howl [ houl ]

verb (used without object)
to utter a loud, prolonged, mournful cry, as that of a dog or wolf.
to utter a similar cry in distress, pain, rage, etc.; wail. []

This week is a real howler. No, not like the one delivered to Ron Weasley, although I’ve had those, too. This is just one, long series of intense work-related tasks. There’s an end in sight, but there is also a piece to go. How to alleviate stress? I already ordered myself a cranberry velvet swing jacket – happy birthday, me – for the holidays and a pair of cheetah flats for the fall. So, let’s cook. And bake.

Zucchini & Navy Bean Soup

It’s not quite fall-fall, but it’s in the 70’s, so soup is fair game. This will make you feel like a true home economist, using up quite a few garden items in your kitchen.

1 m zucchini, about 1-1 1/2 c sliced in quarters (I like the skin on)0828192037b
2 T olive oil
2 c clean spinach, stems removed
1/4 c basil chiffonade
2-3 c diced San Marzano tomatoes
1 1/2 c tomato sauce
2 c navy or white beans
1 c water

This could not get any easier. I started with dry beans, but use canned if you’ve got ’em.

In large sauce pan, saute sliced zucchini in olive oil until crunchy tender. Sprinkle w/ salt & pepper. Add tomatoes and sauce, bringing to a bubble. Add spinach and basil. Stir in beans. We like a bit of broth in our soup. You, too? Add the water. Heat through. Serve with a nice bread, sharp dry cheese. Swizzle the top of the ladled soup with EVOO.

Note: You can freeze this beauty for the dark, winter months, when the wind is truly howling.

Nectarine Almond Cobbler

I get excited when I see crates of nectarines and peaches. Then, I get them home and realize it’s just me and Bill. Cake lasts longer, right? Although I’ll admit this reads more like a pudding right out of the oven. No, you’re right. This is not a diet dish. You saved calories with the soup. (Adapted from Grits & Gouda.)

4-5 decently ripe nectarines (peeling optional), stoned, and cut into 1/2″ slices
1/3 c butter
1 c self-rising flour
1 c sugar
3/4 c milk (not skim)
1 T good almond extract
1/4-1/2 c sliced almonds
cinnamon & sugar

Heat oven to 350F. Use a 9×9″ baking dish. Cut butter and place around bottom of dish. Melt in oven.

Make batter, stirring together flour and sugar. Mix with milk and almond extract. Gently fold in nectarines or peaches. Remove melted butter from oven. Spoon batter directly onto butter without stirring. Repeat: do not stir batter into butter. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon & sugar. Bake 40 minutes.

Note: I just bought a beautiful almond extract from Horrocks, so I went with it, rather than vanilla. Following the cited recipe, I did draw off some of the bubbling butter with a baster, when I removed the dish from the oven. This is why I reduced the butter to 1/3 c. A dollop of whipped cream would not go amiss. It’s dense and moist. Eat warm.

This brought the week down to a whimper, at least.