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Today seemed as good a time as any to do a deep dive into our fridge and see what needed to be used up or repackaged for the freezer. A summer cleaning to make room for bottles of rosé and whatever we decide to cook and eat this holiday weekend. One of the treasures we came upon was a tub of meaty duck confit submerged under a layer of snow-white duck fat. We pulled out a duck leg, finely chopped up the meat, and seasoned the resulting rillettes with a little salt and red pepper flakes. Boy they were good and luxuriously rich; a little went a long way. We spread some on slices of seeded toast and ate them with a crunchy salad dressed with a tart vinaigrette. A glass of rosé would have been nice, maybe with tomorrow’s lunch now that we have room in the fridge.

 

Do you find that your food choices are getting more specific? More idiosyncratic? Of course we, like everyone else, are eating carbs galore (rumor is that one of us used to dance under the name “Carbs Galore”). The fact that our stash of frozen quarts of Bolognese sauce has dwindled to one attests to that. Then suddenly, we just had to have a big crunchy green salad dressed with a tart, garlicky vinaigrette. And now, one of us is hooked on salami on toast slathered with extra strength Dijon mustard. It is all texture and flavor: crunch, chewy, fatty meat, and pungent acidic heat. It is the old “I’ll just make and eat one”, then two minutes later you’re back in the kitchen making another and so it goes til the sausage is half gone and the mustard jar is empty. One of our aunts ate a whole cheesecake that way, one thin, tiny slice at a time. Oh well, we’ll go for a stroll with the dogs and walk it off. On this breezy blowy spring day it’s hard to stay inside.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

MH: The crunchy salads CH has been having for lunch inspired me to use up my heads of celery for lunch today, with the intention of making a crisp chopped salad including capers, anchovies, fresh lemon juice and finely grated zest, cracked black pepper, and olive oil. But I got distracted and the next thing I knew, I was braising the celery hearts in chicken broth and boiling an egg to have with. So, it’s a tender celery salad, instead, dressed with lots of chopped anchovies and fresh chives, good olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and black pepper. Braised celery, served warm or cold, I’d forgotten its sweet deliciousness. 

CH: I have had a hankering for a meat pie—the Australian version. Back in the day in Sydney there were little bakery shops where you’d run in and pick up takeaway hand-sized pies. They were the Aussie version of our hamburger. But it might be like wanting a Big Mac and trying to make it at home. It’s just not the same. The homemade variety uses higher quality ingredients, but it just doesn’t have the flavor you are craving. But I did make my own, using boneless beef short ribs (waaaay too expensive), mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, leeks (too poncy) and a splash of red wine (never happen in a million years). But they tasted good. I am leaving one on MH’s wishing well outside of her kitchen. I’ll trade her for some of that tender celery salad (a version of the classic, Celery Victor) .

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

A puddle jumper of a day. But hard to complain when April showers bring . . . you know what. Hopefully the wind doesn’t blow all the blossoms off our little apple tree. We hung basket bird houses in the hopes that our feathered friends might set up house in our garden. But not today. Above The Station swallows and hawks alike were all goofing with the wind—soaring and swooping and gliding through the air. We made another simple salad for lunch and ate it al fresco, under the overhang of the porch, and watched the air show. Better than the Blue Angels (no disrespect).

Even when the news is so dire, when you head outside and see what spring is serving up you can forget for a moment and just feel happy. As often happens, not much on the list got accomplished. But more importantly, that wild, windy lunch will be long remembered.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

CH: Today was a refrigerator salad day. We really needed something green. There was a half a bag of washed baby spinach, a couple of pretty Castelfranco leaves and a few Little Gems, half a bulb of fennel, scallions, chives, toasted pecans, and two hard cooked eggs. Everything got chopped, minced, or sliced. I searched for bacon, but there wasn’t a rasher to be found. But way in the back of the fridge was a little container of vinaigrette, so that was a good find. The salad was easy, quick, and pretty darn delicious. 

But it would have been better with bacon! 

CH: Late yesterday afternoon Steve R. came knocking at the back door. He set a small brown paper bag down on the table. Inside there were a handful of tiny morels that he had just foraged—the first that we have seen this season. What a lovely gift. We traded him some grapefruit marmalade (the grapefruit had been a gift from our California friends, the Orrs). That’s how it is: give and get, get and give. And most importantly, never keep track. Of course ironically, the giver usually ends up getting the greater gift. And about those morels . . . we scrambled some eggs and sautéed the morels in butter with some scallions and a tiny clove of garlic. Simply delicious. This time we won the prize.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

MH: My husband had a craving for canned peaches. Specifically, canned yellow peaches from our local orchard, Manoff Farm Market. So, why not, we made a quick trip to the market, a beautiful drive through the countryside, got to say hello to Amy Manoff from a safe distance (lovely), and picked up a few cans of her peaches packed in syrup. When I was telling CH about our safe outing, I joked that I was going to make that classic diner item, cottage cheese served with canned peaches, she laughed, said she’d never seen it on a diner menu, but that it was something her beloved grandmother used it make. 

