I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. It’s been a rough few weeks for everyone (at least everyone I know) and I’m looking forward to an afternoon and evening of seeing family and sharing food. Being the good foodie that I am, I’m putting together a lot of dishes (hint: understatement of the year). My mother-in-law asked if I could cook up some delicata squash, which is a new variety. You don’t have to peel it and it can be cut into rings. Since I have squash and more squash from my farmshare, I’ve decided to make another squash dish, one that combines a number of different varieties. Since winter squash bakes down to a mash, they’re easy to combine and then season. Butter, salt, pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon and – my favorite touch – a healthy sprinkling of fresh sage. Perfect!
I’ll also be bringing some appetizers, including one that takes a day to prepare. It’s a layered creation and needs time to take to the mold and present. Other than that, it’ll be cheese and crackers. But the culmination of my literary endeavors will be the Indian pudding. Anyway you make it, it’s a pain in the ass but really, really delicious. It’s made primarily with corn meal and molasses. I’ve usually prepared it with a double-boiler, but recently found a New York Times recipe that skips that step. I can’t wait.
I got a free pumpkin pie as a benefit of my membership in my local CSA (i.e., farmshare). My sister-in-law is bringing one, though, along with an apple pie so I’ll save mine for Christmas.
Eating, watching snow, visiting friends, drinking hot beverages and Christmas present-making or shopping, depending on the contents of my wallet. I can’t wait!
I hosted a last-minute Easter brunch today. Most of the people I invited already had plans. My mother- and father-in-law were available though, since they do Passover, and we ended up having an extraordinarily lovely afternoon with delicious food, a quiet street and plenty of time to talk and enjoy each other’s company.
I’m learning how not to kill myself preparing and hosting food events like this. I put together a quick bread yesterday that used up extra ripe bananas and nuts. I also whipped up some deviled eggs and cut up a pineapple. The rest were things that were easy to throw together today, like a fruit salad and fruit smoothies. The most work – and it was minimal – were buttermilk blueberry pancakes. I just weighed up the dry ingredients and blenderized the liquids. I had leftover buttermilk from an earlier cooking project, so I felt even more virtuous.
The meal started with champaign mimosas, which calls for half orange juice and half sparkling wine. Pour and stir. I also had chicken sausages and turkey bacon, but we didn’t consume those. I popped the sausages into the broiler and then forgot about them. Oops! Good thing we have smoke detectors.
I’m in Western New York with my family. The place is very calm and happy, even with the recent loss of my mother. My dad is moving on with his life and is at this moment attending an exercise and social program at the Veterans Administration. My sister no longer sleeps with her cell phone, expecting calls from hospitals, health care aids or my father. She’s back at work and enjoying it.
Overall, it feels good and I am grateful beyond measure. I feel love, not loss. Good.
We are, at last, on our way home. We’re doing it slowly, with a three-day stop-over in the Finger Lakes of New York State. This is a wine-growing region with big tourist appeal. The wines are better than they used to be and some are downright respectable. Cheese-makers have recently begun to take advantage of the many dairy farms out here, with some luscious results. There are also a few micro-brewers and at least one place that produces hard ciders from apples it grows on its own property. New York is an apple-growing state (as is Massachusetts). We picked up a bottle of cider, a bottle of wine and two packs of raw milk cheddar, one Colby and one with garlic. Yum!
My mother is stable for now and I can leave her without either feeling guilty or terrified. She has close to 24-hour care and Medicaid is going to be kicking in at some point in the near future. I’ll probably be back in August to check in on her and see if she’s in any better shape. Right now she’s still in considerable pain following her accident in May. She’s due for a minimally invasive medical procedure on her spine in mid-July. Everybody in the family is crossing their fingers and hoping it will be effective.
And, if anyone’s interested, my mom suffered a compression fracture at t12. That means she has fragile bones and osteoporosis and, when she fell in May, fractured a vertebrae in her lower spine. Recovery is slow and painful. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.
I listen to a lot of podcasts: news, humor, history, story tellers and fiction. I’m rarely tempted to share any of it, but this story is an exception, a “black sheep of the family” changeling tale that had me – me! – in tears by the end of it. Homecoming covers a lot of emotional territory when it comes to family relationships. It manages to do it within a fascinating science-fiction structure that, at the same time, goes beyond it to tell a universal story.
Here’s the podcast. Listen to it. Share it.
If you like science fiction, or at least podcasted science fiction, visit Escape Pod and sign up for more!
No doubt about it: my sister's no slouch when it comes to a meal. A few months ago, following a visit to a vineyard in Connecticut, I'd mailed her a choice bottle and then suggested she get some "nutty" cheeses to complement it. I'd be in town later that summer and thought it might provide some good relaxation opportunities.
I suggested kaskeval and manchego. And, my sister duly went out and got the same.
Then she got more.
The end result? A spread fit for a king…or a queen, depending on your gender. We ended up with two bottles of wine, one red to complement the white I'd previously shipped over. I had to email my sister to get all the names, since I'd forgotten them. She said:
The cheeses we served were: smoked Swiss and mozzarella, Kashkaval, Manchego, Port Salut and Stilton. The spreads were cheddar/bleu and pimiento. Raw veges were cauliflower, asparagus, gherkins and red pepper – served with bleu cheese and French onion dips. Crackers were sesame cheddar, cream, mini toasts and olive oil tortas. Champagne grapes, Hungarian salami, summer sausage and two bottles of wine rounded it out. Great leftovers
Ngah Ngah! And, it was good. So good, I took some pictures of the table she set. It was as beautiful as it was delicious: