Eat Even More Kale! Kale Salad

It doesn't get more beautiful than this at dusk these days.

It doesn’t get more beautiful than this at dusk these days.

So I’ve brought you a couple of kale recipes through the years, sautéed kale and kale chips. This is the latest recipe that I’ve been making almost nightly for supper, Kale Salad. When the eater of the house wants more than one helping of salad, or make that kale in general, you just know it’s good!

A couple of weeks ago after a long walk with friends, I was asked if we wanted some kale from her garden. Never one to say no to fresh veggies, I accepted a large bag, even though I had just bought a bunch at the coop the day before. While I figured I’d make a big batch of kale chips, I remembered a salad recipe that I make every fall.

Kale is a hardy enough vegetable that it can withstand the first few frosts here in Vermont, and I’ve always found it to be sweeter in the fall than it is in the summertime. Which is why it makes for a delicious salad.

Because kale is tougher and less delicate than normal salad greens, the first step to take is to do something to make it a bit softer and a little more palatable to taste, which means massaging it with a little bit of olive oil. Many recipes I’ve seen have you massaging the kale for several minutes; I don’t think that’s necessary, one minute or so is fine unless your kale is extremely dry And while I feel silly literally giving my salad greens a massage (when I’m the one who needs it!), I tell myself I’m moisturizing my hands and fingernails!

This recipe is loosely based on one I used many years ago from a Food Network show. Gone is the original, but this is my rendition.

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Autumn Kale Salad
Apologies, I didn’t give you this recipe last Wednesday, because I found out October 2nd was National Kale Day

4-5 stems of kale, removed from the stem, rinsed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
Olive oil
Almonds
Raisins
Salt

Salad dressing
The juice of half a lemon and honey. Depending on how old your lemons are will depend on how much juice it makes. Add the honey one teaspoon at a time to get the right balance of sweet and sour.

1. In a large mixing bowl, tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add a couple teaspoons of olive oil, and “massage” the oil into the leaves for about a minute.

2. Add some almonds cut in half horizontally, and a small handful of raisins.

3. Add a little bit of salad dressing and mix. Add salt to taste.

In the Media
One of my favorite podcasts I listen to is “America’s Test Kitchen.” A combination of recipes, advice, and food observations, the one I recently listened to included an interview with food writer, Michael Pollan. I always wonder why so many children–and even adults–have food allergies these days. I can’t walk into a room without someone having a gluten, dairy, or nut allergy these days. Pollan makes the observation that given our hyper-awareness for germs in this day in age that perhaps we humans are not exposed to the germs our parents and grandparents were, and thusly that lack of exposure has allowed our guts to not get the good bacteria we actually need. This theory made a lot of sense and is one I’d never thought of before.

You can listen to the episode here,  America’s Test Kitchen Podcast.

Week Night Dinner Series: Shrimp and Bean Salad

DSCN0419This is one of those delicious dinners that doesn’t take a lot of time to make and is what my nutritionist would call a “balanced” meal: a good protein, good fat, and good carbs.

I had been thinking for some time of creating a salad including the shrimp I had in the freezer and a can of beans I had in the cupboard. So one lazy Friday night when I didn’t feel like cooking, this came together nicely and actually fits into the “Speedy Gonzales” category of last week’s blog and the Work Night Dinner series I began in the spring!

Don’t worry if you have frozen shrimp; when I got home from work, I pulled some out and put them in a bowl of cold water and went about doing stuff around the house. When it was time to make dinner, they were defrosted. Of course, you can buy fresh or frozen cooked shrimp, and that would make it even easier and quicker! This recipe is a cut, chop, throw everything into a bowl, and stir. Dishes like these are the best because they’re so easy!

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I always buy my frozen shrimp raw, because I think the frozen, cooked shrimp can sometimes be tough, even though for convenience sake they’re great. But if you have raw shrimp, they are super simple to cook. Warm a little bit of olive oil in a skillet, add the shrimp, and any seasonings you’d like (wine, garlic, onion) or nothing at all, and let it simmer for about three minutes. When they turn pink, they are done!

This is a perfect summertime dish to share with friends, so make it soon before the coolness of fall is upon us!

