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eG Foodblog: racheld - Thanksgiving and Goodwill


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Good Morning!!! And a happy holiday week to ALL!!

Sunny bread from Daughter's bakery should start everybody's day.

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When Susan asked me to do a blog, she suggested Thanksgiving week, and I’m just so flattered and appreciative of the honor. I’ve read each and every one since the first, and some, I’ve returned to time after time, for the sheer beauty of the words, the imagery, the exciting life and dining and cooking of the writers. Some are jeweled with beautiful pictures, of food and travel and markets and dining. Others have a wonderful homey feel, of a family kitchen and the communal dining table, a togetherness that warms as it is shared on the page.

We’re mostly home-folks, as well, and the recipes and meals are still South-centric, with pots of greens and beans set to simmer early in the day; pork chops and fried chicken are as often on our table as are pastas and steaks. Cornbread comes crusty from the oven in time to sit beside a big tureen of low-cooked snap beans with a hunk of falling-apart ham and some one-curl-peeled baby pink potatoes, and the favored accompaniment is a cool dish of just-from-the-garden tomatoes, with a few crisp slices of cold sweet onion. Desserts are rich and come from yellowed, hand-scripted recipes, written by my Mammaw, my Mother, an aunt with a “sure hand” for piecrust.

And always, we did the dainty things, the canapes and the pate and the terrines. We cooked game as often as market-meat, and in a greater variety of ways. Our family enjoyed all the frills and furbelows of baby vegetables, five minutes from the garden; Cuisinart-whirled pestos and salsas, mixer-whipped mousses and meringues, gently-stirred ganache and skillet-simmered caramel for the flan dish. Perhaps the names were a bit different; salsas were called chili sauce and green tomato relish, chow chow and pepper relish, all with different flavorings and spices in the mix.

We did hundreds of wedding receptions, parties, lawn teas, luncheons and dinners over the years, as apt to cater a fishfry as to make three gallons of chicken salad by the Secret Family Recipe and serve it on Mrs. Covington's Limoge. Food has just always been a great part of our life and livelihood, and it just comes naturally to me to actually prepare two gallons of something as easily as two cups.

This was prettier after we got the velvety golden apricots ranged all around. They sort of glowed like little round peachy lanterns.

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And now, we’ve been transplanted for some fifteen years to this Northernmost of Southern states. We love the climate, so different from the one of our raising; we love the city and all the delights it offers in the way of music and bookstores and libraries and entertainment. This week will hold a little bit of travel, a few local landmarks, some markets and bakeries we enjoy, a visit to Daughter’s bakery (with photos taken by her late at night).

While we were sleeping:

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Cakes---carrot and strawberry and chocolate. The Tuxedo one is my favorite, like a Gucci version of Boston Cream Pie. Supporting cast: eclairs, cream puffs, lots of other goodies, including individual slices-for-sale of the cakes.

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Closer look, if you can stand it:

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Apple fritters after the flip:

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Donuts frying:

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Glazing:

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Glazed:

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As much of a sweet tooth as I must confess, the deep-crusted, heavy-grained breads are my favorites.

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These peasanty, crusty boules are wonderful---I love the look of no-two-alike and their rugged countenances. I also love the slicing, with the lusty crackle of parting crust as the slices fall beneath the knife, and the little sawdusty sprinkle of crumbs left behind.

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The softer side---croissant-shaped yeast rolls curled into little rosettes, which for some silly reason always remind me of a baby sucking its thumb:

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Challah:

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And so goes the life of a baker, as we reap the sweet rewards.

We'll have people over to dinner other nights, friends who have their own family plans for this holiday; a get-out-the-propane-tank-and-black-pot fishfry on the patio, courtesy of Son#2, a salute to Daughter's Kitchen Idol as she prepares his Ma Po Tofu and fried rice.

