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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Just Chill - Sherbet, Ice Cream and Popsicles

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The heat wave that is currently smothering the Willamette Valley reminds me of childhood summers in the Midwest. Back in the day, only theaters were air-conditioned and relief from the heat was limited. There were no swimming pools, so the hose and sprinkler provided the quickest way to cool off. Afternoon heat could be intense and you could actually see heat waves shimmer, mirage-like, off the pavement. The hose was a blessing. As twilight fell, the Good Humor man began his evening rounds, and his truck was stormed, Hamlin-style, by the neighborhood kids. Double stick popsicles at a nickel apiece were the lure. The double stick was important because most of us had a weekly allowance of 25 cents and that wouldn't cover a weeks worth of flavored ices. We quickly discovered that the buddy system would allow us to have a popsicle every night, if we were willing to split the sticks. Since one was better than none we split the sticks. There is nothing quite as good as something cold on a hot day, and while I've set aside the orange and cherry flavors of my childhood, I still love something cold on a hot summer night. The creams and ices I'm featuring tonight are grown-up affairs that are as beautiful to look at as they are to taste. I know you will enjoy them as much as I do. Here is how they are made.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Simple Recipes for Picnic Cookie Bars

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I have two recipes to share with you tonight. Both are for totable fruit bars and that makes them perfect candidates for informal summer get-togethers. One recipe is for a strawberry layered shortbread and the other is for a streusel topped blueberry-oatmeal square. They both make fabulous cookies, and I think the final determinant as to which is best, depends entirely on personal taste. If you are in a hurry, the strawberry shortbread is nearly effortless to make, but the streusel bars are simple enough that children can make them. When stored in an airtight container, both cookies will keep for several days, but leftovers are rarely a problem with either of these cookies. I do hope you'll try at least one of these bars. Actually, I hope you'll try both. They speak to old-fashioned summer days and I know you will enjoy them. Here is how they are made.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Here's to Blue Moons and Even Bluer Martinis

Photo by Kostian Iftica, courtesy of NASA, taken on July 2, 2004.

Tomorrow night, July 31, 2015, there will be a blue moon. The moon shown in the photo above is blue because the photographer shot the image through a blue filter. Nonetheless, it was a blue moon.In popular parlance, attributing something to a blue moon moon means that it seldom or rarely occurs.

What exactly is a blue moon? There are two definitions. The most recent says that a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. This can occur every 2-1/2 years on average. The other, older, definition says a blue moon is the third moon in a season that has 4 full moons. This last definition is important to the ecclesiastical calendar, which needs to know when the 13th moon is going to occur in order to stay on track and determine such things as the date of Easter and Passover.

Are blue moons ever really blue? Probably not. The date of a full moon, all by itself, doesn't affect the moon's color, but volcanic activity can. Back in 1883 when the volcano Krakatoa exploded, the moon appeared to turn blue and stayed that way for years after the eruption. The particles in the ash cloud scattered particles in the visible light spectrum and allowed others to pass through, causing some objects to appear blue or green. More recently the eruptions of Mt. St. Helens and Mount Pinatubo have turned the moon blue as well. The key to having a blue moon is having lots of particles in the air that are slightly wider than the wavelength of red light. Volcanoes and forest fires can cause clouds that do that, so they can appear to be blue even if they're not. I don't want to get involved in the green cheese thing, so I'm going to move on. Thirsty? Try the Blue Martini that follows.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

Those Were the Days My Friend

It began with Miss Smith's shrill whistle. "I have enough cheerleaders, I want players." By the time she'd finished with us she'd have that and more. There were 250 freshmen in the gym that day. Collectively, we were the class of '58, and long before the women's movement woke the psyche of the nation, there were islands, ironically manmade, where women made decisions and ran the show. Mercy High School, under the auspices of the Sisters of Mercy, was one of them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Table for Two - Pappardelle or Fettucine with Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Sauce

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This pantry meal is a cook's twenty minute wonder. The recipe is simple to make and while some of the ingredients are a bit pricy, this is a great dish to prepare for folks who are hungry and in a hurry to eat. It also happens to be a one pot meal and that makes it perfect for cooking in small or inadequate kitchens. While it's important to note that oil-packed tomatoes cannot substitute for the sun-dried variety, a commercially prepared pesto sauce will be no problem. The pappardelle is substantial enough to serve as a main course, especially if it is served it with Parmesan cheese. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. While it is scaled to feed two people, quantities can easily be doubled to feed four. Here is how the dish is made.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rice Noodles with Coconut Curried Shrimp

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you are looking for a light supper to replace the grilled meats and salads that can become monotonous at this time of year, I'd like to suggest this entree as an alternative. While it's not truly Asian, most of its components come from Thai kitchens, so, only an aficionado will know this dish is a simplified version of a more complicated Asian curry. At first glance, the ingredient list may seem imposing, but if you scan it, you'll see that most of the ingredients are spices. As a matter of fact, if you are really busy, you can substitute a teaspoon of good curry powder for the toasted and ground spices that are suggested at the beginning of the recipe. This is a simple dish to prepare. The recipe comes from the New York Times and while I love this curry I have one caution to share with you. The first time I made it, I found it to be terribly under salted. To overcome that, I soak the rice noodles in boiling salted water and adjust the salt content of the finished curry sauce to my own taste. I really like this dish, and in a short period of time it has made its way to my permanent recipe rotation. I do hope you'll give it a try. I think you'll like it too. Here is how the curry is made.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Copycat Biscuit Mix + Savory Onion and Cheese Muffins

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I haven't capitulated, although tonight's feature might lead you to believe I've lowered my standards. There is no need to worry. I'm still a proponent of from scratch cooking. While I still won't use commercial mixes, I have been known to create my own version of some of the more popular products, like Bisquick, because they make my life so much easier. I like to use them when we are at the lake and barbecues and berries beg for biscuits or beds of shortcake to complete the meal. This copycat recipe for Bisquick first appeared in the food section of the Kansas City Star and I have been making and baking with it for several years now. It is a snap to put together and it makes quick work of summer sides that can be difficult to prepare in small or poorly equipped kitchens. I also use it to make quick coffee cakes and muffins on Sunday morning. It is really easy to make and it can be stored for up to four months if it's refrigerated. I used the mix to make the savory muffins that are part of tonight's feature. I wanted something quick and easy to serve with a French vegetable soup and these savory muffins filled the bill. I do hope you will both the mix and the muffins. Here is how they are made.

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