Many cooks I know claim to hate green bell peppers. They think of them as no more than bitter versions of their sweeter red, orange, and yellow brothers. Me? I love them. But I admit that my reasons are as much personal as culinary.
What We're Cooking
Even though we love to cook here at ChopChop Family, we all have been a part of a morning panic that includes staring into the fridge hoping something will appear to grab for lunch. We also know that caregivers have to find creative ways to make and pack lunch for kids every day. Our editor, Catherine Newman, once said something that made us laugh: she couldn’t believe her kids wanted dinner again after she had just made them dinner the night before! Sometimes, packing lunch feels like that—didn’t I just do this yesterday?
We know school-day mornings can be chaotic. Yes, we’re also still pining for those lazy summer days when multiple backpacks and lunches didn’t have to be packed at the same time as everyone needing to be fed. But the school year is upon us and morning madness will commence, if it hasn’t already.
As a rule, I make everything from scratch. For me it’s easier, quicker, cheaper, more interesting, and infinitely more flexible (If a recipe has something I don’t like, I can omit it. Or if it has too much of something I do like, I can reduce it.). I make an exception for Trader Joe’s Zhoug Sauce: “a very spicy green herbal sauce with Yemeni roots,” which I liken to a spicy cilantro pesto (though it contains no cheese or nuts).
Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I find side dishes generally more interesting and exciting than the main dish, especially in the summer when fruits and vegetables are so abundant. My ideal meal for a dinner party is grilled salmon or chicken, accompanied by a bunch of great salads.
When I was growing up, my parents took me to the New York World’s Fair almost every weekend. And, almost every weekend, fireworks were displayed. The fireworks, etched into my memory, seemed as if they were breaking up the sky: massive, deafeningly-loud, and seemingly forever-lasting. I found them ominous and overwhelming and, as a result, have never been a fan of July Fourth. That is until I spent July Fourth in Nahant, a small Massachusetts town on a peninsula in Essex County, where the fireworks are of the old-fashioned sort: beautiful, short and sweet, and not scary at all.
This has been a very difficult year—in terms of the weather—in Massachusetts. There were warm days in the winter and very cold days in the spring. It felt risky to put away down coats and quilts and bring out the flip-flops. And even as late as May, it looked like the cold air would never come to an end, which made the thought of cold soups, salads, and tropical fruits uninviting, if not positively unappetizing. But now, not only have we survived and progressed past an erratic winter, but even the spring has come and gone, without the threat of a snowstorm. I’m guessing that we’re heading for a very hot summer—in which case, there will be days you won’t want to turn your oven on.
As the weather heats up, we’ll be looking for ways to cool down this summer. Even if you don’t have an ice-cream maker at home, there are plenty of ways to make your own frozen treats. Here are a few of our favorites, which can be made in blenders, food processors, or with even more basic kitchen tools. If you need a quick review of kitchen tools used, read How to Use a Melon Baller or watch our How to Use a Blender video.
Sally is famous for her soups for a reason. These six recipes come straight from Sally’s stovetop. Add Mushroom and Sausage Soup, Roasted Winter Borscht, Broccoli, White Bean and Basil Soup--and more--to your soup rotation, and we promise your winter will warm up in no time.
Homemade gifts of food can be the best gifts of all. This year, whatever your cooking skill, time allowance or budget, you can give something truly spectacular, the kind of present you wish someone would have the presence of mind to make for you.