Category Archives: Birthday

Happy Birthday, Pappa!

June 18th was Father’s Day in 1933.

It was also the day my father was born, which made a certain amount of sense when I was little  –  why wouldn’t fathers be born on Father’s Day?  (My mother was christened that same day in Italy, which is the start of the connections between the two of them…..)

And he  LOVED Chinese food.

chinese-take-outLike blue eyes and curly hair (what was left of it) this was such a fundamental part of who he was and what he did,  that I never asked, nor do I remember anyone else ever once asking,

“Chinese food? What is about Chinese food, Bill? Why Chinese food? How does an Irish boy learn about Chinese food”

Good questions…wish I’d thought of them sooner. Not only was  Chinese food the treat of treats, it brought him into the kitchen after he retired.

He had a wok.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality.

Serious Wok action. This was the attitude, if not the reality of the ancestral home cooktop.

For a very long time, perhaps as far back as the ’70’s, a paperback copy of  “The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking” by Madame Grace Zia Chu has been kicking around .Chinese Cooking larger

Several recipes have markers….but the basic of the basics is Fried Rice.

HAM FRIED RICE

2 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sugar

2 eggs

4 tablespoons peanut or corn oil, divided

¼ cup scallions cut into ¼ inch pieces

4 cups cold boiled rice

½ cup diced cooked ham

  1. Mix the soy sauce with the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs and scramble them slightly in 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy frying pan or a wok heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat.
  4. Add scallions and stir a few times
  5. Add rice and stir quickly so that rice won’t stick to the pan and will be well coated with the oil
  6. Add the soy sauce/sugar mix, stir well.
  7. Add the ham and the slightly scrambled egg, mixing and breaking the eggs into little pieces in the rice.
  8. Serve hot.

NOTES: The rice needs to be THOROUGHLY cold or all you’ll get is a sticky mess. Madame Chu’s note and my experience. Brown rice may be used for a more hippie version, just be sure that the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Cooked chicken or beef may be substituted for the ham.

The original recipe does not call for a wok, but I think they’re a little more common now, so if you got one, go ahead and use it.

The original calls for ¼ teaspoon MSG, which I stopped using years, make that decades, ago. If that departure from the recipe makes it Irish/Chinese fusion, so be it. Call the Food Police. Guilty as charged.

Serves 4.

Grace Zia Chu. The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking. Pocket Books, March 1969. p.51.

Fried_rice

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Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Perception ways, The 1970's

PSSS

birthday-pilgrim-style

Sooooo…

I didn’t exactly spend my birthday all Pilgrim style.

Not a single spoon…..and I’m OK with that. Instead there was

Pretty Spinach Salad with Salmon

The distaff cohort of the family – meaning Sis, Mom and Me – went to Isaac’s on the waterfront  – because, seriously, when you live on the coast you should eat with a view when you can .

issacs

It was actually the day after my birthday – my UnBirthday, and I was fine with that, too. There are so many more UnBirthdays in a year to celebrate…..

We began with individual preambles about what we were choosing and why, and then commented on all the choices and the specials, and asked questions about the choices to Sue, our heroic waitress, and the commented all over again when the food came and then gave commentary as we were eating….typical Italian meal.

This makes food sound like sport, but really, it was  great, good fun. Sue  was a delight and seemed to be having almost as much fun as we were.

There something about a leisurely meal  out in the middle of the day, that wafts of having not a care in the world….and we had an ocean view to boot. No troubles.

On Tuesdays many places in Plymouth are closed, especially in February, the official ‘it’s probably gonna snow so let’s just stay in’ month.

We did not take a single photo of the food. Which is a pity because it sure was purdy, and the light was great and the view fantastic.

My salad was….

HUGE

and a study in green and pink, a lovely bowl of spinach tossed with a light dressing, teeny-tiny nubbins of bacon and cheese and olive oil and  lemon juice….and on top of this pastoral springtime loveliness was a beautiful, hot, cooked to perfection salmon fillet.

salmon-meledezStill Life with Salmon, Lemon and Three Vessels Meléndez, Luis Egidio Copyright ©Museo Nacional del Prado

 

Imagine this fillet cooked to perfection.and piping hot on top of a bowl of green, green, greens. Such a large piece of salmon I thought I’d save half, but ate maybe ¾ –  still enough left to be worth saving and made another (less piggy) meal.

spinach

And talk

And talk

And laugh and laugh…..and then coffee.

