Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summertime Suppertimes

The picture above is of one small corner in our kitchen amid the wonderfully floury mess of pizza night.  Note that none of the lines in the photo appear to be plumb.  That is because we live in a very old former rectory, and nothing in this house is plumb!  I like to think that it adds character.  :)  Included in the shot are a couple of random peaches awaiting their role in another meal, a bowl of cherry tomatoes, one of my Nigella cookbooks, my beloved mixer, and the "Frozen Foods" sign from my father's old grocery store.  When I was a girl, my father managed a downtown supermarket (remember those?), and this is one of the signs that marked the aisles.  An employee saved the signs after they'd been taken down and replaced during a store renovation.  A few years after my father passed away, that same employee gave the signs to my mother, who shared them with us kids.  I have cherished my "Frozen Foods" sign ever since.  It reminds me of some very happy times at my dad's store; it also reminds me of the days when small, local grocery stores were the norm rather than the exception.  

Central to my childhood--and to my life ever since--were home-cooked meals.  Both of my parents were wonderful cooks.  We ate good, healthy meals around the dining table together nearly every night of the week.  Mr. Magpie's mom is also a wonderful cook, and they also ate from-scratch meals around the table as a family.  Mr. Magpie and I don't have kids, but we love to cook, and we still sit down to our meals together.  When people talk about the challenges of married life, I often think that if more couples cooked meals together there would be more happy marriages.  Cooking is relaxing and sensual.  Working with all those gorgeous colors, textures, tastes, and aromas is like giving yourself--and your partner--a beautiful gift. 

I used to cook professionally, and my tendency is to be very bossy in the kitchen, but there is one thing that I leave entirely in the very capable hands of my husband: pizza.  The man makes gorgeous, crispy, flavorful, thin-crust pizza.  That's a shot of one of his pies above.  He makes his own dough and his own sauce.  This sauce is a simple one with a little garlic, some fresh herbs, olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes, a pinch of turbinado sugar to cut the acid, and salt & pepper.  The toppings are olives, vidalia onions, and red peppers, topped with mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano.  

My contribution to the meal that night was a salad--but not just any salad.  This one comes from Nigella Lawson's Endless Summer, and it's a watermelon salad with feta, black olives, and lime-marinated red onions.  It is my current favorite.  If you try it, I have a feeling it will be yours, too.  You can find the recipe here.  Oh, and it calls for mint, and I used orange mint from my porch herb garden.  Heavenly.

We've been cooking up a storm around here lately, so I'll be sharing more summertime suppers with you soon!


  1. Your kitchen corner is lovely! And what a wonderful employee that was to save those mementos of your father and pass them on to your family.
    I agree that cooking together and sitting for a meal as a family is important. We do it almost every night as well.
    Hugs to you, Gigi.

  2. The corner of your kitchen is beautiful, and I admire your approach to food and dining. May the frozen foods sign last many years more.

  3. I would give anything to have a small, local grocery store to shop in!
    and to have a slice of that beautiful
    Mr. Magpie pie!

  4. What wonderful sentiments Gigi and what deliciousness to accompany them.....I hope you are having a gorgeous weekend and continuing to cook up a storm....xv

  5. I agree with you Gigi, cooking together with your other half would help lots of struggling couples.
    Beautiful looking dinner between the both of you. I will definitively try the watermelon salad, reading the ingredients I found myself salivating ;-)

  6. Dearest Gigi,

    You are so right about cooking and sharing meals together! Love the recipe; great idea to use lime for the red onions!

    Lots of love,


    PS Did see your post with all the peonies; what a heaven!

  7. Hi Gigi,

    That's a lovely little corner of your kitchen, special memories with your dad's sign. I would also love a real old fashioned corner shop, cant' imagine what it must feel like to call the shop owner by name and vice versa let alone him or her know my childrens' names! I can't notice the out of plumb? Maybe it's 'normal' to me, we used to live in an old renovated home also.
    Have a lovely week,

  8. gorgeous corner bossy?? ;)
    and a man making pizza..perfect weekend!

  9. When I first started dating Mr O I loved the fact that he cooked Chinese food for me...I have to say that that pizza looks even better!

    Your kitchen looks so cozy...

  10. Hi Gigi,
    If that is a mess then, my kitchen would be a war zone !!!! ....although, I do always tidy as I go.
    Mr. Magpie's pizza looks perfect. My husband isn't really a pizza lover......that was until we went to Venice and had the thinnest crust pizza you ever did see, and, he loved that. When Mr. Home and I come round to your home for dinner, please feel free to give us pizza and Nigella's salad!! That would be most welcome. We will arrange a date later ..... I WISH !!
    Enjoy those beautiful peaches too in whatever guise they take on.
    Much love.
    P.S..... I know that it is par bon to use lots of exclamation marks when writing and I always feel bad doing it on your posts but....I can't help it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XXXX

  11. Oh, Jackie, I love that you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xo

  12. DELICIOUS, Gigi...every morsel here is sooo good...mmm...I love Nigella Lawson's cookbooks--she is a big inspiration for my kitchen. Your kitchen corner looks homey & happy. Any pizza left? ;o) Happy Week ((HUGS))

  13. Yum you are making me hungry...I want a slice of Mr Magpie's Pizza too!!! Have a fabulous day today, Gigi! xxoo :)

  14. The pizza and salad look amazing. I must try them soon. Love the story of the sign. I would definitely treasure that and how special someone saved them for your mom.


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