12/14/2013

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


November’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge had us on a roll! Olga from http://www.effortnesslessly.blogspot.com/ challenged us to make stuffed cabbage rolls using her Ukrainian heritage to inspire us. Filled with meat, fish or vegetables, flexibility and creativity were the name of the game to get us rolling!

I haven't made these very often (can count the number of times on one hand) and really don't remember having them at home, growing up.  However, much of my childhood being in a repressed state of hardly any memory, that's not really a clue.  Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are quite delicious though, and should make a more regular appearance on our table.


 Since I have collards growing in my garden, a first attempt with the challenge was made with a few leaves from those fairly puny, smallish plants.  They're not getting enough sun right now.  Using a filling mixture of ground beef and bulger wheat, instead of rice.  Mainly just because I had a smidgen left to be used up.  I especially liked the very simple sauce I made, from Claudia Roden's, The Book of Jewish Food, which was easily made by blending up a can of tomatoes with sugar, lemon, salt and pepper.


Since it was just the two of us, I split a red bell pepper half for the extra stuffing.   They baked for 2 hours, and I served them over egg noodles, with a small salad.


It's good to have another recipe for using collards, which when they're going strong produce lots of greens.  For my next trial I used regular cabbage, and a stuffing of half ground pork and half ground beef, with the partially cooked rice, recommended in our given recipe.

We were given very clear and easy to follow directions for each step, which I will include here:

11/14/2013

Castilian Bread Soup for Daring Cooks



Our November Daring Cooks’ hostess was Begoña, who writes the beautiful blog, Las recetas de Marichu y las mías. Begoña is from Spain and didn’t want to go with the more common challenges of paella or gazpacho, she wanted to share with us another very popular recipe from Spain that we don’t see as often called Sopa Castellana which is a delicious bread soup!

I am so bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  Took every shortcut in the book on this one, still managing to scrape in only at the last minute.  There are just too many projects going on in my life right now.  On top of which, dealing with a plumbing leak - so no water to the kitchen.  But, still yet, this soup was delicious.  Probably would be even more so if the stock was made from scratch, as in the given recipe.  I used a fine organic brand of mushroom broth instead, and coppa in place of the Serrano ham.  This has besides the bread, lots of garlic.  Yum.

Castilian Bread Soup
Servings: 6
Ingredients:
 1 kg (2½ lbs) of veal meat
 1 chicken drumstick
 1 small piece (5 cm cube) (2 inch cube) of Serrano ham
 1 veal bone
 3 leeks
 2 carrots
 1 bunch celery
 1 onion
 handful of chickpeas (1/2 cup)
 2 whole cloves
 1 sweet dry red pepper
 Salt to taste
 10 garlic cloves150 gm (5½ oz) Serrano ham
 2 sweet dry red peppers
 12 slices of day-old bread
 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gms) (½ oz) sweet paprika
 Water
 50 ml (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) of extra virgin olive oil
 2.5 liters (10 cups) vegetable, meat or chicken stock
 6 large eggs

Directions for the stock:

Soak the chickpeas in water, the night before making the soup. Fill a big stew pot with water, and add the meat, chicken, ham and bone. Gentle simmer for one hour and a half skimming occasionally.

Clean and cut all the vegetables and the dry pepper, except the onion. Stud the onion with the two cloves add to the pot with the drained chickpeas and the cut vegetables and dry pepper. Add salt to taste.  Simmer for another one and a half to two hours, if needed add water.

After this time, take out the veal, chicken and ham, which can be reserved for another recipe. Strain the stock. Discard the bones.
If you wish you can use the cooked vegetables to make a great soup by adding cream with some potatoes and more water.

Peel the garlic cloves and slice them. Cut the Serrano ham into small cubes. Clean the dry peppers by removing the ribs and membranes and cutting into small pieces. Cut the bread into fine slices.
In a stew pot warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry gently. Make sure that garlic doesn't burn; it should be brown but not burned. Add the ham cubes and the cut and cleaned peppers and stir all the ingredients.


 Add half the bread and continue stirring. Take pan off the heat and add the paprika. Stir till everything is well integrated and return the pan onto a low heat. Add the stock and let it cook about 20 minutes, it must not boil, or otherwise bread will fall apart.