Shrimp and Bean Salad
A lot of this recipe is based on how you would like the dish; if you want more beans, more shrimp, more lime juice, let your own creative dishes flow with this! My recipe is just a baseline, go crazy and add other veggies or spices to this!

2-3 cups cooked shrimp
1 can Great Northern or cannellini beans (or another white bean), drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
About one cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
About ½ avocado, diced
Some scallions, to taste
½ jalapeno pepper chopped, if desired
A little bit of cilantro, if desired
The juice of about ½ lime, or to taste

In a large mixing bowl, add the shrimp, beans, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, scallions, pepper and cilantro, if using, and stir gently. Add the lime juice. Serve!

The Bounty is Here!

After months of waiting, August is finally here, and the veggies are at their best! Gone are the early days of June, with just a few sad-looking root vegetables sitting in the bins the farmers’ market; now it’s bursting at the seams and overflowing with everything fresh and beautiful! So prepare yourself, it’s going to be a vegetarian month!

I adore cucumbers, they always taste fresh and have virtually no calories! (I presume there are no calories in a cucumber, but I didn’t want to give false advertising!). Nothing is better to me than a fresh cucumber, thinly sliced with  just a little bit of salt.

This side salad is a mish-mosh of a couple different dishes I make: a raita I make to accompany fish and a green bean salad that my grandmother makes. It’s so good, I’ve been known to eat a big bowl of it for lunch! It’s easy and was a nice cool complement to a dinner of chicken and some sautéed Swiss chard. If you want a little heat, add a dash (or two) of cayenne or crushed red pepper. And if you don’t eat dairy, you can leave out the sour cream;  it’s just as delicious.

Helpful Kitchen Tip: 
Placing the cucumbers in a colander in the sink and sprinkling with a little salt allows much of the water to drain. This is a great suggestion for any dish that calls for cucumbers. Do this about 30 minutes before you’re ready to make your dish. I don’t rinse off the salt since I only use only a little, but I tend not to salt the dish when it’s finished.

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Cucumber Dill Salad

Using fresh dill with this recipe is the best, but if you only have dried on hand (like I had), it is still terrific. 

• 2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half horizontally, seeded and sliced like half moons
• ¼ cup diced onion
• 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar (if you want a little more zing, add a couple of teaspoons more)
• ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
• Dill weed, as much or as little as you’d like, or none at all
• Freshly ground pepper
• Salt to taste, if needed

1. Take the seeded and cut cucumbers and place them in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and let them sit for about 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to make the salad. Don’t rinse.

2. In a mixing bowl, add the drained cucumbers, onion, and vinegar. Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and mix well. Add as much dill weed as you’d like, and some pepper. Serve.

Week Night Dinner Series: Late-Night Supper Salad

This is an occasional series on healthy, quick-to-make, late-night dinners.

I usually get home from work anywhere from 5:30 to 6 p.m. If I go to the gym or for a walk, dinner gets started after 7 and we eat after 8. So I know all about late-night dinners. I came up with this recipe (a word I use very loosely) on a late Saturday night when we were on our way home, tired and hungry. It is so easy, and with just a few ingredients, it literally takes minutes. So quickly in fact that the eater of the house had just barely settled down with some chips and salsa to tide him over until we ate when I said dinner was ready!

This dish  has the perfect combination of what nutritionists say you need in each meal–protein, carbohydrates, and good fat–and it’s all wrapped up on one salad plate. Flavorful greens, some sweet grape tomatoes, heart-healthy olive oil, and protein from steak (or another kind of meat if you prefer). And it’s a perfect meal if you are running late and not sure what to make; you can grab the ingredients at the supermarket on the way home.

I don’t usually go for ready-made ingredients, but sometimes I splurge on crumbled cheese. It’s a great addition to the salad, I love gorgonzola, but you can substitute feta, goat, parmesan, or leave it out if you prefer. For the meat, you can broil it, grill it, or pan sear it. Vegetarians can use beans in place of the meat; I’ve done that too. You can add extra veggies if you like, and if you want some zing, add a splash or two of lemon juice or a tangy vinegar!