Sue not only was able to figure what we wanted, what we wanted  saved, and saved it, but had overheard enough of our chatter – OK, not that difficult – to figure there was a birthday girl and brought a birthday surprise.

Ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate sauce and a candle.

single-birthday-candle-clip-art-i19

Sue also started sing the Happy Birthday song, loudly and with spirit.Mom and Sis chimed in, in parts no less.

Having been raised with these people, I merely smiled, and nodded, and gave my Queen of England wave to the the rest of the lunch crowd. patiently waiting to eat whipped cream with chocolate sauce.

I do love the un-birthday!

 

 

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Filed under Birthday, Eating, Lunch

Happy Birthday Roses!

for Rose Marie

also known as Sally Rogers

Rose-Marie-8

… my favorite on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

I loved that she was funny and sharp and quick and witty, and proudly, and without explanation wore her  little hair bow like angel kisses on her temple.

Sally Rogers always seemed to have a real life going on, somewhere out of camera range, not a just a TV set life.

emmys - 3

Rose Marie has three Emmys for the Dick Van Dyke Show

Even when the Dick Van Dyke Show ended, Rose Marie kept popping up – guest spot here, another there, Hollywood Squares, mother of the Monkees…

But I knew nothing about her.

I always wondered why she didn’t have a last name…..Hey, Marie is my middle name….

There was the whole child star thing…a little before my time

Her career began in 1929

rosemariebring bacon3

Radio Digest 1930

rose marie babyvit-94-baby-rose-marie-mike

But she wasn’t in the gossip pages or even in People magazine all that very much.

rosemariefinal book cover without copyright

She wrote a book

At least that I noticed.

But it’s her birthday  today and…. she’s 93 and still kicking.

Miss Rose Marie official sites

She is also famous for her spaghetti sauce.

Rosemarie sauce to doris day july2016

Rose Marie recently whipped up a batch for her friend Doris Day from her Facebook page

 

August is just a saucy kind of month this year

Directly from her website:

Rose Marie’s Spaghetti Sauce

  • One pound of ground round

  • One-half pound of ground pork

  • One-half pound of ground veal

  • Three eggs

  • Salt and peper to taste

  • Three colves of garlic (chopped fine)

  • Three-fourths cup of Italian cheese (Romano)

  • Three-fourths cup flavored bread crumbs

  • Two tablespoons chopped parsley

  • About three-fourths cup water

  • Olive oil

  • Two cloves garlic

  • Three to four pieces medium size country spareribs

  • Eight to nine Italian sausage links

  • Three large cans Italian tomatoes (no puree)

  • Three cans Del Monte tomato sauce

  • Two large cans of water (use Italian tomato can for measure)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • One-fourth cup oregano

  • One-fourth cup chopped parsley

  • One-eight cup chopped sweet basil

  • Use ingredients in order listed.
    Mix ground meats, eggs, salt and pepper to taste, three cloves of finely chopped garlic, Romano, bread crumbs and parsley in one bowl. Dampen with water, using enough to keep mixture fairly moist. mix with hands, but do not handle too much. Put aside.
    Cover bottom of large sauce pan with olive oil. Chop the two cloves of gralic and brown. Remove garlic.
    Brown spareribs and sausage until fairly well cooked; remove from saucepan.
    Make meatballs with two full tablespoons of meat mixture for each. Brown in olive oil; remove from saucepan.
    Put Italian tomatoes in blender and process until pureed. Put tomatoes in the saucepan containing the olive oil. Add the tomato sauce, the two cans of water, salt and pepper, oregano, parsley and sweet basil. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low. Put in the meatballs, sausage and spareribs which have been cooked. Let cook for three to four hours over low heat, stirring frequently. Keep tasting for salt and pepper need. If sauce gets too thick use water to thin it out.

Roses_-_Vincent_van_Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh – Roses  -1890 – National Gallery, Washington D.C.

 

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Filed under Birthday, Recipe, The 1960"s, TV shows

Birthday Cake!

Today is someone’s birthday….

Well, that’s true about every day, but today it’s someone close to me….

Jacob and me

and much, much taller then he was twenty five years ago!

I found the recipe I used for his fifth birthday, so it seemed time to use it again.

First, get out the trusty 9×13 pan

13x9-pan nordicware bake and store

one with a lid…and get to work.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

2 eggs

1 ½ cups firm packed brown sugar

2 oz (2 squares) unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

2 cups sifted cake flour (like I had a 5 year old and cake flour in the house at the same time – HA!)

