A chili without tomato totality (just in time for the Super Bowl)

tomatoes

I love tomatoes, but the totality of tomato in most chilis is too much for me. Here’s a chili recipe that tones down the tomato factor. (Photo copyright Laura Groch 2015)

Super Bowl season brings up visions of other ‘super’ bowls — hearty soups, stews, chilis and gumbos that can be left in a slow cooker for dishing out at halftime and beyond.

I’m not a fan in general of most chilis, finding them way too-tomatoey, which tends to knock out most of the other flavors. But hey, that’s me. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys chili with plenty of tomatoes.

What to do to keep us both happy? Well, I recently adapted a recipe that makes Continue reading

More than one turkey in this kitchen: Some of my kitchen disasters

apple-cranberry crisp

My Thanksgiving blunder yielded a sparkling clean fridge, and this warm apple-cranberry crisp. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Being an experienced cook — even of the home variety — doesn’t guarantee perfection. Memories lapse, attention wanders, and before you know it, disaster strikes.

One lesson I learned early is not to cook when I’m angry. Many years ago, my husband and I were experimenting with what was then a new food on the American scene — tofu. I couldn’t tell you today what we were bickering about, but as we argued, we stir-fried the heck out of that poor block of soy. By the time we were finished, so was the tofu — a pulverized mess. And we had to eat it, because there was nothing else.

On another afternoon (also many years ago), Continue reading

Four Thanksgiving resolutions, plus cranberry sauce

cranberries, orange, jalapeño, ginger

Want to freshen that cranberry sauce? Try adding some orange peel (left), crystallized or candied ginger (right) or a bit of chopped jalapeño pepper (top). Or perhaps a blend of all three. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Thanksgiving oughta be when we make life-altering resolutions, not the new year. I think we have a lot better chance of achieving new goals when they’re food-based, not regret- and hangover-based. So I offer my Thanksgiving resolutions:

1) Have lots of food. I attended two dinners with a hostess who doled out the Continue reading

Consolation in the kitchen

My husband likes to say that when his wife gets upset, she starts cooking, so he can’t lose. He exaggerates, of course; but when things go topsy-turvy, I admit I do find some solace in kitchen duty.

So when I recently received sad news of a friend’s passing, I found myself consulting cookbooks, looking for something to bring to the family.

In a cookbook from my early days as a bride, I found a recipe for Rhubarb Nut Bread. This friend was originally from the Midwest, so a Midwestern pie and dessert staple like rhubarb seemed somehow fitting. And I had rhubarb in the Continue reading

Didn’t seed that coming: A new way with pomegranates?

pomegranate seeds on salad

A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds adds a bright touch to this simple green salad. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Cheery, colorful pomegranates are in season and ready to brighten our tables. Pomegranates are especially touted for their antioxidant properties these days, plus they are high in Vitamin C and a good source of fiber, says the POM Council.

But before we start cooking and eating, let’s decorate!

The fruits keep for a long time without refrigeration, so use them in a colorful display on your table or kitchen counter. Feature them in a large bowl or basket, and tuck in greenery, pine cones, cinnamon sticks or the like. Or mound them in a bowl with silver or gold round glass ornaments.

Now let’s talk juice. The flesh-covered seeds, called arils, are beautiful Continue reading

Make the ‘Bean Scene’ in Encinitas this Saturday!

crowds at the lima bean festival in Encinitas, California

The bean scene was lively at the 2013 Lima Bean Festival held at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum in Encinitas, Calif.

Time once again to make the bean scene! I’m referring to the sixth annual Lima Bean Festival and cooking competition put on from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 27) by the San Dieguito Heritage Museum at 450 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, California. Folks, when other tasting events can run you upward of $35 a pop, this is a nicely priced alternative at $15 adults and $5 kids (for advance tickets) or $20 adults on event day. Buy them at www.sdheritage.org/limatickets.php.

And the cuisine on call isn’t just lima beans — other legumes are in play, in

Continue reading

Two simple tips to keep your pantry (or fridge) cleaner

Repurposing lids of various types and depths underneath jars and bottles that tend to drip will help keep your pantry shelves cleaner. Photo by Laura Groch

Repurposing lids of various types and depths underneath jars and bottles that tend to drip will help keep your pantry shelves cleaner. Also, note rubber band around oil bottle, second from left. Photo by Laura Groch

Labor Day now having come and gone, it’s fitting to post something about reducing one’s labors in the kitchen. So, time for a thrifty/nifty pair of hints:

Next time you are ready to toss a jar or container with a sturdy, fair-sized and relatively deep lid, wash it and hang onto it for a while. (Note: Do not save more than three. Just saying.) These make great “coasters” for various bottles and jars that tend to drip and make a mess in the fridge or pantry. Yes, Continue reading