Thursday, July 31, 2008

Raw Garlic Not Best Choice for Anniversary Dinner

For our anniversary this year we decided to go to Maine for a two night/three day getaway. Our oldest daughter, Jess (the babysitter), works nights and her only two nights off are Sunday and Monday. We planned our trip for those nights, but that left us with no plans for our actual anniversary on Friday.

The new X-Files movie opened that night and we both LOVED that show when it was on, so I wanted to go to the movies. But the hubby had a long, long week at work, and he was less enthusiastic.

When I asked Steve what he wanted to do for dinner, he actually said, “We could just get pizza.” As if. When I gave him the evil eye, he shrugged. “We’re already going away.”

I got his point, and agreed that our anniversary budget was already more than used up. But pizza was just unacceptable. Since Friday was really steamy, I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy meal or a hot kitchen. I had a whole bowl of tomatoes so I decided to make a cold tomato sauce using a recipe my mother originally got from Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook Cookbook.

The idea is to create a room temperature sauce and then toss that with hot pasta. I’ve had this dish at my mother’s house and remembered liking it. My mother changed Martha’s recipe by adding some diced raw zucchini for crunch. I agreed that was a good addition and I decided to exchange the onion for a shallot for a milder flavor.

While I was making the sauce, the raw garlic and shallot gave me pause, but it was getting late and I just wanted to get dinner on the table. It was a decision I came to regret. Not that the dish wasn’t plenty tasty, but oh my, the raw garlic was potent. So potent I was glad we decided to skip going to the movies, because really how could you subject anyone to that? Our breath was too scary even for Mulder and Scully to handle.

I’ve refined the recipe so you don’t have to be afraid to leave the house. Simply sauté the shallot and garlic for three minutes, just enough to sweat them and take away the pungency. This sauce tastes like pure summer…

The Recipe:

Quick Summer Tomato Pasta Sauce

1 pound of spaghetti, fresh if possible
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 pounds very ripe tomatoes
1 shallot minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup basil sliced chiffonade style
1/4 cup olive oil

Drop tomatoes in four quarts boiling water. Remove after one minute. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and coarsely chop. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil. In a bowl mix chopped tomatoes with remaining ingredients. Let rest an hour at room temp.

Cook pasta until al dente. Toss hot pasta with tomato mixture. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Farms on Martha's Vineyard Inspire Local Meal

Steve and I went over to Martha’s Vineyard and spent the day visiting local farms, including the FARM Institute, where they teach kids how to farm. They raise animals like pigs, cows and turkeys and have acres of crops including this Friendship Garden where kids do everything from planting the seeds to harvesting the fruit of their labor and eating or selling it.

I was working on a two part story about island farming for the Cape Cod Times that I pitched simply because I wanted to visit these farms. I’m fascinated by farming and Martha’s Vineyard has 28 working farms, now organized by the non-profit organization, Island Grown Initiative.

Staff photographer Merrily Lunsford accompanied us as we visited three different types of working farms, the West Tisbury farmer’s market and the grocery store, Cronig’s Market, where they sell local produce. It was a whirlwind day and we met some wonderful people who are fully devoted to the farming lifestyle, but I have to save that stuff for my paying job. Suffice to say, days like this make me love my job even more than usual.

If you are into local food, Martha's Vineyard is the place to be. Even the bottled water is local:

The Martha’s Vineyard Farmer’s Market is reputed to be one of the best in the state and they had a great variety of produce there. It just about killed me that I couldn’t buy any of it because I still had a long working day ahead that involved buses, taxis and long walks. Dragging produce around all day wouldn’t have done it or me any good.

Honestly, the only way I was able to abstain was that I knew Morning Glory Farm was last on my agenda and I could buy all the veggies that so tempted me at their booth at the Farmer’s Market at their Farm Stand later.

