What is it about getting older that freaks us women out so much? I still remember my Mom telling my brother, sister & I that we were not allowed to celebrate, in any way, her 30th birthday. It was to be viewed as a day of mourning. Well, we thought she was just being dramatic so we went ahead & made cards & gifts & tried to give them to her. She didn't come out of her bedroom that entire day! The door stayed closed, so we pressed our ears against it & could hear her sobbing. She cried from morning to night. I remember thinking that she was going to get dehydrated from loss of fluids or that her eyes were going to swell up like the Goodyear Blimp. Her dinner came & went, as did her lovely white frosted cake. I asked my dad why she was so sad & he said something to the effect - "She turned 30 today. She's old & not happy about it." PLEASE!!
My mother was married with three kids by the time she was 30. I didn't have any of these things by my big 3 - 0, nor did I really know what I wanted to do with my life, so I was stressing. I had two choices really. I could stick my head in an oven & act like my life was over or I could look at my thirties as a whole new adventure. I chose the latter. I spent my big B-Day doing something I had always dreamt about - going to Paris. I drank fab wine & ate the most amazing cheese & food ever. I walked around the city with a baguette just like the natives. I spent a day at the Louvre & saw The Mona Lisa in person & stood there & cried because pictures just do not do it justice. There were many discoveries on that trip; from Angelina's hot chocolate to being too shy at first(me- shy?!)to speak the French I had praticed(thank god for Tom, my personal interpreter). I came home a changed women.
My thirties so far have been pretty amazing. I've gone to more places that were in my dreams. I have finally figured out my true passion & am pursuing it wholeheartedly. I've left behind the insecure, body conscious, twenty-something girl. I now try lots of things, even if I'm not always good at them. Dawn in her twenties would never have kept a daily journal because she wasn't a professional writer. A cookbook would have be out of the question since I'm no Julia Child. Do you still detect a bit of stress - freakout - uneasiness in me? Here's why.
My birthday is next week & I was feeling good - actually looking forward to it. I was on the phone with a dear friend a couple of days ago, talking about my big day. Now I love, adore & admire this friend. She a vivacious 39 year old who honestly looks about 28. She's always been more than supportive of me, so what was said or rather the way it was said, was a bit of a shock. It went something like this: Friend - "Dawn, how old are you going to be? Thirty-two?" Me - "No, I'm going to be thirty-four." Friend -"What!!! You're going to be thirty-four?! OH MY GOD!!! I thought you were only thirty-two! WOW!"
I'm going to let that incident roll off of me, but, I'm going to ask something of all women out there. Women - let's support each other! Let's make it our personal goal to lift fellow sisters up & help to make them feel gorgeous. We women are constantly bombarded with the image that youth = beauty. It's everywhere from magazines to movies. Even our damn gynos are telling us to have our kids by the age of 35 because after that, were too old! So, let's not add to that. We can all try not to pass our own insecurities about age, beauty or anything else on to each other. Let's make it our mission to kick all that crap in the ass! Are you with me? WOMEN ARE FABULOUS AT ANY AGE!!! Repeat after me, WOMEN ARE FABULOUS AT ANY AGE!!!
The winner was announced for Moira's Comfort Me: A Cookbook Giveaway Contest. Hats off to Jen, otherwise known as Bakerina for her fabulously funny & well written piece. Julie came in second with her touching story about C, a brave soldier. Yours truly placed third. There were many other well written entries, so check them out when you get a chance. Moira, thank you sponsoring the event & I'm so excited about my bag of goodies from England!
A big, big THANK YOU goes out to all who responded & shared opinions on the cookbook tasting party idea. I asked Tom to sit & read everyone's comments on Saturday. He was quite amused by some of them & agreed with all of them, so the party's a go. We are going to have it in early June because the next 2 months are a bit crazy with Tom shooting a film soon & family coming to visit. We haven't decided on a theme yet, but, the menu is almost set. I've got so much to do; guest list, invitations, table & chair rentals, favors, etc.... It's going to be a great deal of work, but, hopefully a lot of fun, too. I welcome any suggestions/ideas that you may have. I've already received so many great ones!!!
Happy Easter to everyone, or for those of you who do not celebrate it, Happy Spring. For some reason, Easter always feels like the official start of spring to me. It probably has something to do with the new colorful dresses I got around this time when I was a young girl. My family's tradition is to have an Easter Brunch. Momma makes a ham & serves it with hard boiled eggs, oranges & lemons all sliced & laid out on a platter. There's lot of pastries & breads, but the highlight is Poppa's frittata. It's about 2 inches thick & loaded with eggs, lots of varieties of cheese & Italian meats. HMMMM so good but, not really good for you! Tom & I are not going to RI this year but, we are going to a brunch. Only we'll be having brunch at 2pm not 10am. Now that I think of it, my family's brunch is actually a breakfast! Enjoy your day!!!!
