Catch and Release Recipes

My sister Becky just used a great phrase when she said “Let’s hear it for the “catch and release” recipes – they are the best!”    I love that thought – “catch and release” recipes to refer to recipes we get from others and pass along.  I can already see OUR cookbook.  Becky and Sue’s Catch and Release Cookbook.  Doesn’t that have a great ring?  We both live in states (Washington and Colorado) with a big reputation for outdoor sports, including fly fishing.  So we’ll bring out some of the outdoor women in us, even if we’ll be using kitchen tools rather than a fly line in a trout stream.   The best part will be that we won’t get skunked!   Our river of recipes will always be well stocked, and bring delights to all those who cast in their line (or ladles and spatulas and rolling pins…..).

I say let’s get started with this as an on-going project, with a huge welcome for all readers who care to join us in this great sporting activity.  Send along the recipes that you’ve cherished from friends…..Even better, include with the recipe a memory about the person who gave you the recipe (funny, solemn, serious, silly).    Recipes, and memories, are best when “caught and released”, or so I think.

Even more fascinating, wouldn’t it be fun to trace a recipe being passed along from friend to friend and see where it starts and where it ends up?   Kind of like Six Degrees of Separation?  Well, no not really.  Perhaps more like a family tree, where there is a common beginning that branches off in all directions.


Spinach quiche (or real friends share recipes)

I shared a recipe the other night with Carrie.  She wanted to make a quiche, so I immediately thought about my sister Becky’s spinach quiche recipe and sent the recipe along to Carrie.  I’m wondering how it turned out for her.  I know she used Gouda cheese from the Farmer’s market but didn’t hear if it tasted good.  But it got me to thinking about shared recipes, and how interesting it is to ponder just where our recipes go when we “release them”.    Kind of a fun thought to think about tracing back the previous “owners” when you get a recipe from a friend, and how they now are all kind of your friends also.   So here is the recipe I shared with Carrie (with hopes that it’s OK with Becky that I shared it.)

Becky’s spinach quiche

1 baked quiche shell
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach
4 strips bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cups half and half
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 c. grated swiss cheese
1 teaspoon flour

Drain spinach, squeeze out excess moisture.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, half and half, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Mix in spinach and bacon.  Combine grated swiss cheese and flour and stir in.  Pour into quiche crust.  Bake at 325 (or 350) for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let set 10 minutes before serving.

My notes:  Prepare baked pie crust as directed on instructions.    Feel free to use all milk (total of 2 cups) rather than combination of milk and half and half.    Can use other kind of cheese if desired.  Also can substitute other vegetables –  or meats.    Will take longer to bake if using an 8″ pan.

Granola cravings

I woke up this morning really wanting to have granola with some yogurt and fresh fruit.  The granola container was empty, though, so I mixed up a batch.  I’ve been using a recipe I found in Sunset magazine some years ago.

Clementine\’s Fruit and Nut Granola

This recipe gives me a general guideline for how to make granola.   I use whatever kinds of nuts I have in the cupboard.   Maybe almonds, but usually not.  I sometimes add some shredded coconut, because I like coconut.  A few times I substituted maple syrup (the real stuff) for the honey and it made incredibly good tasting granola.  But I also thought about how expensive the maple syrup was and decided to reserve it for use as a topping for huckleberry pancakes.  I might add dried fruit when serving, or I might use fresh fruit.

I am pondering how I have been claiming (to myself) that I don’t like really sweet food.  I have joined the minority group in my family by now liking my lefse unsugared, unlike my tastes growing up when I always wanted sugar on it.  I don’t add sugar when I eat shredded wheat for breakfast.  But looking at this recipe I realize that I certainly must love sweetness (and fats!) as it’s pretty loaded up!    OK, so I’m kidding myself, as I certainly also love cookies and pies, both sweet and rich with fat.   My ongoing challenge…..

cross country ramblings

We just returned from a long cross country drive from Washington state to Wisconsin and back. The highlights:  a week spent visiting with family.  The lowlights:  thousands of miles of driving to get there and back.

I’m glad we have a fuel efficient car.  Our VW Jetta TDI – diesel – averages well over 40 miles per gallon, even at the 75 mph we maintained for much of the trip.  Still, hours and hours in the car lose their excitement pretty quickly and end up being reduced to hours of boredom.  I had grand visions of great stops at places of culinary excitement and natural grandeur.   Do Arby’s and Interstate Highway Waysides live up to that promise?  Nope.  

In coming blogs, I will add more details about the family reunion.  The birthday party for my mother; the three generation lefse production; the trips to cheese factories.   Right now, I admit to exhaustion and burn out.  

Still, I did find a common theme on our drive back.  Bears.  Oh, not wild bears in Yellowstone National Park, which we visited.  But cute little carved bears welcoming us to our overpriced tourist motels.


I particularly was charmed by the little ones in Mitchell, South Dakota which were not only on the benches outside the hotel door, but also were craning their heads to peer into some of the second floor windows.  Cute.  Very cute.  At Lake De Smet (just outside Buffalo, Wyoming), the little bears were trying to get into a honey comb.  Good thing it wasn’t real, otherwise I don’t think Dave would have been willing to pose with the little creatures.   

We did see some real “wildlife”.  Antelope.  Prairie dogs.  Bison.  This one was pretty close to the car in Yellowstone National Park. 

I wasn’t about to step outside the car for a closer view.  But it did remind me that we had buffalo burgers somewhere in Montana on our trip eastward.  They were good, although not much different tasting than beef.   Supposedly lower in fat, but mostly I think we ordered them as part of “experience Montana”.  I did pass on the Rocky Mountain “oysters”…… That experience will have to wait, perhaps forever.

car games

We are leaving in two days for a major vacation trip.  It will involve driving approximately 1800 miles to central Wisconsin. I’m very excited that we’ll be seeing almost ALL of my family.  I’m also apprehensive about how well I’ll tolerate the driving.  My sister made a comment recently in an e-mail about some menu items for our mother’s birthday party bringing out the “inner child” in her.  She was referring to being a picky eater growing up, and still having aversions to certain foods.  Yet I give her tremendous credit for having very broad tastes in food now.  

But I noticed my “inner child” also coming out, just not about foods.  While I don’t think I was as good an eater (what a strange way to describe a child?) as my daughters were, I also don’t think I was classically “picky”.    Carrie and Erin would gladly try all sorts of foods that other kids immediately turned down, declaring that “trees” (brocolli) are yummy and gobbling up meats and eggs.   No, the “inner child” that is rearing it’s head is the one saying “are we there yet?” before we’ve even pulled out of the driveway.  I want to know how I’ll be entertained for the long drive, and the old license plate games aren’t the same with just Dave and me in the car.  

There was a recent article in the Yakima newspaper about “car games” and it included some I’d never heard of, like the “in your pants game” where that phrase is added to various highway signs, such as “emergency parking only — in your pants.”   It wasn’t all that funny when I read the article, so I don’t hold out much hope for it entertaining me on those long stretches through Montana and North Dakota.  So I’m left filling my iPod with podcasts, hoping that hours of “American Life” or “the Splendid Table” will help the interstate miles pass more quickly.  But really, mostly I’ll probably be reminded that I seem constantly to be thinking about food as Lynne Rossetto Kasper fills my head with fantasies of Dave and me doing our own “Two For The Road” show,” “ferreting out the best in American food” as the Sterns’ do on their travels across the country.   I guess I’ll drive the miles with things like memories of those sweet potato tamales at the Bit and Spur outside Zion National Park, in Springdale, Utah, washed down with a glass of Polygamy Porter (“why have just one?”), as my personal road signs.  Which exit leads to the next culinary discovery?