Crunchtime Food Blog

almost healthy strawberry shortcake

You know the term rising? It’s a summer term to indicate the grade a child will enter in the fall, as in will be a freshman or freshman rising.  My daughter is now, at this very moment, entering her last summer rising.  She will be a senior come September. We commented this past week how the college years flew by, especially compared to high school.  Like the instant she graduated, we went to warp speed.  Is it because at home we only see bits and pieces of her life or is it because there are fewer tortured, ingrained moments that happen in college? Despite living-on-their-own growing pains, college is relatively smooth.  No driver’s ed, no puberty, no curfew arguments, no acne, no sleeping until she was home safe in bed, no standardized tests or college applications.  She worked impressively hard in high school.  Hell, sometimes I worked impressively hard. When at 11 pm, on my way to bed, she’d ask me to read through an essay and then we’d both be up into the wee hours trying to assess Gregor’s psychological change after his transformation in The Metamorphosis.

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farmer's market salad (spring)

The more I cook, the more I anticipate Spring.  Root vegetables have their charm, in a gut-extending way, but by March, I’m in desperate need of above-ground produce.

We know in the crunchiest of times, one can head to just about any large grocer these days and make our own salad. Really stellar preparations, you know those from exceptional eateries, however, pair just the right vegetables and seasonings, leaving us so ultra satisfied that we don’t feel it was a consolation meal or a diet burden, but rather a meaningful, well-intended combination of earth’s best, making us think for a nano-second “I could be vegetarian.”

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steak fajitas

Cinco de Mayo celebration began in California with Mexican immigrants celebrating their country’s rise over French rule after the defeating the French at the Battle of Puebla.  Mexico observes this historic date, but the US declared it a national holiday.  And what better way for America to celebrate anything, but with food.

The hardest part of preparing the easiest version of fajitas happens at the store.  Starting with a one-stop seasoning we find all we need for making great tasting fajitas, then as if it were all homemade, we sizzle them up at home. Delicious and easy.

For Cinco de Mayo, we wanted something beyond the the season packet, yet not labor intensive. Afterall, we’ll be plenty busy putting toppings into bowls.

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sheet pan stir fry chicken & shiitakes

I still have my grandmother’s bent up metal spatula and, until a few months ago, her garlic press which was only capable of mashing cloves into wafer thin slabs that still required my mincing by knife. I wasn’t close to my dad’s mother who often showed her love through military organization. Instead of big chubby arm clenches, we got our grandmotherly hugs from her drawer dividers and don’t-touch soap rosettes in the wash room.  Thank goodness my dad gave bear hugs.  For whatever warm-touchy expression might have been hard for her to share, she shared her love through meals and well, utensils. I love that spatula and it seems to love me back.  It marks the heritage of family cooking handed down from the generations.  I have more remarkable, steady, kind to non-stick surface spatulas in the lot and admit, they’re more go-to while the grandma spatula supervises (anyone thinking Toy Story 4 – Forgotten Utensils).  Technology usually wins out in our modern kitchens.  Afterall, this is crunchtime.

Such is the case now for the wok. There’s been some wok shaming out there. For good reason.

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I wasn’t looking for a veggie burger until someone on television made it so enticing that I couldn’t resist.  It took three  “mmm”s of approval by someone eating it, before I gave in to a recipe that had been created by a tv weatherman.  Turns out, there is a little magic to this Meatless Monday consideration.

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