Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Zucchini Soup

 It's never too hot to have a bowl of soup or a cup of coffee, for that matter. This soup is a summer favorite because of the abundance of zucchini during this season. You can use green or yellow or both. It's a light soup and perfect for a hot day. Living in Florida with air conditioning makes eating soup just as enjoyable as if I were eating it on a brisk winter eve. But even in the midst of a NY heatwave this soup was a must have.
Growing up, my dad always had a vegetable garden in the yard. Never a huge one, but one that contained tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and basil. I remember weaving through the rows of tomato plants with Dad. Sometimes, he took a small salt shaker with him and we'd pluck a rosy plum tomato off the vine and with the sun beating down on us, sprinkle the salt on a tomato before we ate it. The warm fruit would burst and squirt juice in every direction often dribbling down our hands. It was glorious and one of life's small pleasures.
Our summer bounty would yield vegetables for fresh tomato sauce, eggplant either for Parmesan or just breaded and baked/fried slices to nibble on.  Zucchini went into soups, breads, or stuffed with mounds of breadcrumbs, cheese and sometimes browned ground beef. And those zucchini flowers! Battered and deep for a king! Nonna made a Sicilian style pizza in her dark lasagna pan. It is what we call today, Pizza Margherita...tomato slices, fresh mozzarella with fresh basil on homemade crust. The colors of Italy. I adored eating it cold the next morning!
The best treat...dunking slices of Italian bread into a bowl filled with chunks of tomato, basil, olive oil, a splash of warm water and salt. There we would all be...dunking, chatting, laughing together until we ate our fill. So simple, so heavenly wonderful! If you add slices of fresh mozzarella to it, it became tomato caprese, but in those days I didn't even know it had a fancy name. It was just? Just what Momma made for us from the garden.
Nonna added a beaten egg to this zucchini soup. It was the Italian version of Chinese Egg Drop Soup. The beaten egg gives the soup some body. It brings back heart-warming memories of a little tomboy sitting at Nonna's Formica-topped table spooning zucchini soup into her mouth, skinny legs swinging beneath that table, all the while gazing at her favorite wall plaque ...God Bless Our Home. Truer words were never written. It was blessed then and it is blessed now. Grazie, Dio. 

Zucchini Soup
2 medium size zucchini, small diced pieces
1 can broth, any variety
6 cups of water
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
onion powder
garlic powder
1 T olive oil
rice or orzo pasta, optional
egg, beaten, optional

Rinse and dry two zucchini. Dice into small cubes. Dice onion. Peel garlic cloves.
Sprinkle olive oil (not too much or soup will be greasy) into a soup pot. Once oil is hot, add the garlic cloves and saute for a couple of minutes then add zucchini & onion. Saute until clear and soft approx. 20 min. Add parsley and basil. Mix. Add broth and water. Heat to boil then lower to simmer. Season to taste with salt, onion powder, garlic powder. Simmer for 1 hour.
If desired, cook rice or orzo pasta according to directions. Add a scoop to bottom of soup bowl, then add soup. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
**Zucchini Egg Drop Soup: after soup has simmered for an hour,  slowly add one beaten egg to it and whisk vigorously. I separate the soup into two containers and have one half egg drop and the other half without egg.
Soup freezes very well. Serves 6
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kielbasa with Spinach & Spaghetti

This is a lazy woman's meal. It sounds better if I said busy woman but that isn't the case, this time. When I worked full time, was raising a child, involved in a zillion committees, I wasn't as busy as I am now as a retiree. Honest.
Seniors would come into my office and tell me how busy they were, not a minute to spare. And I'd think, "Yeah, sure. I'd like to be as busy as this person." How fresh was I? Nonna's words would come to mind, "Spit in the air and it will come back in your face." In a milder sense of her words.
So here I am busier than ever with not a moment to spare...most of the time. BUT I love it. I'm busy because I want it that way. On any given day, I could shrug and say..."I ain't doin' that any more." Ah, the luxury of growing older.
The evening I cooked this recipe was a day that my dh got a call from a buddy inviting him to see a movie and grab pizza with a bunch of the guys. See, they are the R.O.M.E.O. club. Nah, nothing to do with romance...although of few of them "still-got-it". It stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out. Ray came up with that one...he's a funny guy. A group of women play Mahjong together and the husbands go out that night. Me, I savor the evening alone and cook whatever I damn well please.
So, there was leftover spaghetti in the fridge, a half a kielbasa and a bag of spinach. All the makings of a meal. It was quick, tasty and oh, how I hate to toss out good food. Must be the senior in me or the busy woman or the lazy woman....what-evahhh.

Kielbasa with Spinach & Spaghetti

Kielbasa: type of your choice turkey, beef etc
or any sausage will do. I use Hillshire ring
Spinach 2 hand fulls, washed
small onion, sliced (optional)
Spaghetti or any type of pasta,
leftovers will do fine
salt, (optional)
If you want to go crazy, add a Tblspoon of pine nuts or walnuts

Cut kielbasa into rings or pieces and brown in a skillet. Add onion & cook until tender. Add the spinach and let it cook until wilted. Add pasta to this and heat through. Add salt to taste. No need to add spices unless you want more garlic or onion taste, then add garlic and/or onion powder. The fat from kielbasa is enough to brown the ingredients in or you can add a touch of olive oil, if needed. Serve with a salad.
Can't get much easier than this!
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kitchen Tips

My friend, Lynn, sent me these great tips. Wanted to share them with my food buddies. Enjoy!

Use unscented dental floss to cut cakes, cheeses & other soft solids perfectly!

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Remember To Make Memories At The Table