Mary Ann's Blog

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Mushroom Magic

Mushrooms. What could be easier to cook? Well, there is a right and wrong way. The right way is to first wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel; do not wash them as the excess water will make them steam instead of brown. Next get out a pan large enough to hold them in…

Grate Zucchini

What do you do when your zucchini takes over the garden and you find yourself with baseball size ones? Grate them and freeze for winter use. They are perfect for scrambled eggs, frittata, quiches, stuffed into vegetables, as quick sauce for pasta and for zucchini fritters…

King Cucumber

Cucumbers. I have a LOT of them and I love the great fresh crunch that only a cucumber from the garden can give. This versatile vegetable is low in calories so eat up plus they can be used for non culinary purposes as well like taking down swelling on puffy eyes. So if yo…

Summer Veggies

The best way to use summer veggies from your garden is to grill them and I often do but when I need the grill for other things like meat or fish and I want veggies too, I toss them in olive oil and seasonings and oven roast them; takes just about 20 minutes. While they ar…

Got Swiss Chard?

Swiss chard is coming in like crazy in my garden and I like it sauteed with garlic and hot red pepper flakes but sometimes I use it as a filing for an open face one crust free form pie. It is a great way to use up an abundance of  it; two big bunches will cook down t…

Basil, King of Herbs

My basil is coming along nicely now and it will not be long before I make pesto. In Liguria from where this sauce is king, it is traditionally made with a mortar and a pestle and is where the name basil comes from, from the word to pound down, pestare. Coarse salt, a garl…

Scrumptious Strawberries

It is almost the 4th of July and it is strawberry season at its peak right now. Yesterday we picked twenty pounds of berries to make into pies and tarts and stuffed strawberries. To stuff strawberries, pick the biggest ones you can find, then cut off the stem end but save…

My Favorite Garden Tool? A Food Dehydrator!

If you buy just one garden kitchen apparatus this season, let it be a dehydrator. It will pay for itself with just one use when you make your own dried tomatoes in olive oil. You can find the recipe right here on ciaoitalia.com. I use the dehydrator not only for plum tom…

Picnic In A Jar

Dragging stuff to the beach or park for a picnic can be a big job but I have a solution; how about summer salad in a jar instead of burgers and dogs for your picnic? Better for you too. Here is how it works: Just fill mason quart jars with salad ingredients; start by addi…

Fresh Tomato Dressing

Want the taste of summer well into fall? How about making this quick and delicious tomato dressing when tomatoes are at their peak. Use it on green salads, mix it into potato salad and cobb salads. Give your lobster roll a boost by adding a couple of tablespoons. Cole sla…