Food Memories – Anne’s Birthday Butter Cake

In the world before Facebook, Anne was one of the few people from my days as an awkward adolescent that I kept in contact with.  She introduced me to Jane’s Addiction and Kudos Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and I introduced her to driving a stick shift.  I’d say that was a pretty even exchange.   Here’s her food memory, which shows that not all our food memories are old and dusty sitting on a shelf in the back of our minds. Continue reading “Food Memories – Anne’s Birthday Butter Cake”

Food Memories – How To Make Matzo Ball Soup (In 20 Easy Steps)

Matzoh Ball Soup

Wendi Aarons says out loud the things I can only mumble quietly to myself.  She is bold and sharp and wickedly funny.  She is also a member of the Barry Manilow International Fanclub, and has the lapel pin to prove it, which makes her good people in my book. Her Food Memory originally appeared on her web site on 16 May 2007.

How To Make Matzo Ball Soup (In 20 Easy Steps)

1. Start with $10 of organic chicken breasts.

2. Plan to make baked chicken for dinner. Recipe says to dip chicken in egg whites, then coat in bread crumbs and put in oven.

3. Search frantically in pantry for container of bread crumbs. When no bread crumbs seen, substitute crushed bag of Cheese Nips found under soda bottles.

4. While chicken bakes, pat self on back for being an innovative, creative cook.

5. Proudly serve family Cheese Nip chicken entrée.

6. Remain strong when family’s disgusted comments include “Dis is yucky”, “I’d rather eat what’s in the Dustbuster” and “Were you drinking when you made this?”

7. Watch ungrateful family happily eat Cheerios and Pirate’s Booty for dinner.

8. Clean up kitchen and stare morosely at weird, orange chicken breasts that are now silently taunting you.

9. Start drinking and plotting.

10. Forcefully grab biggest knife in the kitchen.

11. Take a deep breath, raise knife over head, then hack the crap out of the goddamn chicken breasts like it’s Fight Day at the San Dimas Woman’s Correctional Facility and you’re just a few stabs away from being crowned the cell block champ.

12. Decide to make soup. While grabbing matzo ball mix from pantry, finally find container of bread crumbs. Slap it hard.

13. After soup comes to a boil, drop in matzo balls and demon chicken chunks.

14. Tell family you have a surprise for them.

15. Remain strong when family’s insensitive comments include “Who wants soup when it’s 80 degrees in here?”, “Why do I smell boiling cheese?” and “When Mommy cooks, I cry.”

16. Continue drinking.

17. Say good-night to family. Turn thermostat to 60 degrees and sit in dark room eating soup.

18. Wonder if this is how Lee Harvey Oswald started.

19. Finally give in and throw soup in garbage disposal. As Chik Nips are cruelly ground into oblivion, scream “So long sucker, see you in hell!”, then wash dishes.

20. Happily eat Cheerios and Pirate’s Booty for dinner and plan on dining out indefinitely.

BAH Note:  I couldn’t replicate the demon chicken chunks she used to fancy up the matzo ball soup mix and it’s ok if you don’t either.  Fortunately, my recreation of her recipe did not include Step 9, Step 15, or Step 16.

  • 1 box matzo ball soup mix
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 quarts water

Combine the egg and oil in a medium bowl.  Beat lightly.  Add the matzo ball meal and stir to moisten.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the water to boil over high heat and add the soup seasoning packet.

