Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year * New Soup

This was the start of my Holiday baking day.  I made (5 batches) "Saltine Cracker Toffee" oft referred to in my house simply as 'crack'.  This stuff is the bomb!@#@!  There is no way not to eat it and eat some more and go back for just a little more.

Fast forward to December 29th.  Christmas is over and the crack, rugelach, gingerbread, chocolate covered pretzels and TJ's dark chocolate covered shortbread stars are all devoured.   I decide to clean the fridge - not just old food and flat soda bottles but actually taking out the shelves and washing them as instructed with warm soapy water in the sink.  Hand drying and carefully putting them back in place.

Actually, I did not decide to clean the fridge - this is the sort of task for me that just happens.  I was reaching in for some milk for my coffee and I noticed the produce drawer had some droopy celery and decided to toss it.  After I toss it, I notice it was wilted pretty badly - it may have still been in there from Thanksgiving (ewe!) and thus there is a black slimy scum in the drawer - yuk!  I take everything out of the produce drawer and wash out the drawer in the sink.  I put the drawer back and two apples and one lemon that are still in good shape.  I toss three old hard limes and some spinach that is close to wilting and might undo my handiwork if I put it back in. I am ready for my coffee now but I notice the rest of the fridge looks pretty awful compared the the sparkling produce drawer and so it begins...

During this dreaded task I came upon a piece of 'crack' that had fallen off it's shelf and dropped all the way down behind the last shelf at the bottom of the fridge - and I'm not gonna lie to you - I ate it!  I thought it was totally gross at the time but it was gone for the season and I was not making more and there it was - so I ate it.  Yup, I ate it!

Now it is 2014!!! I am up two lbs from two weeks ago so here we go…a nice healthy and flavorful Hot and Sour Soup I make with turkey broth to begin my cleanse!

I have the recipe clipped from the Oregonian Foodday, but the exact recipe is also on an internet blog called "theKitchn" and she claims to have made up the recipe from leftovers in her fridge.  If you did not have a turkey for Christmas or for some strange reason you didn't make stock from your turkey bones you can make this with chicken stock or veggie stock purchased in the store.
Hot and Sour Mushroom, Cabbage, and Rice Soup
Makes eight to ten 1-cup servings
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 ounces cremini or shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 to 3 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
One 3-inch lump ginger, grated (or 1 tablespoon ginger puree)
1 to 3 limes, zested and juiced
8 cups broth — turkey, chicken, or vegetable
1/2 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to serve
1/2 small head green cabbage, cut in half and shaved thin
Chili garlic sauce or kimchi, to serve
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Toss the mushrooms after 5 minutes and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until well-browned. Add the diced peppers, garlic, and ginger and cook for about five minutes or until fragrant and slightly softened.
Add the lime zest and broth and bring to a simmer. Add the rice, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is just barely soft. Add the shaved cabbage, lime juice, and soy sauce to taste and simmer for another few minutes or until cabbage is hot.
Serve with extra soy sauce, lime wedges, and kimchi or chili garlic sauce.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CU in September

September is the most amazingly beautiful month.  The weather is perfect.  The mornings are cool.  The moon is a shining silver sliver of brightness in the purple morning sky. The sun is shining. The afternoons and evenings are nice and warm and pleasant.  Leaves are starting to turn crimson and bright yellow.  The hydrangeas that are left have that heirloom dark mahogany tinge that says I will age gracefully and beautifully.  The sun sets with glory and might.  Pink wispy clouds salute it's departure long after it is gone for the day.

September's glory is cruel cruel joke played on those of us for whom September is one of the busiest, craziest, most stressful months of the year.  School is back in session.  24 sharpened #2 pencils, 2 boxes of tissues, 4 wide ruled notebooks, 1 ruler, 1 calculator, 4 black pens, 4 red pens and 2 pink pearl erasers.  Lunches to be made. Kids to wake and dress. Soccer stuff for practice after school.  Did you remember that you have gym today? Please let me know about your child in one million words or less. Lunch money. Tuition payment past due. Pick a book for the first book report.  Volunteer to work the bake sale, the auction, the book sale, the wreath sale, the flower sale and drive for field trips.  Soccer on Saturday times two different games two different times and two different fields.  Band practice and choir rehearsal.

