Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stacking the Deck in Your Favor

OK, there are a few times when you don't want a level playing field, when it's wise, even, to plan/pray to stack the deck in your favor.  Cancer diagnosis, for example.  Getting enough money to pay the power bill, is another.   Call it enlightened self-interest.  Call it your New Year's Resolutions.

I am the perfect New Year's Resolution maker.  I am 100% successful 100% of the time.  I've made the same resolution for nearly 20 years now.  And it's worked for that entire time.

I promise faithfully to never eat canned beets.

Oh, I'll eat fresh ones as beets are the beautiful vegetable, even given their lowly root vegetable status.  I've had fresh ones in a salad, grated to impossibly thin strands, like little purple haystacks.  Wonderful.

My aunt Nira taught me to roast them slowly in the oven, a hour or  a little more, depending upon their size.  Add half an inch of water in the bottom of the pan, cover them with foil.  They come out the most wondrous texture and that stunning color.  She peeled them and added a little butter and salt.

Perfection.  I love them too with a little horseradish in sour cream, exquisite with roast pork on a cold winter's night.

May your New Year be filled with such satisfying pleasures.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Prayer for You

May All Be Fed.
May All Be Healed.
May All Be Loved.
                 John Robbins.

Sending Love and Love to EveryBody.
                  In Joy, Barb

Thursday, December 20, 2012

As It Should Be

So, I haven't been feeling so good lately.  The sadness permeates  my city in the West.  We're hundreds of miles away from Connecticut; in spirit, they are just around the corner.  Our pretty little city is a city of children, a family town, kidville.  So, our sorrow is big.

I needed a media break so I went to the mall for some Christmas shopping and gobbled up the happy images of beloved, healthy, safe kids.

A new mom, in her twenties, breasts swollen, with her newborn.   She was so taken with the baby that she could barely acknowledge her grandmother's presence, keeping up a steady stream of baby-comments, absorbed in every thing baby.  The little kid was dressed in an adorable little stretch terry pants and jacket, bright yellow, trimmed with lace.  As it should be.

A little girl, about four, hopped across in the parking lot, clinging to the hand of her father.  Obviously they were Christmas shopping for mom.  The little girl had bright curly red hair that was unmanageable on oh-so-many levels.  Her hair hopped right along with her.  She had on a bright blue sweater, an orange tutu, and red, red boots.  As it should be.

The family had a blond mama, and a patient dad, three little blond Swedish kids.  You know what I mean, the rounded faces, the bright blue eyes, blond hair, pulled back and corralled.  You could feel their excitement, as they stopped for lunch in the food court.  Their bright eyes took in every detail, capturing my eyes for  the moment.  We shared a gleeful grin.  I was in on their Christmas spirit, as mom took care of the details and the decisions, keeping her babies safe.  As it should be.

We're having a tenderzied Christmas this year.  As it should be.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A High Class Problem

One of my  favorite Christmas memories is a platter full of home-made Christmas goodies:  Sugar cookies in the shapes of stars and snowflakes; fudge rich with walnuts or pecans; thumbprint cookies with walnuts and raspberry jam,  lacy pecan cookies, and. oh yeah, divinity.

My mom made wonderful divinity.  She's wait for the perfect day: low humidity, cool to cold, and then she's add things like chopped up cranberries, black walnuts, pounded into sparkly sand — candy canes.  Those made the divinity sparkle.  Little perfect clouds of sweet perfection.  Shining sweet perfection, not to put too fine a point on it.

For the life of me, I can't make them.  I'm faithful to the recipe.  I wait for just the right day.  I'm not above using exotic ingredients for flavor:  I'd do dried apricots and pistachios.  I'd do strawberry jam and chocolate.  I'd do caramel and sea salt,  which is exquisitely trendy.

The little divinities do not work for me.  I get little puddles of divinity.  Little pools of ever-spreading egg whites and glistening sugar.  My mom's were perky.  Mine are runny.  As running as your kid's nose in the throws of the first cold of the season.

I can't tell you how many years people have eaten them with a spoon.  My brother and his family came over for a Christmas celebration.  He spotted my little puddles in a dish on the piano.  He was instantly drawn to them.  Nose down; eyes a few inches above the little puddles.  "Ah," he said. "Your divinity."

Here's my recipe which is here merely to serve as a warning to others:  3 cups of sugar; 1 cup of corn syrup; 1/4 water.   Boil to soft ball stage.

In the mean-time.  Beat 2 egg whites into stiff peaks.  Pour the syrup over the egg whites slowly, and then beat the mixture until it's thick.  Supposedly, you can drop them by teaspoon full onto
waxed paper.  At the last you can add a teaspoon of pure vanilla and a cup of nuts, or other Christmas treats.

Use this recipe at your peril.  It might be cursed.  It might only work for my mother.  She was that kind of cook.