I had intended for it to just be the Jasper Hill melting blend and the lager, but we ate through much of the bag the previous night making nachos (very good, btw). It’s a very 2020 story.
I found the fondue to be uncharacteristically salty, though no salt was added. I’d sub cheddar for the Fontina next time. I had enough shredded cheese to make a second batch, which we will do for New Years Eve.
2019 “El Jefe”
Last year’s fondue was made with El Jefe, the holiday ale from The Alchemist Brewery. Plus Cabot Seriously Sharp, a bit of Gruyere and cornstarch.
1 can of beer : 2 lbs of cheese = 2 fondue pots.
Note that this is a dark beer and so the result will be brown colored. Still very tasty.
This was described as “the fondue that turned us all into cats”. I was cleaning up in the kitchen and could hear loud calls of “Cat head human body” (had no idea why), so I sauntered into the living room with a cat head on. We passed the cat head around.
Heady Cheddar et al
For a couple years running, we did a Heady Cheddar fondue, which is basically the above recipe but with Heady Topper.
When we first started out, I pulled recipes from a Fondue for Dummies book, which actually has some good recipes in it. I recommend the Monterey Jack w tequila.
My fondue pro tip: set a bowl of hot water between your flame and your fondue pot. This will act as the double boiler and prevent your fondue from scorching. ( I’ve learned the hard way 👻 )
I’m thankful that we have the backyard to retreat to as the pandemic stretches on. We have been taking our dinners there most nights. Sometimes friends drop by. Sometimes we have a fire. Sometimes both.
Combine ingredients and purée together to your taste. Serve w chopped basil and drizzle of olive oil.
I didn’t do this, but you could strain it to get a smoother texture. If doing that, purée watermelon and rhubarb then strain and add other ingredients finely chopped or purée again.
I made this as a treat to myself for my birthday. Of course every time I think of gazpacho, I am reminded of the gazpacho scene in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It was the first time I learned about gazpacho. Dan loves fruit soup. This is the closest I get.
This took me an hour start to finish because my blender sucks and I ended up using a food processor. So much cleaning! 😬
Cold Noodle Broth Bowl (Panera copycat)
Sweet corn kernels
Roughly chop veggies then grill them on the George Foreman, yes grill even the beans and corn. Mix together and cool. I added chopped roasted yellow pepper to the mix but did not grill it.
For broth, combine following to taste in warmed water (to dilute the pastes)
Up to a cup of broth, just to moisten and enough to sip but not slurp
Top with black sesame seeds and protein of choice
Honestly wouldn’t have had to make this if Panera hadn’t taken it off the menu 😜. Dan had to work through dinner but afterwards came down from the office with profuse compliments to the chef.
This took about an hour start to finish because I was committed to only using one pot, and I had to cool the cooked veggies in the freezer. With pre-prepped ingredients this probably takes a few minutes. I used vegetarian “chicken” cutlets for the protein.
Summer Pesto Garden and Pantry Salad
Farfalle (or similar pasta), cooked
Freezer pesto (last year’s crop), defrosted
Chop and grill veggies on the George Foreman. Combine and season to taste. Serve alongside a protein of choice and blistered shishito peppers. I had leftover steak, Dan had leftover salmon.
Friends have been dropping off their excess garden bounty, hence the fennel and garlic scapes. I have found the grilling transforms the intensely flavored and crisp textures of the raw veggies to muted and slightly sweet pieces that still retain texture minus the crunch.
This took me about 20 minutes to make. Because I’m slow and I stop to think a lot. Dan put up the pesto last year from his herb garden. We’re still eating through it.
Potato Fennel Salad
Russet potatoes, cooked and cut up
Fennel fronds, chopped
Salt and pepper
Combine ingredients. Serve with veggie cutlets and fire-roasted corn and a backyard fire.
I would normally make this with dill instead of fennel, but no one had dropped any dill off on my porch. Actually, I would not normally make this but Dan came home from the store one day with a five pound sack of potatoes and I felt all Marilla Cuthbert 🙄.
This takes pretty much however long potatoes cook and cool. Dan liked the capers.
Corn and Black Bean Salad
Can of sweet corn (unsalted), drained
Can of black beans, drained
Diced red onions
Salt and pepper
Combine and let the flavors meld in fridge for 1 hour or more. The jalapeño will become more pronounced over time. Serve with burgers. And more fire 🔥.
This is one of my go-to camping meals and ends up making about two pint jars full, which is great when you don’t want to share. 😬
This takes a quite a bit of taste testing to get right. It takes more salt and lime juice than you might expect to brighten the salad. I suppose I should write down the measurements sometime. 🤷🏻♀️
Most people I know plan their dinner menus weekly or monthly, if they plan at all. For the past three years, I’ve been planning annually. That’s January through December, every single day of the year. I prefer doing something once and forgetting about it. Life is too crammed with other things to do, that dinner just cannot get in the way anymore.
Besides, the alternative is worse: my partner is cranky because he’s hungry and isn’t sure he’ll like what I make for dinner. I’m hungry, not knowing how I’ll make dinner from limp broccoli, left over rice, and canned corn. I would have forgotten to go shopping. At our house, dinner is the true measure of an enjoyable evening.
Because planning is in the pursuit of variety, my only rule is: no repeats in the same month (except fend and leftovers).*
Life happens, and dinner plans have to work around them. We had surprise meeting schedules, out-of-towners visiting, and other deviations. All told, we only deviated 8 times. Our dinners out were to the Vermont Thrush (a new restaurant I hadn’t been to yet) and The Royal Orchid(our stand by).