Ronnie Paul
Special to The Union

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March 25, 2014
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The lure of laundry

I’m aghast that some of my friends’ compulsions include weekly refrigerator cleaning, monthly car vacuuming, and frequent furniture waxing. I don’t have time for any of those tasks.

Laundry’s my thing! I’m embarrassed to admit it, but my ardor for washing clothes is as much of an obsession as eating chocolate chip cookies.

“Dirty” is what I label a dust mote on anything washable. Previously, I washed clothes from the hamper without much regard to frisking them, but that’s changed since the day I found straw in my husband’s freshly laundered underwear.

I totally understand Jeff’s need to crawl on his knees while torching weeds between stepping stones, and I’m even tolerant of his cutting back blackberry bushes in his best long-sleeve flannel shirt.

But, although I hound him, I don’t understand why he can’t remember to throw his grass-stained, mud-spattered thorn-infested clothes on the floor rather than in the laundry basket.

After all, what woman wants to risk wearing lingerie filled with freshly mowed grass and snapped twigs?

Although it takes more time and wash loads, I’m now uber-careful about shaking out laundry and separating out those still-may-harbor-the-great-outdoors items.

And actually, doing more laundry and listening to those three-movement symphonies of washing machine clicks and buzzes gives me time to muse about culinary creations.

While your laundry sloshes, I hope you’ll take time to try these new recipes.

Winter Panzanella

4-6 servings

Here’s what to do if you like bread salad, but find yourself outside the season for the traditional veggies in this dish.

4 ounces of a baguette (that’s half a typical loaf)

10 ounces of cooked lima beans (I use frozen)

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise

1 6-ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

1 heaping tablespoon capers

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 hearty handfuls (about 1 packed cup) baby spinach leaves

Salt and pepper

Dressing

Whisk together:

6-7 tablespoons olive oil

6-7 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Slice the baguette in 1-inch cubes, spread them on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes in a 400-degree oven until crisp.

Combine the bread with all the ingredients except the salt and pepper, toss with the dressing, cover tightly, and put it in the refrigerator for hours. I make mine in the morning to serve at dinner, so the bread soaks up the juices and softens.

Right before serving, toss the salad with salt and pepper. A glass bowl is the ideal way to exhibit this beautiful salad.

A Gem of a Rice Salad

Serves 6

This easy salad will boost your cooking reputation.

1 1/2 cups wild rice blend, cooked according to directions.

1 cup thinly sliced celery

6 scallions, cut in thin Os

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup raisins

1 Satsuma (anything in the orange family will do), sectioned and halved

Dressing

Whisk together:

1/3 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, pressed

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Mix together the salad ingredients, toss with the dressing, and chill. I bring it to room temperature before serving.

Lemony Broccoli-Rice Soup

Serves 4-6 soupers

This light and elegant soup is my rendition of a traditional Greek favorite.

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 tablespoon fresh dill (You’ll have some leftover from making the panzanella!)

6 cups veggie broth

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup cooked rice

8 ounces broccoli florets, cut in bite-size pieces

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and dill, and sauté until the mushrooms are just tender.

Add the veggie broth, lemon juice, and scallions to the mushroom mixture, and simmer. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Right before serving, add the rice, and the broccoli. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the broccoli is still bright green and just tender. Ladle, serve, yum.

Kale and Bean Soup

Serves 4-6

I’m on a soup roll, so here’s one more for your repertoire.

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups small white beans

1/2 cup bean liquid

4 cups veggie broth

2 packed cups chopped kale

1/2 packed cup chopped tomatoes (I used roasted ones Jeff made last summer)

2 teaspoons tamari

Pepper

1 cup grated Parmesan

Croutons

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion pieces are soft and translucent. Puree 1 cup of beans until smooth. Add this, the onions, the remaining beans, the bean liquid, veggie broth, kale, tomatoes, tamari and pepper and simmer for at least one hour.

Top each bowl with Parmesan and croutons.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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The Union Updated Mar 26, 2014 01:05AM Published Mar 25, 2014 11:02PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.