Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Thousand Days in Venice....Review and Recipe

Can I just say....I love my Cook the Books Club!!!  What more could you possibly ask for?  You get to read and cook...Life is sooooooo good.   I am posting early, you have until the end of September.  Quick head on over, read the book, be inspired, cook something and share it with us.  It is that easy.  I can't wait to see what you think of the book and what your are inspired to cook!!

First, for the book review.  I loved this book...I loved it because I am an "older woman" who has lived a life and raised a family, so it is fun for me to read a book of a couple "of age" who find each other and fall in love...against all the odds.

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

I loved how Marlena allowed the "stranger" to sweep her away.  I also loved how, being more mature, she had limited expectations of what a move to Europe would mean and was only slightly disillusioned by the whole thing.  I loved all her experiences at the market place and I felt for her trying to live without all the conveniences with which she was accustomed.

I loved when she admitted how wrong she was when she was teaching and told her students "Adequate space, fine tools, and equipment are fundamental.  But if one is really a cook, one can cook in a tin can with a wooden spoon".  She goes on to say......I was wrong.  I need more than a tin can and much more than this tin-can-of-a-space. And dammit, I need more than a wooden spoon.

I enjoyed learning another culture with her.  I was surprised that friends don't join at each others houses for home cooked meals as I had always envisioned all of Italy as a huge dining room table filled with family and friends.

It was also fun for me when the stranger decided to retire suddenly and they were trying to figure out what they were going to do in the next phase of their life.  This was especially poignant for me as my husband and I are looking at the same thing at this point in our lives.  I laughed out loud when Fernando figures out his olive oil business and finds that if all goes well he should get his first harvest in 25 years and that harvest will yield about a cup and a half of oil.

We all come up with crazy ideas when we reach middle age I guess.

The dish I was inspired to make for today's Try it Tuesday meal was Porri Gratinati, which is a Gratin of Leeks or in my case, Onions.  Marlena said that her favorite way to eat these are by ladling a big pile onto her plate and topping it with Grilled Meat....sounded good to me so we are grilling steaks to go along with our Porri Gratinati.

Porri Gratinati (Onion Gratin)
slightly adapted from A Thousand Days in Venice

1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1 large spanish onion, sliced thin
1 (8 oz) container Marscapone Cheese
1 t. freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper and Freshly ground sea salt to taste
1/4 c. vodka
Shredded 3 Italian Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Asiago and Romano)
2 T. butter, softened

Place sliced onions into a large bowl.  Mix together marscapone cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper and vodka. Add to onions and mix together until onions are evenly coated. I used clean hands because it was easier to make sure the onions were evenly coated with the cheese than using any other utensils.  Grease a casserole with the butter.  Turn the onions into the casserole and sprinkle with a handful or two of the Italian Cheese Blend (about a 1/2 cup).  Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 30-45 minutes or until a golden brown crust forms and the onions are fork tender.  Print Recipe

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Most of you have probably seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that is pasted all over Facebook lately.  I had been watching the videos with gratitude to all the people who are raising money for this disease that took the life of our cousin, Chrissy.  And Chrissy was so full of life up until the very end.  It was a huge loss for our family and we miss her very much.

So, even though I HATE cold water, I was very honored when my friend, Claudia, nominated me to participate in the challenge.

I thought I would share my video with all of you and if you feel inspired to donate to ALS, all the cold and wet will have been worth it.  You can learn more about the challenge and how to donate here.

Sharing this at Wednesday Whatsit's and praying for support for this cause.  Stop by and see what others are sharing this week.

Monday, August 18, 2014


I have to admit that the first few years I got Kohlrabi from my CSA I was at a loss what to do with it. I think the first year I ended up feeding it to my pigs because I didn't really know what it was. Then I started experimenting and I found that Kohlrabi tastes like a very mild cabbage.  It can be eaten raw and is good in a slaw made with tart apples.  It can be roasted or steamed and you know me...I love roasted vegetables and the kohlrabi gets thrown onto the grill quite often with carrots, celery and potatoes to roast while I am making a chicken.  But my favorite way I have found to eat Kohlrabi is sauteing it up with onions in a generous amount of butter and then tossing it with noodles and topping it with buttered, toasted, bread crumbs...YUM!!!

Here....Let me show you.....

These are Kohlrabi.
When they are fresh the greens can be used as you would any other greens.
These have been sitting in my fridge because I was out of town so the greens are going to the chickens.