These days are so busy that fast food comes back into the rotation - sorry about that fast food nation and weight of the nation and all you people experiencing omnivore's dilemma.  What else are you going to do on the way home from the second soccer practice of the day 4th of the week when you have 15 minutes to get over to the mandatory "Back to School Night" presentation - an hour of chatter followed by 20 minute intervals of classroom teacher presentations ending with buzzers signaling "next class"...

  What do I really long for when I see the wispy red streaks of the sunset in the sky - butternut squash, pumpkin, ripe heirloom tomato on toasted whole wheat baguette with a spattering of mayo and big thick sliced smoky is one that is fast and easy and screams fall comfort without taking all of the precious 60 minutes I have to plan shop and execute dinner:

From Better Homes and Gardens October 2011...

"Harvest Chili"

1 + 1/2 lbs cooked chicken apple sausage links
large red onion ( I use a sweet wala wala)
2 cloves garlic
1 large butternut squash peeled seeded and cut into 3/4 inch slices ( Or if you have the aforementioned kid and school schedule plus a 40 hour per week outside of the home job - you can get bags of cut and ready to go BNS ((Butternut squash)) at Trader Joe's
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 cayenne pepper
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
3 granny smith apples cored peeled and cut as the butternut squash is small 3/4 inch chunks
1 can pinto beans (can use pinto beans in chili sauce)
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage

In large pot heat EVOO and sausage (if not already cooked) and cook through.  Remove sausage and add onion and garlic to the pot and cook until soft 2-3 minutes.  Add squash stirring and cook about 5minutes more. Stir in the chili powder, salt cayenne pepper, and sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes  Add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 8 minutes.   Add apples, beans and sausage and simmer 3-4 more minutes.  Serve chili over creamy polenta with a garnish of fresh apples sliced thin.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Light the lights, live and remember.

My favorite part of Christmas is sitting in the living room with only the light of the Christmas tree and maybe a candle or two. I did this as a young girl all the time. We had one of those living rooms that wasn't really for "living" it was for holidays. The furniture while beautiful, was never used in the way the family room couch was for jumping up and down and lazing on while watching TV or playing video games. I used to get into my jammies grab a pillow and a blanket and go into the living room. I would turn off all the other lights and just lay on the floor and dreamily languish in the twinkling lights of the tree.

Recently I have learned that the term "living room", surprisingly, has an origin. Didn't everyone in every generation call that room the living room? Well no. Actually it was the "parlor" and one of the uses for the parlor was to display your deceased family members after they had died for people to come over and pay respects to them and to the family. Yes - this room was the familial funeral parlor. After the Flu epidemic of 1918 when so many grieving families had over-used the parlor for sorrowful goodbyes it is said that the Ladies Home Journal instructed Americans to re-claim the parlor for the living and donned it the "Living Room".

Now in order to blog about this tidbit that I read in the book "Flu" I did some research to see if it was true - turns out it is a debate and many say that the story of the Ladies Home Journal Living Room terminology story is a myth...everyone has their two cents and mine is I don't care what the truth is, I like the concept.

I like a living room that is for living. I want my own fond memories of hanging out in there next to the roaring fire with a few candles flickering playing monopoly with the girls, sipping wine and reading a good book, talking with Marty about the day's events what our plans are for the future and our goals in life and parenting. NormanRockwellish - I know. There is something so beautiful about quiet moments of no particular significance. These are the moments that make up the bulk of our lives. There are moments when we say "I do" or when we find out we are pregnant or when a loved one passes that are significant but these are few; how do we spend all of the other moments...

