Food

I Bequeth My Carrot Birthday Cake from Hell

Daily Prompt:  LegacyWrite a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

I’m a quilter not a baker.  I hate to bake.  I’m not good at it and my failures over the years are legion.  Most kids bring homemade cookies or cupcakes to school to share.  Mine brought bags of potato chips.

But, for some reason my carrot cake gets rave reviews.  My son requests it every year for his birthday.  Why?  I’m convinced it’s because it is the most difficult, expensive, frustrating, anxiety-producing, time-consuming cake in the world.  It’s true … paybacks are hell,  but I can’t remember what I did to that child to demand such retribution.

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So, I started by assembling all the tools and ingredients I needed and told myself to remain calm, stay organized, take my time and clean up as I go.

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Things deteriorated almost immediately.  My printer ran out of ink so I was working from the recipe on my Kindle that kept shutting down then sliding out of my hands because of the oil, eggs and buttermilk on my fingers. I panic very easily when I’m baking.

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OK – I get that it’s three layer cake because it’s so dense.  But I don’t understand why I have to oil and flour each pan and still cut out parchment paper to cover the bottoms and then oil and flour the parchment paper.

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Thank heaven for food processors or I’d still be grating carrots, chopping walnuts and shredding coconut.

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Ta da!  I finally got everything into one bowl and it smells and tastes like … carrot cake!

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Looking good, right?  I’m so proud of myself.

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But, I don’t understand “Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean”.  After 30 minutes the toothpick looked clean, but I wasn’t completely sure.  So, I baked for another 3 minutes and then did the toothpick thing again and still wasn’t sure.  After the third toothpick, I noticed the cakes’ edges looked really brown so I removed the pans from the oven and the anxiety kicked in — under-baked, over-baked who knows?  It’s kind of like a new recipe that say, “Adjust seasonings to taste.”  But if you don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like….?

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And then the cleanup … seems like I used every surface, utensil, bowl and appliance in my kitchen. There was so much flour in the air that I had an asthma attack and had to stop to use my inhaler twice.

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You think I was kidding about the flour in the air and on every surface?  I laid my spatula down and when I picked it up, there was its silhouette.  After the kitchen counters were washed, the bowls, utensils and appliances cleaned I still had to mop the floor and wipe down the cabinets.  I turned the A/C on to clear the air.  What a production!  We won’t even talk about the icing.

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Happy Birthday, Matt.

When the birthday boy tasted his cake I learned the good news and the bad news … the good news was that it was absolutely delicious; the bad news is that I’m going to have to do it again next year.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Daily Prompt, Food, Humor, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m Feeling a Little Schmaltzy Today

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “You, the Sandwich.”  If a restaurant were to name something after you, what would it be? Describe it. (Bonus points if you give us a recipe!)

PickledHerring

“Schmaltz” is Yiddish for fat.  Schmaltz herring is caught right before spawning when the fat in the fish is at the maximum. Why does that resonate with me?

Named for me and listed on the menu under appetizers, “Schmaltzy Lady” is actually pickled herring or Jewish sushi. The fat little virgin herrings will be served with crackers and rounds of party rye bread.  You can choose the straight pickled herring or the sour cream version.  You will either love this appetizer or you will curse me.  However, if you order it with a shot of schnapps (or two), you will probably enjoy these yummy, vinegary chunks of raw fish covered with onions and pickling spices.

Oh, you want the recipe?

Herring are found in the North Sea so first you grab your fishing pole and head to Norway …

INGREDIENTS
    • 8 herring fillets
    • 1 sliced onion
    • 1/2 cup olive or sunflower oil, or more to cover the fish
    • 3 allspice seeds
    • 3 peppercorns
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Options:  white wine or wine vinegar or 1 cup of sour cream
PREPARATION
  1. Soak herring in cold water overnight to remove the “fishy” flavor. Slice drained herring into bite-size pieces.
  2. Place in a jar and cover with oil and spices. Close the jar. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days before eating. This will keep refrigerated up to two weeks. Serve with finely chopped onion or onion slices, lemon and parsley or dill.

NOTE:  Skip the trip to Norway and the prep time and pick up a jar of Vita’s pickled herring in wine sauce or sour cream, grab a box of crackers or a loaf of party rye & a bottle of schnapps and get pickled!

vita wine saucevita sour cream

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Eat Buttered Popcorn in the Dark and You Won’t Get Fat

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Show Must Go On.”  If you were involved in a movie, would you rather be the director, the producer, or the lead performer? (Note: you can’t be the writer!).

