In Search Of Purpose And Key Lime Pie

I’m a foodie and a true dessert lover. Last week I salivated every night while eating huge helpings of chocolate mousse cake with a hint of raspberry jam and thick fudge frosting. My new obsession is finding key lime pie. I’m dying for key lime pie. Why is it that I have not yet found a dessert I don’t adore? I’m strongly anticipating the “Sunday only” jelly doughnut, an almost weekly tradition…

I’m not a full-fledged foodie because I’m fussy about fish: I am a salmon-hater, the strong smell, the nasty taste, I wish I liked it for health reasons but I haven’t found a recipe that can disguise the flavor so I can even take a bite. I can’t get near the fish. ( I still blame Susie K. for forcing me to eat that horrid salmon mousse and telling me it was tuna.) Tonight’s dinner consists of homemade Nona’s meatballs and homemade tomato sauce. I forgot to buy the thick, crusty, multi-grain bread to rip apart and dunk in good olive oil. I’m too tired now to run out and buy it. But a salad of fresh mozzarella and tomato with olive oil and basil will have to do.

 

Key lime pie with whipped cream.

Key lime pie with whipped cream. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a child for my mom, a 57-year-old child, I could never understand that until my daughter turned twenty about a week ago. I am a wife, now going on 26 years and most of all I am a mom.

 

I’m a writer and blogger, I don’t care if blogging is the bottom of the barrel for some people. I love it and will keep doing it until I don’t love doing it anymore. Compiling them together? Maybe.

I was a traveler of many countries when I was young and traveled with my parents and sister on free tickets yet also a homebody who couldn’t wait to just get home.

I cried with happiness when I saw the lights of John F. Kennedy Airport twinkling at night when we were coming home to New York. Home is where I always wanted to be, home is still where I want to be. My older sister would also be crying but for her it was because she wanted to stay on vacation and not come home. Ever. Two sisters, as our parents used to say ” the sun and the moon.” I was lucky to travel with my husband on bonus points when we could, Amsterdam, one of our favorite cities in the world.

I’m both friendly and withdrawn, I need my alone time desperately. I don’t always get it and then I really feel stressed out. I need to walk outside more. Be in nature, appreciate things around me.

Nicolae Grigorescu - Peasant Woman Sitting in ...

I can be quick and funny edging on sarcastic but with no intention to harm or hurt. I’ve had more than one person say I should be a stand up comic. I’m not sure that I see that at all.

 

But, most of all, I am a mom of two incredible adult children, 20 and almost 22. A son, bright, warm brown eyes and ready to start his day early each morning. He never wanted to miss anything since he was two. We used to call him “The Farmer.” To this day, he is active every moment of each day, now on his quest to be accepted to medical school. His goal is to be an ER doctor, no Internist, he. He likes to keep moving. Strong, confident, first child syndrome.

My beautiful daughter, who used to be so shy, not anymore. I admire her, wish I had the same guts at her age. She will go far, she is unbelievably intelligent, intuitive,  sassy, beautiful and charming. She is also incredible courageous which I never was when I was her age. I am so glad that she is like that, I faked my own insecurities so that my children would not be like me. I did it for them. It has paid off in so many delicious ways. I can see her in a court room with her impeccable memory grilling someone on the stand with her quick mind.

I may not have completed a dissertation or an MBA, neither have I received any medals or awards. I have not yet published my first novel.  If I do nothing else in this world I feel accomplished and honored that I brought two amazing young people into this world. They are my life, what I am now and what I will leave behind in the future. My life will go on because of them. I don’t need anything more than that.  I love them more than anything in this world. When people ask me my profession, I answer “I’m a Mom” with pride. I think I always will.

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Mild Fish And Peanut Butter Ice Cream (Food Cop)

Cupcake that tasted exactly like a Reese's Pea...

Cupcake that tasted exactly like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh stop, even I wouldn’t eat those two together although a light peanut sauce may go very nicely on filet of sole.

My point here is that I have become a different person and my husband doesn’t know what has happened to me and where I have gone. The trouble is I totally agree with him. Who am I?

I have “hated” fish all my life, the smell was repugnant to me and I would not even try it. We all know the “forced salmon” story that I wrote about when “my friend’s mother lied and told me it was tuna fish and FORCED me to eat it” and I don’t see that changing but mild fish is now a must-have. It’s opened up a whole new world of eating experiences. So much more to choose from, it’s exciting.