This recipe is from Marty's cousin Marybeth and it is perfect for enjoying next to a roaring fire when the snow is drifting up to the window ledge (or in our case when the rain is filling up the basement!)
Beef Barley Soup
2lbs short ribs ( I use boneless so I cut to stew like portions from the beginning)
5 cups water
1 160z can diced tomato (such as Muir Glen)
1 large onion sliced
2 bouillon cubes ( I use "Better than Bouillon" beef base)
1 tsp salt (I skip this - the bouillon does the trick)
3/4 tsp dried basil
2 cups sliced carrots & 1 cup sliced celery & 1 cup chopped green pepper
2/3 cup quick cook barley

Brown the beef on all sides and drain excess fat. Add water, undrained tomatoes, onion, bouillon, salt and basil. Simmer covered for ~60 minutes. (If you are using bone in short rib that is not cut you will want to simmer 90 minutes and remove the meat to cool and then chop and return to pot after the carrots and barley are cooked.) Add the veggies and the barley and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes more until carrots and barley are softened.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"I Don't Know Which Way to Run"

On Monday evening after a long day of work, an hour long class at the gym lifting weights, rushing to aftercare to grab the girls before they shut the doors at 6pm, a quick trip to Fred-eat-my-paycheck-Meyer to grab something (mini shells and alfredo sauce) to whip up for dinner...the girls and I arrived home at approximately 6:20 pm. I am loading the groceries out of the car up the stairs and I notice that UPS has dropped off a package the girls should not see on the porch. I drape the box with my jacket and top it with a box of clementines Mary is oblivious while I shout at Brigid to hurry in and let the dogs out because they have had the luxury of having us home the previous week and they are not used to holding it all day anymore. She obliges and I hide the contraband in the car while bringing in the next load of bags. Another disaster narrowly averted. I throw a pot of water on to boil for the pasta and try to think of what healthy meal Marty and I would eat - leftover turkey sandwiches - again? I begin to wash the jars I have, to ready them for this weeks soup. The pasta is done and the girls have dinner. Marty comes home and brings the dogs inside to dry off while I put the finishing touches on our open faced turkey sandwiches with melted cheese and left over gravy. While we are eating Mary reads us her story for the night about germs. Germs are everywhere and they make us sick the story tells us. They are in our food and on our hands and in our sneezes and coughs...she writes her review of the story which reads "My mom had an infection once." and moves onto do her math homework while I gather the dishes and load them into the dishwasher with the soup jars. The clock says it is 7:40. I begin to debone the chicken reserving the meat for soup and other uses and set up two huge cauldrons to boil water into rich chicken stock adding only a bit of fresh sage and thyme left over from the Thanksgiving Herb pack. The stock is beginning it's slow climb to a boil and Marty makes me a Margarita while I start to reign in the mess. Meanwhile in the background Mary is plunking on the keyboard and singing at the TOP of her lungs...PLUNK "Doe, a deer, a female deer, PLUNK "Ray, a drop of golden sun!", PLUNK "Me, a name I call myself", PLUNK "Fa, I don't know which way to run."...

Cascade Chicken Noodle Soup...from "Simply Classic" Seattle Jr. League Cookbook
2 TBLS Veg. Oil
1 Cup Onion, chopped
3 med cloves garlic, minced
10 cups chicken stock
1 TBLS dry thyme
1/4 tsp dry dill
1/4 tsp pepper
5 sprigs fresh parsley
2 carrots, sliced
6 oz wide egg noodles
1 lb cooked chicken cubed
2 TBLS corn starch
2 cup unflavored yogurt
1/4 cup green onion chopped for garnish

Heat oil in large heavy pot, ass onion and cook over meduim heat until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook a couple of minutes more. Stir in the chicken stock, thyme, dill, pepper,, parsley, and carrots. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove and discard parsley. Add noodles to stock. Simmer uncovered, over med. heat until noodles are soft. Add chicken and cover pot to keep soup hot. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into yogurt then combine with 1 cup of hot broth. Return the mixture to the pot and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with green onion.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

At least I'm enjoying the ride...

Do I go forward picturing the my next move, my next action, my next reaction, the world's response to my action or do I simply go and let Que sera sera. Manifest destiny or go with the flow? Arrogant advancement vs. ignorant blisss?

As I stood on the corner waiting to for the cross walk signal to beckon me over to my afternoon latte, I could not help listening to the conversation between two high school girls. The conversation was repleat with explicatives regarding a third girl - the fuel of the profanity fire. At one point the first said to the second in a loud and animated way..."she so dumb, I never met anybody dumber than that, she so dumb."