After this, add the rest of bread, taste for salt (remember that the stock is already salted) and wait until the bread softens. Then add the eggs, one for each person, poach the eggs about 3-4 minutes.
For another option, add only the white of eggs to the soup, stir till they make fine threads. Place the yolks into individual serving bowls and ladle the hot soup into the bowls.


A very nice dinner with just salad and a glass of Spanish rose.  Viva!
 

10/17/2013

Cheesy Bacon Scones, Oh Yes!


Truthfully, I don't know what put it into my mind to combine cheese and crispy, crumbled bacon in scones.  The idea just showed up, and rather than fight it, we followed through.  Very glad for the impulse, whatever its origin, a stunning combination in a breakfast scone.  Also, they are very quick and easy to put together.

9/29/2013

Thomasplitzchen Buns or Fruit Spirals


As I began to read our current Cook the Books Club selection, The Baker's Daughter, by Sarah McCoy, I became more and more drawn into the story, both for its own sake, and then especially after remembering that my own mother was a German baker's daughter.  Her father's father came from Germany in the latter part of the 19th century, migrating to Minnesota, and from there his son, her father, Charles Ulmen, moved his young family to California around 1910, where he opened a bakery, which morphed into a cookie factory.

I know they made a variety of cookies, at least one of them chocolate, based on an old family story of my uncle's raid on the bakery supplies.  The little guy ate enough chocolate to make himself sick, and never wanted any more for the remainder of his life.

Previously my genealogical research had been confined to my father's side, so this was an encouragement to dig into my mother's history.  Why did her grandfather leave his home in Europe, and exactly when.  Lots more remains to be discovered.

This book was a fascinating tale of life in Germany during the World War II years, from one young girl's perspective, and all through it we are tempted by the descriptions of delicious breads and pastries in their family bakery.  I was inspired to attempt them all.  Which might just happen, eventually.

9/14/2013

Potato Gnocchi or Little Italian Potato Dumplings



Bob said,  "Knee aki?? what's that?" I told him, "It's what you're eating.  Think of them as little Italian potato dumplings."  "Okay."  He then made an off-the-wall comparison with Japanese mochi.  I was a bit miffed, or in Hawaii we'd say slightly hu hu over that, since mochi is not the consistency we're looking for in gnocchi.  And, they were absolutely not.  They were light and delicious.  Fluffy even, so there.  He now tells me that it was not a comment on the consistency.  Hummm.  Perhaps the steak was clouding his mind for anything other than MEAT.  Possibly.

Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!

9/08/2013

Guava Dutch Baby or Clafouti Reprise


This is guava time in Hawaii, which I love as it gives me opportunities to update old recipes and try new ways of cooking and using guavas.  Also, I need to remember to freeze them when not immediately making something.  Then we can have Guava Cobbler or Dutch Baby or whatever at other times of the year.  Yes, duh.

The recipe I posted previously, for Dutch Baby, was an adaptation using sourdough starter.  This is the regular recipe, which I think is better (it puffs up folks), so a reprise of what I posted last year.  If you want your Clafouti to puff up nicely, the fruit needs to be on the bottom.  Which is also just easier.  And, if by this time you are saying to yourself, "...mumble, mumble, mumble..Dutch Baby...mumble, Clafouti??? What the heck is this??"  The answer is a big, fat pancake that puffs up from the three eggs in there.  Simpler than a pancake, as no baking powder needed or individual frying. 

8/14/2013

Chicken Biryani, a Layered Rice and Curry Dish


Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

So, I did my version of Chicken Biryani.  Not all that different from the supplied recipe.  Just that it called for "curry powder" and "biryani powder."  Curry powder can be a lot of things, depending upon what goes into it.  Biryani powder is not available here, so I went online and checked out the list of spices that would be needed to make up a batch.  Among them were: shah jeera, Marathi mogga and rathi puvvu, aside from black and green cardamom.  Well I do have the green, but it is already called for in the main recipe for the Chicken Biryani.  I made an executive decision.  Used my curry powder mixture, kept in the freezer for such occasions, and some chili powder, along with the remaining ingredients on the list, and forgot about the biryani powder. 

