Tag Archives: food

Monday Moments: Sliced Bread

sliced bread

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~ John Muir

“Better than sliced bread……”

Now that’s a phrase I hadn’t heard in a while. Walking across campus this past week, I passed a group taking a tour, that phrase left hanging in the floating air behind their push onward to see more buildings. It’s a funny little phrase, so deceptively simple, conjuring up some strange historical moment when people were in awe of that newfangled item of pre-sliced bread.

In the weeks since the new year, my husband was back in the hospital again, bent on discovering our new town via the medical community it seems. He’s home and doing better, on the mend again. But after sitting through another round of late dark nights in a hospital room, listening to the sounds of breathing in the middle of the night, to cries of “Help me” from faceless voices down the hall, to the opening chorus of a Bach minuet that the hospital plays each time a baby is born, I was intimately reminded of the fragility of moments.

In the rush of each day, each meeting, hour, minute, breath, I often forget that they are once in a lifetime moments. No matter how many meetings, or breaths, or days I have, each is unique, each is history the moment after it happens. And when I forget that, when I lose myself into the hustle and bustle instead of being aware of it, I lose a connection to myself, one that I crave and need and rely on to get me through every other part of what I do.

So this weekend, I took time to reconnect, to settle internally, in the best way I know how for me — cooking. More specifically this time, to bake bread. There’s just something magic in working dough, end over end, knead after knead, watching the rise of it, a living thing as the yeast works its magic. Nothing more healing that sitting down, arms slightly tired, and smelling freshly baking bread perfume the air. Nothing more satisfying than a newly-cut slice of warm from the oven bread, a dab of melting butter oozing into the crevices.

In that moment, all is good.

And I find it hard to discover much of anything better than sliced bread.

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Good Gravy

Mom K making her gravy

[Lynda’s note: I’m off today celebrating the Easter holiday at a family dinner, so I’m leaving you with a post I originally wrote back in November 2011 after our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. It’s appropriate today as well, since we’re gathering again around the table. Have a great weekend!]

I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage. ~ Erma Bombeck

It’s that time of year again. That week where the focus is one of giving thanks, being thankful for all the things we have (and for those that we do not have as well). As Thanksgiving comes around, so does the remembering of holidays past.

For many, including me, a lot of those great memories revolve around the dinners that are served, the time spent with family gathered around the table. And that table — full of favorite foods and special ones, too, ones that only appear at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The sounds of cheery conversation are underscored with strains of holiday music. And wafting over all of that are the aromas of the dinner to come.

The centerpiece of many a holiday dinner, especially at Thanksgiving, is the turkey (and no, not the one crazy relative who, in all likelihood, is a turkey…..). This year we’re having another mammoth turkey. I kid you not – it looks like a young child (and not really that young!). Rumor has it the bird this year weighs in at 38 pounds! One of my brothers-in-law hosts Thanksgiving, and when his oven heard the news, it promptly died.

Quit.

On the spot.

“No way,” I imagine the conversation began, “are you doing that to me.”

For you see, back in 2009, we had another pterodactyl-esque turkey, which, if I’m remembering correctly, was about 37 pounds. We have pictures.

Thanksgiving 2009 - our 37 pound turkey

See? I wasn’t kidding on the size. The thing was huge.

But for me it isn’t so much about the bird as it is the gravy.

Good gravy.

The very best gravy.

The gravy that is so awesome and amazing that it should be classified as its own food group.

My mother-in-law makes this amazing concoction. That’s her, up in the picture at the top of this post, beginning the process, using those luscious turkey juices from the roasting pan as a base. I swear she has some magic potion, some special mother-powers, where she chants “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” and waves a magic wooden spoon, and the gravy appears. She swears not. But nobody in the family can quite replicate whatever combination of patience, spices, and stirring produces a gravy so dark brown, so smooth, and so amazingly delicious.

It’s darn good gravy.

Is there a special holiday food you look forward to?

[Note: This post is #7 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the right of the page for more information.
Last year’s “G” post: Gladly Beyond.]

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Cooking Up Something Good

using recipes from grandmother's cookbook

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

~ Harriet van Horne

There’s something magical about cooking. More than just the science of diverse ingredients blending together into taste-tempting concoctions. The act of cooking for yourself or someone else, someone cooking for you, the simple slicing and stirring and combining of things brings a certain level of peace and satisfaction. At least to me, anyway.

I learned to cook by sitting on my mother’s kitchen counter, as did my brothers and sister. From the time we were old enough to hold a spoon without flipping the contents half-way across the kitchen, my mother would plop us on the counter and give us a bowl of things to stir together. I’m sure, especially when we were younger, this was her best way to keep tabs on us, to make sure we weren’t destroying some other part of the house. Eventually, we may have actually been a bit of help. But for me, the benefit of spending time sitting on that counter was to learn the magic of cooking. Of making something good.

