The Family Of Foodies

When our kids come home from college for a visit, suddenly our kitchen is bursting with the smell of my freshly baked banana bread with raisins and chocolate chips, soon afterwards dark chocolate brownies are left to cool waiting for me to slather on the thick, creamy dark chocolate frosting.

Their dad and I have both gone to the supermarket to stock up on their favorite foods, they could stay four weeks, even though they are only here for four days or is it one day? It doesn’t matter. We pack the leftovers so the kids can take them to share with their friends.

 

I stood in the freezer section getting frost bite while choosing six quarts of ice cream, all different flavors.  We have Ben and Jerry’s Coffee, Coffee Buzz, Graeter’s Black Cherry Chip,

 

Graeter's

Graeter’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Black Raspberry Chip, and Chocolate, Chocolate Chip. We also have Mango Sorbet, Blood Orange Sorbet and Haagen Daas’ Pistachio ice cream (which to me, is a great disappointment, vanilla with a couple of shelled pistachio nuts in it. I won’t buy it again.) Any suggestions of another brand of pistachio ice cream?

 

 

 

 

 

We have rainbow cookies, molasses cookies.

 

 

amaretto cookies, and of course, Double Stuffed “Oreos.”(Thank you, Nabisco)

 

We don’t live like this all the time, believe me, we only stock up when our college kids come home to visit. Our daughter’s description of the ideal break is: “watching, (streaming episodes) of her favorite television shows on her computer and eating her home-cooked favorite foods and I quote.” Isn’t that what coming home is all about?”

My husband made a delicious eggplant parmegian/ parmesan, I made guacamole, and a tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, basil salad, we had

 

English: Guacamole in a bowl. Photograph taken...

 

chips, pizza, huge salads, creative salads with lettuce and arugula, cranberries, goat cheese, string beans, grapes, and cucumbers (and anything else I found) with no meat (for our daughter “the vegetarian.”) Yes, she DOES get plenty of protein, she never liked meat and never ate it as a baby. I’m anticipating the questions that will follow…

BOTH of my grown-up children came home a day early as a surprise and I consider myself deeply blessed. I am truly grateful to be able to have one night together with my whole family, where we eat will be up to them, with our approval, and bound by price range and affordability.

Tonight, we will eat leftovers with no complaints and if there are complaints, that’s okay, the only other option is…no other option. I do regret how lenient we were with our children when they were small. I felt like a short order cook, a grilled cheese for one, spaghetti with meatballs for the other….the things you learn in hindsight.


We all make mistakes as parents but if that’s the worst mistake we made then I think we did pretty well. We have super nice, polite kind, kids, independent, loving, street smart and compassionate. What more could a mother and a father want? NOTHING.

Are they perfect?  No.  Are we? Heck no. Do we wish they would change certain things?  Sometimes. No, I am NOT going to argue with you about this!! (you- know -who) I know that they wish the same for us. We’re a family, we all need to work together. Every single one of us needs to learn how to compromise and accept not always being right. Accepting someone’s difference is harder than deciding to disagree. Respect another person’s position without judgment. Try.

What would you rather be, a very old friend asked me thirty years ago, right or at peace?

My answer thirty years ago was” right,” I changed my answer in the years to come. The kids will learn that, in time. Or, they won’t. That is entirely up to them. It took me a long time to see it, peace wins for me now, every single time.

We all grow-up, we make mistakes, we fall down, we get up and we fall down again. Children, like adults, learn, from their mistakes. Let them make them.

When our kids went back to school a few days ago my husband and I went right back to eating very simple meals. Scrambled eggs with cheese and toast, pasta with meat sauce, home-made pea soup, chunky with carrots, ham, spices and a salad and french bread. A roasted chicken, rice and freshly cut vegetables with a yogurt dill sauce. After dinner, we often go upstairs, lie on our bed, watch our television set with a small (ok, medium) bowl of ice cream in our hands (with rainbow-colored sprinkles for me) to watch the Jimmy Fallon show from the night before. A simpler life, quieter, we accept what we have, what we can’t change and that’s okay. Love what you have today, understand and accept that you will see your children less, yesterday is gone and we don’t know what the future will bring.

Enjoy the moment. Be Thankful. Breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Craving Cheeseburgers, Part 2: My Love Affair With Dessert

When we last spoke in “Craving All Cheeseburgers” my husband and I really DID go out for the delicious, juicy cheeseburger and I kept my promise (to you) to look at the dessert menu. Did you think I would disappointed you, my friends? Of course not.

