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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tomato as Symbol

Symbolism in food - Adam and Eve along with Snow White come to mind immediately along with an image of a highly polished, red, ripe apple.  While the literary and social references to individual foods are arguably endless, I am experiencing one of my own this growing season and it is not all pleasant, but rather reflective of life.

In May, on the day before renewing my 25 year wedding vows, my estranged husband took it upon himself to weed one of my flower gardens though I had quite explicitly requested he leave it alone and assured him I would take care of it if it bothered him.  The gardens were my project - or so I thought.  He persisted and proceeded to "weed" numerous perennial flowers.  Plants that I enjoyed for years, he thought were weeds and simply removed them and threw them in the woods.  Our son made a reference to the argument in his toast to us and people laughed.

The following week we celebrated Mother's Day and along with some flowers, I bought my Mommy a few tomato plants and kept 3 for myself.  My estranged husband planted them in the garden in place of the missing flowers.  We had a second argument when I stated the plants were too close together.  The marriage appears to be over and I watch the plants bloom flowers that magically turn into tomatoes. 

The weight of the growing fruit pulls the branches down and a recent storm blew the thin metal supports over.  I told my older son the plants need wooden stakes driven into the ground but that I had no wood.  He said he would find me some.  Within minutes he had the circular saw out and shaped scrap wood into stakes while I retrieved twine and supported the heavy plants as best I could.

I daydream about these plants and the food they produce;  how will I eat the tomatoes, who will I share them with and what will life look like on that day?  Simple food, grown from the earth, tended to by family - basic and purely Fed Well.

Friday, July 27, 2012

One Saturday Night

Meeting a friend I have known for over 30 years is a wonderful reason to celebrate.  Meeting a friend I've known since elementary school to discuss life changing events, well, that simply requires a cocktail and for me, the signature drink of a choice is a Cosmopolitan.

As we talk about the twisty turns of life with it's ups and downs, mysteries that cannot be explained and the fabulous destination wedding of her sister's, we enjoy a meal which for me begins with a salad without dressing.

I tried the bacon and cheddar potato pancakes.  The inside was lush and delicately soft potato with cheese and bacon - what combination could be any better in an appetizer? 

Though my friend is quite active and disciplined about keeping physically fit by frequently participating in boot camps, she does treat herself to bacon cheeseburger with fries on this particular Saturday night.

We talk about life.  We try to make sense of things we will never understand. And best of all, we find a few reasons to laugh.

I had the Mako with yes, more potatoes and mixed vegetables.   The fish was quite firm and steak-like, the sauce a creamy pool to swipe the potatoes through before stabbing a piece of fish to create the perfect bite.  It is impossible to finish the meal and yet we are far from ending our time together.

We meet a friend at the bar once the meal is over and we talk some more.  Sometimes when life strays away from the path you thought you were on it's best to have some great friends to talk it over with, offer support and guard you through to the next part of the journey.  It was more than a Saturday Night, it was an opporunity to be Fed Well for the soul and the memory of it keeps me feeling full.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Was it the toxoplasmosis talk?

Let's see, where were we... a group of coworkers out to lunch at

Hacienda Don Munel

Again, I have a regular favorite and rarely venture out to order something else.  I LOVE the beef burritos!

We start with warm and crispy chips served with chunky, fairly zippy salsa.  We are all careful to pour our salsa into a separate dish to avoid double dipping (which happened in the past, but the offending colleague has since moved to Thailand).

Ah, the beef burritos are heavenly.  The meat is tender, well seasoned and soft.  The shredded beef can be the subject of food dreams. 

I also love a second helping of chips with the guacamole and sour cream.  I rarely eat the rice and beans but bring them home to a son who loves them as a late night snack.

One coworker orders the vegetable quesidilas.  They are not what I expected, but she is happy and though she is not a vegetarian loves the feeling that she is making a healthier, guilt-free choice.

