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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Faith in the Fruit Salad

Tomorrow is a busy day. First and foremost, it’s my first born’s fifth birthday. As is my husband’s design, Eleanor will not wake up in her own bed on her birthday. She never has, and hopefully never will. It’s a quirky thing, but it’s his, or , more precisely, his and hers. Tony has to work all morning, so we have big plans for the afternoon. Before work, Tony is dropping off a large fruit salad at the church.

Now, Tony doesn’t cook much any more. I like to think it’s because I am such a wonderful cook that he fears the competition, but I bet it’s because I am a food snob and have put FAR too many rules on the foods I allow in the house. It’s like cooking with one spatula tied behind your back. Nevertheless, he can make fruit salad. Since Eleanor is away, I volunteered to go to the Farmer’s Market and pick up fruits while he had some special Daddy and Sara time, which worked out great.

I got a wide variety of fruits, left them all out on the counter so he could get jiggy with carbon steel, and I slunk off to the lappy to watch Warehouse 13 in peace (and not get suckered into slicing and dicing.) I come back out and, even though he’s using a steak knife to cut the strawberries, he’s mostly done. He’s used half the strawberries, most of the green and red grapes, and all the blueberries and blackberries I talk him into cutting up the cantaloupe and we use half of that, and the bowl runneth over. We clean up and I say, “Hey, here’s the kiwi.”

“I’m not using the kiwis.”

“?”

After much discussion, it comes down to, in his mind, “Lutheran men don’t do kiwi.” Sure, the guys are all fine with tropical fruits, in theory. We eat pineapple, right? Every Wednesday at the community supper, but why not kiwi? We teased out the thought and realized it is about the fuzz. Lutheran men come two ways: fully bearded or with a clean shave. I did a mental roll call, and found no scruffies in the fold. In fact, there’s just one man with a moustache, and it’s finely groomed. Kiwis are like Don Johnson in his Miami Vice years. Neither bearded nor smooth. Not one thing or another. Not  cut and dried (except in that one aisle at Trader Joe’s – because Joe will cut and dry EVERY fruit, and a few veggies, too.)

One could argue that in a fruit salad, the kiwis have been shaved of  all hair – even their skin, and in a bowl heavy with red, purple and blue fruits, a snappy green would contrast very nicely (and I argued such), but Tony vowed that his fruit salad would remain kiwi free.

Poor little kiwis, chilling their fuzz in the fridge. I will likely eat you tomorrow… reaching the hand of fellowship to you would be the yummy Christian thing to do.

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It was a Cheer-splosion!  There were great gobs of paper and sticky food and amazing friends and family.  Man alive, what a mess.

I blather on about the noise and mess like some old Grinch, but Christmas was a fine time this year.  The day started off  pretty slow just a baby girl and one brother-in-law for coffee and casseroles, and as the house slowly woke up and drifted in, things picked up speed.

As far as presents went, less really was more.  My parents didn’t bring any at all (as we are going up to their house today) and we did fewer things for the girls and each other. In fact, we only had ONE gift from Santa (thanks Bambi!) for the girls – but it was a doozie: a 7 pack of Barbie sized Disney Princesses in a BIG long box.  The girls played with those princesses for HOURS in front of the tree. (I will say this collection of heirs to the thrones have USELESS shoes that fly off at the drop of a crown, and let me tell you those crowns do fall, too. Princess shrapnel I tell you! Everywhere. )

The girls got some clothes and socks, some nice book / toy combos, workbooks for spelling and counting, and a set of bath accessories – you guessed it – all covered with princesses. When Auntie Sam brought out the magic tea set (cold water makes the cup turn colors), two little girls, 7 princesses, a granny and Sam hunkered down in the glow of the Christmas tree and had a ruckus. It was just about perfect.  Of course – after tea – the girls wanted to try out their new bath toys freshen up, so they piled into the tub (and called for me to fill it! Which I did). The best part of the bath lately is Elly and Sara singing Jingle Bells together. CHARMING.

Eleanor was an angel all day – perfect behavior or as close to it as anyone can get when one is 4 and it’s as wild a day as Christmas. (Her only major fail was her daddy got her a little portable CD player that she broke the first time she touched it. Broke clean off the little door where the disc goes. We tried to fix it – Eleanor offered to get the channel locks to help – but the tiny plastic hinge was done for.  Tony and I agreed that perhaps she is too young yet. We’ll just enjoy the Disney CD’s in the car.)  Saralyn melted down twice and had to go to bed to collect herself. She took a three-hour nap in the middle of the day – and that just about fixed her. Poor thing was stressed to the max with all this excitement.

