Archive for the ‘Food Stuff’ Category

From Champagne to Salad Greens!

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Nyel, Bill (my dad) and Noel Around The Champagne Table – 1988

Recycling, refurbishing, renewing.  Nyel is adamant about all of it.  Including repurposing.  Today’s (read “this week’s” or possibly “this month’s”) project deals with an old galvanized washtub.

Neither of us remember where that washtub came from.  Maybe it has been on the premises since my grandparents’ time.  Certainly, it has seen better days.  There are holes in the bottom and dents on the sides.  It definitely has character.

Getting Ready for the Salad Greens!

For years we used it to hold champagne bottles nestled in ice — a hallmark of our Annual Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Galas (1984- 2002).  For the past two decades, though, it has been sitting atop a metal storage cupboard in the garage and has been the repository for between-seasons Christmas tree stands and other sometimes-necessities of the household.

Today that old, leaky washtub is headed for Nyel’s new kitchen garden where it will be filled with topsoil and compost and planted with little green onion sets and several kinds of lettuces.  Salads-in-a-Tub within steps of the dinner table!  I don’t think as many people will be bellying up to it now as in its glamorous champagne past, though.

On the other hand, it’s likely to get a little too much attention from our girls.  Those chickens do love to peck and poke in the soil and I know they’ll be excited about a “new” container to explore.  I wonder if Nyel has a Chicken Discouragement Plan in mind.

That Easter Bunny had nothing to do with it!

Monday, April 5th, 2021

A Rack of Lambykins

The Easter menu here in the Chef Nyel household was simple but elegant-to-the-max.  Three items only: rack of lamb;, au gratin potatoes; green beans with sesame seeds, garlic, and thyme.  Perfection on a plate!

Every time we have lamb — which isn’t all that often these days now that it’s become so expensive — I think of  Alan Greiner and Debbie Drew and a fabulous dinner we had with them at The Ark.  Not The Ark Restaurant in Nahcotta of Nancy and Jimella fame.  No.

The Ark at Camp Willapa c. 1940

We were at the Peninsula’s original Ark at Camp Willapa — the building that Dorothy Elliot used as her house and where summertime campers went once or twice a month to have a bath (bring your own fire wood, pump your own water) and, also, where we went every Sunday Night for a “sing-song” of   old-fashioned hymns.  The building had been an old oyster house on pilings in the bay and when it was close to falling in, its owners gave it to Dorothy.  She had it cut away from its moorings and lloated over to her property on the bay — hence, “The Ark.”

Easter Dinner 2021

In the ’80s and ’90s, the Ark was where Debbie and Alan lived — long after Dorothy’s Camp Willapa and Sherwood Forest had been sold to the Greiners and long after the Greiners’ Camp Sherwood had closed and things had changed quite a bit.  But what never changed was the joy of eating Debbie’s marvelous meals, the fresh produce from Alan’s garden, and the fun of renewing and sustaining long-ago friendships.  Debbie called the meat course “Lambykins.”  That has stuck, as has our friendship with Alan and his family.  Sadly, I’m not sure what has become of Debbie.  I hope, wherever she is that she, too, had Lambykins for Easter Dinner!



Thursday, July 30th, 2020


I never thought I’d see the day when I’d have (much less wear!) a tee shirt with an alcoholic beverage pictured on it!  But here I am, toasting Starla Gable who sent me a Bloody Mary tee shirt.  (I’m not sure about the “Hail Mary” part — it’s either a religious or a football term.  I think.)

Starla discovered some time ago that I, too, am a Bloody Mary “drinker.”  I doubt that she was using the term in quotation marks — she doesn’t really know me that well.  But any of my close friends and “drinking” buddies know that I’m really not one.  A drinker I mean.

Salad by Cuzzin Cheryl

Anyway, Starla wanted to know what my recipe is.  I imagine she thought it was too simple-minded for words:  4 ice cubes; 1 jigger of vodka; 1 small can of V-8  juice; 2 garlic stuffed olives on a plastic toothpick.  Over and out.  No hot, spicy stuff and no salad stuff.

My reasons are pretty straightforward. All during what should have been my “drinking years” — say from the time I graduated from high school in 1957 until I was in my mid-forties, I didn’t.  Drink, I mean.  Not that I didn’t try now and again — especially during my college years.  But I soon learned that even one beer or one glass of wine or one mixed drink led to a two or three-day migraine of major proportions.

