A simple corn and pepper sauté brings the best of the season to the table. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

A few weeks ago I read a social media post on “Sister, I am With You.” It began with the sentence, “Could we please bring back the lost art of the simple get-together?”

The post went on to say that it’s not the themed, fancy, planned celebrations we crave, but the simple, ordinary meals that make us feel truly “filled up.”

It reminded me that it doesn’t matter if your dishes don’t match, there aren’t enough chairs, your one tablecloth has a coffee stain and the matching napkins need ironing. Let me tell you something: nobody cares.

Just invite someone over to share food – your grown kid, a neighbor you’d like to know better or a longtime friend who you’ve shared hours with in restaurants but have never welcomed into your home. Invite your grandchildren, coworkers or that sweet older couple you always run into at the library.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at iwrite33@comcast.net or 504-0545.

You don’t have to have everyone over all at once. You don’t have to clean the house first, wait for perfect weather, try to impress them or spend more than is allotted for your food budget. Just call someone and share what you have.

And wouldn’t you know it, on the very day I read that reminder post, my youngest daughter texted me, “Can we come over?”


Within three minutes, we agreed we would pool our resources from our pantries and fridges. The family would show up as soon as they could get ready.

I grilled a package of chicken breasts, inventoried the salad ingredients, started a quart of sun tea and made brownies from a mix. Then, rather than tidy and obsess, I went out to the deck and read two chapters of my book before two adults, three lanky teenagers and three vivacious dogs arrived.

After taking stock of the provisions they had brought from their own kitchen (plus the ice cream they had nabbed on the way over), we swam, sunbathed and catnapped. There was also whiffle ball, deck sitting and forest exploring. There were calamities of all sorts, and it was wonderful.

When it was time to eat, we surveyed the ingredients set out on the countertop. There was no theme and very little organization. What we had before us was a quart of leftover chowder and a bowl of leftover tortilla soup to heat. There were misfit peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as herbs and corn from my daughter’s garden, sourdough bread and a new-to-me jar of mayo-cheese dip that was out of this world. There was cold grilled chicken, greens, a salsa assortment and random cheeses.

One of my grandsons shucked the corn, then his younger brother expertly took the corn off the cobs, stirring it all into a pan of chopped peppers, then sautéing it all in butter until caramelized, finishing with scallions and cilantro.

I must also mention the mayo-cheese dip because I could have made a meal out of that alone. Spread on a toasted baguette and topped with a tomato slice – it was exceptional. You could stir other things into it, I suppose, such as toasted almonds or onions, but since we were going with simplicity, we left it alone.


On this day, we ate well with very little effort. There was time for hijinks and shenanigans galore, cooling off in the buoyant salt water of the cove, and brownie sundaes with epic amounts of spray whip for dessert. We “filled up.”

And my son-in-law washed all the dishes.

Corn and pepper sauté

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sweet or sweet/hot peppers, chopped (any variety)

8 ears corn, kernels cut off

1/3 cup scallions, chopped


Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Cilantro for garnish

Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and saute for 2 minutes.

Add corn and saute for another 5-7 minutes, or until beginning to caramelize. Add scallions and saute for one more minute.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 6 servings


Cheddar cheese dip

5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, pressed

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Stir all ingredients except chives together in a small bowl and chill for at least an hour. Garnish with chives. Serve with chips, pretzels, crackers or toasted baguette.

Yield: 1 cup

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