Thursday will be our day of celebration and thanks, with the table laden with the exact dishes which have graced our family holidays for at least three generations. Mammaw's coconut cake, Aunt Glynda's cornbread dressing, Maw's canned green beans, with their little fillip of vinegar and sugar in the brine. All the dishes are named for whoever used to serve that particular recipe, and some families still serve Grandma Wilson's Rice Pudding, or Mammaw Thornton's Lemon Icebox Pie, even though those estimable ladies have been gone lo, these many years.

It's just a way of keeping our dear ones close for as long as we can, and in the kitchen, precious recipes are saved and kept as closely. The methods and motions of whoever taught you are replicated and repeated, as habit and homage, by a succession of cooks. We'll be cutting oranges for ambrosia, in that knife-peel, down-and-under motion only lately revealed to be a chef's method. Little sharp paring knives have been doing that for at least a century, when there were oranges to be had.

And Friday---lovely Friday. We've been invited to spend the day about two hours South of here, where our Georgia Granddaughters will be visiting their other grandparents for the holiday weekend. We'll be taking several dishes for that lunch, and will be passing a lovely winery; if it's not past closing time when we return, we'll stop in and report.

Susan said I could post one minute after midnight, and I think I may. I'm still learning all the ins and outs of albums and images and other parts of this posting thing, but I'm trying hard.

And a good night, or morning, or whichever time it is wherever all of you are. Sweet sleep or Happy Monday or whatever applies.

Moire non,

rachel

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Yippee! I'm so happy to see you blogging racheld! You are one of my favorite posters(but not in a stalker-ish way) and you express yourself beautifully. I'll be sure to check in often from down under. I'm looking forward to seeing southern food again.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kathryn

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I am completely agog!!!! Rachel blogging only days (okay, maybe weeks) after learning how to post images?! This is amazing, incredible, stupendous...alright, I know Rachel has many more and better words which convey her sunny outlook on just about every subject here on eGullet.

I look forward to this week with you and can only imagine what a wonderful feast you'll have for us on Thursday.

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Hey Rachel~

wonderful to see you blogging (esp for US!)

I love the fact that all the old recipes have the names in tribute--most of the time, people eating the dish will admit that it isn't quite as good as when Aunt Mary made it, no matter how closely you follow the recipe :wink:

and, furthermore, one of my favorite words (maybe the word of the day) is

furbelow

Thank you :smile:

Kathy

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AWWWWW, guys!! That's lovely. I've been learning every day, and have had a major NERVOUS on, let me tell you. I have so much I want to tell and show you, and have to follow in SOME lofty footsteps, with all the previous posters and their travels and experiences.

There's a lot to come, and I'll be posting in a bit about a wonderful harvest festival we attended, just a few weeks ago. It's an Indiana one-of-a-kind and I wanted to share it here. From encampments, to food-in-a-black-cauldron (big ole black pot over a fire, as we'd call it back in the South) to Highland Games, to hand-carved kitchen wares, all on one huge open field---it was quite a day.

I hope the little doings I've planned will be of interest to you.

rachel

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Sweet Miss Rachel, this will be one blog where the wondrous writing may well challenge if not supercede the beautiful photos. How privileged are we all to be guests at your family table for the coming week... I can hardly wait!

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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I'm so glad you learned how to post photos, Rachel! I'm sure your Thanksgiving celebration will warm everyone's heart. Enjoy this busy week of work, celebration, and blogging!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Well, you're just WELCOME!!! Now, what can I get Y'all to drink?

Thank you all---I've been looking forward to this for MONTHS!!! Susan's promised to step in if I get carried away, and I'm getting the hang of doing pictures.

Chris photographed a wedding last night, just a small one, maybe forty guests, with a pretty little reception down two steps behind the altar, into a big room with a cake table and a punch table.

The cake was a big rectangular one, with some swirled-on stringwork like a child’s attempt at Cornelli lace, and it was delicious, with a soft, vanilla-scented layer and buttery-vanilla frosting.

I sat out in the church for a few moments as he finished with the reception pictures, and just absorbed the quiet of the place, the stillness and the subdued glow from the ceiling lamps. Then he reappeared round the side of the altar, camera-strap looped over his arm, and a small plate of cake in each hand. They were very generous slices, big square slabs ---almost three-inch cubes. Just sitting there, on little slick, Styrofoam plates.