Very good as far as that goes, though would probably amp up the spices next time, and for my left-overs.  I do love Indian cuisine. 

7/29/2013

Cold Potato Soup or Vichysoisse

Several years ago I splurged on a hefty cookbook/treatise entitled The Art of Eating, by M.F.K. Fisher, a 50th Anniversary Edition, which includes 5 of her published books: Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets.  Boy howdy! (as they say in some parts) the perfect gift for your MFK Fisher fan.  I knew she was an icon in the foodie world, had read reviews praising her work, and don't remember if that was all it took, or if there was something more urging me to buy the weighty tome.   So glad I did.  One nice thing about this wonderful volume, a feast of accumulated experience, wit and challenging opinions on food and eating, is its very size.  You can dip and taste at random, sampling here and there, for quite a long time, and then go back for more.

Which is what I've done.  And until our current Cook the Books Club selection, How to Cook a Wolf, I had not read straight through any of the individual titles.  This particular book was written during the World War II years, and is a fascinating glimpse of the life and cooking challenges then, with shortages, rationing and hard economic conditions;  keeping an upbeat attitude with a wolf at the door.

7/12/2013

Italian Plum Cake and Mysteries of Life


There are books, wonderful books, well-written, which I have enjoyed and appreciated, yet if asked later about the story line, I might only be able to tell you about a bit of food.   Plum Cake, case in point, from the recent and excellent novel by Donna Leon, The Golden Egg.

As one reviewer, Ms. Goring at The Herald, stated: "We find ourselves once more in the company of Commissario Guido Brunetti, a gentlemanly, bookish policeman who never takes a short cut if it would impede his ruminations on life."  A domestic tragedy, and mystery involving the death of a local boy, a deaf-mute, his neighbors believe.  Things are not always what they seem on the surface, and Paola, Brunetti's equally bookish wife, refuses to let things alone.  She encourages her husband to find out more about the sad-eyed young man, and why he died.

And she bakes her family a fabulous Plum Cake.  Her son equates it with God.  I don't know that I would go that far.  Though God did give us plums.

7/06/2013

Hawaiian style - Poke, rhymes with okey dokey



Poke is a local treat, usually made with raw ahi tuna, though other fish are used as well, mixed with some type of seaweed, green onion, and various spices.  The secret ingredient is often roasted kukui nut, also called candlenut, which together with Hawaiian salt, make up that special flavor combination known around here as Inamona.


With a handy Kukui (Candlenut) tree in our back garden, I decided to go through the process of making my own inamona.  I had gathered a basket full and let the nuts brown in the sun for several weeks, as per directions found online.  

6/29/2013

Clares Lace Cookies

 
One thing to love about the "Aunt Dimity" series of mysteries by Nancy Atherton, is a lovely recipe added in at the end.  Something casually featured in the story, nice but not necessary.  Just delicious.  And for lovers of good food and murder mysteries (what exactly is the connection there?) the perfect ending.  You not only get the puzzle solved but a treat as well.  That is if you make the effort to cook it up.

Right now I'm reading Aunt Dimity: Detective, and the treat at the end is The Pym Sisters' Gilded Gingerbread, which I'm looking forward to trying.  These Lace Cookies were the nice surprise, the fillip to finish Aunt Dimity's Christmas.  Light, crispy and delectable.

6/14/2013

Creamy Dill Sauce with Tunaballs for Daring Cooks


The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.

I chose to do another take on my Tunaballs, with a different sauce.  The last time I made these Magnificent Tuna meat balls it was a variation of a variation on Jamie Oliver's.  This one is a variation on an old Fish Patties recipe of mine, origin unknown, deep in the dark past.  An old recipe 3x5 card.


What I like about this version is the utter simplicity, not to mention good taste.  Also, utter simplicity, the Creamy Dill Sauce, and just what the Tunaball Dr. ordered to be lopped around and over them.  Thank you Nancy for the lovely home-grown dill.

