Jul 20th, 2005
The sun is shining in Seattle and I'm sick to death of sitting in my 6th floor office staring at the computer screen. So I've snuck outside with my notebook (shhhhh...) and am writing this on (gasp) paper to be transcribed later.
Life has been busy lately, we've driven down to Oregon for three weekends in a row, so food has been utilitarian by necessity. Bu summer calls for simple food anyway - salads, sandwiches, lots of fresh fruit, and the occasional application of fire to meat...
I'm still enjoying my weekly organic produce box. It has introduced me to white turnips, led me to prepare kale for the first time (the jury is still out on that one), and greatly increased my beet consumption. In fact I'm really loving my roasted baby beets these days. You take two layers of foil, decapitate the beets and arrange them in the middle of the foil, toss with a bit of olive oil, and seal the packet in a little square. I usually toss the packet in the oven along with whatever else is cooking, but if you're cooking them on their own, 400F is probably the optimal temperature. The cooking time is also pretty flexible - I've left them in there anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Once you've opened the package you can slip the beets out of their skins and twist off any stems remaining on the top - just don't wear your favorite all-white leisure suit to do so, they're really violently pink and oozy.
I like to chop up the roated beets and add them to salads - especially anything featuring hard boiled egg, basil, or feta cheese. I'm sure they're good on lots of other things too, I've just never kept them around long enough to find out.
We've also been enjoying blueberry season. Jay and I made a Blueberry Coffee Cake that was rapturously received. In between bites Jay kept saying, "I didn't know I liked this pie! It's so good!" And for my Dad's retirement party I made a Blueberry Barbecue Sauce to go with the burgers.
This weekend we're taking the boys on their first overnight camping trip. We'll be making s'mores and roasting hot dogs on sticks. The kids should return home a sticky, sunburned mess. I do love summer.
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Jul 6th, 2005
My grandmother passed away last month. She was 86 and quite busy and active up until almost the end. It was difficult for my family, especially my dad and his brother and sisters who lost both their mom and dad in the space of two years, but it also brought the family closer together. My parents hosted a family dinner after the memorial service, and after a tearful afternoon 30 or so hungry Cooperriders descended upon their sunny patio. My mom took care of the meal - roast turkey and salmon - and asked me to bring a few things to fill in around the edges. Due to the challenges of cooking for 30 in a tiny oven, she decided to roast the turkey the day before, so thinking it might be a little dry the next day I decided to bring some sort of savory condiment to serve with it. I wanted to use some sort of in-season fruit, but couldn't quite visualize how to use strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries in this way. Blackberries would have gone well with the salmon, but their season comes a bit later in the year. So I decided on mangos, truly one of my favorite summer treats. I was tempted by the idea of a chipotle-mango salsa, but thought the heat might not be for everyone. A chutney would be perfect - slightly exotic, but sweet and tangy and approachable for most palates.
The following recipe is quite easy, just assemble the ingredients the night before, store in the fridge and cook the next morning. It makes 3 cups of chutney and I looked forward to bringing home the leftovers, but every scrap was eaten up, the serving bowl practically licked clean.
Food plays an important part in the way we deal with death. For me it was a chance to feel like I participated in some way, however small, in celebrating a life well-lived.
Mom's Mango Chutney
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