CH: Chicken salad with little lettuces and a nicely cooked egg for lunch today. I folded together lightly poached chicken, minced scallions, the grated rind and juice of a small lemon, a diced, peeled Honeycrisp apple, and a spoonful of mayo and same of sour cream. Of course S & P seasoned everything. MH’s lunch of cottage cheese and fruit did remind me of my grandmother who served exactly that as a first course for our evening meal. Sometimes pears, sometimes mandarin oranges, but my favorite was a canned peach. I guess both of our lunches are diner-ish, but if so, please send me the directions to that diner. Simple and familiar rules the day.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

MH: I roasted a chicken for dinner last night and served half of it with soft buttery polenta. We could have polished off the whole bird, but held back to make a cold chicken and string bean salad for lunch today. I sliced the breast and topped it with the jellied pan drippings. That could have sufficed, but it’s the green sauce I spooned on top of that that made lunch especially delicious. We have many variations on green sauce, but here’s the one we just used: Put 1/2 cup pitted meaty green olives, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, 1 small bunch chopped scallions or chives, 1 garlic clove, 6 anchovy filets, and juice of half a lemon in a food processor. Purée, drizzling in about 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in about 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon rind, if you have some on hand, and 1–2 tablespoons capers. Adjust seasonings. Spoon this versatile sauce onto fish, vegetables, scrambled eggs, a plate of pasta garnished with grated parmesan and toasted bread crumbs, sliced fresh mozzarella, boiled potatoes…Happy Earth Day. 

CH: Once again while separated by distance we are traveling on the same wavelength. I also used up some roast chicken by tossing together a filling with mushrooms, leeks, roast chicken (natch!) then folding it into pastry for turnovers.

There sure are a lotta ways to cook a chicken!

Happy earth Day. Eat well, stay healthy—please.

Even with our new regime, Friday still feels like a Friday. So we decided to break out and make something completely different for lunch and dinner. Melissa’s husband Hugh has a wonderful family recipe for Chinese dumplings. When word is out that he is filling and folding I make sure that I am close by with my bowl and chopsticks. Today I carefully followed his recipe, made a few test bowls for lunch, then divvied up the rest of the filling and wrappers. Half to MH and Hugh, and the rest will go home with me. TGIF, we’re having a zoom dumpling party tonight.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

MH: Nothing wrong with leftovers. CH and Nash with their rigatoni for lunch the other day sounded mighty fine to me. I’m still in Easter leftovers world and loving it. Today, it is a bowl of cold “fresh” pea soup with a dollop of chive whipped cream garnished with more fresh chives from my garden snipped on top. Thanks guys!

CH: It’s hot soup weather. A pale, weak sun, a blustery wind makes it feel like what it is, early spring. The previous warm spell kind of faked us out. We are serving a zesty carrot ginger soup for our Sunday Dinner. So this was a practice run. After eating this big bowl, I feel like a kid again—raring to get outside in the fresh air and run around. Ginger will do that (and more) for you.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

MH: We were fortunate enough to have Easter dinner leftovers. Yesterday, I polished off the deviled eggs and the extra onion tart. Today, I had one of my favorite combinations for lunch: sliced cold roast lamb and doctored mayonnaise (Hellman’s seasoned with fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and s&p) with a salad of green beans and cannellini vinaigrette. I wish I could have shared this with dear CH and Nash—not sure whether it would be coals to Newcastle or welcomed by the shoemaker’s children.

CH: Sunday afternoon, after “serving” 60 take-out Easter lunches (with all the trimmings), Nash and I dove into a bone-cold bottle of Tattinger’s best bubbles. MH drove up so we poured her a glass and we all toasted from afar. So good being together, but not too close.  After a delicious rainy day off (reading books), we are back figuring out our next move. Our lunch at The Station today was last night’s leftover rigatoni in marinara sauce with sausage. True confessions—sauté the meat, from 4 sweet Italian sausages slipped out of the casings, in a skillet, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add 1 jar of Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce, salt and pepper, and a splash of good olive oil and simmer for about 15 minutes. While the sauce cooks, boil a pound of rigatoni. Toss the drained pasta in the hot sauce. Shave a lot of Parmigiano over everything. Lunch or Dinner in 20 minutes and there are always leftovers. And what’s better than cold tomatoey pasta right out of the fridge for breakfast.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

MH: Last night I fried four chicken thighs for dinner so I could have two cold ones for today’s lunch. I was thinking maybe a little picnic, just as simple as can be with a couple of pickles for sour and crunch. But it’s too blustery, so I stayed safe inside, watched the occasional snow flurry from the kitchen window, and treated myself to a thimble of rosé to sip with lunch. And why not? Happy Easter weekend, everyone.

CH: Once again, two people sharing one brain. MH had chicken and a pickle, while Nash and I grabbed Ritz crackers topped with sausage swiped with Dijon and a cornichon. Without conferring, we both had a craving for pickles (well who doesn’t?). But really it was the mustard that made it such a great bite. Even the simplest snack can really hit the spot. Cook something delicious for your Easter Lunch and try to sit down at the table, if you can. We’ll be with you in spirit.

Eat well, stay healthy—please.

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