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Nana’s Potato Salad

16 May

I have been busy lately, leading me to neglect this little blog of mine.  Even though it has been a few weeks since our return to Philadelphia from Cayman, I still have a carry-on that I haven’t unpacked.  My little lady has been a whirlwind, coloring and singing and running and swinging and dancing through each day.  I can barely keep up with her.  She is reaching higher, talking faster and getting stronger every single minute.  I found a new tooth today – a big molar, it looked so grown up in her little mouth.  In and amongst all of these changes is another pretty big one:  I will be baking a few days a week at a wonderful little place around the corner from our home, literally 3 minutes from door to door.  I am nervous and excited and I start tomorrow.

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Saturday morning at the grounds

8 Apr

Every Saturday morning The Market at the grounds opens at 7am.  My father gets there by 6:30.  The light in Cayman at that hour is soft and warm; a hazy other-worldly glow.  It isn’t hot yet.  The grounds are busier than usual.  It is Easter weekend and a church group has pitched tents in the dusty red soil, a long weekend of fellowship and food.  Large groups of children mull around the parking lot and run through the grounds.  The red birch trees seem to be on fire, the early morning sun filtering through their translucent bark.  We buy callaloo, green mangos, tomatoes and a single custard apple.  My father moves quickly through the stalls, shouting out to friends.  I exchange greetings with people I haven’t seen in over a year.  On the way home we stop to get coconuts and start cooking Easter brunch by 8:30 am.

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Trout with Stewed Tomatoes, Fennel and Leeks

15 Mar

I went to Reading Terminal Market yesterday.  That place gets me every time.  So much food inspiration in one place.  I picked up bags of fruit and vegetables, a few sausages and some seafood.   I love having a fridge full of things to cook.   Dinner on the days I have a full fridge tend to have a little more oomph.  This is one of those meals.  Martin called it fancy and it did feel a little fancy, never mind that it was 4 pm on a Thursday or that Isabella was climbing all over us as we ate.

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Burgers, Fries and Pickapeppa Sauce

14 Mar

Pickapeppa Sauce.  What can I say about Pickapeppa Sauce that will communicate just how essential it is?  I have family members who buy it by the case.  Sometimes I have rice and Pickapeppa Sauce for lunch or breakfast.  Once, while visiting the family of one of my college room mates in New York I found a bottle of the magic elixir in their cupboards.  I squealed with joy and declared that we would be friends forever.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding.   I won’t even talk about what Pickapeppa does when it meets cream cheese or how it completes a pattie.  It is the perfect condiment; slightly spicy, smokey, tangy, a little sweet.  A mix of tomatoes and tamarind, hot peppers, vinegar and sugar.   Delicious.  Tonight I mixed it into the burgers.  I may have also  put a little on top.

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Kale & Mushrooms over Parmesan Polenta with a Poached Egg

13 Mar

The sun came out today and drew us outside. Isabella poked around in the dirt, looking for worms, delighted that her little hands were mitten free.  We shed our layers, first coats, then sweaters and stayed at the park as long as possible.

Once home I had a toddler that refused to nap, and no clear direction for dinner.  I managed to have the foresight to cook the kale early, before heading to the park, it took about 15 minutes and bought us a little more time outside. I thought about tossing the vegetables with pasta, or adding stock and beans and making it into a soup.  Searching the cupboards and the internet for inspiration I came across a package of polenta that I had completely forgotten about.  Quick, easy and I could use something in the pantry.

At the very last second I decided to poach an egg and put it on top of the kale.  Once broken, the yolk ran through the dish, picking up little pieces of caramelized onions and mingling with the polenta, the perfect sauce.

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Dinner at 4pm

12 Mar

I miss writing and taking pictures but I have been in some sort of funk.  It seems to be pretty common this time of year.  Spring is just around the corner, hinting, flirting even but taking its sweet time to really stick around.  The last few weeks have been kind of gloomy, we have battled a sore throat, a fever, and a general case of the blahs.

But then this morning’s weather forecast calls for near 70º days all week. Daffodils are blooming at the park and trees that were stark and skeletal a few days ago are suddenly cloaked in tiny pink blossoms.  I put away our heavy coats and organized my dresses by color — bright, bright colors.  I have started craving brighter, lighter food and I want to write about it.

Martin is currently working nights, a schedule that he started last week and continues for a few more. This happens a couple of times a year.  He has to be at work by 6:00 pm, so we eat dinner around 4:00. The early bird special for a month!  Dinner at 4 pm means that we  can have dinner together as a family.  Dinner at 4 pm means that it is still light outside so I can take decent pictures of the meal.  Dinner at 4 pm means that I have a few hours at night to write.  Dinner at 4 pm has led me to take on a bit of a challenge.  If winter was the season of soup for lunch, March will be the month of dinner.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Tomato-Caper Jam

22 Feb

I am back on the soup making and eating wagon.  Right out of the gate we have a winner.  A first prize combo.  The roasted cauliflower soup was made quickly and without much thought.  I needed lunch and the head of cauliflower needed to be used, like, yesterday.  So I roasted it with onions and garlic added some chicken stock and made soup.

I love roasted cauliflower and the soup was very good, but not particularly memorable.   A spoonful of tomato-caper jam, a drizzle of Meyer Lemon olive oil and a tangle of thyme transformed the soup into something else all together.  A warm, elegant, complex and deeply satisfying lunch.  A real treat.

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