On the dessert menu: Creme Brulé, Ice Cream, Sorbet, flourless chocolate cake (No other pastries) and a special Banana-Chocolate bread pudding. That definitely interested my husband, since he loves bananas and chocolate. I was trying to be nice, so I said I would share it with him. I had my doubts.

Big Mistake.

It tasted like the banana bread that I bake except much drier.  I

Monique's Banana & Raisin Cake

Monique’s Banana & Raisin Cake (Photo credit: Great British Chefs)

make banana bread several ways. Plain, with raisins. Plain with chocolate chips and lastly banana bread with both chocolate chips and raisins.

I’m a huge fan of raisins, so give me an oatmeal raisin cookie and I’m in heaven. I will eat chocolate chip cookies but I prefer oatmeal raisin, I might have to try to make them this week. I’m an oddball I know, I like molasses cookies and cinnamon cookies ginger cookies and vanilla cookies, that’s why my nickname, years ago, was “Vanilla Girl.” I like chocolate too as a pre-dessert, dark chocolate I consider medicinal in a heart healthy kind of way.

The bread pudding was too hard to resemble anything pudding like. It had the consistency of a very dry sponge.  My husband ate some of it and we

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: rob.knight)

brought the rest home which is still sitting in our over crowded refrigerator. I scrounged around our cabinet and came up with some cinnamon cookies and a (large) spoon of Nutella for my dessert. Not bad at all.

Tonight, I am looking forward to the Greek diner’s rice pudding that my mother lovingly bought me after we shared the best tuna sandwich in the world. There are only a few places that are known to us for tuna approved edibility.

Our main course tonight will probably be scrambled eggs and English muffins but as long as I am happy with my dessert nothing else matters. I have to put raisins in the rice pudding now, before I forget.

Rice pudding bowl

Rice pudding bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t told anyone this but I just ordered home-baked molasses cookies on-line and I am waiting for them to arrive any day now. (They were expensive.)

My friend Judith really does eat dessert first when she is home, I need the anticipation. I have a Pre-D and then a  real-D. Same kind of concept mine just has a base of protein.

Tomato, TomAto.

PS Those were the best cookies I have EVER had. Worth every dollar. They also come in a “Snickerdoodle” variety which the company says is the Molasses cookies with raisins. Does anyone know? I looked up Snickerdoodles and there are many versions.

Please help.

That is going straight on my birthday list. I’m drooling.

Baking For Cousins

It’s been a rough week, I’ve started about twenty new posts and never finished any but last night I talked to a new friend and it felt refreshing like biting into a piece of lemon cake on a hot summer day. Sometimes, when things feel black, an unexpected opening, like a crack in a window, appears from nowhere and you can finally start to breathe normally again.

Open Window

It doesn’t solve your problems and It may not last,  but at least it makes you remember that “normal” really isn’t the deep-down, below the ground hurt, sadness and resentment you have felt for the last few days. It’s as if you have been given a “time-out” to think about your marriage, your grown up children, your family and friends, your Life.

It’s like taking a break without traveling. It’s NOT dreading the barbeque at your house that you felt two days ago but happily making food. Slicing the mozzarella and the tomatoes, drizzling olive oil, and balsamic glaze and scattering chopped pieces of fresh basil on top.

English: Guacamole in a bowl. Photograph taken...

I’m making my daughter’s favorite, everyone’s favorite, guacamole with avocados that have ripened in a paper bag with two apples. I will squeeze fresh lemon on them, add chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, pepper, salt and a few grains of sugar (my secret recipe) to undercut the acidity.

 

My mouth is beginning to drool. My husband and son are at the supermarket buying meat for the rest of the carnivores, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Mostly, I am hosting this barbeque, to see the four cousins together which never ceases to delight me. Jon, Anna, Tim and Jillian. All grown up but still as close as they were when they were young and building forts in my living room with “Milton.” (Don’t ask)

banana bread!

Our house was the favorite, of course, because my sister and her husband were much stricter about food than we were. Hence, when the cousins came over, they said hello, gave us hugs and went directly to our pantry. I loved every minute of it and still do and even though I swore I would never bake another banana bread again…there are two freshly baked loaves waiting for them, on the granite counter.

One with raisins, one with chocolate chips, both with love.

 

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I am sick, I am not sick, I am

Pain #TP637

Pain #TP637 (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

I am not sick. I am. I am sick if I feel pain, pain hurts. Sick is pain, not bumping up against walls and tremors. So, I am not sick. Not now. Not yet. You did hear me, right? I am not sick. What happens when invisible illness become visible? When a pink cane accompanies me everywhere? I am not invisible anymore. People see me and give it a thought, “oh, there’s something wrong with HER, I wonder what it is.”