Wet your hands and quickly roll the matzo meal into one inch balls.  Once all the balls are rolled, drop them into the boiling soup, cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Food Memories – Panini For Lunch

Soup and a Sandwich

Tracy of Amuse Bouche for Two usually makes me long for things like tomatoes and mozzarella.  Or pasta in a mushroom and cream sauce.  Or just pasta.  But she has been holding on to a food memory that I think we all have buried somewhere in our collective unconsciousness. Because I know that I have a tuna melt food memory and I’m betting that you just might too.  Here’s Tracy’s: Continue reading “Food Memories – Panini For Lunch”

Food Memories – Uncle Lorne’s Buckeyes

Chocolate Coated

Jamie Oliver Is Not My Boyfriend, according to Melanie, who runs the site.  She says, “I have a little bit of an unhealthy obsession with Jamie Oliver.  Namely his accent, his easy-peasy recipes and the fact that he is pretty darned cute to look at.  But don’t let that fool you…Jamie Oliver is Not My Boyfriend. In fact, I don’t even know Jamie aside from his books and specials!  But let me preface this blog by saying that if Jamie Oliver WAS my boyfriend, well, I wouldn’t have to do any of the cooking..but I’d bake for him instead and look cute in an apron.”

How can you not love this woman? Especially when she pairs up Lemon Cookies and Led Zeppelin? And when she’s not expressing her inner foodie, Melanie is talking about this, that, and the other thing over at Feminine Wiles & Urban Survival 101.  Lord, she’s a busy woman.  Fortunately, when I asked if she would be interested in participating in the Food Memories project, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.  Because she has the most beautiful example of how we weave people, places, and food into the landscape of our memories.  Here, I’ll let her tell you about it. Continue reading “Food Memories – Uncle Lorne’s Buckeyes”

Food Memories – What My Mother Ate

Marrow

Baltimore Blogger, Kathy, better known as The Minx, writes about food, dining, restaurants, and Top Chef at Minx Eats.  She is also a gifted story teller who kindly shared the following Food Memory.  She said, “Took me a while to think of a good recipe to send you. I realized that I really don’t have any family recipes – my grandmother never showed me how to cook, and my mother made stuff up as she went along. That’s the way I cook too. Instead, my piece is heavy on  memory and short on recipe – hope that’s ok.”  Absolutely, because really, it’s all about the memories.

What My Mother Ate

If my mother ate it, I ate it. No matter how weird it seemed, I trusted her taste – with the exception of two things: SPAM and Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies.

I grew up in a Polish-American household. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Russian-occupied Poland to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Here, as in their home land, their families were poor; they ate what they could get and passed the value of snout-to-tail eating on to their US-born children.

Sausages, ground-up oddments stuffed into intestines, are a big part of the Polish diet. In our house, every major holiday was celebrated with a grand meal of kapusta i kielbasy, or sauerkraut with fresh Polish sausage. The garlicky fresh kielbasa was delicious, but I especially loved the rare treat of kiszka, or blood sausage, that Grandma would tuck into the basket we took to Church for blessing on Easter Saturday. Kiszka has a livery flavor and granular texture (with the occasional bit of bone) that may not be appealing to most people, but my mother ate it, and so did I, from a young age.

Mom seemed proud that I wouldn’t hesitate to try anything if I saw her enjoying it first. She liked to tell a story about the first time I tried scrambled eggs. Until that point, my favorite way of eating eggs was either poached or over-easy, both methods resulting in a lovely dippable egg yolk. We called these “matsu eggs” because I couldn’t pronounce the Polish word for smear, which is “mazać.” One morning, when I was about two or three, Mom decided to switch things up and make scrambled eggs. In a perhaps not-so-rare fit of pique, I stalked off, refusing to touch them. Mom fixed herself a plate and began to eat, making “yum yum” noises but otherwise pretending to ignore me. Curiosity eventually got the cat and I was soon standing at her elbow, feigning nonchalance but secretly wanting a taste of whatever it was that made Mom so happy. After that taste, I was on her lap, finishing the rest of her scrambled eggs.

