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mermaidcamp

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#NationalSpaghettiDay Celebration

January 4, 2017 2 Comments

The food holidays come daily, but few are as popular as spaghetti day.  Pasta is popular all over the world.  Kids can usually be cajoled into eating dinner if there is pasta involved.  When I was a child we rarely ate pasta at home, but I looked forward to outings to restaurants where I could order it. I also had some Italian friends at school and Brownie Scouts whose moms totally rocked the dinner table.  I connived to find ways to be invited to their houses to eat. The first dishes I learned to prepare myself in the kitchen were lasagna (my mom never made it) and beef Stroganoff on a bed of egg noodles.  I believe I was trying to knock off some of my friends’ mothers recipes. Since pasta is such an easy and versatile dish to prepare I have been making noodles since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

We eat pasta about once a week, but I try to vary the ways I prepare it.  I have not made a lasagna in years because I am so lazy now, but I do bake pasta dishes for the same effect. Today I have an assortment of fresh vegetables that need to be used. I have roasted a butternut squash for sauce, and am now roasting a red onion for color and excitement. My approach to cooking is to use what I have on hand in the most creative way possible.  I hate to waste food.  I have parsley, basil, rosemary, marjoram and sage growing in my garden to use to build the flavor profile. Brown butter sage is a great compliment to the butternut squash. If you have not used this versatile winter vegetable to make sauce, here is a vegan recipe:

You can choose to use milk or heavy cream if you want those extra grams of fat and calories.  It also works with vegetable bullion.  Of course there are plenty of pre-made sauces in jars that taste fabulous. #NationalSpaghettiDay is a very easy holiday to use to express your inner chef.  Wander off into trying ingredients you like on other dishes..olives, artichokes, garlic, herbs..Have fun, gentle readers.  Buon apetito!

I love spaghetti!

I love spaghetti!

Cafe Botanica at Tucson Botanical Gardens

May 29, 2014 1 Comment

I ate lunch today at my new favorite restaurant, Cafe Botanica. This charming restaurant is nestled into the  exotic greenery at Tucson Botanical Gardens.  I visit frequently and for no particular reason had never eaten there.  When I met a neighbor who works there as a server I decided to make a point to try the food.  To my great surprise the offerings are the most seasonal, the most creative, and for my personal taste, the most delightful plates in the city of Tucson.  The concept is to make use of every kind of local, organic, sustainable source of ingredients.  I think they go beyond any other restaurant to achieve this goal, but without the brilliance of Chef Cristopher and his wild creativity the concept would not be as smashing.  He combines ingredients I would not have thought of, including some I have never eaten, such as radish tops.  The result was exactly the kind of full flavor, gorgeous to see, plate of variety I want to eat all the time.  The great news is that I have a garden, and they will trade me prepared food for some of my extra produce.  This could become a serious habit…the kind with only positive effects!!!

New Summer hours will start on June 3, including a weekend brunch.  Dog membership also begins on June 3, and has expanded to inviting member dogs on both Tuesday and Thursday this year.  The innovative menu, and the fact that the gardens create a cooler micro climate for morning walks will be an exciting new addition to our neighborhood.  There will also be Thursday dinners this summer with BYOB wine.  This is a major upgrade for Tucson.  I highly recommend Cafe Botanica to anyone.  There is an air conditioned inside dining room for times when it is too hot.  The gourmet, homemade dishes are very reasonably priced, and there is no chef more caring, and into it, than Christopher.  Mandy, my friend and server, puts her heart into making guests feel right at home.

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