It’s Black Friday, the day after Food Coma Thursday (aka Thanksgiving) and apparently America began its holiday shopping frenzy hours ago. Rachel and I aren’t fans of this craziness. We actually believe the world would be a better place if people took an entire day off periodically to be in the moment and celebrate a holiday surrounded by family, friends and good food. So the whole get up in the middle of the night thing or — worse yet — require employees to start working on Thanksgiving itself, well we’re not fans.
So you won’t find us out shopping today. I’m planning on doing a hike with my husband, followed by dinner in front of a roaring fire. Rachel is hopping in the car with John and Miss M and heading to some of California’s wonderful wilderness to hang out with her cousin. In other words, we are extending the family time. Crazy I know.
If you’d like a break but also want to feel as if you’re making a little progress on your holiday shopping, this post is to let you know we’ve got your backs. Starting today, we’ll be giving away a cookbook a week every Friday until the end of December. The contests will be short and sweet: Leave a comment sometime between Friday’s post and Sunday at noon; Monday we announce that week’s winner. No waiting and wondering … and we will get that cookbook in the mail ASAP. That way you can use it as a gift for someone else (our secret that you didn’t pay for it) or wrap it up for yourself under the tree (guaranteeing you will get at least one gift you love.) It’s a win-win all around.
First up is — perfect for our theme I might add — Saveur magazine’s The New Comfort Food, Home Cooking from Around the World, from the ever-wonderful Chronicle Books.
My best friend/sister Jessica Starr texted me this photo yesterday. I was standing in my kitchen, lamenting the necessity of dinner preparation. Needless to say, I changed my tune pretty quickly. Jessica lives in Manhattan, a fiercely dedicated psych ward social worker, trudging through the city to help evacuated patients and fight for the patients she calls her own. This without power, without heat or hot water, without resting her head in her own bed for nearly a week. She is one of the lucky ones in Sandy’s wake; she knows it and I know it. But still. This photo haunts, a stark reminder of how quickly it can all disappear.
Just to make this clear from the start, I am not pregnant. That would be a post for the medical history books at this point in my life, believe me. But I am a pickle fan and I am related to two other serious pickle fans, including Rachel who loved kosher dill pickles so much as a kid that we got her a pickle ornament one year as a Christmas present. Anyway, I was intrigued when I saw this this New York Times article touting the peanut butter and pickle sandwich as a concept.
Yes, you read that right. Peanut butter and pickles.
Now I’ve heard of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and of course Elvis’s addition of bacon, which, while I’m a serious fan of bacon, I really couldn’t wrap my brain around. Anyway, I decided I needed to give this sandwich a try.
So here’s the verdict. The bread and butter pickles add a nice touch of crunch and sweetness with a zing but there is something also just a little weird about it. Maybe it’s because I keep thinking pickles while I’m chewing and think I should be eating a burger or tuna salad sandwich or something. I think I’ll give this another chance, but in the meantime, I’m not tossing the jam.
What about you? Have you had a pb and pickle sandwich? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve put between some bread with peanut butter?
Every time I make something in my slow cooker, I shake my head at what a fool I was as a young working mother who pooh-poohed this concept as just oh-so-middle-class-Midwest. I can’t even believe how much easier my life would have been!!!!! I was a snobby idiot!
When visiting Rachel last week, I asked her how her slow cooker life was going, especially now that she’s working outside the house full-time. She talked about how she had plans to start using it more, that she’d read about taking some time on a weekend afternoon to do some of the prep required to actually get a meal going (it’s true; slow cookers do the cooking but a human still has to do some prep depending on the recipe) because that would make it easier to use it. So here comes a moment of mother love that kids really appreciate: DO IT RACHEL!!!!! Don’t repeat my idiotic behavior.
Okay. Got that out of my system. Now on to a terrific chicken recipe that got some rave reviews in our house. Hope you enjoy it!
This weekend my mom came to visit. For the first time since my 21st birthday, I had my mama all to myself. I shared her with Maxine, of course, but it was wonderful to chat during naps and linger over dinners and giggle while we carved pumpkins.
We made pesto chicken salad with some of the best pesto on the planet (from our local Genova Delicatessen). We tossed pumpkin seeds in cinnamon and nutmeg, chili powder and sea salt, and roasted them in the oven. We even marinated feta–soaking it in olive oil with bay leaves and cracked pepper corns and rosemary from our backyard garden and a bit of thyme–though we never got around to eating it.
