Presenting: the sunchoke (aka Jerusalem artichokes).
But let’s clear up something first: sunchokes aren’t from Jerusalem, nor are they artichokes. But they are native to North America and are a tuber that forms beneath a sunflower. They look a lot like raw ginger.
Sunchokes usually get pureed into oblivion with another veggie so you miss the sweet, nutty flavor. Their texture is crisp and light… a lot like water chestnuts.
But sunchokes have issues. Or rather, sunchokes can give YOU issues:
• If you eat too many, they may cause a wind-producing effect (in other words: they might give you gas).
• With no notice at all, sunchokes can become mushy when you cook them (which is probably why they are most often puréed).
• If you cook them in cast iron, they turn grey.
On a happier note:
• Sunchokes are rich in Vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium and iron.
• You don’t have to peel them… just give them a good scrubbing.
• Sunchokes can be roasted, sautéed, puréed, baked, boiled or steamed.
• They’ll last a couple of weeks in the fridge in a plastic bag.
This is end of the sunchoke season, so if you do find them, make sure they are still firm with no soft spots.
The knobbier… the better!
Oven Roasted Sunchokes
prep: 10 minutes cook: 20 to 30 minutes
you’ll need… 1 pound sunchokes, well scrubbed
3 tablespoons sunflower oil (or olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pushed through a garlic press
2 teaspoons kosher salt
let’s get to it…
Place the oven rack in the center. Heat the oven to 400°F. Have a shallow gratin or roasting pan ready. Toss the sunchokes, oil and garlic together; spoon into the dish. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, but with some resistance (I use a fork to test them). Serve immediately.
You’ve got a VERY limited time to try this recipe… so pay attention.
Over the next few weeks as soil temperatures steadily rise, cicadas will begin emerging from their underground world… the first time since 1996.
Then, six weeks after their mating ritual, they’ll be gone, vanished… dead. Their offspring won’t return until 2030.
Mama lived in Africa and spent a little bit of time with the Bushmen in Namibia, so eating cicadas (or grub worms, or giraffe) is decidedly an acquired taste.
Look at these little guys as “land shellfish,” just like shrimp (they are in the same animal group). But, before you try this taste sensation, keep in mind a few things:
• If you’re allergic to shellfish or nuts, give cicadas a pass. As if you weren’t going to anyway.
• Don’t pickup dead cicadas off the ground. Harvest them live, in the early morning and place them in a Ziploc® Bag. Put them in the freezer until they settle down. Permanently.
• They won’t bite! Just give them a little tug to get them off a tree or bush.
• Marinate them in a little teriyaki. Male cicadas will shrivel up, and you can throw those out. Females are bigger and fatter (full of eggs, you know) and will get more tender.
Here’s a video from my pals at Tennessee Home and Farm on how to prepare cicadas. But remember, you have only a limited time to catch the main ingredient!
Mama loves sticky buns. Love ‘em, love ‘em, love ‘em.
But making homemade sticky buns can take hours and hours. And I know you’d rather be doing other things with those hours and hours.
So here’s a sticky bun recipe that doesn’t take forever to make, but still has all the cinnamon gooeyness you love. I used raisins because Miss Picky-Nicky has that nut-allergy thing, but pecans taste wonderful in this recipe.
Hey! Here’s an idea: leave this recipe lying around some place where someone (the kids? Your partner? Dad?) will find it and make it for you this weekend! Then you can start doing whatever it is you want to do… for hours and hours.
I mean… it is Mother’s Day, after all!
Shortcut Sticky Buns
prep: 20 minutes bake: 18 minutes
for the buns… 6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 package Grands® Refrigerated Biscuits
for the topping… ½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup honey
pinch of salt
1 cup raisins (or chopped nuts)
let’s get to it…
Move the oven rack to the center position. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray a round 9-inch cake pan with nonstick spray; set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cream, honey and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce the temperature to low and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour ¾ of the mixture into the cake pan; top mixture with raisins. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small shallow dish. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dish. Dip both sides of each biscuit first in the butter and then in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place each sugar-cinnamon coated biscuit side-by-side in the round cake pan on top of the caramel sauce. (You will have to squeeze the 8th biscuit in, but it will fit.) Pour the remaining sauce on top. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 3 minutes. Place a large plate on top of cake pan. With oven mitts hold plate and cake pan together, flip cake pan over so that it is sitting on plate. Carefully remove cake pan. Let Shortcut Sticky Buns cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Summer won’t be here for another few weeks, I know, but let’s make a promise right now: This summer we WILL relax, take it easy and enjoy the sun, the heat, and life itself.
And this is how we’re going to start: A deliciously easy recipe for Make-Ahead BBQ Spare Ribs.
The key words here? “Make-Ahead.” There’s no need to stand over the grill all day to prepare these succulent, spicy ribs. Roast them in the oven the day before and grill them right before you’re ready to eat.
Summer is just around the corner, so keep that promise and enjoy yourself with help from Right@Home®, SC Johnson’s online resource for information, tips and offers on their products including Glade®, Windex®, Ziploc®, Scrubbing Bubbles®, Pledge®, OFF!®, Raid® and more.
Make-Ahead BBQ Ribs
prep: 30 minutes cook: about 1 hour to 1¼ hours serves: 8
for the ribs and the rub: 2 racks pork spare ribs (about 8 lbs.)
⅓ cup ground black pepper
⅓ cup paprika
⅓ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
for the sauce: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
⅓ cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons chili powder
let’s get to it…
Heat oven to 300°F. Spray a rimmed baking tray with nonstick cooking spray. Place ribs on tray and pierce meat with a fork; set aside. Mix pepper, paprika, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Rub ribs generously on both sides with rub. Cover ribs tightly with foil; roast 1 to 1¼ hours. Remove from oven; cool and refrigerate until ready to grill. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium high heat for 1 minute. Sauté the onion and garlic for 30 seconds to 1-minute. Add ketchup and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and chili powder. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Heat grill to medium high; brush grill with oil. Place oven-roasted ribs on grill rack and brush with barbecue sauce. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes; turn, brush with sauce and cook 5 minutes longer. Remove from grill, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
cooking tip: Roast ribs the day before. Cool completely and wrap tightly in Saran™ Premium Wrap; refrigerate. When ready to grill, remove Saran™ Premium Wrap and cook as directed.
… and I’m high strung. Sounds like an AA meeting. I guess I’ve always been a little neurotic, but it got worse when these same six people kept showing up in the evening expecting to get fed. I’m pretty organized, but even that hasn’t saved me from the hell of the Daily Dinner Dilemma. Having said that, I also hate ordering take out because it is so damn expensive… and I can usually do it better with a lot less sodium… and so can you. If you nose around the site, you’ll see it’s kind of an eclectic mix… everything from tips for redoing your kitchen to some really cool kitchen gadgets and foods or products. Have a look around and let me know your thoughts.