Childhood Memories

I have been doing a lot of reading about memory and memory loss lately- probably a combination of my career and personal interests as my clients and my family age. The topic that I have found fascinating is how things related to sensory perception (e.g. music, art, tactile objects) can trigger memories from long ago.

I experienced one such flashback this morning. I had made myself a breakfast of two sunny side up eggs and an english muffin with butter and strawberry jam.  It wouldn’t seem like anything extraordinary at first, but once I sat down and started to take a few bites something happened.

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As I cut through the runny yolk and watched it spill onto the plate, I dipped my jam- covered muffin into it and swirled it around. All of a sudden I pictured myself sitting at a dark oval table with yellow country curtains on the window behind me. My grandmother had just served me two easy over eggs for breakfast and was trying to convince me to eat them. I didn’t like the gooey substance, much less the pungent taste.  Then I heard my grandmother tell me to put a dab of raspberry jam in the yolk and mix it together. It sounded like a weird enough thing to do that I tried it. Amazingly, I ate my eggs like that for most of my childhood. It was only as I got older that my tastes evolved enough to try sunny side up eggs with just some salt and pepper.

As I continued to savor my eggs this morning, every time I swirled the muffin through the yolks until it was soaked through along with the jam, I had the happiest feeling that I was in my grandmother’s kitchen once again and remembered how kind and loving she had been. Wonderful childhood memories!

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Family Balancing Act

As we usher in the new year, I am so happy to have my  daughter home from France, where she has spent the last semester. My son has already had multiple acceptances at colleges for next year, so this should be a no stress time, right? We had a family bonding week in Florida during the holidays that really brought us back together.

Tonight, due to my son’s insistence, we planned a Fondue dinner with some grass-fed beef we bought from a local farmer that he was dying to test. My daughter was trying to regain her figure after a semester of French cuisine – so the dining requirements were quite challenging. However, we set up a beautiful 2 pot fondue system -one with oil, the other with a broth. The oil was working well but the broth was underheated. My husband, the physicist, decide to up the ante and add a pot of alcohol to the broth heat source. Unfortunately, he spilled the alcohol and set the table on fire! I wish I had a picture to share, but obviously quick action was the priority. He grabbed the fire extinguisher-which we have not used in 20+ years and sprayed the fire which was rapidly spreading across our table. Ironically , over our vacation, we had tried to explain to our children how to use a fire extinguisher if there was ever a problem.

By the time he was done putting the flames out, our dinner was coated in white residue and there were burns on one of the placemats . The table had a permanent burn in the surface.  None of the food was considered edible.

Much to my son’s dismay, we threw everything out and decided to go to a restaurant. We chose one within 5 minutes of our house where we could each choose something to our dietary needs – and left satisfied and in a much better mood. However, we did have to come home to the remnants of our disaster.

Now that it is dealt with, I am happy to say all is good- but it is an extremely unusual way to usher in the new year.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and peaceful 2016!

 

How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Tip #9

My contractor came in today and laid out the final timeline for the project. I should be done on August 25th- 9 weeks from the start date. So it has taken longer than planned, but at least the kitchen is usable. To prove my point, tip # 9 is: Act like things are normal and take on a cooking project.

Whether the project is cooking a fancy dinner, using real dishes instead of paper plates, or the strenuous but necessary endeavor I undertook, it will make you feel good about your makeover so far and help you realize it is worth the extra wait to get it done.

My project was to use the abundant zucchini in my garden and make zucchini relish. That involved a complex process using my Cuisinart food processor, a dutch oven, my canning tools, ball jars and other supplies buried in my boxes.

I uprooted everything I needed and got started. The procedure flowed smoothly and I had plenty of space to work. The 6 burner NXR gave me plenty of room to set up my stations for cooking, sanitizing, loading and steaming.

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Plus it was nice to have the granite countertops so I didn’t have to double layer the counters for boiling hot jars.

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I did start small scale because I really didn’t want to make a huge production until I tested everything out, but I ended up with 4 jars of zucchini relish (one for the fridge, 3 for long term). My grandmothers would be proud of the tradition; but, I used a recipe I traded with my pediatrician years ago when we discovered a common love for gardening- so I think I have all my bases covered.

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How to Survive a Kitchen Makeover: Update

I don’t really have another tip today, but I do want to update everyone on the progress. Obviously it is moving at a much slower pace. The backsplash tile just came in but now needs to be installed. The range hood will be installed after the tile. The trim and light fixtures still need a little work and a few cabinets have to be finished off. So not a lot to do, just a matter of coordinating worker schedules so we can wrap this up.

In the meantime, I decided to start moving dishes into cabinets. Notice all the extra space?

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Of course, the coffee maker has now been relocated to the kitchen.

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My husband had fun organizing the spices, cooking oils and condiments. I think this cabinet is really cool!

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My stools arrived and, although I was doubtful at first because they are slightly larger than I realized, they are so comfy and I can picture spending many mornings, evenings and cocktail parties sitting in them, or at least guests sitting in them while I cook.

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Finally, we have been cooking and eating on real dishes, using the dishwasher and microwave. And I even collected a bouquet of flowers to make things feel more like home.

I’ll have to move a few things when the tile work is being done, but until then I am just trying to enjoy as much of my new kitchen as I can.