I would say this is a mixed ethnic expression.  Like me, and probably many of us, a blend of various cultures and genetic background.  There's a bit of the Scandinavian in both the sauce and those fishy balls.  Not exactly lutefisk, thank God.  Though I'm sure there are a few Norwegians who have made left-over lutefisk into balls or patties.  A dollop of Italian in the pasta. Not sure what cuisine uses ground sunflower seeds as a binder?  So in celebration of cultural smorgasbords.



As I shared in that earlier post, it would be a culinary travesty to use fresh ahi tuna in these.  Sorry Jamie.  The whole point is to take something from your pantry, a can of tuna, and turn it into something special.  Flake and mix with the seasonings, and ground sunflower seeds. 


Tuna Balls with Creamy Dill Sauce

1 can tuna, drained
1/2 chopped onion
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 cup ground sunflower seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper
seasoning/optional additions:
2 anchovies
1-2 tablespoons minced dill or sage
2 teaspoons chopped capers
salted preserved lemon, minced
3/4 oz. grated parmesan cheese

Sauté the onion in a bit of oil until translucent.  Flake fish in bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Mix well and form into balls, squeezing together  (wet your hands with a little water).  Put the tuna balls onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper and let sit while you preheat your oven to 400F.

Bake for about 20 minutes or 'til lightly golden.


Sauce
1 cup cream
1/2 cup finely minced fresh dill
1/4 cup white wine
1 egg yolk
salt and pepper to taste

Begin heating 2/3 cup of the cream in a skillet.  Meanwhile, beat the egg yolk well into 1/3 cup of the cream, add the wine and whisk into the heated cream.   Continue whisking while it simmers, and until thickened.  Add the dill and Tuna Balls, then heat through.


Serve with pasta or potatoes, add a bit of salad or maybe some steamed asparagus.  I marinated cooked, cooled beets for a salad to go alongside.  We enjoyed this Challenge meal.  Both the tuna balls and sauce were delicious.  Wasn't really much of a challenge though, to tell you the truth.   Easy peasy.

6/07/2013

Friday Book Beginnings



This is a new meme for me, focusing on books, rather than books plus food or just food.   Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays, about which she says:
Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.
My beginning is taken from Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich.  The first paragraph actually.

New Jersey was 40,000 feet below me, obscured by cloud cover.  Heaven was above me, beyond the thin skin of the plane.  And hell was sitting four rows back.  Okay, maybe hell was too strong.  Maybe it was just purgatory.

A favorite author of mine, and with her next book I will be totally caught up on this series.  I hate coming to the end, forced to wait for another.  Such a funny writer, she usually has me cracking up right through.  So this beginning is a good foreshadowing of her style.


On another subject, I should be wearing yellow and get my friend Jan to paint my face like a honey bee.  I've been pollinating vanilla plants the last few days, hoping that I'm doing it right.  Even though a friend showed me how, still not sure. 

5/25/2013

The Color of Tea, for Cook the Books Club


Our current selection for that exclusive online group, known as Cook the Books Club, is The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe.  And, BTW, exclusive meaning only those who love books and food need apply.  We read a recommended book and then post about it with a recipe(s) inspired by our reading.  That's pretty much it.  Someone then judges the entries and a dubious prize is awarded. (A little bird just told me that this time may be an exception.)  Feel free to join in.

This was lovely escapist fiction, and quite an enjoyable read, despite the whole time, just about, my wanting to yell at the heroine, Grace, to just wake up and smell the roses, or something to that effect.  You have to love a book that involves your emotions.  However, when a person is caught up in an obsession there is really not much anyone can say or do.  Well, certainly not from the distance of readership.

Okay, she really, really, really wants a baby.  It is not happening. That is her conundrum.   On the way to waking up, she nearly loses what she does have, a very understanding, decent husband, who loves her. 

Happily, Tunnicliffe brings our girl along to the place every character needs to go, development and maturity.  I almost lost it for a bit there.  But continued reading.  Yes, a story of renewal, growth, friendship, and the bold, even brave adventure of opening a tea shop in Macau, of all places.  Grace changes her focus in the very nick of time.


The main food group dealt with in this book, aside from tea, was macarons.  For some folks, these little French confections come close to being an obsession.  (So she had two).  I am just surprised that the main characters' teeth didn't all fall out by the end of the story, at the rate everyone was consuming those macarons.  Which are mostly composed of sugar.  Good though sweet, as you might guess. 

