They say that the sense of smell is the one most closely linked to memory, and I know it’s true whenever I catch a whiff of yeast blooming, raising or baking. I’m instantly whisked away to Saturday mornings at my Grandma Lois’ house 30 years ago, sitting in her comforting oven-warmed kitchen and devouring my favorite treat, freshly baked kolaches.
Kolaches are a Czech pastry, but Grandma Lois wasn’t Czech; she was half-Swedish and half-Irish. But having grown up cooking for the farm crew on her family’s farm, she could cook or bake anything with ease. She was the perfect person to preserve and pass along my Great Grandma Vala’s secret kolache recipe from “the old country.” Continue reading
When it comes to cooking, I’ve had a doozy of a week. For meatless Monday I made baked falafel, substituting canned beans for dried — big mistake! They were way too moist and turned into chickpea pancakes in the oven. Strike one.
On Wednesday I used my only Greek cookbook (first recipe I’ve made out of it and I’ve owned the book for years) to make a baked lamb and pasta dish that was just so very, very disappointing. The pasta got all mushy and slimy. We could barely eat it. Geoff and I spent the whole dinner talking about what went wrong with the recipe, but there’s no way I’m going to try to doctor it up and make it again.
Thursday I made the leftover lamb into sandwiches slathered with tzatziki sauce (yumm!) but as a side dish made oven fries that stuck to the baking sheet and became a huge mess. Grrr!
Then Friday night I made Geoff a happy birthday pavlova for Saturday’s supper. I love pavlovas but haven’t baked one in years. We had guests coming on Saturday, berries were looking good at the store, so it seemed like it would be a great birthday treat. I baked it up, set it on the counter but noticed it slowly sinking as it cooled… I forgot to let it crisp up in the oven for an hour! Noooo! It was a gonner. I threw together a batch of so-so mini cupcakes in the morning.
How could I have so many cooking mishaps in one week? Well, among all the barely edible bad food I churned out this week, one thing, I’m happy to say, was amazing. And yes, it’s this salad dressing. Continue reading
We spent last Christmas up in Toronto with Geoff’s family, and while there (hunkering down in the house, out of the cold and snow) I picked up his Mom’s copy of Jamie’s Food Revolution and read it from cover to cover. Geoff and I already have quite a collection of Jamie Oliver cookbooks but this is not one I would normally buy — it just seems too simple and basic. But the more I read it, the more I realized, these are the meals I need to be making now. They’re just easy, get-some-good-food-on-the-table meals.
Still I resisted. We left Toronto and I looked up a few of the recipes online. Then I checked the book out from the library, and had it overdue, and re-checked it out again until it was overdue once again. And then, to salvage my relationship with the library, I went ahead and bought the cookbook. I mean, I don’t use half the cookbooks I own as much as I had used this borrowed one, so I figured I might as well add it to my bookshelf. Continue reading
I know, this is not asparagus. But why would I take a picture of my simple asparagus? Our Easter dessert buffet was infinitely more alluring.
For Easter our little Fong family headed to Nebraska to celebrate with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles and Zoe’s beautiful little 3-month-old cousin. (I went a little overboard in anticipation, at one point owning three Easter dresses for Zoe — I love tulle!) It was the largest Easter party we’ve ever had, with 20+ guests at my parents’ house for an amazing Easter supper. Continue reading
My connection to Swedish pancakes is a little confusing, since it’s my paternal grandma (Grandma Lois) who was Swedish. I remember her making Swedish pancakes for me when I was young, telling me about how lingonberries were grown under the “midnight sun” and offering me black coffee (how can something that smells so good taste so bad to a little girl?).
But, it’s actually my maternal grandpa (Grandpa Chuck) whose specialty has always been making pancakes. My family still has a wonderful little tradition of going to his house for either classic buttermilk or Swedish pancakes. When I swoop into town I usually call him to put in my request, telling him how many of us (parents, sisters, brother-in-law, husband?) are coming. He has the batter mixed and the table set when we arrive. Continue reading