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

¼ C white vinegar

¾ C milk

1 t vanilla extract

½ C butter, softened

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Have all the ingredients at room temp
  3. Butter and flour a 13x9x2-inch pan.*(I used a pan that has its own travel lid.)
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt (the Drys)
  5. Separately, combine vinegar, milk and vanilla (the Wets)
  6. In a big, deep bowl beat together eggs, brown sugar and chocolate (3 minutes by hand – 1 minute with an electric Mixer)
  7. Into the big, deep add the drys and half the wets.
  8. Beat 3 minutes by hand and or 1 minute electric.
  9. Add the rest of the wets and beat for another minute.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes or until it shrinks from the sides of the pan and tests done.
  12. Cool completely and frost.

*or 2 8-inch layer cake pans

– Adapted from ‘3-Minute Fudge Cake’ in Nika Hazelton. From Nika Hazelton’s Kitchen. Viking Penguin. 1985. p. 298.

from-nika-hazeltons-kitchen

And don’t forget the candles – and some matches….

Birthday-Cakecandles closeup

Happy Birthday!

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Filed under 1990's, Birthday, Cake, Holiday, Recipe, Summer

D.E.A.R. Beverly Cleary

DEAR banner

Drop Everything And Read DAY and Beverly Cleary is 100 years old today..

so drop everything and read some Beverly Cleary! Like Henry Huggins

Henry_Huggins

 

or

bc luckiest girl

or

bc books

There are lots and lots to choose from – she’s been writing for decades!

and she even wrote a little about herself

 

bcyamhill

and

bc my own 2feet

Happy Birthday, Bev!

bc statue

 

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Birthday Casserole

Because a certain someone has a BIRTHDAY TODAY …and one of his ulterior motives to help me with the technical aspects of a blog was to have access to his favorite recipes….another of Grandma B’s recipes.

Mrs. Granatowicz’s Casserole

(Mrs. G was a LEIGH, NEBR- neighbor-)

A JACOB Favorite

1 ½ lbs. hamburger

1 C chopped celery

1 C chopped onion

2 Tb Oil or Butter

1 sm can mushrooms chopped

1 can cream of mushroom Soup undiluted

1 can cream of Chicken Soup undiluted

1 can Chinese Noodles

  1. brown onions & celery in butter
  2. mix soups together Add the above to soups.
  3. brown hamburger , then add #1 & 2

You can add ½ can bean sprouts or/& water chestnuts. I usually DO NOT. Also, you can leave out the can of mushrooms – I usually use these.

  1. Place in casserole
  2. Top w/ Chinese Noodles.
  3. BAKE 350° for 25 to 30 MIN – until heated through. I have a friend who uses Chicken in place of hamburger.

From Jeanette Burrey, I didn’t date the year she gave me the box, but this was in the box….

Back in the day, Chinese noodles meant one thing - THESE things. Now, there's quite a variety of noodles called Chinese

Back in the day, Chinese noodles meant one thing – THESE things. Now, there’s quite a variety of noodles called Chinese, but these are the one I’m talking about today

The beauty of this casserole is that it is also a last minute Express Lane Special. I usually have celery and onions on hand, it’s the hamburger and the soups – the crema – and the noodles that I need to grab and go. One short list, 10 items or fewer.and a quick mix up and pop in the oven once home. A salad and a bowl of fruit….even better if it’s pineapple chunks you eat with toothpicks or a mango, cut up hedgehog style – OK, 2 more things to pick up.

Open can, pour into a bowl, stick some toothpick in the hunks, happy child at the end of a meal

Open can, pour into a bowl, stick some toothpick in the hunks, happy child at the end of a meal

cut in half, discard pit (or try to root it - I got a little shoot growing out once, but then the cats played wit it one night...)and then cut slices one and and across but not through the skin - pop up and serve...with extra napkins  - mangoes are JUICY

cut in half, discard pit (or try to root it – I got a little shoot growing out once, but then the cats played wit it one night…)and then cut slices one and and across but not through the skin – pop up and serve…with extra napkins – mangoes are JUICY

Jacob and me

Happy Birthday!

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Filed under 1990's, Birthday, Recipe

bits and pieces

 apl-bite Finished reading The Book Lover’s Cookbook booklovers CBapl-biteI’ve long thought about cookbooks and recipe files to go with different books….part of the

you are what you eat – especially if you’re fiction

thinking.

apl-biteErle  Stanley Gardner and Perry Mason…steak, Scotch and baked potatoes

ESG DA cooks

This might be a good place to start, even if no actual goose is involved.