I wasn’t disappointed. I found purple string beans and funky Brazilian cucumbers (too cool), tomatoes, slicing cucumbers, baby beets, and walla walla onions. The young clerk at the register noticed that I only bought the things they grew at the farm. Yep, that was the point.

I know they look a little like worms, but these are the purple beans:

The next night I steamed the purple beans (they turn dark green when you cook them), boiled the beets and made salad with the tomatoes, onions, and Brazilian cucumbers, which are small and round with long tails. They are lemony in flavor and have a lot of seeds, making them very crunchy.

Steve made scrod with a cracker crumb topping.

I figure it was a 95% local meal; the cracker crumbs and condiments used in cooking consisting of about 5% of the entire meal. That’s my favorite way to roll…

The Recipe:

Baked Scrod
serves 4

1 1/2 pounds scrod, cut into four serving size pieces
1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon
1/4 cup white wine

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter in saucepan and add sherry. Add to dry ingredients and stir. Put scrod in baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and squeeze lemon over fish. Divide crumb mixture over filets and add wine to pan, being careful not to disturb crumb topping. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Literary Recipe

This week I had the opportunity to interview the lovely Mameve Medwed about her wonderful new novel Of Men and Their Mothers. The novel is an extremely witty and deliciously funny exploration of the most perilous of all relationships – that of a woman and her mother-in-law.

Main character Maisie Grey’s in-laws, the Pollocks, made their fortune with a chicken pot pie empire. They make a variety of hilariously named pot pies including Chicken with Petit Pois, Chicken and Pasta Plus, Turkey Trot, Tamarind Curry Select, Irish Cabbage Stew, Drumstick Bangers and Mash, and the Ulster Fry.

During the interview Mameve told me that she collects fake food. (How can you not adore a woman who collects fake food???) For her last birthday, her sister had an artist make her a giant fake pot pie so realistic it looks good enough to eat. The pot pie is cut open and along with the peas and carrots, tiny copies of Mameve’s book ooze out.

After the interview she sent me a photo of the fake pot pie and I thought it was so funny I showed it to Tommy, my 12-year old son (who coincidentally shares the same name as Maisie Grey’s son in the book).

“It looks delicious,” he said. “Can we have that for dinner?”

The press packet Mameve’s publicist sent included a recipe for “Pollock’s Pot Pie with Petit Pois” inspired by the book, so just like that a plan for dinner was in place. I made my homemade pie crust instead of using Pillsbury’s and regretfully I didn’t have any leeks, so I substituted onions. And of course, I didn’t include any tiny books.

It was pretty darned delicious and a huge hit with the kids. So thank you, Mameve, for a humorous and moving novel that nourished my soul, and for a new recipe that nourished my family.

The Recipe:

Pollock’s Pot Pie with Petit Pois
Adapted by publicist Dee Dee De Bartlo
at William Morrow

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced carrots
2 leeks, sliced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
1 10 ounce package frozen baby peas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Pillsbury pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter tin or glass pie plate and line with pastry. Transfer to refrigerator and chill.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add diced carrots and leeks; sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and bouillon; bring to boil. Add chicken. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 12 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, bake pie crust for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden.

Remove chicken from saucepan. Increase heat to medium; boil mixture until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Add cream and return to boil. Add frozen onions; cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Cut chicken into bite size chunks and add to the pan. Mix in peas. Season with salt, pepper and parsley.

Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with pastry; press overhang to sides of dish. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ribs on the Hottest Day of the Year

The weather on Cape Cod lately has been so hot and muggy that cooking seems like a silly thing to do. I’d be happy just eating a salad every night. But on Saturday, the hubby decided that ribs would be the perfect dinner, because really when it’s 100 degrees inside your house already, why not turn the oven on for three hours?

The best way to make authentic ribs is to pile them in a smoker, but even though that item is near the top of my cooking gadgets wish list, we’ve never gotten around to buying one. Sans smoker, the only way to get your ribs really tender is to cook them in the oven for two and a half to three hours.

