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shortbread1

Scotland’s polls have opened to the referendum vote that will decide if Scotland will be a nation independent of Great Britain. It’s too close to know what the result will be once the 4.2 million voters have cast their ballot. The world is watching, not just for its economic ramifications, but because Scottish culture is well-loved – tartan plaid, bag pipes, the Loch Ness Monster, Robert Burns, and Scottish shortbread are just a a few of the ways the Scots have fed imaginations for centuries.

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Chocolatezucchini

For those of you fortunate to be near a farmers’ market, or even better with an overflowing garden of your own, use up the abundance of zucchini with this decadent chocolate zucchini cake.

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minimuffins2

These mini muffins only take 10 minutes to mix, 10 minutes to bake. Plus they are packed with energy and low in sugar.

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rwbsalsa

Red, white, and blue dishes make a Fourth of July picnic feel festive. Combine strawberries, jicama, and blueberries into a salsa for blue tortilla chips or as a topping for grilled chicken or fish.

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cukesalad1

For a refreshing summer salad, combine cucumber, avocado, and mint with a little olive oil and lime juice.

We’ve been holding our church services at Spontaneous Celebrations, a community center in Jamaica Plain. I was standing outside after the service in the bright sunshine with Rebecca and Jenny when I noticed there were huge bunches of mint growing between the sidewalk and the bottom of the stairs.

Mint can take over a garden like an invasive weed, so I had no qualms about helping myself to a bunch of mint. It’s wonderful to not only have a mint in a vase to perfume the air but also to keep it handy to chop into salads, or add to a glass of refreshing ice water or lemonade.

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mousse4

Don’t even bother with the words, “vegan” and “tofu.” Just let “silken chocolate mousse” roll off the tongue. It’s as creamy and delicious as it sounds.

I haven’t been too successful cooking with tofu at home. It’s just not that appealing to me in texture even though I know its benefits as a protein in meatless dishes. In order to make the golden tofu that I enjoy so much in Thai restaurants it takes some skill with corn starch and patience to brown it just right in cooking oil. I haven’t mastered that well enough to do it for the low-level midweek cooking I prefer.

But use silken tofu to make chocolate mousse in a blender? That I can handle.

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Bundtcake1

A few weeks ago we threw a party for a colleague who was retiring after nearly 43 years of service to The Christian Science Monitor. In addition to being one of the nicest persons in the newsroom, Ross Atkin, a longtime sports writer, was also the presenter of baked goods. Without fail, so much so that we could set our Monday morning breakfast plans to this routine, Ross cheered the early hours of new week with a home baked treat.

He didn’t make enough to feed the entire newsroom, so you had to make sure you got work at least on time to run to the kitchen and pick up one of that day’s offerings ranging from cookies, muffins, bars to the occasional Bundt cake.

So at the 11th hour before the party (as in the afternoon before) I thought it would be a neat idea to bake Ross something from the pages of the Monitor as close as possible to the time he had first arrived in Boston as a fresh college graduate from Indiana on June 21, 1971.

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