Plinky Prompt: Describe Your Perfect Sunday Morning

  • My Perfect SUNDAY Morning……
  • THIS IS PURE FANTASY
    Mimosas My perfect Sunday morning would be in mid-May. The winter would have passed and now the mornings are bright, the air is filled with sweet songs from the birds chirping in the bright, blue sky. I would sleep until at least nine o’clock in the morning and I would stretch my arms and legs in my bed like our black and white cat who just woke up too. His name would be Felix and I would not be allergic to cats anymore.
    My husband would make me coffee, just the way I like it, and would bring it to me while I was still in bed, for a special treat, and he would sit at my side and talk to me while I sipped the PERFECT cup of coffee. Both the taste and the scent of the coffee are intoxicating. Mmmmm. Our dog, would be at our side, giving us kisses and not licking my coffee cup (not to say that this has EVER happened before….) and we would talk to our children, away at college, on the phone and both of them were happy and having a good time.
    We would then get dressed and meet friends, at a nearby restaurant for an elaborate, champagne brunch buffet. I would have a mimosa (or two), eggs benedict, pancakes, chocolate chip loaf, (I just had to put that in) very crisp bacon, raspberry scones and a sample of whatever I wanted. No one talked about illness or getting older. This was a special occasion, a joyous occasion and we all laughed and celebrated whatever good news it was!

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.

Plinky: What Vice Would YOU Give Up?

  • Vice, Be Gone
  • No, No, No!
    old fashioned chocolate cake, sweet revenge patisserie
  • If I had to give up one MAJOR vice, I would have to give up sugar. SUGAR? Yup, cake, cookies, chocolate bars, ice cream, baked goods, candy, (what? No more Chuckles candy?) chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. I would cry without a piece of chocolate or coconut cake,(oh fine, ANY cake) chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies too. Sigh, I’m good with Oreos as well (I did notice they now have sugar-free Oreos).I’m sure I would lose a lot of weight if I did this but is it really worth it? I don’t want to give up sugar and I don’t want to eat it in excess (ok, that’s a plain bold-faced lie) but I would be very unhappy if I had to give it up….My physical is coming up soon, I believe they test for diabetes. I would get used to it as we all get used to new things but I certainly would NOT be pleased. Who would? Giving up sugar? Scary thought and major ouch. Please don’t make me give it up, pretty please with Truvia on top?

Mellow Yellow Monday: Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes (Photo credit: babe_kl)

Not just any yellow fluffy pancakes but BANANA PANCAKES!

For added ecstasy, carmelize a few of the bananas

(often carmelized bananas are dessert in our

family-some add chocolate syrup to them, others, vanilla ice cream.

I just go for the sweet, sticky bananas fried (Use Pam) in a frying pan, with low heat.

In fact, I go bananas for banana pancakes.

(similar to* “I go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”)

*Cocoa Puffs, a product of General Mills

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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To Comfort Me

Крем чорба од грашка

It is so harmfully cold outside, the temperatures are low and the winds are high so that it makes me not want to leave the coziness of my house. Recuperating from a nasty bout of bronchitis, yesterday I made my chicken soup, starting in the morning with chicken and onions, a carton of frozen peas, a bag of carrots, pepper flakes, a shake or two of salt and slowly simmering it all day long. Making soup is comforting both when I eat it but also when I prepare it. I’m not sure why; I can bake brownies but it doesn’t have that same calming effect.

Tomorrow, I will go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make pea soup: a bag of dried peas in their cozy mesh sack, with pieces of ham steak that I will slice on the diagonal, chopped carrots, celery and onions. There is nothing like comfort than a bowl of  soup on a cold winter night. It’s not as if my mother or grandmother ever made home-made soup when I was a child, actually my mother did make her own chicken soup, I remember that. Maybe my love for soup started there. We also had tomato soup (Campbells) from the can where we would add half a can of water and half a can of milk and we would float a slice or two of Kraft American cheese on top. When we got older we crumbled  those little packets of crackers, Saltines, and we would wind up with a lovely blend of gooey goodness. Mushroom soup too, from Campbells, was always a big hit, made with milk as well.

I will drape a navy blue shawl around my shoulders and sit at the black pearl counter top on a stool by myself. My bowl of soup steaming in front of me, my dog at my feet. The chilliness outside the door forgotten as soon as I settle myself and get the right spoon and the right bowl for my home-made dinner of thick pea soup, made with love. A gift to my family and to myself.

A Best Meal Under Ten Bucks

A cup of hot chocolate, with whipped cream, ci...
A bowl of tomato soup
grilled cheese sandwiches

Baby, It’s Cold and Wet Outside…..

