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When kids come home for summer, give vegetarian vittles a try

Ronnie Paul

Our daughters are living at home this summer. I’d almost forgotten the joys of motherhood.

For instance, I’m amazed by the number of shoes it’s possible for two young women to mound in front of the kitchen door. The other day, I picked my way through the shoe mountain clutching three grocery bags and a gallon of milk.

Suddenly, a sandal strap grabbed my ankle like a tentacle. I dropped the milk on my other foot before I pitched into a counter laden with backpacks, empty soda cans, and beach towels.

Without kids at home, I go to bed feeling confident that our pantry shelves – always packed with enough food to sustain us through two hurricanes and a blizzard – will still be stocked the next morning.

I’d forgotten the shock of finding a bare cupboard in the morning. Once again, I’m forced to seal off-limits food with duct tape emblazoned with a skull and crossbones. This advisory sometimes fails.

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When I confronted my daughters about the disappearance of a spinach quiche and chocolate cheesecake I’d made for a party, they each bad-mouthed the other’s friends.

Although my favorite beaded earrings have disappeared, although every telephone ring assumes the importance of a summons from NATO headquarters, I’m glad they’re home.

When your nest refills, fill beaks with these family favorites.

Southern Garlicky Greens

(Serves 6)

Use up cool weather greens before the summer sun turns them to seed.

8 cups mixed Southern greens (I use mustard, turnip, collard, chard and kale.)

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced thinly

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon pressed garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 eggs

2 cups evaporated milk

3/4 cup crumbled feta

Salt and pepper

Sauté the mushrooms in the oil until tender. Add the greens and sauté until wilted. Turn off the flame and add the garlic and oregano. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until well blended.

Stir in the veggies, feta, and salt and pepper. Pour into a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan and bake at 350 F for 1 hour, until solid in the center. After dinner, you may lapse into a southern drawl.

Asian Lettuce Salad

(Serves 4)

Every year I wonder what to do with all the garden radishes. Here’s how I use up some of my prolific crop.

2 handfuls mixed salad greens

8 large radishes, sliced thinly in half-moons

1/4 packed cup torn cilantro leaves

2 handfuls mung bean sprouts

4 scallions

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Asian Dressing

Stir together:

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons honey

Mix together the salad ingredients, add the dressing, and toss. After eating this, you may be encouraged to plant even more radishes next year.

Lemon Zucchini

(Serves 4-6)

Try this recipe when zucchini panic strikes.

6 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/2 -inch rounds

12 pearl onions, unpeeled, flat ends cut off

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon pressed garlic

Lemon Zucchini Dressing

Whip together:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 scallion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper

Toss the zucchini with the oil and garlic and spread on an ungreased pan. Toss the onions in the same bowl (no need to add extra oil) and spread them on another ungreased pan. (Keep the veggies separate because their roasting times may vary.) Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes until tender. Put the zucchini in a bowl. Add the onions by squeezing them, toothpaste style, out of their skin. Add the dressing, toss, and serve immediately.

Mediterranean Cheese Spread

(11/2 cups)

Munch this on crackers as you watch a June sunset.

8 ounces Neufchatel

4 ounces feta

3 scallions, minced

6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained, and minced

2 teaspoons dried dill

Purée the cheeses together until absolutely smooth. Stir in the scallions, tomatoes, and dill by hand.

Streusel Coffee Cake

(Depending on who’s around, about 12 pieces)

Father’s Day, the Solstice, last day of school; bake this for a celebratory June brunch.

11/4 cups white flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1 apple, chopped

Stir together the flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Set aside 1/2 cup of this mixture for the streusel. Add the remaining ingredients and spread the mixture in a lightly greased 8 X 8-inch glass pan. Sprinkle on the reserved 1/2 cup of streusel and bake in a 350 F oven for about 40 minutes or until the cake just springs back when lightly touched.

You’d expect that with everyone home, someone would set the table. I better go do that now.

ooo

Ronnie Paul is a cookbook reviewer, freelance writer, vegetarian chef and teacher at Wild Mountain Yoga Center. She can be reached at rpaul@ncws.com.


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