Category Archives: food

Blog and Blog Again

That is my density (remember the first Back To The Future movie).

Pursuit. Sixteen years ago I met the man with whom I wished to spend the rest of my life.  No, I never told him so! We met all the folks, eloped and will celebrate 15 years married in January, which is also the 14th anniversary of our young, sick pup who we rehabilitated from the shelter. Even systematically took out her hips at age six and nine months because she had the worst hip dysplasia her surgeon had ever seen. As my husband is a physicist his cousin, her surgeon cleaned and kept the first hip bone for our perusal.

Never chase. Be chased. As far as jobs were concerned I just showed up for the interview and they tried to sell me on it.  If it worked, it worked. I did make one error, a woman who took me to a fancy NYC hotel for breakfast and she ended up being the boss from he!!. That was two years of trials but I quit and used the money I’d saved to go to cooking school. A gift from a friend later on was a week south of Florence, Italy for another cooking school. Both were the most fun education I’ve ever had.

Always let a dog or cat come to you. They will pursue you and be calmer, happier and desire to be near you. Never pick them up and make them sit on your lap. Do what you are doing, whether knitting or watching an old episode of ER. They want your attention. As John Lennon (if you’re too young, he led a little band called The Beatles) said, I am the Walrus. Shades of pale from Procol Harum. Pursuit.

My husband said he could not date me, when he was away after three weeks. It was the dot-bomb era and the board left info on the white board that ended with “fire staff.” Everyone saw it and went home for the weekend to live in agony awaiting the axe. He went to live with his folks for two weeks and came back and his neighbor asked why he returned. He simply said, “her.”

Oh, I had to hire and pay for maids to clean his place (string cheese in individual wrappers between the frig and dual-brained computer he built) in his man-cave apartment behind the mail boxes. I also found him/us a place to live 1,000 feet from mine, now called the Barbie House. Yes, I did passively pursue, but mostly through food. His grandmother now says that is looking happy and must be eating well. That is what nearly 20 years has done. He was skinny at the time. We eat healthily but age creeps up. Cheers! Dee

 

 

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Prior Engagement

I can’t go on a trip with my husband because I’ve a prior commitment. We were looking forward to it. I had my dates wrong.

Dreams of museums swam through my head. He would have no time to spend with me, but I could have seen my brother. I haven’t seen him for over eight months, since Dad’s funeral.

Last night when I told him I couldn’t be there he said it was OK. I told him I wanted to see him and have pastrami and he said no can do. So I’ve researched it and it’s a “can do.” Perhaps if we plan it I can spend two days and we can do our museums and deli. We’ll see, Dee

Childhood and Food

I couldn’t sleep so saw a few moments of a show that was telling me chef’s favorite memories of childhood. I’ll do you one better, good and bad. As far as I’m concerned there are taste and sense memories like the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. The smell of cookies and vanilla is a time-tested trick of the real estate agent.

Then there are family memories of dinners together, and then special events like birthdays. Mom’s gone nine years and no-one has her recipe for the birthday cake she made each of us, including herself, every year as we grew. It was a pecan layer cake with two types of chocolate frosting. I believe those were the best days we had with family. Birthday kid got to choose the meal as well. I only remember the cake, and I don’t do dessert because Mom and my sisters were so good at it I had to cook, not bake. My brother is a good cook, too, and he didn’t even go to school for it!

I hated bologna sandwiches. When Mom didn’t have time to make me lunch for school (a bologna sandwich) she would give me tokens, $.35 for a hot lunch at the cafeteria, $.02 for milk. I always had a penny so would pay a cent extra for chocolate milk. They usually had what they called Salisbury steak. Pity that town in England. It was awful.

In high school I ate my first “tater tot!”  Good. Later I got to choose and would have a slice of pizza (just dollars, no tokens any more) and packet of Twinkies. Great diet for an athlete! I’ll bet the Twinkies are still in me, with their incredible shelf life.