A grilled cheddar cheese (or American cheese) sandwich (my daughter prefers Swiss cheese) on multi-grain bread, a bowl of tomato soup and a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream. You would probably have leftover money for a candy bar if you wanted one. This is a meal that shouts out “COMFORT FOOD” that you can get in any diner or coffee shop; it’s also easy to make at home and really not too junky (you can skip the hot chocolate if you must.) It’s easy to make, takes no time in preparing and it’s so comforting and delicious. Try it, on the house. Let me know how you like it on a cold, wintry day. Just imagining this inexpensive lunch makes me feel safe, warm and satisfied!

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The Sweet Scent Of A Perfect Peach

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower). Taken at garden...

Image via Wikipedia

In my imagination I think we would be friends if only we lived closer together. I would give her, and only her, the true secret ingredient to my super moist banana chip/raisin bread. Her mouth would smile widely and crumbs would spill happily from her mouth as she ate it with delight; her big doe eyes would nod in agreement. I can’t compete with her cooking of course, she was born baking and cooking but there is no competition between friends. We laugh together at my lack of cooking skills and she constantly admonishes me and tells me she will force me to learn. Knowing her, I have a feeling, she will make me follow through.

On the side of her house I imagine her large garden where she picks her own deep, red  tomatoes from the vine and takes a big bite of one warmed by the sun. She has sunflowers, big tall, brown, vibrant orange and yellow, about fifty of them, near the rows of green peas and lettuce and carrots hiding in the moist soil. Next to them, sweet butter corn  grows tall and stretches to the sun like a morning yoga pose. Wildflowers grow nearby, purple, yellow, pink, white and the blue of a delicate robin’s egg. There are so many vibrant and intense colors in her garden, it’s like staring at a painting by Matisse.

I’ve never had the actual opportunity to meet an idol, someone I’ve cherished since I was a teenager, but I came close, by association, a few weeks ago. I spoke with her warm and friendly assistant and it was such a pleasure. Melissa, her assistant, told me something I will always remember. “She liked your writing and wants you in HER group.”  That lifted my spirits for days. While I could not go to the current workshop she was holding I hope one day to meet her and attend a different workshop.

I read her first book about one hundred times; a book that still sits on my living room shelf now,  forty years later. I share my house with my husband, a son who is soon off to college for the first time, a daughter who will now be a senior in high school and a nine-year old adopted shelter dog named Callie who is sleeping on top of my feet. That first book has been carted from my parents’ apartment to college to every city I have lived in.  We grew up together, she and I, for a forty-year time period, she just didn’t know me.

There’s no doubt in my mind, from her first magazine article in the New York Times that she would grow up to be an amazingly talented, gifted writer. True to herself and her family and friends. She grew as a writer and as a person, I wonder if people expected her to stay nineteen and if that was hard for her? We all change and grow, make mistakes, learn; stagnant is boring.

I think she would be warm and funny, intense about her work and friendly, she probably just baked apple muffins with a crumb topping and served it with sun tea. There’s a colorful tiled table that holds chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies that she whipped up in a spare hour;  sharp, white cheddar cheese and crispy pita chips would be nearby. Family and friends are always invited to her kitchen; there are always people and animals nearby.

I imagine sitting on a large white patio, rocking slowly on our rocking chairs and exchanging whispered secrets and watching the red sunset fall slowly into the water to form three lines of color, orange, dark green, ultimately black. I remember when my family and I used to go to Cape Cod, when our kids were much younger, at every sunset we would sit on the sand, other people around us, and we would wait for the sun to set. When it did, everyone clapped. That is my idea of heaven, living near the ocean, watching the sunset with strangers sharing stories, listening to Reggae music provided for free. Sitting still in front of nature as if we were in a theater waiting for the curtain to rise.

At night, in my imagination, we would creep down the stairs and meet in the kitchen unplanned. We would burst into giggles when we found out we were there for the very same thing.  I always snack after I am supposed to be asleep and I eyed a bowl of ripe peaches on a small, round table that she had recently repainted in pink-rose paint. That first bite of that juicy peach would make me happy, so happy I  can’t even describe it. This peach, this wonderful gift from nature was just perfect. It was ripe, juicy, sweet and had a silken texture. The juice rolled down my chin and I groaned with every bite of happiness. It was the sweet scent of a perfect peach with my new friend, laughing into the dark night.

Dedicated to Joyce Maynard and Melissa

So Now I’m A Friggin Grandma?

Grandma

Image by GreenLight Designs (jwgreen) via Flickr

I just read an article about “Rent -A-Grandma” which provides women, OVER 50, did you hear me correctly….50 to join the work force. “Grandmas” can pet sit, baby sit, do errands, they are reliable,  have experience (sic OLD) and don’t have to worry about age discrimination anymore. They can do elder care if needed although that’s really Grandma-Helping-Grandma so I’m not sure if that particular service has been thought out completely. I thought this was a joke too but people, listen to me, it really does exist.

Part of me wants to join and be able to make money, the other part of me is disgusted and refuses to believe that over 50 could even be considered a Grandma.  I know I got married relatively late at 31 and had children three years later but still, my son is just graduating from High School and my daughter will be a Senior next year. Grandma, me? Really?