Actually the real reason we made the ribs is because we had two packages in the freezer and they were just plain taking up too much room. So Steve made both baby back ribs and meatier country style ribs. First he made the “Magic Dust” rub from Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA cookbook and massaged that into the ribs and let them “marinade” for a few hours.

Then he popped those babies into the oven and made his own variation of a barbecue sauce to baste the ribs with as he finished them on the grill. Even though our kitchen felt as hot as the screen door to hell, all that industry in the kitchen helped me rally.

I made potato salad and sautéed up the locally grown organic patty pan squash I found at The Naked Earth in Brewster. The first time I tried patty squash was in Vermont and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. I buy them every single time I see them, which isn’t as often as I wish.

Add some corn on the cob and our meal was really more than our heat evaporated appetites could handle. The good news was the leftovers meant we didn’t have to even turn on the stove the next day.

The Recipes:

Magic Dust (from Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA cookbook)

1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons celery salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and rub them into your ribs and let them rest in the fridge for several hours. Cook ribs on baking sheet with rack (covered with aluminum foil) for two and half to three hours at 325 degrees. Test for tenderness.

Barbecue Sauce

1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of beer (we used Samuel Adam’s Summer Ale)
1 cup of bottled barbecue sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon country Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

Sautee onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil for three minutes. Add beer and bring to a boil for three minutes to burn off alcohol. Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

When you take ribs out of oven liberally coat them with barbecue sauce and then grill for 15 minutes or until crispy. Serve with remaining sauce.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

Zucchini season has begun. Not for me, of course, because I planted my garden a little late. In fact my zucchini plants don’t even have flowers yet. But my uncle, Foster Banford (gardener extraordinaire), already has zucchini the size of clubs and he loves to share the efforts of his labor.

The only thing to do with zucchini this big is stuff them or grate them up for zucchini bread. So for dinner tonight, we had stuffed zucchini, using ingredients we had on hand. I added a salad and some really yummy cranberry walnut wheat bread and dinner was served.

The Recipe:

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

2 large zucchini
1 pound package of hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup white cannellini beans
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup fresh grated Romano cheese, plus four tablespoons
1 medium tomato, diced
1 cup chopped broccoli, steamed for five minutes

Remove sausage from casings and brown in a frying pan with onion for five minutes. Drain fat. Add beans, tomato sauce, 1/2 cup Romano cheese, tomato and broccoli.

In the meantime, cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide filling between the zucchini halves. Sprinkle one tablespoon of remaining Romano on each zucchini.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until zucchini is tender, but not too soft.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Manland at My House

My brother Chris has created the ultimate “Manland” on his deck in Nashville, where he and his buddies hang out. I’ve discovered that Manland is both a specific place and a state of mind – and it is definitely capable of travel. In fact Chris has planned three different Manland events at my house. I was out of town the first time he did this, but I hear the hubby, Chris and his buddy Sean had a great time and a great feast.

I was allowed to attend the second Manland event, even though I am a woman because, well, I live here. Plus I made the guys some yummy beach plum martinis with my beach plum brandy stash.

Last weekend Chris came for a visit and it was right back to Manland for me. The traveling Manland show has a few essential ingredients. First you have to have a cool place to hang out. I actually went out and bought new deck furniture for this event. (Actually I needed deck furniture anyways since a freak wind storm smashed my glass table and my umbrella was shot, but this was a good excuse to get on that project.) Here's Chris and Sean breaking in the new furniture:

Next you need good tunes – in this case provided by Chris who is a Senior Director of Regional Promotion at Lyric Street Records. He has about 6,500 songs on his iPod, so we had that one covered. Another essential ingredient is a cooler full of beer. Again, Chris was right on top of that.

Finally you have to have some “big boy steaks” for dinner. Steve stopped by Hilltop Steakhouse Butcher Shop in Weymouth and got us some huge filets, which he rubbed with a mixture of Montreal Seasoning, brown sugar and chili powder before searing them on the grill and finishing them in the oven. He also made some garlic mashed potatoes that were yummy.