Chuletas a la Diabla - well, I don't like too much heat in my food, but for one coworker, spice is a perfect choice.  She requests the sauce be served on the side so she can control the amount both for flavor and sogginess purposes.

And for my vegetarian friend and next door neighbor co-worker, the vegetable burritos. 

We talk about the spicy pork chop diner moving into a house in the area with her boyfriend.  She shares stories about the various wildlife she has seen including devilish groundhogs, deer and the former residents honey bees.

Somehow the conversation segues to the parasites found in cat feces and how toxoplasmosis is considered to especially be a threat for pregnant women to be concerned about though none of us are pregnant (that I know of).  My vegetarian buddy recites a bit of news from the Internet on the subject which basically includes this bit from Wikipedia, "Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii.[1] The parasite infects most genera of warm-blooded animals, including humans, but the primary host is the felid (cat) family. The parasite spreads by the ingestion of infected meat or the feces of an infected cat, or by vertical transmission from mother to fetus. A 2001 study found that direct contact with pet cats is probably a less common route of transmission to human hosts than contamination of hands with cat feces by touching the earth, and that "contact with infected raw meat is probably a more important cause of human infection in many countries"  (source:  How fun!!  Yes, cat poop is perfect lunchtime conversation... 

Simultaneously, the pair of men at a nearby table ask to move and relocate to the far side of the restaurant from us.  Was it the toxoplasmosis talk?  Were we laughing too much?  How could we have possibly offended them so much that they felt the need to move across the room?

The empty table with chips is where our nearby neighbors started but all the way to the far left corner of the photo, against the wall a slice of arm is visible to where they repositioned themselves.

The deviled pork chop loving coworker couldn't resist asking the waiter why the men moved.  Turns out, they were simply cold.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Street Fair - Food and Fun

A local town, a street fair and the guarantee of food truck cuisine - my Mommy and I were in!
Though it was a brutally hot Saturday, we made our way through the crowds and kept an eye on the ever darkening, cloudy sky.  Crafts, leather goods, designer impostor bags, jewelry, toys, face painting, rides, all lovely but none of it was anything that really interested us.

For whatever reason, I am drawn to the heart shaped stones.  Not sure if it is necessarily for romantic purposes or simply the idea of a heart shaped stone.

I have never before seen "Soggy Bandannas" for sale.  While I am no grammar expert, does anyone see anything wrong with the sign?  Doesn't matter.

Moments before deciding we must need a bit of fuel, I spotted a fresh lemonade truck - a small was $5.00.  Am I cheap?  I decided I didn't need a designer impostor lemonade and kept walking.

Soon my mother came upon a home made fudge tent.  She recognized the proprietor and happily made an immediate purchase.

A few more feet and we found the falafel/gyro stand.  Woo hoo!  One of each please! 

Beef Gyro for Mom and falafel for me.  We walked to my Aunt's yard for a bit of a picnic and were both quite happy with our lunch choices.

A friend of my Aunt's soon arrived with two plates of "cheese ribbon fries."
Designer handcrafted potato chips drizzled with melted orange cheese sauce.  The chips were as crisp as they look and though quite tasty, I'm a sucker for more salt.

And what better way to display bottled water for sale than with a platter of freshly cut lemons and limes as well as ice.  I didn't buy it, but it made me want to as I told myself I wasn't thirsty as much as I was attracted to the "fancied up" display!

We were at the far end of the Street Fair when the fat and juicy first rain drops began to fall.  Car Show participants scrambled to put up soft tops and some left immediately.  I protected my camera the best I could and headed for home with Fed Well memories.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Return of Scallion Pancakes to Jade in Suffern, NY

When I first started working with the 300 +/- people at "The Company's" Global R & D, I welcomed the vast differences of coworkers backgrounds, ages, education levels, life experiences and cultures. I was introduced to foods and traditions I would never have any other chance to experience and while the simple Scallion Pancake may not seem like a life altering event to many with various simple Chinese take-out restaurants in their neighborhood, I was one to sort of stick with the items I was mostly familiar. Branching out may mean trying a different version of Four Seasons or Happy Family.

