in the kitchen

These days, we’ve been drowning in food. Now that Melissa and my older son are gone, we’re down to just five mouths to feed. Plus, for three weeks running, I’ve had a kid at camp, leaving us with just four. Basically, there’s no point in cooking anymore.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to remember that.

I make one thing—a pan (or two) of roasted zucchini parmesan or a grill-full of veggies and sausages—and then the leftovers last for days. The fridge feels stuffed (my belly, too), and we’re constantly eating to catch up, racing to eat the food before it rots.

For awhile there, I was trying to rein in my cooking compulsion (and it helped that it was so hot; watermelon for supper? yes, please!), but then this week we had an influx of garden produce— cucumbers and zucchinis, beets, cabbages from my sister-in-law—plus we’d run out of bread so there was baking to do. I was thrilled to have an excuse to kick into high gear.

 One of the cabbages I turned into curtido, a crunchy-tangy slaw to eat with beans.

The cucumbers became both dills and sweets.

Thanks for the dill, Mom! 

The beets we’ve been eating just for anyhow and all the time.

I also like to use them in all my failed recipe experiments (see below).


Any day now, I expect to get the call that my two bushels of peaches and four bushels of nectarines are ready for pick-up. (And I have an order for four gallons of blueberries.) One of my big pet peeves is that, in the midst of all the canning and freezing, I never get around to actually baking with the fresh fruit. So this year, I’ve resolved that things will be different. In preparation for the oncoming onslaught, I’ve been arming myself by making pastries and crumbles ahead of time.

This way, when I’m up to my eyeballs in fruit, I’ll just have to run down cellar to grab a ready-made pastry, and a fresh fruit pie will be ours for the having. Can’t wait!


In the midst of all the too-much food and pre-produce-slam prep, I’ve also taken it upon myself to do some recipe experimentation.

There was a beet ice cream. I swapped out the marscapone for some honey goat cheese (using up the stuff in the fridge, go me), which I thought was rather brilliant and sophisticated. My younger son really liked the strong cheesy flavor, but my mother nearly spit hers out. My husband said the beets made the ice cream taste like dirt.

There was a coffee ice cream laced with Guiness that the kids didn’t like but that I did.

It paired nicely with the leftover piece of shoofly pie that I found in the freezer.

I made a beet cake that weirdly turned out like wet lead. Part of me wants to do a remake, and the other part never wants to make a beet cake again. (We gave the cake to my brother’s family—they’ll eat anything—but I don’t think they liked it, either.)

And then a couple days ago I made a charred tomatillo salsa.

I had high hopes, but no one, including me, liked it so off it went to the chickens.


We had company for supper last night. I served a Greek cucumber and tomato salad, roasted beets, fresh green beans, sourdough bread, watermelon, and, for dessert, vanilla ice cream and cherry-berry cobbler with cornmeal topping.

My older son is coming home on Sunday (!!!), so I’m prepping for a whole string of celebratory meals. They’ll be apple pies (more pastry) and granola and hamburgers.

And right after that, we’re going to NY for a family gathering. I want to take along some ready-made food to contribute, but I haven’t settled on anything just yet. Whatever it is must travel well and not need refrigeration. Ideas?

Maybe I’ll just churn out lots of desserts. That’d be easy enough.


Instead of my usual half bagel or piece of toast, I’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast. I put a little oatmeal (about ¼ cup of oats, cooked) in a bowl and then top it with chia seeds, brown sugar, wheat germ, nuts, and fruit.

banana, pecans, dried coconut

peaches, blueberries, and pecans

It keeps me going strong until noon, and sometimes even longer.


The tomatoes are starting to roll.

Today I’m finishing off a batch of roasted tomato and garlic pizza sauce. Soon we’ll make salsa, too.

We’re out of both, so yay.


Oh no! My son just brought in a very-ripe ear of corn.

Gotta dash!


  • Athanasia

    On a past season of the GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW one of the contestants added grated beet to his chocolate cake…he didn't make it through to the next episode. I like cooked beets, boiled or roasted, or pickled but I agree with your husband. Raw tastes like dirt.

  • Lana

    Oh just wait til you get to the empty nester cooking part. You can throw out everything you ever did and knew and just start over. It took me two years to figure it out.

  • Becky

    I'm in the same boat over here – kid at camp, so no real need to cook.

    That beet ice cream sounds interesting – I'd try it for sure. And the coffee with Guinness ice cream? YES PLEASE.
    It's a shame the chickens got that salsa – green salsa is totally my thing. I like adding a little honey and a little lime juice to it.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I, too, love green salsa, but fresh, not cooked. And with garlic and lime. The charred/cooked salsa was jammy, almost gelatinous, and so sharp it was almost bitter.

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