Word and Image

Food

Lemonade

When you have lemons, you make…. Meyer lemon. Special. You bet. I’ve never distinguished.  A lemon is a …. In this case, we got a scraggly tree a few years ago. Would it live? I coddled that thing. … mainly because it cost so much $$$. Nada! We had a few thimble sized lemons; they promptly fell off the tree. Now, finally, about three years later…. we got a lemon that grew. … and grew. It ripened on the tree. It was huge. It did not fall off. Colleen was concerned it was overripe or dried out. Nope! She finally cut into it. It was perfect; not dry; mildly sweet; not overripe. And! She made lemonade. Special? Of course, this was lemonade three years in the making. I think I won’t see another lemon for three more years. Darn! It was good!


Lemon curd

Ok, I have never officially made lemon curd. I make a lemon tart but it’s not quite the same? Really?! Eggs, butter, lemons, no one really tells you much more than “large” lemons or “large” eggs. I had what I had. I zested and I juiced the lemons, and was prepared to add bottled lemon juice as needed. Nope! That was not a problem. The problem lay in knowing what it looks like when it thickens. I was uncertain my mixture had reached the correct doneness. Would it be runny and fail to hold between layers of puff pastry later on? It was hell. I cooked and stirred way beyond what was recommended in the recipe. Imagine all those eggs and lemons and time gone to waste. Ha! As you saw in yesterday’s post, it was a spectacular success. If not, I wouldn’t be posting and there would be no pictures.


Mmmmmm

We giggled the whole time we ate these. Actually, Colleen could only be heard to say, “Mmmmmmmmm…..”  She hummed as she ate never saying a word unless a single sound qualifies as coherent conversation. I have never worked with puff pastry. It got away from me and really “puffed!” It started with two bags of lemons. I mistakenly bought two bags of lemons. In December one makes lemon curd not lemonade. That’s what the internet says. And marscapone cream – I found it in the grocery. I’ve never worked with that either. Anything looks better with powdered sugar. Wow! I think I outdid myself. Picturesque?! You bet. But the “Mmmmm” that Colleen hummed has me smiling as I recall the moment we cheated and ate one before taking it out for dinner. Who’s counting? Yes, this is essentially a repeat post. But! It was so freakin’ good! It’s not the first Napoleon ever made. But this/these were mine/ours. You gotta smile even if you can’t eat one. That is Colleen’s “mmmmmm” and I’m stickin’ with it!


Mmmmmmm

From the start to finish all you heard from Colleen was “mmmmm” in one form or another as she slowly savored this Napoleon. It was so touching. She loves my cooking and is so kind. On this occasion, an infrequent occasion (that I bake), she just adored my baking. (It assures that I will live here another year.) We made lemon curd. Yes, if you have lemons – two bags (mistake) – make lemon curd. It would not thicken. Long story short, we finally got it to do so. And I found marscarpone cheese in the market – lemon marscarpone cream! Napoleon, anyone? I have scant experience with puff pastry. Prick the dough with a fork to keep it from rising too much. Hey! That didn’t work! Lemon curd, marscarpone cream, berries (four kinds), and powdered sugar, what could go wrong!! I will treasure the “mmmmm” for a long time. Of course! We tried one before we took them to New Year’s dinner. Who’s counting? Baking is very precise – measure, cut, timing, shape, and appearance. Who cares?