I was in charge of the less manly side dishes. Luckily I spent the morning thinning my rows of beets in the garden so I had a whole baggie of baby beet greens. My first food from my garden! I sautéed them topped them with the last of the beets I bought at the farmer’s market in Vermont. The beets were a combination of golden and red and white striped and they were delicious. Then I made a big tossed salad with the last of my farmer’s market veggies.

In other garden news, the mystery plant that sprouted from the compost is thriving, and in fact threatening to take over the back yard (and the front).

My Mom thought it might be a zucchini, but I was holding out for pumpkins. We had dozens of blossoms, but they all fell off, leaving me in despair that the seeds were in fact genetically altered and not capable of bearing fruit. We talked about eating the blossoms, because then the space wouldn’t have been wasted.

Then Steve went online and looked up recipes for zucchini blossoms and discovered that the first blossoms were male and always fell off and the second round would be female blossoms. Just in case those boys flowers didn’t know what to do, I tried helping by pollinating them by hand.

And what do you know! Two distinctly round fruits have appeared!

The Recipe:

Roasted Beets Served with Beet Greens

8 – 10 beets, greens removed, and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Scrub beets, pat dry and arrange in glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and then rub to thoroughly coat each beet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil at bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender.

About ten minutes before beets are done roasting, put a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and heat on medium high. Wash beet greens and pat dry. Put greens in pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté, turning frequently with tongs until cooked.

To serve put greens on the plate. Using a paper towel so you don’t burn your hands, peel beets and slice them. Arrange on top of greens.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day Three and Still Celebrating

On Sunday our morning was much more relaxed. Leisurely coffee on the front porch as we watched the folks across the street swim in their pond, their splashes breaking up the reflection of the birch trees on the blue surface. Barb brought her jars of strawberry jam out to the porch to photograph and Mom was inside making a fresh batch.

Suddenly, I wanted to make some jam of my own, and amazingly I could, even though I missed out on the strawberry picking. Mom and Barb generously offered me their remaining berries – exactly the right amount. They had picked enough at Dutton Berry Farm to make jam and strawberry shortcake, but we never got around to the shortcake. We didn’t really need it (see desserts below).

So there I was, still in my nightgown with strawberry fumes bathing my face in steam as Mom sterilized the jars for me. Phew – even my late arrival didn’t mess up this tradition.

Rich, Barb and the boys left at 2:00, and Mom, Julie and I headed to Manchester for some shopping. We caught some amazing sales – 50% off the lowest price on sale items in every store. Good times.

We got home around dinner time and Tom made salmon with lemon caper sauce and jasmine rice, while I sautéed up the beet greens from my Farmer’s Market beets. I also sautéed the baby zucchini and summer squash with an onion, a tomato cut into chunks and some garlic scapes. I know summer will bring a lot more zucchini my way, but these ones were the best – so tender and small and so welcome in the beginning of the season.

So here’s a summation of the fourth of July traditions: strawberry picking and jam making, awesome fireworks by neighbors, the Londonderry parade, sitting on the porch talking – amongst ourselves and with neighbors who stop by, lots of good food, a little bit of shopping, a campfire with s’mores and sparklers, and a craft project of some sort.

This year's craft was inspired by an oar I saw for sale at the Farmer's Market. It had a trout painted on it and was $35. My Mom told me they had just replaced the oars on their canoe, so I could have one of the old ones to paint my own fish. It's kind of dorky looking, but I had a really nice time painting it and Steve thought it was cool.

The only activity we skipped this year was canoeing at Lowell Lake and having a picnic on the appropriately named, "Picnic Island." Absent the hubby to help carry the canoe, it was the only tradition missing – except of course him. Tom was so used to Steve being with us, he actually set him a place at dinner tonight. No joke.