We shouldered strapped items, picked up tripod, rolled big clamshell case, and I went out into the cold night, bearing two awkward plates of cake. We just KEPT passing beautiful spots, places I had wanted to photograph and show you all of our beautiful city, and there I was, camera snugged into the backseat out of reach, my seatbelt caught in that can’t-move-an-inch grip, and a chunk of frosting-laden cake in each hand.

Our goal was dinner at Shapiro’s, :wub: and we reached it without mishap---UNTIL I tried to reach for the belt-clasp. The right-hand slice of cake slid off that slick little coaster and tumbled down across my black crepe pants---and it didn’t just fall. That thing rolled like a square wheel, turning corner over corner, going plop, plop, plop, leaving little footsteps of sticky white the length of my right leg, stopping just above my sandal-strap. I must have jumped in my dismay, because the left-hand hunk of cake went airborne, left a considerable bite on the end of the straw in the plastic cup next to me, and made quite a mark on the side of Chris’ pinstripe jacket as it passed.

Neither piece made it to the floor, so I fished them back onto the plates, rather the worse for wear, and sponged us off with paper towels as best I could before we went in, but we probably looked like refugees from the Lucy/Ethel factory.

We were not swayed. That whole rain-sleet-snow-gloom-of-night thing could have been written about Shapiro’s corned beef.

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So we went in, shared one of those too-tall sandwiches bursting with corned beef, two pickles, some marinated button mushrooms, and a dish of their marvelous potato salad---a lovely vinegar tang on the creamy-soft chunks of perfectly-cooked potato, with a tiny dusting of finely-grated carrot for color.

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I got permission to make pictures, going to all the cases of mile-high cakes and pies,

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This is undescribably SOFT white cake, with strawberry filling and a whipped-cream style frosting.

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The meringue on these tall beauties is applied by hand---literally. The ladies look like sculptors in white aprons and gloves, scooping up the big white handfuls, piling it on, smoothing and making that impossibly-tall peak.

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the cold cases with their succulent meats in every hue of rose in the palette,

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The cafeteria-style lineup was getting sparse by this time, so I got in line with my camera, snapped as we edged along, and was VERY careful not to delay anyone or interfere with their choosings and instructions to the sandwich-man.

The World-Famous Latkes, crisp and brown, with a creamy-soft center of shredded potato, served with a little cup of applesauce and a dab of horseradish. I just cannot tell you.

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The steam table---the yellow pan is their chicken/noodle dish, ladled out by the ton every day---a Winter lunchtime crowd will ask for the noodles and slurp them down, BEFORE tucking into those hearty sandwiches.

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A tiny lady just in front of me was asked "Cup or Bowl?" and she emphatically said, "BOWL!" He dipped several times, and she kept encouraging him til the bowl was almost too full to lift over the glass without spillage.

The salad line, from left: Marinated mushrooms; a devilled egg with the two halves stuck back together; small tossed; my favorite: Potato; some sort of kasha salad; coleslaw; three-bean; fruit; cottage cheese.

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Desserts:

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When I finally got to the end, I paused to snap the pyramid of drink cans; I love choosing a celery tonic or a Vernor’s---I’d heard of and read of those all my life, but Coke and Pepsi were the only game in town in all my growing-up years. When we first started going there, they had a huge bin of ice with the GLASS bottles of Coke embedded in all that frosty whiteness.

Sparkling that icy brew into an ice-laden glass---that thrilled this Southern girl’s heart every time. Just like going to the drugstore on Saturday afternoon and fishing one out of the ice-and-water-filled case; that hand-numbing moment was what reaching into Arctic waters must feel like, and the drink filled your mouth with FREEZE, then left a hot sting in your throat and eyes as it went down. Lovely.