While we’re talking…

… about food, I have to mention Beef Wellington and Yorkshire pudding. The internet will provide you with about any recipe you desire to tackle. Ha ha, my vegetarian wife (temporarily on hiatus) suggested Beef Wellington. She reads recipes – yes, even after dinner, they appeal. Well, ok! We needed meat. Off to the butcher to discover the cut needed to put this together. We were told to call a day in advance only to be stymied when I called to put in my order. No more phone orders, it was too close to Xmas. We got there just in time to snag the very last Filet mignon roast out of the case. Pfewff! Yorkhire pudding? Why not? We’ve never done that either. There were more steps, a lot of mushrooms, some Dijon mustard, and more steps. I have never worked with puff pastry either. Wrapping the meat in puff required some logical thinking. Fortunately, we were up to the task. The Yorksshire pudding calls for drippings in the muffin pan on high oven heat. It was smoking hot and not too promisingly looking when it went back in the oven. It returned gloriously risen. We were giggling. (Yeah, a couple of grown-ups giggling.) All in all, it was fabulous. Borscht might not be the soup to pair, but hey, Colleen wanted it. And, she prepped a Waldorf salad. Darn, we’re dropping a lot of names here. Did I say it was a fabulous meal? It came out delicious and perfect. My only regret is that we could not share the good fortune and bounty with family. I’m hungry writing about it. The very good news is that there are leftovers in the fridge and dinnertime is soon. Historical note: this was a fabulous meal. Three dishes began with names with capital letters. How neat is that?!!


Failure is not an option

We made gifts for the family – local cousins. Times five – one each and one for us, it was to be Challah bread, brownies, and flavored oyster crackers. Ha ha. Oyster crackers? Yeah, a guilty pleasure triggered by a memory while grocery shopping. Hey, they are good! The bread – who knew – Colleen started baking them after dark. Five loaves. Five recipes, one at a time. It turns out the loaves were huge, as in really large! This was way too big for one or two persons. Ha ha! She followed the directions. We were exhausted and I fell asleep by the time the first loaf came out of the oven. Colleen still had four loaves rising all over the house in every warms spot we could construct. She finished around 1:30am. Over baked! Dammit. You could tell from the loaf we had/sampled. Trash or gift? Four huge loaves. You could cry. The pecan tassie – “tea time tassies” (local vernacular) were inspired by a visit to the grocery and a NYT recipe. That would have been perfect but we were not ready for mass production…. yet.

What could go wrong? Brownies – I added chocolate chips and walnuts. No problem. And sprinkles on top, it’s Christmas. The sprinkle stars melted into the brownie top making unidentified holes. Not too bad otherwise, I was sure no one would notice after they were cut.

Pea soup? Yes, that was the opening act to our day before we started baking bread. Who figured proofing and rising would take so long? Leftover ham bone makes great pea soup to go along with ham and cheese sandwiches. Really! And yes, that’s a bite out of the sandwich. (I forgot to snap a picture before I was savoring my sandwich.) Yes, we have been eating well during the pandemic.

We delivered (bread), mentioning it was large (ha ha) and would make great French toast. It worked. Ultimately, we got messages of approval. Of course, I had messaged images of the French toast and my “mmmmm’s.” It turned out to be fabulous French toast! – We’ve had no feedback. My opinion: the brownies were overdone and the challah overbaked. Well. Damn!


Last night

Last night was the big game. Super Bowl. American football for my visitors from around the world. Tom Brady is a trumper. So, Colleen rooted for the Chiefs. I was sentimental to see the underdog win. Our tradition is to have a pig out of junk food. We had doughnuts, chips, and chocolate covered strawberries, etc. on hand for watching the game. Colleen hates football. She watches the commercials. I watch the game. We are about evenly set up.

Noa? She doesn’t know the situation and isn’t allowed junk food. All they had at her house was a lone bag of chips and avocado (healthy) dip. How much fun is that? Judging from her smile, more than enough.


A bit later on

Yes, Thanksgiving was last year already. I know that. And, we got a covid surge in December. And you have seen this picture of a crowded table. But, darn! We can cook (and bake!)! Needless to say we were not going anywhere and out of caution we did not invite anyone nor accept any invitations. It didn’t mean we did not have fun. Meanwhile, the food?! I am not a food photographer. Far from it. Often, I will be halfway through the meal before the thought of a picture occurs to me. Ha ha, let’s just agree that I am not a real food photographer. We did cook and bake. Colleen baked the butter sticks (rolls) and pumpkin pie – with whipped cream. We made a stuffed (chestnut dressing) turkey. In this I cheated. The turkey was overdone and not too (Norman Rockwell) picturesque. Alas.

