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.

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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.