October – Fall into Halloween – Recipe – Quiche

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Apart from a hearty soup or stew, chicken or turkey pot pie, or creamy mac & cheese, I find quiche to be a really great, warm, easy to eat, easy to make comfort food. I think the common link of comfort foods is softness. Something you can savor and hold on your tongue without changing the consistency or the taste. Quiche is like that.

I’ve adapted this over the years, but the original recipe that I started with came from The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody. We bought this book when we first got married, and it was wonderful for teaching all the kitchen basics that neither of us knew anything about.

After putting either a non-stick spray or greasing the (8×8 or 9×9 square glass) pan with butter, there are different bases that can go on the bottom of the quiche. The original recipe called for bread. During Passover, I’ve used two layers of matzo, and just last week, I used two layers of Ritz crackers. So be creative, and use what you and your family enjoy.

I’ve also mixed all the ingredients and poured them over the base and I’ve layered each ingredient and then poured the egg mixture over. I think I prefer the layered version.

Put diced or chunked onions on the base. (1 onion)

Cover the onions with the cheese. I like cheddar, monterey jack, colby jack, mozarella. Any of those individually or any of them mixed with each other. (Use about 8oz. of cheese or how much you like.)

Put spinach over the cheese. If you use the frozen box of spinach, drain it well. You can use the whole box.

Combine 8 eggs (the original recipe called for six), 2 cups milk, 1 tsp. salt, 1 TB pepper. (You can add 2 tsp. garlic powder if you like that extra flavor and/or 1 TB dill weed).

Mix with a fork or whisk.

Pour over the layers.

Put the quiche in the refrigerator for one hour.

After one hour, put into an oven preheated to 325° and bake for 40 minutes. If you like the top a little more well done, you can leave it in for another five minutes or so.

Serve hot with salad or biscuits (or any bread/roll that you prefer.)

Tea

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​I love tea.

Not only do I love tea, I love the idea of tea.

It cures all ailments.

All ills made better.

Whether it’s taken like coffee – a caffeine pick me up – or a cup alongside a candle – for either prayer or writing time – or High Tea with finger sandwiches and mini pastries, it doesn’t matter to me.

I do draw the line at most herbal teas preferring my infusions to have actual tea leaves in them, and my preference is black tea rather than green, white or others.

I visited a group of friends a few years ago, and one was an immigrant from Wales. He brought me proper tea to wait on my bedside before I even got up for breakfast. While I was visiting, after my Welsh friend and his wife went to sleep, another friend put on the kettle to make us two cups of tea or hot chocolate or something that needed warm water. When the kettle whistled, we were a moment too slow, as my friend, while more or less still asleep or very groggy, came out of his bedroom, went straight to the kitchen without saying a word, turned off the kettle, and fixed the tea for us. Then he went back to bed. If there was ever any doubt if the British have tea in their veins, this settled it for me.

I am the kind of person who brings tea with me when I travel even to retreat weekends. I have loose leaf tins and an infuser that goes with me as well as investing in a travel tumbler with infusion attachment. It keeps my tea hot for a ridiculous amount of hours.

As I made my packing list for my last holiday to Ireland and Wales, I began to write “tea” under the space I left for food until I very quickly realized that to bring my own tea to Britain would not only be insulting, but redundant.

While my son needed ot buy an extra carry-on for his candy (truly, I am not exaggerating), I saved what little space I had for two large boxes of Welsh tea and two boxes of biscuits to go with them. I like candy as much as the next guy, but I do have my priorities.

Sweet Potatoes are My Comfort Food

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​Whenever comfort food is brought up, whether it’s a writing assignment or discussion or online meme, my head goes straight to chicken noodle soup and/or Kraft Macaroni & cheese in the blue box, although not eaten together of course. I will eat the mac & cheese as a leftover, but there is nothing like the taste of the macaroni from the blue box, hot and creamy, right when it’s first made.

Out of the pot even.

However, for real comfort, my heart goes to an evening that I was probably about eleven, maybe as old as twelve, where I am sitting in my mother’s bed, my legs sticking out from a nightgown that I hated wearing, with my back against the headboard.

The only light coming brightly from the hallway and that dim blue from the television just beyond the end of the bed. I was watching whatever happened to be on. There were not many options for change before remote controls, and with everyone else in the family downstairs, I was stuck with whatever it was.