Talk about aversion therapy — for years, even the smell of alcohol could send me into the nearest ladies room, headfirst into bowl. I eventually learned that I was allergic not only to alcohol, but to chocolate, cheese, and fish.  For whatever reasons, they triggered migraines and it wasn’t until an effective migraine medication was finally developed that I could chance any of the above.  By then I was 45 for 46 and probably too set in my ways to seriously change.

Rossotti’s Alpine Inn near Stanford — where I didn’t often go.

Even now, I don’t care much for fish.  Chocolate I can take or leave.  Only some cheeses have my undying affection. But I still can’t abide the smell of alcohol.  Bloody Marys are the answer to that!  And one seems the perfect number.  The “no hot spicy” part is just because hot spicy stuff makes me choke.  I can’t do spicy foods, either.  And the no-salad-in- my-Bloody — just a pain to deal with.  I like salads — but big ones in a bowl or on a plate.  Stuffing those ingredients into a glass seems wrong.  Just plain wrong.

But I sure do like my tee shirt!!  I never did learn if Starla liked my Bloody Mary recipe.  Probably not.  I admit that it’s a little simple minded.  But then… who isn’t?

And, let the new day begin!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Spinach Salad

The alarm goes off without fail at 5:30 each morning but our day doesn’t usually begin for an hour or so — after we’ve had our morning tea (Nyel) and coffee (me) and, most importantly, after we’ve discussed food.  Each morning we decide together what we’d like for lunch and dinner.  For breakfast, we’re each on our own.  Easy for me.  I’m not a breakfast-eater.

In fact, it’s all easy for me.  My only responsibility in the food department these days is getting something out of the “outside” freezer if need be.  The freezer is in the pantry/laundry room which is down a step and involves a wheelchair transfer coming and going for Nyel.  So, magnanimous me, I do that chore.  Otherwise… all I need to do is show up for the meals!  How great is that!!

Hamburger and Tater Tots

The hardest part for both of us is deciding what the day’s menu will be.  Nyel is great about knowing what food is still on hand as we get closer to our every-other-week shopping pick-up at Fred Meyers.  I don’t really know what I contribute to the discussion except being “quality control” in terms of balanced meals and not too many repeats of our favorites.  (Nyel could eat red meat at every meal.  I wouldn’t mind pasta in some form or other every day.)

Nyel is the “foodie” in the family.  He loves to eat and, oh so luckily, he loves to plan menus and to shop for groceries and to cook!  If he’s not doing any of the above, he enjoys reading recipe books and, nowadays, exploring the world of food online.  I feel like I am the luckiest woman in the world!

So… today we were up and at it, decisions made by 6:30!  Chicken Caesar salad for lunch; hamburgers and corn on the cob for dinner!  The chicken and ground round came out of the freezer by 6:35 .  Let the day begin!

Behind Those Cupboard Doors

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

As often as I sing Nyel’s praises in the cooking department, I’m not sure I say enough about his penchant for cooking from scratch.  Prepared foods don’t have much place the great scheme of things in our kitchen, as a glance inside our cupboards reveals.

Tostados for dinner?  Only if he has a supply of beans he has previously cooked in the slow cooker for a day  Then he’ll add them to the onions he has sautéed in one of the cast iron frying pans, add chili powder and cumin and we’re in business.  He doesn’t (usually) make the tortillas or salsa or (ever) the sour cream. The lettuce used to come from his garden but, alas, not now.

We aren’t big on casseroles but we do have stir fry and kabobs fairly often and, the old stand-by dinners we both grew up with — meat, vegetable, potatoes (or rice or maybe egg noodles.)  Now that Nyel can no longer keep a garden (and I am worthless as a helpmate in that arena) our produce all comes from the market — almost always fresh, occasionally frozen, never, as in not ever, canned.

Soups and salads — all from scratch, except if tomato sauce is required.  Then Nyel will make concessions to one particular brand that has a no salt added choice.   Spaghetti sauce… also from scratch.  Salad dressings… ditto

Breads and simple desserts are home made when Nyel has time or, perhaps, is in the mood.  Pastas and noodles are store-bought but, again, we are picky about brands.  Condiments are mostly store-bought, except when we luck out from some of our homemaker friends and relatives.

Even Nyel’s granola is made from scratch — rolled oats, wheat germ, almonds (chopped in food processor), raisins sunfower seeds, honey, olive oil — all mixed and slow-baked,  The Best!

