I know; you thought I’d given up.  I could make a lot of excuses, but all I have to offer is this:
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How to have the perfect English muffin: Buy bag of Thomas’s.  Open.  Toast.  Top with butter and jam, or peanut butter, or cheese and tomato. Finis!

But I jest! You won’t even contemplate that old standby in the orange-and-white box once you have tasted these homemade versions, and you won’t believe how easy they are to make.  It’s like making pancakes, with a half hour to wait before you can griddle them up (ideal for sipping your coffee, taking your shower, poaching up those eggs for the Eggs Benedict that these would be an incredible ground floor for… ) And the extra-nice thing is that, unlike pancakes, these keep a bit better and toast up beautifully the next day, if you have any left.

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This is such a bumper season; I hardly know what to do, what to wear, what to eat!

The pool is closed, and the nights are cool, and yet when I throw on jeans and an Oxford, I’m wishing I’d gone with a tee-shirt by sometime around noon.  It smells like fall, but still feels like summer might come back to visit.  It’s a bumper season at the farmer’s market, too – there are bins of apples (it’s been an early season here) and new-dug potatoes, but there are also a few baskets of gem-like cherry tomatoes hiding in a corner, not far from a bushel of late peaches.

I’ve been bored with summer cooking lately, so I was tempted to fast forward to stews and breads and bacon-studded goodness, but summer is far too fleeting around here to not really appreciate these last few weeks of having it – or something like it – around.  And, hence, here is this super-simple pasta dinner, that shines because of those last few sweet, vine-ripened beauties and the intense leaves on our now-leggy basil plants.

I always cringe a little when food writers and recipe authors say this, because I believe you can make good food with imperfect ingredients a good portion of the time – but do be sure to use really good ingredients here – they’re the star of the show, and there’s no cooking or fancy techniques to hide behind.

Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes
(Serves 2-3 adults; adapted, generously, from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa at Home”)

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 – 3/4 pound linguine fini pasta (or other long, thin, pasta)
3/4 cup to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Combine the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl.  Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 4 hours.  Or, if you didn’t read the recipe until right before you put the water on to boil, microwave the tomato mixture for about a minute.

Bring a large pot of water salted with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to a boil, and cook the pasta until it’s tender but still has bite.  Drain and add the pasta to the bowl of tomatoes.  Add the Parmesan cheese and toss so that it melts.  If the pasta feels stiff, add a bit more olive oil until it’s to your taste.  Serve with Parmesan and additional basil leaves, if you  like.

Our little adventure down South threw me way off my game: in the first week back, I managed to burn that super-easy tomato sauce that you all liked so well (I’m still not sure how that happened) and transfer a much-needed cake directly from the oven to the kitchen floor.  It was not a banner cooking week.

But there were wild blueberries in the market, and they’re delicious, but kind of a pain to eat out of hand.  In fact, they are the perfect baking blueberry, so I set out to find a recipe worthy of them.  The one I settled on was a cake – part coffee-cake, part-dessert, and perfect to bring to a Tupperware-esque party my sister was having.  It looked easy, which, apparently, was the speed I was working at last week.   But, being one of those rediscovered recipes from the 1950s that Cook’s Country loves, it had a ridiculous name – “Blueberry Boy Bait” (what would Mount Holyoke think?!) and seemed oddly lacking in complementary flavors, except for a scant quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.  I had a starting point, but the recipe needed some oomph.  Read More

Two weeks, ten pounds of sugar, three dozen jars, and who can say how many pounds of fruit later, and I think I have to ‘fess up:  I discovered “putting up,” and I am hooked.

This is funny, because I was the kid who never wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – straight up peanut butter for me.  This is also funny because I’ve always said I could never can anything because I was intimidated by day-long efforts for a few jars of product, scared about the prospect of exploding jars, and terrified by the chance that I might poison my friends and family if everything didn’t go exactly as it should.

But a recipe in the latest Canal House Cooking for tomato jam was too unusual not to try, and made the process of actually preserving the goods seem straight-forward and oh-so-doable.  Thanks to that confidence booster and a handy and cheap buy-this-with-that offer from Amazon.com, and I had everything I needed to make my first batch of jam.  It was a huge success (though I’m having a hard time convincing anyone other than myself that tomato jam is the perfect thing to have with a salty cheese or with some kind of porky thing.  Really, it is!) It was much easier than I thought, and the perky little “pop” that those mason jars make as they cool and seal is incredibly satisfying – kind of like a gold star for a food geek.

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This blog began as an experiment, a whim by which to while away winter.  I thought only perfunctorily about a name, and – as any of you who follow me on Facebook have noticed – have yet to devise a logo.  Now that I’m six months in, and still enjoying it, and seem to have readers who still enjoy it, it occurs to me that I should start taking it more seriously.

A while back, a friend, who is both a branding professional and a very honest gal with perspective I respect, suggested that “On My Kitchen Window Sill” was a bit of an obscure mouthful.  She generously offered up her time, and that of her colleagues, and came up with a list of twenty other handles that might work.  Several of them, or their variants, were taken already, but these are some that piqued my interest.  I’m not committed to changing my online identity, but I’m curious as to your opinion.

Do any of these speak to you? Do you have ideas of your own? Should I embrace my winter whim and focus on finding a logo and expanding the existing brand?  Let me know!

We’re heading South this week, to the land of chicken fried and barbecue and sweet tea. Now, I’m a New Englander through and through, and if it weren’t for family ties and the value inherent to children learning about all the places that they come from, I’d be hard-pressed to be heading toward more heat, more humidity and bugs bigger than your average SmartCar in the middle of August.  But the food … well, that’s where the South really finds my soft spot (well, the music, too, but this isn’t a music blog.)

I can remember my first visit south of the Mason-Dixon, again at the height of summer, to attend  a family event with Husband, long before he was my husband. We were in eastern Tennessee, and the whole extended family – most of whom I was meeting for the first time – went for a meal at a local restaurant.  All I remember about the meal is the dessert menu, recited by a local girl, and including what seemed like hundreds of pies, pronounced both rapidly and with an easy southern drawl: “Peach Pah, Strawberry Pah, Pecan Pah, Chocolate Cream Pah, Lemon Meringue Pah, Blueberry Pah, Cherry Pah, Razzleberry Pah, Apple Pah, Key Lime Pah …”

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