Cheese and Crackers |

Cheese and Crackers

Eileen JoyceAt your next barbecue, serve Quackamole with sticks of jicama and blue-corn tortilla chips.
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We didn’t go bananas over Paul Newman. In our minds, Fabian floundered, and “Leave It To Beaver” was corny. My brother and I bowed our DA’s to a squat, unglamorous star. Our hero was Donald Duck.

For years, my brother, Andrew, received a subscription to Donald Duck comics for his August birthday. During this era, we’d meet the mailman at the bottom of our steep cobblestone driveway then waddle and quack our way back to the house.

Andrew and I craved Donald’s raucousness, a foreign trait in our staid Hungarian household. In our family, Sunday brunch was a white-collared dress and jacket-and-tie affair. Nibbling scrambled eggs was the loudest sound in the dining room. My brother hungered for loud-mouthed arguments. I envied Donald’s rumpled sailor suit and drooled over the immense slices of chocolate cake his smacking bill gobbled.

I graduated to Gourmet magazine and Jane Austin, and Andrew to Fortune magazine and Proust. I have a feeling, however, that if I peeked beneath the books on my brother’s bedside table now, I’d find a copy of Donald Duck’s latest adventures.

Remember the picnics in Duckburg? Here are ideas as luscious as any Daisy carried in her basket.


(Serves 4)

Forget the greens next time you’re asked to bring salad to a potluck picnic. Even Scrooge McDuck would value this Middle Eastern melange.

1 cup uncooked bulgur

13/4 cups boiling water

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup cooked garbanzos

1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

Whisk together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

21/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, pressed

Salt and pepper

Put the bulgur in a bowl and add the boiling water. Stir, cover, and let sit for about 30 minutes until the water is absorbed and the bulgur taste is done. If there’s any excess water, pour it off. Cool the bulgur completely before adding the rest of the ingredients. Let it sit and marinate for at least 1 hour before devouring. Quacking praise may accompany this dish.

14-Karat Slaw

(Serves 4)

This minted gem is a cool refresher on hot August nights.

4 cups grated carrots

A handful of raisins

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Whisk together:

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons fresh mint, minced

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

Mix everything together and chill. If there happens to be leftovers, add some crumbled feta and stuff into pita bread.


(2 cups)

If you think guacamole made with peas is pure quackery, you’ve obviously missed this version.

2 cups peas (If frozen, thaw under warm water; if garden fresh, steam until tender)

4 teaspoons fresh lime juice

2 large garlic cloves, pressed

4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped1/2 cup red onion, minced

1 small Roma tomato, minced

Salt and pepper

Puree the peas with the lime juice then stir in the remaining ingredients. Chomping chips and raw veggies dipped in this low-fat appetizer has been known to smooth ruffled feathers and banish the blues.

Spinach Frittata

(4-6 servings)

You’ll hear superlative squawks when you serve this.

1 bunch fresh spinach

6 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons dried dill

1/2 cup packed crumbled feta cheese

Wash the spinach and steam until just wilted in the water that clings to the leaves. Then put the spinach in a colander and press out the excess water with the back of a spoon. Chop the spinach and stir it together with the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture in a greased 10-inch pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve this hot, cold or at room temperature.

Frosted Zucchini


(1 dozen)

I may have once coveted Donald’s chocolate cake, but now my dessert choices lean towards lightness. I dedicate this recipe to gardeners whose zucchini plant overflows.

2 cups white flour, sifted

1 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed until water-free

2/3 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons applesauce

1 egg, beaten

Mix everything together until just blended. Be careful not to over mix. Grease a muffin pan and divide the batter evenly. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


(Almost 2 cups)

12 ounces Neufchatel cheese

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Mix the ingredients together until smooth. Frost the cupcakes when they’re completely cool. This is a generous amount of icing, but the odds are high that you’ll taste as you frost.

Be you kayaker or duckmobiler, pack this scrumptious picnic and enhance any August day.

Ronnie Paul is a cookbook reviewer, free-lance writer, vegetarian chef and teacher at Wild Mountain Yoga Center. She can be reached at

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