I think the same thing, flatly, without terror, at least today. What IS wrong with me. I have shut down for the most part and if I could stay in bed in my white-flowered pajamas, thin and comfortable, I would do that all day and night. I can’t. My kids are home today for a visit and as most parents know, I would do anything not to scare them or put them through any unnecessary concern.

I am unbalanced, imbalanced. I cannot walk a straight line. My neurologist was cavalier the first time he saw this, in fact he ignored it. Why would he ignore something as strange as that? Maybe because he ran over his 8 minute limit.  I don’t like him. I don’t like a doctor who does not acknowledge emotion, who pretends it is not there. I need to switch. He didn’t want to give me this second MRI but my” huggable rheumatologist” insisted. He is a doctor I respect. A person that you can be proud to call your doctor.

I need a favor, I have asked a friend and she can’t do it. I have asked another friend and I haven’t heard back. I hate asking for favors. Do I ask again or just call a cab? I’m too tired to even make this decision. My room is disgustingly disorganized and I don’t have the energy to clean it but I will try for ten minutes. There is a banana bread in the oven baking for my son for his 24 hour visit, I would have crawled to make that for him, I had to lean on counters but I did it. I just hope I don’t burn it since I am lying down upstairs.

I’m getting very tired. Tired of tests, tired of illnesses, tired of sickness upon sickness piling up on me. This blog is the friend I can always talk to. I do not tell my mother half of what is going on because I don’t want her to worry. Here, I can say anything, I am not seeking pity, just a few minutes of peace of mind. It generally doesn’t work but I give it a try. I have nothing to lose. I cannot hide because I am here, just because I don’t complain does not mean I don’t hurt.

photograph credit to the noted photographer above.

no rights.

Employment Application, 2013

So freaking delicious, from my favorite restau...

So freaking delicious, from my favorite restaurant Le Madeline 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Hiring Manager:

Wanted: Full or Part-time Job involving food, writing or any combination of the two. Traveling with car service a must: ( I have NO sense of direction and that is an understatement)  It is NO joke. It is NOT covered by the ADA but  why isn’t it?  Mode of transportation:  Airlines: Private jet or first class preferable, business class necessary, economy, okay..if I must. Stand by: Been there, done that.

Interests: Food, Special Interest: Dessert, Food TV shows, Favorite all time dessert: Sacher Torte: Original or Fake, German or Austrian or American from Kew Gardens, Queens at the Homestead Gourmet with raspberry jam.I had it every year growing up for my birthday and I miss it. RIP Teddy.

Special Skills: Having traveled (for free) in my childhood I am extremely knowledgeable to rate hotels in addition to their restaurants and room service if you would like me to do that. I do not shy away from extra assignments, in fact, I just offered a very, informative link to the hotel industry. Can someone call ‘The Hilton’s’, please?

Proof of Expertise: Reading my blog, references, and restaurant owners in the area. I wrote a review of “The Flying Pig” for the local newspaper, it is not my fault they closed the restaurant, we still miss it, I assure you. Receipts upon request.

Good Points: Very amicable, charming, an excellent communicator, doesn’t like alcohol. Does not consider sorbet a dessert, perhaps as a palette cleanser and no weird flavors like octopus or lizard. Prefers cakes over pies, ice cream in addition to the cake never in lieu of the cake. Fresh fruit on request, ha ha ha ha ha. For a special occasion our family went out to a fancy restaurant and our daughter, the vegetarian, ordered blueberries and strawberries for $12 or $15 dollars and we said “no.” She was beyond furious even after I offered to make her some at home. Cookies: any time, all the time, but if you don’t want to make them, that’s fine, go to a bakery instead, Just sayin’…

Bad Points: I confess, favorite comfort food is still Kraft American cheese slices on soft bread (not Wonder bread. Anymore.) with light spreadable “butter and a chocolate related drink, this could include hot chocolate, Yoo-Hoo or chocolate egg creams. Diet Pepsi/Coke/Root Beer acceptable too. There are certain food items and beverages that go together well. Something salty would go with this dish, chips, pretzels, nothing special.

Additional Experience: Watching TV shows with my husband on our couch while eating our dessert not to be confused with Pre-D which immediately follows our meal but is a predecessor of the real “D” (which as you may have figured out is: Dessert. Ice Cream, pastry from French bakeries, even an occasional cupcake will do if we have nothing else. (Okay, maybe a Twinkie) and Baklava, yum, (another post on Baklava is also a blog post.)