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Late-Night Supper Salad

1 salad bowl or plate of greens (baby spinach, spring mix, et. al)
A few grape tomatoes, halved
About 4 ounces of cooked protein (steak, chicken, fish, pork)
Extra virgin olive oil
A couple teaspoons of crumbled cheese (gorgonzola, goat, feta, parmesan, etc.) (optional)

Take a salad plate or bowl and add the greens and tomatoes. Add the meat, and top with the olive oil and cheese, if using.

With a Spring in My Step

I have been remiss in welcoming my new readers from the past few weeks! I am so happy you have decided to join me on this adventure in food and beyond! I hope you find some recipes you will enjoy. Welcome one and all!

I have begun to think Mother Nature isn’t aware that we turned the calendar to April ten days ago. While it has been sunny, the temperatures have languished in the 40s if not 30s; bringing confidence to take off the snow tires, but not warm enough to let go of the winter coat. It’s that in-between weather that drives me crazy; one never knows what to wear for the day when it’s cool in the morning, but warm mid-day.

So with what I believe will be spring any moment, I’ve been creating dishes that are light and airy for this time of year. I’ve become a new devotee of radishes lately; I like to put them in my salads for a bit of crunch and peppery flavor. Plus, they are dirt cheap (.79 cents for a small bag). Twice in a week  radishes recently were mentioned and I decided to create a mixture of the two dishes. My inspiration came from cookbook author Deborah Madison, who talked about the ruby-red roots recently on the radio show, “The Splendid Table,” and the April issue of Cooking Light magazine.
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This is so super simple, I don’t need to give you a step-by-step recipe! Just take some radishes and cut them paper-thin (about a cup or more) and place in a large mixing bowl. I’m not one for kitchen gadgets, but in this instance, a mandolin would be a saving grace. Add a few greens; I spied some gorgeous looking watercress that I had to have, it was the perfect combination. But spring greens, baby arugula, or pea shoots would be delicious. A few squirts of lemon juice, a small drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done. I really wanted to add some fresh chives from the herb garden, but right now they are tiny shoots, but I think they would add great flavor. I served this alongside salmon and quinoa for a healthy supper.

I have a feeling I’m going to be buying radishes and making this dish for many weeks to come. It’s healthy, low calorie, quick, and delicious! And I’m thinking of other options to add to this; some stale French bread to sop up the lemon juice and oil, even some leftover chicken or fish. I guess the possibilities are endless. Now, if it will just warm up!

That’s Amore!

CookingVintageValentineI have never been one to go out for a big high falootin dinner on Valentine’s Day evening. The restaurants are packed and the prices raised just for this one meal. Home cooking is always healthier, and less expensive, and in some (many?) cases, just better tasting.

If you are thinking of making dinner tomorrow night, I thought I would give you a dinner menu that is special enough for the holiday, but also easy enough so it can be put together on a work night.

Depending on how fancy the dinner is, how about starting with some appetizers? The stuffed mushroom recipe I make is easy, and you can make these the night before and just pop them in the oven when you get home. If you have extra time, this recipe for gougères is to die for, and are best right out of the oven–just don’t burn your tongue!

Soup or salad? I will always go for salad whenever given the choice. You could make a simple salad of  greens but include something special like my favorite, Hearts of Palms. These run about $3 a can, so I buy them only on rare occasions. Maybe a few grape tomatoes, a quick vinaigrette, and you’re set!

I always think seafood always makes for a special meal. You could make this scallop recipe (and forego the aforementioned salad), or linguini with clam sauce, which is quick and easy. Or what about this salmon recipe? Just pop the fish in the oven and make the quick sauce on the stove.

Dessert anyone? That is, if you haven’t given up sweets for Lent! If you want something chocolaty, you could make these brownies the night before and serve warmed with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. Or what about gingerbread? This is warm and cozy and another recipe you can make in advance. Of course, one of the most special recipes of all is chocolate mousse, and this must be made in advance, so you can focus on the rest of the meal.

So open up a bottle of your favorite wine, turn on Dean Martin, and just relax and cook for the ones you love.

“Mad Men” Caesar Salad and a Manhattan Cocktail

Just a regular evening for me after a day at the office!

Just a regular evening for me after a day at the office!

One of my favorite shows is “Mad Men.” This month I’ve been rapidly re-watching Season 4 so I can catch up with Season 5. While I love the psychological and interpersonal parts of the show, I really enjoy looking for vintage cookery items. Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook that Betty had displayed on her kitchen counter (I have a copy!), the vintage barware and cocktail glasses that everyone drinks out of at work (I’ve searched high and low on eBay!), and the visits to restaurants.