You peel off the outer covering.
That went to the chickens too.
Then depending on how you are cooking it you will chop, grate or shred it accordingly.
In this recipe, I shred it using my food processor.

Like cabbage, it will shrink down when it cooks.

I also add a large onion, thinly sliced, because we love onions around here.

Kohlrabi and Noodles

2 Kohlrabi Bulbs, trimmed, peeled and shredded
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c. butter
1 lb. Egg Noodles, cooked to package directions
Buttered, Toasted Bread Crumbs (see below)

Melt butter in large saute pan, add onions and kohlrabi and saute until tender.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Toss Egg Noodles into pan with vegetables and continue to saute until the noodles are slightly fried.  Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with buttered, toasted bread crumbs if desired.  Print Recipe

Pulse a slice of  bread or two in the food processor until crumbly.
In this case I used a hot dog bun because that is what I had in the cupboard.
Throw into a saute pan with 2 T. of butter.

Saute over med high heat stirring often until dry and toasty brown.
Sprinkle over the Kohlrabi and Noodles.

I am sharing this Meatless Monday recipe with Simple Supper Tuesday.  Please stop by, share your simple meals and see what others are sharing.

Weekend Wrap Up...

When I left you, late last night, I had shared our drive up to Northern Canada where we were to attend Frank's family reunion.  Then the day got the better of me and I needed to get some rest, but I am back now and ready to share the rest of our trip.  I'll bet you can't wait!!!

Saturday was the day of the Family Reunion (aka The Corn Roast).   We met with Frank's cousin, Chubs (Clarence) and his wife, Shirley, who were hosting the Corn Roast for breakfast at the little restaurant adjacent to our Motel.  We ordered the apple pancakes.  They contained cinnamon and shredded apples...can you say delicious!  I will definitely be experimenting to replicate this recipe.

After breakfast, we braved the rain and headed to the local Farmer's Market. 

It was small and quaint.
We bought homemade cookies, glazed fruit tarts and homemade jams.

We also bought homemade dog treats from Frank's cousin's daughter.
She is behind the counter in the purple jacket.
The dog's were very happy that we brought them home a treat.

Then we went into town and did some shopping at the local artisan shops.  I bought another wine stopper for my collection and will be posting on that another time.  When we were done shopping we stopped by the Train Museum, before heading to the Corn Roast.

It was interesting to learn about Frank's family history.

The rain cleared up just in time for the party.  We arrived a little bit early and were able to help with the set up and food prep.  What a warm, welcoming family we belong too!!  It was a great time and we look forward to next year.

The Venue

The Prep work

Let's Eat.

Let's play some music!

Let's Dance

Frank joins in on his harmonica.

Let's finish up with a square dance!!

This Week's Menu

We were gone since last Thursday traveling to Northern Canada for a family reunion.  We are home again but just for a few short days and then we are heading to Northern Michigan for Frank's work conference.

We still have to eat, though, for those few days we are at home so I am here to share my weekly menu.

Monday I am going to use up some of the Kohlrabi that I have been getting from my CSA.  Kohlrabi reminds me of a very mild cabbage.

On Try it Tuesday I will be making a recipe from my Cook the Books selection this period, A Thousand Days in Venice and I will also be reviewing the book for you.  There is still time for you to read the book and join us if you would like!!!

Wednesday I am working the food pantry in the afternoon so I think it will be a hot dog and use up some of the veggies that are in the fridge night. Stop by to see what I have left in there and what I decide to make with them.

Please stop by each day as I share photos and recipes.  I will also be linking up with MPM where you are able to get many more menu ideas.  When you are done there pop on over to Inspiration Monday and get inspired!!

Family Reunion

Travel Home

Meatless Monday
Noodles with Kohlrabi and Onions

Try It Tuesday
Grilled Steaks
Porri Gratinati
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Garlic Green Beans

Hot Dogs
Asst. Salads

Heading North

A Step Back in Time

Hi all,  I am back....just in case any of you happened to notice that I haven't been here since Thursday night. You didn't???  Well, that's okay...I'm going to share my weekend with you anyway LOL.

We traveled about 8 hrs. north into Canada to a small, little town called Trout Creek so that we could attend Frank's family reunion.  This is his Mom's, maternal side of the family and we had a great time.  I am going to tell you all about it but for tonight I am just going to talk about Friday...because it is midnight here and I need to get some sleep.  Why didn't I just wait until tomorrow, you ask?  I have been internet deprived all weekend and I missed touching base with you all so here I am....sitting here in the middle of the night ready to tell you how my weekend started.

