The days now start with a foggy chill but by afternoon they eventually acquiesce to the sun’s heat. We straddle two seasons in September but in October the brisk air is like a slap in the face. It’s clearly fall. The chill is enough to start the coloration of leaves outside our window.
I am well known in my family as having a black thumb. Nothing green is safe within my purview. Nevertheless, in the past I have successfully managed a small vegetable garden. One of my more satisfying crops was the arrival of yellow squash and zucchini. I would be amazed at my success, which yielded seemingly bushels of squash.
Truth be told though, squash is almost always a success story in the garden.
This summer, our family enjoyed a blissfully long vacation abroad filled with adventures, history, breathtaking scenery and, best of all, the company of good friends. Now that school is already underway, it’s hard to believe we were ever away at all. Thankfully, photos help bring the memories back into focus….
It seems like just yesterday (because it was) that we were outside in our short sleeves and white pants embracing the heat of a warm spring day. Then, just to remind us it is still early spring, Mother Nature pulls a fast one. The rain pours in a steady stream and the cold air demands that I dig out the sweaters at least for a few more days.
However, there is something to be said about a day that demands you stay in and hunker down. Unlike winter, a spring cold snap promises sunny days to follow. I find myself wanting to pull my own fast one. With this Asian Minced Chicken with Homemade Pickles, I’ve quickly put together a dinner that sounds like it should take hours to prepare, if not weeks, but we pull it together and sit down to eat within an hour….
As a young person in Manhattan, my view of the outdoors consisted of a concrete courtyard, yielding little sign of the changing seasons. My only marker of spring’s approach was the appearance of sprightly thin spears of asparagus at the corner Italian vegetable market….
“In like a lion and out like a lamb” is what we expect from March. This year it was a beast from beginning to end. With the onset of April, I am looking for something, anything, to help us switch gears and escape our winter rut. In a subtle attempt to mark a change, I walk past the ground sirloin I usually buy for the week for tacos or a quick Bolognese, and instead grab two pounds of organic ground lamb. I did not yet have a plan but was hopeful it would materialize in time for dinner. …
A cold wind blusters under dark skies as yet another snowstorm threatens to dump a pile of snow. The long expanse of snow clouds descends, expanding the pressure in our heads. It makes everyone in our house a little sluggish and irritable. To say we are not brimming with energy would be an understatement. We are all exhausted from winter.
Thankfully one of our winter routines requires minimal effort and keeps us nourished, warmed and full. It’s a beef vegetable soup using gorgeous meaty grass-fed beef shanks that Whole Foods stocks in the winter. This soup isn’t fancy and it changes every week depending on what we have left in the pantry and fridge on Saturday. It’s not meant to impress. This soup is a workhorse.
The skies are darkening to a steel grey making everything seem dull and barren in its wake. It’s that time of year. February tests our patience making the shortest month of the year sometimes seem like the longest with cold, dark days. No wonder Valentine’s Day falls smack in the middle of February. We are all craving something bright, cheery and rosy.
You would think with the weekend behind me, I might have more leftovers to show for it. With kids practices, playdates and a Super Bowl, I am facing an evening tonight without a dinner plan, which is so often the case on any weeknight.
This is where it is so important to have your own team of staples; food items to have in the freezer, fridge and pantry that can be forged into a meal fast.
Everyone has his or her own list of pantry staples. For me, cooked beans in the pantry, Italian sausage in the freezer and some type of leafy green in the fridge is a given. So, when I’m in the need of a good meal, fast, I often turn to a White Bean, Sausage and Kale Stew I remember as a child….
On Saturdays, a slug would seem more energetic by comparison. It is both my best and worst trait that I feel no qualm about giving myself a break on the weekend. The good news is that by Sunday, I’m usually much better rested and in the mood to cook a proper Sunday meal. Newly refreshed with the day stretched out before me, Sundays are a great day to try something new.