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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My Idea of Perfect Weather

Is this a flickr cliché?

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Sun, Sugar And My Soul

Perfect weather: a bright blue sky with shiny puffs of cotton-candy shaped clouds, the sun warming my hair and no rain in sight. It’s a day where I sit outside in an old green lawn chair and watch the red cardinals and finches and funny birds with yellow mohawk haircuts visiting and eating from the bird feeder. I don’t chase the squirrels away, they eat the sprinkled food I leave on the ground for them. I laugh as they play and chase each other around always looking glassy-eyed and shocked. I love to see the bright yellow dandelions popping up amongst the green grass. I stare at the brightness of the yellow flower and the puffy, soft bristles that we blew in the wind when we were innocent children, making wishes, believing they would come true.

I would have a picnic outside with family and friends because we all know that everything tastes so much better if you eat it outdoors. Sandwiches on rye bread, thick with cheese and ham or cucumbers, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on French bread with a drizzle of light green olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper and pungent oregano. Art in a sandwich. We would drink home-made lemonade, sweet with sugar and the juice of many yellow, spongy lemons. There would be a variety of sugar cookies, spicy ginger snaps, chocolate chip brownies and my famous banana bread moist, rich with plump raisins and a dusting of brown sugar. Sunshine, sugar, sweetness, the essence of my soul; while these magical days don’t come often, we appreciate them more when they do appear, like a gift from the sky.

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Mint Chip Ice Cream Does So Taste Like Toothpaste…..( A Crazy Foodie Blog)

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste

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Tonight I had left-over pizza for dinner. It was dry, it had that too- long- in -the- refrigerator smell and the fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil disappeared. I warmed it up but nothing changed. I had to make it taste better, we were out of food so I did what I have done since college (yes, I have witnesses) I put jam on my pizza. We only had Dominoes pizza way back then ( don’t worry, Dominoes, I’m sure your pizza is better now.) I was out of luck,I did not have Welchs’ grape jelly at home. I knew there MUST be something to help me out.  Two minutes later, I saw it gleaming and sitting on the side of the refrigerator door practically winking with a come-hither look.  A jar of peach preserves sat unopened. It gave the pizza the texture it needed and if I closed my eyes it was like eating French bread with jam. Thank you for saving my dinner.

There are questions that are just unanswerable: For example: why is it that I love peanut butter but hate peanuts? I don’t like chick peas but I do like hummus.  Could texture be an issue? Keep me far away from raw oysters, mussels or raw tuna. Tuna from a can mixed with celery and mayo does not count since it was YEARS before I associated the canned tuna with  real fish.

I’m s little fussy with my food, I admit it.  I also have the nose of a foxhound and if milk is even contemplating spoiling I sniff it out immediately and throw it away . “Dear Grocery Store Stocker, don’t think you’ll ever fool because I know not to take the product in the front and I check the expiration dates. I am on alert at all times, always saying  out loud “Did you think you could fool me? Amateur!!!!”  So what if I get a couple of weird looks?

I love eggs in any form but if I detect the tiniest bit of egg-shell in my food, crunching in my mouth it takes enormous self-control not to vomit, especially if I am in a restaurant.  IF I have been brave enough to swish it away in my mouth with juice or soda, ( can’t do it with plain water) there is no way that I would eat anymore. Also, if the egg white is not cooked through I can’t eat it (see texture issue). It’s almost as bad as  finding a hair in my food (again, think restaurant) which I think is also appalling. That is why, I sniff and explore my food before my first bite.  I think of myself as having certain food requirements: no egg-shell, spoiled stuff, hair in food, oh, and dead insects.

The last time I had a Greek salad in my favorite tiny Greek restaurant it was served with a dead bee lying right on top. Is it too much to ask that people look at the food before they serve it? I haven’t been back to that restaurant in two years now. I know about the chances of having it happen again but still….This is why when I go to a restaurant I face away from the kitchen. As you can tell,  I did read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and it both saved my life and ruined my life at the same time. Blame him.