V is for Vegetable: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

I mentioned in my “P” post that I’m a pretty good cook. In addition to knowing how to make a variety of dishes, I am quite knowledgeable about the preparation of almost any food, especially vegetables. I love almost all vegetables. I have even toyed, at times, with the thought of becoming a vegetarian. However, I know that I need protein that goes beyond tofu, nuts and dairy, so I don’t see becoming a true vegetarian any time soon.

My husband and kids aren’t huge vegetable lovers. Most everyone in the family likes the Midwestern farm vegetables: corn, potatoes, peas, carrots and salad. Beyond that I can usually only find one other person in my household to share my veggies with. Nobody likes spinach in my family. I absolutely love it. Sauteed, creamed, in a salad. Even canned like Popeye! I love spinach. One of my girls likes kale chips but greens beyond that don’t appeal to anyone else like they do to me.

Two of my girls like artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower and the like. I like cabbage and brussels sprouts but nobody else does. I also like root vegetables: turnips, beets, etc. I especially love them roasted! I also like squash of all kinds.

With my latest round of dieting, I discovered the miracle of the Paderno slicer. It is much like the Veggetti in that it spirals slices foods and makes zoodles, which are an amazing lo-carb/lo-calorie option when making pasta and Asian noodle dishes. There are some great recipes using zoodles on Skinnytaste.com. I highly recommend them.

My favorite way to eat vegetables is in creative salads. One particular salad that I love, especially in late summer when the tomatoes are at their peak, is Tomato Potato Salad. I hope that you give this salad a whirl and enjoy, now that the weather is becoming more conducive to picnics.


Italian Tomato Potato Salad (Serves 4)

Ingredients: 2-3 fresh tomatoes (the fresher, the better), 2-3 boiled potatoes (redskins are nice because you don’t have to peel them), 1/2 red or sweet onion, sliced very thing, the juice of 1/2 fresh lemon, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons of cold water, 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, salt and pepper to taste. A good crusty Italian bread for soaking up the juice. Instructions: Cube the tomatoes and potatoes into bite size pieces and combine in a large bowl. Juice the lemon and add it to the vegetables. Add the oil, water, oregano, salt and pepper. If you want more juice, double the lemon, oil and water. Toss the salad, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. The flavors mingle better and more juice is produced when the salad is refrigerated overnight.

O is for Oysters: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

It takes great habitat to make great oysters, so when you taste a really superb one, you can take pleasure in knowing that you are tasting the untamed health and beauty of nature… An oyster tastes good because at one spot in the natural world, something went right. – Rowan Jacobsen


There is nothing quite so perfect and enjoyable to me as a succulent oyster on the half shell. Just a quick dip in a mignonette, then a dollop of cocktail sauce and some good quality horseradish, and I have readied myself for gastronomic bliss.


There is that ephemeral moment when the briny oyster passes my lips and hits my taste buds that transports me immediately to times spent ocean side, feeling ever so decadent. For the past several years we have been spending our summers in Maine and one of the must have delicacies, aside from lobster, is oysters. My favorite are oysters from Glidden Point but I’m not too picky or discerning when it comes to these treasures from the sea.

This past year, I was fortunate to enjoy oysters at Mine Oyster with my “Oyster Buddy,” Kevin…


And aboard the Damariscotta River Cruise with my mother…


And I even introduced my daughter to oysters…


She enjoyed them so much, that she ordered her own plate of oysters on our final night in Maine.


Now I know that some of you may turn your nose up at the thought of a raw oyster but this quote from Rowen Jacobsen sums up my thoughts about these oceanic gems:

I was twelve years old when I discovered that oysters were the best food on earth and not, as I had assumed, the most disgusting… I climbed onto a barstool next to my father, lifted to my mouth an oyster on the half-shell, gave a few half-hearted chews, and left childhood behind.

When I eat an oyster it is one of the few times I don’t miss my childhood. I embrace my mature palate and eagerly await the next time I can enjoy a “Buck A Shuck” night in Maine.

H is for Henckels: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


The other day, with the help of my friend Wayne, I “harvested” and packaged my first ever attempt at homemade capicola, a delicious dry-cured Italian cold cut made of pork shoulder and the perfect blend of seasonings and wine. As we were running our hunks of meat through the Food Saver, we were noting how difficult to it was to slice the pieces that probably should have been taken down a few weeks earlier. After we were done packaging (and tasting) the capicola, Wayne told me that what you really need is a good sharp knife.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as a lifelong foodie we have decent knives at home. Our wooden knife block and knife drawer, contain some Wüsthof knives that are nearing the twenty year mark and one Henckels paring knife I picked up at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets years ago. The Wüsthof aren’t high-end knives, they are the affordable starter set. While they have served us well over the years, they aren’t top of the line.

Between Christmas and my birthday at the beginning of the year, I maintain a pretty good Amazon wish list. I had heard about Global knives being a good kitchen knife and had it on my list with the hopes that someone would gift it to me. As of the night in question, when I desperately needed to be able to slice my capicola, I had not received the knife I had wished for.

With a bag full of capicola in my back seat, I headed to Bed, Bath & Beyond with the intent to purchase a good, sharp knife. I looked at the Shun and the Global knives, known for their sharp blades. Then I held the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro 6″ Chef’s Knife in my hand. It was a little heavier, the handle felt a little more comfortable and the blade was the right size with a nice curved end, perfect for chopping and multi-purpose use. And this baby is sharp! Wowza!

My fancy new Henckels Pro knife contributed to today's healthy lunch: smashed avocado on low-calorie wheat bread with a sprinkling of Hawaiian pink sea salt!

My fancy new Henckels Pro knife contributed to today’s healthy lunch: smashed avocado on low-calorie wheat bread with a sprinkling of Hawaiian pink sea salt! Yum!

As someone who likes to cook, I have oft been told of the importance of a good, sharp knife. Now that I own one, I see exactly why it is so important to the true foodie. This versatile kitchen tool, resplendent with its super-sharp blade, is the beginning of what I am sure will become a lifelong insistence upon decent knives in my cutlery collection. My knife and I have been getting along famously. So well, in fact, that I may or may not have been overheard, as I pull it from its sheath, referring to it as “My Precious.”