Plinky Prompt: Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

Chateaubriand with Bearnaise @ Urola, San Seba...

Chateaubriand with Bearnaise @ Urola, San Sebastian. 16 April 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life? See all answers
  • Live to eat: Where, When, NOW?
  • How hard am I laughing? Can you peeps hear me chuckling, holding on to my sides with hysteria? Everyone who has ever known me or has read my blog (hibernationnow.wordpress.com) knows that I LOVE FOOD. I am not a gourmand, I eat pizza with jelly or a much-loved Twinkie when I am in the mood. Sure, I love a great piece of filet mignon or sautéed garlic shrimp, chicken francese with buttery lemon sauce over pasta, umm, Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce. Always, I mean always, leave room for dessert. No matter how full you are, dessert goes into a special dessert compartment. I dream about the dessert menu, Sacher Torte, vanilla custards, flan, Lindzer Tortes, warm, large chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, (with a glass of milk) truffles: the chocolate kind, milk and dark, vanilla layer cake, chocolate layer cake, coconut layer cake….I just can’t relate to the people who have to eat to live. I NEED to love my dinners, especially on Sunday nights, it’s a rule in our house: We Must Love Our Dinners On Sunday Nights. Basically, that means we go to a restaurant, nothing fancy.
    I would go to the ends of the world for the best dish known to man-kind. I admit I’m not very adventurous, not a big fan of sushi, many types of raw anything and strong-smelling fish. I’m trying though..For the best meal of my life? Tell me where and when…I’m on my way, with PLEASURE.

  • Dessert assortment

    Dessert assortment (Photo credit: Nikchick)

Plinky Prompt: If you could visit any city in the world, which city would you pick?

English: Venice, Italy

English: Venice, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • If you could visit any city in the world, which city would you pick and why? See all answers
    • Off To Venice, Back In 3 Weeks, Or Not….
    • Imagine gondolas, gliding through canals, my husband and I are on a much-needed vacation, there seems to be so much stress in our lives but on vacation they melt like milk chocolate in the sunshine. We are in Venice, Italy, there is nothing on our minds except pleasure: where will we eat, sleep, visit or walk.What flavor gelato shall we have today? Hazelnut? Strawberry? These are the only decisions we have to make.The strong Italian coffee is addicting, We yearn for it each morning and sometimes we have it in the afternoon as well.

      We don’t know anyone here, and that’s just lovely. There are no bills piling up, no dog barking incessantly, no dirty laundry piles waiting to be washed. There are rotten food items in our refrigerator back home and we both didn’t want to deal with it so we shut the doors firmly and left, hoping it will fix itself even though we know it will be there when we get back. (My true fantasy is to say IF we come back.)

      Our children are not children anymore, they are young adults with lives of their own. They don’t need us very much at all and for me, honestly, it’s an adjustment. I’ve never been good at saying good-bye in any shape or form.

      I would also like to rent a car (my husband will drive it) and go to the country side and pluck purple grapes with my fingers and take photographs of the rolling green hills and the animals that live there. I don’t care at all about going to Rome or shopping there, I have been to Rome before with my parents but I would go with my husband so he can see all the historic magnificence while I enjoy the present.

    • Previous Answer

Plinky Prompt: Which food transports you to childhood?

Heinz ketchup - 57 varieties

Heinz ketchup – 57 varieties (Photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov)

  • Which food, when you eat it, instantly transports you to childhood? See all answers
  • Childhood food
  • My friend, Maureen, is just going to LOVE this one. I will preface my answer by saying that my mother is of German/French descent and my father was from Vienna, Austria. So, the playing field here is really not equal. We were brought up with some unconventional (to American standards) ways.  The answer is rice with ketchup.( it could ONLY be Heinz) I don’t have it very often but once in a while I do have a craving for the good old days.  Yes, I did pass that particular culinary pleasure on to my son who still eats rice that way. In fact, our son used to eat ketchup on everything including the ketchup (nothing else) sandwich days. Our daughter just ate her rice with butter. After that it would be noodles with ketchup (we didn’t know the word pasta.) It was only in college that I learned about tomato sauce, it was never in our house, ever. Our family was invited to a friend’s house one night and they served lasagna, it looked good to me but my father? Oh my, he hated it and complained about it for days. It was just too complicated and foreign to him. I learned about all these “exotic foods” when I went to college. Tomato sauce not ketchup? Honestly, I could still go either way. Butter, however, was the great equalizer. Substitute butter (or add to ketchup) for a tasty treat. I don’t think it works with marinara sauce at least I’ve never tried it, but, if you think about it, why not? How could butter be bad on ANYTHING?
    p.s.Hey Mo, I bet you thought I was going to bring up pizza and grape jelly but I couldn’t; that started in college. Silly.