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I would never have the chutzpah to attempt to direct a film … Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Orson Welles … yes.  Me? No.  Forget about producing a movie.  Think Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, David O. Selznick, Robert Redford and don’t forget Walt Disney.  I wouldn’t even attempt it.

psychoActing.  Naw, I’m too self-conscious and too introverted.

So, if I had to be involved in a movie and can’t be the writer I would choose to do what I do best … sit in the audience and eat buttered popcorn.  In my world, buttered popcorn is the best part of filmdom. Add it to your diet and exercise regimen as an adjunct to a healthy lifestyle.

Sit in the first row of the second tier so you can put your feet up on the rail without disturbing anyone in front of you. Raise and lower your legs several times to get comfortable thereby working your lower back, thighs and hips.  Do 6-8 repetitions.  Lean back in your seat then slowly lean forward straightening your back to take a sip of your Sprite. You can do multiple sets of this exercise and may want to super-size your drink for maximum benefit.

Get to the show early enough to grab the perfect seat and buy a large buttered popcorn.  These are refillable so if you’re a popcorn slut like me, you can eat almost a whole bucket of popcorn while watching the ads, previews, trailers, etc. (or reading your Kindle) and still have time to get a refill before the feature begins.   Walking down the stairs and out to the concession stand should add another several hundred steps toward your daily goal of 10,000.

No one can see or judge you if you’re sitting in a dark theatre eating a second bucket of popcorn.  Take several deep cleansing breaths and set your mind free.  Remember – if you set your mind free, your ass will follow, so relax and enjoy.

When the movie is over and you’ve gorged yourself on buttered popcorn, you will want to skip dinner. There … you’ve saved yourself at least 700 calories.

Ergo, eat buttered popcorn in the dark and you won’t get fat!

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Chocolate on My Elbows and Jelly Beans in My Teeth

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Food for the Soul (and the Stomach).” Tell us about your favorite meal, either to eat or to prepare. Does it just taste great, or does it have other associations?

It doesn’t matter what I am preparing in the kitchen, if I’m with one of my grandchildren the results are guaranteed to be memorable.  Their innocence adds the right amount of spice, their laughter mixed with their enthusiasm provides the proper texture and their joy at the results encourages a hearty appetite … whether sweet or savory, edible or not, appealing or appalling, it is food for my soul.

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kitchen3This morning 6-year old Rebekah and I made chocolate bird nests for Easter candy as gifts for her family and her teachers (and two for herself).  There was melted chocolate smeared on the counters, under our fingernails and on our elbows (don’t ask).  Jellybeans were rolling around the floor as she traded me the black ones for the red ones that we tried to pitch into each others mouth. We laughed and giggled and didn’t even try the end result because it just didn’t matter.  We wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and tied each one with a purple ribbon and hope that the recipients will enjoy eating them as much as we enjoyed making them.

Chocolate Bird Nests

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12 oz. package chocolate chips

12 oz. package butterscotch chips

12 oz. package chow mein noodles

Carefully melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in the microwave.  Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the chow mein noodles in a large bowl and mix.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and glop a big spoonful of the mixture into each muffin hole.  Smoosh the mixture to form a “nest” and refrigerate until set.  Remove from the tins and add candy.  We used jelly beans and robin eggs.

How to check if the pasta is al dente if you're a member of my family!

How to check if the pasta is al dente if you’re a member of my family!

 

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Home Ec 101 – Peanut Butter Cookies

Still the best after all these years!

1 egg

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

pnut cookiesStir together & place tablespoons of dough on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Smoosh each mound of dough with a fork (I dip mine in sugar because, why not?) & place in a 350 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes or until the edges turn brown.  The cookies will harden as they cool.  Makes 18 large cookies.

This is not a fancy recipe but quick & easy. Use chunky or smooth peanut butter & add anything else you like  I added butterscotch chips to my last batch & my man enjoyed them.

This is a perfect recipe for making cookies with grandkids or for mid-century girls who are sick to death of cooking & baking and just want to fill up the cookie jar!

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Linguine with Clam Sauce for World Peace

 Daily Prompt – Time Capsule   What would you put in this year’s time capsule to channel the essence of our current moment for future generations?

