Posted tagged ‘appetizers’

“Cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey.”

July 17, 2017

I turned off the air conditioner just to refresh the house, but that’s not going to happen. The air is thick with humidity, and there is no breeze to stir it. There are clouds where there is supposed to be sun. It will be 77˚ at the highest and in the mid-60’s tonight.

Movie night was fun, and the appetizers were delicious. We noshed on a feta dip with pita chips, cold cuts in baguettes, delicious cheeses and honeyed figs. Gunga Din was as wonderful an old movie as I remembered. It was one of those movies with a cast of thousands. The night was humid and hot but cooled down as we watched. I have neighbors on one side and renters on the other. I always wonder if they’re a bit jealous of us watching movies outside in the summer, such a wonderful way to spend a warm evening.

Summer had its own set of rules when I was a kid. The street lights no longer controlled our play time. We stayed out after dark. Bedtime was when we went to bed. Meals were usually catch as catch can except for supper which my mother cooked for all of us.  Mostly it was cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. We’d make our own. Bologna with hot peppers was my favorite sandwich. The peppers were round so I had to cut them, but they were still thick. The bologna came in a roll so I had to cut slices which were never even; they were thin on one side and thick on the other. My sandwiches were messy. White bread was just too soft and easily prone to holes. For dessert we’d grab Oreos, but they quick to disappear. The week days were ours to do as we wanted. My mother would ask where we were going, but most times we didn’t know. Riding our bikes or going to the playground were our usual answers. At least one weekend day was family day when we were stuck together in the hot car going to the beach on Sunday or to a drive-in movie theater Saturday night.

As we got older, we spent less and less time with the family and more time with our friends. I had drill two nights a week and competitions on the weekends. I slept late every day. My bicycle stayed in the cellar. My friends picked me up with their cars. Sometimes we did nothing but ride around. Other times we hung at one house or another just talking and laughing. That was pretty much the end of family time, but it reappeared when I was older, living away and teaching. I’d spend a weekend at my parents’ house. I even remember the three of us going to a drive-in together. The movie was A New Leaf with Walter Matthau and Elaine May. We laughed a lot. I had a wonderful evening with my parents.

“After luncheon the sun, conscious that it was Saturday, would blaze an hour longer in the zenith,…”

August 20, 2016

The mornings are fresh and cool. It is in the afternoons when the days become uncomfortable, hot and  humid. I turn on the air conditioning and shut out the world. I prefer comfort.

Another birthday celebration was last night. We had appetizers on the deck, played a game which I lost then dined inside. We had ribs, one of my favorites. I opened my present which was a hoodie with a boxer outlined on the front in a facsimile of the flag in muted colors. It is perfect. We watched the Red Sox win handily. I drank cosmos. It was a wonderful finale for my birthday.

On TCM today is Humphrey Bogart day. This morning I watched Across the Pacific, a movie filmed in 1942 reuniting Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet and Humprey Bogart. In a secondary role is Victor Sen Yung, famous for being Charlie Chan’s number 2 son Jimmy and Hop Sing, the cook for the Cartwrights. Humphrey stars as Rick, a familiar name for Bogart from my favorite movie, Casablanca, also released in 1942, which will be on later. In Across the Pacific, Bogart is a passenger on a Japanese ship and working undercover: pretending to be a disgraced US military officer who is willing to trade information for money. One of the minor characters was described as having dipsomania, much more polite than calling him a drunk. Aside from the pidgin English of the Japanese, I liked the movie.

Saturday used to be my chore day. I’d clean the house, grocery shop and do an assortment of errands. Today I have only one errand: Agway for animal food. The house doesn’t need any cleaning, but I just might change my bed.

I have been retired for twelve years. Even I can’t believe how long it has been. Leisurely days have been an easy fit for me. I found out that most things, other than appointments, can be delayed. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t get everything done. Now I don’t care.