Earl Stanley Gardnerbooks

There are over 80 volumes in the series, so it could take a while, reading them, collecting the references, looking up appropriate period recipes, testing them…..

apl-biteTotally random bit : Erle Stanley Gardner was born in Malden Massachusetts in 1889.

And he really was a lawyer, in California.

Erle is an odd ball enough spelling of his name to keep him as a crossword puzzle clue for generations.

apl-biteLaura ‘Half-Pint’ Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie is mentioned .She already has a cookbook of her own.LittleHouseCookbook apl-biteAlmond macaroons – the Italian ones, made of almonds, (not French one O macaron  or the coconut ones, which are good) ….are a very good thing.

Almond-Macaroon

Easy Almond Macaroons by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on January 13, 2013

Almond macaroons are also known as  ‘squishy cookies’ (at least in my family) Here’s a link to a recipe or find a good Italian baker. apl-bite

Family party which include my mother and her cousins discussing the best sfogliatella…..

Sfogliatelle_pic

Sfoglitella – flaky pastry from southern Italy

Evidently the best  these days is  in San Diego or Naples….again, a treat you buy and don’t make at home. There are a number of videos on YouTube, but once you start calling them ‘Lobster Tails’ you’re already too far from the source to be taken too seriously. And none of them are being done by home cooks or Nonnas.

apl-biteWhat do Italians talk about when they sit at the table with food?

Other food.

Food we have had, food we remember, food we would like to make or eat or improve. Who made it, who else was there, who ate with us. Before there were foodies, there were Italians.

apl-biteI’ve also been watching Bluebloods. Almost every episode has at least one scene of the whole family, all four generations, seated around a totally enormous table.

Everyone gathered. Everyone talking. But this is an Irish family, not an Italian one.

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

What do the Irish talk about around the table? Politics. Work.

Not so much food, except to pass the dish or clear off at the end of the meal.Also pretty true.

And last but not least, a piece of Birthday Cake, for the family June birthdays.

cake_slice

A piece of cake

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Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Italian

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day comes twice in the ancestral home – once in May, just like for everyone else,

Ma day

Although she signs her cards ‘Mom’ – we tend to call her ‘Ma’ – “Ma, Ma, Ma,” she said once, “What am I raising – children or sheep?”

and then again on the first of June.

That’s because the first of June is the anniversary of the maternal birth – that’s right –

Ma’s Birthday

Irma - my friend

My Friend Irma is not the same Irma…

Erma Bombeck - also not the same Irma

Erma Bombeck – also not the same Irma

She's the second from the left, reading to give a hand....this was from last Veteran's Day

Here’s Irma! She’s the second from the right, ready to give a hand….this was from  Veteran’s Day last year.

Time to sing "Happy Birthday" - and take a deep breath to blow out those candles!

Time to sing “Happy Birthday” – and take a deep breath to blow out those candles!

Irma B day

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Filed under Birthday, Influencers, Italian, squash, Summer

Rabbit Rabbit (Wabbit)

Trixie emeralds

The Mystery of the Emeralds (1962)

Chapter 1: “Rabbit! Rabbit!”

Trixie Belden awoke slowly, with the sound of a summer rain beating against her window. She half-opened her eyes, stretched her arms above her head, and then, catching sight of a large sign tied to the foot of her bed, yelled out, “Rabbit! Rabbit!” She bounced out of bed and ran out of her room and down the hall. “I’ve finally done it!” she cried […] “Well, ever since I was Bobby’s age I’ve been trying to remember to say ‘Rabbit! Rabbit!’ and make a wish just before going to sleep on the last night of the month. If you say it again in the morning, before you’ve said another word, your wish comes true.” Trixie laughed.”

Somewhere in my childhood – my life before junior high, say – I had started reading Trixie Belden, and specifically, this  Trixie Belden, the one with the Rabbit/Rabbit chapter. Trixie says two ‘rabbits’; others say three rabbits…

And once I had read it, rabbits popped up everywhere….Flopsy Bunnies

bunnies, floppsy

Assorted Flopsy Bunnies from Beatrix Potter

Dutch bunnies

Durer_Young_Hare

Durer – Young Hare

and Bugs Bunnys

This image is titled "The Bugs Bunny Classic"

This image is titled “The Bugs Bunny Classic”

Notice how I’ve avoid any reference to March Hares…..

There is one other rabbit, though.

Jolly Rabbit.

She was JR before Dallas and that JR….

JR in dallas

When we were in junior high, we had secret code names…she was Jolly Rabbit because her initials were JR and I was Quail because, well, say kwall real fast –  it makes it own sort of sense.