We do make a few concessions to prepared foods — Costco’s Meat Lasagna for one and ready-to-bake pie shells are another.  We love Ekone Smoked Oysters (do they even count as a “prepared” food?) and every now and then I have a craving for California rolls from Safeway’s sushi bar.

None of which detracts one iota from the day-in, day-out presentations Nyel offers here at home.  He might have missed his calling, vocation-wise.  But I am ever grateful that I get the benefit of any missed opportunity he might have had along those lines!  Lucky me!

Chef Nyel, Problem-Solver Extraordinaire

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Blue Sky Picnic!

Easter Sunday!  It was another sunny, blue-sky-day with a noon-time temperature of almost 55° — Picnic Time Again!

“Sliced chicken sandwiiches!” I said.  “We haven’t any mayonnaise,” the chef said.

Which rang a sort of bell with me.  In one of Medora’s letters, she had written to her mother:

“The children brought home three crabs.  I wish you were here to help us eat them.  We have no oil and I haven’t a recipe so guess I can’t make any mayonnaise.”

Nyel’s Home Made Mayonnaise

The year was 1914 and Mama was in Portland “doctoring” and visiting the relatives.  Medora, 15, was at home in Oysterville in charge (along with Papa, of course) of her younger siblings: Sue (11), Mona (10), Edwin (6), Willard (4) and Dale (3).

“Well,” I said, “we have oil and plenty of eggs.  Do you think you could find a recipe online.”

He did and it was fabulous!  Just the right amount of tang from the red wine vinegar and lemon.  Today — another picnic with tuna fish sandwiches.  We have plenty of mayo, you betcha!

Decadent Dinner For Two While Hunkering

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Tossed Green Salad – Gone!

I didn’t think to take pictures until it was too late, so you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that it was fabulous!  And use your imagination.

Part of our morning coffee discussion is always the day’s meal plan and yesterday’s dinner discussion centered around a baguette that we had picked up last week at Freddy’s curbside service.  (Which was excellent, by the way!  Worked perfectly; no glitches.  We already have placed an order for Sunday pickup.)


Anyway… that baguette has been calling to me.  “We have a little wheel of brie,” said the chef.

“Perfect!” said I.  “Let’s have the baguette and brie and a tossed green salad.”


Roasted Garlic

When the time came, the fragrance of roasting garlic met me halfway to the kitchen.  Two heads (one each) were waiting on the table along with the warm, crusty baguette ready for slicing and the brie, soft and creamy at room temperature.  (If you have never had brie and roasted garlic mooshed onto a warm baguette, you have missed one of life’s greatest dining pleasures.)

Last of the Brie

The salad, tossed with Nyel’s perfect Vinaigrette dressing, included romaine lettuce, green onions, sliced radishes and cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and black olives.  Only missing was the wine but since neither Nyel nor I are wine drinkers, it wasn’t missing at all.

It was as if we’d died and gone straight to Paris!  Heavenly!

Nyel’s Sweet/Spicy/Sumptuous Homecoming

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

We thought we’d NEVER get out of the Seaside Hospital yesterday!  Nyel had wakened with a “dangerously low” blood pressure and they said if it didn’t come up they’d have to keep him.  Interestingly, there was no speculation as to why it was low.  And, had they asked, we could have told them that that happens occasionally to him but it always come back to where it should be in a few hours.

That’s what happened yesterday, too, of course, but the doctor was super cautious.  Instead of discharging him at 10:00 as planned, it wasn’t until about 4:00 that we were finally in the car and on the road.  The car was full of equipment — a two-foot-long shoehorn, a grabber/picker-upper, a stiff cloth ribbon-like item with a noose on each end for lassoing a recalcitrant foot and lifting it onto the bed.  In short, everything that a one-and-a-half-legged man might need to help him become independent!

Nyel managed to walk into the house on his own steam (with his walker) and was greeted, first thing, by a gorgeous bouquet and six chocolate cupcakes on a silver tray.  Then there was the biggest chocolate bar of all time, beautifully wrapped!  And in our fridge was a home-made lasagne (“a little spicy”) with an accompanying salad, salad dressing and bottle of red wind for our dinner.  And for dessert, fudge brownies with a hint of orange zest!   What fabulously thoughtful friends and neighbors we  have!