NOW! About the food.  I loved cooking all day, and there were a number of kitchen fairies who came along behind me and made the sink sparkle – which is a Christmas Miracle! We had vegetarian sausage strata, vegan white chocolate cranberry nut strata, sweet rolls, fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juices (Lynn’s juicer was our X-mas Eve entertainment), fruit salad, ham, biscuits and this Nordic delicacy called potato sausage (my sister’s boyfriend Matt brought it – along with special mustard that will part your hair – from the inside).  After a time I made linguine pesto. YUM. We ate ALL DAY.

Today – what I want out of life is a Green Salad. With some apples and cranberries…

What did I get for Christmas? Well thanks for asking. Tony got me a James Avery Swivel Heart Locket, which I love, and a new CD. I got a Mexican Train Dominoe set and a Kindle! MY VERY OWN KINDLE!!! (It was hard for me to not run into the bedroom right then and lock the door.  I was a good girl and waited HOURS before I locked myself into the bedroom and started fiddling and downloading!) I love my cow calendar.

Today will be Christmas Part Two up at the lake with my parents. I hear that Eleanor will be getting to put together her new BIKE with her grandpa. Perhaps I will need to pack the channel locks after all.

I love you all – friends and family far away and near – and wish you joyous good times this holiday and in the coming year.

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I promise I will blog with pictures tomorrow, but Eleanor said the funniest thing.
I made Kale Chips. I said, “Eleanor, come try these.” And she did.
Then she spit it out and said, “This is yuck.”
I said, “Well, you tried it, and I’m happy.”
Without missing a beat and in all seriousness, she said, “Well, I tried it and I’m not happy.”
Touche’, Toddler.
More kale… soon.

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I always throw an Oscar party.  I love a good theme, you know.  I also try to watch as many of the nominated films that I can.

One of the fun traditions of the party is the BEST PICTURE menu.  Each year I offer a dish that embodies the title of the best picture nominees.  That’s how we end up with No Country Sausage for Old Men and There Will Be Blintz.  This year has many an opportunity for culinary creativity.  The nominees are:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire

Milk.  Seriously?  Too Obvious.  I could just put a pitcher of moo-juice on the buffet and be done, but there has to be something better.

My plan for Frost / Nixon is to actually FROST Nixon’s face on a cake.  How hard could THAT be?

Chili dog Millionaire anyone?  I’m thinking vegetarian hot dogs with Indian Curry.  Or perhaps really good regular chili dogs with a side of caviar.

I could go several ways with Ben Button.  I was thinking drinks: The Curious Case of Samuel Adams.  Or I could go with a side dish, “The Curious Casserole of Buttered Brusselsprouts,” but we haven’t hit tasty yet.

The Reader…Hmmmm?  I could make crusty seed bread and call it the SEEDER.

I’m just relieved that Doubt and Gran Torino were not nominated for best picture, because, they are stumpers.

What can you make of these titles?  Any suggestions?

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Saralyn still likes two naps a day: a morning catnap, and a longer afternoon nap.  Playgroup seems to keep her interest enough that she often skips the morning snooze, but as soon as playtime is over, she’s demanding of a nap.  Today she fell asleep before I got out of the church driveway.  That was a shame because I was on my way to the grocery store, and I waited as long as I could.  However, I needed to get in and get out with some grub and then pick up Eleanor at preschool.  So, I scooped Saralyn up and dragged her sleepy body into the Kroger.  She flopped over onto my shoulder and passed out again. I didn’t have the heart to wake her.  Dragging the cart behind me, I did my shopping with Saralyn snoring in my left ear.

Aside from her being heavy and oozing nap all over me, I was a bit hobbled by clutching her to my shoulder.  I found it hard to manage a cart and the shopping list while I had one hand on Baby Ichabod.  I finally found the stuffing the bottom part of my list into her pants kept it handily at eye level.  Several other produce patrons laughed out loud, but it worked.

Unfortunately, I had to set her down in frozen foods.  She was way, WAY too heavy to keep in my arms any longer.  She squaked and had NO idea where she was.  That must have been pretty scarry.  Saralyn is a resilient child, and settled into the cart in no time.

By the way, some of the milk was on special for $1 for a half gallon.  Evidently it was set to expire tomorrow or the next day.  I bought 7 jugs to take over to the county food pantry.  When you see deals on food like this, I encourage you all to be generous.  If your local food bank is like the one in my part of the world, they are ALWAYS hurting for the basics: milk, dry beans and pasta, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables and canned meats, like tuna.  Find out where your local food bank is and keep them in mind when you shop.