I was struck dumb, literally dumb. I could not speak and yet I wanted so much to do so. My mother the English teacher, myself the mom and a million other little voices were screaming inside my head - "DO YOU KNOW HOW IRONICALLY STUPID IT SOUNDS FOR YOU TO SAY "SHE SO DUMB."" I swear I choked to hold back my laughter and then I almost spoke up. The profanities were escalating and nearing crescendo at this point. "That girl could not pass that class if her life depended on it and I got a B in that class last year without ever trying. I heard her dumb brother a drop out too."

English grammar on the corner of NE Broadway and NE Cesar Chavez BLVD is practically a mute point...except possibly when you sound so dumb saying "she so dumb!"

My thoughts raced forward about the possible exchanges that we might have...

I would say, "Ladies you might sound a bit more sophisticated when depreciating your peers if you would at least use proper grammer." They would be so moved by my concern and would make it a point to present themselves in a professsional manner with honed gramatics from then on. The entire course of their lives would change until one day they found themselves donned in stylish business attire, briefcase in hand, on the corner of NE Ceasar Chavez waiting for the cross walk signal to beckon them to their afternoon Green Tea.

Or rather...

I would say, "Do you know how dumb you sound saying "she so dumb!"" and they would re-align the target of their profanities toward yours truly right then and there.

I remain quiet. At Starbucks I ask for a drink, "Please" and "Thank you so much." Off I go.

Destiny is ubiquitous. It manifests itself in every moment of our existence. Every step, every word, every choice. It seems pure arrogance to say that we choose the path we are on.

At the very next stop light the car in front of me has a bumper sticker..."I miss Jerry." I do too. "At least I'm enjoying the ride. At least I'm enjoying the ride."

Ginger Pumpkin Soup from Country Living

2 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin puree
3 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) chicken broth
1 can(s) (11 1/2-ounce) pear nectar
1/3 cup(s) creamy peanut butter
2 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon(s) grated fresh ginger root
2 tablespoon(s) finely chopped green onion
1 tablespoon(s) fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cayenne pepper
Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
Chopped chives (optional)

In a 6-quart saucepan, combine pumpkin puree, chicken broth, and pear nectar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes.
In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with chopping blade, process 1 cup pumpkin mixture with peanut butter until smooth. Return to saucepan with the remaining pumpkin mixture. Add garlic, ginger root, green onion, lime juice, salt, and cayenne pepper; cook 10 minutes over medium heat.
Divide soup among soup plates and garnish with pumpkin seeds and chives, if desired. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Better with bacon?

One of my favorite and most anticipated activities each summer is sitting on the deck of Grant Pool night after night watching my children's painstakingly slow progress towards their illustrious Olympic swimming careers while "reading" my book. This year however the swim lessons are slow in more ways than one...

Normally I glean the best information about life in NE Portland right here on deck. Forget PDXCAFEMAMA or the bulletin board outside of New Seasons. Sit on the deck at Grant Pool and you will learn which Pre-schools are the best, the new hot spot for birthday parties, how much blueberries are selling for at Fred Meyer, or when the annual sale at Footwise starts. You will hear tales of woe - unemployed neighbor has to put their house on the market as they can no longer afford the payments, (...very much are they selling it for?) Tales of lust - aforementioned neighbor is also getting divorced, too much free time led to some afternoon wanderings, (eek!...with who?) You will hear tales of joy - so and so is having a third child, 2 months along now found out she is having two, (OMG!...better her than me!)

This year however just about every conversation that you eavesdrop, um I mean happen to overhear - at Grant Pool is the weather. We all want it HOT and it is not. The annual summer 3 weeks of 90 plus degree weather we have in PDX is as anticipated as it's counterpart "Artic Blast 2011 - Storm Team Coverage 24-7 right here on this channel!" This year no dice. The big box stores are up to their ears in fans and air conditioners that Portlanders run out and buy annually when Matt Z. tells us we might see temps in the 90's. Grant pool is still advertising that the water is heated and the moms are still promising their little blue lipped babes "hot showers" if they do a good job in their swimming lesson.