In college for breakfast in the caf I ate Cocoa Puffs with chocolate milk. Then I moved to an apartment, cooked real food for everyone and never touched a dish. My roommates were shocked that one could make brownies or a dish from dried pasta that didn’t come from a box. I said I’d cook if they set the table, did dishes before and after dinner, and shopped my grocery list.

Our list of hungry neighbors increased so I was cooking for at least 12 for dinner every evening. Shopping list said 50# bag of potatoes for the week. They brought back cans of potatoes because they were on sale. So much for that. From then on I had the list and the cart and pointed to what I needed.

I never liked rice pudding. Mom made it and I wouldn’t eat it. I think it was a textural thing, combined with rice going with dinner, not dessert. That was as a little kid. Yesterday I made Quiche Lorraine that my husband loved. Also a tart with cooked apples, cinnamon, peaches and blueberries.

I like most things, not octopus, texture. It is a blessing for me to be able to cook for family and friends. Cheers! Dee

Arancini

My favorite Italian grocery has OO flour, that I usually use for my pizza dough. Yesterday I wanted to taste my first arancino and the deli guy said the meat was better than the vegetarian one. My husband has a lunch today and I’ve mine, leftovers in the best way.

In Scotland one has the “Scotch Egg” that is a boiled egg covered with sausage, breading and fried.

In Italy one has something in the middle, usually meat, covered with cooked rice and fried and served with tomato sauce. It was delicious!

I am certain that every nation and culture has their version of a fried meatball. It is sad that I waited all these years of culinary exploration to try arancini, just because I didn’t mentally understand it. This is the place we get our pasta, cheeses, sandwiches and I never found a place in my heart for arancini. It’s there now! Cheers, Dee

Missing

I should have called it “tortured.” Old dog Zoe does not mind my husband, “the fun guy” being away for a week or weeks at a time on business. She apparently stands by the front door waiting for me when I go out for groceries or flowers.

Months ago I asked our personal assistant if it was OK to leave her as it was too warm to leave her in my car. She said no problem, she doesn’t bother me, just sits at the door waiting for you.

My husband says he is the fun one who plays with her on occasion, but I am the important one. He is home for a few weeks writing a book and I set him up a gorgeous desk in our bedroom with en suite bath. He only comes out for a walk or water or Dr. Pepper while in work mode.

Zoe doesn’t know where to go. If I take her to the prime work zone, she wants to be with me, especially near feeding time. But she lays in front of the bedroom door wanting to see him. I lift her (no hips) up to the bed and 20 minutes later she is at the door wanting to see me again and it’s five on a Sunday morning and he gets up to let her out and goes back to bed. Then she lays on the floor by the master bedroom door awaiting him.

Once the book is finished my husband has opportunities that may separate us for a day at a time or weeks at a time. I’m enjoying cooking for him right now as I rarely do so for myself when he is out of town. Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

I think so, as my husband has started to cook spaghetti and meatballs, and wash some dishes. There’s tomato sauce all over the walls and water splattered over the counters. I can’t follow him and clean everything magically but do it when he leaves the room. For over 15 years I would not let him into my kitchen except for water and Dr. P.

He didn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Now he wants to use my KitchenAid mixer to make fluffy pancakes with whipped egg whites, rich pasta with lots of egg and my hand-cranked pasta machine. I remember from cooking school 1,1,3,1,2,3,4,5. Then change to the cutter and there’s fettucini.

Today, for lunch I will make baby back ribs with a great rub from a wonderful book, Alton Brown style, and a bbq sauce that I love at the very end. Roasted or mashed potatoes and grape tomatoes.

Dinner will be chicken for him I made the other day, cold cucumber soup for me. German cuke salad for him, he loves it. Have a wonderful Sunday and July 4th weekend. Dee

Set, Spell a Bit

It’s cool on the porch today, sweet tea and biscuits?

It is nice under the umbrella table now, some iced tea and fresh cherries?

