September’s Usual Song

Inside it’s Fall.
Pumpkins and mums
deck tables and desk tops.
Candles give off scents
of cinnamon and apple.
A butternut squash
sits on the counter.
Outside is another matter.
Nights might be cool,
but the forecast predicts
a daytime temperature
hovering around 80.
September singing
its usual song,
unwilling to relinquish
the warmth of summer
without a final note. 

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Season for Bike Riding

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New Rule: Bike helmets stay in the house instead of on a shelf in the garage. Thanks to the gnawing little teeth of our resident mice, our first bike ride of the season started with a visit to Art’s Bike Shop for new helmets.

Every time I ride my bike, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. There’s something so freeing about rolling along with the wind in your face. The fact that the bike path extends out to North Falmouth has been a real bonus for us. We use the path pretty routinely as a safe, pleasant dog walking venue, but being on the bikes allowed us to travel well beyond Daisy’s endurance (and interest.)

Traveling on bikes allows access to amazing views of the Great Sippewisset Marsh. As beautiful as it is in any season and at any time of day, we’re determined to return in the late afternoon to capture the best light for pictures. I managed to take a few shots with my phone, but the best is yet to come.

Autumn on the Cape is the golden time. Heat and humidity are banished. The sky becomes a deeper, brilliant blue. Bittersweet blinks by the roadside and cranberries redden in the bogs. A time to get out the bikes; strap on the (new!) helmets and hit the trail. Or, in our case, the bike path.

 

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September Beach

The sea of orange umbrellas
has trickled to a stream. 
Frenetic dash of summer
has given way to
a September stroll. 
Sun has traded blaze
for gentle warmth.
A peaceful season by
Autumn’s quiet shore.

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White Bean Spread

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Amazing what can result from a can of white kidney beans and a handful of kale. We had friends coming for a simple dinner the other night. A one pot chicken stew was on the menu, and I was thinking about what I could make for an appetizer using ingredients I had on hand. Enter a can of Goya Cannellini Beans, and some extra kale that hadn’t made it into the kale soup that we had for lunch.

Ingredient:

Goya Cannellini Beans (15.5 oz. can)
I lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
few dashes Tabasco
olive oil
French bread slices
kale (optional garnish)

Method:

1. Rinse and drain the beans. Put them in the bowl of a small food processor.
2. Add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon.
3. Crush and finely chop a clove of garlic. Add to the mix.
4. Add the salt, pepper, and Tabasco ( or equivalent hot sauce.)
5. Start the food processor, slowly adding olive oil until you get a smooth spreading consistency.

You could, of course, serve this with pita bread, but I brushed slices of French bread with a bit of olive oil, seasoned them with a little sea salt and toasted them in a hot oven for a few minutes until they were crisp. They were a nice base for the bean spread.

As for the kale:

Chop it into fairly small pieces and toss with a bit of olive oil and salt. If you’re toasting slices of bread on a sheet pan in the oven, you can just add the kale to the same pan. If not, a frying pan on top of the stove works equally as well. Cook the kale until it’s crispy, and remove to paper towels to absorb any extra oil.

A basket of toasted bread, a bowl of bean spread, come crispy kale ( and maybe a sprinkle of dukkah,) was a nice lead in to dinner with friends.

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September

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Seasonal shift.
Pinecones
and acorns.
Pumpkins
and mums.
Puzzled seagulls
at a suddenly
quiet beach.

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Do I Need a Spiralizer Cookbook?

Thinking about my spiralizer. I just read a review of a couple of new spiralizer cookbooks that are on the market this fall. One has a basic premise that you can and should spiralize everything. That rolls made out of baked veggie strands and zucchini or beet “pasta”  will change your world. That good health is just a spiralized veggie away. Pretty big claims.

There’s a part of me that is uncomfortable with the idea that eliminating or severely limiting carbs, or any food group for that matter, would contribute to good health. I’m a firm believer in moderation. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables around here, but we also eat meat and whole grain breads and pasta.

The thing is, a spiralizer is a tool. Nothing more; nothing less. In my view, it’s much safer than a mandoline for making even slices, and spaghetti-like strands of zucchini quickly sautéed with cherry tomatoes, pesto, and garlic is a great side dish. But zucchini and its vegetable equivalents is not pasta. Occasionally, it’s a good alternative, but not as a total replacement.

Actually, one of my favorite things to do is to combine spaghetti and zucchini strands . If you spiralize a zucchini and let it drain in a colander while you boil some pasta in salted water, and then pour the pasta, water and all, over the zucchini, you have a happy combination as a base for sauce. The zucchini adds a nice little crunch, and lightens the dish.

Don’t get me wrong here. I like my spiralizer, but it’s a tool in my kitchen; not a way of life. I used it this morning to attack a pile of produce that a friend had brought me from her garden last night. I spiralized zucchini, carrots, parsnips, peppers, and onions; tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them in a hot oven. Having a bowl of roasted vegetables at the ready provides an easy filling for quesadillas, crostatas, and omelets. The vegetables can be a simple side dish, or base for a piece of fish or other protein. And using the spiralizer makes prepping a lot of vegetables quick and easy.

I also sliced cucumbers swiftly and evenly as the beginning of a cucumber salad. While I was at it, I spiralized an extra zucchini, chopped it into fine pieces, and made a loaf of zucchini bread. Why not? The spiralizer was set up, and the counter was already overwhelmed with peels and juices. Seemed reasonable to add to the mess and end up with a loaf of zucchini bread.

I guess time will tell if the spiralizer is a trendy novelty or if it has any staying power. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use it, but I don’t plan to add to my cookbook collection with one devoted to it.

 

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Updated Spiralized Lasagna

img_1873In spite of my determination to get back to spiralizing earlier in the week, life (including restaurant meals and dinner at a friend’s house, and an unexpected dental visit) kept getting in the way. And now, it’s Friday. Better late than never, I guess.

I’ve posted vegetable lasagna before with an emphasis on sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Good, but a little sweet. This tweaked version eliminates the sweet potatoes and adds zucchini, spinach and mushrooms to the dish.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini
2 large carrots
2 large parsnips, fat ends
1 large onion
optional: thinly sliced red or yellow bell pepper)
12 oz. package of mushrooms (white or baby bella)
package of baby spinach
small container of ricotta cheese
package of shredded mozzarella
1 egg
tomato sauce, homemade or jarred
olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, garlic powder

Method:

1. Peel the carrots, and parsnips. Wash the zucchini and remove ends. Cut halfway through the sides of each piece being spiralized. Use the slicing blade. Spiralize the zucchini first. Put the slices in a colander. Salt the slices lightly and let them drain while you spiralize the carrots and parsnips. Blot the zucchini to remove some of the liquid. Put all slices in a large bowl. img_1871
2. Peel and cut a large onion in half. Cut into thin half moon slices. Add to the bowl.
3. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the vegetables and toss to coat. Add about a teaspoon of kosher salt, about a half teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, a few shakes of garlic powder, dry basil and dry oregano. Toss everything well.
4. Spread the vegetables on a sheet pan and roast for about 20-25 minutes, moving them around mid-way through. Remove and let cool a bit.
5. Slice the mushrooms and sauté them in a little olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. When the mushrooms are just about cooked, add the package of baby spinach. It will wilt down very quickly. Set aside.
6. Mix the ricotta cheese with the egg. Tiny bit of salt. Set aside.
7. Time to start layering. Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then a layer of vegetables. Then ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella. Next, a layer of sautéed mushrooms and spinach, followed by the cheeses, tomato sauce and another layer of vegetables. End with cheeses and tomato sauce. A sprinkle of Parmesan on top is a nice touch.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

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