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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A Food I Was Surprised to Like

Come To Mama

braised short rib

Braised Short Ribs. I have been remiss for so many years for ignoring these delicacies on any menu. I imagined them to be like spare-ribs, tough, chewy and on the bone. What was served to my salivating mouth was a small portion of the softest, succulent beef that I have ever eaten. I didn’t even need a knife to cut these beautiful, tender pieces of beef. A mere touch of a fork made them fall apart in singular strands.They sat next to a small pile of mashed potatoes surrounded by sweet, slightly crunchy, cooked string beans. I would go back to this restaurant in a minute; I would order the same exact thing I just described and I would be a very happy, customer. Again.

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Larry And Lola (A Comfort Food Blog)

The Gerber baby, who appears on the packaging ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have a weird relationship with food; in addition to just adoring it I name it.  Apparently, I started really young giving names to food based on the person I ate the food with or the person who introduced me to it. First, there was Larry. I was friends with a little boy named Larry when I was about 18 months. Larry consists of peach baby food (I have advanced to pears and fruit delight) and cottage cheese. Not mixed together. Ever. Eating Larry consists of a ritual dipping of a teaspoon into cottage cheese and then dipping it into Gerber and only Gerber peach baby food. (I honestly feel that I began to love babies because of the Gerber baby picture on all the jars.) Not only did I eat this when I was very young but still eat it on occasion. For freshness and sanitary sake, I now put the cottage cheese in a separate little bowl but eat the baby food right out of the cute, little, smiling baby jar. After all, nobody eats the baby food except for me. My children, when they were growing up did not have the same fondness for Larry as I did.

Lola. Lola is my mother’s best friend. She made a salad (of sorts) that I thought was absolutely delicious when I was a girl and now make it for myself (because no one else will eat it.) I don’t know why but when Lola served Lola everyone seemed to love it. Must have been her charm and charisma.  I made my mother ask for the “recipe” and then made it myself. First, buy a small jar of peas and carrots (go for the brand name, not the generic), drain the juice (or liquid as they say in America), and add mayonnaise (Hellman’s only) to the remaining peas and carrots. Stir. This is Lola and believe it or not Lola saved my life while I was on vacation in Spain because Lola, known as a Russian Salad in Spain, saved me from eating a lot of raw, wiggly fish that I couldn’t stand. In addition I attended a lovely Russian wedding last year and again, we were served a Russian salad that made me squeal with delight when I saw it;  it was, in fact, Lola with hard-boiled eggs. Imagine that. I don’t think Lola knows about Lola. I remember giving an old friend the recipe to make Lola and she burst out laughing uncontrollably when I got to the “drain the juice” part. Apparently she was guffawing because she said “as if anyone else would eat this.” I found that a little insensitive but we are all entitled to our own opinion. For someone whose comfort food was a plain hamburger, I say nothing.

My all time comfort food are soft-boiled eggs (peeled very carefully-this is critcal) in a dish with a teaspoon or more of butter and two slices of toast torn apart and mixed in. All you need to add is a little salt and there it is: ultimate comfort, it really doesn’t get better than that. My back up comfort food is always an American cheese sandwich on bread with butter. Scrambled eggs with Welch’s grape jelly or grape jam (depending on what consistency I want) and another comfort item called banana mush- mush, a dessert item, which is mashed up bananas (use a fork) with sour cream ( now plain fat-free yogurt) with sugar or sugar substitute.

I’ve taken a little survey and some responses to my question “what is your favorite comfort food?” are as follows: a black and white milkshake, brown sugar on bread with butter (rolled like a jelly roll,) buttered Saltine crackers with slices of kosher dill pickles on top, (the originality winner in my book), oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon, Swanson’s chicken à la king (on toast), Campbell’s tomato soup with (Kraft) American cheese and crumbled up Saltines, Yodels (peeled or unpeeled) AND… french fries dipped into an ice cream sundae. The last dish, definitely gets props in terms of combining sweet and salt.  Thanks guys for your help. I’m off to the grocery store now to see if there are new products to buy or to perhaps buy a new comfort food, borrowed from a friend.