Market Reach and Development: I need to be the first person or close enough to TRY NEW PRODUCTS, that is a natural field for me, I spy them on the shelves, I immediately buy them. Case in point: “*Candy Cotton Grapes.” I did not stop until I found them, it took 3 stores but I HAD TO HAVE THEM. I excel at wanting, finding and buying new products, my mother said I’ve been like that since I was 5, haven’t stopped. (see the entry “Cotton Candy Grapes” on my blog.

Cooking Skills: I make a mean chicken soup, I can roast a chicken with lemon and love, my baking skills are superb but limited to Banana Bread with the following options (plain, chocolate chip or chocolate chip and raisin) The latter being my son’s absolute favorite and the one thing he actually brags about (and hoards) from his friends.  I can also bake Pumpkin bread with or without raisins (without for my daughter who doesn’t like the texture of raisins and many other things) Oh, I knew I would forget something an award-winning Pea Soup. (Okay not a real award but it deserves one.) I learned how to make Chopped Chicken Liver when I was ten by a neighbor…

Excellent Writing Skills: To summarize the meals, service, attention to detail and I interact beautifully with all levels of  employees. Note:  I believe that you need to be kind to everyone and yes, it’s hard but at least try. Karma is karma, I’m not perfect, neither are you.

Overall summary: Delightful person with excellent communication skills and a love of food (junky or refined), enthusiastic, funny, silly, and a charming dinner companion. This applicant plays no games, she can’t wear high heels because they hurt her feet, although she would try fancier flats if necessary, she is willing to adapt. She has dancing green eyes and brown curly hair and only wears lipstick which her mother has bugged her about for the last two months. She is thinking about being dragged to one of those fancy stores like Nordstrom (which I used to call Nordstrom’s before my daughter corrected me for the 19th time ( with the ever so charming and obvious eye roll to the sky) for a make-over. Plus, I need new clothing too.

This candidate, I can assure you, will never, ever be late. She will always, unless there is a natural disaster, be early because she had/has  European parents and there WAS no other option. She is honest, she can keep secrets and is always reliable.

Take a chance. At the very least, bring her in for an interview.

Pretty please with rainbow sprinkles on top?

Yours truly,

Me.

PS: If you call my friend Maureen she will tell you that at times I do eat pizza with either grape or strawberry jam on top. I do not deny this one bit. In fact, I am proud of it.

Simple Pleasures

English: Fireplace. For more translations SEE ...

English: Fireplace. For more translations SEE BELOW (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like walking on the beach and collecting seashells. I love watching the ocean, any time of year. Sitting in front of a fireplace watching the orange flames flicker and dance in front of me; I sit so close that I feel the warmth of the fire on my cheeks, safe enough not to get burned. Familiar music playing that I sing along to, I used to burn candles but I don’t do that as much anymore. It used to be comforting and pretty but I’ve outgrown that. My dad used to buy me a candle for my birthday every year. Since he died eleven years ago, my mom and my sister try to do that, it’s so sweet but not the same. I love their intentions though, I appreciate it.

I’m looking forward to the special sweetness of a pit-free clementine, the happy, simple snack that I can just grab and peel. That is one easy part of the winter that I like. The winters are long here, way too long for me so I try to think of specific things that make it better like my home-made pea soup with smoked ham pieces and plenty of carrots so that it has a smoky-sweet taste. Or my home-made chicken soup that comforts us when we have colds and feel like eating nothing else. Our son used to crumble up Saltines by the handful and throw them into the soup so it was thick, the consistency of gruel but tasty. In the winter, I drink hot chocolate, in a steaming mug, sometimes with marshmallows for an extra treat and I bake my famous banana bread, with chocolate chips and raisins. I bake it for three out of the four cousins; my daughter will not try it.

I like having a flashlight right beside my bed every night and a tissue clutched in my hand. On my bookcase, along with many, many books I have photographs of my son, my daughter, my dog Lexi, and our deceased dog, Callie. There is our informal “engagement” picture of my husband and myself grinning so happily at the world. There is a basket of seashells that I collected from Florida and Rhode Island that I play with every now and again. I look at them all the time. Our dog, Lexi, lies on my bed, across my legs and sighs deeply and happily.

I have an anxiety disorder and recently I was so lucky to find a Psychiatrist who is lovely and gracious and someone who will not just dole out anxiety medications but will talk and listen. I told her today I picture her and her assistant as Glenda the good witch, all pink tulle and smiling eyes. I do not take this lightly having seen a couple of really creepy people. This is something I hold special in my heart, that there are still a few good people on earth, that do good things, whether you have the money or not. They will work with you to figure it out, there ARE a few people to believe in. I am grateful for you; thank you for helping me believe that there are good people left in the world. I am grateful and blessed.