In Season 1, I remember watching a restaurant dinner scene where a Caesar salad was made and served table-side. Ah, how romantic! Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a Caesar salad made just for you, while you watched the waiter gently take the lettuce, add egg and lemon, toss, and serve?

Last year, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin was published. I’ve never been one for cookbooks based on television shows, but I was able to get a sneak peek of some of the recipes online. The salad dressing recipe struck my fancy, because if this was “Mad Men,” I imagined it would be an authentic Caesar dressing I could make at home.

One thing, this made more than 2 cups of salad dressing, way more than I could use up for one dinner (or even two). It also has a raw egg, so I questioned how long it could last in the fridge. (I used it a couple of weeks later and have lived, but that’s about as far as I would push it.) So if you cook for a small family, you might want to set this recipe aside the next time you have a dinner party. While the ingredient list is long, it’s just the blender and pulsing, so not a lot of work went into making this.

A Manhattan is one of my favorites wintertime cocktails. Dark and brooding, one sip and you can imagine yourself sitting right next to Don Draper in a lounge! This recipe is the way my uncle makes Manhattans and I love the added flavor of the Southern Comfort, but you can always use the traditional sweet vermouth if you prefer.

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Caesar Salad
From The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin

Courtesy of Executive Chef Bill Rodgers, Keens’ Steakhouse, New York, New York
Note: At Keens the waiters dress the salad and add the garnishes tableside.

The recipe makes one large salad portion. You’ll have leftover dressing and croutons. Executive Chef Bill Rodgers also recommends using this delicious salad dressing for marinating grilled chicken.

For the salad
3 1/2 cups clean, cut romaine lettuce
2 ounces Caesar Dressing (see recipe below)

For the topping
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the garnish
Raw egg yolk
4 thin slices pimiento
2 anchovy filets, cut in half (4 pieces)
Caesar Croutons (see recipe below)

1. Make the salad: Place lettuce in a serving bowl. Toss with dressing.

2. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, garnish with egg yolk, pimento, anchovy filets, and croutons and toss well.

Yield: 1 large salad (serves 1–2)

Caesar Dressing
1 1/2 ounces water
1 ounce lemon juice
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup pure olive oil
1 1/2 ounces red wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
6 peeled garlic cloves
10 Italian anchovy filets
2 2/3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoons light brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon dry mustard
3/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Make the dressing: Combine the water and lemon juice in a measuring cup and set aside.

2. Combine canola and olive oils in a measuring cup and set aside.

3. In the blender, combine the remaining ingredients and mix for 10 seconds. With the blender running, slowly begin to add the combined oils in a slow and steady stream. As you continue to add the oil, the mixture will begin to thicken. When the mixture thickens, thin it out with 1/3 of the water/lemon juice mixture. Repeat this process until all the oil has been incorporated.

4. Chill dressing until cold.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups dressing

Caesar Croutons

Note: Place the bread in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing to make it easier to cut even squares.

Whole melted butter can be substituted for the clarified butter, but will brown the croutons faster. To make clarified butter, melt 4 tablespoons of butter slowly in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit until it separates. Skim off the foam that rises to the top, and gently pour the butter off of the milk solids, which will have settled to the bottom.

6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/4-inch squares (see note above)
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted (see note above)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley and thyme)
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Toss bread cubes in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.

2. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or just until slightly browned and crisp. Let cool at room temperature before serving. Store covered in an airtight container.

Yield: Croutons for 6 large Caesar salads

Cook’s Notes:
• You’ll notice I did very little in the way of accompaniments with my salad. I like it almost unadorned, hence why I didn’t include the various salad garnishes.

• I also didn’t make the croutons as described here; I made my usual. Stale Italian bread, cubed, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, bake at 350 degrees until brown. A lot quicker and simpler than their croutons, although they sound delicious!

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Manhattan Cocktail

Two parts bourbon
One part Southern Comfort
One maraschino cherry

Blend the two ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, stir, and serve up in a martini glass. Add cherry and a drop of cherry juice, if you like.