It started out with a tiny bite of my husband’s file of sole with lemon, butter and caper sauce he ordered at a restaurant. I had ordered a cheeseburger and we always exchange bites or share. I gave him my too- bloody cheeseburger. He cleverly offered me a taste of his dish. He said he liked mine more than his when he saw me eying his delicate dish, I fell for it. Love that man, loved the fish. Afterwards he grinned and laughed like a  6-year-old. Of course he said our favorite 28-year-old saying “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” He won.

Now, I don’t skip past the seafood section I look at it first. It feels so light in my stomach, the only disadvantage is that in two hours I’m hungry again but that’s what snacks are for. I don’t eat very much red meat at all but when I do, I want it to be small and good quality. After that, it will be back to fish, chicken, salad, eggs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with pleasure.

Sometimes there are things in our world that just don’t make sense. Texture can play a big part. I love my hot cup of strong cup of coffee every morning but coffee ice cream or mocha, edible coffee beans? I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it. I do not like peanuts but love smooth peanut butter, chunky if I must. So when my husband’s dessert came with peanut butter ice cream instead of our beloved hazelnut, discontinued, we were not happy. My husband tried it and liked it and well, of course I had to keep him company.

I put the spoon of ice cream in my mouth, just the tip and it wasn’t….dreadful. It was like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I once assumed (again, another stupid assumption) that I thought I didn’t like but do. A little went a long way but I have to admit that ice cream was very, very tasty.

Be open to new foods, textures, tastes. Even at my old, ripe age you can discover so many new things to eat and drink (still working on the drink part) but water is best for me anyway. Here’s to new great food and water with lemon, hold the ice please, and as always, definitely leave room for dessert. Every. Single. Time.

 

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I Hate Salmon, So Stop Making Me Feel So Damn Guilty!

English: Flesh of an Atlantic Salmon.

English: Flesh of an Atlantic Salmon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I read one more article about the health benefits of my least favorite, strong (sorry, foul to me) smelling fish I am going to have a nutty. This expression was coined by my friend, Debbie, when our  boys were 2 years old.  The boys would often go off the deep end, fight, scream and cry, and we were sleep deprived and over-whelmed. Having “a nutty”just summed it up for both kids and moms.

By now, we know from every magazine, newspaper, television and vitamin commercial that the almighty salmon is healthy to eat and it has antioxidants. We see that everywhere, hear about that from friends, family, doctors, hair stylists, people from Verizon and Comcast. You get the idea. I’m wondering if I am the ONLY outcast who just can’t stand the stuff. I want to like it and be healthy but frankly the mere smell makes me nauseous.

I  blame my friend’s mother Natalie who forced me to eat it at their home one day when I was a young teenager. This family was very strict and very rule conscious, believe me. When I  politely refused to eat the salmon mousse for lunch she did not give up. Nor did she say, “I understand, have a peanut butter sandwich.” She then lied and said that” it was tuna, her mistake.” There was absolutely no choice in this household, I’d still be sitting there, hunched over, 42 years later if I hadn’t gulped it down, quickly throwing back whatever beverage was at hand. Believe me, no way was it soda, I’m betting on milk.

My husband eats salmon often when we go out to eat as does my mother and almost every person I know. Is there a salmon conspiracy? (I’m kidding) I have tried tiny bits of salmon in different forms with different toppings, yes, I want to like it. I don’t. Believe me, at 56 years old, there is no one, no chef, no expert that could make me eat salmon willingly. Hey, Top Chef, why don’t you make this one of your challenges? Because no one would win? Want to try it? Game on.

I’m sick of the articles in every Health Magazine about the benefits of eating this red-headed monster fish. I don’t even like looking at it on the plate. I feel like I’m supposed to feel guilty for NOT eating it and if I get really sick, which is inevitable, people around me will point a slim finger at me and say “You really should have forced yourself to eat salmon, it’s really not that bad.” So, don’t blame me, blame Natalie who forced me to eat it and I never recovered after that experience.

My daughter was a picky eater ever since she began eating solid foods, she would not eat the turkey, lamb, meat baby food. She spit it out. Know what? I didn’t force her to eat it, how could I? She wouldn’t swallow it. I let her eat other things instead and not junk. Today she is an admirable vegetarian, not eating meat for ethical reasons. Her older brother once tried to make her eat a tiny bite of his hamburger at McDonald’s and she did but she spit it out. So, in our house we have one vegetarian and one carnivore. I think we were too easy, looking back, not making our kids try things and offering options instead but we were new parents. Not wanting to make other people’s mistakes, as usual, we made our own.