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”

July 5, 2015

Last night was wonderful except for the cold. I had to laugh when I looked at my guests and four of them were wearing their sweatshirt hoods and two of them were also wrapped in afghans. The rest of us also donned a sweatshirt or a jacket but no hoods. Dinner was a success from the appetizers to the dessert. The movie Independence Day was the perfect choice even though all of us had seen it. We clapped at the end of the president’s rousing speech about July 4th now being Independence Day for the world. Bill Pullman is way over the top, but I figure alien invaders bent on world annihilation deserve a speech more than a bit histrionic. Dessert was ice cream, just what we needed on a cold night, but the hot fudge and hot peanut butter sauces made the chill worthwhile. The evening ended quite late, after midnight. By the time I did a little cleaning and checked my e-mail, it was close to 3, but I still wasn’t tired. I watched a little TV, the perfect soporific, and shortly thereafter went to bed. I crawled out of bed at 11 this morning. I hope my neighbors didn’t wonder if I survived the night as my paper was still in the driveway.

One of my most memorable days was July 4th when I was around 12 or 13. We didn’t go to the fireworks, but I could see them from the hill behind my house. The colors would burst into circles first one then another. Some were single circles. Some were triples. They were beautiful. A couple of my neighbors were also watching and afterwards they invited in for a root beer. We sat around the kitchen table talking. The conversation went all over the place. They didn’t speak to me as if I were a kid, and that’s what I remember the most, how that conversation was the first tug of adulthood. I was a pushmi-pullyu looking in two different directions. Little changed that night, but the changes were starting.

“Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.”

May 24, 2015

If I were prone to burst out in song, I’d be singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning. The sun is squint your eyes bright, and it’s warm even bordering on hot. I have already been busy. I potted the last of the deck plants and polished the old silver butter knives with the names of the herbs on them then stuck them in the planters.

The deck is still a mess from the last rain storm, but I’m hoping I can get my landscaper’s guy to blow it clean and save me the sweeping. I have an errand today in a bit as I’m making appetizers for game night tonight and need a couple of ingredients for the brie and strawberries, mostly brie and strawberries.

Gracie had a tough night so we were up until 2:30. I don’t know what she ate but she had indigestion again. I gave her sea grass and it did the trick though I needed to do the clean-up, but that’s a small price to pay for a happy dog.

Every now and then I have a craving for something salty. When I do, I am reminded of the episode from the original Star Trek about Nancy, the shape-shifting salt fiend. Kirk, McCoy and a red-shirted crewman go down to the planet to administer physicals to the two inhabitants, Nancy and her husband. Well, it doesn’t take long until red shirt dies. That is a rule in Star Trek-all red shirts are doomed. Two more crew members beam down, both wearing red shirts. Nancy kills them then shape shifts into one of them and goes back to the Enterprise. Well, Nancy isn’t Nancy-she is a salt sucking fiend who attacks Kirk, but McCoy kills her before she can suck all the salt and kill him. I don’t use much salt but when I do, thoughts of Nancy come to mind.

“Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise! “

March 8, 2015

When I went to get the papers, I could hear a bird singing. Its song was so beautiful I stood outside in the cold to listen. All of a sudden it was a spring morning when every bird greets the first light of day and the air is filled with music. This one bird is the beginning of that chorus. Though it was perched on a branch covered in snow, it still found reason to sing. The bird had found its own spring. Now I’m looking for mine.

Warmer weather is on the way. I used to think warmer was the 40’s this time of year. Now I’m happy with above freezing. Yesterday, a sunny day, I could hear the snow slide off the roof and fall to the deck. The thick icicle on my outside front lamp has melted and only a few icicles are left hanging off the edge of the house. Maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to turn the corner from one season to another.

Gracie and I are doing some errands today. She gets her dump run, her stop for dog food, and I get my stop for human food. Tonight is our Amazing Race night. We DVR it on Fridays and do our traditional Sundays starting with games and appetizers and ending with the Race and dessert. I’m the designated appetizer server. We’re having one with apples, walnuts, honey and cheese; another, a hot appetizer, with cherry tomatoes, bacon, mozzarella and goat cheese and, if I have the time and energy, a third with feta, tomatoes and scallions. They all sound so delicious on paper I hope they translate well to real life.

This is a quiet week for me. Last week was totally busy with something every day except the storm day. This week I am booked for a couple of hours of PT and lunch with a friend. That’s it for the whole week so I am adding a bit of excitement by trying a new spot for lunch. I also need to buy a new toilet seat. My cup runneth over with delight.