Dedicated to M.E. and B.

I Wish I Had Twizzlers Right Now

A pack of Twizzlers

Image via Wikipedia

Random things about me:

I love deleting my SPAM folder. I don’t just like it, I look forward to it. Now its at zero, YES!!

When I eat a piece of dark chocolate I feel virtuous. Let’s face it, milk is my chocolate of choice, it’s sweet, it’s sensual but dark is healthy and I’m aiming to please. Health points, two for me.

Haven’t had red meat in three months. When hubby starts grilling those famous burgers of his outside, I know I won’t be able to resist. I can deal with that: moderation.

I am proud to say that I both Love and Like my son and my daughter and I’m Proud of them both. This is an amazing feeling. It gives my life purpose and meaning. They have turned into wonderful young adults, 17 and 19. Goal: Achieved.

It takes my ten-year old dog more time to jump on and off the bed. I have noticed a difference in the last year and it breaks my heart. You can never be ready but I am starting to prepare myself. Preparation: Grief. I need to do this. I love her THAT much.

Starting to explore the Internet for new recipes  to try. Good for me.

Bought a juicer, used it for a week. Hid it. Pain in the ass to clean. Need to find it (again) and man up. Love the juices, hate the cleaning. I need to get over myself. Fail.

Am reading a trash novel, it’s a nice break from all the morbid and depressing books I always read. It’s not even trashy as it is easy chick lit although rumor has it that the phrase is not politically correct anymore. Sorry, Jennifer Weiner, author.

When I wear the perfume Angel, I feel special and people compliment me on it all the time. I like that.

I dress so poorly, my daughter is a bit ashamed of me, she has a right to be. She’s taking me shopping soon, I’m more than a little afraid.

I have very bad feet. I can only wear one type of sneaker with orthotics. Other people with bad feet understand this. Fashionable girls (like my daughter) do not. That, I cannot change.

Deviled eggs, roast chicken, banana bread, pot roast, pea soup, chicken soup are things I cook/bake extremely well.

I once pooped in my pants when I had a stomach virus and couldn’t make it home on time. Mad sick.

Last night I woke up and my jaw was locked, it was terrifying. I must have been clenching my teeth so hard I could not open my mouth. Grabbed an Alleve and swallowed it, thankfully it helped.

I have a fear of germs and sickness, especially getting the dreadful Eppiglottitis again which just about killed me. Twice. Pain like searing swords in a red, hot throat. Childbirth was easy compared to it. Please don’t come back again. I carry Purell in my purse.

Sometimes I feel scared and anxious of things in advance, I try to talk myself out of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I hate when it happens.

I still have stuffed animals and I am proud of it. There is no age limit on stuffed animal friends.

I tell myself that “life is short” so I should “enjoy each day” but then I forget. Working on it.

The TV Executives should never have taken off the show “Brothers and Sisters.” Don’t even think about taking off “Parenthood.”

I should listen to more music.

My Cooking

F: is for Family And Food

Meatballs Marinara

The question: Can I cook? Depends on who you ask. I have a limited amount of things that I can cook well but they are not difficult or gourmet by anyone’s standards. The things I do cook or bake are very GOOD. I can make a lovely roast chicken with herbs and lemon, or a brisket (as good as my mom’s,) home-made macaroni and cheese, an old fashioned meatloaf, a fabulous pea soup with tender morsels of carefully chopped up honey ham or Canadian bacon, chicken soup, baked ziti, Nonna’s meatballs, a home-made tomato sauce learned from Ba, and I bake an awesome banana bread with raisins and chocolate chips. Not a chef by any means but a simple, home cooking mom that likes to cook with music playing in the background. Nothing complicated, simple, fresh, and easy. Come on over, we share.

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Mellow Yellow Monday- Bananas

Yeasted Banana Bread.
bananas

Bananas are yellow and alone, I eat them as a snack. They don’t make me specifically joyful but many years ago when I started making banana bread, I made myself a hero. I’m not a great cook or a fabulous baker with a wide repertoire of things I know how to expertly make. I make a mean banana bread though. It got such rave reviews from my husband and son, my mother, sister, niece and nephew that it was now called “Aunt Laurie’s Banana Bread” and that made me proud. I don’t have many skills but when I start peeling those ripe bananas into the same glass bowl I always use, I know that in an hour, people will be clamoring for more. I don’t think I’ll ever get famous for “Aunt Laurie’s Banana Bread” but when I serve it,  I feel like a star.