 

With the food channels, food blogs, Facebook and Pinterest recipes; gluten free, Paleo, South Beach, low fat, heart healthy, raw, green smoothies, sugarless; take your pick, there’s recipes for everyone on social media.  They  circumnavigate the globe in a (healthy) heartbeat! A good mac and cheese recipe can be enjoyed in Paducah, Kentucky or Mumbai, India.   So, although I don’t normally blog about food unless it benefits the health and welfare of the general public (see Grandma Bernstein’s Chicken Soup), I have something I want to say.

clam linguine

If included in this year’s time capsule, my recipe for Linguine with Clam Sauce has the potential to promote peace and prosperity in the future.  Warlike factions will be clamoring to get to the peace table if my clam sauce is being served.  The aroma of garlic and onions simmering in butter speaks to a universal language of home, hearth and family.  There can be no arguing or dissention with a mouth full of linguine covered with a rich, creamy, savory clam sauce.  The culture of every country demands a certain etiquette when breaking bread.  And, speaking of bread … this recipe should be served with fresh garlic bread (Cuban, French, Italian, naan, pita, who cares?) made with additional garlic, butter and romano/parmesan cheese.

There will be nothing left but goodwill and the slick memory of the clam sauce on the bottom of your serving bowl.  Your guests at the peace table will throw down their butter stained napkins instead of the gauntlet and will join in singing your praises.  Satiated and mellow from the fat, carbs and gluten, peace talks can continue over cups of espresso and a dessert tray.

Please spell my name correctly when you nominate me for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. butter

1 small diced onion

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. basil

1 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning (I substituted Italian Seasoning)

3 cans minced clams with juice

1 tsp. parsley

1 lb. linguine (I used 1-1/2 pounds)

Supposed to serve six, but only served 4 in my family (they’d rather eat than fight)

Melt the butter & oil in large pan.  Saute onion and garlic and add red pepper. Cook until translucent.  Add lemon, oregano, basil and Old Bay Seasoning (or Italian Seasoning), stir and add clams and juice.  Simmer for five minutes.  The onions and garlic will become almost creamy.

Meanwhile, cook your linguine as usual.  Drain but do not rinse keeping back about a cup of linguine water.  Add the drained pasta to a serving bowl and add the clam sauce & mix well.  Add some of the pasta water to help the sauce adhere to the pasta.

eating pasta

 

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I Never Thought I’d Come Back From That One

Daily Prompt  Use It or Lose It – Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence: “I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

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Steak and Thai Noodle Salad, cheese garlic bread and a Cosmo

The first sip was ambrosia. The first bite was savory, crunchy, smooth, a little bit tangy and absolutely exquisite. Each additional forkful was a burst of heaven.  My daughter and I were having lunch at Houston’s in Atlanta.  She ordered Cosmos (made with Tito’s vodka, of course) while we studied the menu and then she recommended the Steak and Thai Noodle salad.  I have never tasted quite that combination of flavors … my palate wept with pleasure.  And the Cosmo was pretty damn good, too.

French dip made with prime rib, horseradish sauce, fries and a Cosmo

French dip made with prime rib, horseradish sauce, fries and a Cosmo

And then we talked.  And we talked.  And we talked – about the past (I thought we’d never come back from that one), the present and the future.  Remember when you were young and could talk to your best friend all day about anything and everything? Well, that’s what it was like and what a delight to realize that I was, in fact, having lunch with my best friend.*

*Note to my son:  No, Matt, that does not mean that I like your sister better.

 

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Does It Look Like He Has a Christmas Tree Growing Out His Butt?

Does it look like a Christmas tree growing out his butt?

Does it look like a Christmas tree growing out his butt?

My daughter Heidi decided her family should cut down their own perfect Christmas tree. It would be a fun adventure and would show 4-year old Max where Christmas trees come from.  So the day after Thanksgiving we drove from Atlanta to Sleepy Hollow Farm in Powder Springs, GA to find the ideal tree.

It was a beautiful late autumn day, great weather to ramble around the farm searching for the perfect tree.  We were given a saw when we arrived at the farm and told we could cut down any tree with a price tag.  Max got a little spooked because from his (short) perspective it was a huge forest. I was documenting the entire enterprise for posterity and to share with family and friends on Facebook.  While the tree was being wrapped and tied to the car I posted my pix to FB.

Little boy lost in the woods?

Little boy lost in the woods?

The perfect tree!

The perfect tree!

