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My Secret Passion

My Secret Passion

I believe it would very much surprise many of the people who know me to discover what my secret passion is. They could take guesses, but most times they would be wrong.  Even those friends who know me well.

Of course, there are many sides to my personality and over the years different aspects of who I am forges forward to dominate. When these distinct and different urges rumble, I give them the lead and allow them to show themselves to the world, be it painting, writing, fashion, music or whatever want rises forth for recognition.

When something is a secret passion it is usually not known by others, or acknowledged by even ourselves. Hence the word secret.  As a matter of fact, there are times when even we ourselves don’t know that it is a true passion until something triggers the awareness.  Today that happened to me.

I was speaking with my husband, Jim, about Thanksgiving.  My daughter and her husband generously invited us to her house for the day and the Thanksgiving day feast.  We accepted and look forward to the day with the family, however, something nagged at me.  It dawned on me, I would not be cooking a turkey, she would.  That takes something out of the holiday for me.  It leaves it almost two-dimensional.

Not that I love doing all the work it takes to putting together a holiday dinner.  Believe me over some 50 years I have cooked and orchestrated more than three hundred holiday meals for small or large crowds.  I know what it takes, and its exhausting to do it with a flair.  But I realized, and here is where I divulge the secret passion, I love cooking big.  Oh, not all the sides and salads, but a huge turkey, ham, pasta, gravy (sauce for American born), or anything that weighs a ton.

I love cooking a thirty pound ham or turkey that will feed a crowd, even when I need a strong person to help me pick it up.  My passion is that I loveeeee to cook big.  Put that fresh ham on a low heat and bake for six hours.  Baste that turkey every half hour all day and watch it go from a sickly white to a beautiful golden brown.

I am not going to try to psychoanalyze this passion.  I am just going to own it, enjoy it and find a reason to cook a humongous roast.

Buena Appetite!

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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Peppers, Potato, and Eggs

Peppers, Potato, and Eggs

Memories are funny things. They are not always made up of ocean breezes or the strains of romantic music. They don’t necessarily bring visions of young love on a beautiful summer day.

Sometimes memories are made from the by gone vision of an eleven year old girl scurrying through tall, Black, White, and Hispanic, teenage boys as they flowed out of Benjamin Franklin High School.

The teens were racing across the street as to be first in line for a pepper and egg sandwich, or potato and egg sandwich, or perhaps a combo of same on a foot long loaf of Italian bread. A tiny corner restaurant with a window and counter facing the sidewalk was where these delights were sold from. I wove my way through them totally ignored, as it should be.

The smells and sounds of peppers frying bring me back to my childhood. Everyday I walked through this noisy crowd to get back to my elementary school after lunch. First to eighth grade, we all were dismissed for lunch, and expected to return on time for the afternoon classes. Didn’t matter that you lived in a sixth floor walk up. You needed to be back to line up in the street before the bell rang.

These old memories are always so pleasant to me. Not because of the pepper and eggs I made today for lunch, which were yummy, but for the true age of respect and innocence when a young girl could rush her way through a gang of teenage boys without fear. No guns, knives, or verbal assaults. Aw those were the days!

 

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Misperception


Can't claim credit for this cooking, my friend...

Can’t claim credit for this cooking, my friend Paul was responsible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something has been nagging at me for over a week and its time to free it from the pit of my stomach.  I thought I could let it go, but I just can’t.  So please indulge me this rant.

Recently a first cousin, once removed, made a comment on social media regarding the long ago family parties and her relationship with food as a result of these large events.
She said she hated food because of what she perceived were acts of gluttony by her parents and relatives.

Her disparaging remark about people I love, who are here, and some long gone, really stuck in my craw.
Yes, there was always an abundance of food at these holidays, BBQs, and reunions. Much more than the people in attendance could possibly eat. It was the spread that her Mother put out for the company, and other specialties proudly cooked, baked, concocted and brought to the event by all the female guests.
Everyone made a fuss over the food.

It was and is part of our culture and tradition. More than having too much to eat, it is a symbol of hospitality, a display of culinary talent, and a show of love.
The fuss over sausage and peppers, rice balls, or cream puffs was appreciation for the work put into it. How Aunt Frances glowed when we clapped over her sausage rolls.  Insane competition over whose meatballs were best, half-joking, but you always took note on whose disappeared the fastest.

