I promised appetizers and antipasti, but things have been hectic here at Casa di Familia, (The Family House), so when I saw that my friend and partner on another blog, Patricia Kiyono, posted a great recipe, I knew it would make wonderful antipasto. I asked her to do a guest spot to get me up and running again and she has graciously obliged. Technically, these would be the salada, not antipasti, but we’re not quibbling here!
So I will turn this over to my Friend, who will discuss Food and Family.
Thank you for lending me a hand,Patricia!
Although I read blogs of all kinds, the last place I ever expected to
write a guest post would be a food blog! I love to eat, but my time in the
kitchen is very limited. You see, my hubby and I have a rather unique
distribution of labor. Because of his work hours (3 AM to noon), he came
home long before I got done with my teaching job. And although I CAN
cook, it made more sense for him to prepare the meal and get it on the table
than wait for me to do it. So I’ve always done the cleanup.
Since he’s a mixture of Scottish, Dutch, and German, his idea of a
meal is meat and potatoes – and not much else. I need my veggies – for one
thing, my Japanese mom ALWAYS had lots of veggies on the table, and for
another thing, the heavy food did awful things to my waistline. So I learned
to prepare and keep a variety of veggies on hand that I can quickly assemble
when needed. Sometimes I make a bunch ahead of time. Tonette asked me to
share a few of my favorites. My go-to vegetables are cucumber and tomato,
so I’m sharing a few ways I serve them:
First, here’s a simple and delicious way to serve cucumbers. My mom
used to make this all the time. Cookbooks and online recipes call for
Japanese or Persian cucumbers (they’re skinnier and have fewer seeds), but
since specialty food stores weren’t around back when I grew up we used
regular ones, and it tastes just fine.
Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)
2 large cucumbers, sliced as thinly as possible
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar (or substitute)
¼ teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Sprinkle salt over cucumber slices and let sit for five minutes, then squeeze
out the water (I set them in a colander then cover with paper towel and push
down, but mom had a special veggie press like THIS ONE)
Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce until sugar dissolves. Add to
cucumbers and top with sesame seeds. The picture here has wakame
seaweed added, which is also good – but I don’t always have wakame in the
house – it’s still good!
Doesn’t that sound easy? Another easy veggie that my kids love is
Caprese Salad, especially in the fall when our family and neighbors share
their over-abundant gardens with us. I was first introduced to this delicious
and simple side dish when I went to Italy over 40 years ago.
1 large tomato cut in quarter-inch slices
4 to 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in quarter-inch slices
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Arrange slices on a large plate or platter, alternating between tomato and
cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to
taste. Garnish with basil.
Really, nothing to it – and it’s delicious. I call it a non-recipe recipe.
So for a bigger challenge, try combining the tomato and cucumber in a
Greek salad. In 2008 my youngest daughter did a semester abroad while she
was in college, and she chose a program on the beautiful Greek island of
Paros. I brought a friend with me to visit (gotta make sure the kid is eating
right!), and we fell in love with the cuisine. And almost every day we had
one of these delicious, simple salads.
(two large servings)
1 medium tomato, cut into cubes
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into pieces similar to tomato
¼ medium red onion
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
a bit of oregano
Most recipes call for kalamata olives, but since I don’t like those I leave
Combine veggies and cheese. Combine olive oil and vinegar and pour over
the top. Garnish with oregano.
I really hadn’t planned it this way, but I see that these recipes are from
three different countries I’ve visited and loved. And I noticed that the people
in these countries don’t suffer from obesity the way we do here. I’ve
skimmed through all sorts of articles about why Italy, Greece, and Japan
have fewer problems than Americans do, and I think it boils down to a
combination of diet and lifestyle. So now that I’ve adopted some of their
foods, all I have to do is copy the rest – as soon as I find some mountains to
climb, ruins to investigate, and canals to row through!
In addition to adding to my dinner menus, my travels have sparked
my imagination, resulting in some of my published romances. After visiting
Greece, I wrote Aegean Intrigue, published by Astraea Press in February
2012. And as a tribute to my Japanese heritage, I wrote The Samurai’s
Garden, published by Astraea Press in November 2012. I’d love it if you’d
click on the titles to learn more about them!
You can learn more about Patricia and her work at these sites:
You can see more through Goodreads, Amazon, Astraea Press and she is with me at
(She’s the Monday Fox; I am the Friday Fox; we have a couple of other Foxes and a Hound there, as well! Please drop in sometime.)
Again, thank you,Patricia Kiyono!