We made (from scratch) all but the pickles – scalloped potatoes, Waldorf salad, cranberry sauces, apple sauce, pomegranate, and butternut squash soup. We made a lot of hot turkey sandwiches later and turkey pot pie. We missed family and friends. Fortunately, they have remained safe too. Let us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Pie, before the whipped cream has covered Colleen’s gorgeous crust and filling. Too much – guilty, I always make too much stuffing to go inside the bird – Plan B.


Ooops

Something old…. Well, Colleen likes to entertain. We have silver we got for cheap at one antique store or another. Yes, we have several sets. Did I tell you they were cheap? Yes, very. You just have to hit the sale at the right time. Coleen has made the linen. Yes, she wove, she has talent! The plates are from my side. Lisa never like them. My brothers gifted them. Colleen loves them. It all worked out. Pickles, yes, the pickle fork is rude. We got that at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Ha! Ham? I got a shoulder. Wrong cut, looks like sh*t, tasted great, you’d never know after it was cut. I gotta say it’s been nice playing “house” with Colleen.


Film

Kodak’s fate was sealed when I got my first digital DSLR Nikon D70. It took a bit but not too long. Film? Slides? Gone. Like VHS tape. Gone. Film and slide scanning has gone through many iterations. There are cheap ways to get the job done. And then there is Nikon scan at 4000dpi. It is good? I guess. It has reached cult status. There are a few mavens who know and repair scanners in need. I was in contact with a couple. Characters? Yes, in the nicest sense there is a community of people out there who scan. I didn’t know how enthusiastic and will probably not know. I’m not on Facebook. I daresay everyone has their own workaround and solution to getting the job done. I have pictured here two scanners and two bulk loaders running day and night to get the task completed. No one in my family will ever care or be able to do this. Fine! Madness! Me. Yeah, I’m nuts.

The doughnut? Entenmann’s chocolate. If you live in NY or thereabouts, this is what you grew up with. My kids loved them. We kept them in the freezer (out of reach). When they could reach, I camouflaged them in a chocolate raspberry box (they hated raspberry). As the father there were ingenious strategies to keep one’s treats. My kids would raid my den for candy when they were desperate. I hid them well too. The doughnut – it happened to be in proximity to the scan photos. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


Likes beer…

…a lot! She told me when we first emailed, before we ever met. The fact sailed over my head. Men! Then we met and she drank beer – dark beer! It tasted awful to me. I’m non-alcoholic. I indulged her. We bought beer. Recently I found a stash of empty cartons. ??? … we hoard. Who knows when you need an empty? (Actually, I put in bottles of coffee, juice, etc in the back seat while we travel. They are handy containers.) It’s another collection of clutter. Yeah… likes beer. I love her to pieces! Me? I downsized by photographing the collection…

This photo was from years back. Who knew it would be relevant. … and that I could find it. I have an eye for strange humor. Colleen indulges me. We laugh. We love. I would never make fun of her. Never! It’s just plain fun to be with her. She’s probably giggling right now while she hunts me down….


Jackpot

I have been on the hunt for a good NY style cheesecake since Jeddah (years). No, they don’t make cheesecake in Jeddah. There was a Cheesecake Factory; it was not good at all. I made (recently) a Jello instant cheesecake; it was worse by far. Yuck! I finally assembled the “real” Philly cream cheese and made one; it was spectacular! I decided to try again. I did a few things wrong – like I turned off the oven instead of simply lowering the heat. After an hour the cheesecake had obviously not baked up. I survived this calamity. There was a crack on the top. Heavens!! My waterbath! Nope, the crack disappeared as the cake cooled. We didn’t eat it for days – circumstance. It only got better! – the top was shiny- glazed – just like a NY cheesecake should look.  No, we are not social distancing so much now. We’re (smartly) vetting our guests. The beer? – Colleen did it – shaken but not stirred, The cheesecake? – heaven on a plate – with cherry sauce!