Generally I tune out of the conversations at the point of the weather and wait for more interesting spicy NE PDX mom subjects to pop into my in-inadvertently (of course) eavesdropping ears as I attempt (pretend?) to read my summer book group pick on the pool deck.

Unfortunately this summer the next hottest topic is also really a bore...and perhaps more bothersome to me than the weather - the mosquitoes. Everyone seems to have more bites, complaints, remedies, repellent strategies and scientific factoids about mosquito breeding theories than the next person. These conversations do drag. People love to go on about the state of the blood sucking populations of their own backyard domains forever and of course they have to "1-up" their neighbors on this subject. If you say you are not bothered or affected by these beastly loathsome little creatures that interfere with BBQ's, camping, gardening, and summertime evening porch sitting - you are plain lying. If you breath out CO2, you are as miserable as me - period. No point making me more miserable chatting incessantly about it at the pool.

And how in the world does this have anything to do with bacon? Hell if I know. I do know that everything IS better with bacon. Unless of course you are converting to a vegan lifestyle in the interest of boosting your thyroid health...and even then maybe..? I could convert to Vegan-ism if they invented a "Vegan Plus Bacon" diet. Worth a try I think. We are doing a bit of BBQ-ing this year despite the mosquitoes and cold weather - we just bring our vittles inside for consumption. Our favorite new discovery on the grill this year - "Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin Pinwheels" from Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book. This entire book is meaty - way way more meaty than the chat at Grant Pool this year. And these pinwheels in particular are pork wrapped in pork. Yes, PIG - in the shape of smoky succulent bacon tucked neatly and deliciously inside of PIG in the fom of juicy tenderloin - whoa! Unreal decadent goodness...this is deliverance people!! Deliverance from cool weather, mosquitoes and idle vegan chat on the deck of the Grant Pool...Enjoy.
Pecan-Crusted Pork Tenderloin Pinwheels
1 pork tenderloin
6 bacon strips
1 cups finely chopped pecans
Salt & Pepper
Plus on recipe Carolina Mustard Sauce:
(combine all ing. and wix well - store refrigerated up to 2 weeks, great on burers as well)
3/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBL ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Cut the tenderloin lengthwise (yes-lengthwise) into 6 long strips about 1/4 in. thick.
Place a strip of Bacon on top of each strip of tenderloin,
roll into pinwheel and secure with toothpicks.
You can also secure with 2 toothpicks and cut between them for smaller,
appetizer size pinwheel medallions.
Stir together pecans with Salt and Pepper to taste in a bowl.
Coat the pinwheels with Carolina Mustard Sauce and then roll to coat with pecan mixture.
Grill over medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes on each side, less if doing mediallions.
Enjoy with extra Carolina Mustard Sauce.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I remember

Memory is such a strange thing. The things we remember and the things we don't for whatever reason. The older I get the more I remember fondly certain parts of my earliest childhood and the more I tend to forget what I ate for lunch yesterday. My early memories are triggered by certain smells or the lighting of a particular time of day or season. I remember as a very young child wandering around the house looking for a patch of sunlight on the floor. I would curl up in it's warmth and wake up later shivering after the sun had shifted on and left me in the shade. I look at my girls and wonder what will they remember most and why. I know the big old heating vent in the corner of the living room will be in the fore-front of both of their recollections. They sit on that warm air vent reading, coloring, doing homework. They have huge squabbles over who got to it first and they put off hunger or even the need to to the bathroom so the other will not steal their 'spot' on the vent. Of course they will not remember everything but certain times will become embedded in their psyche and come back to them with sentimentality when they are 40 and I am a bit older than that - triggered by lighting or sounds or seasons or a tone of voice...who knows.

When I was in kindergarten my dad took me to that beauty parlor on Main Street and had my very long hair cut short as a "gift" to my mom who struggled with me every morning when she put ponytails or braids in my very long - very tangly - very thick hair. That beauty parlor had a glass door with sand blown glass shutters and a bell that tingled whenever someone opened it. The place smelled like perm chemicals even from outside. I remember passing by the shop on the sidewalk and smelling the smell of the hair salon which was next door to the florist shop so it was an interesting mix for the olfactory sense that one does not easily forget. Inside the chemical fumes were even more intense and I had suffered through them at some point before this as I waited for my mother or my Auntie Maryellen or someone to get a haircut. I can't even remember if dad asked me if I wanted to get my hair cut and I know he didn't ask mom by the way she cried and cried when she saw me. I felt like dad and I had just gotten into big trouble and it was rather confusing for me as a five year old because you never get in trouble when you are doing something with your dad - right?

We always set the table for breakfast at night before we went to bed with place mats, cereal bowls, napkins, spoons, juice glasses - the works. We all had breakfast together before we went off tho the various other parts of our day. The night before it was my turn to set the table. It was all ready for breakfast when I went to bed that night but in the morning it was a mess. The place mats and dishes were moved aside and in their place were used glasses and a dirty ashtray with old cigars in it. This memory is vivid for me because it is the first time I recall reasoning to a logical conclusion - of what had happened to my perfectly set breakfast table. But it was also the overwhelming emotion of inadequacy I felt at that moment for the first time. Let me explain...I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of someone yelling "It's a boy! It's a boy!" as loud as can be. Seeing the glasses and cigars that morning n the table I clearly figured out that our neighbor Mr. Gizzarelli and his wife had had a baby boy and Bob came to our house to announce the great news and celebrate with my dad and cigars & scotch. Bingo! I had put the pieces of the messed up table setting together by myself - a celebration for a newborn baby boy! The very next thing I remember was feeling bad - really bad that I was not a boy. The emotional rush I felt that my dad would celebrate so much because the neighbor had "a boy!" "a boy!". I wondered if dad wished that I had been a boy - not a girl? Weird the thoughts that kids think.

I learned how to swim in part when my dad threw me into a pool at some hotel we were at and said "swim!". Of course I remember this...hello...traumatic. Child services would have you for that these days. The memory is most vivid for me now as I sit next to the pool at Matt Dishman Community Center smelling the intense chlorine smell and watching Mary and her instructor practicing her side breathing, kicks, and backstroke. The hours I have spent watching swimming lessons...I could teach them was my summer job through high school and into college. Mary loves the water and is quite determined to swim "all the way down" by next fall so she too can be on the CYO swim team like her big sister. Good for her - somethings are best taught by someone other than a parent - lesson learned dad, thanks. And just FYI mom, I am not going to teach them to drive either!

Getting lost on the subway on the way back to Queens after a Yankee game..I think we were at a game but I remember clearly being on the subway and being lost. We went to a lot of Yankee games in the great late 1970s and they really were...great! Dad was successful in creating a least one or two fans of the four of us! Dad must have been unfamiliar with the train routes and Suzanne and I were exhausted and I think we nodded off on the subway while he talked to conductors trying to figure out what line we needed to be on to get where we were going - Queens I think it was after Grandma Anne moved to Rockaway. What I remember most though about being lost on the subway with dad was that I was not in the least bit - not one fiber of my being - afraid. Even though I knew we were lost I felt totally safe with my dad and I just wanted to fall asleep. An incredible sense of security that I rarely feel now that I am a parent with responsibilities of various kinds. A few weeks ago Mary and I headed over the river to Vancouver to a birthday party. I went armed with an address and a vague idea of where to go. Of course we got lost and as we approached a full hour in the car driving around I looked back at Mary who sat in the sun in her car seat nodding off and thought of the panic and fear I had of missing the party...oh to be such a trusting fearless child again...of course I was going to get her to the party she assumed...or maybe in the way 5-year olds think she figured the party wouldn't start without her.

I remember going to my dad's office with him on a weekend and getting to play with the type writer. Now that I am an adult I can just imagine how this must have played out...Mom likely had had it - as she put it - "up to here with us"... but dad needed to get some stuff done at work on a Saturday. So we got to go along, maybe a Yankee game after too. Kara may have been a baby and the demands of her care were draining and exhausting on my parents as they took turns staying up at night to be sure she was still breathing in that time before monitors for SIDS. The old style type writers kept Suzanne and I busy for a seemed like a while to us any way. Dad situated us in the room next to his with paper and some click clack typewriters. There was a window - he could see us through it. The sound of the buttons and watching the silver metallic arms with the black inky letters embedded at the end flying up and striking the paper. It was fun to press several keys at a time and watch the arms get tangled or to press one key and then grab the arm when it came up before it hit page...until one of us got our hand stuck in it (tears, screaming) and had to be rescued. Kids are so tough.