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Gorgonzola

I love me some stinky cheese!

Gorgonzola (and it’s many blue veined cousins) makes everything tastier. I’ve had it on everything from salad to steak, and it’s just delightful. Have you ever tried just crumbling it on an avocado half (a little salt and pepper, please)? YUM. It’s so high in fat it just floats up off the plate, but I so don’t care. It’s delicious. I love a nice Cobb salad and a the occasional walnut Gorgonzola tortellini, too.

Say it with me: Gor – Gon – Zoh – La. It’s even fun to say…

Although I think it’s great sweet or savory, my husband only likes the savory. He’s a Stilton on cracker man, through and through, which means more pecan-cranberry-pear salad for me!

What’s the point? None really. It’s just that there is this box of Gorgonzola crumbles in the fridge, calling me. What to do? I have an avocado, and some nice tomatoes, too. I also have nearly two dozen eggs at the moment, and could go with Gorgonzola deviled eggs, which are out of this world. Or I could try something wholly new. I bet I could find a Gorgonzola toast recipe that would be great on a moist and coolish day like today.

This may be another sign of me being way pregnant; all foods are either the best thing I’ve ever tasted (Gorgonzola, avocado, jamoca shake) or they make me want to barf (peanut butter, most fried foods and fruit ‘n oat bars). That and being racked with indecision. I can’t make up my mind at all any more. Thank heaven I only have a few more days to go. At least after the C-section, I’ll have a whole new set of issues. That and the Gorgonzola will be gone for quite some time. One has to be kind to ones gallbladder after a baby, so it’s low-fat / high-fiberville for me for several months.

It’s time to Gorgonzola while the gettin’s good. Who wants to suggest a favorite recipe?

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Kosher Invertebrates

I keep coming back to this question from last week’s big Team Trivia Tournament:

What is the only Kosher invertebrate?

Our little team of three Lutherans, an agnostic and a recovering Baptist were stumped. We went through several good ideas with what little understanding of Kosher Laws we had. First we thought it was squid, but then I thought no, squid are fish without scales (I think fish with skin are right out of the Kosher diet), and my friend Iris wouldn’t eat calamari when we went out, so that wasn’t it. We hemmed and hawed and finally answered “snails”.

We were wrong.

Turns out the answer is Locusts. OK, fair enough, but why? It’s been bothering me for days that I don’t know why snails AREN’T Kosher, but Locusts are.  From my hours of painstaking research on the Internet, the answer to the Kosher locust question is this: Almost no one can remember which grasshoppers are and which aren’t allowed.

Wikipedia says that “With four exceptions, all insects and other invertebrates… all reptiles, and all amphibians are considered ‘loathsome, crawling creatures,’ and are forbidden by the Torah. ” That’s where the snails go French. But the exception seems to be “the kosher locust native to the Arabian Peninsula, encompassing four distinct species.” The ancient writings in various books say a Kosher insect needs to have so many legs used for walking and wings that cover so much of the body and a half dozen other specs.  But further research goes on to explain that there is too much confusion between insect species to generally allow the eating of locusts, and the Orthodox Jews no longer consider them . So, are they or aren’t they really Kosher?

There were some folks who posted in various places say that kosher locusts have to do with Manna in the desert.  OK, I buy that.  It sounds good to me. Some folks got caught up on the rule about the four legs, and questioned who was around pulling the other pair off all the grasshoppers in Arabia. Those Kosher Laws say “4 walking legs”, so the jumpy pair aren’t counted. Then again, I’ve seen a locust walk, and those legs all seem to be used. So, to be honest, the whole thing boggles my mind.

What I did find interesting was the Jewish concept that a food only remains Kosher for so long as there is a continuity of the use of that food. The final ruling ( Halachah ) says “one is allowed to eat a specific type of animal only if there is a ‘continuous tradition’ that affirms that it is Kosher.” I guess that means that if all the Jews everywhere stopped eating Kosher Locusts at any point, then they would cease to be Kosher forever. Some say locusts may or may not still be eaten in Yemen. Interesting, no?

It’s not that big a deal, really. As I am not Jewish and don’t keep a Kosher home, and wouldn’t care to eat a locust in any form, this whole question is just academic. Despite the fact we didn’t know our Halachah from a hole in the ground, we still finished second place in the big show, and that’s nothing to “nos” at.

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