Green

The first time I visited Jules in California she ordered up a kale smoothie. It was green. I would add colorful adjectives to describe the drink – green, yuck! Suffice to say, I was horrified. My daughter! She wouldn’t eat anything green growing up. Her daughter, my granddaughter, drank from Grandma’s cup. Colleen drinks green juice. It’s good for you. Right!? And she liked it! OMG. Somehow green reminds me of a swamp. You are what you eat??? Not by my hand… Colleen’s not green either.


Over! Done!

Yeah! Right! No!!! But it surely feels different. For the very first time since the TP shortage of 2020! We turned the aisle in our supermarket – the entire aisle was stocked again! Yeah, you could fall down laughing. Normal! There was hand sanitizer in three places! Three choices, all for good money. There’s sanitizer for your fruits and veggies. Ok! Get a grip! It’s good to find that supply has exceeded demand. Never in my wildest nightmares did I ever think I would be celebrating the return of TP to my local market. It could all go south. But, for now, I feel like we turned a corner.


Don’t do this at….

You’re gonna plotz – use the Yiddish definition. In this photo you see one – exploded egg. My dear wife did this! Yes, she can cook! It was my stupid suggestion and she listened. (It’s all about trust.) She should know better. Ha ha. She soft boiled an egg meant to be hard boiled. (You can see this coming…) Cringe! She put a hole in the shell. It didn’t help. The picture cannot tell the story. The mess?!?! Egg, all over the six (insides) sides of the microwave. See: that burn mark in the enamel finish?!!! That was me. One Thanksgiving, I attempted to shell whole chestnuts. Don’t ask?? (don’t advise!!!) The burn mark was made when one unruly chestnut caught (fully, with flames!!!) on fire in the microwave. Maybe, we should be told we are not allowed to use a microwave. All privileges canceled!!


Still hoarding

… after all these months. I liken it to Paul Simon’s – Still Crazy After All These Years… hum it, if you know it. I still buy TP whenever I see it. Who knows when you’ll see it again. The shelves remain empty except when they are not. Bastards! I buy at any price. At some point we’ll learn the scandal behind the shortage. No yeast, either. Get it if you can. Do you read labels? The drink pictured here is flavored water with vitamins. Little Hug Fruit Barrels. Just vitamin water. 8 ounces, artificially flavored. Ah! The power of advertising! Why the empty shelves? Empty makes the demand greater or is it the other way ‘round?

Note: When I composed this post months ago, we seemed in dire straits. The shortages are less now. There is no real normal as every excursion is done with caution. We eat out rarely. We cook. Colleen has become semi-vegetarian once more. I cannot say good or bad. Different.


Butt face

I hate it, when they change things. WordPress, the sponsor of this blog site has changed the format for creating and editing a post. Yay! By now everyone has had a chance to try it. I hate change. I just got used to editing and creating…. What if one had to change wives every…. Oh shit! I’m in deep shit….. Please forgive me honey, I don’t know what came over me. I’m so terribly sorry! 🙂

Butt soap – for Ginny, or Emma – there’s a side for your face and one for your ass. Don’t get mixed up? Please. (You know who you are.)


Yum

There’s a TV show: The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The title is apropos. It’s too simple: a lobster shooter. Add lobster to a glass of butter in a shot glass. But memorable!! Colleen still talks about it. We were passing thru town past another lobster restaurant. Maine, there are lots of lobster. Do ya think? Colleen still talks about it. I had the old wedding standard – scallops wrapped in bacon.

Do you embarrass your spouse before or after lunch? Before she’s officially your spouse? Guess? Did I say Lincolnville, Maine?


What’s on your phone?

I use a camera. On my iPhone it’s an odd potpourri of images. It’s rarely of great import. I just don’t think that dinky lens is better than real glass. Snob! Right! I document things that I need to remember. I take a pic that I can send instantly to someone. I photo things I plan to buy. I photograph recipes. It is a portable walking memory for me to remember items like a book to borrow. Otherwise, I have a camera on me nearly every time I carry my phone. It’s my system and my thinking. It works for me.