Maybe next year…

The Recipes:

Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce:

4 serving size pieces of salmon
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 jar of capers
Juice of 1 lemon

Put salmon in a glass baking dish. Mix butter, capers and lemon juice and pour it over the salmon. Cook at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, basting the fish with the sauce halfway through the cooking process.

Strawberry Jam:

4 cups crushed strawberries
7 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of butter (to reduce foaming)
1 pouch Certo

Wash 8 jelly jars and sterilize by filling with boiling water and leaving until ready to use. Put jar lids in bowl and will that with boiling water as well.

Put crushed strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in large Dutch oven and cook over high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a full rolling boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred. Add package of Certo, return to a full rolling boil and boil one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Ladle jam into prepared jars and fill to within 1/8 inch from top. Wipe jar rims and threads with damp paper towel to make sure no jam interferes with the seal. Put lid on and screw band and screw as tight as possible. Invert the jam on counter and when all the jars are filled, cover them with a clean hand towel.

After five minutes, turn them back over and cover again. When jam is completely cool, press down on lid to insure it sealed. If it buckles, the seal didn’t take and the jam needs to be refrigerated and used first.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Fourth Celebration Continues

On Saturday we all woke up early and headed to Londonderry for the Farmer’s Market and Fourth of July parade. The Farmer’s Market was simply awesome. Look at those mounds of vegetables! Really it was like letting a kid loose in the candy store and I bought carrots, red onions, yellow and pink tomatoes, a yellow pepper, an English cucumber, eggplant, and four bunches of beets - golden and red and white striped.

The hubby had requested that I buy him some of Woodcock Farm’s soft sheep’s cheese, called Summer Snow. It’s like brie, only much more flavorful and if you leave it sitting out a bit, it gets slightly runny and even more tasty. We first bought some about three summers ago and Steve loved it so much that on our next trip to Vermont we actually drove around searching the fields for sheep so we could buy some more. We found the farm and it’s been on our list of must haves every trip since.

I stopped by the Woodcock Farm booth and sampled all their artisan cheeses and chatted with cheesemaker extraordinaire Mark Fischer. Unfortunately they won’t be making the soft cheese for another month, but I bought a delicious sheep/cow blend with a soft edible rind.

After scoring so many veggies that I had to return to the Jeep to unload them, we bought some fresh squeezed lemonade and checked out all the handcrafted items. I couldn’t resist adding some Vermont honey and some handmade beeswax/lavender soap to my bag. With a half hour wait for the parade, we sat on a bench overlooking the West River and watched the kids play.

The parade was small town America at its best. They had bagpipes, equestrians, clowns on little motor bikes, girl scouts, the West River Nordic Club with kids on cross country roller skis, plenty of ambulances and fire trucks, and a couple of floats. The hair dresser’s float was very good, but this one is my favorite:

It’s the float for the Taylor Farm and instead of throwing candy, they throw packages of CHEESE. Too funny and too cool. We’ve been visiting the Taylor Farm for at least ten years and it has been a joy to follow the progress of this family’s farm. When we first met the Wrights, we would watch them milk cows, check out the baby animals, play with the ever present litter of kittens, and bring home some fresh milk that reminded me of my childhood.

Now they make award winning Gouda cheeses that can even be bought on Cape Cod at Friend’s Market in Orleans. They still welcome the public, but it is a far cry from the walk into the barn experience of ten years ago. The farm has expanded to offer educational programs, hay rides, sleigh rides, and a full gift shop with cheese, baked goods and assorted hand crafts and goodies. You could spend hours there, soaking up the farm atmosphere and chatting with these friendly folks.

Here’s my Farmer’s Market loot:

And here’s our accidental red, white and blue boys – the real reason we make the trip. Is there anything better than cousins???

That afternoon we made homemade vanilla ice cream. We meant to make strawberry, but when the motor in the ice cream maker broke, we resorted to the old-fashioned hand crank method, which worked just fine, but we were afraid that adding the strawberries to the soft serve would make it too soupy.