We took Frank's Mom and niece, Danielle, with us to the family reunion.  They spent the night with us on Thursday and we were up early and ready to go on Friday.  We went for breakfast at the Riviera Restaurant that is right next door to the ferry to take us over to Canada.  After breakfast we drove and we drove and we stopped to pee, and we drove and we stopped for lunch and we drove and we drove and we stopped for gas and Root Beer Floats from A&W, and we drove and we drove and we stopped in the last little town before we reached Trout Creek because our hotel in Trout Creek has the only restaurant in town and they close at 7 pm.

When we called to let them know we would not be there before 7 pm they said "okay, you have rooms 5 and 7, the doors will be open and the keys will be inside for you", when I asked about the restaurant they told me we better stop in South River at Antonio's because their town would be closed for the night.  So, we did.  We stopped and got subs and took them to our rooms that were left open for us.

We walked in and it was like stepping back in time to when I was a kid....

I would guess this furniture is perhaps late 60's, early 70's vintage.
But the rooms were clean and the price was right and besides...they are the only game in town!!

Danielle and I were cracking up.
Mom couldn't understand what we found so funny.
Don't you love that hanging lamp??

It was very quaint and cozy.
There was a 12" tv with cable.
No telephone or internet...
but we had stopped for the subs and we had wine so life was good!!

Time for me to get some sleep but I will be back tomorrow to share the rest of my weekend.  I know, I know the suspense is killing you...but trust me...the wait will be worth it!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thankful Thursday....

This has been another fast week around here.  We had such a nice dinner with friends at dinner last night, we sat and visited and laughed for nearly 3 hrs.  We would have stayed longer but we were the last customers left and figured the staff might want to go home.

I was up early working on all our salads for tonight.  I love fresh produce and I am thankful that I live in an area that has an abundance of it.  There will be around 12 people for dinner tonight so I am making 3 Beer Butt Chickens, and tons of salads to serve on the side.  I am making a lot of my favorites including Beet and Tomato Salad that I have shared with you in the past.  I was going to make my Broccoli Salad too but decided to make Creamed Cucumbers instead and I also made a very colorful Green Bean and Corn Salad as well as Potato Salad.  For dessert I am serving a Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake.

This is a very simple and pretty salad.
It is great when you have a couple ears of corn left to use.
I got this recipe from Fine Cooking.

Green Bean and Corn Salad
adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

corn kernels from 2 large ear of corn.
Kosher Salt
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 small red onion, cut into thin slices
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. good olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a med pot of water to boil, add corn kernels and blanch for 1 minute, remove from water and set aside to drain and cool.  Add a generous amount of kosher salt to the water and return to a boil.  Add the green beans and blanch until just tender, 3-4 minutes.  Remove to colander and rinse under cold water.  Set aside to drain.

Mash the garlic to a paste, using the side of your knife, place in a small bowl and whisk in the vinegar and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place vegetables into a serving bowl and toss with dressing.  Garnish with chopped fresh basil if desired. Print Recipe

This is the potato salad that my Mom used and probably her Mom before her.
If you are a product of the 50s or 60's it is probably the same recipe your Mom used.

Potato Salad

2 lbs. new potatoes
3 eggs
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 c. Miracle Whip
1/4 c. sweet relish
2 t. yellow mustard
1 t. cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes and eggs into a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and then turn heat down and lightly boil for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork but not mushy.  If potatoes are not tender after 15 minutes remove eggs, run under cold water and set aside.  Be careful to not overcook the potatoes.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain and allow to cool to the touch.  When cool enough to handle remove the peels and cut potatoes into 1" chunks.  Place in a bowl and add vegetables. 

Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl whisking to combine.   Pour over potatoes and vegetables and mix well.  Peel eggs and roughly cut into chunks.  Fold into potato salad.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Print Recipe

This recipe came from Mom Klik with a couple of changes by me.

Creamed Cucumbers

2 cucumbers, seeded and cut into moons
1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sour cream
1 t. dill weed
2 dashes hot sauce
2 sprinkles of garlic powder

Place cucumbers and onion into a small bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients, pour over cucumbers and combine well.  Chill before serving.  Print Recipe

Not only are salads delicious during peak season but they are also very economical.  Hop on over to Thrifty Thursday for more money saving ideas.