Category Archives: Food

Detour

Our current road trip will end tomorrow as Tom and I head back to Charlottesville. Spring awaits with its cleaning, taxes, and, best of all, the garden.

daffodils

daffodils

What a strange (but not too long) a trip it’s been: squealing differential in Florida, airborne tent in Texas, hankering to be one with the earth everywhere, while still craving that internet political fix.

Today, I am taking a detour to New Orleans. Tom didn’t quite take me to the Mardi Gras (it’s on February 28 this year), but close enough for a woman who doesn’t smoke, mostly doesn’t drink, and who surely can’t dance (except maybe to Motown).

almost Mardi Gras

almost Mardi Gras

I love New Orleans. Maybe it started with my mom’s New Orleans pralines.  Or, maybe it was Paul Simon’s, “Take Me to the Mardi Gras“:

Come on, take me to the Mardi Gras
Where the people sing and play
Where the dancing is elite
And there’s music in the street
Both night and day

Hurry, take me to the Mardi Gras
In the city of my dreams
You can legalize your lows
You can wear your summer clothes
In the New Orleans

And I will lay my burden down
Rest my head upon that shore
And when I wear that starry crown
I won’t be wanting anymore

Take your burdens to the Mardi Gras
Let the music wash your soul
You can mingle in the street
You can jingle to the beat
Of Jelly Roll

© 1973 Words and Music by Paul Simon

I loved the food. People were singing and playing. There was music in the street.

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde

shrimp po boy, Cafe Fleur De Lis, French Quarter

shrimp po boy, Cafe Fleur De Lis, French Quarter

music, Jackson Square

music, Jackson Square

music in the street

music in the street

I let the music wash my soul and I mingled in the street. I worked on laying some of my burden down.

I remembered what I thought the first time I went–alone–to New Orleans about 14 years ago. As I wandered through the French Quarter, I thought: I know who I am throwing in my lot with. I am with the people who sing, dance, eat real food, and maybe smoke and drink and whatever, but just trying to get by with a little grace, style, and humor. I do not stand with those who think there is only one way and who denigrate those who choose a different path. That sounds like fascism to me.  I can’t explain myself well on this topic, but, lucky for me, Robin and Linda Williams have some words that work for me in Going, Going Gone:

When I pass a church house door I breathe a prayer one time more
I don’t know that I belong, but I still sing love’s
sweet old songs
If I’m not among the blessed, then I’ll be like all the rest
Getting by day to day moving down the lost highway
Going, Going, Going Gone
                                   by Robin and Linda Williams, Jerome Clark 2008
live oak (Quercus virginia)

live oak (Quercus virginia)

Still, Life is Beautiful*

summer garden

summer garden

Awakening, November 2016

“Awakening,” November 2016

holly, "Savannah," The National Garden, United States Botanic Garden

holly, “Savannah,” The National Garden, United States Botanic Garden

dim sum, Wheaton, Maryland

dim sum, Wheaton, Maryland

community concert, Charlottesville, Virginia

community concert, Charlottesville, Virginia

food for the hungry

food for the hungry

ump Mountain Vineyard, Rockbridge Baths, Virginia

Jump Mountain Vineyard, Rockbridge Baths, Virginia

birds

birds

*Even though (some days, at least) I think the world is beautiful does not mean I am unaware of the challenges facing our country. I will continue to shelve food at the food bank, help 4th graders learn about the local watershed, and garden organically. It’s time for me to renew my membership to the National Museum of the American Indian, and to donate again to the ACLU.  I believe in the the Constitution (I actually studied it in high school,  as an undergraduate, and in graduate school), including the entire Bill of Rights. I am earnest. I am strong. I believe in the rule of law and in tolerance. I told you before that I didn’t like strife.  I still don’t, but I will speak when I need to speak.

 

Today

This morning I washed the sheets and put them back on the bed.

I washed, rinsed, and air-dried my hair brushes. What can I say? Is this some proto-spring cleaning of personal gear? Maybe so: Last night, I also darned my husband’s sock. I really don’t know how to darn, but I used my mother’s darning egg, so it gave me another opportunity to think of her.

