Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Cooking in someone else’s kitchen can be a real challenge.  You can’t find the salt, you don’t have your favorite knife, their oven is not like yours.  Fortunately, my most recent experience was easy and fun.  And, even better, the food turned out well!

This kitchen was at the home of my friend A, someone I have known, we calculated, for about 40 years.  His kitchen is a work of art — a room he designed in a house he has built (is technically still building) in the hills above Oakland, CA.

The occasion was a fourth of July barbeque.  Everyone was bringing something, and I decided to contribute two small salads — one with roasted sweet potatoes and one with watermelon — variations of traditional fourth of July potato salad and fresh watermelon.

The dishes are both easy to make (I hesitate to even call what follows recipes, they are so simple) and can be pulled together in less than an hour, including the time needed to peel, dice and roast the sweet potatoes.  Next time you are cooking in a friend’s kitchen — or even your own — you might want to give them a try.

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Parmesan, Basil and Mint

1 small seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
¼ cup crumbled Feta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small bunch basil, sliced very thinly
1 small bunch mint, sliced very thinly
Juice of one lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toss watermelon cubes in a generously sized mixing bowl with Feta, Parmesan, basil and mint.
Add lime juice and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Let the salad sit for about 15 minutes and then transfer it to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon (there will be a lot of “juice” in the bottom of the bowl; I prefer to serve the salad with only a little of it).
Serve at room temperature or cooled in the refrigerator.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ (or less, to taste) cup finely chopped sweet onion (like Vidalia)
Juice of one lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss diced sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet.  If your baking sheets are small, use two so that the potatoes are not touching.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
Transfer the roasted sweet potatoes to a medium sized serving bowl and toss with the remaining olive oil, diced onion and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like a lot of black pepper with this salad).  Serve at room temperature.


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This past weekend S and I were in Denver

for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  This is one of the largest conferences I attend; AERA has something like 10,000 members, many of whom make presentations and attend sessions where they can talk about current issues in educational research and policy (among other things).

This year the meeting was particularly interesting (for people in the field of education, that is) because of upcoming changes in federal legislation related to education and because of the considerable national attention focused on the preparation and evaluation of teacher performance and student learning.  These are topics that I spend a lot of my professional life thinking about and the meeting provided me with a chance to hear from educational leaders who are hoping to influence those policies.

The trip also gave me a chance to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, visit the newly renovated Denver Art Museum

and eat out (too often and too much I am afraid!).  All of the food we had was great, especially the meals prepared by the friends we stayed with, of course.  Of the meals we had out, three stand out — both for the company and for the food.  First, we had a lovely dinner with our friends P, J, M and N at Duo, a neighborhood bistro in the rapidly developing and chic Highland neighborhood.  The Sweet Pea Fritters and the Halibut Carpaccio were particularly tasty.

We also had a great lunch at Bistro Vendrome on Larimer with P, K and T.  I loved my chicken salad sandwich (I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it was very good) and the wine, a 2007  Champalou Vouvray imported by Kermit Lynch, was exceptional.  Finally, we met our friends J & M for brunch at Rioja, another place on Larimer that really lived up to it’s reputation as one of the best restaurants in Denver.

All in all, it was a good trip.  As usual, though, I am glad to be home.

*Note:  none of the photos in this entry are my own.

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