Vernor's------------

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We did not order dessert----we had CAKE!!!!! We took two little clear clamshells from the takeout-box shelves and boxed up that pesky cake as soon as we got back to the car. Opening the door was like walking into a candyshop---the scent of vanilla and butter flavorings had filled our small car with sweetness. We made a reverse route on the way home, stopping in that beautiful clear night to let me snap a few photos of local landmarks.

Then we came home out of the cold, got into our sweats, made a pot of Earl Grey and ate up that battered, delicious cake whilst counting the Horations on a tape of CSI Miami. Nice way to end an evening.

edited to corral a wandering apostrophe

Edited by racheld (log)
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Happy Thanksgiving Rachel!

I am looking forward to seeing a real southern Thanksgiving. I haven't celebrated it in six years. I guess I have gotten used to not having it anymore. I certainly have enough other holidays here to prepare lots of food. The one item I do miss and haven't made here because it is so damn fattening is:

North Carolina Yam Custard

I think my family would declare mutiny if my Dad doesn't make this.

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It's so LOVELY to hear from everyone!!!

A few weeks ago, we drove up to Lafayette to their annual Feast of the Hunter's Moon. I first heard of it ten years ago, from my seatmate on a plane, as I traveled back on one of those numerous trips to Mississippi in my Mother’s last days. Just listening to the nice young man tell of all the crafts and games and displays sounded SO interesting, and helped to keep my mind off my trip.

I knew this blog was coming up, and though this was not technically part of this week’s activities, I wanted to show some of the activities and displays from our day at the encampment. This is the closest I’ve been to seeing what might have occurred at that FIRST Thanksgiving, how hard the times were, how meager the fare in that still-wilderness which became our country.

We left early on a Saturday morning, stopping for breakfast on the way:

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There was a good-sized breakfast crowd, and we wafted in on the enticing scents of bacon and really GOOD coffee. The thick ceramic mug hit the table almost before we were seated, and a proud strong brew streamed into the cup.

Our table seemed to hold all the usual suspects, including a bowl of various-flavored creamers. I chose Irish cream for the first cup.

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Chris chose the blueberry crepes, with a side of two-fried-over-grits

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And I had the Western skillet---onions, peppers, ham, hashbrowns, all fried up and covered with scrambled eggs—a deconstructed Denver, I suppose, my one bow of the week to cuisine moderne.

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Mine came with a short stack, which were nice and fluffy,

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but I knew we had a long hot day outdoors ahead, so I settled for a couple of samples of the crepes.

It was a nice, homey breakfast, about forty miles up I-65, so we’ll probably wander back sometime; we love to roam the countryside, searching out Farmers’ Markets, thrift stores, and pretty scenes to photograph, especially the old barns melting into the ground. It feels as if they are the last of a dying breed, and when they’re gone, there won’t be any more.

We boarded a bus on the Purdue campus, and were taken miles out into the countryside, to a VAST, foot-beaten field, with trees and tents---there were lean-tos, small tents, family-size models, and a few two-tent mansions, several furnished with draperies, highboys, kitchen wares and a table, pictures on the walls and a real bedstead with linens, for the comfort of the campers who had been there since Thursday, and would depart on Monday.

I wondered at the time if the folks keep in character, even in relaxing times. Are the women discussing the outrageous price of dimity at the trading post, or what Miz Paula cooked on Saturday's program?

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There were Mountain Men:

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And Wolf Men:

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And the backbone of the settlers’ home: a feisty Granny-Woman to keep the pot boiling and the family on the right path.

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There was food for sale:

A good, hearty pot of Northern beans, with a multi-tasking utensil---they were stirred with the same paddle which brought their canoe down the Wabash.

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The humble Sauerkraut Stew might have had many takers, but the last of the batch was a bit the worse for wear, with no elegant paddle for stirring---their spoon of choice was a wooden stick.

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Other signs listed Frybread, Croquinoles, Buffalo stew.

The stew was one that caught my eye, not only for the bright red Hunt’s Tomato Sauce color, but for the little couple who purchased two flimsy white bowls of the stuff. They carried it and their swaddled baby over to a shady spot, sat down, and began to spoon up the steaming red stew. Perhaps it was the absolute authenticity of the event, in that there were NO concessions to modern food-for-sale; there were no nachos, no Frito pies, no grills set up to dispense burnt burgers and shuck-steamed corn.