My mom was determined to make granola (ok, we actually insist that she make it every time she visits). I had just collected the ingredients for my own batch, though, so I suggested she work with what I had on hand. Maddeningly, hers still turned out better than mine ever does. The nerve!
John made us this fresh ricotta cheesecake from our Chez Panisse cookbook, dotted with marsala-soaked raisins and pine nuts. Someday I’ll share the recipe with all of you. You can begin thanking me now, though. That cake is so good we ate it for dinner one night.
And for our first dinner together, John made us Jenny Rosenstrach’s Sweet Potato Chicken Pot Pie. It’s the second time we’ve had it on our table, and it’s definitely earned a permanent spot in our dinner rotation.
As is always the case when my mom visits, I am reminded that it is not only the food before me that makes a great meal, but the company, too. Watching my mom play games with Max while she ate, swapping jokes and asking each other questions, could make any meal into perfect sustenance.
Thanks for coming, Mom. I love you.
I didn’t post last week. I tried to. Really, I did. But Tuesday nights are my posting nights and last Tuesday night, every time I sat down to begin, Maxine hollered for me from her room. Every. Single. Time.
Until it was way past my bedtime and I texted my mom “tomorrow!” and fell asleep until the next time my name was hollered down the hall.
And then the next day Maxine woke up sick. And that was that.
It’s Tuesday again as I write this. The sun has dipped down and the heat of the day parted for cool California evening. The breeze has blown in, swirling fragrant late-summer wafts through our bedroom windows.
I! WANT! MY! MAAAAMAAAA!
It’s happening again.
Maxine goes to school on Tuesdays. Tuesday mornings she wakes up crying, cheeks streaking as we hug our goodmornings to each other. I set my alarm earlier each week, striving to have myself as ready for work as possible before she wakens so we might spend the pocket of time before school hanging out instead of clamoring for the door. This morning, I had two cups of coffee in me and my hair brushed and my make-up on. All I needed was to dress myself and herself, and we had two hours to get it done in.
“I don’t want to go to school,” was all she could say this morning. “I just want to hang out with you. How about we just hang out?”
It is the only conversation we have on Tuesdays and Fridays while the sun comes up, no matter my efforts to introduce new topics. She brings our words back, our gestures and our time back to this refrain: “I don’t want to go to school.”
Parents tell me it will get easier. They tell me I won’t always walk to my car from her daycare with the sound of her sobbing inside thrumming in my ears. They tell me I won’t always arrive at work deflated before the day has even begun. They say nothing about the evenings, though, about the hours of calling for the feel of a mama body in the space right next to her bed.
I was going to lambast Martha Stewart for having a really disappointing quick-pickle recipe on her website. Instead, though, I’m bringing my pickle to all of you. It may end up being relatively quick, but good god does it feel like a long run right now.
Have you put your kids in school? How did they do? What did YOU do? Commiserate. Tell me how easy it was. Tell me your kid cried for a year. Just tell me something. Fill my mind with something other than the haunting cries of “MAAMAA”
I grew up in a family (and an era) when pasta pretty much meant spaghetti. My best friend across the street was Italian and her family was “exotic” because they had lasagne and jumbo shells and manicotti. I tried every chance I could to eat at their house for dinner when this wonderfulness was being served.
So it is no surprise that I was, oh, in my 50s when I learned about orzo — and immediately fell in love, determined to find as many recipes as I could to use this delightful mini-pasta. This casserole is a winner in my book. I’ve served it as a main dish and as a side. Your choice. Either way works.
Hi Janet, Hi Rachel
Well, I’m back after my two month hiatus. Sorry!!!! Between the move and some playing that I’ve picked up (as well as my usual festival playing in Maine during July), I just haven’t had the time to cook… at least anything special enough worthy of Table1095’s standards!
Now that I’m back into my marathon training, I’m trying to eat much healthier… my daily routine usually involves some sort of protein-packed berry shake for breakfast, salads for lunch, and a nice dinner of chicken or fish with even more vegi’s (almonds and trail mix for snacks? well yes, please!!). But of course, who can live without dessert? Certainly NOT me! (And no, I haven’t given up drinking, which of course would be very VERY healthy, but much MUCH less enjoyable… more on that later!)
A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. Pause, savor, remember.