“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused— in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened— by the recurrence of

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I woke up to a dark, rainy day yet again, but I remembered right away it was Christmas, and the day got brighter. Both trees are lit and both look beautiful. The one in the living room, the real tree, is still surrounded by presents I haven’t yet opened. That will come next, when I finish here. I find my restraint remarkable.

Christmas Eve was great fun. We drank egg nog and ate appetizers but mostly we worked on our gingerbread houses. We each had a kit with house parts and some candies for decoration. Clare added different candies and off we went. The frosting was sticky and my fingers were covered. Some bits fell on the floor as the frosting hardened quickly. This year, while the walls of the houses were drying, we decorated. We laughed when colored round candies hit the floor, bounced and then rolled, and there were several. Gum drops, we found out, needed lots of frosting. We landscaped. The last step was for us to attach the roof parts. We each had two pieces. Mine caused the walls to collapse, a construction set back, but I added icing and reconnected the house. It dried, and I gingerly added the roof, and it stuck. The three of us created masterpieces. They are the best houses yet.

When I was a kid, the first look at the tree on Christmas morning was jaw dropping. It was lit and surrounded by presents. It always looked brighter and taller on Christmas morning. I had to stand just a second on the stairs to marvel then I went to my spot, my special present spot under the tree. We each had one, and it never changed over all the years.

We’d take turns opening up a gift so could watch each other open. The stockings were the only exception. There we were on our own though neat stuff was held up for everybody to see. Stockings always had neat stuff. My mother was a stocking maven.

We’d play a while then go to church for Christmas mass. Because my parents went at midnight, my brother and I walked and went together. Mostly we went to early masses which were quick and had no sermon. It was just the old ladies and us.

Dinner was always a roast of some kind, usually roast beef, which we didn’t have often. Mashed potatoes and gravy were a necessity. Only the vegetables could change from year to year. After dinner we did whatever. Mostly we played near the tree. Sometimes I’d start a new book. For supper we had hot roast beef sandwiches covered in gravy. My mother always toasted the bread first.

We went to bed early on Christmas, exhausted by the festivities of the day. It was always a special day filled with surprises.

I love Christmas still and take joy out of finding neat stuff, the kind you hold up to show, for bags and stockings. Speaking of bags and stockings, I’m done here. Merry Christmas!

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”

August 10, 2012

The morning is dark and humid with thunder and lightning storms possible tonight and tomorrow. Everything is still and quiet. Today is a favorite sort of morning. From the deck, I can even smell the ocean.

I clip recipes from newspapers, magazines and even grocery flyers. I keep them in a folder bursting at the seams. Periodically, while watching TV, I go through the folder looking for something new to try. I make piles of the possibles: appetizers, meats, sides and desserts. This summer I’ve tried different appetizers and just about every one of them was a keeper. It’s fun for me to read the ingredients and imagine how the food will taste and how well dishes will go together. I’m going to be working on movie night’s dinner today.

While growing up I was never interested in anything having to do with cooking or sewing or any sort of handwork like knitting or crocheting, and my ineptitude was of little concern or consequence. My mother did it for me; however, that changed when I got to college. I had to be inventive. I learned solutions for all sorts of problems. Lose a button? Use a stapler. A hem falling? Use tape. Need to make dinner? Open a can, and I was not alone in a total lack of housewifery skills. My friends shared the same ineptitudes as I did and none of us really cared.

The first time I ever did any real baking was at Christmas time in Ghana. I made cookies. They were delicious so I expected a parade celebrating my new skill, but, alas, there wasn’t one. I had to be content with eating and sharing the cookies. The next year I even made pies for Thanksgiving, paw paw pies. I made my own crust for the very first time and rolled it out using a beer bottle, a Star beer bottle, a make-do innovation. The pies were delicious. I was hooked on baking. It seemed I had a hidden talent now brought to light by circumstances like no super-market.

It’s been a long time since then, and I have honed my cooking and baking skills. I can make almost anything and make it well. I love trying new recipes and have enough confidence to make them for company. As for the other housewifery skills, I still need a stapler and tape for those unexpected sewing problems. They’re in my sewing basket, my very large sewing basket.