There is something offensive about this although I am not exactly sure what it is except for the fact that some company is saying that the age 50 and over signifies old grandmas. What do they call their workers over 55? Octogenerians? Listen, you can reference check me all you want. I have been a professional, I have worked in corporations and in colleges, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother and a reliable and good friend. But a Grandma? Not yet, but maybe I will give it a try before I am withered up, unable to move, locked in a wheel-chair and wetting my pants. Couldn’t they have called it something else? Is this supposed to be a successful marketing technique?

When I first glanced at the ad I thought it was for people who wanted an elderly woman to bake them cookies, to come over and chat, give them much-needed warmth and support. They could also help with the children while dispensing wisdom to us parents. I think to be qualified as a Grandma you need certain skills, baking and cooking for one. Each Grandma, if it was up to me, would smell like the essence of real vanilla, tote Hershey Kiss Surprise cookies ( thank you, Omi) and be able to dispense knowledge and real life stories of success.

Hey, I don’t want any old Grandma. I don’t want to BE any old Grandma either. Women of our distinguished age with maturity, charm and self-respect need well-mannered clients. We will be all the things you want us to be. We will pretend that we do not know how to text and tweet ( I really do not have an idea of how that works anyway) but if you don’t want us to have a cell phone, forget about it, it’s gone.  For money and job stability, our aprons will be wrapped around our necks. We may even consider doing windows but it will cost you. Rent-A-Grandma, there’s a franchise coming to you, because “there’s nothing like experience.”

DINERS (A Foodie Blog)

Diner in Colorado Springs.

Image via Wikipedia

There are many reasons to love living in New York but one of  the most important, to me, are diners. I wish I was kidding. We lived in Boston for many years and as adorable as the city is, they lack traditional diners. Huge, flashing signs, mirrors showing off svelte/swelled bodies, booths and knowing you can get whatever you want at any time, day or night, 24/7.

Diners are PERFECT for different taste sensations and choices. You can go to a diner (sometimes called coffee shop) and order pancakes at dinnertime or a gyro at 3am. (Gyro: a Greek dish featuring  lamb or chicken, sliced thinly off of a huge vat with spices stuffed in a big pita pocket and topped with a Greek salad, chunks of sweaty, salty, white feta cheese, hold the olives please, oh and the green peppers.) You want lamb, we have that too, a BLT with cheese, coming right up.

There are easily 300 choices and if you don’t see it on the menu, you either don’t want it or you can ask for it and they will make it for you. You can mix and match and yes, even if you want the fruit cup instead of the french fries and have to add a couple of bucks (some diners are strict) it’s still okay. You want breakfast at midnight? No problem, order the scrambled eggs and bacon or the Belgium waffle, or the pancakes (regular or whole wheat) with chocolate chips or blueberries or both. Feel like something upscale? Eggs Benedict or an egg white omelette with grilled asparagus and red peppers. Your child will only eat grilled cheese and fries? That is always available for the little guys (and the big guys too.)

For an international flare I’ve had spinach burritos stuffed with chopped meat, mozzarella cheese and spices, with rice, avocados and sour cream. Do you miss the comfort of Thanksgiving? Have it on a hot day in July: the open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce and thick brown gravy served with velvety mashed potatoes. Potato pancakes with applesauce? Sure. Fried clam strips, no problem, eggplant parmigian with roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce served with a Caesar salad? Of course. Falafel and humus, gourmet salads, a wrap, a crêpe, a hard poppy-seed roll, blueberry muffin and…..well I could go on forever but that’s my point. The menus are endless and you get great quality at a cheap price.

Caution: leave room for dessert because diners are also known for their variety of pies: blueberry pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie… and cakes: chocolate mousse cake, vanilla coconut cake, rainbow cookie cake, cheesecake, chocolate layer cake with nuts or without. They also have large cookies as big as salad plates with your choice of sprinkles, sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal raisin, and black and whites. Your wish is their delight. Most places have three-tiered revolving dessert cases, talk about joy. Standing there watching your mouth-watering favorites spin around slowly.

Ever see the beverage section of a diner? That in itself is special. For me the egg creams (no, sigh, there are no eggs in egg creams, just seltzer, syrup and milk) it’s the amount of each that is so important! They also have milkshakes, malteds, ice cream sodas, regular and diet sodas (free refills at some places) lemonade, iced tea, and a whole page of alcoholic selections with funny, frou-frou names.

Can’t figure out a place where all the family members can agree? The answer, of course, is a diner. Gather some quarters, put them in the music box, listen to the tinny sound of The Beatles or Arrowsmith and have fun. When you go up to pay your bill, be ready to see a free cookie tray or chocolate covered mints to “thank you for coming” as you leave. By the way, the portions are so large that you never need to feel ashamed of asking for a doggie bag; at a diner, it’s delightfully de rigueur.