On my lap was a plate, and on the plate, I am using my fork to smoosh around a thick piece of butter melting on a warm, soft, sweet potato. The orange flesh absorbing each bit of butter dripping off the pat. Long after this day, I’ve seen people put cinnamon and brown sugar, even caramel and marshmallows on sweet potatoes, but for me all it needs is the hot insides and the sweet, melting butter. 

Even today, the perfect, succulent, sweet potato brings me back to that sick day in bed, the smell, the taste, the warmth from the plate on my legs still warming me decades later.

50-38 – Chinese Food

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While I love a good macaroni and cheese (Kraft blue box original), probably my next best comfort food is Chinese. It could be take-out, eat in, buffet, I don’t care. It is the best food in the world. It might even be my first go-to comfort food.

When I was a kid, we used to go to this place near our apartment. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was on Horace Harding Blvd. in Queens. It wasn’t brightly lit. That’s how we kids knew it was a fancy restaurant. My one vivid memory is being dressed up, so it may have been for some kind of school congratulatory meal. I remember the owner knew my parents. He’d greet us at the door and show us to our table, talking to my parents the whole time. My Dad was a friendly guy, and everyone loved him. It was like going to Cheers. 

We would sit at a large round table, covered with a white linen tablecloth. My parents would order: two from column A, one from column B, duck sauce and mustard. My mother put a dab of hot mustard in her wonton soup. I have never dared. Everything was put in the center and we shared, serving ourselves. This was the one place that no one ordered soda. We had a glass of water and of course, the hot tea. I loved those small tea cups, and I would put in more sugar than I should have. I think that was where I got my love for drinking tea. For dessert it was always either vanilla ice cream or pineapples with a fortune cookie. I would get the pineapples, but I think I only got them because they came with a toothpick that I used to pick up the small chunks of pineapple.

We used to bring Chinese take-out to my grandmother’s house sometimes. My grandmother’s house was kosher, so she never ate any of the food, and she made us eat on paper plates because we couldn’t put the non-kosher food on hers. We had to sit in the dining room and eat, and then clean up and take all of our leftovers with us.

As an adult, it took us a couple of years to find our perfect Chinese take-out place in our new town. My barometer is the fried rice, the egg rolls, and the spare ribs.I like really fried rice, brown in color with nice chunks of pork. My egg rolls also need to have little bits of pork in it and a nice crunchy shell. Spare ribs – the more burned, the better.

There is something warm and comforting about the smells and tastes of Chinese food. I really don’t know what it is.

My husband’s family has a tradition of eating Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve, and so we’ve adopted that for our family. We even have a Chinese take-out box ornament for our tree. Our kids know it, and look forward to it each year. It is a really nice tradition and ritual for them. They get a new pair of pajamas; we eat Chinese take-out, and we bake cookies for Santa.

It’s warm and wonderful.

Grief and Anger: Where Do We Go From Here?

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​This is my first time sitting at the keyboard since the results of the election were made clear. I’m still in the anger stage of grief. Well, actually, I’m alternating between anger and depression.

Anger at the Republican party/Trump’s lies. Anger that people fell for it. Anger at having a vice president so out of touch with today’s America that he gives fetuses more rights than women in his home state of Indiana. Not to mention conversion therapy. Going from VP Joe Biden, who authored the VAWA to these misogynists makes me weep; sick. Anger at James Comey and anger at the Clinton haters who did not have any other reason for voting against her other than she sucks. How’re you feeling now?

This is not the first time that my candidate did not win the Presidency, but I have never felt this way about an election in my entire life. I trusted George Bush (and the other two candidates in recent years) to do the right thing. They wanted what was best for America even if I didn’t agree with them. I’m worried about Donald Trump.

I’m worried for Donald Trump.

Regardless of my feelings, on January 20th, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. He will represent all of us and we must stay watchful. We must look at the reaction to the Obama Presidency and not replicate that, lest we be hypocrites. And Republicans need to acknowledge that protests are okay; at least, we didn’t grab our muskets as threatened by an actual Congressional Representative [Joe Walsh] and supported and encouraged by the Trump campaign (publicly even). 

I will pray for and wish him success. His success is ours as well. I will not shout out for his impeachment unless he does something impeachable. To be honest, I’m more worried about the Senate and Pence.

For the names I’ve seen floated for various Cabinet positions, I’m terrified. It’s not that I disagree with their policies but they are superiorly unqualified (not even under qualified) for the job:

Sarah Palin as Sec’y of the Interior.

