Scratch That

The convenience food boom of the mid-20th century did a lot to free women from the kitchen. It did not, however, do much for our taste buds (or, it must be said, our waist lines, but that’s another matter).

I might be willing to swallow the less-tasteful morsels if it weren’t for the fact that the real thing is not, in many cases, that much more work than the poor imitation.

Take, for example, this recipe for homemade brownies. I would argue that these are no more difficult than the stuff that comes out of a box, but are beyond compare in terms of taste.

Which is why I make a lot of stuff from scratch. Like lemonade. Now, I won’t pretend that squeezing lemons by hand is as easy as dumping a package of powdered, lemon-flavored dust into a pitcher. But the difference in taste far outweighs the small amount of extra effort. I’ve tried a few different recipes and I like this one from Country Living. Tastes like summer!

Scene from a Marriage

A Friday night in Forest Hills.

Wife: Want to got to Nick’s for pizza?

Husband: No.  I’m in the mood for a hamburger.  How about Sante Fe Steakhouse or TGIFridays?

Wife: Um, no.  How about Johnny Rockets?

Husband: I think their hamburgers are disgusting.

Wife exits Stage Right and heads to the kitchen.

Hmmm … what have we here?  Some broccoli.  Some frozen tortellini.  Garlic and olive oil (always).  Could a dinner that is even easier than takeout be at hand?

Broccoli with Tortellini

1 Bunch broccoli
1 Bag frozen cheese tortellini (also works with cheese cavatelli or meat tortellini)
2 -3 Cloves garlic (amount depends on how much you like garlic)
Olive oil
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

Fill a big pot with water and set it to boil. 

Meanwhile, chop the broccoli into florets.  Mince the garlic.

When the water is boiling drop in the tortellini and broccoli and set the timer for about 6 minutes.  Once cooked, drain them into a big colander.  Use a paper towel to wipe the remaining water from the pot (be careful!) and set it back onto the stove on a medium flame. 

Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  The garlic should be fragrant and golden.  Dump the tortellini and broccoli back into the pot, turn off the heat, and toss it all to combine.  Add salt, pepper and, if desired, red pepper flakes. 


Husband:  Mmmmm.  This is yummy.

Good husband.

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One Potato, Two Potato

I’ve never been a big fan of potato salad.  I’m not sure why.  I love macaroni salad (but only the way my mother makes it).  As an adult I came around to cole slaw.  But never liked potato salad — even the way my mother makes it.

When I was the food editor at iVillage we used to run a recipe contest with a weekly theme.  One week in the summer was, of course, potato salad.  The winner was different from any potato salad I’d ever encountered.  I later learned that this is the way the French make it.  Those clever French!

I made a version of this tonight.  It’s really yummy. 

I simplified it a bit.  Basically, I boil the potatoes and the green beans, then toss them with a vinaigrette.  I made my dressing with white wine vinegar instead of red.  I’ve also done it with lemon juice.  What’s best, this salad tastes good warm, room temperature or cold. 


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Spam Recipe

No, not a recipe for Spam, that versatile canned meat product (which, I’ve actually never eaten). No, this post is a reprinted recipe that I received via a spam email message. I’m not sure what the intellectual property rights implications are with regard to recipes received from unsolicited email. I’m willing to take the risk.

In any event, here’s the message, in its entirety:

—–Original Message—–
From: Blair [mailto:link deleted]
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2005 8:02 PM
To: Tami Forman
Subject: Zucchini Loaves

Returned from vacation and finally got a chance to respond back to my emails. While on our trip, came across this wonderful Zucchini recipe and wish to share it with all.

Blair’s Zucchini Loaves

3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini (1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring well.
Combine all purpose flour and next 9 ingredients, stirring well. Add zucchini mixture, stirring just until blended. Spoon batter evenly into 2 greased and floured 8x 4 x 2 1/2 loafpans.
Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Combine powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and milk, stirring until smooth. Drizzle evenly over loaves; sprinkle with pecans.
Yield: 2 loaves.
**(These loaves may be frozen up to one month; drizzle with glaze after thawing.)

The Zucchini Loaf recipe is not for me and I wish not to receive any more .
—–Message End—–

I assure you that, despite the chummy tone, I do not know “Blair.” I have no idea what the point of this email is. I assume that the opt-out link (!), which I’ve omitted here, went to some kind of site where money was meant to be exchanged — for either legitimate or illegimate purposes. But the lack of a call to action combined with my reluctance to click on weird links leaves this a mystery. I haven’t tested this recipe, so bake at your own risk.

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