Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shouldn't You Just ... ?

A SNEAK PEEK into my soon approaching, new novel Friendship Fog, laced with seasonal menus to feed the heart and mind! Here, our hero Clifford Bowles, the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire, offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. 

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his advice on modern etiquette.

  • Sneeze more privately in public to avoid too much of a fuss?
  • Talk more conservatively on your cellular phone in public? The conversation does not involve two cans and a string. The person on the other end of the line can hear you. We all can hear you.
  • Use note cards for thank yous? Rather than a mere email, a phone call is preferable the next day too as a thank you for a dinner or cocktail party. Take the extra time as your host did for entertaining you.
  • Rein in your Vuitton wheelie bag when traveling? It needn’t be more than a foot behind you. Statistics show that most tripping accidents in airports and railway stations occur because of an unduly extended suitcase on wheels.
  • Discourage your pets from soaking others’ garbage with their urine streams? If only to lessen the work of the sanitation engineer?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Smoothie Operator

There I stood in front of the refrigerator, feeling a bit peckish, looking at what was left of a bottle of Naked Mighty Mango juice that was about to go home to Jesus in one week. Evolution's Sweet Greens comprised of spinach, kale, celery, apple and parsley with lemon (that had been crying out to me, "partake of my nutrients, please!") lingered next to it, near a carton of soy-gluten-dairy-free Silk unsweetened almond milk, longing to be put to better use than merely floating a bowl of cereal. Half a banana lay in wait as well. With about one cup each of the liquids, the banana and six ice cubes, I threw it all into the blender. You know what? It was absolutely delicious, refreshing, and loaded with stuff that does a body good. Most of the ingredients were all neatly dispatched, thereby making some more room in the fridge too. I think that makes me somewhat of a smoothie operator, don't you?

Do enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tomato-Less Marinara Sauce

Over the years,  I have developed a frustrating allergy to tomatoes and red wine. This does not mean I would need to race for an EpiPen having consumed either of these delights; I just more often then not have to avoid them or suffer the consequences of psoriasis and heartbreak. I gave up on wine years ago but pizza, pasta dripping in red sauce and Chicken Parmigiana have been a struggle. However, I have, oddly enough discovered places around Manhattan where I am not subject to outbreaks and bumps at all (and I vacuumed a pepperoni-laden gooey delicious pizza fantastic quite without impunity last summer in Spain). Odd, no? Please let me know if you have experienced similar allergies and how you've dealt with them!

I just discovered this recipe for a tomato-less marinara sauce where beets and carrots rise to the occasion as an alarmingly bright, grand substitute. Laced with oregano and sprinkled with pinches of Parmesan cheese and grinds of fresh black pepper and salt, these additions will all complement the dish and suffice...well, in a  pinch!

Click on the link here for the recipe and thanks to!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quickie Corn Chowder

I have said before that a little ingenuity is often a necessary ingredient in the kitchen. When making this particular corn chowder recipe (sent to me by my cousin, her source unknown), I was reminded of my own adage. As I set up all my ingredients on the counter to start cookin' I realized I had plum forgot to pick up sweet onions along with my other ingredients that afternoon! It was later in the evening and I didn't have the near temerity to go outside again. But what to do? After some thought, I sliced a huge clove of garlic into thirds and threw in three slices of crisply tart green apples to rally forth some sweetness. It was a marvelously successful idea! This "brothy" chowder needed a little thickening to my way of thinking too. So, at the end, I pureed a can of corn that I had on hand with a touch of its own liquid and stirred it back into the pot and let the whole thing simmer before I availed myself to the full, fine flavor of summer!

Summer Corn and Golden Potato Chowder
Makes 4 to 6 servings

(My suggestions in italics)

4 Tbsp. butter (I used Smart Balance dairy free, low sodium 'butter' which worked like a charm)
5 cups fresh corn kernels; reserve two cobs (I only had two ears so the aforementioned can of corn helped tremendously to thicken, but optional of course)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 large sweet onion, diced (about two cups)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 large Yukon gold potato, diced (I shamelessly used whole canned potatoes which saved time and work, even as I quickly diced them. I threw the taters in at the end just to warm them up)
3/4 cup half-and-half (I don't know about you, but I need to lighten up! Carnation evaporated skim milk worked out very well as more than an ample substitute)

