Posted tagged ‘carrots’

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

March 4, 2018

My hopes are high that Coffee will be here tomorrow. If not, remember to go to www.keepthecoffeecoming.blogspot.com as I’ll be waiting there for you.

Today is damp but lighter than it has been. The sun is working to get out of the clouds. I’m its most ardent cheerleader. There is still wind which makes the day feel even colder. I think it rained during the night as the sides of the street were still wet this morning when I got the papers, the dry papers. I can’t fault a day which starts with dry papers.

When I was a kid, Sunday was always boring. It followed the same regimen every week. Eat breakfast, put on church clothes, walk to church, go home and hang around until Sunday dinner, the most lavish meal of the week. It always included a roast of some sort, potatoes and vegetables. The potatoes were mashed and the vegetables, except for the carrots, came from cans. Those fresh vegetables, the carrots and the potatoes, were always boiled. We never had salad, and we never had bread on the table. A roast of beef as my grandmother called it is still my favorite.

My mother grocery shopped on Friday nights. As she had no license, my father drove her. They’d return with a trunk load of filled paper bags. The only foods we, my brother, sisters and I, cared about were the cookies. We knew they’d be Oreos and sometimes chocolate chip cookies or some other kind. We’d want them right away, and my mother would warn us that once they were gone, they’d be no more. We were kids. We were in the moment. We wanted the cookies.

I have grown my palate since I was a kid. Canned vegetables will never grace (sort of grace) my table. I like to cook potatoes all different ways, but I love mashed potatoes covered in gravy the most. I love carrots, and I experiment when I cook them. The last recipe called for ginger. My favorite is honeyed carrots. I use the baby carrots still with their greenery.

I just heard a loud crash which seemed to come from my deck. I ran outside but saw nothing except the man in the house behind mine burning leaves in a barrel. What I saw made me laugh. The wind is taking the burning leaves, and they are falling on the carpet of leaves in the guy’s yard. Small fires start, and he goes around with his rake putting the fires out. Maybe this will teach him why burning leaves is illegal.

“If God had created celery, it would only have two stalks, because that’s the most that almost any recipe ever calls for.”

November 21, 2015

Today is the quintessential New England fall day. The sun is shining, the sky is a light blue, a breeze becomes a wind then a breeze again and the temperature is in the high 40’s, low 50’s. This is the sort of day when all the fathers in my neighborhood would rake then burn the leaves. Each would stand on the side of the street in front of his house rake in hand as he tendered the fire and fed it leaves. The smoke carried that wonderful smell which still means fall to me. I loved to watch the small fires and listen to the crackling sound the leaves made. I remember the smoky smell stayed on my jacket long after the fire had gone out. I miss that smell of burning leaves. It was my favorite fall ritual.

When I was growing up, my mother was an average cook or maybe I should say cooked average foods or common foods. She knew fancy meals and my father were not a good match, and we four kids would probably refuse to eat something for dinner hithertofore unknown. What is it was usually the kiss of death for any new dish. I’m not eating that said in disgust generally followed my mother’s answer. Potatoes were always mashed and so were carrots to disguise they were vegetables. I don’t know why vegetables had such a bad rap with every kid I knew. Just saying the word gave us a shutter. We knew they’d be at least one on our dinner plates, and we hoped it was a vegetable from the sanctioned list of acceptable vegetables. It was a small list. Peas topped my list and corn of any sort was on all our lists. Creamed corn, though, was not a huge favorite of mine. I always hated how it spread all over the plate and its color wasn’t all that appealing. We seldom left food on our plates because my mother was smart. She always served us stuff she knew we’d eat.

When we were older and our palates had expanded, my mother cooked all sorts of food for us. By then I had gotten over my distaste for vegetables except for beans and Brussels sprouts. Potatoes didn’t have to be mashed and carrots no longer needed a disguise. My mother, it turns out, was a fantastic cook. She had hidden her culinary talents until we were old enough to appreciate them.

I was my mother’s sous chef. It was a huge honor.

“Well, many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese–toasted, mostly…”

November 14, 2013

The weather is quirky. Snow fell the other day, but today and the next few days will be in the 50’s, tolerable weather. The nights will be cold but that’s November, and that’s why I have a comforter on the bed and animals who snuggle.

The bird feeders need filling and the red spawn needs to be shot. It has defeated my squirrel buster feeder by being small. It jumps from the deck to the feeder, grabs some seed then sits on the deck rail to eat it right in full view of me. I run out to scare it away but it knows when to come back. I’m thinking some acorns, a bit of irony probably lost on the spawn, or small rocks as ammo stored upstairs. I’ll open a window and aim though the sound of the acorn hitting the deck should sent that spawn running. He knows he is targeted. Think hose and last summer.