For dinner that night Tom marinated and grilled some chicken and I made potato salad (see April 19 post for recipe) and a tossed salad with lettuce from Mom and Tom’s neighbor Maureen Fitch and the yellow tomatoes I bought at the Farmer’s Market.

After dinner, my brother Rich and his son Colin snacked on some half moon cookies his wife Barb made using the recipe from my Mom’s cookbook.

Just before dark we built a campfire in the fire pit, made s’mores and the kids played with sparklers. Then the fireworks fanatics headed back across the street for another spectacular show at Ken and Peg’s house.

A second dessert of vanilla ice cream topped with fresh crushed strawberries was the finale of the night. Did I mention how well we eat here?

The Recipe:

Half Moon Cookies:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 squares melted chocolate
1 egg
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together brown sugar and shortening. Add melted chocolate, egg, milk, dry ingredients and mix. Drop by teaspoonful on a greased baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes in 350 degree oven. When cool, turn cookies over and frost bottoms, half with white frosting and half with chocolate.

Butter frosting:

1/3 cup butter
4 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a bowl beat butter till fluffy. Gradually, add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup milk and vanilla. Slowly beat in remaining sugar. Beat in additional milk if desired.

Take half of the frosting out and put in separate bowl. Beat 1/4 cup cocoa into remaining frosting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Fourth is all About Tradition

When I was growing up tradition was everything, and we have tried to create some of our own traditions for our kids. On holidays we shine in this department. Every Fourth of July my brother Rich and I and our families meet at my parent’s house in Vermont. We don’t always arrive or leave on the same day, but we make an effort to be together for at least two days.

This year was a tough one to plan. The hubby had to work - and he bought us tickets to see Rain, a Beatles reenactment band, at the Melody Tent on July 3. It was a great concert, but still…

That meant that the kids and I had to travel on the Fourth, which would have been easier if I hadn’t discovered I need FOUR new tires on my way out of town (long story that involved a flat tire on the way home from the concert and a dream that prompted me to check my tires before leaving – good thing!). Luckily Benny’s was open - and funny – there wasn’t a big line of people waiting to get their tires changed on the Fourth of July.

Still, traffic on Cape was bad and we didn’t get on the road until close to 2:00. We arrived at 5:56 (and it was 67 degrees, making Julie the winner this trip of BOTH the time and temp upon arrival contest). Rich, Barb, and their two boys, Adam and Colin had arrived the day before and had spent the day picking strawberries and making jam.

Dinner was almost on the table when we arrived. Tom grilled some burgers and hot dogs and my Mom made two platters of a new potato and green bean salad from the Better Homes and Gardens Healthy Family Cookbook. It was like three side dishes rolled into one – potatoes, veggie, and salad – and very yummy.

After dinner we went across the street to Peg and Ken’s house where Ken puts on the best fireworks shows I’ve ever seen. Check it out for yourself:

So even though we spent most of the day on the road, it was still a pretty super Fourth of July and only the beginning of a great weekend. More celebrations to come…

The Recipe:

New Potato-Green Bean Salad

2 pounds whole, tiny new potatoes, halved or quartered.
1 nine ounce package of frozen French-style green beans, cooked lightly (think 3 minutes) and drained
Shredded lettuce
2 tomatoes cut into wedges
Yogurt-French dressing

In a large saucepan cook potatoes, covered, in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes or till just tender. Drain, cool for 20 minutes. Cover and chill potatoes and beans for 2 to 24 hours.

To serve line platter with lettuce. Arrange potatoes, green beans and tomatoes on lettuce. Drizzle Yogurt-French Dressing over salad and serve immediately. Makes 6 side dish servings.

Yogurt-French Dressing: Stir together 1/4 cup bottle French salad dressing; 3 tablespoons plain fat free yogurt; 1 tablespoon mayonnaise; and 1 green onion sliced.