Sunday on the Grill

Sundays are the best.  When you (okay, when I) begin my day with a steaming bowl of cocoa, how can anything really be wrong with the world?  Sundays are perfect days for puttering and shaking off the final vestiges of Friday – you know, the ones that you couldn't get rid of on Saturday night?  Sure, Monday is only hours off but that makes a Sunday afternoon all the more enjoyable.

Sundays were always grilling days growing up.  And who else but Dad did the grilling?  Naturally, Mom did all the prep work – the trimming, marinating, par-cooking and slathering.  But Dad – the "rock star" – brought in the platter of perfectly cooked (fill in the blank).  Steaks, pork tenderloin, ribs (short and spare), swordfish, kebabs and chicken.  I always wondered how he knew exactly when the right time was to turn, baste, move to the cooler side and so on.  But know he did and he was a master at it.

Me, I am just plain lucky.  I throw things on and and pray.  I pretend, at times, to time whatever it is that I am grilling.  Once last week, I actually did time it and then needed to put it back on.  Half the time, I expect the steak to say to – as did Saint Lawrence – "I'm done on this side, can you turn me over?"  (That is what he said when he was martyred on a grill over a flame.  Did you know that Saint Lawrence is the patron saint of football and cooks?  In theory, that is where we get 'gridiron' for the football field....  Of course naming him the patron saint of cooks is an obvious conclusion.)


Hello, Yellow!

From the middle of February through the middle of April, everything seems to be yellow in the desert.  While other colors do appear – the bluebells are blue and the chuparosa are rosa, for sure – the Sonoran Desert is awash in a myriad of yellow blossoms that include acacia, Mexican poppies, brittle bush, senna and palo verde trees.  Those are just the native plants – don't get me started on the non-native species!

For anybody who grew up in the Northeast, the blooming of the forsythia was the sign that spring had truly arrived.  When I first moved to Tucson and thought that I would miss these boughs of golden blossoms, the senna started blooming in February, its sweet fragrance noticeable only at ten paces.  I said to myself, "That will be my forsythia now."  And when the brittle bush bloomed in March I thought, "Ah, another forsythia contender."  And, when the palo verde trees bloomed in April showering the desert yet again with billions of blossoms on their thorny green branches, I was almost giddy never having seen such a profusion of yellow against the deep blue sky.  Perhaps I could live without forsythia...


Restaurant Week Portsmouth

Seven days.  37 restaurants.  3-course prix fixe menu. 

March 26th - April 3rd, 2010.  More here.


Dinner in 5 (or so)

We've had some very nasty weather recently.  Howling wind, torrential rain, power outage lasting days.  It's enough to make you take to your bed, pull the covers over your head and not climb out until spring.  You're so right, David - bring in those comfort food guns.      

Pasta - in any way, shape or form - is my weapon of choice.  I could happily eat it five nights a week and it's the first item I look for on a menu.  A complete stranger once confronted me in the supermarket while I was reading the ingredients in canned ravioli.  You aren't going to feed that to anyone, are you?  When my brother and I were young and home from school due to a snowstorm, our mother would give us Spaghetti O's for lunch.  It was our "snow day" treat, a big bowl of O's with mini meatballs or hot dogs.  If our neighborhood lost power, Dad would pile us into the car and off we'd go into town, to The Rosa Restaurant - electricity humming away - where, to my young eyes, the meatballs were as big as baseballs.  Two years ago, when no one was all that excited about having a full-blown Christmas dinner, my father, brother and I convinced my mom to make her meatballs with spaghetti.  The size and shape of a medium egg, fragrant with cumin and simmered in tomato sauce, her meatballs are THE best and we can't get enough of them.  She finally gave in and oh, we were in heaven.