Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Springing into May

Spring has definitely sprung in Cambridge! When I left for Fairfield for my work week "down there" two Sunday's ago it was raining and cool; very fall like with that brittle steel smell in the air. When I arrived home this past Friday afternoon the scent of fresh cut grass was in the air, the birds were singing and the daffodils, pansies, and tulips were all at their utmost Spring glory. Even with all the remaining fall leaves they were a pretty picture with their faces turned to the bright afternoon sun. My volunteer pansies are absolutely stunning this spring. Last fall and into the early winter, I noticed the plucked "dead headed" pansies that had gone to seed from the spring had sprang back to life and were growing and blooming. I decided to just leave them and see if they would come back during the spring and boy, oh boy, did they! These purple ones are my favourites in our yard.

I was also anxious to see if after poking their heads up during the freaky winter thaw in late January that lasted almost four weeks my tulips would bloom. While they aren't as prolific as usual, they are still a nice streak of red amongst the yellow and purple of the pansies and daffodils.

I didn't quite get all the things done I wanted to over the weekend, namely raking the rest of the front yard and plucking the sprouting acorns the squirrels planted during the fall. But, I did get to Haymarket and purchased fresh veggies and herbs to make MBH's Dagens Husmans and my entry for this month's installment of Weekend Cookbook Challenge. Yea...I know. I said I wasn't going to cook/bake anything for a blog event but I wanted my dish for a few meals down in Connecticut. There's still time to join in the fun of the Weekend Cookbook Challenge. One of my "bestest" blogging friends, Sara of I Like to Cook is the hostess this month and accepting entries until May 12th. If you haven't joined in the fun of a Weekend Cookbook Challenge, you are missing out on one of the great monthly blogging events; not to mention a chance to cook out of a cookbook you swore you would use when you bought it but still it languishes there by your bedside, on the steps, next to the cat's dish, under the coffee table...oh wait, that is what happens in my house.

Anyways, speaking of blogging events, there is an impromptu event that sprung up at the beginning of the month over at Becks and Posh. Food bloggers are giving their readers a peak into their refrigerators. Now, I have two; one in Cambridge that is a full size unit and one in Fairfield that is a dorm room unit. MBH would absolutely die of embarrassment if I showed you what our Cambridge fridge looks like as he is always after me to clean it out of all the food (poor man doesn't understand why I need 14 different types of dressings, oils, fourteen boxes of butter, three cartons of eggs, not to mention the yeast beasts at the bottom). But, I will be happy to show you what I keep in my fridge in Fairfield.

In the main compartment we find the makings for a good, homemade Italian meal from Everyday Pasta which is quickly becoming one of my favourite cookbooks! I'm adapting the recipes for a single serving and the microwave. So we find fresh pasta from the deli, minced garlic, two types of Italian cheese, 1/2 a can of tomato paste, and the plastic grocery bags contain fresh basil and scallions. I keep a moist paper towel around the stems and then wrap them in the plastic grocery bags to keep them fresh longer and keep their smells from migrating to my strawberries and lettuces. There is also a container of homemade bruschetta topping. Perfect on a slice of home baked bread with my pasta. Hiding somewhere in there is container of Egg Beaters and light cream. I also have two peppermint patties in the freezer compartment along with frozen peas and a frozen Indian meal from Whole Foods. On the left top shelf you will see one of my all time favourite candy bars, the Aero bar; bubble filled milk chocolate that I'm saving for a chocolate emergency...

In the door of the fridge I keep my skim milk, Catalina dressing (great for veggie dips and salads) and light Miracle Whip. There is also one of my favourite new products, the Entree Salads from Hillshire Farms; all you add is the lettuce! The one I have all the time because it is low fat/low calorie and tasty is the Turkey and Cranberries. The kit comes with a little package of turkey, a little package of ham, a little package of cheese and a pack of light raspberry dressing all in a bowl. I don't use the dressing on my salad, preferring a bit of lemon pepper but it makes a great marinade for chicken. I take this salad to lunch at least two times a week and sometimes have one for dinner too. I've been known to throw a bit of cucumber or any left over veggies in along with what comes in the kit for a perfectly delicious and light dinner. Also in the fridge door is what I consider one of the best chicken stocks you can buy, Emeril's All Natural Chicken Stock. I have tried just about every one of the usual suspects in pre-made, ready to use chicken stock that is readily available and I like this one the best; especially since the first three ingredients are chicken stock, sea salt and chicken fat! Last but not least, there is a bottle of French Chablis. If you've never had a real Chablis (not the stuff in the box for $4.99 or the big gallon jug that is not sold before it's time) then you are missing out on a great, light and refreshing white wine.

Ok, we haven't had a contest here at The Sour Dough for a while. So, in honour of Spring finally having shown her lovely countenance, count the number of instances of spring or a derivative there of and email me (mary AT breadchick dot com) the answer by 11:59pm East Coast Time Monday, May 14. I'll randomly pick the winner on Tuesday, May 15. There is a bit of New England spring for the winner!

p.s. Before the grammar police comments: Yes, I know "bestest" isn't a word.

Quick and Easy Light Bruschetta

Adapted from Richard Simmons Never Say Diet Cookbook (don't laugh..I'm serious! and it is SERIOUSLY good)
To see what the bruscetta looks like you can go to this post.

4 Roma Tomatoes (or what ever is in season), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/8 cup low sodium/low fat chicken stock
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh ground Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
dash salt or salt free seasoning
fresh ground pepper to taste.

Combine all the ingredients in a container with a lid, let the flavours marinate for about 20 minutes or over night (better next day!). Serve on warm toasted French bread or on top a baked potato.

Serves 4
Calories: 65, 2 Grams fat