*I Was An Airline Brat

The final TWA logo

Image via Wikipedia

There was a very good article in “The New York Times”

Whatever Happened to First Class?

By JESSE McKINLEY
Published: February 10, 2012

that I really liked and I wanted to share my own memories since I started flying when I was nine months old and stopped abruptly when my free airline tickets, from my dad, who worked for TWA, stopped at my ripe, young age of twenty-one. Or at least not yet twenty-two.

Flying was my dad’s dream, and no, he was not a pilot even though in his heart he thought he was. He worked in offices and volunteered extra shifts if there was an accident and flew to St. Louis to buy fresh milk for my older sister when there was a milk strike in NY. He loved everything about flying and traveling with our mother and when we were children we came along, almost always. A visit to Grandma’s house for us was to fly to Vienna, Austria or Tel-Aviv, Israel. I thought nothing of it as a child, it’s what we did; my older sister and I did have to get dressed up in a matching sweater and skirt sets, identical (except for color and size.) We were not allowed to wear pants, God forbid jeans. We had to dress up formally before each flight, our dad’s rule because we were flying “subject to space” which meant we would try for a flight but since we were “non-revs” (non-revenue passengers) we never knew when we would be able to get  on a particular flight, looking good wasn’t optional in our house. We had no choice. In fact, back then, everyone dressed up for a flight, there were no jeans or sweat pants….they didn’t exist.

If the flight was fully booked our dad would make the shape of a hanger with his hands and shake his head dejectedly. We knew that meant “a cliff-hanger” fully booked, not a great chance of getting on but we would go anyway. There were times we were already seated and buckled in and the door closed when in dreadful embarrassment they called our names over the intercom and we had to unbuckle, get up, gather our bags and belongings and march or rather limp off the plane if paying passengers had arrived. Mortifying.

We may have complained about getting up at four in the morning to go to Phoenix, AZ. but once we were on the flight, our vacation had started. Flying was part of the vacation not like now where it is something to live through with great dread and anticipation. Was there a difference in first-class and economy? Sure, but either was fine. We always went economy (and we could stretch across 3-4 seats back then) until one day I think we begged our dad to try first class, it was a matter of twelve or eight dollars per person. It was hard to go back to economy after that.

First class had luscious, huge seats, especially for young adults, a printed menu with delicacies to choose from. I’m drooling just remembering them. Beef Wellington?Steak? Salmon? Really, really good, gourmet food. I remember one of the desserts, it was the ice-cream sundae cart approaching me. I saw mountains of vanilla ice cream come headed towards me. Near it was a huge silver bowl filled with whipped cream, hot fudge sauce, sprinkles and many other condiments. “Make your own sundae” in the best of times was good, but while flying through clouds? Heavenly.

I’d like to add to Mr. McKinley’s post that my ideal flight was boarding the TWA 747 that had a winding staircase to the lounge upstairs with comfortable soft and wide chairs and private window seats. I remember reading a book up there and feeling like hot, um, bananas!  That same trip, before landing, they served a snack before landing; it was the biggest, hero sandwich, I had ever seen, filled with possibly every kind of meat and cheese that existed. The enormity still bogs my mind. There were drinks or soda, snacks. How could flying NOT be part of the vacation, it was the greatest in relaxation; no one could reach you and why would anyone want to stay in touch on vacation? If you had told people back then that it would be a posdibilityin the future,they would have called security at the very least.

I don’t know when it started but slowly the airline industry disintegrated. There was no more food (gasp) you had to pay separately for everything, even bags and suitcases. People didn’t treat you like royalty anymore. After 9/11 the whole world changed and it will never be the same again. Some people refused to fly after that forever. I wasn’t thrilled with the aspect of flying but I flew many times. It became a horribly, long, painful process. I am personally grateful for the TSA agents that check and recheck but it is hard work for them. Nobody seems to appreciate what they are doing all day long or at night. Not fun for us either but still…

I will probably fly again at some point but it isn’t something that I look forward to doing. The point of relaxation does not begin at the airport but probably a day after you have reached your destination. Is it worth it? I’ve always thought it was but as time goes on I think more about it. I was so very lucky to see so many countries when I was a kid, I know I didn’t appreciate it then. It will never be the same and that is one dreadful loss. I’m glad my dad is no longer on this earth to witness travel the way it is now, he would be horrified, as those of us who remember “the good old days” are.

* a few sentences were used in the comment section for the NYT on Mr. McKinley’s wonderful article.