Ronnie Paul: A puzzling situation |

Ronnie Paul: A puzzling situation


Nana, Gigi, Oma, Mom-Mom —we grandmothers have a variety of names. The one thing we have in common, however, is that we each have the most brilliant, best-looking, good-humored grandchild that ever hit the planet.

The youngest superhero in our family is four-and-a-half-year-old Rami. Aside from his advanced athletic prowess and superior language skills, his ability to follow instructions impresses me.

I notice this skill when we do jig-saw puzzles together. Rami knows the importance of first separating all the connected clumps of pieces. Take for example, what happened the other day when I went into the kitchen to get him a popsicle. In the few minutes that I was gone, he took apart the pieces of a thousand-piece puzzle that Jeff had been weaving together for the last three months. The picture titled “Little Red Riding Hood’s Hood,” had been a deliberate ongoing test of Jeff’s determination. “We’re ready to start the puzzle now, Nana,” chirped Rami.

Since then I’ve wised up and hide my knitting bag when Rami’s around, though the other day I tripped over some of my yarn stash that he’d wound around the house labyrinth-style, so he could safely return after tracking down the Minotaur.

Although a lot of what Rami and I cook together doesn’t make it to the dinner table, I did contain him from gobbling up all of these new experiments. Please try these summer goodies.

Cannellini-Basil Salad

Serves 4

Unexpected guests for dinner? Here’s a quick salad that celebrates fresh basil.

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup chopped celery

¼ cup chopped red onion

¼ cup halved black olives

2 absolutely packed tablespoons chopped fresh basil


Whisk together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 garlic clove, pressed

Salt and pepper

Mix everything together and chill.

Quinoa -Black Bean Salad

Serves 4

Hooray for summer salads. I love this season for dining outside under the stars.

½ cup raw quinoa, cooked according to directions

1 pressed garlic clove

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ cup corn kernels (Fresh off the cob —yum, but use frozen if it’s easier.)

¼ cup chopped onion

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon orange juice


Whisk together:

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon orange juice


Heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the corn, onion, and cumin and sauté until the onions brown. Splash in the orange juice and heat until the liquid is absorbed.

Mix the sauté with the quinoa, black beans, and cilantro and stir in the dressing.

Chill for a few hours and serve topped with the following salsa.

Cucumber-Orange Salsa

2 cups

1 cup peeled and seeded chopped cucumbers

½ cup chopped red onion

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

½ cup chopped orange sections with the white pith cut away

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

Mix together the ingredients and chill.

Of course, aside from complementing Quinoa-Black Bean Salad, this salsa is equally scrumptious as a chip dip.

Ronnie Paul is a Nevada County freelance writer

Unexpected guests for dinner? This cannellini-basil salad is quick yo make and celebrates fresh basil.
Photo by Jeff Kane

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