Carry On Tuesday – In My Room

italian food

italian food (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I moved to Boston from NY in the eighties, alone, after deciding I wanted to live there. I found a job, and looked for lodging that was near a train line so I could commute to work. Luckily, I found a room available at a local inn. I went to meet the manager, Barbara, who was a woman about my age. I felt a warm flood of relief fill my body slowly as she showed me my room. I felt like I had a safe, temporary home for as long as I wanted to stay.

That night, after I had settled in, there was a knock on my door while I was unpacking in my room. It was Barbara, “Hi,” she said with her sparkling eyes and her open, deep, friendly voice “I’m making dinner for a bunch of my friends, wanna come?” I couldn’t even start to get shy and make excuses because she took me by the arm and led me down the stairs. Without her, I would have likely stayed in my room the entire time. I was  invited to an impromptu home-cooked dinner: I met Teddy,  Barbara’s dog, Rami-Pastrami, a girl named Nancy, a guy named Steven/Stella and others. Within ten minutes even I had a new name. Teddy, could not remember my name; he called me Lisa, he called me Laurie, he called me Lisa-Laurie, shortened that night to LL. I didn’t know that Barbara was an amazing chef; the smells from the kitchen were tantalizing. We had home-made tomato sauce, pasta, carmelized chicken, so sweet and tender it fell off the bone.

On my second day there I knocked on her door after work to give her a check and I read sadness in her face. “Are you okay?” I asked. She said “yes” but it was not convincing. “Really?” I asked “Do you want me to come in so we can talk” She pulled me in her apartment and the façade of her happy face started to crumble. She told me about her upcoming divorce from Teddy, pain etched on her face, like a pear, getting riper with each word. She allowed me to see how she really felt, something that did not come easily for her. I stayed a long time, by the end of the night we were best friends.

After a few months I moved to a studio apartment down the street. She came over once and all I had to eat were Ritz crackers and peanut butter and jelly and she proclaimed the meal “the best peanut butter and jelly with Ritz crackers” she ever ate. That was Barbara. We went on adventures every weekend, sometimes to Parker’s Maple Barn in New Hampshire for blueberry or banana pancakes, or to look at discounted antique furniture. Ba, as I called her, came to my wedding in 1988, when my husband and I still lived in Boston.

Barbara had moved around so much I no longer had room in my address book to keep up with her; I had at least eight addresses that were no longer current. We kept in touch occasionally, two Libras always exchanging birthday wishes, wherever we were. My husband and I moved to a house in the suburbs of Boston which Barbara visited once. Years later, after having children, and elderly parents, we moved back to New York. Barbara was on her own journeys to Florida, North Carolina and back.

Our children are seventeen and nineteen now. Our son is in his first year of college, our daughter graduates high school this June. My husband had three vacation days that he needed to use in March or he would lose them, we also had five nights free in a hotel. Our beloved dog had passed away unexpectedly; when the time felt right, we decided to go.

I called Barbara and she talked us into staying at a hotel in her town, not the one we had looked up in a book. It just felt right so that is where we went. It was delightful to spend time with my husband. The ocean, sand and seashells are my favorite things and I could heal here, physically and emotionally. The weather was good for my Fibromyalgia; we took long walks, we picked up seashells and swam in the ocean. We still grieved the death of our dog but we were no longer in shock.

We saw Barbara the next day when she burst into the hotel room, cradled my face between her two hands and in excitement, burst into tears. We hugged and she didn’t let go. We saw her again at her house when we were supposed to go out to dinner and I got to meet her famous mother, Lucille, and her dog, Daisy. I thought seeing Daisy would make me sad, but Daisy opened my heart, instead of clamping it shut. I think my dog Callie was telling me it was okay to love another dog and when we are ready, I know we will. I had teasingly asked her if she would “cook for me” like the old days but her health and strength was not very good either. When we got there she surprised me and served her famous pasta sauce with carmelized chicken that I remembered from the past. I was so grateful, so honored and so touched. I still am.