1. Melt butter in a small stockpot over medium heat. Add corn kernels, thyme sprigs, diced onion, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until corn is tender but not browned.
2. Stir in broth (I only used three cups) and diced potato (or wait until the end if potatoes are canned). Increase heat to high; add reserved corn cobs (great idea to add body!), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Discard cobs and thyme stems. (Also fish out the large pieces of garlic and apples here, if you like)
3. Process 1/2 cup of corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Return processed mixture to stockpot, and stir in half-and-half. Serve immediately. (A garnish of fresh basil and dill is suggested but I just topped with grinds of black pepper and salt, to taste)

Do enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beet Tahini Dip

I found this recipe in the pages of the Aug./Sept. 2015 issue of Saveur--however, truth be told, I've found little else in the publication over the recent year. Pity. But anyway, surely, somewhere on this blog I've compared beets to Steinbeck's rich red earth, and here, this quick, ridiculously simple mixture makes the most of summer's bounty. I cut the recipe in half for just me, but below is the whole deal with my thoughts in italics. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Beet Dip
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 lb. beets, trimmed, and cook until tender, about 1 hour. I used a package of beets already peeled and cooked, as that's what I had on hand, sparing a hot stove top! And as I only had a 1/4 lb. at that, I added slivers of a crisp green apple to add body. Drain and peel the beets, then transfer to a blender along with 1/2 cup tahini, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, and 3 ice cubes. Season with salt and pepper and puree until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and 1 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts. I didn't use those as I don't much care for them.  Chill at least 20 minutes and serve with pita bread as suggested or snack crackers, such as Tam Tams. Do drizzle with a good olive oil, garnish with some chopped beets (try chopped walnuts too!) and a few stiff grinds of black pepper or a sprinkling perhaps of cumin.

Thanks to Saveur for the inspiration, despite its apparent, largely unsatisfying period of transition.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ham Loaf for Everybody!

Okay, this dish was really just for Baby and me (with a simple side salad of greens and plenty of leftovers). Although the tasty little nugget might appear to be absolutely lurid and revolting, it was quite good and could certainly warrant being served at a cocktail party for a number of people as suggested by Arlene's Dahl's cookbook, No Time For Cooking! from 1961. We were assisted by a delicious pre-made potato salad with bacon from Fresh Direct. Couldn't have been easier as we stuffed the goods mixed with gelatin into our Le Creuset terrine to make it extra fancy and then let it chill in the refrigerator until firm and ready to be unmolded.

Also, as the cover indicates, "full-color photos, including Arlene at home." They are preternaturally colored and filled with explosively outrageous table settings.

I started to go hog-wild with the molds and also made what I called an Jell-O Aquarium World in a small copper mold replete with Berry-Blue Raspberry Jell-O, Swedish fish, mini-marshmallows for rocks, whipped cream for waves and crushed vanilla wafers for the surrounding sand. It was all quite hilarious, kids could help and would love it. We did.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cindy Wilson's Corn Bread with Sweet Potato

Sure, we know Cindy Wilson from The B-52's can sing the heck out of any song, but did you know our beloved gal (a.k.a. the Queen of Las Vegas, who taught us a few things about hero worship and how to dance this mess around) can cook too? I recently stumbled across a yellowed fan club news letter with crinkly edges (c. 1982 when the 'Mesopotamia' album came out) featuring her corn bread dish. I can't help but imagine that this would be an ideal side for any summer barbecue next to a platter of grilled chicken and cole slaw or to warm you in the winter with collards, baked beans and a homey meatloaf. Or any time you have a mind too! The recipe is above but I also included it below, in the event you can't read the keys from the old typewriter used!

Do enjoy and thanks, Cindy!
Also, Fred Schneider, the band's front man, was kind enough to share his Italian style soba noodles recipe with me personally on so check that out too!

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 medium size sweet potato (cooked and mashed)

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Sift dry ingredients together.
3. Beat egg, add wet ingredients, mix together.
4. Coat cast iron skillet with cooking oil. Put in oven to get hot. When hot, pour in batter.
5. Leave in oven about 20 minutes.
A regular baking pan can be used instead.

P.S.  To start with, I made mine with grits instead of cornmeal, as that's what we had on hand. I also made mine dairy free and it was absolutely delicious. I subbed almond milk (no dairy) with 2 TB lemon juice, for acidity, to total two cups of what was supposed to be the buttermilk, and used coconut oil instead of butter. Just great, and so moist on the inside! I also used a can of sweet potatoes and mashed them instead going through the whole cooking process. I even spread some of the left over mash as a spread for my bread, along with a drizzle of honey!

Soundtrack: Anything B-52's of course! Party Mix/Mesopotamia dual cd is a great start.

Thanks pinterest for the pic!