Variation
If you don’t have Southern Comfort, you can easily make this with three parts bourbon and a small splash of sweet vermouth.

Farro Salad with Chicken and Summertime Herbs

No, this isn’t a spinach leaf, it’s a basil leaf! I couldn’t resist sharing. It made for a tasty batch of pesto that evening!

If you are a longtime reader, I’m sure you’ve noticed a couple of things; I love to make soup in the winter and salad suppers in the summer! So please bear with me, for yet another salad that can be made ahead of time in these lazy, hot days of summer!

Farro seems to be the golden child of grains these days; both Cooking Light and Eating Well recently had a few recipes on different farro salads. Gone are the days when I received a quizzical look when I asked if it was available at the coop. This grain is high in protein and delicious; I’ve used it a couple of times before, here and here, but in case you’ve missed it, it’s like a large grain of barley, but without the barley flavor. It’s an easy grain to cook with and I find it incredibly versatile; you could add it to salads, soups, you could even add some fruit and eat it for breakfast! But, while being the golden child, it is not a gluten-free grain, so if that is the route you would like to take, quinoa can certainly be substituted for this dish.

So on that note, I decided to create my own salad with a little bit of chicken, a few vegetables, and some fresh herbs I bought at the farmer’s market. (I even snuck in some dill; we’ll see what the dill hater of the family thinks!) This time of year, you can add whatever protein and vegetable you like. Some beans or cheese for  vegetarian version, and I thought about fresh zucchini or summer squash would be tasty, too; it will be delicious any way you make it yourself! I did find the olive oil and vinegar were absorbed after sitting for a few days; an easy problem that can be solved with a dash of the two before serving.

Farro Salad with Chicken and Summertime Herbs
1 ½-2 cups farro, cooked (substitute quinoa if you’re making this gluten-free)
1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 small shallot, minced (red onion or scallions could be substituted)
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup or so, fresh green beans, snapped in half
3 large basil leafs, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1-2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 capfuls champagne vinegar (or another light vinegar–white wine or rice)
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, add the ingredients and mix together, adjusting to taste!

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Marion Cunningham: A Tribute
I was very sad to hear about the death of cook and award-winning food writer, Marion Cunningham, last week. I am always inspired by people who take on the second phase of their life with gusto; a stay-at-home mother, Cunningham overcame agoraphobia and alcoholism at age 50 and began her cooking career with the famed James Beard. New York Times writer, Kim Severson, wrote a lovely piece in memory of her friend and this true champion to the home cook. You can find the story here.

Happy 4th of July!

For my U.S. readers, Happy 4th of July! I hope you are enjoying this odd mid-week holiday off from work if you have it. For my readers overseas, today is the day each year the U.S. celebrates its independence from Great Britain. Yes, for 200-plus years, we’ve had a party to celebrate our independence with picnics, parades, and fireworks. Now that I write it down it seems a little silly, but it’s nice way to have a day off from work in the middle of the summer!

So I’ve been thinking for a week what I could create with that would be a red, white, and blue dish. I decided to let my own creative juices flow, no cookbook or Internet searches for this one, I wanted to do it on my own. And it was a difficult assignment! Of course, you can’t go wrong with fresh strawberries and blueberries with homemade whipped cream. But I wanted something with a little bit more depth and something that wasn’t a dessert. So I created my own Red, White, and Blue Salad to celebrate the Fourth!

A few nights ago, when it was a bit cooler, I noticed some sad-looking red peppers in the vegetable bin. Never one to waste an expensive vegetable, I sliced them up, placed them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, and roasted them until they were soft and brown. Step one, check. The red was done! Of course, you don’t have to roast your own peppers, you can substitute tomatoes or store-bought roasted red peppers.

The white was easy, you can either use white button mushrooms or in my case, white Hakurei turnips.

Hakurei turnips.

In early summer, I find these small white sweet turnips at the farmer’s market and coop that you can use in salads and stirfries. They are beautiful, perfectly shaped little white globes. And these are an all in one vegetable, as you can also cook the greens. They’re a great addition to kale or chard sautéed with garlic and olive oil. With some crumbled blue cheese in the fridge, I was able to easily assemble these salads in just a few minutes.