Guilty pleasure

During the corona lockdown I have begun eating pop corn. I like to eat it in the movies. We don’t go. We didn’t before the virus. But suddenly we have found pop corn again! And borosilicate glass. ?? It’s double walled insulated glass. I was slow to adapt to this too. Colleen knew of it and loved it for the fact that hot or cold stays because of excellent insulation. Ice just doesn’t melt. You’d try it but where to get it. That was the trick. Now, I’m hooked.


Still…

… life. Because I have too much time on my hands. Peppers with a background of watermelon. Some famous – Pepper No. 30, Edward Weston – photographer made peppers a famous subject. Yawn?! Ho hum. Life’s been pretty slow around here for me to start taking pics of peppers. Or, was that pick a peck of pickled peppers?


What’s in your grocery

Are there so few photo ops these days…” Am I food obsessed… do I live to eat? Fascinated? Curious? Nosey? It’s interesting. I don’t/wouldn’t carry my big old DSLR into a grocery. I am above using iPhone for my pics. Camera snob, that would be me. So, it’s a point and shoot. No so much a toy any longer, they are quite sophisticated and damn good. I always thought that big glass (lens) made for a better image. Nope. And so, I pull the camera from my pocket and surreptitiously shoot. I got the shot. Do/did you? No need to be too obvious.

Oh, a shout out to Barber stuffed raw chicken. It’s good. I don’t say that about frozen food. I don’t eat frozen. Why? Snob as much as anything. We have access to fresh. No frozen. Not pizza! Ever! Ha! We buy frozen cauliflower pizza all the time now. My point? You can’t find Barber for love of money since I got this one time shot.

It will be two months before this post is published. I’m wondering out loud how it all evolved. Will there be TP once more? Can I go to the grocery without trepidation and feeling like it’s threatening to my life? I predict not much will have changed. … and what the hell are all the TP manufacturers doing? Supply, demand, and profit? Gas was $1.71 yesterday (two months back).

– gas is now $2.23. Toilet paper came back. And, just now, yeast appeared on the shelves. The great Amazon could not deliver in all that four months.


Panic buying

I don’t want to call it hoarding. We ordinarily have bottled water on hand. It’s not for me. The cats throw up from the chlorine in tap water. And the coffee maker will sludge up from the minerals. So, we use distilled. Hey! It’s not me. I don’t drink coffee. TP? Why has everyone bought it up? The shelves are bare since lockdown began. We’re not out. We are flush. (Sorry.) I buy it anytime I see it. So far, we are a long way from resorting to Plan B. But, why? It’s all a fat hoax! And, I live in a Republican county. Did thy not believe in the “fearless leader,” and they bought anyway. It’s like they put their money on/where their…. I hope it’s over soon. I got no where to put all the extra TP we’ve been buying.


Chicken parm

I have been chasing this dish since I left Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). The Filippos could cook it like no one else. Romano’s Macaroni Grill opened an outpost there shortly before I left. The chicken was thin breaded crisp and perfect accompanied by piping hot angel hair pasta covered with marinara. Ok, no big deal?! But I disagree; the dish in Jeddah was the best I ever had. I’ve since tried many attempts that fell woefully short. I have been to several Romano’s places in the US. Nope, their poor attempt was disappointing. I have mentioned this before. Lately I was in Touch of Italy. They are funny. Their signature dish features chicken as large as a large dinner plate. It’s American – too large to eat. I suppose that has an appeal but the chicken lacks tender moist taste. Oh well, I had given up. Then, I cooked up a batch during the Corona lockdown. It’s a work in progress. Good? Yes! Very! It just doesn’t look good. It’s not photo-worthy. Yet. However, I also learned on this occasion that hiding the dish under red sauce and lots of cheese will hide many cooking sins. And I know what to do to make the next try a winner. That’s progress!