We are the children of parents brought up during the depression. To feed someone, or to carry on over food offered to us, is to say I Love You.
I am sorry she didn’t get it then or now. Perhaps she is just too far removed from family and has forgotten the fun times we had around that big table on her Mother’s deck, or the laughter with her Father as he flipped burgers on that bright red BBQ grill.
No, my dear, it wasn’t gluttony, it was family playing with each other. The food was never finished but divided up at the end of the day for everyone to take home a love package.

My wish for you is to remember it as it really was, and for your relationship with food to be a healthy one.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Appeal of Peaches vs Bananas


bananas

bananas (Photo credit: Fernando Stankuns)

Some years ago the local library held a writing contest.  I considered entering it.  Naturally, the requirements were specific as to word count and subject matter.  I scribbled down a couple of drafts, (this in the time when I started everything on a legal pad with a host of ball point pens).  However, as most writers, was not confident in the direction I was heading.

The word contest adds a head pounding pressure to the act of writing.  The specific requirements gave me the feeling of rigidity and it killed any creative abilities I might possess.  When I first learned of the “contest” there was only one week until the deadline.  “Deadline” another make me freak out word. Since this was a contest someone was going to judge my work.  It had to be my best.  Must be perfect.   After those first futile attempts I gave up and dismissed the idea of submitting any thing at all.

I hate giving up on something, so although I didn’t enter, I did keep track of when the winner would be announced and where the short story would be reprinted. 

Ok, after a few weeks there it was in the local paper, the winner of the Patchogue/Medford Library Writing Contest.  First Prize.  I was so envious that someone had the courage to enter, and I couldn’t wait to read it.

Peaches, it was a story about sliced, jarred peaches.  Peaches on the window sill in the sun.  It was nice.  Well written.  But on that first glance it was a story about jarred, sliced up peaches in juice.  Astonishing.  Then I read it again and again.

All these years later I understand why it was such a great story. Why it truly deserved to win.  The writer had the ability to relate her childhood memories, and the comfort felt while being at her Grandma’s house, through that sparkling jar of peaches.  Because of  her words you felt the warmth of the sun on your face. You experienced the love of the woman who had jarred those very peaches, and the slower pace of another time in our history.  That short short taught me much about creative writing.

Today I sat at my dining room table.  My fruit bowl is full and on the very top, resting across the apples, oranges and pears, is a bunch of bananas.  Just the right shade of yellow, firm but not hard.  No brown spots.  You can smell them.  I wonder if I could write an award-winning story about those bananas?

The personality of a banana is very different from a peach, but I am sure it can be done.  Afterall, look what Harry Belafonte did for Bananas.  Didn’t the Banana Boat song give us all the desire to visit the islands?  I think I am going to give it a try.  It may not be today or tomorrow, but sometime in my future there will be an epic story about bananas.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Birthday Cakes


A birthday cake

Image via Wikipedia

I love Birthday Cakes.  I love them if they are home-made or store-bought.  I love them when the Birthday Cake is an apple pie or a donut.  Whether they are covered in icing or shaped like a loaf of bread smeared with cream cheese.

It needn’t be served on the actually day of one’s birth, but it must be sometime within two weeks before or after.  There could be as many as ten or twenty people sharing it, or just one other singing to the recipient of the Cake.

My only steadfast requirement is that there must be a candle stuck in the Birthday Cake for one to blow out.  If you don’t have a candle you can’t make your official first wish.  The second wish comes with the cutting of the first slice.  Wishes made on your Birthday go straight up to Heaven.  So make it a good one.

I love Birthday Cakes that are decorated with pink or blue whipped cream flowers, strawberry or peach filling, and has the first name scripted across the top.  I love Birthday Cakes that are lopsided and baked with the help of a child.

I guess you get the idea.

Birthday Cakes represent, to me, that someone cares.  They wish to celebrate your time on this earth.  They seem to say, by virtue of the Cake, I am happy to know you and want to help you get a wish today.  I want to be close to you and sing to you dear one. 

It’s those wonderful twenty-four hours of the year that everyone, even strangers, will shake your hand or kiss you in congratulations.  You’ve managed to live another year.

I saw a loved one blow out the candle on his Birthday Cake the other day.  I don’t know what he wished for, but I know it was just the perfect wish.  He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren.  He’d spoken to his other child earlier in the day who sent love from afar from the Delaware branch of children and grandchildren.

It was the oddest thing.  After he blew out the candle on his Birthday Cake the room seemed all the brighter.  It was the glow of happiness on his face. 

Birthday Cakes are a wonderful thing.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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