The pair and their child sat and ate their supper, quietly speaking, taking turns holding the baby in their folded legs as they sat in the dirt. They wore rough clothes, and the wee one wore a long-tailed dress. Their demeanor was that of a subdued, hard-driven young couple, making their way along the trail to new horizons, not that of young folks out for a sunny afternoon of fun and games, who would toss off those hot clothes for shorts and tanks, cranking up a sizzling CD as soon as they hit the parking lot.

I noticed a dropped pink pacifier at my feet. I caught the mother’s eye, signaled to the lost passy, and she looked at it, at me, and back at it, with a puzzled look of one who gazes on an artifact unknown. With a little frisson of amazement, I had the absurd feeling that I was gazing at people of another age and time, lost in this strange place, finding others familiarly dressed and grubby, just having a meal and a rest before passing through.

A camp kitchen, which might have held the exact equipment which cooked that first Thanksgiving Feast:

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Hand-hewn treens for sale:

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All things wooden for cooking---I loved the way the polished spoons looked in the sunshine.

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The Pork Chop Purveyors---the sign caused me to giggle; I kept thinking of shampoos and aromatherapy. Pork potpourri---YUMMM.

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There were flintknappers, silversmiths, a couple of mob-capped young women teaching young folks a few games, with cards the size of paperback books. This group of items I was unsure of, though I had to keep my feet moving, lest I succumb to the siren-gleam of those silver pieces. I could only think that the blue plumb-bob things were for hanging in a sunny window---anyone know what they are, or what they’re used for?

But pretty is enough.

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Buy a buckeye for luck on your way home.

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We enjoyed our outing, especially the Highland Games, which featured stout-hearted, sturdy, kilted men tossing rocks the size of basketballs, and the caber---a long pole which is held upright in the hands and flipped once-over in the air, to land straight-on from the tosser.

All the ladies in their finery sat on the sidelines, cheering on their favorites. Then, they all jumped up, lifted their skirts knee-high and made a dash for what would have been the end-zone, where they seated themselves expectantly on the grass. The announcer explained that the gentlemen competing were now going to toss the sheaf.

Originally the sheaf WAS a sheaf of wheat, tossed over the head and as far behind the tosser as possible. It was now a sewn sack filled with straw, but the spirit is still intact. The ladies’ interest was sparked by the fact that it is impossible for the tosser to reach backward between his legs, bring up the sheaf from the ground, and toss it high over his head without flinging up his kilt in front.

And a good time was had by all.

We had a lovely stroll into the past, and it CERTAINLY made ME appreciate the present.

moire non,

rachel

Edited by racheld (log)
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It's true that at times I've had a suspicion that you really could not be *real*, Rachel. Daring furbelows, fantastic fritters, flights of fine fancy and elfish fun and all.

But if you are going to tell me that you ate this:

Then gosh darn it, I'm gonna have to believe in you.

:smile:

It's a New Moon today, good auspices - and I woke up with the song "Rock On" running through my head for some reason. So, "Blog On"! with all fine things coming your way this week as you show us You. :wink:

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Thank you kindly, Ma'am, for all those nice compliments. And we DID share the sandwich, though I had to take off half the meat from mine. I put it in a little clear go-box, headed for the door juggling camera, box, fresh hot loaf of their rye, and must have set it down to snap another picture, because it was not in the car when we arrived home.

Great wailings and gnashings!!! Losing Shapiro's corned beef. I should be banished.

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Rachel, this is wonderful! Your writing is so full of nostalgia and history, and you exude the warmth of family. All this really appeals to my sentimental side. I hope you don't mind that I've written a quote from you on the front page of my food journal:

..."It's just a way of keeping our dear ones close for as long as we can."

