Cooking up some guilt: What I wrote to ‘Dear Abby’

I’ve read “Dear Abby” for years and years. Handled the column during my newspaper days. But never felt moved to write a letter to her (or her daughter, who now handles the column) until a couple of months ago.

A young woman wrote in worried about her cooking shortcuts. Neither she nor her husband cared for cooking, both worked outside the home, and she was Continue reading

Thrifty/Nifty: Six painless ways to save water in the kitchen

water jug, saving water

Fill a jug with water as you wait for it to warm up (or cool down). Use that water elsewhere instead of sending it down the drain. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Water conservation is a big deal right now in California, but no matter where  you live, we can probably agree that no one wants (or needs) higher water bills. Here are a few painless ways I save water in the kitchen that might work for you:

The first tool in my arsenal is an empty milk jug. Next time you empty a gallon milk or orange juice container (or a half-gallon one, whatever), rinse it out and keep it by the sink. (If you have room, keep a couple there.) Next time you need to run the water until it’s hot (or cold), capture that water in the jugs. Use it later to fill pasta  pots, coffeemakers, the dog’s dish, etc. (Or keep a few filled jugs under the sink to add to your earthquake supplies.)

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Playing the dozens: 4 ways to roll with post-Easter eggs

hard-boiled eggs

Playing the dozens: Here are a few ideas to use up hard-boiled eggs. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Post-Easter (or picnic) hard-boiled eggs often have people hard-pressed to figure out what else to do with them beyond egg salad — although that can be mighty tasty, and I’ve got a recipe below. Here are some other ideas you might enjoy. (If you’ve already eaten all your eggs,bookmark this post for next season and beyond.)

One of my readers, Sheril C. of Escondido, was hunting for a casserole that used hard-boiled eggs, a white sauce and corn flakes. She remembered eating it after an Easter egg hunt in Leucadia in the 1960s. “Maybe someone in the Encinitas/Leucadia area will still have that recipe. It was delicious.”

Kallee K. of Escondido responded, “This is a ‘vintage’ recipe that we have made Continue reading

Sauerkraut and tomato soup — in your cake? A little food fun for April Fools’ Day

sauerkraut, potato chips, tomato soup

Sauerkraut, potato chips and tomato soup can put a little harmless April Fools’ Day fun on your dessert table. Photo by Laura Groch

As April Fools’ Day approaches, we’ll see plenty of ideas from clever, creative sorts for cakes, cookies and other foods transformed into things they are not, the better to turn the tables on folks. Such as cakes turned into what looks like, oh, scrambled eggs or hamburgers, or cookies turned into carrots, and the like.

Such “Fooler Foods” bring to mind some of our efforts at the now-defunct Times Advocate newspaper, precursor to the also-now-defunct North County Times.

Our Food Department was me, whichever feature reporter was free at the time, Continue reading

Welsh cakes, physalis, banoffee and more food notes from overseas

Welsh cakes in packaging

Welsh cakes in their native habitat. A UK grocery store, that is. Unprepossessing in appearance, they turned out to be surprisingly good. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Ah, St. Patrick gets all the love in March, but there’s another UK saint who deserves remembering, and that’s St. David. His feast day is March 1 (oops), and among other things, he’s known for urging his flock to “do ye the little things in life.” Not a bad sentiment.

I’m bringing up the Welsh saint as a (shameless) segue into talking about Welsh cakes, about which I’ll have more in a moment. This is my wordy way of returning to sharing observations about our (fairly) recent Scottish/English Continue reading

Thanks, Grandma: Rediscovered zucchini recipe brightens meatless menu

zucchini casserole bread

Zucchini Casserole Bread is something different for a meatless meal. Serve with soup and/or salad. (Photos by Laura Groch)

When life gives you a bag of surplus zucchini, here’s a vegetarian dish to help you make use of them. It’s a nice option for those observing Meatless Fridays for Lent and/or Meatless Mondays or Meatless Every- and Anydays. (It’s also worth bookmarking for when the zucchini days of summer arrive.)

I rediscovered this dish recently while rummaging through my cookbooks for something a little different. (And yes, I had extra zucchini to use.) Grandma Teresa Continue reading