It was so easy and relaxed with Barbara that it didn’t seem like twenty years had passed; it was if we had been in touch every day consistently. How could I have forgotten that feeling? I felt like I had a new, old, best friend. Someone to share memories with, someone to confide in, the one person I could always trust completely; I could ask her anything, tell her anything. She would never judge me nor I her.

We came on vacation to get away, we stayed on vacation for pure joy, we left the vacation begrudgingly.  I left crying, not over my dog’s death but saying “good-bye” again to Barbara. Tears dripped down my face as I sobbed. How much time had we wasted or had we? Maybe we weren’t meant to reconnect before this, I have to believe in that.

We’re home now, back with both kids home for spring break. I woke up this morning and started to write a note to Ba, only to find there was one from her already waiting. Everything makes sense if you pay attention to the details: A knock on your door, watching someone’s sad eyes,  holding hands with your best friend, every detail in life is important. Trust yourself to pay attention. Be someone’s best friend. For life.

This is dedicated to Ba from her best friend, LL.

Dairy vs. Meat

Mozzarella cheese

There Is NO Contest

I’ve often thought about giving up meat entirely and I have tried….for a week or two, then I get a craving for well-made grilled hamburger and I lose any hope that I could give up meat full-time. I could NEVER give up dairy easily AT ALL. My daughter is a vegetarian, has always been a vegetarian and her diet consists of pasta and dairy. When she was younger we called her a “Dairytarian” because she would not eat vegetables either. I would give up meat and she and I could eat platters of cheese with shiny green and red apples and steaming hot French bread and butter or pasta with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese, all the time.

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“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” (Food Network-Holiday Edition)

Egg Nog Glazed Cinnamon Rolls

Image by jwannie via Flickr

It’s holiday time and what would the holidays be like without “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” Holiday Edition, on the Food Network. I’ve rounded up some of the holiday favorites that were talked about on the show by various talented chefs.

For one chef, it was spaghetti with seafood and bread crumbs, (clams and mussels, squid, shrimp, sea urchin.)  Another chef”s favorite were butter tarts, starting with a mini pie crust (baked in muffin tins) butter, raisins, and  brown sugar, I think I am drooling.  For another chef it was beet and carrot latkes for Hannukah. As one of the chefs said ” Hannukah has oil,  Cristmas has butter.”  I never knew that there could be non-potato latkes but I would try them if someone made them for me; I can’t promise that my children would. A rack of pork, pork loin roast with ribs, (don’t forget to brine the pork if you know what that means) and add some herbs and honey and serve with a  compote made of apples and pears, mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It looked delicious but everything looks delicious on television.

Another sworn favorite: the seafood cobb salad featured at Nordstrom’s. Yes, the department store. I’m sure its absolutely delicious but the “best thing you ever ate?”  I will have to take a trip to Nordstroms, AFTER the holidays. My opinion only but it’s a salad! Nevertheless, to each, his own. The next favorite first made me groan and then grin. It was a pannini, made in Nashville. I believe  it was called “The Elvis,” but don’t quote me on that. Bacon, peanut butter, banana, parsley and honey, served grilled on sour dough bread. At first it didn’t sound appetizing to me, but it sounds just nutty enough ( pun intended) to be amazing. Apparently the key ingredient is the parsley, who knew?

Duck ragout with home-made pasta, saffron, and a duck egg, is another chef’s favorite and one more: Indian pudding, served warm, using cornmeal instead of flour, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg and served with vanilla ice cream. I can practically smell the molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg right here at my computer.

My favorite holiday tradition are the foods that bring back happy memories. They are not my favorite foods that I ever ate (look for that in an upcoming blog) but they are steeped in tradition. In our family, Christmas morning begins with scrambled eggs (we fight about how they are made each year, some wanting itsy-bitsy specks of eggs, constantly stirred, others ( like me) prefer the smooth, velvety mounds. Bacon, again, some like it half-cooked and others like it practically burnt. I think the annual arguing, not fighting, is part of the entertainment and a ritual in itself. After the eggs and bacon comes the highlight of every Christmas: Pillsbury’s refrigerated cinnamon rolls, with sweet sugary icing that comes attached in a little plastic cup.

Many years ago, when my sister and I were young, our parents frosted the cinnamon buns. I remember when our parents allowed us to take over. A few years ago (oh dear, it’s probably ten years by now) we passed the tradition down to our kids, “the cousins.” Whether its pork belly or barbeque, waffles or Peking duck,  food and tradition bring families together. For us, the cinnamon rolls and icing are key, not because they are our favorite food but it’s what we remember, together, with great love and fondness, as a family.