5/14/2013

Personal Beef Wellingtons for Daring Kitchen


Another of the Daring Kitchen challenges that sent me out preparing a meal which would otherwise never make it to our table.  Well, I have made Empanadas, or meat pies, but this is a few steps more complicated.
The lovely Monkey Queen of, Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

I limit myself by refusing to buy hormone and anti-biotic inflicted beef.  In Hawaii, though we do have several large ranches raising grass fed cattle, the challenge is to find the cut one wants in a store. Something tells me that all the fine hotels here are sucking up quite a bit of loose meat, fish and produce.  Not able to locate a center cut, 3 lb. tenderloin, I opted for the individual portion version of Wellington.  So, on a gourmet level or two up from Pigs in Blankets or Personal Pan Pizza, I give you Mini Beef Wellingtons.

The first part of the job is to prepare crepes.  Luckily, something I do on a regular basis.  One of my very favorite breakfasts.  And there are usually some left.  Perfect for this dish.  So, Sunday morning crepes and Beef Wellington for dinner.  I don't think my husband realizes just how lucky he is.

4/30/2013

Peanut Butter Cream Scones

Sometimes my cooking adventures turn out to be an object lesson.  To me at least.  A few weeks ago I had the urge to make some peanut butter scones, because they would go so well with jelly, of course.  And, after searching for a recipe, settled on one that sounded pretty yummy.  With oats and chocolate chips, buttermilk, etc.  There were a lot of things I don't usually add to scones.  They inspired me to make even more changes.  Result: not the best.  Crumbly, fiddly to make.

So, this morning I decided to go back to my usual cream scone recipe, and just sub out peanut butter for the butter.  Cut it in as though we were cutting in butter, add the cream, and pat it out.  Yea!  A keeper.  And, because I'm so nice, I'm sharing with you.  And, don't you know, they are totally low calorie?  :)

4/16/2013

Stuffed Beef Rolls with Prosciutto and Artichoke


I've just finished another great Donna Leon mystery, A Sea of Troubles, and was inspired to fix one of the tempting dishes that Paola made for her family.  Those lucky folks.

When the series hero, Commissario Brunetti, investigates the murder of two local fishermen on the island of Pellestrina, the small community closes ranks, forcing him to accept Signorina Elettra's (his boss's secretary) offer to visit her relatives there, to search for clues.  No end of clues and life threatening danger, solved nicely by our intrepid investigator.

The dish that caught my fancy was a version of one of my favorites, Involtini Florentine, made with flank steak, and of course with a spinach stuffing.  This one, Involtini di Vitello o Manzo con Carciofi, or Beef Rolls stuffed with artichokes and prosciutto.  I cheated? and used  fancy bottled artichokes, all nicely prepared.  Just had to rinse, quarter and sprinkle them with lemon juice.

Happily, my Italian Slow and Savory cookbook, by Joyce Goldstein, had the recipe, which I followed, for a change, as given.  With the exception of the artichoke shortcut mentioned above.  The filling is so yummy, with tender artichoke hearts, prosciutto, garlic and parsley, not to mention a savory sauce, beef stock reduced, and enhanced with cream at the end, which I served over spiral pasta.  A truly delicious meal.

3/14/2013

Waimea Blue Fog Cheese for Daring Cooks

Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!

I was happy to jump onto this latest challenge, due to my long postponed goal of making pressed and formed cheese.  Having experimented with cream cheese, feta and ricotta, I purchased a form and follower (the doo hickey that fits snugly on top) for pressing cheese.  Those items have been languishing in a cupboard, so hurrah, they've been put to use!


Making my own blue cheese sounded fun, despite my granddaughter's dire warnings, mentioned in an earlier post.  So using a favorite kefir and cheese site, Dom's Kefir for instructions, I started off with a half gallon of fresh, raw goat's milk, and inoculated it for 24 hours with kefir grains rather than rennet.  For a variety of reasons.  I always have it on hand for one.  You can visit his site for more information than you need or want to know.  I'm calling it Waimea Blue Fog, since I bought the goats milk there in Waimea, on the cooler, North end of the Big Island, known for an occasional fog blanketing its road and green hills.