For a salad dressing, I made my usual vinaigrette but with a few twists; instead of garlic I used a little bit of chopped shallot, and added a few chopped capers. I thought the flavor of both would really make everything zing and I was right!

If you want to make this a salad supper night, adding a little bit of chicken, tuna, or beans would be a welcome addition. Just be sure to save room for the berries and whipped cream for dessert!

Red, White, and Blue Salad
Lettuce mix
Roasted red peppers (or tomatoes)
Hakurei turnips (or white button mushrooms)
Crumbled blue cheese
Vinaigrette (recipe below)

With a salad plate, place a handful or two of lettuce mix. Arrange the roasted red peppers and turnips on the plate. Add a teaspoon or two of the vinaigrette and add a little bit of the blue cheese.

Vinaigrette
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons vinegar (I used rice vinegar this evening)
A couple of Tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons chopped capers

Add ingredients to a small mixing bowl, whisk, and serve atop the salad.

It’s Autumn!

Note the miniature hunter's moon!

Although we’ve only had two evenings of a hard frost, it definitely is autumn in Vermont. It’s dark when I awake and turns dark soon after I return home from work. Long early evening walks have been moved to weekend days. The foliage is a brilliant orangey-yellow this year, yet with some rainstorms, the leaves are slowing falling. It’s time to make an appointment to put on the snow tires.

So with the change of seasons, comes a change in the kitchen. Dinners and lunches are soups, stews, and hardier meals. Gone are the days of salad suppers, the oven is now on and we’re eating food to warm the heart and soul: curried chicken, vegetable soups, lots of roasted root vegetables. So turns the page to another season, and another way of looking at–and cooking–food. Below are small pieces on two of my favorite fall foods, apples and homemade doughnuts.

Apple Salad a.k.a. Waldorf Salad
Every Sunday afternoon, from September through November, you can find me at our apple orchard a couple of miles away, selecting a week’s worth of apples, cider, and in October, my favorites, Concord grapes. This year my favorite apples are Greenings, a slightly sweeter version of a Granny Smith. With a little bit of peanut butter or cottage cheese, they are a perfect snack. But I usually tuck a couple of Macintosh apples in my bag for a salad.

Sometimes, I tire of the usual green salad accompaniment for dinner, or for dinner, and I whip up a quick apple salad, especially this time of year, since apples are plentiful. The only thing that takes time is cutting the apples, and if you don’t peel them, it takes even less time. Tossing everything into a bowl, mixing in the dressing, and you have a bright and nutritious fruit salad. And you can make it for one eater or ten!

I fixed this for a luncheon potluck one winter and it must have been memorable, because I received a request for the recipe more than six months later! I think of it as more of a fall/winter salad, but it truly is delicious any time of the year, as long as your apples are fresh!

In a mixing bowl, combine:
— Chopped, diced, unpeeled apples (although can be peeled if you prefer)
— One to two stalks, chopped celery
— A handful of chopped walnuts or almonds
— A couple of handfuls of raisins or currents

Add a choice of:
— mayonnaise
— mayonnaise and sour cream
— mayonnaise and plain yogurt

Mix until combined. The dressing should lightly cover the ingredients, just a couple of tablespoons each, it shouldn’t be heavy and thick. Chill in fridge, then serve!

Doughnut Days
When the calendar turns to September and October, the days start getting shorter, and there is a crispness in the air, it means one thing in my mom’s house: time to get out the large cast iron skillet and make some doughnuts! This fall tradition has been around as long as I can remember. Now, although our family is even bigger, we still gather together for an afternoon of making–and eating–doughnuts.

This year, the tradition continued, although we were missing a couple of family members. I never miss this day; as many can attest, I am not a sweets person, but I do love doughnuts!

The big wooden cutting board is pulled out, and Mom rolls out the dough and then cuts each one carefully. No dough gets wasted, and my favorite doughnuts are the holes and pieces, because they are crisp, yet soft. The first batch goes in, and a few minutes later are draped onto a paper towel. I usually burn my tongue because I can’t wait to eat one from that first batch; it’s always the best.

Although I’m constantly watching my waistline, I brought a small bag home that I promptly stuck in the freezer for later eats. Relaxing on a Sunday morning after a long walk with dark coffee and a homemade doughnut is about as good as it gets!