Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Pong

Family Vino PONG – The old folks win. The young ones fall in love.

Vino Pong Family Style

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Winter would be cold without memories

A blanket would be cold without a warm body

I could be a one woman act, but that would be boring and lonely

Life is meant to be shared regardless of the season

memories1

The slightest consideration of a dear friend brings to mind fun memories

Fun memories make you smile as you walk through the grocery store

All that’s really necessary is a warm smile. A new memory

A backyard with a frosty lawn reminds me of its warm green sprouts in the summer

Red Cosy Cups filled with water waiting on a Beer Pong contest (The older folks win) What a memory

Resting in a comfy sunchair watching the younger ones fall in love

Red Wine, grapes and cheese along with fresh warm french bread, served by candlelight

Sharing your deepest feelings with your best friend during a snowstorm. Memories retold.

Please comment freely

Seriously!?! It had to be the chicken. I mean come on an egg can not create itself. And on top of that an egg would have to be incubated to become a chicken. Right?  I used to live on a ranch and learned that an egg that sits for any length of time without a little tlc from a willing hen becomes rotten? It just isn’t feasible to think the egg came first.

To appease you skeptics lets just say for the sake of argument that the egg came first. Where did the egg come from? Did it just mysteriously appear out of thin air? Poof!!! “Let there be egg.” And there was egg :p ?

While it’s true that this is a controversial issue for many I opt to believe the chicken preceded the egg. I think I just exposed my inner realist. Ha! Don’t tell anyone.That being said let us move on to the real question. Which of the two would you choose to make yourself a yummy sandwich?

There are an unlimited number of great sandwich recipes in my pantry:

Chicken

  • BBQ chicken with lots of sauce on a sweet soft French Roll
  • Chicken with cranberries, stuffing and mayo on Sliced White Bread
  • Bacon, chicken smothered in jack cheese on warm Focaccia Bread
  • Chicken, red onion, avocado and mayo on sliced Sour Dough Bread
  • Grilled Chipotle chicken with lots of chedder cheese on Garlic Bread
  • Chicken Parmigiana and melted Mozzarella on Panini  Bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping
  • Chicken salad on Whole Wheat or White

Egg (stick with me now…don’t run off for a snack yet!) 

  • Fried Egg with American cheese on Sliced White Bread
  • Egg salad on Sliced White Bread
  • Scrambled Egg with Bacon on Sliced White Bread
  • Egg and Tuna Salad on Sliced White Bread

Oh my! A little boring. But, are you noticing a trend here!?! There are a variety of things you can do with Chicken and a very limited and boring number of fun and interesting sandwich recipes using Eggs. This brings us back to the original topic. Chicken or Egg? Don’t be chicken to walk away with a little egg on your face. Gotta love chicken!

Steak on Saturday nights! Sounds good doesn’t it? A trip to the most famous steak house in town for a delectable dinner so Nana could close the kitchen and take a much needed rest on a Saturday night. Warm sour dough bread wrapped in white linens snuggled into woven baskets with slabs of cold, creamery butter in a silver bowl as its companion awaited our indulgence. This would be followed by juicy melt-in-your-mouth rib eye steaks, mounds of ravioli, perfectly cooked green beans and pot shots at the staff. On a light note the sundaes were great!

Nana would begin her Saturday night out routine early in the day and in a somewhat predictable manner. Since the house was always thoroughly cleaned on Thursdays, the only thing she needed to focus on was getting herself ready for that night. It started with a leisurely cup of coffee with biscotti, an hour of tv aerobics, and a quick sweeping of the front porch. Next she and mama rounded-up us kids up for the more important stuff. Two errands. Shopping and the beauty salon. We knew better than to complain or she would snap a twig off of the old weeping willow tree in the backyard and give us a gentle swipe across the legs as she herded us into the car. Complain? Not on your life!

Our first stop, a saunter through Joseph Magnins with a lovely purchase from the saleslady whom I believed to live there since she was ALWAYS at the counter to bid nana an over-rehearsed “Have a happy day”. Did she know something about our Saturdays? Hmm, obviously she didn’t. I’m thinking it had more to do with her commission. The next stop was for nana to wrap her already well coiffed self into strict order at Bella’s on 6th Avenue. Nana’s hairdresser Isabella was indeed very pretty and did the same for her clientele. From her perfect eyeliner to her high-heels she had a way of turning my already pretty nana into a raving beauty with her handy tools, brushes and hair products. In awe, I knew that one day I too would be her client. Then it was back home for hot bathes, dress in our nice Saturday duds, and then wait for grandpa to get home and whisk us off to eat.