So on the first of the month, I always think of her, whenever I would finally clue in that it was in fact the first of the month…and now I have to remember that she’s no longer a phone call or Facebook message away.

So many of my Judith memories are connected to food – we enjoyed a lot of meals together – tuna sandwiches, and blueberry pancakes and blini and horseradish testing and experimental soups and and and and and…..

March is (was) her birthday month.

If you’re remembering someone, they’re still in the present tense, right? Even if they are no longer present?

Happy Birthday, Judeen. XoX

Judith Recke

Judith Recke

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Filed under Birthday, The 1970's

Feast!

A Mediterranean Feast
Clifford A. Wright. William Morrow and Co, Inc. 1999.

 

Travel, travel back in time to February  2001.

med-feast
Price: $35

A price generally out of my range (under $10) for books I wanted for no good reason they …booklust.

BUT –  Waldenbooks sent me a birthday gift coupon.waldenbooks

Thank you Waldenbooks, even though my patronage couldn’t keep you in the black…

Walden books also sent me a  5 buck certificate because of my Christmas spending – books being an Aunties best gift.

Soo – I went birthday shopping for me to Waldenbook.  I took a really long time trying to figure out the best bang for my meager buck. The woman working that night knew me – my son and I were regulars. When I finally decided I would spend the money and buy the book I really, really for no logical reason wanted , I heighed me ho to the counter.

Put down the book.

Put down the 5 buck certificate.

Put down the Birthday coupon.

Put down my credit card.

She looked at the stack. Asked me when my birthday was…then she said she was going to give me a frequent customer discount…… total cost :

$1.50.

Happy Birthday to me!

It was a Thursday night…..and I had Fridays off, so after the boy was tucked into bed I started reading.

Introduction
XVIII
“ As you read the book, I hope that you will let it inform your culinary thinking, your sense of history, but I hope you will also cook from it. This is the whole point of the book: to cook the food. ….. If you are not a cook or are not a confident cook, taste an olive, read a little, and you will start to tackle the simpler recipes and perhaps gain what the Arabs call al-nafas , the culinary equivalent of the gardener’s green thumb.”

Oh, yes this was such a good choice….Oh, Clifford Wright! Clifford_Headshot 2012REZ

Part 1: The Algebra of Mediterranean Gastronomy
Chapter 1 “The Historical Foundation of Mediterranean Gastronomy”

On page 3 there is a  cabbage soup recipe…but it called for 2 cabbages – red and green, as well as pancetta and prosciutto, but also beans and potatoes, a real kitchen sink sort of soup. I have made this since then, but not the first night I read the book.
Page 15   this recipe…

L’ollanda (Roussillon)

This is essentially old fashioned endless stew (from the Old French aeuller, to replenish. Among the ingredients is ¾ of a pound of Savoy cabbage. I thought “I have a half of cabbage in the fridge”….so I got up and made sure.
Bean, leek, thyme – I put them on the table. One pound of potatoes – weighed out and also on the table. Cabbage – still in the fridge and fit to go. I picked through my small white beans and put ¼ pound of them on to soak.
In the morning, it being my day off, after I drank my coffee, I put the beans in my soup pot with 6 quarts of water, some dried thyme and a 2 bay leaves (they were small) and brought it to a boil.
I was lugging the book, all 800 plus pages of it around the kitchen, checking the recipe, which was simplicity itself, while also reading ahead.
While the beans simmered, I took the last large leek, a good sized chunk of salt pork (it calls for 6 ounces and this piece was close enough for horseshoes) cut them all to a dice and added to the beans at the one hour mark. I usually brown leeks and salt pork, but once begun….The directions warn you not to wander away because you need to stir occasionally, and I thought of how thoughtful Mr. Wright was….and took out some olives to snack on…..
I sliced the cabbage and peeled and diced the potatoes so that they were ready to add ½ hour after the leek went in. Tasted for seasoning, add lots of pepper and some salt, then the cabbage and potatoes.
10 or 15 minutes later all was tender and good. This is the part to add some goose of duck fat, which is not an uncommon grease to find in my fridge….some people collect Hummels, I collect grease. What, I should pour it down the drain? Anyhow, if it wasn’t fowl fat, it was some olive oil that I floated on top. Cabbage, like it’s turnip cousin, really needs to served well lubricated.
And thus, lunch was served.
With leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

Vincenco Campi Cucina

Vincenco Campi , Cucina, p. 359

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