As I schlepped  stuff from car to house, Mr. (or Mrs.) Swallow flew through the living room door — no doubt eager to add its welcome on behalf of the new family on the porch.  I know Nyel thought it served me right for not destroying that nest at the get-go.  Was there just a hint of amusement in his eyes as he sat wheelchair-bound and watched me  flail away with the broom…

Just as the bird flew out,  Erik and Pat arrived.  Suddenly, I wasn’t a bit concerned about putting away medical supplies or reading the manual for Nyel’s portable wound-vac.  It’s really amazing how many frustrations and worries a delicious meal with good friends can erase, to say nothing of the warm glow we both are still feeling about such a wonderful homecoming!  Neither of us can quite wrap our heads around the amazing generosity and support our friends (and even “friends” we hardly know!) have provided during these past months.  There aren’t enough hugs or thank yous to begin to express how we feel.  We only hope we can “pay it forward” as time goes by.


Library Paste Notwithstanding

Friday, May 24th, 2019

I remember that, in the days of my youth, there were kids who sampled the paste every time we had an art project.  Of course, in an effort to dissuade them from their adventuresome behavior, they were usually told that paste was made from horses’ hooves.  That did not stop them.  No doubt such epicurean experimentation has stopped now glue sticks have come into fashion.  (However, I wonder if kids do give those scented ones a taste test now and then.)

“Did you ever sample the library paste when you were a kid?” I asked Nyel.  (And why, exactly did we call it library paste, anyway?  Was it of particular use with books?)  My question was not random.  Nyel had ordered clam chowder for lunch and I remarked that he seemed to be enjoying it — which mostly he doesn’t no matter where he is.  “Tastes like library paste,” he said.  But he kept on eating it.  And the rest of his lunch, too!

Bit by bit Nyel’s  appetite is returning, as is his strength.  He can now actually get himself into a sitting position, use his arms to scoot himself a-little-at-a-time toward the end of the bed and then transfer himself to a chair — even if there are a few inches of disparity in the height of the two surfaces.  This is a HUGE improvement. Everyone who sees him do it (the nurses and therapists and doctors often pause in his doorway to watch the “show”) and to clap and cheer.  (Quietly.  Like in a library.)

This morning one of the Orthopedic Team said he might be put back on his blood thinners next Friday.  We sincerely hope so.  Besides the obvious reasons, he won’t be discharged from here until that happens.  Meanwhile, we hope against hope that no new setbacks occur and that library paste morphs into more palatable fare.   Ki yi yippee yippee yay!

As long as it’s not al fresco…

Monday, April 8th, 2019


When friends Lynn and Mike arrived at our door yesterday afternoon bearing gifts of food, I was delighted!  There’s nothing like being fed by professionals – and Lynn and Mike definitely qualify in that category.  They have a highly successful bagel business in Portland, for starters, and are passionate about their culinary escapades in their fabulous kitchen here at the beach.

Since Nyel’s latest injury, they have been bringing us comfort foods to die for.  Last time it was Lynn’s grandmother’s (or was it Mike’s mother’s) eggplant parmesan.  This time cioppino!  Plus, a fancy dessert (a galette?) that melts in your mouth and is covered with pine nuts that I’m sure are not randomly placed.  In fact, there might be a secret message involved.

Extra Crunch Garlic Bread

I must admit, though, the cioppino gave me pause.  It looked delicious and smelled delicious but… I’d had a long-ago experience with cioppino at Sam’s in Tiburon and I wasn’t sure I was over it yet.  It happened almost 50 years ago, mind you.  But still…

Sam’s is THE place to go on for Sunday brunch if you live in the Bay Area. Their enormous deck overlooks San Francisco Bay with a view to Angel Island and the City beyond and maybe a bridge or two.  Their drinks and food are to die for and well worth the long, looooong wait – even if you have reservations.  People arrive by sailboat or yacht or ferry besides the usual more pedestrian ways, the seagulls vie for crumbs the diners drop and all-in-all, it’s al fresco dining at its best, despite no reservations taken on the deck.

Sam’s, Tiburon

The one and only time I strayed from my usual Eggs Benedict, I ordered cioppino.  It was an unusually slow day and when our meals finally did come, a seagull came cruising over our table just as my lunch was served.  I felt a warm splat on my head and looked at the bowl in front of me to find it dotted with blobs of sour cream and parsley… or was it?  After all these years, I don’t remember if the management replaced my lunch or not, but I do know that, until yesterday, I’ve never tried cioppino again.

Mike’s was delicious, by the way.  And there was no parsley-garnished sour cream in sight.