Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Green beans are now readily available at farmers' markets and they are such a treat!  I think everyone likes green beans! 

Here are a few ideas for dressing up green beans for everyday, and for company.

*  Saute garlic in olive oil and/or butter; add lemon juice, lemon zest and steamed green beans.
*  Toss steamed green beans with chopped, roasted red peppers.
*  Toss steamed green beans with sesame oil, fresh grated ginger and toasted sesame seeds.
*  Saute slivered almonds in butter until toasted, add steamed green beans and heat through.
*  Fry cut pieces of bacon or prosciutto, pour out the grease, add steamed green beans and heat through.
*  Toss steamed green beans with peanut oil, red chillies, minced garlic and oyster sauce.
*  Toss warm, steamed green beans with butter and fresh chopped tarragon/chive/basil/thyme.

Always prepare a much larger batch than you intend to use that day.  Adding these green beans to a salad is a delicious way to eat the left-overs.

Do you know what "haricots verts" are?  If you've taken any French classes this is easy for you.  Translated exactly to English they are beans green.  More specifically, they are a slender variety of a snap bean developed originally in France.  I've never been able to taste any difference between the green beans we typically see in stores and haricots verts; so I use them interchangeably.  FYI, here is the correct pronunciation of haricots verts:  är-ē-kō-ˈver

Monday, August 22, 2011


About 45 minutes northeast of the Twin Cities is the delightful Franconia Sculpture Park.  See: for details.  Yesterday Kevin and I were passing through and stopped to see what was new since our last visit.  It was fabulous!  These photos tell the story.

Boat & Anchor.

 Garden Bench.
 Suspended House.
 Orange & Yellow
 Into the Maze.
 Holding up the Earth.
 Purple & Pink Bunker.
 House Constructed from Free Items on Craigslist.
 Craigslist House - Framed.
 Lizard Lounge.
 "Amble" - a prehistoric garden bench.
 Man Coming Apart.
Gym Set.
All sculptures in the park are available for sale!  I could use one for my sculpture garden!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Ryan and his close friend, Carly, were visiting us this week. Since they live in Hong Kong, even a short visit is greatly welcomed. We only had four days which translated to two dinners "at home." Since Carly is British, we decided to have one traditional Minnesota meal. In 1965, Minnesota crowned walleye the official state fish, so we decided on walleye served with wild rice. For the other meal, I prepared my version of "Mexican" or "Southwest." Here are three recipes from the meals.

* 1 cup (4 oz) sliced almonds
* Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1-1/2 lb. walleye fillets
* 1/2 cup flour
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a shallow bowl, combine almonds, lemon zest, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Roll each fillet in flour, dip in beaten egg, then gently roll in almond mixture, covering both sides well with all 3 coatings.
In a large skillet, heat butter and oil until very hot. Reduce heat to medium and saute fillets until crispy and brown, about four minutes on each side.
This recipe is from "The Cafe Brenda Cookbook."

I served this with my own version of GARLIC AIOLI which is made to taste. I start with a good, real mayonnaise, then add to taste: finely chopped or pressed garlic, finely diced tomato, grated lemon peel, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, capers, and whatever herbs I care to add. For this meal I added chopped dill.

One of the dishes I made for the "fun" meal was corn pudding. This dish works well for any meal (especially Thanksgiving), and it always gets great reviews. I got the recipe from a friend, having tasted it at her dinner party. She served it in individual ramekins, but I simply double the recipe and bake it in a large casserole dish. Below is the recipe as Eileen gave it to me.

CORN PUDDING. This mixture can be prepared early in day and refrigerated. Stir before filling the dish(es).
* 1 small onion, minced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/4 cup butter
* 4-5 drops Tabasco sauce
* 1 tablespoon chopped dill
* 2 tablespoons chopped chives
* 1 8-oz. box corn muffin mix (Jiffy)
* 1 egg
* 1 15-oz can cream-style corn
* 1/3 cup milk or cream
* 1/2-3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 cup buttermilk
   Preheat oven to 350º. Over medium heat saute onion and garlic until soft. Add Tabasco sauce, dill and chives; then cool. In a medium bowl, mix corn muffin mix, egg, corn, milk, cheese and buttermilk. Add onion mixture and stir. Pour into a greased 2-1/2 or 3 quart casserole and bake one hour.
   FOR INDIVIDUAL RAMEKINS: This recipe makes 7 ramekins measuring 3" in diameter and 1-1/2" height.
Spray ramekins with oil and fill each ramekin 7/8" full will the batter. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350º. They are done when a tooth pick comes out clean and the tops are browned. Let ramekins rest for about 10 minutes and turn upside down to unmold. Leave the ramekin on top to keep them warm until ready to be served; then remove the ramekin and flip pudding over so that the golden top is showing.