Grandpa took pride in his bride of 30+ years and she loved that he did. He loved carrying her on his arm knowing they didn’t get any prettier than her (or spicier for that matter).  He was an extremely hard working man who kept a rigid schedule. Always up before sunrise and home before sunset. He took very good care of his family including us grand kids who had moved into his home at his prompting when mama and daddy separated. He wanted us there with him and it was the best feeling in the world. Being wanted, loved and well cared for made for a sturdy and happy life. That’s not to say he didn’t have expectations for us. He did. And was very rigid on how they were carried out. We never questioned him! We did just so. Oh but how we loved him for his strength and direction. He was an entrepreneur and taught us the game just as planned. We were a tight family because we played by his rules. His long arduous work week always ended in our Saturday night outing. Any physical expense it may have cost him to shower and get ready we were all there together walking to the car like little soldiers headed for the steak house.

As I look back to those nights I feel confident in saying the restaurant scene was always somewhat rehearsed because somehow it always played out the same. We were always greeted by the same Greek Goddess who no doubt only moonlighted as a hostess on Saturday nights in her gold lame and stilettos to get my grandmother’s goat. Then off to the table we would go. By this time I would have heard a snicker from behind. Nana was somewhat (okay, very) jealous of other women smiling at grandpa or saying hello to him by his first name and would never let it go until addressed. Not a good way to start dinner but weekly non-the-less. Next was the waitress. Her “hello” to grandpa along with a gentle pat on the shoulder was certain to more than raise my grandmother’s eyebrows and cause pointed darts to fly in his direction instantly. How we continued to share family dinners at the steak house week after week still amazes me. Grandpa would sit there and smile while nana made certain that everyone within hearing distance knew good and well how rude and inappropriate the staff were. Her biggest complaint being that they new her just as well as him, but never even attempted to greet her in such a comfortable, shall we say, fashion. As an adult I can’t imagine how or why they did this week after week? Perhaps this explains why I very rarely eat out! Mystery solved.

The sun is shining through the gray clouds. I love it. After all, we are in sunny California. The sun is supposed to shine. Right? Some people think it’s always beach weather and that Hollywood is right around the corner. Not always so. I spoke to a friend who lives in another state the other day and has never been to California. She asked if I had been to the beach since returning to California. Although it might be tolerable there, I would rather venture that one hour drive when I know without a doubt I can lay back in the soft, warm sand without inhaling a salty, mouthful of the gritty stuff. Winter in central California doesn’t typically inspire a trip to the beach. Oh, how I look forward to a ride to the coast when the weather warms. Soon, I tell myself, very soon. Perhaps only one more month.

A brisk walk has been on my agenda all day. I must fulfill my need for the outdoors before sunset, which is about one hour away. It was in the 50s today. And, a faint southerly breeze reminds me that summer is still but an illusion. And, it’s not an entirely pleasant wisp of wind, since the town I live in is surrounded by dairies. Lots and lots of cows. I would venture to say there are no less than ten of them within a five mile radius of my home. So, regardless of the country beauty that surrounds our housing development, the scent of the cow poop shall be a contender for my attention as I vigorously stroll the avenue. I am happy to say this scent is in no way toxic.

As I set out with my little dog on her leash in one hand, and a doo doo bag in the other, I surrender myself to the exhilaration of the moment. A half block away I turn the corner which leads out of the neighborhood and onto a paved path that is flanked by freshly plowed fields with old redwood barns. There is also a creek and barren trees that have given way to the wind and list to the south. I feel their pain.There are more clouds rolling in from the south-west that are darker than those through which the sun currently peeked. Perhaps there is more rain on the near horizon. Not a bad thing, I think as I walk vigorously to combat the chill.

In the field across the street are prolific patches of lush green weeds everywhere the tractor could not reach, and inspired by the recent rains followed by spurts of warm, nurturing sunshine. As I look a little closer I spot a culinary treasure! The wild greens I grew up eating every year during the spring. Mustard greens! I get excited, pick up my pace, and decide I will return with a knife and bag to gather some for dinner.