North and South, it is our nation and I grew up in the North (father-in-law says I singly staged the War of Northern Aggression). I assure him it is not my fault as I could never be that old. I married Texas and the South.It seems 1860’s to me but it’s only 15+ years.

How about some chicken enchiladas? I made them for the hands.

Would you like some beef rouladen with spaetzle? Then I learned about Lady Bird Johnson’s recipe for Pedernales Chili, 1962. They cooked for 5,000 including JFK at the Johnson family ranch in Pedernales, outside Austin. It’s Texas. No beans. I purchase and grind my own beef and choose my spices. I’ve never made it for his family. His cousin S made a good version of chili, a wonderful Texas gal, and she added beans! That Lady Bird chili I started making years ago brought my sensibilities about The Empire State and The Lone Star State together. We have a lot in common!

The funniest thing is that both our families hail from infamous towns in Switzerland. My husband grew up on a dairy, and I on what might be called a “hobby farm” with Dr. B and a northern family.

The southerners still don’t “get” the flavors of lebkuchen and mincemeat, but bet they would love prime rib and Yorkshire pudding over the holidays. Alas, I only cook there for Thanksgiving and m-i-l and I spend up to five days preparing for the feast. She loves having our old dog Zoe there for the marathon because it saves on vacuuming!

In every country I’ve visited and spent much time in, I have found the southern regions more amiable. I once had a non-conversation with a Greek cigar merchant knowing good morning, thank you, you’re welcome (kalimera, efharisto and parakolo), laughing and doing hand movements while my sister and I tried to purchase a few cigars for my father as a souvenir. You girls want to smoke cigars? No, they’re for Dad!

Twenty-five years later I named every mezede (appetizer) on the table for Dad’s 70th birthday aboard a sailing yacht. The staff, chef included, were speechless. Hey, I’m smart, and I listen. Spanakopita, dolmades, keftadakia, risosalata, taramosalata, tyroppita and I went on to include eggplant, octopus and more. I make a great moussaka but my husband will not eat eggplant. Go figure, he’s from Texas! Cheers and good cooking! Dee

Gifts

I’ve several that come to mind. My husband, of which am I am not too fond of this morning because he shut the door and left our dog with me while I was sleeping and had been up most of the night. His old girls were shut-ins. I can get out easily but Zoe cannot do so. Bad Daddy!

My parents. Bob and Barb got a pup when we were quite young. We approved heartily but she was not allowed in the house at all except when it was below zero, then she was allowed into the basement. On my sixth or seventh birthday, I had a dream that told me it was morning and to let the dog out of the basement. I let her out and it was 2:00 in the morning. My parents came downstairs and said we’d find her in the morning. I was so upset.

They gave her away to a farm where she would be “happy.” I think she would have been happier sleeping on my bed at night and snoozing on the sofa or deck during the day. As Dr. Dog says, a backyard dog is a dog without a home. I heartily agree, unless you’re running cattle or sheep.

Same thing with my in-laws, who said it was OK to bring Zoe to Thanksgiving, then offered to mow a goat pen where she could stay, farm country. I said I wouldn’t go and would keep Zoe at home. There was a gift. Zoe indoors with me and at 90 in “people years” she is standing on Grandpa’s side of the sofa where he reads his Civil War books awaiting his return in a truck or a four-wheeler from feeding cattle. Zoe is 13 now and loves Grandpa and Grandma so much. Grandma is upset when Zoe stays home for Thanksgiving because she addresses our messes in the kitchen, eats everything that accidentally drops and makes cleaning up after our daily messes easier.

That gift was taken back a bit when my father-in-law told me I was solely responsible for the War of Northern Aggression! Oh, he was just joshing! He does it all the time, mostly politics. My husband and his parents and grandmother and younger brother and Stevie are all gifts.

There are so many more but it’s time, I have to take care of my family and get my husband breakfast when he awakens. I’m thinking over nearly hard eggs, bacon and potatoes I cooked last night. Note to cooks, never make leftovers look like leftovers. Cheers, Dee