Posts Tagged ‘food’

Jade Image

“Jade, I done told you to get up out of that chair and go to the store,” said Mama way beyond mad and holding in her hand an empty container of baby formula. She stood there with disbelief in her 50 year old eyes, as I continued clipping photos from a travel magazine I had retrieved from the “free bin” at the library while enjoying my chocolate snack pudding cup. I was getting slow at jumping to her beck and call. I was tired.
“Hey, a girl gotta live her life don’t she?” I said under my breath. I loved traveling the world and eating in exotic foreign restaurants. Even if it was through extensive scrap booking and fanciful daydreams. I didn’t aspire to be the next Cover Girl, but I was big, black, beautiful and nothing was gonna keep me from going to the furthest corners of the world.
“This child can’t wait one more minute for you to finish with that foolishness girl. You really need to grow up!” Mama breathed fire. “By your age I already had three mouths to feed.” With a whimpering and hungry baby hung on her hip she was a little worn. But, Mama was rarely happy anymore anyway. The days of happiness and fun ended when mama saved my six month old niece, Aleeya, from foster care.
“I told you I’m going,” I said in the retaliatory tone that came so willingly from my tongue lately. For all the work I was doing I never felt less appreciated. Run to the store, heat a bottle, change a diaper, mow the lawn, do the dishes, respond to the crying child at three o’clock in the morning; on-and-on it went. Without looking up I knew I was one step away from a serious tongue lashing. The electricity in the air was thick and if her breathing was any indication of just how close I was to doom I thought better of saying what was on my mind, “You wanted the baby. How about you go?”
“I’m sorry,” I said instead, with my eyes averted so she couldn’t see just how disgusted I was feeling. I sat the scissors down and used my fingers to clean the bottom of the pudding cup, then licked my fingers clean. I reached for my tattered hand-me-down flats that were laying next to my chair. While slipping on my shoes I asked, “How much money is in the account?”
“The check came Boo,” she said wild-eyed, in disbelief. “You think I’m going to send you to the store with no money in the account?” Her lips were quivering and she was perspiring, “And leave that funky mood in the streets before you get back.” Aleeya started to wail. I grabbed my jacket and purse and left without looking back.
As I walked down the numerous steps of our old Victorian rental, each individual step rendered an account of its age with creaks and groans beneath mv feet. I was thankful that almost everything was within walking distance in this lame town. Mama and I didn’t drive. It was all about walking. The only bus that came through this town was the one that took people to utopia.
I reached into my purse, pulled out my iPod, and put the buds in my ears. The distraction of some funky music was a staple in my life. As I walked along I thought about how much life had changed over the past few months. My 13 year-old niece had given birth to Aleeya, and lost her to the authorities. When Mama caught wind of the situation she had jumped into action. “No great-grandchild of mine is going to be raised by strangers,” she vowed. To some degree I think Mama was trying to make up for what she hadn’t done for her children. For years she had played slave to drugs and alcohol. My oldest sister had once told me, “You got it good. Mama ain’t who she used to be.” I was by far the youngest sibling, and maybe I didn’t endure what they had, but I knew without a doubt that this was not the good life my sister alluded to.
Only one block to go. I was almost there. The smell of Burger King french fries invaded my nostrils. I wanted so badly to stop and get some, but decided not to since I hadn’t asked first. As I approached the market I knew it would be a feat to walk past the magazine rack at the entrance and not stop to look at the latest edition of Travel and Leisure, so I planned my venture into the store carefully. I couldn’t stop anywhere with a starving child singing the blues back at the house. As I entered I took a deep breath and purposefully looked in the opposite direction. Then I exhaled and headed to the formula.
The check-out lane was unusually long. It made me think about just how unlikely it would be for Mama to smile when I walked back through the door with the liquid gold. I would give anything for one of her smiles. I glanced to the front of the lane. “Dang!” I must have said out loud, as the guy in front of me turned around with a curious look on his face. There at the front of the lane was an old woman writing out a check for her purchase. People still write checks? I thought to myself. The story of my life.
At last. The checker scanned the formula as I consecutively slid the debit card, and then said with a less than sincere smile, “Your balance due is $1.99.” It took me a second to realize she was asking me for money. Surprised, I stood there for second not sure what to do. I started rummaging through the bottom of my purse for change, knowing there wasn’t any more than a handful of pennies.
Feeling humiliated I stammered, “Le-le-let me see what I can find.” I placed five pennies and one nickel on the counter and continued to search, hoping for a miracle. I felt like fainting.
“You still owe $1.89,” she said with raised eyebrows.
“Are you sure there isn’t more money on the card?” I asked mortified.
“Slide it again,” she said in a bored tone.
A male voice behind me said, “Here. I got it.” And he placed two, one dollar bills on the counter.
I turned around, “Thank you sir.” He was a handsome old man with a gray beard and ponytail. I wanted to cry in appreciation of his kindness.
“It’s okay,” he said kindly. “You better go feed your baby.”
I said thank you again, and almost ran from the store. I didn’t have a baby. Thank God.

As I approached the house I could hear Aleeya howling at the top of her lungs. The front door and screen were wide open. I ran up the steps and into the house. “Mama?” I called out. Aleeya was in her crib with tear-drenched eyes. I picked her up and headed to the kitchen to make a bottle. I called out again, “Mama, I’m back!”

Sitting on the kitchen table was a hypodermic needle and a small crumpled, empty brown paper bag.

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.

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!