Much to do today. My friends are coming to dinner, a very late birthday dinner. They both have their birthdays in September and mine was August, and we have yet to give each other our gifts. I have to shop so last night, to save time from today, I set out all the dishes and silverware. We’re having pork tenderloin with an herb crust, smashed potatoes baked in the oven and glazed carrots. I’ll make my Moroccan appetizer, muhammara, and put out cheese, to me the most versatile food of all.

I am a cheese lover except for gorgonzola and blue. They even smell bad to me and blue always looks as if it has been around too long to eat. Cheese is a staple in my fridge as many of my meals are just cheese with bread or crackers. Brie is a huge favorite.

Ghana has no cheese because it has no milk. Ghana has cows but no Ghanaians drink milk. When I went back to Ghana, I was forced to use evaporated milk in my instant coffee just as I did in 1969. Ghana is not a place for coffee lovers or cheese lovers for that matter. If I were in the Peace Corps there now and still lived in Bolga, I’d find the Fulanis who tend the cows, buy milk from them and make my own cheese. It isn’t difficult.

In 1969, I figured everything was just part of the experience as did most of my friends, but when we got together, food always became part of the conversation. We all mused about what we missed the most. In Accra, we’d spend money at Kingsway Department Store to buy bruni food, white people’s food, to bring home. We’d travel to Lome, Togo because you could get ice cream, pastries and yup, even cheese. Lome was a volunteer’s paradise of food. One wonderful memory is when a bunch of us from Ghana were together in the Peace Corps hostel in Lome, something that didn’t happen often. We had all bought stuff to bring home, special stuff you couldn’t find in Ghana. Well, we had a huge party for no reason except we were together, had food and loved parties. We ended up eating just about everything.

“Plain food is quite good enough for me. “

October 8, 2013

More fall-like weather followed last night’s rainstorm. Today is in the 60’s and the rest of the week will be the same. I went back to my sweatshirt this morning. The day is a bit dark though no rain is predicted. Every day is closer to the end of deck time. That makes me melancholic.

This morning I had a library board meeting, the last entry on this week’s dance card. I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s empty card except I did have that cleaning frenzy, now gone thank God, so this week looks like a lie on the couch and read week. Maybe I’ll add a few bon-bons.

The sun has just decided to make an appearance. It has that sharpness that comes on a cool day when the sun is just light, not warmth.  I can see it glinting through the leaves. The bird feeders by the deck are in shadow now, a consequence of the changing angle of the sun. If I never went outside, I would still know the time of year by following the path of the sun.

When I was a little kid, I liked fall but I disliked the shorter days because we’d only have a little time to be playing outside after school before homework and dinner. In the summer we’d be outside until close to seven and even later. This time of year five was pushing it and four was more likely. We’d come in, plop down in the front of the TV and watch Superman and The Mickey Mouse Club while my mother cooked supper. We always had a vegetable, usually from a can, mashed potatoes and some sort of meat. My mother was a whiz with hamburger. Her meatloaf was spectacular with ketchup on the top and bacon over the ketchup. We used to fight to get the crispy bacon strips. She’d also make hamburger in gravy over mashed potatoes and American chop suey. One of our favorites was a pseudo-Chinese dish with bamboo shoots and hamburger. That one always seemed exotic. We’d also have chicken, but my mother always baked it. Roast beef was reserved for Sunday dinner. The only fresh vegetable I remember eating was carrots, and I didn’t like carrots until I was older. I wanted canned Le Seuer peas and could eat them every night. For my last family meal before leaving for Ghana, I chose roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and Le Seuer peas. I chose comfort food.

“A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.”

July 5, 2012

It is the loveliest of mornings, sunny and cool. When I let Gracie outside, I followed her and stood on the deck for the longest time surveying my world and enjoying the start of the day. My vegetables are growing, and I need to stake my tomatoes as they are growing over the wire tomato thingies ( I don’t know what they’re called. Thingies works just as well for almost anything).

When I was growing up, the only fresh vegetable I remember eating was corn in the summer. I didn’t like tomatoes, and my mother didn’t serve salads. She knew we’d all turn up our noses. I ate canned peas, the small ones, the Le Seure peas; they were my favorite. My mother tricked us by hiding the carrots. She mashed them with the potatoes, and for years I thought potatoes were orange and white. My mother also served canned green beans, and we had to eat a few. All his life my father ate canned asparagus, long after the rest of us had found the joys of fresh vegetables. I remember my mother serving them to him at Thanksgiving. If you held up a spear, the top would fall over; they were a bit mushy. He always had the entire can to himself.

My father loved native tomatoes. Around here, when the vegetable season is at its height, people put out tables in their front yards with a variety of vegetables on them. The prices are usually on a piece of paper taped to the table and the money goes in a can. I’d load up on tomatoes and bring them up to my parents’ house when I visited. My dad would cut the tomatoes, load mayonnaise on his plate and take them into the living where he’d snack and watch TV. He always said there was nothing better than native tomatoes.

My dad would love my garden though I suspect he’d say dibs on the tomatoes!