with the grain

Sadly, the tomatoes and cucumbers are gone.  The plants just quit producing when temperatures dipped into the 40s at night, so they had to go.

But the spinach and arugula plants are still pumping out plenty of leafy greens. Paired with bold Mediterranean flavors and chewy grains, they make a salad perfectly suited for fall.

The inspiration for this salad came from the wildly popular cookbook, “Jerusalem: A Cookbook,” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press, 2012).  This book is such a hit, it even has its own Facebook page and hashtag (#tastingjrslm). Continue reading

Pimento cheese for everyone

Football season is upon us. Some of us—that would be me—don’t really care about the sport.  But the snacks?  I’m a fan!

Give me some good nibbles, and I might even pay attention for a quarter or so while the football fiends yell at the big-screen TV.

This year, I’m offering pimento cheese dip.  It’s a variation on the spread that I’ve written about before, but tamed down to appeal to people who didn’t grow up on the bold flavors of the original Southern staple. Continue reading

Cherry tomatoes make the sauce

The big slicing tomatoes and medium salad varieties are slowing down in our planter boxes by the curb, but the cherry tomatoes continue to run riot.

The Sungold vines have enveloped the other varieties in their box and the little orange orbs festoon the plants like Christmas lights.  The larger Isis are a little less vigorous but a dozen or so ripen every day in beautiful colors that blend from red to pink and yellow.

We eat them in salads, pop them into our mouths as snacks while we work in the garden, give them away to anyone who will take them and still we can’t keep up. Continue reading

BLT pizza on the grill

 

Late summer is my favorite time of the year in the garden. The flowers are fading, it’s true. But the tomatoes are coming on strong and nothing beats a fresh tomato plucked straight off the vine.

This year, the tomato plants are going crazy in the raised beds we built in the parking strip between the sidewalk and the curb.  Even though we’re in Portland, there have been plenty of hot, sunny days to turn our six plants into monsters threatening to reach out and grab passersby. Continue reading

Summer reading for cooks

 

At their best, cookbooks are more than collections of recipes.  They’re friends with stories to tell and ideas to share. No wonder so many food lovers toss a cookbook or two in with the novels to read at the beach or summer cabin.

This trio is my nomination for your reading pleasure this summer: Continue reading