Cathie Campbell

Cathie Campbell

Ring around the onions

Since onion rings are on so many restaurant menus I think it is safe to assume I am not alone in my appreciation for those crispy treats. My favorites are the ones dipped in batter rather than bread crumbs. I like them fixed both ways but I prefer the batter dipped ones. They seem more evenly coated and in my experience, less likely to be burned or have the coating fall off. One thing I do not like about some of the onion rings I have ordered is when the actual onion inside has disintegrated into nothing but a thin, limp membrane. It’s like having a hollow onion ring. So, when I make them myself I am careful to slice off thick enough rings so they won’t disappear when fried or baked. I am a big fan of onions no matter how they are presented, and I used to eat a lot of Funyuns, too (that onion ring shaped and flavored crunchy snack by Frito-Lay). I say used to, because I have stopped eating most chips and other convenience store packaged snacks. That helped me lose almost 15 pounds so far, so I hope I can keep that up. Not that homemade onion rings are much higher on the health scale, but I need a treat once in a while. And if you thought you saw me buying several boxes of Girl Scout cookies this past spring, that was someone else. Sure, it was. On with the recipes now.

Cathie Campbell

Near-end of summer potluck desserts

Summer gets people together, many times in the form of picnics and potlucks. Even though a lot of folks have concluded their summer vacations, we still have quite a bit of summer left to enjoy. If you are looking for some good dessert recipes to make so you can bring a dish that people will gobble up, I hope you find something right here. One thing about potlucks, though, is that all too often people expect you to bring a dish you may be well known for, as in a specialty dish.

Cathie Campbell

Don’t put the grill away yet

Summer time is getting closer to the finish line, but there is still time, at least weather wise, to get outdoors and use that trusty barbecue grill. Most students are back in school, and many families have already had their camping vacations.

Cathie Campbell

A sweet corn summer

This summer I have been eating a lot of corn on the cob, thanks to the ag department over at CSU Fresno’s farm market. Yes, I know that corn isn’t high up on the healthful foods list, but sometimes I just want to enjoy the best of what summer time offers, and that special corn tops that list.

Cathie Campbell

Just peachy

Like many people, I love peaches. But this time of year is very difficult for diabetics, even if we stay away from baked goods. The abundance of sweet, ripe fruit is so very tempting, especially if you are lucky enough to find some delicious tree-ripened peaches. Maybe you even have some in your own home orchard or garden area.

Cathie Campbell

A passel of parsley

For months, some creature was nipping off fresh herbs from my container garden out on the deck, which I refer to as my kitchen garden. It didn’t like sage, chives, rosemary or thyme, but it dearly loved the oregano (didn’t plant basil this year). What puzzles me is why it always nipped off branches of parsley, but didn’t seem to eat them. Every morning I saw evidence of the nighttime raid, especially in the parsley pots, as the greens were just lying wilted and flat against the potting soil. I was getting tired of having to go buy bunches of parsley at the store. I finally installed a game camera and the culprit was a large pack rat. It actually was funny to see it flee back to its nest with a large branch of oregano in its mouth. After that rascal was caught and released elsewhere, two mice came along and took his place. They went bye-bye, too. Now I have a fresh crop of parsley that I started from seed and I hope to be able to harvest some in the near future. In honor of this new crop, I wanted to share some parsley recipes with you. If you grow any, I hope the rodents don’t wipe it out.

Cathie Campbell

Summertime hot dogs

I recently ate some hot dogs that were made at CSU Fresno’s meat department. It was my first time to visit the university’s farm market. I really liked the hot dogs (and had to share with my cat, as she thought they were pretty good, too). My favorite way to fix hot dogs is to grill them outdoors, over coals from a mixture of oak and manzanita wood. There are times when I don’t put anything on the hot dog except for a bun. And there are other times when I load it up with all sorts of things, such as baked beans, chili, caramelized onions, relish and on and on. Makes a big mess, but oh, so good. I also like to cook hot dogs in a Dutch oven along with Bavarian style sauerkraut and canned new potatoes. That dinner was born decades ago during a time when the power was out for a week and we used a Coleman camp stove to get by. Sort of like indoor camping. If you are feeling like serving family or friends some hot dogs this summer, here are some recipes to check out. If you do grill, use extra caution, what with this horrible and scary fire season.

Cathie Campbell

Cool off with a summer drink

I must confess I have an addiction to ice in beverages, even if I am just having water. And not just some ice, but lots of it. Fill a glass all the way to the top with ice, trickle a bit of beverage over it and I am one happy camper (even though I have not had a chance to actually go camping yet this summer). Of course, beverages can be served without ice, or so I hear. If you are looking for some recipes for nice, cold drinks to enjoy during these hot days, I’m hoping you will find something you like right here. Enjoy your summer fun and stay safe.