In the days before Food Network and the Cooking Channel, there were only a handful of outside chefs to aid the process. My mother wasn’t a real fan of French food, so Julia Child never graced our television. About the only early television chef I remember watching was the Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith. Otherwise, the task of teaching us to cook fell to mothers and grandmothers, and for that, I am definitely most grateful. Admittedly, though, I do cook like a 1950s housewife preparing for a church potluck, but at least the food is good.

In recent years, as cooking shows have proliferated on television, I have become fascinated with the chefs behind the shows. How did they get into the business? Who taught them the ins and outs of the kitchen? Luckily, I’ve had the chance to meet some of them at cooking shows or book signings and hear some of their stories.

But what about you? What’s your cooking story?

Some Chefs I Have Met

Patrick Meeting Rachael Ray Rachael Ray came to our local book store just a few days before her surgery, so she wasn’t able to give a talk to the waiting group. She did, however, sign books. Here’s my husband getting our book signed, and blushing because Rachael said he was a “snazzy dresser.”
Bobby Flay cooking at the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland.Bobby Flay cooking
Bobby Flay signing autographs Bobby Flay signing cookbooks.

Alton Brown and Patrick Patrick meeting his favorite, Alton Brown.

The Kachureks and Ming Tsai The Kachurek Family meets Ming Tsai at a book signing.

Alton Brown and Lynda My turn to get a picture with Alton Brown.

[Note: This post is #3 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the right of the page for more information.
Last year’s “C” post was: Chapel Cars.]

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Monday Moments: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Golden Nugget ca. 1960s

Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels. There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled. ~ Frederic Raphael

Anyone a Cheers fan?

“NORM!”

That shouted greeting was one of my favorite parts of the show. In fact, I always wanted to have a place where, when I came in, would recognize me and be happy I was there. My husband felt the same, so over the years of our marriage, we’ve frequently tried to cultivate some favorite haunts and hang-outs where they know us by name. (Of course, I always hope it’s because we’re nice folks and good tippers! LOL) There’s something quite fun about people greeting us warmly, moving chairs out of the way for my husband, and, overall, pleased that we’ve returned for another visit.

One of our favorite places is a local independent restaurant called the Golden Nugget. Only open for breakfast and lunch, it’s an institution here in the Dayton area. Operating since 1961, its reputation is as phenomenal as the food. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, lines weave through the lobby, out into the entryway, and frequently, in good weather, outside down the sidewalk. I typically refuse to wait in line at a restaurant, but I will happily stake my claim in line here, not even blinking an eye to wait 30 minutes, plodding step-by-step closer to nirvana. Golden Nugget rebuilt The original location burned down in 2005, but locals were thrilled when the Thomas family decided to rebuild. Regulars came flocking back after more than a year’s closure, and for good reason. This is the kind of place where service staff are quick, correct, and smiling. Where your coffee cup never gets cold, let alone empty. Where they really do know your name.

My main reason to love the place? The most delicious, crispy, lacy potato pancakes I’ve ever had! Golden Nugget's potato pancakes

What are some of your favorite haunts and hangouts?

Is there a place you go where everyone knows your name?

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Monday Moments: Santa Hats

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~ Peg Bracken

Don’t you just love these little guys?

Aren’t they just too cute?

Well, I thought so, anyway.

Last week was the week of holiday parties where my husband and I work. Only one of the several gatherings was a potluck, however, so I only had to cook for one event. Yea! Usually by this time of the holiday season, I’m up to my nose in cookie dough and bakery items, but this was not an ordinary year by any means. (More on that later in the week…….)

After pondering my requirements for this year’s holiday potluck dish, I decided to try something I had squirreled away on my “Christmas Ideas” board on Pinterest. I do so love that site — that I was able to quickly find a recipe I had seen a while ago proves its worth to me!

Any-who…. That picture up there is my handiwork!

I made Santa Hats! Edible ones, at that.

These little guys are the most amazing combination of tastes — a chocolate brownie base, topped with marscarpone buttercream icing, topped with a fresh strawberry. Yum!

Actually, it’s more like

YUM!

They are fairly easy to make, taste phenomenal (that marscarpone icing got rave reviews!), and were the hit of the party! If you have some last holiday parties to go to, I highly recommend these little cuties!

If you’d like to give it a try, the recipe I used was from a blog called Daisy’s World, except her’s were more dainty and far neater than mine turned out to be…..

Hope your week heading into the holidays will be a good one!

Enjoy!

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