Tom & I are having a disagreement on something & I need your help to settle the score. Every year we have some kind of food & drink party. For a few years it was a Margarita Sunday. Tom whipped up some tasty & strong concoctions & I cooked Mexican inspired food. This year we talked about having an Easter brunch, but too many friends were going away, so I suggested something else & he kind of pooh poohed it. I want to have a cookbook tasting party(a better name is needed).
I'm in the middle of testing all of these family recipes & what a great way to get lots of opinions on what is great or what needs improvement. I could serve a soup, appetizer, pasta, main course with a side dish & dessert. I would photograph the event & maybe even make it part of the book. We would only invite friends & true food enthusiasts. Tom thinks it's wrong to invite people over & then make them fill out some kind of questionnaire on the food that is served to them. I said that these are people who love us & know about the book already & would be helping me out a great deal & they would get to eat lots of good food. So what do you think? Is it a cheesy idea or a brilliant one? Any suggestions?
I went to my mailbox yesterday & inside were fabulous cards & letters & not a bill to be found! Thanks cousin Becky for the sweet card. Thank you Hope for the collage postcard. I will add it to my collection. And thanks Lucrecer for the lemony recipes. I will put the recipes away & bake them at a later date because I'm banned from sugar for a while. Why do you ask? Here's my sad story.
Saturday evening, Tom was on a shoot & he called to see what I was doing - writing & what I had for dinner - Peeps. "You ate that entire package of Peeps for dinner? What about real food?" he asked in horror. "Well," I said, "after eating 14 Peeps, my belly's full & now there's no room for real food." I will not bore you with the rest of our conversation, but it basically turned into an intervention, where I finally had to admit....."Hi, I'm Dawn & I'm a sugar addict." So, I'm giving my body a rest for a couple of weeks, which is very difficult to do around Easter time (or anytime for me). I'm expecting a chocolate bunny in the mail from my Haremail friend! I'll put the bunny away & have him at a later date for dessert, not for lunch or dinner.
Thank you Moira for having the Comfort Food Contest. I got to relive some great memories.
Everyone has that one food that reminds them of home or their childhood. Eating it makes you feel secure & happy. The food that holds that special place in my heart (& stomach) is homemade gravy - a.k.a. pasta sauce. While everyone in my family makes an amazing gravy that's all their own, my grandmother's reigns supreme.
I have strong memories of opening the door to her house and instantly being taken over by the wonderful aromas. The combination of basil, wine, cheese & sweetness of the tomatoes would carry me down to her kitchen. I would sit and watch her chop, saute & blend it all together. I would marvel as she took the meatballs out of the oven and added them to the pot one by one. Momma was in charge of making the gravy but, Poppa was usually the one who stirred it to perfection. A very important job, indeed. It required constant attention, every 5-10 minutes for up to three hours. Poppa would stir & taste along the way, which always got him into a bit of trouble with my grandmother. Their argument/conversation usually went something like this; Momma- "Honey, what are you doing?!" Poppa- looking like a kid caught with his hands in the cookie jar, "I'm tasting the gravy to make sure it's good" Momma- "You just tasted it 10 minutes ago!!" Poppa- with a mischievous smile "I know, now it's even better!"
I never had much interest in learning how to make the gravy myself. There wasn't any need. Every time I came home for a visit my grandmother would give me a large container of frozen gravy to take back with me. Then I met and fell in love with Tom, who was a very good cook with a real interest in authentic Italian food. He was always asking me when I was going to make him a "real" pasta sauce. "GRAVY, we call it gravy," I would tell him. Well, after a couple of years, I gave in & decided to surprise him with one. I called Momma and she walked me through the entire process. She kept me calm as I freaked out over the gravy bubbling too much or not being as thick as hers. She kept telling me to stir slowly & be patient. It would all be fine.
That night when I opened the door of my apartment, Tom was standing there with a smile on his face. He could smell it in the hallway. I had finally made him a gravy. I served it just like my grandmother always did. A big bowl of pasta(cavatelli) in a generous helping of gravy, a smaller bowl of sausage and meatballs, all accompanied by fresh grated Parmesan cheese & Italian bread. He tasted it and looked up at me with tears in his eyes. I'm not kidding at all, it's true. I'll never forget what he said. "So much love went into this. I can feel it, how much you love me."
My interest for cooking and family recipes started that very night. That interest has evolved over the years into my latest project, a cookbook containing my family's secret recipes. I'm putting my heart & soul into it, just as all the great cooks in my family put their hearts & souls into all the meals they've made over the years. The centerpiece of the book will of course be my favorite comfort food of all time - homemade Italian gravy.
Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it taste good! Alice May Brock
Spring is almost here, so they say, but it hasn't been warmer than 35 degrees so far this week. So, I decided to let spring in a little early by having a picnic. I was inspired by Jes' picnic in the snow, but decided to do it minus the cold. I took out a picnic basket, candles & a blanket & set everything up the livingroom to surprise Tom when he came home from work. The menu included fennel & carrot soup, corn on the cob, mashed sweet potatoes, baked cornflake chicken & my first attempt at an apple crisp. Tom took one look at everything & said, "Have you been cooking all day!?" Yes, I was, but sometimes I can get so into a creative project, whether it's cooking or crafts, that time flies by. Other times it(cooking especially) can feel like such a chore.
I just finished making this recipe that I found in a local paper. It smells amazing & tastes even better. It's so thick & creamy that you'll swear there's cream in it. Hope you like it. Ingredients 2 bulbs fennel 1/2 cup chopped onion 3/4 cup sliced carrots(2-3 carrots) 3 TBSP olive oil 1 carton(1 quart)chicken broth crack black pepper
-Trim tops & bottoms of fennel bulbs. Save a few green fronds & chop for garnish. Thinly slice bulbs. You should have about 4 cups sliced fennel. -In large saucepan, saute sliced fennel, onions, carrots in the olive oil until tender, about 20 minutes. -Add chicken broth, cover & bring to a simmer. About 20 -25 minutes until veggies are very tender. -Remove from heat & puree with an immersion blender right in saucepan or in a food processor or add to a blender. May take a couple of batches. Transfer each batch to a clean saucepan or warm tureen. -Serve with sprinkle of chopped fennel fronds & cracked black pepper.
Tom & I went to a hoe down this weekend. Yes, a hoe down in NYC. It was a fundraiser for a friend's ballet company. I played the Dixie Chicks at home to get us in the mood. Tom kept asking me, "What do you wear to this kind of thing?" I'm from the Northeast so I have no idea. We ended up looking more rock n' roll than country, but that's o.k., we are more rock n' roll than country. The shin-dig featured some great live entertainment & really good Texas style BBQ chicken. It turned into a dance party later on in the evening. Tom wouldn't get up on the dance floor at first because he said the music they were playing made him want to break dance. I love it when he does that! I got him to bust a move without the breaking (too hard to do on concrete anyway).
I'm off to see the accountant to see how much $$$$ I owe the tax man. I want to try one of the new soup recipes I have, but, I may be too depressed/nauseous after I see what I owe the IRS.
First a big THANK YOU to everyone who emailed me about the Blogger commenting problems. I've been having problems posting as well. Maybe it's time to say goodbye to Blogger & try someone new!!
As you all know, I'm in a soup phase & it seems as though others out there are, too. My cousin Becky made the minestrone recipe I posted & said it came out well. YAH!!!! I received a beautiful tropical postcard from Marilyn & it came with a recipe for curried pumpkin soup. Our local paper even featured a entire section just about the wonders of soup. So, at some point in the next few days I'll be making one of the recipes & I'll let you know how it turns out. Have a good weekend!!!
The Northeast was hit by a huge snow/ice/wind storm on Tuesday. Tom had to fly to DC for a shoot that afternoon. His plane was the last one allowed to leave LaGuardia (I was so stressing about that) & he landed safely. I turned on the TV that morning to watch the weather/airport reports & all I received was static. I figured that the terrible weather had something to do with it & everything would be fixed later that day. By 8pm still no TV & I began to freak out! It's not like I can't live without it. I only watch it for the news & a HGTV fix & for my latest obsession - DEADWOOD.
HBO has always had some good shows, like Sex in the City, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, but DEADWOOD is a whole other thing. I have never liked westerns or even had much of an interest in the Gold Rush/Wild West era until this show. It's cool to watch a program that's based on a place that actually existed - DEADWOOD - the territory without laws & see characters based on real people like Calamity Jane. I missed the season premiere on Sunday because I was cooking in RI & missed it again on Tuesday night, so I read the episode review online, which isn't quite the same. So now it's Friday morning & still no cable. I'm hoping Tom can fix it soon so we can avoid another freak out session this weekend.
There were other things going on in R.I. besides cooking (& eating). I got a little shopping in (fabric/craft superstore) & spent time with babies (nephew & cousin's baby). My nephew, Bobby, is almost 4 months old & he's so gorgeous! He has the bluest eyes I've ever seen. I couldn't stop looking at him & kissing him. He's close to 14lbs, which is great since he was a premie & barely weighed 5lbs at birth. Hailey is almost 2 & she's a lot of fun. She loves to play hide & seek which she refers to as "hide, hide". While she's in her hiding spot, she's laughing so loud in anticipation of being found that it's priceless. We let Hailey hold Bobby a couple of times until she finally grew tired of him & pointed to his carrier & yelled "Home!"