One day, a group of us went to lunch with our Director who often shared stories of her past employment in food related industries including Kraft and Pepsi (ok, she somehow worked it in to every conversation) and she ordered Scallion Pancakes to start.

I couldn't wrap my head around what was to come. Would they be like a potato pancake, a breakfast pancake, a knish? Would they have shoots of green onion sticking out? Aaackk!

When the plate was set in the middle of the table and my nose not only accepted but welcomed the warm blend of aromas from gentle oniony to the familiar whisper of fried food.  I waited to see what the proper etiquette would be for eating the new found treats - did one pick them up or use the fork?  Well, the jury is still out as my table mates were divided about the correct procedure.  However, the one thing I knew for sure was that I had found a new top 10 favorite food.

The Director has since left.  The restaurant underwent a major renovation and revamping of the menu which eliminated our beloved appetizer.  We would still go, a smaller and smaller group, and find new favorites.  I am guilty of having the shrimp with rice noodles (that I eat with a spoon and fork in a quasi-Italian fashion) so frequently that the waitress simply brings the spoon without my request.

This past Friday, a smaller more intimate gathering of myself and just 2 coworkers ordered a plate of Scallion Pancakes.  Our lives have changed vastly.  I am going through the most transition right now and try to walk a balanced line between a wildly and ever changing range of emotions.  I find comfort eating with my friends and being reunited with a wonderful food.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rehearsal at Stony Brae

A special time, a special occasion and the eve of a special day requires celebration.  The tradition of the wedding rehearsal dinner is alive and well, the experience is personalized and tweeked to suit. 

The feeling of a custom made event should be required for all of those preparing to enter into marriage as the needs are as individual as the union itself.

Yes, the location was incredibly convenient from the church...

But, if need be, we certainly could have traveled.

The entrace and walk way were welcoming and well kept.  I wanted to go in, wanted to know and see more, to continue, to dine and start making a new memory.

And so, our party of 13 is seated in the upstairs dining room, We are family and friends, longtime relations and new acquaintances joined by a religious man and his wife.

We were given regular menus and the listing of specials. 

A cocktail to begin - the Cragsmoorpolitan - not just a dressed up girly martini, but one with meaning for the area.  Cragsmoor was once known for its blueberries and so to offer a drink with a nod to the area's history is more than appropriate and so I make my selection.


The bride and her future mother-in-law decide on the Castaway.  We are all happy with our decisions. 

I offer a toast of happiness and we peruse the dinner choices.

I decide to skip an appetizer as I hope I will instead be leaving room for dessert.  However, my older nephew, seated on my left, opts for a fresh Caesar salad. 

Conversation ranges from one end of the table to the other and the edge of sitting in the middle allows me to let my attention wander from one topic to another.  The young men at the left speak with the religious man about his birthplace (Southeast Asia), the lack of ethnic variety in restaurants in the nearby geography, tattoos, professional athletes in baseball, football and basketball, moving from New York city to the country and the beauty of the area we are currently dining.

My homemade Tagliatelle is not for the whimpy of apetite.  The dish is hearty and filling with ample amounts of mushrooms, red bell peppers and topped with a bit of micro greens.  Quite a successful plate of which I am forced to take half home in order to leave room for sharing a dessert with my younger nephew.

He orders the cheesecake with caramel sauce on the side (he's not sure what it will taste like).  The cheesecake was prepared in an individual mold and so the shape is a pleasing change and makes the portion size a bit more manageable.  I am only able to have a few forkfuls before pleading of being absolutely full.  He did dip a forkful of cheesecake into the caramel sauce but the verdict is still undetermined.

A lovely local spot to which I am sure we will return, but not without remembering The Rehearsal Dinner.