How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Friday, September 25, 2020

National Lobster Quesadilla Day

National Day Calendars
What is today all about?

Part of librarian Pam's daily routine is to check the National Day web site to see what is being recognized each day. She was always a fan of these things, but has certainly followed them more closely during the pandemic. 

Careful readers might have noticed some resulting recipes; careful readers would have noticed even more if I had not fallen down on the blogging job. 

We both continue to innovate in our cooking, but the queue of unblogged recipes is indeed growing. This was so good and so easy, though, that I had no excuse to put off writing about it.

Key ingredients

Early this morning, as we sipped home-roasted coffee from Rwanda, Pam mentioned the happy coincidence of National Quesadilla Day and National Lobster Day. This seemed almost like a command from the Fates to the Hayes-Bohanans.

I simply googled the combination and found this simple recipe at Chop Happy (a site I had not previously known). Simplicity was called for because this was to be a weeknight dinner at the end of another tiring Covid-19 week. More importantly as I have gradually gained confidence in cooking seafood, I have followed an unwritten rule: the more expensive the ingredient, the simpler the recipe should be.

So the simple recipe was very appealing. I got some excellent lobster tails from our favorite fishmonger -- Kyler's Catch in New Bedford (yes, the seafood capital of North America), and chopped them into chunks of about 3/4 inch. I then chopped some scallions (in the recipe) and cilantro (in our fridge, so why not?) and tossed them gently in a bowl. 

Notice my use of the quantity "some" -- I must admit I did not even look at the recipe after my morning coffee. 

I melted butter over low heat (I have never used butter or low heat for quesadillas before) while shredding an entire package of Cabot's pepper-jack cheese (from the farmer-owned cooperative in Vermont). I then assembled the quesadillas and put them in the pan side-by-side, turning the heat to medium-high. I treated them much more gingerly than usual -- in part to make sure lobster did not fall out in the process.

The result? We both pronounce these the best quesadillas we have ever had, and we have had a few. (Like a few thousand, probably). This paired beautifully with our complex, fruity, and bold home-vinted Malbec.

We are also aware that these were by far the most expensive quesadillas we have ever made. But they are not the most expensive we have bought. Cooking at home saves money, but for a special occasion, it can mean that "splurging" for the best ingredients brings the price of an extraordinary meal up to the cost of a mediocre meal at a mid-range restaurant. We know we are lucky to be able to do this from time to time.

Apple Cake


Last spring the Bridgewaters' One Book One Community Read was Thanks A Thousand by A.J. JacobsThis memoir recounts the author's attempts to thank everyone who brought him his daily cup of coffee beginning with the barista at his local coffee shop and ending with a trip to South America to thank the farmers. Ultimately he thanks about a thousand people, while realizing he didn't even get to everyone. 

As a children's selection along the same theme we found Dawn Casey's Apple Cake which features a young child thanking all the people, plants, and animals who provide the ingredients to make Apple Cake. A recipe is included in the book, so in honor of the start of fall I made it. I made my own almond flour by grinding almond slivers in the blender. The cake is dense and not too sweet although it has 3 cups of honey.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Peach Blueberry Cobbler


I love the late summer when peaches and blueberries are in abundance, and I love that these two flavors taste so good together. I was able to get fresh peaches and blueberries at the farmer's market last week and used them to make a fruit cobbler. 

Before I get into the recipe though I must offer this explanation about the differences between a cobbler, a crumble, and a crisp: a cobbler has a biscuit topping; a crumble has a topping of butter and sugar; and a crisp has a topping with butter, sugar, and oats. Additionally we have buckles and Bettys. Buckles have the topping and fruit baked together (causing them to buckle); Bettys (like crumbles) have no oats, but the fruit and crumble are layered (source The Farmer's Almanac) 

And now, back to our recipe. I got this one from the New York Times Cooking Page. It calls for hazelnut flour which I did not have, but I did have some almond flour in the cupboard which I was able to substitute effectively. Otherwise I followed the recipe as written. James whipped some cream for us as a topping. A lovely dessert to complement our pasta dinner made with fresh pesto. So much goodness from the garden.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Cú Chulainn Pasta

Basil, garlic, and squash fresh from the garden!

Saturday was Lammas, a celebration of the late summer harvest. On Sunday and Monday I harvested garlic from my garden and then I got out my trusty Wicca Cookbook and found a recipe that in addition to the garlic used two other ingredients that I could get from my own backyard - yellow squash and basil. This also called for some other ingredients (some additional herbs, as well as carrots and zucchini) that I did not have, and so I simply did without. Nevertheless, this was a delicious, light meal for a summer's eve. I started by mincing and sautéing the garlic in lemon-infused olive oil and butter while I cooked the spaghetti. I sliced the squash very thin and added it to the skillet. Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and added it to the skillet as well, along with minced basil leaves. I let everything cook for a few minutes while I gently stirred. I served this directly onto plates, topped with parmesan cheese, and added a sprig of basil to garnish. Pleasing to the eye and the palate. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Red Beans and Rice

I decided to make red beans and rice when I realized we had quite a few cans of kidney beans in the pantry. I turned to trusty Deborah Madison for a recipe. Of course her recipe called for dry beans with overnight soaking which wasn't necessary with canned beans, so I did my best to adapt the recipe using the canned beans. It was good news that we had the rest of the ingredients on hand (or some reasonable substitution) since our grocery store trip wasn't scheduled until the day after I made this.

I started by dicing a small onion, one garlic clove, a stalk of celery and the rest of a red bell pepper that I had used in a recipe last week. I sauteéd the vegetables in Chipotle Olive Oil. Once the veggies were soft I added some bay leaves, thyme, oregano, parsley, and some salt and pepper. I let it all cook on low for about 20 minutes and then added the beans and then cooked for another 7 minutes.

Meanwhile I cooked the rice, which turned out to be a bigger project than it should have been. I left the heat on too high and the water evaporated before the rice fully cooked, so I added some more water and turned the heat down, and then I had to do it again, and again, and again. Some to the individual rice grains had burned to the bottom of the pan, but we just scraped them off added them to the rest and called it cajun.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Creamsicle Dreamsicle

And is that with a Y or an I? So many questions, but they are not important once we have this in front of us, to start the birthday weekend festivities.

For those playing along at home, yes: the second full month of social distancing has included a birthday, and anniversary, and another birthday. Numbers adding up to, well, a number.

Pam found this delish recipe on delish, instigating a little panic when we realized we had not done anything about our lack of Triple Sec (I've somehow been making waffles without it).

We gathered the ingredients this week -- using appropriate Covid-19 protocols, strictly enforced. And I followed the recipe exactly, using one-half of each ingredient to provide a moderate serving for each of us. Minor chores and further celebrating are on the agenda, after all!

This was very easy and as delicious as it sounds.

Yet another frittata

On one of his early pandemic shopping trips James brought back a big tub full of fresh baby spinach expecting that we would find some uses for it. He was right, and it has since become a staple of his biweekly grocery runs. We have not only been looking for recipes in which to use it, but have also started putting it by the handful on our sandwiches in lieu of lettuce.

I originally found the recipe for this frittata from Food52 on a listicle from Huffington Post called "The Only 40 Egg Recipes you'll ever need" (I have prepared some of the others which you can find here).  The frittata called for chorizo but I just used regular sausage because it was what we had. I used canned chickpeas, and didn't roast the red pepper (even though James actually kind of likes to do that). I sautéed the pepper instead along with the onions and garlic.

The meal was quick, relatively easy, filling and delicious.