In acknowledgment of the current environment

As I was organizing the file son my laptop today I came across some of my digital art pieces. This one is part of my “A past look into my brain” collection and it’s titled Politics.

A made this piece in June of 2007. I can’t recall what I was thinking at the time but I can sure see how it relates to the present. Can you?

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Winter, Corn Chowder, and a Very Special Woman

Born January 3rd, 1920, Katalina Herskovitz, my grandmother, would have been 97 years old today. She passed 10 years ago on Christmas Eve. And on this particular year, her Hebrew death anniversary fell on New Years Day; on Sunday, the day she always had as over for lunch.

To some, she was Katy. To others, Katyca; but we called her Anyu (A-ñu) which in Hungarian means mother. You see, Anyu was born in Transylvania which in 1920 was, questionably Romania but after the war, it reverted back to Hungary. She then married a Hungarian so that is the language they spoke at home. So when my oldest cousin, David, heard my aunt and my father call her Anyu, the name stuck, and 6 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren later that is how we still refer to her.

She was a special woman. She loved to cook for us and had some staples that till this day my sisters and I make for our sons. I am planning on sharing some of her recipes with you on later posts. Today, I want to talk about winter foods. The Winter is also something that reminds me of my Anyu; it was the only time that she would be caught wearing pants. This woman would only be seen in dresses or skirts otherwise. She loved going on Ski trips with us. The highlight of her day was to be waiting for us at the house with her famous tomato soup to warm us up after a long day of skiing.

I like to think of soups in the winter too. This week I’ve been craving corn chowder. And so tonight, inspired by this post, I made the Chief in Training’s recipe of corn chowder (which was her grandmother’s recipe), with a twist. First, I switched the bacon for turkey bacon, and instead of regular milk and cream I used Organic Valley Lactose-Free Milk and Lactose-Free Half & Half  (some members of my family have a “beef” with lactose). Other than that, I doubled the recipe and voila. It was delicious img_0616

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention that I had the history of Transylvania all wrong. The correct story goes like this:  Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, mostly settled by ethnic Hungarians. After WW l, Transylvania became, and still is,  part of Romania.

I stand corrected!

 

 

A celebration with friends!

A couple of nights ago we had our good friends and neighbors over to celebrate our friendship, our families, and say goodbye to 2016. It was an evening filled with laughter, a good old game of Family Feud, wine, and delicious appetizers (if I may say so myself).

On the menu for the evening: caramelized onion quiche, bbq kielbasa, mozzarella and tomato skewers, a big salad, cheese, chicken liver pate, and crackers.  (recipes to follow).

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For the salad, I used Baby Arugula, almond slivers, and dates. I dressed the salad with white balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. It’s super simple and delicious.

For the skewers, I used Marzano tomatoes cut in half, fresh basil leaves, and store bought mozzarella balls. I placed the basil in between the cheese and the tomato. Once all the skewers were assembled and arranged on the platter, I drizzled them all with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction.

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The bbq kielbasa that I made is a recipe from The Frugal Girls I found on Pinterest. This is the second time I make it but this time I varied it a little bit. The recipe calls for very specific ingredients. I used them all, but instead of regular kielbasa I used turkey kielbasa and I used an additional package of it, so instead of 2 I used 3. The recipe also calls fro a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce, which I used; but I also used half a bottle of Old Mule.

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The star was the caramelized onion quiche. I didn’t change anything from the recipe I used from Simply Recipes I just followed the steps exactly as suggested. I also chose to make the crust but you can certainly make this with a frozen, store-bought crust.

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We served this with a variety of microbrewery beers, a bottle of 2012 Sean Minor Cabernet Sauvignon, a bottle of 2015 Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blan, and lots of love!

How do you celebrate with friends?

Fear vs Intuition

I learned an important lesson a few days ago. One that emphasized living in the present. Understanding that the only moment we have is now.

You see, I had been questioning how to separate fear from intuition. How would I know when a feeling I have is fear-based or something I should actually pay attention to.

The answer was simple, but one I hadn’t thought of. Fear is about the future. Fear is born from an expectation of what could be. However, the future, as well as the past, are basically illusions. They don’t exist. Only. Ow exists and that is where I tuition comes I to play. Intuition is about a situation happening in the present. In the only point in time, that matters.

It’s something to think about and remember when you’re fearful or getting ready to make a decision.

