WHIDBEY RECIPES | I can’t wait to bid farewell to the rough ride of 2008

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It won’t be long now until we can say farewell to 2008 and hello to 2009.

Am I sorry to see it go? Well, I never like getting a year older, and frankly, a year seems to fly by more and more quickly the older

I get. But, 2008 was a far too bumpy ride in many ways and I will, personally, be glad to see the end of it.

Of course, we all know there’s no guarantee that things will get better just because we usher in a new year, but most of us just can’t help hoping for and believing in that “fresh start.”

Add to that the fact that we’re getting off to a running start on “change for the better” with a brand-new president, how can we not be optimistic? Soon-to-be-President Obama will cure everything that has been ailing us, from unemployment to global warming, and all is possible as of tomorrow morning.

Well, almost all. There is, unfortunately, one thing President Obama can’t change or fix, now or in the future, and that’s the weather. That, however, is another issue altogether, and I’ve already made a New Year’s resolution not even to mention the weather again, in public or in private. I’m sick of the subject.

That’s the only resolution new to my annual list of things I intend to change. It’s not a long list, but somehow it never seems to get shorter, and too many items just get carried over, year after year.

“Get rid of a lot of stuff from garage and closets.” Ouch! That one has been with me since about 2000, as has the one that reads “Paint the kitchen.” I’m ashamed to admit that the kitchen painting resolution was made two kitchens ago.

“Take violin lessons.” That one is only three years old, dating back to the day UPS delivered a violin, sent to me by my long ago ex-husband. (No, don’t even ask.) I’ve always loved the violin and do intend to learn how to play this one, even if it’s badly. The violin resolution follows another on the list that says “Start playing your bagpipes again.” Yes, I did play bagpipes once and still have them, and I fully intend to fire them up and annoy the neighbors in 2009.

There is one resolution that never leaves my list, even though it is one

I faithfully make good every year. It reads, “Tap dance whenever possible,” and it’s the easiest one I’ve ever made and kept. Until my feet will no longer move, I will do tap whenever and wherever possible. So you see, it must just be a matter of whether I really want to make those resolutions reality; if I can make the tapping happen, why can’t I get the kitchen painted?

So, here’s to 2009. May it be the year when we find ourselves with renewed confidence in our country and its leaders; when old wars end and new ones don’t begin; when some semblance of kindness and civility returns to daily living; when my closets are emptied, the kitchen gets painted and I learn to play the violin.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year to all our readers.

RECIPES

Even though you’ve probably already prepared your party foods for tonight or tomorrow, I suspect there’ll be more parties to come, now that people can get out and about. So, here are more of my favorite kind of festive food and appetizers, tasty any time.

First, thin, crisp, savory little “cookies,” and I should warn you that these disappear fast; you might want to make a double batch.

PARMESAN CRISPS

½ cup flour

3 T. butter, softened

1 egg yolk

2/3 cup freshly grated quality Parmesan cheese (don’t use what’s in that green carton)

Pinch each of salt and mustard powder

Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add remaining ingredients and work together into a dough. Shape the dough into a ball and refrigerate for a few minutes, just to firm it up a bit.

On parchment paper, shape the ball of dough into a log about 1½ inches in diameter (you can make it whatever size you want your crisps to be), wrap the log in foil or plastic wrap and chill at least

15 min., or up to an hour.

Cut the Parmesan log into very thin slices (¼ inch maximum, thinner if possible). Arrange slices on a baking sheet (I use parchment paper) and flatten them with a fork to give the crisps a ridged pattern. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 min., or until the crisps are crispy but not getting darker. Be careful not to burn them. Makes about 20-24 crisps.

If you can afford a pound of crab meat, nothing beats a platter of crab cakes on a party table. I always save about six of these for myself before I put the platter out.

BROILED CRAB CAKES WITH CAPER SAUCE

½ cup minced green onions

½ cup finely chopped celery

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup minced fresh basil

4 t. fresh lemon juice

1 T. Old Bay seasoning

2 t. Dijon mustard

1 lb. crab meat

3 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably made from crustless French bread)

2 large egg yolks, beaten to blend

In a med. bowl, mix together the first 7 ingredients. Add crab meat and toss gently. Fold in 1 cup of the bread crumbs. Season with pepper to taste. Mix in the egg yolks.

Place remaining 2 cups crumbs on a plate. Using 1 T. of the crab mixture, form patties about 1-inch in diameter. Coat each cake in bread crumbs. Cover cakes and chill for at least 1 hr., but at this point cakes can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Position an oven rack six inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler. Brush 2 baking sheets with the oil and arrange cakes on the sheets, spacing evenly. Broil until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 min. on each side. (You can cook these a half hour or so before serving and keep them warm in a 300-degree oven, if necessary.) Transfer cakes to a platter and top each with a small dollop of caper sauce. Makes about 3 dozen or a bit more cakes.

CAPER SAUCE

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

2 T. minced shallot

2 T. fresh lemon juice

½ t. hot pepper sauce

2 T. drained capers

Mix everything but the capers in a processor or blender until well-blended and pale green. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in capers. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill.

Note: I sometimes use a wee dollop of Wasabi mayonnaise on the cakes instead of making the caper sauce. Wasabi mayonnaise has become one of my favorite ingredients for many recipes.

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