Even if it didn't feel like spring last week, I know that it's on its way because my bulbs were peeking out of the snow. I don't know this personally, but my husband, Ralph, has been giving me an update on the happenings and the weather in Carson City while I'm down at our little place in the desert near Palm Springs, Calif.
I've been here since Feb. 16. and I must admit the weather here has been wonderful. Even last week, when you were having snowstorms and it was cooler than normal here, it was still 40 degrees warmer than home. I like to cook down here when it's chilly just like home because having the stove and oven going warms the little place right up.
It's great getting to experience two springs - one down here and another when I return. There is a small farmers market in Desert Hot Springs on Thursday mornings, and I usually go and pick up a few items.
The strawberries have been pretty good. I have also been buying artichokes, Swiss chard, beets, lots of oranges and a few lemons.
The trees in the city park are heavy with lemons, oranges and grapefruit. This weekend is looking like strawberry margaritas for sure; it's going to be downright balmy.
But enough about wonderful weather, fresh produce - oh, and did I mention the natural hot springs? The park has 12 of them (www.skyvalleyresort.com).
One of my favorite comfort dishes to cook when the weather is cooler is braised short ribs. It's simple, and you can dress them up or just leave them alone. You can serve them with potatoes, pasta or polenta. If you're watching the carbs, add a salad and vegetable.
I always buy enough ribs so I have leftovers for another meal - cook once, eat twice. Use this recipe as a guideline for however many short ribs you want to cook.
2 packages short ribs (I like mine with the bone in, but you can also buy them boneless)
Flour for dredging
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small package mushrooms, sliced
2 or more cups beef stock or broth
Dredge ribs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, brown the ribs in a little oil on all sides then transfer to Dutch oven.
Add mushrooms and beef broth. Cover and cook in oven at 300-325 degrees for three to four hours, checking liquid and adding more if needed (if your ribs are fatty, strain off liquid and cool to skim fat). You could also do these in the crockpot after they are browned, just adjust your cooking time.
This next recipe I'm going to share with you came from a Carb-Smart sweets and treats recipe booklet put out by Prevention magazine. This cookie is yummy and has 8 grams of carbohydrates and 55 calories.
Orange Drop Cookies
11Ú3 cup flour
1Ú2 teaspoon baking powder
1Ú2 teaspoon baking soda
1Ú4 cup butter, room temp
2 T. cream cheese, softened
1Ú2 cup sugar
1 T. grated orange peel
1 teaspoon orange extract
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, beat butter and cream cheese till blended; add sugar. Beat till fluffy. Add egg, orange peel and extract. Add flour and rest of dry ingredients. Beat until well blended.
Drop by teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, or until edges are golden. Let cool and remove from cookie sheet.
Makes about 30 cookies.
• Linda Marrone has lived in Carson City since 1973, and with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone's Restaurant and Somethin's Cookin' Catering.