- About Us
"Writing a weekly column does odd things to the writer's timing. Think about it for a minute; the column is due the week prior to publication, so you're always writing a week ahead of the actual time people will be reading it (assuming, of course, that people are reading it), which means that if there's some special event coming up, the writer has to anticipate it and write about if before it actually occurs. Or, write about it after it's over and no one is particularly interested anymore.This odd timing also explains why, last week, you were reading a Rain Primer on the first day of summer, one of the warmest, sunniest days we've had since last September or so. But when I actually wrote that column, we'd had a couple of wet, rainy days (how quickly we forget), and it seemed appropriate. Now I hope this brief note on the off-timing of the Rain Primer answers those of you who've been making comments regarding my mental stability. Sheesh, wouldn't you think friends would be a bit more understanding? Which brings us now to the Fourth of July, which is exactly one week from today. But, because the Fourth occurs a week from the time you'll be reading this column, which I'm now writing almost a week before that, it means that I have to give you Fourth of July recipe suggestions in today's (June 27) column so you'll have them in time for next week, the Fourth, which is actually 10 days from the time I'm writing the column, which means I can't figure out what the heck happened to June even though it's actually only the 22nd of June as I'm writing this. Got all that straight? I sure hope so because, in my mind, the Fourth of July ought to be weeks away yet. I've never understood how the Fourth of July can occur literally on the heels of Memorial Day, yet the calendar indicates there's more than a month between them.To add to the confusion, the Fourth of July is, as noted, on a Wednesday, which means lots of folks who have to work the days on either side of that will opt to have their family Fourth of July get-together either the weekend before or after the Fourth. But, here on the south end of the Island, the weekend after the Fourth means only one thing - Choochokam, (hooray! I get my annual curly-fries fix!), which would be a grand time to have a Fourth of July celebration except for the ferry line problem. Most of my family and a lot of my over-the-pond friends wouldn't dream of coming to see us on Choochokam weekend (which they've already done enough times to know the consequences) even if we were throwing the granddaddy of all parties. So there you have it. Sometime in the next two weeks or so, there'll probably be a Fourth of July party on your social events calendar, but I'll be darned if I can figure out when that might be. But, to be on the safe side of the timing, here are some great potluck-type recipes and, if you don't use them for the Fourth, maybe they'll come in handy for a Labor Day party which, the way I figure it, will pop up in about three weeks. Tempus, as they say, fugits, but it gets really screwy when you're writing a weekly column. RecipesIf you like brown rice, you'll really enjoy this great casserole. It's a recipe adapted from the old, original Moosewood Cookbook, one of the favorites in my collection. This travels well if you're asked to bring something to the party.Brown Rice Pepper Casserole1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice2-3/4 cups water1 T. lemon juice2-3 T. freshly minced dill (or 2 t. dried)1 1/2 T. olive oil2 cups minced onion4 or 5 green and/or red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces3/4 t. salt, or to tasteFreshly ground black pepper1/2 t. oregano2 t. basil10-12 cloves garlic, half minced, half sliced (keep separated)1 cup crumbled feta cheese1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese, or small curd cottage cheese (low-fat is OK)2 fresh, ripe tomatoes1 cup sliced, pitted Kalamata olives (or Nicoise, or olives of choice; optional if you have olive haters in the crowd, in which case, sprinkle with pine nuts or freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead) 1. Place rice and water in saucepan; cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer without interruption for about 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and stir in lemon juice and dill. Set aside. (Can be done well ahead; refrigerate until ready to assemble casserole.)2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet; add onion and saute over medium heat 5-8 minutes, or until onions are just softened. Add peppers, salt, pepper and herbs and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes more, or until peppers are just tender. Stir in the minced garlic (not the sliced) and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat; stir in feta cheese.3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish. Place the ricotta cheese in a blender or food processor with steel blade and whip until smooth.4. Combine the rice, pepper saute and whipped cheese in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Transfer to the prepared dish and spread evenly. Top with tomato slices then scatter olives and sliced garlic (or pine nuts and/or Parmesan cheese) randomly over the tomatoes. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 1/2 hour. Serve hot or warm (it's even tasty cold). Serves 8.Do you know how to make 30 small cakes disappear in minutes? Set out these little Turkish delights on your buffet table; they're small but powerful.Turkish Walnut Cakes1 pkg. (6 oz.) zwieback, ground to crumbs1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts1 1/2 t. baking powder1/2 t. cinnamon5 eggs, separated1/4 t. cream of tartar3/4 cup sugar1 t. vanillaFor the syrup: 1 1/2 cups water1 cup sugar3/4 cup honey1/4 cup fresh lemon juice1/4 cup rumWalnut pieces (for decoration)1. In a small bowl, mix together the zwieback crumbs, walnuts, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside.2. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add half the sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.3. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla and beat until thick and pale yellow. Fold in half of the egg whites, then the nut mixture, then remaining whites, until all is well incorporated; but do not overmix. Turn mixture into a buttered 9-inch-square baking pan, spreading evenly, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until cake shrinks slightly from sides of pan, about 30 minutes4. While cake is baking, prepare syrup. Combine syrup ingredients, except rum, in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves, then boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes before stirring in rum.5. As soon as cake is removed from oven, pour the syrup over the entire surface. Cover lightly and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours (ripening). To serve, cut the cake into small (1-1/2-inch) diamond shapes and decorate each with a walnut piece. "