Chap stick. I think my dad always has a tube of chap stick in his pocket. His kisses always smelled like chap stick. I remember as a child going into my dad's sock drawer at the very top of the dresser. He had a box in which he kept some religious medals, a scapula, spare change if we were lucky, at times his wedding band, and usually some old worn out chap stick tubes. I would uncap them and breath in his "smell". He used the tubes down to where you could see the little white stick in the middle. It is the smell I most attribute to my childhood memories of Dad. Moments before I walked down the aisle on his arm to get married he pulled a tube of chap stick out of his pocket and put some on - he let me put some on too.

LONG Lectures about the bible, specifically the old testament. Dad really liked the old testament. If we had a dinner full of fidgeting or chaos or refusing to eat liver you could count on him pulling out the bible and reading the old testament to us and talking about Moses and Abraham and sacrifice etc. All the while he would twist his napkin into little itty bits and we would have to sit there for hours and hours and hours - or so it seemed to me at the time. I stared at that napkin being twisted and untwisted and twisted again waiting for the words "you may be excused" so we could jump up and run far away to our rooms. Not sure if I can even tell you what it was he said about the old testament except that it was a bit frightening contemplating that a parent would take his own child up to the mountain to kill him because God told him to...especially hearing it from your own dad - made me want to behave...always.

I have watched dad's faith journey over the years from the Old Testament preaching days to family retreats and experiencing the love of Jesus with "Renew" and "Encounter" to a solid internal peaceful spirit he seemed to have of late. Dad passed away on March 7th and he had been very ill for a very long time. We have spent two and a half years praying, fighting and wondering when/if the illnesses would get the better of him. This time has not been easy - least of all for him and mom. As adult children these past couple of years we have witnessed how our parents have tried to handle illness with grace - sometimes without grace, with strength - sometimes with no strength, and with God - and I am sure - with doubt in God.

This will be our generation someday too and we will have these examples to draw from. It is human nature to falter and it is with Grace and faith that we rise above. I credit Mom and Dad for the visible presence of faith in my life...they always made it a priority to go to church, Catholic school, and to sit around the dinner table listening to stories about Abraham and Moses. In the end they let go and let us kids follow our own faith paths but thanks to them we all have richer fuller lives now. When the time comes for us to feel the power of illness and death I hope I can find God's Grace in my life as mom and dad have done.

Today I remembered my dad in the form of a pretty grey wool hat that he bought for me. We were Christmas shopping this past October for my mom and we walked all over the mall - not a small feet for my dad at the time. He wandered into J.Crew and pointed out a hat he insisted I would look great in and he insisted on purchasing for me. Later in the library today I was brought to tears reading a recipe for banana pancakes. My dad loved to make banana pancakes. It seems like when I was younger my mom dominated the kitchen scene learning to cook like Julia Child she was forever reading recipe books and making fancy date night entrees - maybe that is why when dad had the chance to shine in the kitchen he did so at breakfast....

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes:

1.5 Cups flour

3 TBLS. sugar

2 tsp bkg pwder

1.5 tsp kosher salt

.5 cup sour cream

.75 cup milk plus 1 TBLS

2 ex lg eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, sliced

In a med. bowl sift together flour sugar baking powder and salt. Whisk together the sour cream milk eggs, and vanilla. add the wet ingred. to the dry ones. Mixing only until combined. Melt one TBLS butter in a LG. sillet over med. heat until it bubbles. Ladel the pancake batter into the pan. distribute a rounded TBLS of bananas onto each pancake, cook for 2-3 minutes, until bubbles appear on the top and the underside of the pancakes is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes, and then cook for another minute, until brown. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced, bananas, butter, and 100% real maple syrup.