We’ll be over in an hour. . . .

Maybe it’s a Scandinavian thing. Or generational. But when I was a kid, I remember well my parents saying usually on weekends – often a Sunday after Church – “let’s go see the Lynchs” or “Roland and Elaine” or “let’s stop over at Lor and Bill’s.” And we would get in the car, drive for half an hour and literally drop in on friends or relatives unannounced.  Often around dinner time. The hosts would hurriedly throw some chicken breasts or burgers on the grill. My parents and their friends would talk. Smile.  I would be bored out of my gourd.  And we’d drive home.

On those days we didn’t drive off to see someone, I’d be out playing baseball and see a car pull into our driveway and mentally go “uh oh.” And know that my Sunday afternoon was shot.

If it was my cousin Jack, I knew I’d be able to play cowboys and Indians while sitting in a parked car with Jack at the wheel making sounds like a motorboat.  My cousin Larry could always be counted on to play with soldiers.  But today – no one just “drops in” on anyone. Unless it is a dire emergency.  Today, plans are made weeks.  Months.  In advance.  “Wanna have dinner on Friday?”  “Oh mercy no – we can make it on a Tuesday in about eight weeks.”  Was that a simpler time sixty years ago?  You betcha.  Maybe I should restart the “drop in” trend.  Gotta start somewhere.  All right.  Listen up.  We’ll be over on Sunday.  I like my burgers medium well.  With sharp cheddar.  Onion roll.  Grey Poupon.  And Caymus cabernet . . . .    

Scoring Points – Part III

In my posts of May 6 and 8, 2012, I talked about how my cooking scores points. Well, I’ve done it again. Donna spent much of Saturday with our daughter helping out with the baby.  Donna called mid-afternoon and said she was tired and that she’d be home around 6:00.  “Would you like me to fix dinner?” I asked. “Would you?” she responded. I smiled “Just you wait.”

I went out and bought about 3/4 pound of fresh prosciutto sliced thick, a Vidalia onion (what else), LeSeur peas and some Laurel Hill fire roasted red peppers. I chopped the prosciutto and onion into small pieces. I sauteed the prosciutto and onion slowly (covered – stirring often) with some shaved garlic in a nice olive oil. I wanted the prosciutto brown and the onions somewhat absorbed.  I heated the peas and tossed in one of the red peppers (cut up) for color.  I cooked a Prince spaghetti (al dente) and when all was done, I mixed it all in a bowl with a jar of Elki artichoke lemon pesto (heated with extra olive oil).  I roasted some bread crumbs in olive oil to sprinkle on top of the dish and offered grated parmesan on the side.  Voila!  

The table was set.  The candles were lit.  Sinatra was crooning in the background.   Donna walked in.  She smiled and sat down.  A Caymus Vineyards Meiomi red was the perfect accompaniment.  We had a caramel gelato for dessert.  In retrospect, the lemon artichoke pesto made the dish too lemony (though it was still very good).  Next time, I may stay with olive oil and some extra garlic or peperoncino.  But hey — I scored some points.  Major points after doing the dishes.       

Walleyed Pike

I go fishing once a year though not every year.  Up near Minnoqua, Wisconsin, with my friend Dan.  We get a guide – often Jim who is excellent – and head out onto the deep waters.  Looking for walleye.   It’s often so early the loons are not even awake (“what are they doing here?”).  

To catch walleyes, you need big worms and a small jig with a medium-sized hook.  You string the worm onto the hook so most of the worm trails behind.  Then you cast and reel in slowly waiting for a little tug.   There are times when I’ve fished and had not so much as a nibble.   And then there are times when the fish are biting so fast and furious (I’ve heard that term somewhere. . . . ) that you have to bait your hook behind a tree.  

At the end of the day, Jim will clean the fish and portion them into filets.  As with tilapia, not much needs to be done.  A quick roll in some olive oil, Italian seasoning and bread crumbs and saute over a medium heat until the fish is flaky.  I swear there isn’t a better-tasting fish on the planet when it’s fresh out of the lake.  Add some homemade hash browns (I cut organic potatoes thin and saute in a squidge of olive oil, some butter, salt and pepper and chopped Vidalia onion), steamed brocolli and wagon wheel chocolate chip cookies for dessert.   Oh yes and some Caymus cab.   You’ll have a North Woods meal fit for Paul Bunyan.     

Saturday Lunch

In my post of September 8, 2011, I commented that I usually feel like Diogenes searching for a decent lunch on Saturdays.  It’s often PB and J on pita or a tasteless frozen burrito (unless I dash out to Treasure Island to grab a few pieces of spanikopita).   However, on September 8th I shared a recipe for Saturday lunch that was cosmic.   It was a recipe that I stumbled on by pure accident due to a rare constellation of foods that happened to be in the frig, pantry and fruit bowl. 

Lately, I’ve been teeing up another easy Saturday lunch that is a “keeper.”  It is La Banderita tortillas with smoked salmon, Monterrey Jack cheese, fresh Hass avocado and Frontera Grill’s Salpica brand cilantro green olive salsa with roasted tomatillos.  Oh my. . . .

I toast the tortillas for a few minutes.  Remove, lay flat and layer some smoked salmon, a slice of Monterrey Jack cheese and fresh avocado.  Nuke it on “Reheat” for a bit, remove and slather with salsa.  I have died and gone to heaven.   For a dinner portion, you might use larger tortillas and add some grilled onions (see post of November 14, 2011) and fresh guacamole (avocados, squeezed limes, well-chopped cilantro). 

If you add a side of black beans and rice (brown rice is tastier) with a tad of salsa on top, and perhaps a glass or two of cabernet sauvignon (I am partial to Caymus), you will have an exquisite Sunday (or any day) dinner.  If you make it, invite me over. . . . . especially if you’re serving Caymus cab. . . . .