I made granola. For this batch, I put in oatmeal, oat bran, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, unsweetened coconut, raisins, dried apricots*, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, three tablespoons of coconut oil, and three (plus) tablespoons of maple syrup. When everything that should be baked was baked and when all the ingredients were mixed together, I added some vanilla.

granola

granola

I cleaned out the shelf where some of the baking ingredients reside. Sometimes, I like to straighten shelves. I believe that doing so makes me think I have some control over the universe. In this case, I was also trying to round up stray flax seeds.

I watered the plants. This takes about one half hour of wandering around the house. (I mention the amount of time because I don’t think I will make it to the gym today but I want to get 10,000 steps on my pedometer). I don’t have an indoor watering can, which is okay, because I don’t like them much. I feel like I have more control when I use my big green plastic cup and the bit of old pink towel I use to mop up mistakes. Note: I am good with plants indoor and out. That started a long time ago when my mother and I planted a tiny garden of corn and radishes against the house in Detroit. In college, I rooted some pussy willows and my dad planted them down by the lake, where they prospered. Later, during Tom and my salad days, several of my indoor plants were given to me by my sister-in-law, Betsy. My friend Pat just gave me back a little bay tree that I had given her plus the scion of a clivia that I had given her years back. I like watering the plants.

house plants

house plants

After lunch, Tom and I drove to Ivy Nursery to pick up some spring flowers to take up north tomorrow to some people we love. Daffodils, because sometimes we all wander lonely as a cloud.

daffodils

daffodils

One thing I didn’t do today: I didn’t write Refugees, Part 2 (See, Refugees, Part1) as I should have done. I will soon, though. Spring is coming and my frozen heart will melt.


 

*I chopped the apricots with my trusty nine-inch Henckels French knife. I call it trusty because it has been my constant kitchen companion since my first summer at the North Rim in 1971. Our chef, Floyd Winder, required all the cooks and “pantry girls” (my designation in those unenlightened days) to buy their own knives. With my own knife at hand, I felt professional. The knife still works fine. However, when I searched this morning for the peace symbol I had etched in the handle, I couldn’t find it. I hope that is not a portent of the future. Update 4:15 P.M.: Tom and I both think we see the marks of the peace sign, but they are too faint for me to photograph.

French knife

French knife

 

Swedish Ice Box Cookies

My mother, Audrey, originally got the recipe for Swedish ice box cookies from her friend, Mathilde. The two of them were friends since kindergarten (circa 1921, by my reckoning) and through the years mom got several of our family’s favorite recipes from Mathilde. This recipe’s name shows its own age: It has been a long time since that kitchen machine was called an “ice box.”

My brothers and I baked and ate our share of chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal raisin cookies, but I think these cookies might have been our favorites. Like so many of my mother’s recipes ( see New Orleans Pralines ) Swedish ice box cookies are easy, but delicious. Here’s the recipe from my mom’s index card:


Swedish Ice Box Cookies*

Cream

1 C. white sugar

1 C. brown sugar

1 C. shortening (my mom used margarine, I use butter)

2 eggs added to above

Add to above

1t. salt

1t. soda

½ c. nuts (Mom and I use pecans)

2 T. hot water

Flour to stiffen—about 3 cups

Bake 10 – 12 min. in 375° oven

May be dropped on cookie sheet immediately after mixing & baked. Or form half into a roll & held in refrig. Several days – Large recipe—-Usually I make half a recipe.


I hope you enjoy making and eating these easy cookies. I wish I were eating them with my mom and dad and brothers. I wish I had some on a plate next to my tea and computer on this rainy afternoon, far in time and place from Milford, MI. So, if you make these cookies, I hope you have someone dear to share them with.

No photos: I don’t usually make cookies anymore (because my husband and I want to eat them–all of them–but we are trying to hold the line).

*I think my brothers and I called them Swedish nut cookies.