Thursday, April 9, 2009

You wouldn't let me have any cigarettes!

There are mornings when just getting anything going in the proper direction is a challenge for only the bravest of souls. When you are the mother of six children this can seem like an understatement. Then there are the moments that bring all the others into perspective and quietly you are renewed. In my case, this morning, brought one of these moments with my 7 year old. She tends to be where most of my funny moments originate. As I sat on the couch this morning checking my e-mails and doing my make up, my little pixie entered the room. Still dressed in her pajamas and carrying her new game, guess who, she plopped herself on the couch across from me. I looked up briefly, smiled and went back to my e-mailing response. She set up her game, and began to play it, which required asking herself a number of questions about her playing surface. I smiled again, she coughed and I started.
"What was that?" I asked, horrified, as the cough in question was deep and full.
" My cough." She replied.
For a moment I wracked by brain for the origin of the 'cough' and than I remembered she had been around a smoker the day before. Ahh... Now it made sense.
" You were around cigarette smoke yesterday." I explained, in a rhetorical fashion, already back to my e-mail.
" ...But...I didn't have a cigarette yesterday!" I looked up at her sincere and emphatic statement. Her Hazel eyes were wide under her strawberry blond shaggy bangs. " You didn't let me!" I stared at her, momentarily speechless and than I murmured " Good Point...very good point." She smiled sweetly at me and continued the strange game she was playing and I patted my self on the back for being the good parent I obviously was. After all, I had put my foot down and as a result my 7 year old does not smoke.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Fat Lady is Singing...

In my experience there is never a bad time for pasta. I have actively tried to find some waking moment when pasta would not be appropriate, but thus far I have been able to make convincing arguments against all such thoughts. Now I am not talking about just any pasta, Say for instance, mac and cheese. You know the ones, with that dreadful little packet which has more unrecognizable words than a noble prize wining experiment. I am talking about whole grain pasta with a fresh sauce that makes the fat lady want to sing, just to get to the table that much quicker. Well friends, I have just the meal for you, if just reading this paragraph has caused you to begin to drool.

Lets collect all the ingredients. I'll wait here while you get a pen and paper... Alright, kalamata olives ( truly a GOOD THING!) black olives and green olives ( are you starting to see a pattern?) Some chopped Sweet onion and about 8 garlic cloves ( Put down all those heads of garlic, Just the individual cloves.) A large container of grape tomatoes or cherrie tomatoes, fresh basil, artichoke hearts freshly marinated (or from the jar if you must.). A beautiful red or orange bell pepper, 80z to a pound of quartered button mushrooms, some good Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil and Sheep's milk Feta Cheese. Oh, And of course the star of this meal Jerusalem artichoke spinach fettuccine.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and get out a medium ceramic bowl ( ok ,you can use any bowl you want.) Pour your entire tub of tomatoes in and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the grey salt. Chop your onions and garlic and toss with the tomato mixture to coat. Spread the mixture on a cookie tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until caramelized. once this is finished switch your broiler on. Massage your pepper of choice with a bit of the olive oil and set it under the broiler and wait for the skin to blister. Once it does, turn it to the next side and repeat this process. remove the blackened pepper and seal it in tin foil, crimping the edges to allow the little pepper a steam bath. Quarter your mushrooms and brown in a bit of olive oil in a skillet. Let them lay on one side until browned and then turn and brown on the other side. Now, while your pot is boiling with a bit of grey salt in it. Chop your various olives, approximately a 1/2 a cup of each and chiffinade your basil (roll the leaves and cut into tiny little strips) Break up your marinated artichokes, about a cup, and than replace the three that you ate while doing this.

Spend a few minutes, remove the skin and chop the pepper. Now for the second best part, pour the slightly cooled tomato mixture into a pretty bowl and crush with your hands. Add all the other ingredients and a splash of balsamic. Drain your pasta, and pour over the top of the sauce. Now with your tongs turn the mixture until all the lovely ingredients are combined. top this whole thing with 1/2 cup crumbled fresh feta and serve beside a crisp green salad. ( No bread, you don't need it, I promise you.) Not only is this a health food masquerading as a splurge food, but your heart and your family will thank you for a meal that isn't an unnatural shade of orange. The fat lady in you may sing over this dish, but the thin lady in you will be just as pleased.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Tortillas...

Nothing can make or break a fish taco like the tortilla used to cradle all the remaining ingredients...That is how the adventure began for one group of tortillas. Simply a seed of an idea and the dismal lack of freshly made tortillas gracing the state of Louisiana. Shrimp and craw fish we have aplenty, but not a good tortilla. So, In what can only be described as a heroic gesture of love, my dear father in law, offered to pick up some tortillas from an Encinitas Mexican Market and escort them on a plane trip to Louisiana. ( Historically tortillas can not be trusted to travel alone. They rarely make it to their intended destination.) I was delighted and began immediate preparations for a fish taco dinner that would be worthy of such extensively traveled tortillas.

Cod Loins were purchased along with Mangoes and cabbage and the four of us sat down to wait...

Here is the thing... The dear man( my father in law) traveled from California by plane carting with him 18 pounds of tortillas! Now, The very fact that he made it through security with out any questions asked should make you say..HMMMM!
Because it was very late when he came in, we did not begin consuming these delightful treats until the next day when my daughters and I made up a shredded Mexican cabbage salad, mango salsa and guacamole. We warmed the tortillas and stacked them in a tortilla warmer, which true to it's name does just that and sauteed some beautiful cod loins in my cast iron pan, dressing it in lemon, garlic, cumin and grey salt. If you have never partaken of a fish taco...SHAME ON YOU!
Take your steaming, soft, fresh corn tortilla ( unless you live in Louisiana and have no wonderful father in laws in Cali. than you are just plain out of luck.) in you left hand. gently place some fish in the center of said tortilla, fill with cabbage salad and spoon on guacamole and mango salsa. squeeze just a bit of lime over it all and try to make it to your seat before inhaling the entire thing. Truly ,the most challenging part of this meal. You will be impressed, albeit slightly horrified, to note that the 18 pounds of tortillas were gone at the end of the week. There are 9 of us however and we are professionals...Do NOT try this at home, particularly if there is just one of you. To sum up, Tortillas are fabulous travel partners, quiet and respectful of others, although they rarely carry their own weight. Well worth the trip...right through to their delicious end.