3/09/2013

Lemon Shrimp with Polenta and La Vignarola


Our current Cook the Books Club selection is The Shape of Water, by Andrea Camilleri. A favorite author of mine, though on second reading, this first novel of his Inspector Montalbano mystery series, is not my favorite. Too much of the corruption, poverty and sleazy side of life in Sicily maybe. Albeit thankfully balanced by the Inspector’s sense of humor and fair play.  And who, with that, according to one of his favorite chefs, "was a good customer with discerning tastes."  However, even his love of and descriptions of good food are not given as much scope in this one. 

Despite a slowish beginning of complex sentences, depressing descriptions of environmental travesties, and dour political mutterings, we do move on eventually into the plot, convoluted though it is.   I’m still not quite sure who all did what to whom and why.  Somehow you don’t feel too sorry for the various corpses.

But you have to love his conflicted main character, Inspector Salvo Montalbano.  He tries to do the right thing, despite the moral climate and political expediency, is known as a just man “who when he wanted to get to the bottom of something, he did.”  And, of course he does, intervening under cover to protect the innocent.

2/14/2013

Duck Roulade with Sweet 'N Sour Ginger Passion Fruit Sauce


 I will start off this post with a disclaimer about sausages.  They are not my favorite food.  Also, grinding meat and stuffing pig intestines is not my idea of a fun cooking project.  To begin with, our old grinder is a bust, as opposed to "the bomb", just so you know.  And secondly, I do not possess a sausage stuffer, nor have any plans to get one.  But it's okay, there were alternatives in our Daring Cooks' challenge for this round.

For the January-February 2013 Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Carol, one of our talented non-blogging members and Jenni, one of our talented bloggers who writes The Gingered Whisk, have challenged us to make homemade sausage and/or cured, dried meats in celebration of the release of the book Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn! We were given two months for this challenge and the opportunity to make delicious Salumi in our own kitchens!

As discerning readers may have noticed, I do have a fondness for duck, so thought I would give Michael Ruhlman's Duck Roulade, from his book Charcuterie, a try.  Though it is a fairly difficult process, which briefly stated, involves removing the skin in a piece large enough to envelope the rest of the duck, which has been ground into a filling, augmented with pieces of sauteed duck breast, herbs, seasonings, etc.

1/17/2013

Roast Duck with Cassava and Dandeloin Greens

For Cook the Books Club, our latest read has been The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  An inspired selection, for which the challenge was coming up with food to match.  Perhaps something from the extravagant feasts of the Capitol higher-ups or relating to the frugal, hungry foraging of the masses.

I had put off reading this particular book, not only because it is classed as "Young Adult", but its category, Science Fiction, is not my usual choice.  As a teen I went through an intense period of reading only this genre.  Perhaps got it out of my system.  Well, except for the Eve Dallas thrillers (by J.D. Robb), which do appear occasionally in my stack.  However all the adults I questioned gave it a thumbs up.  And, I must say, I was hooked right from the first page.  What a terrific read.  Even though you come to realize that nothing is really resolved or happy ever after, given that world.

At the same time, a scary reminder of what can all too easily happen in our own world.  As Gale muses, "It's to the Capitol's advantage to have us divided among ourselves."  Harkening to our recent elections as well as the continuing media and governmental drive to divide, by economic status and color.  So, not a completely lightweight book, but one which gets you to think as well as be entertained.


My inspiration for our cooking challenge came from the book's characters, Gale and Katniss, foraging and hunting in the forest, using whatever they could, to keep themselves and their families from starvation.  When Bob and I bought the property we live on here in Hawaii, one ideal (back in the day) was to grow some of our own food, to be able to survive if necessary, in an emergency situation, on what we could produce.  As I mentioned, an ideal.

So for this meal, duck traded with a friend, and cassava grown in our garden along with greens. Especially dandelions I thought, since they're not really cultivated, but foraged, would be a good survival meal.  Along with a glass of Lemon Mead, not necessary for existence, but groovy and  made from our own lemons.