Although my grandmother lives an airplane ride away, she is always with me in the kitchen. Unfortunately, she abruptly lost her eyesight this Spring and can no longer work in her beloved kitchen. And even though I am making foods and breads far outside her own experience, it is her passion and drive that I carry with me daily.

Thanks for sharing your week with us.

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Thank you, Shaya---that is one of the loveliest compliments of my life.

And your Grandmother---what did you call her? I love hearing the pet names families use for grandparents.

Both of mine were Mammaw---the one who DIDN'T cook had her last initial tacked on to her title, to tell who I meant.

But the other---she was my guide and mentor, though she would never let my Mother near the kitchen. I'll be making her coconut cake and sweet potato casserole again this year, by her own recipes.

In this time of family and celebration, I'd love to hear what EVERYONE called their Grandmothers, and which one was the defining influence. And in some instances, we may need a little translation, which would just round out the experience.

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And your Grandmother---what did you call her?  I love hearing the pet names families use for grandparents.

Everyone calls her Mama. Her children, her grandchildren, and all 7 great-grandchildren. She lived with us when we were little, then got her own place and always came over on Mondays to prepare 3 or 4 meals for us for the week. I first met her when I was a baby, and as she tells it, she tossed aside my abominable baby food and fed me chicken and rice. From that moment on our bond was formed! After I moved away from home she would await my visits, and prepare countless tupperwares (she calls them "tuppaware") filled with goodies for me to freeze and eat for lunches. Now I find myself asking her what goodies in tuppawares I can bring home for her when I visit.

Our other Grandmother was Nana. She was cold, somewhat distant, and the only food memories I have of her involve her sneaking into her bedroom to bring us chocolate bars. :smile:

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. . . as good as when Aunt Mary made it. . .

My own Aunt Mary (Mayyyy-ry) was famous in the family for her corn. And once, when we were visiting her for Sunday dinner, I saw her cook it. She poured two cans of Pride of Illinois cream-style into a little skillet with a dot of butter and cooked it. And cooked it. It congealed and thickened and coalesced and all those good words. It took on a golden hue, becoming thick enough to pile on the spoon. She let that pan cook for probably an hour, growing more caramelly by the minute, and it was wonderful.

It was the dulce de leche of corn, a thing beyond the sum of its one part. That's the only thing I remember that she ever cooked, but it was GREAT corn.

At least in a child's mind---all that sweetness HAD to be a good thing. :wub:

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        "Grazie!" I thanked her for the reminder. The midday sun started to become unbearable. The streets had cleared with only a few tourists braving the midday heat still around. I thought about the strawberries I bought from the market earlier that week. Strawberries for lunch on my shaded balcony and maybe a nap afterwards sounded like my perfect riposo. The pasta will have to wait till 4.
               
           
    • By KennethT
      OK.... here we go again!!!  While this post is a bit premature (we don't take off until around 1:30AM tonight), I am extremely excited so I figured I'd just set up the topic now.  As in previous foodblogs, I may post a bit from time to time while we're there, depending on how good my internet connection is, and how much free time I have... but the bulk of posting will really get started around July 9th - the day after we get home (hopefully without too much jetlag!!!)
    • By KennethT
      Happy New Year!  I'm sitting at the gate waiting for my flight from Saigon to NYC connecting through Taipei so I figured this would be a good opportunity to get started... But this is just the intro- the rest will gave to wait until I land about 22 hours from now, sleep for about 12 hours, then get my photos in order! We had a great week enjoying beautiful weather, taking in the frenetic yet relaxed street life and eating some amazing local food...
      Our flight here was on EVA Airline and was very pleasant and uneventful. Our flight from Nyc to Taipei left around 12:20 AM on the 24th. I love those night flights since it makes it very easy to get a decent amount of sleep, even in coach. EVAs food is quite good eith both Chinese and western choices for dinner and breakfast, and they came through several times with snacks such as a fried chicken sandwich with some kind of mustard. I think I had 4 of them!
      Once I get home, I'll continue posting with pics from our feast in the Taipei airport.... Spoiler: those who have read my Singapore foodblog from July may see a slight trend...

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