Asado Negro (a recipe)

This one means “Black Roast” and it’s another Venezuelan classic and, probably, my favorite. The name comes from the color the roast acquires. from being cooked in dark caramel

My sister Claire has always been the one to make it for our family. She’s adventurous, doesn’t mind the mess, and has her own way of doing it. It’s almost instinctual. So yesterday, I decided to be adventurous and found a recipe that seemed like something I could do and there would be no mess. This recipe is by Edgar Leal and I found it in an old post on The New York Times.

I followed all the steps but, again, made some minor changes. Instead of white sugar I used Florida Crystals Pure Sugar Cane, I left out the cilantro, and I pureed the vegetable to include them in the sauce (which I reduced a bit) while the roast rested.  For the wine, I used an open bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel that I had from the night before

I am still working on learning how to take pictures as I go so that I can show my progress. In the meant time, I leave you with a photo of the final product served with white rice and steamed asparagus.

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Happy holidays!

Pan de Jamón (a recipe)

The literal translation of this Venezuelan Christmas classic is “Ham Bread”.  It, literally, is bread that has been stuffed or rolled with ham, olives, and raisins.

Even though I did not grow up celebrating Christmas, enjoying local and traditional dishes was part of the culture; part of being Venezuelan. For the last 8 years, while living in Miami, I had access to almost anything “Latin” I could think of due to the high concentration of latin American population that, through the years, have established themselves along the coast of South Florida. So, finding Pan de Jamon, or any other classic wasn’t that difficult. It was just a matter of finding the vendor that had the best one.

This year, I am living in Chapel Hill, NC. Access to Latin American goodies is limited, to say the least. So I called one of my sisters and asked her if she thought it would be a big deal to ship me a couple. We were invited to a Christmas dinner at our neighbors, and we wanted to bring them this festive staple. My sister suggested that making it would be easier, more personal, and probably less expensive. I agreed.

My first attempt was a good practice run, but the result was not satisfactory. Definitely, not good enough to bring to our dinner party. I tried cutting the recipe in half while converting all the measuring units and I made mistakes with the dough. But I gained confidence and realized I could do it.

My second attempt was a complete success. The texture was perfect, and the flavors were there. For my successful attempt, I followed this recipe from What’s 4 Eats with a little personal touch to make it my own.

I made sure I sliced the olives and didn’t use too many of them. As long as the entire surface was evenly sprinkled with olives I was happy. As opposed to the raisins, which I think are amazing in the bread so I am less rigid with the amount I use. Make sure you follow their tip and plump the raisins by soaking them in water before you use them.

For the ham, I used Boar’s Head Smokemaster Beechwood Smoked, Black Forest Ham which I purchased at my grocery store deli counter. And my secret ingredient for the filling were the 4 strips of Trader Joe’s Apple Smoked Bacon that I laid, every few inches, on top of the ham (before the olives and raisins). It was amazing!

A very important thing to consider, which I learned with my first attempt, is that cooking times and/or temperatures can vary from oven to oven. I made my Pan de Jamón with the suggested temperature but cooked it only for 20 minutes.

Let me know if you make this and what you think!

This is it in a nutshell

Thank you @vsitler. Great witches think alike.

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Existential Bummer

Many thanks to my friend Clarissa. This is exactly how I feel.

I thought my son would be a professional rubber-necker

While driving in the car with my son, I had to give way to an ambulance that was headed just a couple of blocks ahead of where we were. There had been an accident. No one was hurt, but I was able to infer that a cyclist had been hit by a car; a Jeep Liberty to be precise. As we drove past the accident my son stated that he, and i quote, LOVES seeing accidents. I needed to understand why, and so I asked. His explanation made sense, he said the accidents made him ask questions and therefore he learned new things. He said he found it ‘interesting’. It was then and there that I said, oh no, he’ll be one of those. He’ll be the cause of so many episodes of road rage. He’ll make people late. He’ll be a professional rubber necker.

I needed some piece of mind. I asked if he wanted to work on an ambulance. I was promptly reminded that his desire to be an astronaut hasn’t changed, and that I shouldn’t worry about missing him because perhaps we’d be able to communicate while he’s on a mission to the moon. He said that, maybe, I could track him on my computer the same way we track Santa. At the very least, I should be excited to hear everything he would have to tell me about the journey and the moon when he returns.

My son is a dreamer. My son feels that he can be whatever he wants to be. My son is confident and persistent. My son will achieve anything he sets his mind on. So what if he causes a bit of traffic? Today, I am a happy momma.