Kitchen Comfort: What I did this summer
The other night, as my son and I were sitting on the lawn at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, David turned to me and said, “This is the fourth, no wait, the fifth concert I’ve been to this summer.”
He added it had been a pretty good summer, all in all. “I went to Maine, Hampton Beach, Methuen, Long Island and New York City, the Cape, and Plymouth (N.H.) a few times.”
“How was your summer?” he asked. “What did you do?”
I just stared at him. He’s been living at home since he graduated from college in mid-May. Did he really think I was living some kind of wild life while he was at work or off on his weekend jaunts?
“The farthest west I’ve been is here today,” I recounted, “and this is my one and only concert — not only this summer, but probably in the lasChickent five years. Are we counting summer as being after Memorial Day? If so, the farthest east I’ve been is to Nancy’s house on East Main Street and the farthest north was to see her daughter’s house in Bennington. Going south, I rode with you to the clothing outlets in Lee one Sunday. We stayed long enough for you to buy two Polo shirts and Nautica shorts. I was home two hours after we had left the house.”
“Oh,” he said, “so what did you do all summer?”
Was this polite conversation or had he really not noticed?
“Well, let’s see, the largest body of water I went to was 20 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep and is in our backyard. I went on a hike one day with Sassy (our dog) — we made it around the block before my bad knee gave out. I went fishing one day to get the TV remote out of the back of the sofa, and I went on a water adventure when the washer overflowed in the basement.”
“So, it was an OK summer,” David observed, overlooking my sarcasm.
To be honest, it wasn’t that bad a summer. When it was hot, Sassy and I spent long days in the pool — two blondes perfecting our tans. Well, as much as one of us could with 50 SPF sunscreen on and the other with a fur coat. I became a true master in Zen floating.
I spent many evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, testing the durability of the wicker couch on the deck while Sassy tested the love seat. I read 10 to 15 books, snoozed a bit (OK, snoozed a lot) and watched the light shows as summer storms rolled in and out.
I perfected strawberry and beer margaritas, and tried to brew my own beer — Sam Adams Brewery has nothing to fear.
So in a nutshell, I went nowhere, I did nothing — and I had a good time doing it.
I got up off the deck couch long enough last weekend to test drive a new recipe. David is a meatball grinder aficionado, so this casserole seemed right up his alley. It was easy to make, which was right up my alley, and we had enough left for another meal — or a few snacks in his case.
Since I can’t leave any recipe as it is without making a few tweaks after the initial try, I think the next time I make it, I‘ll halve the meatballs so there is more meat scattered throughout the casserole. I’ll add sauteed onions and peppers to the meatball mixture, and try ricotta cheese instead of the cream cheese/mayonnaise mixture. I also might try adding some crushed red pepper flakes.
The bread was nice and crispy the first time around, but got softer and soggier when it was reheated — but was still good.
Meatball Sub Casserole
1 loaf french bread, cut into 1-inch slices, toasted 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided 1 pound package fully cooked frozen meatballs, thawed 1 28-ounce jar pasta sauce Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange toasted bread slices in a single layer in an ungreased 9x13-inch baking dish. Fill in any gaps with smaller chunks of bread.
Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and seasonings in bowl. Spread the mixture over the bread slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
Mix together the meatballs and the pasta sauce and spoon over the cheese layer in the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.
Janan Leja, of Cheshire, was kind enough to mail me her recipe for “lazy man’s golubki.” I love Polish food and can’t with until a cool fall night to make this — it seems to have all the flavor of golubkis, without having to blanch the cabbage leaves and roll them. All I need to do is pick up some kielbasa to go with it. Oh, and maybe some pierogis ...
Clever Woman’s Golubki
1 package ground turkey 1 cup cooked brown rice 1/2 large head cabbage 1 jar low-salt marinara sauce Brown the turkey and add the cooked rice. Chop the cabbage coarsely and put in 9x13-inch pan. Top with the turkey and rice mixture. Spread marinara sauce on top of the turkey and rice mixture. Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for an hour.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.