Archive for April 23, 2011

Cold Snaps and Warm Rewards

April 20, 2011

You’ve heard the expression “cold snap.” Well, in a classic Minnesota-style April weather pattern, we experience something more like a crackle – a long, succession of snaps. Picture an obsessive person in possession of a chunk of bubble wrap. 

So-o-o-o, we may cycle from a flash of T-shirt weather to 34° and snowy within just a few days. Then it’s a bump back up to 55° for a day, followed by warnings of another 2-3 inches of snow due to hit on the Wednesday before Easter. I’m sure you can sympathize with our feeling a bit disgruntled over the whole “Is it spring, or isn’t it?” game. 

But on that one glorious 70° day last week, as the little Moon Dog and I step outside into a swaddling of warm air and a shower of sunbeams, my giddiness drives me to Spoonerisms. “Ah, yes,” say I, my voice infused with delight. “The churds are burping and the shun is signing and my sood fairly moars.” 

I actually did utter that first part, surprised by my own spontaneous burst of playfulness. But that was last week. I am jerked back to the chilly present by the announcement that we have inched our way up (pun entirely intended) to number four on the list of snowiest winters on record. Forced into cranking the ol’ furnace back on, I seek out an escape to the fantasy land of pastel Easters Past via internet searches for holiday-themed recipes. 

Such ventures tend to distract for the moment. However, even color photo images of coconut-topped cakes, warm rhubarb compote, and tangerine semifreddo with salted almond brittle can’t erase the shudder-inducing image of that recently, if fleetingly, whitened front lawn that is my Midwestern reality. As all bumpy roads seem to lead to culinary resolutions, I abandon my cares to a good old-fashioned spell of kitchen therapy. There is Easter dinner to be planned and there are jelly bean-topped cupcakes to be baked; there are leftovers in the fridge that call out for some creative recycling. And how about a roasted pear take-off on a web-inspired dessert, and that marvelous pork chop marinade that I simply must pass along? 

To back up a bit, I couldn’t believe my good luck one lunchtime as I discovered that I had leftover rice, rotisserie chicken, chicken sausage, and frozen shrimp, all on-hand at the same time. Dismay soon displaced joy, though, as I scoured my resources for a basic recipe for gumbo. “Basic recipe for dietary disaster,” I was soon mumbling to myself. The approaches I came across called for up to ¾ of a cup of oil and 1-1/2 cups of flour. Yecch squared. My version is a simple soup, not an entire week’s worth of fat and white carbs in a single bowl, and it was mighty darned good, as I am prone to saying so myself. 

All-combined, I am duly motivated to share these happy discoveries, and now present you with a random selection of warm and rewarding gustatory gifts. The Leftover Queen’s Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo is, as implied, an original concoction; Marinated Pork Chops Extraordinaire is an adaptation of a formula found online at Planet Tess (; Roasted Pear Halves with Figs and Queso Fresco was inspired by a more sophisticated offering at; and the decidedly decadent Peanut Butter-Filled Fudge Cupcakes I dug up from my 31-year-old copy of Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Cake and Cookie Recipes. Sweet. (Pun virtually required.) (more…)

April 23, 2011 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

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