Tag Archives: feta cheese appetizer

Be Nice

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Nice kids from SF’s Mission H.S., eating at T-lish

Tacolicious, our kids’ restaurant, has a new company mission statement – which has been enhanced in a way that only Joe, our son-in-law, could do it.  But I can restate it simply – and family-friendly – as “Be Nice.”

“Nice” is such a plain word.  I’m sure my CC English professors would have winced if we’d used it in our writing.  But I’m thinking that simple – or plain – or basic – is sometimes all we need.   For example, “You can do it!”  Those were words of encouragement shouted to the bicyclists at the beginning of Andy’s famous Tour de Friends bicycle ride.  Even better for this blog, one of the cyclists reminded everyone to “Be nice” (see today’s Andy’s Corner for more).

One simple line that gets me teary every time I read it is the dedication in our daughter Sara’s first cookbook,  Asian Vegetables.


“to Mom, of course”

Or maybe it’s ending each phone conversation with “love you.”  Our grandsons routinely say it as they hang up (obviously from their cell phones), and I love it.  I’ve read that the Scandinavians are famous for being uneffusive, so that may explain why my Swedish mother was not known for lots of “I love you’s,” though those were the final words we exchanged when I visited her the last time at the Fort Collins hospital.

“Peace” is another beautiful word, considerably more eloquent in its monosyllable-ism than “nice.”  Go in peace, my friend.

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But back to “nice.”   When Andy and I are eating out,  we’re total suckers if the waitstaff is attentive, happy, polite, kind, considerate – i.e. nice (NICE!).  Even if the food is just good, we’re still happy campers.

Want to have a nice dinner party?  Of course you’ll be nice to your guests, so I want to focus on how you can entertain – and be nice to yourself.  Sure you can bring food in, but guests really love home-cooking (it’s so “yesterday!”)

Give up the notion that you have to always prepare an appetizer and a salad and a vegetable and a main dish and a dessert, if company’s coming.  And by all means, avoid picking a menu which requires you to do a lot of stuff at the last minute.  Most of us will be so worn out at the mere thought of all that work that we’ll forgo entertaining altogether – or be too frazzled to enjoy the occasion.

Here’s what I recommend for a height-of-the-summer super simple dinner party:

#1: buy good cheese – and delicious crackers.  That’s your appetizer.

#2: make the main dish a one-dish stand and something that can be done hours ahead of time.

#3: bake a really simple summery dessert (recipe follows) and buy the most wonderful gelato or ice cream you can find to go with it (here in Sonoma County I’d pick Fiorello’s).  It’s all so do-able – and so so SO nice.  Have a good one.

My quick and easy summer meal for 4:

Appetizer – Simple Feta Cheese: about a 7 oz block of feta cheese (enough for 4-6) cut into bite-size cubes, drizzled with lemon juice, then olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of dried oregano and a pinch of red chile flakes – if you like spice.  Serve it with lentil or pita chips – and maybe some Greek olives along side.  This simply-marinated feta will improve in flavor if it sits for a while before serving; what more could you want – and easy peasy!

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Feta cheese appetizer


One-dish main dish – Easy Lamb and Lentils with Pita Bread

Dessert – Marion Cunningham’s Fruit Crisp – with ice cream or gelato, optional but delicious

(another meal idea could be something retro and fun – and very very easy:  Triscuits with Yellow Cheddar Cheese,  Sloppy Joes served with iceberg lettuce topped with Blue Cheese Dressing  and Katharine Hepburn Brownies – and ice cream – for dessert.)

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