As a child I had the unique opportunity to eat many things that the kids down the street never knew were eatable and did not particularly like. The mustard greens were one of these. My grandfather, a first generation Italian-American, plowed fields in the early spring and brought bunches of them home for dinner. Although, Nana would usually cook them, on occasion he would take on the responsibility. He was gruff and extremely down-to-earth in all aspects of his life. Including his cooking. His preparation of the greens was basic yet delicious. After he boiled them he would fry them with bacon and garlic. I too will pass on the grand tradition of teaching my sons the art of cooking from what the earth so willingly provides.

Once I reach my intended destination, and turn-around point, I realize I must hurry. I feel the threat of an impending down-pour, yes, it begins to sprinkle. As I turn back I am treated with a spectacular sight. The sun has graciously provided me vivid purple reds as she makes her decent in the west on the fair side of swaying palms. Tonight the sun will set and lure the willing eye of every artist and picker of wild greens. I shall return to pick them tomorrow.

Soup and Love

Posted: December 4, 2011 in Family, Food, Humor
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s a great day to make some soup. The rain, wind and slight breeze dictate this to me from the moment I rise. Something warm and spicy will hit the spot. Must warm the soul. So, next decision…traditional Italian Minestrone, Mexican Southwest Tortilla or Clam Chowder? I say to myself, “Mexican” and go with it. In all honesty, Mexican won’t require a trip to the grocery store, so my spiel about making a choice really wasn’t all that difficult, and made before the words Italian or clam came out of my mouth.

I love cooking for my family. It’s really very entertaining and to some degree requires a bit of acting skill. Once any trace of activity occurs in the kitchen and the burner is hot, one at a time, the family slowly files through the kitchen with their inquisitions and suggestions. It is almost as though someone went through the pains of choreographing their moves. It is just hilarious, because I know in advance who likes what and so-on, so my choice of words, as well as ingredients, are selected with great care. I too am part of this fine production called dinner. My lines spoken well as I play the part of my own sous chef and leading actress.

The first family member strolls in. It’s mama. The kitchen is her domain, so when anyone decides to play her role they better do it well. Mama approaches in a nonchalant manner which is very deceiving. She’s pretty subtle most of the time, but that could be a sign she’s about to take over. So I proceed with caution. In a way she kind of reminds me of Lady Gaga disguised as Sophia Loren. She has a beautiful a luring demeanor but could suddenly break-out with an off-the-wall suggestion. Which she does while remaining in character, “We have some fresh zucchini. Why don’t you throw some in there?” I calmly acknowledge her suggestion, but refute the idea stating how this would certainly take away from the distinctly Mexican flavor of the dish.One thing I decided would warm us on this chilly afternoon. She rolls her almond-shaped eyes and saunters off stage-left, and although she disagrees, I think she enjoys an occasional travesty in her kitchen.

The next performer is my son. He is definitely THE drama-king within the familial generation to which he was born. You may recall I said choose my lines wisely. He is the main reason I do so. We don’t use words like: onions, tomatoes or bell peppers…My god that would certainly bring an abrupt end of the world. This I just don’t understand. How could I have given birth to a child whose culinary repertoire does not include some of the most likely and well-liked ingredients for any Italian household? Was there a mistake at the hospital? Had they slipped me the wrong child? “No” I acknowledge to myself. He looks too much like the family. It’s just a fluke in his DNA. SO…(in a whisper) just between you and I, if any of the foregoing ingredients are called for, it’s not decipherable, and never omni-present, and I didn’t just say that.

On this particular occasion, the last one to enter, right on cue, is my youngest brother. He loves to eat, loves to cook, and is very good at it. There’s only one very small problem today. He doesn’t like soup. And, this is truly an issue because although we might be able to hide onion in any given recipe or distract mama from adding whatever is in the frig…I have not discovered any way to make soup look like anything but, well…SOUP. So, I tell him after a slight slip in my stellar performance that “it’s kinda like spaghetti sauce, except you serve it over tortilla chips instead of pasta.” He laughs and says, “good try.”

The final result of my Academy-Award-worthy meal? Delicious…everyone eats and knows better than to ask any questions. Ciao!