Monday, September 5, 2011


Dear Marg,

Last Friday we went to Bob and Erin's for dinner. As often happens at their house, the guest list grew quickly. First, her parents stopped by so her Dad could fix the outdoor chairs he made years ago, and then (as often happens when dinner time gets near) their children started dropping by. We had dinner with 3 generations of Erin's family and it was great.

Erin has been perfecting Paella on an outdoor fire for almost a year now, and I think she's got it wired. She started by browning chicken legs in olive oil, and then added sausage and chopped onions. Sorry no pictures of that part. Then come the handfuls of rice. I forgot to ask if it's a special rice or not.
Pouring in warm chicken broth with saffron and smoky paprika in it
Stirring and turning the legs.

Simmer, simmer, simmer....

Clams, cherry tomatoes, and squid (or was it octopus?)
The cook

The dinner
It was delicious!! Smoky and savory and full of robust flavor. You would have loved it. (you could eat around the clams).

Love, Elise

Friday, September 2, 2011

What to cook after 2 days and 170 miles

I rode my bike for two hard back-to-back days as a "race rehearsal" for the Everest Challenge. Two days, 170 miles and nearly 20,000 climbing feet. Bliss. The second day included riding through the outskirts of Hurricane Irene; wind, mist, rain, bright orange leaves flattened against shiny wet pavement, hardly a soul around. Day of a lifetime, I was delirious.
The next day, my close friend Christiana, and her mother were coming for dinner. I was exhausted. Feeding the dogs sent me back to bed. But I was eager to see them so I had to come up with a meal. I wanted to make several things, all simple and delicious, plentiful and easy. You suggested hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and ice cream. That sounded like a lot of work, so we decided to substitute potato chips for the potato salad, skip the hamburgers and boil the hot dogs. Simple, easy and plentiful were covered. Delicious? Not so much.
I made the corn and tomato pie. Yum! I made a spinach and bacon salad. Had better. I made a caramel cake. Yuck!
In an effort to keep the focus on the negative, let's discuss the caramel cake. First of all, it was a misnomer because the topping was butterscotch sauce, not caramel. Then it was plain and too dry and crumbly and blandly sweet. I'm growing concerned that I overbake things. I've had a few bad experiences with cakes that weren't cooked through, and I think it has sent me too far in the other direction. When I think about how the cake could be improved, I imagine a bowl of ice cream with butterscotch sauce. There, that's an improvement.