“Eat, Pray, Love” Or Don’t Love In My Case

I’m a book kind of girl. I read a lot of books, buy a lot of books, borrow and lend a lot of books. That’s why I always say to myself, once you’ve read the book, DO NOT see the movie. I say it, I mean it, I don’t listen to myself and I regret it. So, in my opinion the title of this movie should be “Eat, Pray, Don’t Love. That’s how I felt after seeing “Eat, Pray, Love” based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. WHY didn’t I listen to myself?  Because I think I know myself better than I really do; and I am usually wrong. So, once again, I am saying visualize on your own, don’t see the movie afterwards, it ruins the images you have.

The movie started with Julia Roberts’  luminous face, all toothy grin and natural beauty. She’s a great actress but a little too showy, too pretty and shiny for this movie.  Light softly silhouettes her face, there is beautiful scenery which of course showcases again the light of Julia’s pretty face. She’s beautiful even when she is supposed to be an emotional wreck. I wanted more authenticity instead of Julia Roberts playing Pretty Woman Now Middle-Aged. It was Julia Roberts on Julia Roberts, in just about every scene.

Another thing for us real women; if i had gone to Italy for a month of carbs and conversation I would have gained 30 lbs. and would have worn sweat pants instead of the teeny-tiny jeans she was wearing before and after in the film. If you are going to love your pizza, and your pasta, your wine, bread etc. keep it real. Most women don’t giggle lying down in a fitting room buying only the tiniest of jeans. Yes, we’ve all done the zipper trick  at home, on our beds, alone, but most of us would show we have gained weight, which is how real life is. Embrace your body? Not with those size 0 or 2 or 4 jeans, not even close.

The other incredibly annoying thing about the movie, which I found totally inappropriate, was the sound track. As soon as I heard the first song, my mouth was wide open, aghast. I’m sure the songs themselves will be hits but they just didn’t belong to the movie. Did Elizabeth Gilbert hear those songs in her mind? Somehow, I doubt it.

Pretty woman, you’re still pretty, and beautiful  but you’re amazingly privileged in the movie. I know a lot of people who go through marital troubles and they don’t get paid a nice salary for taking off time and traveling abroad. I understand the chaos you went through, I ‘m just not buying Julia Roberts feeling it.

Love Food Shows, Hate To Cook: What’s Up With That?

Dear Food Network and Bravo:

Can I consider myself a foodie if I don’t like to cook? In fact, I pretty much hate it. But watching it on television? I’m an addict. I guess the fact that I obsess about food, look forward to it, think about it, crave, it entitles me to be a non-cooking foodie. I think that I may be inspired one day to try real cooking; but not right now. I can get by on cooking meals for my family but it’s the basic stuff. Pasta and home-made cheese sauce (Ok, almost home-made: I confess I use Kraft American slices, individually wrapped.)I also bake the best and the most delicious banana bread in the world (plain, with raisins, chocolate chips or both). I can do a roast and I’m definitely fine with sticking a chicken (with kosher salt and pepper)  and a couple of squeezes of fresh lemon, in the oven. Baked potatoes? Anytime. My new favorite: a well-toasted english muffin with lite cream cheese and slices of tomato and a hint of salt and pepper. My beverage of choice with this? Need you ask? Yoo-Hoo, cold or room temperature.

I need to work for the FOOD NETWORK  OR BRAVO FOOD) station. Anybody here have any connections? I’m very likable, love to eat (although I have to say I might gag if I had to eat some of the things that they make on the show, octopus and goat, I can barely do lamb). But, for a job working, preparing, serving, ANYTHING with food I would (have to) be flexible. Seriously?  I am the most conscientious worker you ever have known. I’m neurotically early so if you wanted me there at 9am, guaranteed you would see my smiling face at 8:45am. Having grown up with a German mom and a Viennese dad, they taught us about punctuality. Being on time, in my family, is being LATE.  When we get together we all are 10-15 minutes early; it’s in our neurotic, eager to please, Jewish blood.

So, Padma, Tom, Bob, Eric?  Dick, Jane, Sally? Bobby, Bob, Paula Deen?  I want to do something I love, other than writing. That thing, is food. I could be a tester, a taster, a candle stick maker, whatever you want. I need a job and Oprah always said “do what you love.” You don’t doubt Oprah, do you? That reminds me, dear Oprah, I need a hook-up, with the Food Network or Bravo, can you help?