Dr. Ben Carson as Sec’y of Education. Call me crazy but the Sec’y of Education should be an educator and someone who, you know, believes in science and evolution. By the bare minimum standards, I’m more qualified. I at least have a teaching degree.

Ted Cruz as Supreme Court Justice. Wow. There are no words.

Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General. While technically qualified, the fact that he continued to go after Hillary Clinton’s email issue as a legal issue should disqualify him simply on incompetence.

A climate change denier for EPA.

I have never wanted to be more wrong in my life. Attacks on minorities have already begun. There was a Confederate flag in a Veteran’s Day parade in California, a state not of the Deep South. Swastikas.

Where do we go from here?

For me, I’ll be speaking out. I’ll be keeping track and keeping informed. I’ll be sending my financial and emotional support to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood for a start. John Oliver had a pretty good list of suggestions, which I will share later in the week.

Acceptance is still a little bit away. It could be weeks; it could be months.

In the coming days, I will get back to writing and posting. I still have thirteen pieces to post before my birthday in almost three weeks. Nineteen days.

Today will be two more posts. The first was supposed to be on what the safety pins aThis is my first time sitting at the keyboard since the results of the election were made clear. I’m still in the anger stage of grief. Well, actually, I’m alternating between anger and depression.

Anger at the Republican party/Trump’s lies. Anger that people fell for it. Anger at having a vice president so out of touch with today’s America that he gives fetuses more rights than women in his home state of Indiana. Not to mention conversion therapy. Going from VP Joe Biden, who authored the VAWA to these misogynists makes me weep; sick. Anger at James Comey and anger at the Clinton haters who did not have any other reason for voting against her other than she sucks. How’re you feeling now?

This is not the first time that my candidate did not win the Presidency, but I have never felt this way about an election in my entire life. I trusted George Bush (and the other two candidates in recent years) to do the right thing. They wanted what was best for America even if I didn’t agree with them. I’m worried about Donald Trump.

I’m worried for Donald Trump.

Regardless of my feelings, on January 20th, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. He will represent all of us and we must stay watchful. We must look at the reaction to the Obama Presidency and not replicate that, lest we be hypocrites. And Republicans need to acknowledge that protests are okay; at least, we didn’t grab our muskets as threatened by an actual Congressional Representative [Joe Walsh] and supported and encouraged by the Trump campaign (publicly even). 

I will pray for and wish him success. His success is ours as well. I will not shout out for his impeachment unless he does something impeachable. To be honest, I’m more worried about the Senate and Pence.

For the names I’ve seen floated for various Cabinet positions, I’m terrified. It’s not that I disagree with their policies but they are superiorly unqualified (not even under qualified) for the job:

Sarah Palin as Sec’y of the Interior.

Dr. Ben Carson as Sec’y of Education. Call me crazy but the Sec’y of Education should be an educator and someone who, you know, believes in science and evolution. By the bare minimum standards, I’m more qualified. I at least have a teaching degree.

Ted Cruz as Supreme Court Justice. Wow. There are no words.

Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General. While technically qualified, the fact that he continued to go after Hillary Clinton’s email issue as a legal issue should disqualify him simply on incompetence.

A climate change denier for EPA.

I have never wanted to be more wrong in my life. Attacks on minorities have already begun. There was a Confederate flag in a Veteran’s Day parade in California, a state not of the Deep South. Swastikas.

Where do we go from here?

For me, I’ll be speaking out. I’ll be keeping track and keeping informed. I’ll be sending my financial and emotional support to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood for a start. John Oliver had a pretty good list of suggestions, which I will share later in the week.

Acceptance is still a little bit away. It could be weeks; it could be months.

In the coming days, I will get back to writing and posting. I still have thirteen pieces to post before my birthday in almost three weeks. Nineteen days.

Today will be two more posts. The first was supposed to be on what the safety pins mean, but they’ve already been co-opted by the alt-right as white supremacists are encouraging their members to wear them to fool marginalized groups thinking they’re safe. Disgusting.

Instead I will post a 50 reflection on Chinese food that spans childhood through adulthood.

The second, my penultimate Year of Mercy reflection, appropriately on the act of reconciliation.

I spent last night curled up in a chair with macaroni and cheese, half a chocolate eclair and an extra long episode of The Walking Dead. I woke up this morning to sunshine and blue sky.

Tomorrow is a new day. The sun will rise and we will rise with it. All of us.

We have work to do.