I just got back from my weekend of cooking. Whew! I'm tired. Momma wanted me at her house at 7am on Sunday for our day of cooking!! I was able to talk her into a more reasonable time of 8:30am. Momma insisted that I wear an apron, which made us look like twins. We started with the chicken soup because it does take some time to make the stock. She even measured some ingredients for me. There is a God! We cleaned the broccoli rabe (also known as robbies) & sauteed it. Then we started on the pepper biscuits, a recipe that just isn't working for me. I compared the recipe my grandmother sent me with the one in her recipe box & the ingredient amounts were totally different. So, I followed what she called "the real recipe" to the letter & it still didn't work!!!! It seems as though she doesn't even write down the correct recipes for herself. She honestly does all of her cooking by taste, sight & smell. So, we think that "the real recipe" for pepper biscuits is somewhere in between the two.
My Aunt Jean let me take home "THE BOOK" so that I can photocopy the recipes that I want. There are many family favorites in it, as well as some recipes that I've never tried. My grandmother's gravy (pasta sauce) is in there & it's totally different then the one she gave me a few years ago. She said that she did perfect & change some things over the years & that the gravy recipe in "The Book" is the one her mother used to make.
All & all it was a good weekend. I was able to sit down with my Aunt & compare lots of recipes & adjust them (and boy, did they need some adjusting!) It also helped me to narrow down the recipes that will be in the book & decide which stories should go with them. We do have many funny family stories, but not all of them are appropriate for a cookbook.
I'm off to catch a bus to R.I. I'll be cooking 3 recipes with Momma that I've been struggling with & will see "The Book", (30 yr old handwritten recipe book). I'm also hoping to see my nephew, visit friends & shop, all in 2 & 1/2 days. As usual, I've got lots on my plate, so hopefully some friends with come & visit me while I'm cooking, so that I can fit it all in. Have a good weekend!!!!!
Every Sunday when Tom & I wake up we look at each other & say "Who's gonna bring us breakfast in bed?" Inevitably one of us gets up & poaches the eggs & fries the bacon, but in dreamland we wish we had a butler to brings it to us in our warm cozy cocoon. Tom was on vacation this week & he asked me on what day I was going to serve him b.i.b, so I did it yesterday. I made Nigella's poached egg recipe, well it wasn't really her recipe, since I couldn't find her version. I simply sliced some chorizo & sauteed it in with some kale & a bit of olive oil & salt & pepper. I poached the eggs in Momma's fab pan & place it on top. I can't even remember the last time I made him b.i.b. but, I definitely remember the last I was on the receiving end of it.
It was for my B-Day a couple of years ago. Tom set an alarm & hopped out of bed(that almost never happens) & headed out. I woke up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee & breakfast aromas. I was still half asleep when I heard this loud crash coming from the kitchen. It sounded as if the cabinent that held all of our dishes & glassware crashed to the ground. I ran into the kitchen & Tom was on the knelt over a tray, broken glass & food all of which were on the floor. He looked up at me & shouted "Go back to bed, please!!". Well I did what I was told(that, too, almost never happens) & a few minutes later he entered the room & said in the calmest voice he could muster "Due to some technical difficulties, breakfast will be delayed a bit, so please go back to sleep." I was wide awake but, I didn't dare get out of bed. I waited & waited & finally after close to an hour, Tom entered the room with a beautiful tray of food. I don't remember what he made for me that day, but, I'll never forget the way he looked as he entered the bedroom. He was covered in sweat, like he had just run a marathon & he looked so relieved as he placed the tray onto the bed. We now think that b.i.b. is totally overrated, but, if a butler ever comes our way with hot breakfast on a tray, we definitely won't turn him away!
Blogger has not been worker right the past few days, at least not for me. I tried to post yesterday, but could not & now I don't remember what I was going to say. I'm sure it would have been brilliant. Today I worked another restaurant double(15 hours) & boy, do I feel depressed. Not like, so sad I want to cap myself, depressed. It's more like, is there any light at the end of this tunnel?, depressed. I really want to finish my cookbook by the end of this year & get my web store up & running by then too. It's so hard to work on all the things that I love & want to do when I spend close 40 hours a week waiting tables to pay the bills. I wish I could spend my days only doing the things that bring me joy- cooking, crafting, creating, writing, etc.... Am I being unrealistic? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a job that feeds your passions, creativity & soul? To go "to work" & get to do the things that you love to do. I guess it would no longer feel like a job, but be something so much more than that. I'm hoping that day will come for me soon. I'm trying so hard not to let my bill paying gig break my spirit. Does anyone have any advice or words of experience or wisdom to share? As always thanks for listening.