Jammin, Too!: The Sequel

Last week, my friend Magda in The Netherlands posted a nectarine jam with a hint of lemon on her wonderful blog, My Little Expat Kitchen with its beautiful photography and amazing recipes. I’d already done the photography for a blog on jam making, so I’d need a new title for my planned post on jam making: thus, Jammin’, Too!

Our mini tagine that Nancy and Ray brought us back from Morocco!
Yep, that's a reference to all those (mostly bad) sequel movies out there. Jaws II, Blade II, Hangover II, Bloodfist II. (Was there really a Bloodfist I? And, pray tell, why are there six more after that?) Let’s hope this post falls in the category of good sequels: Toy Story II and III, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia.


True Grit(s)

Our friend Susie had true grit. She was feisty, headstrong, determined and firm; she had moxie. She was simultaneously gracious, elegant, funny, generous, thoughtful and caring. She was beautiful inside and out. A mutual friend said, "She lit up a room when she entered." It was true.

She died in late May, just about two months prior to her 90th birthday. A couple of days before she passed, invitations for her 90th birthday fête arrived in the mail, and we made reservations immediately to attend the soirée in Austin, Texas.


Peter Piper Picked a Peck of...

Peaches! And, boy, they are sweet and juicy!

About 90 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona, is the small historic farming town of Wilcox. When I go to our Tucson farmers market, I find much of the best produce comes from Wilcox, especially the tomatoes. When you dine at a restaurant here, chefs proudly announce that, "this evening you will be enjoying fresh Wilcox tomatoes."

And, while the tomatoes are good and ripe in Wilcox these days, it was the Peach Mania festival that got me and my friend Luisa out early last Sunday for a road trip to Apple Annie's!


Thou Shalt Not Judge

That should be the first culinary commandment. A can of cream of mushroom soup in a recipe? Frozen vegetables? A tin of French-fried onions? Mac-and-cheese-three-for-a-dollar? Making dinner in the microwave? Don't judge. Everyone has their reasons for doing what they do, and cooking whatever they eat.

I grew up with a mother who had to feed four hungry boys and a husband nightly. Occasionally, she cut corners by using prepared foods. It saved an incredible amount of her time and energy and, to be honest, the food tasted great to a growing kid. Two of my favorites from childhood are her incredible Meat Ball Casserole and Spicy Meat Ball Soup. Without Campbell's soups, these recipes would not exist.

I don't use prepared foods when I cook because I like to whole process of cooking, I have ample time, and I do NOT have four (or any) children. I do use canned tomatoes and prepared Dijon mustard but, in general, make most of my condiments: Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, some mustard, hot sauces, and definitely mayonnaise. As for cooking methods, the one method I employ, that gets a lot of criticism, is using a microwave to make a meal and not simply to reheat last evening's fare. That is one thing I do. Please, don't judge me.