Paul Bunyan and his assistant

Paul Bunyan and his assistant

 

We worked up an appetite so the kids took me to their favorite Mexican restaurant in Atlanta.  Little Max calls it the “Cheese Taco Man” since he only eats cheese quesadillas but calls them tacos. The sign out front of the “Bone Garden Cantina” explains Max’s name for the restaurant.

The Bone Garden Cantina

The Bone Garden Cantina (Cheese Taco Man)

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Above the bar

My son-in-law, Chris, is a professional photographer so after ordering my first ever empanada for me, he pulled out his cell phone to check his messages. He looked at me with a grin and said, “Nice composition, Jodi, real nice.  It looks like I just farted a Christmas tree!”  He showed my FB post with the pix around the table. Heidi and Kurt coughed up their tortilla chips and even Max laughed because what  4-year old isn’t going to think “farting a Christmas tree” is funny? So everyone had a laugh at my expense and we had a wonderful meal at a great restaurant with terrific artwork. A real Day of the Dead ambiance.

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Authentic Mexican food & Day of the Dead decor

Authentic Mexican food & Day of the Dead décor

Later we congratulated ourselves on providing another positive learning experience for Max.  Now he knows where Christmas trees come from.  Out of his dad’s butt!

I still think it’s a really nice picture.  Do you think it looks like Chris farted a Christmas tree?

 

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Grandma Bernstein’s Chicken Noodle Soup

 I wish I’d known my Grandma Bernstein, I would have loved her.  She was from Russia and raised four children alone on Miami Beach by opening and running Jewish restaurants and delis on South Beach in the 1930s and 1940s.  Three generations of Bernstein women lived and worked together providing some of the most popular meals served in Miami Beach during those decades.  My grandma, her daughter Eva, my mother Rose and Eva’s daughter Marilyn.  Rose met and fell in love with my Russian father and the whole group pitched in to teach him the restaurant business as well as how to speak and write in English.  He became a successful and popular restauranteur opening several restaurants of his own, Al’s Sandwich Shop, Al Nemets’ Restaurant and Grill in Miami Beach and Chicago.

chicken soup

OK – back to the chicken soup.  When I got sick as a kid we always had Grandma’s legendary chicken noodle soup or Jewish penicillin.  It never failed!  When I had my own family, who had time to make home-made soup when you could open a can of  Campbells or Mrs. Grass’ chicken soup?  Then when my mother was dying and I had pneumonia, my brother made a pot of Grandma’s soup and I learned how incredibly easy it is to make this wonderful, golden, magic elixir.

 

Find a nice plump, fatty chicken.  You’ll also need an onion, a few carrots, a few stalks of celery and egg noodles and most important, a bunch of fresh dill.  You can actually use any type of pasta but I love broad egg noodles. USE ONLY FRESH INGREDIENTS! Adjust the vegetables, if you like more carrots then celery or more onion than celery, go ahead.  No one cares.  But don’t take any shortcuts or the magic won’t work.

 

Get out your soup pot and lay the whole rinsed chicken in the bottom and add water to about an inch above the chicken.  Let the bird simmer for about an hour, depending on the size of the chicken.  You don’t want to overcook it or the meat will be dry.  It is done when you poke it with a fork and the juice runs clear.  It will also be almost falling off the bone.   While the chicken cooks, clean and cut up your carrots and celery.  I French slice nice big chunks and just quarter the onion.  Rinse the dill, get rid of the stems and chop the rest.

 

When the chicken is done remove it from the broth and let it cool in a bowl or platter.  De-bone it when it cools.  You may want to add some bouillion cubes to the broth if it doesn’t taste “chickeny” enough.  Now add the carrots, celery, onion and dill to the broth and simmer until the veggies are done — firm, not mushy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Don’t skimp on the salt. The noodles can be added to the broth during the last 10 minutes of cooking or you can cook them separately and add them to the individual bowls as you serve.  Some (crazy) people don’t like noodles or they’re gluten-free or carbohydrate intolerant.  Did I get all the buzz words in there?  Ladle out a bowl of broth, vegetables & noodles and put a nice piece of chicken on top.

 

Don’t worry about fat, calories or carbohydrates, just enjoy and feel well!

 

p.s. The magic ingredients are the chicken fat and the dill!

p.p.s.  Wait til I tell you about Grandma’s Russian Cabbage Soup, it’s to die for!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Food, Health, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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