Cathie Campbell

Delicious strawberry sundaes

July 7 is National Strawberry Sundae Day, so now we have an official excuse to indulge and take advantage of the season’s fresh strawberry crop. Not that we need any excuses, though; most of us love our strawberries no matter what. I recently returned from a vacation in Ontario, Canada, where their strawberry season was just beginning. Surprisingly, none of the restaurants where I dined featured strawberries on their dessert menus. The berries in the markets seemed not quite ripe yet, so I avoided those. Now I am so hungry for ripe, fresh local strawberries, so let’s get down to business. I hope you had a wonderful and safe July 4 holiday.

Cathie Campbell

Summertime meals

Are you always on the look out for tasty recipes you can use during the summer months? I do a lot of outdoor grilling in summer, but I also spend a fair amount of time in my kitchen, or cooking when I visit my mom over in Gilroy. I hope you see at least one recipe here you will want to try. They are divided half and half into vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. I also hope you are enjoying your summer and stay safe in your travels.

Cathie Campbell

Dressing for your summer salads

We put a lot of thought into the things we would like to put in a salad, and many people love to make their own salad dressings rather than use bottled ones. There are a lot of good bottled ones, to be sure, but sometimes it is fun to mix something up from scratch. I am always on the look out for recipes that will add that extra level of flavor to a salad. Those who have an extra measure of will power often eat their salads with no dressing at all, but I don’t drench a salad so I don’t think it’s going to do much harm if I drizzle a little dressing over it. I hope you have some fun looking over the selection of salad dressing recipes here and that at least one becomes a family favorite.

Cathie Campbell

Anyone for dessert?

I was recently browsing through a collection of recipes I have had for many years, and maybe it’s nostalgia, but I wanted to share a few of them with you. Actually, I’d love to share all of them, but I have thousands and of course that would not be practical. Perhaps you could use one or more as a Memorial Day dessert.

Cathie Campbell

Potato salad picnics

Memorial Day will be here before we know it, and many of us are planning to have a picnic or outdoor barbecue. If you love to serve a potato salad along with the main dish, here are some recipes you can check out to see if there's something you want to try. Many of us have our own favorite potato salad recipe, perhaps one that has been handed down through generations. I tend to change mine a little bit now and then. At times I have added sliced olives or radishes.

Cathie Campbell

Mom’s big day is coming up

Mothers Day is Sunday, May 14, so if you are planning to cook Mom a meal, you have endless choices and a few of them are presented here. Any time I have gone out for a Mother’s Day meal, it has been difficult, especially if there are no reservations. Some restaurants have a pretty good brunch event, so that is one consideration. I may be all alone in my preference to stay home, but I am fine with it, as long as someone else tackles the dish washing chores. To me, that is a great gift. I enjoy cooking but I can’t say I like washing stacks of dishes and pots. It is nice to have options, especially for holiday meals and celebrations.

Cathie Campbell

Peas that please

Sometimes I wonder if parents are still telling their children, “Eat your peas” at the dinner table. I remember hearing my Italian Nana saying that to some of her other grandchildren, but I needed no such prompting because I have always loved peas, or piselli as she called them. I was always asking her, “How do you say that in Italian?”

Cathie Campbell

Spring veggies are a treat

More and more these days I am appreciating fresh vegetables, especially this time of year when produce stands and markets are offering such a wide variety. I have fond memories of harvesting fresh vegetables when I was growing up, and sitting with my grandmother shelling fresh peas. Of course, more of those little delicacies went into my mouth than went into the bowl. There were times we just ate them right then and there instead of saving them for dinner.

Cathie Campbell

Feeling brunchy this Easter?

Brunch is good at any time, not just holidays of course. Even if Easter isn’t something you celebrate, one good thing about food is that it fits into our schedules and makes friends with our tummies and taste buds whenever we feel like it. My family mostly has limited our Easter celebration to an early dinner, with the table just as loaded as it is for Thanksgiving. When my Italian Nana was still with us, we used to have a big after-church spread of home baked breads and pastries in the morning. I remember helping her in the kitchen as she labored up to her elbows in flour and yeast bread dough. Good times. However you celebrate your Easter traditions, and even if you don’t have any, it is my hope you are all healthy and happy, and of course, well fed.

Cathie Campbell

It’s always time for ice cream sodas

I love ice cream sodas, even if the weather is not exactly hot. Every year I travel to Ontario, Canada for a little vacation, and my friends there tell me that the popular term in their region is pop rather than soda. I have heard the term soda-pop over here, but I think the use of the word pop in the U.S. is mostly in our eastern states. I have also heard it said that an ice cream soda has club soda as an ingredient, but an ice cream float uses flavored soda (or pop), with root beer being the most popular. Anyway, no matter where you call home or what terms you use, I think we can all agree that ice cream sodas or floats are welcome treats to enjoy during the upcoming hot summer months or even right now. Why save ice cream just for summer?

Cathie Campbell

Graham cracker treats

You can purchase graham cracker crumbs or you can use a food processor to make your own. You can also just use graham crackers straight from the box without crumbling them. They are great with a glass of cold milk and even better when coated with chocolate. And we all know how good those campfire treats known as S’mores are. Graham crackers have been part of our lives for generations and if you like them as much as I do, you might want to bake some treats using them. I hope you are enjoying the spring season so far, and not battling allergies like I am. I am glad I don’t have any food allergies, though.

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