Most weekends, the smell of chicken soup, or rosół z kury, drifted from Grandma’s downstairs kitchen to our third-floor apartment. When I was very small, I remember her need to hand-pick her chicken, which she did at the “chicken choker” (I am not making that up) at the “Jewish Market,” a stretch of Lombard Street that housed a live poultry market as well as Attman’s, Jack’s, and various other purveyors of Jewish delicacies. I was never allowed to accompany her when she went on these trips with my Dad because: 1) the shock of seeing a chicken beheaded might be too much for me; 2) the area surrounding the market was known as a “bad neighborhood.”  But I was definitely allowed to eat as much of the resulting soup as I wanted, which due to the frequency of its preparation usually wasn’t a whole lot. I’m still not a big fan of chicken soup, but I do love chicken, especially the weird bits. Mom and I would each try to be the first person to find and eat the stiff ridge of cartilage from the breast bone (chrząstka). Of course that was also Grandma’s favorite part, so we had to share with her if we were eating in her kitchen. Another chicken bit we loved was something we called the ogonek (little tail). It was probably an internal organ, but I have never found this particular part in a fowl of any sort since childhood. It had a slightly livery flavor and a somewhat “bouncy” texture. As you can probably tell from our name for it, we liked to imagine it was, um, an external organ.

Grandma also made beef soup fairly regularly. Although I liked it better than I liked rosół, the only part that excited me was the szpik, or marrow. Mom would smear a blob of szpik on a slice of buttered rye bread from Levin’s bakery and I would be in heaven. Sometimes all of the marrow escaped from the bones into the soup, which was a huge disappointment at suppertime. Often there was only a single bone still hanging onto its fatty filling so we split it four ways; szpik was one treat my younger brother also enjoyed.

My love for bone marrow was my dark little secret until I was in my late 20s, when I was astonished to read that it had been one of Queen Victoria’s favorite snacks. Even the rich ate what the middle class probably fed to the dogs! Now fancy restaurants serve the stuff as if it were the cow’s answer to caviar. Landmarc, in Manhattan, serves bone marrow with bread and onion marmalade for the princely sum of $14. You can make it at home yourself far less expensively – a package of marrow bones costs about $2 in most supermarkets.

Roasted Bone Marrow

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place marrow bones, cut side up, in a roasting pan or an oven-safe skillet. Cook for 15 minutes or until the marrow starts to separate from the bone – if the marrow starts to leak out, you’ve cooked it too long!

Spread marrow on crusty bread, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – The Last Brownie

Semi Homemade

Dara Bunjon is the woman behind the Baltimore Dining Examiner and Dara Does It.  She’s got her finger on the pulse of the food industry from PR to food styling to cooking instructions.  This post originally appeared on the BDE.  Many thanks to Dara for sharing…although I still don’t know what I would say to get the last brownie.

What Would You Say Or Do To Get The Last Brownie?

I don’t know why but my post have been a bit, not earth shattering thought provoking of late with Sandwiches cut diagonal or across – point and counter point, If you could choose just one cookbook and today’s question,  What would you say or do to get the last brownie? I’m not sure what has sparked my introspective meanderings but alas they are here.

To answer the question proffered, I go back to the scene in the movie Notting Hill and think a group of friends around the table, and then I think about the friends. Recently I have been dining a lot with media folks so these are who I first pictured in my scenario and think no,  they are very cognizant of their weight and would split the brownie equally or just manage one bite each.

Time to picture another group of friends and these friends are ones who are indulgent when it comes to food. I would have to be clever, manipulative and sharp – traits not high on my skill level but let’s give it a go. I will blame it on my dear mother, may she rest in peace, who would bribe me as a child with $10 if I could gain 10 pounds in a year.  That this brownie will bring me to the 10 pound mark for the year and with my ten spot I would make them my delicious five spice brownies for the next gathering. Option 2: As a child  being vertically challenged I always had difficulty reaching the counter top to get the cookies and brownies and my arms weren’t long enough to reach them on the table – I was deprived as a child. Hell, I’m just not that clever. Why don’t you have a go at it!  ( Related Story: Memories from my yout )

Five Spice Brownies

BAH Note:  These are some powerful brownies.  I made them to thank our neighbors who had come to our rescue with candles and dry ice during a power outage.  Of course, having to test them for quality control, the first batch never made it out of the house.  So a second box of Ghiradelli brownie mix was picked up at the store and transformed with a bit of orange zest and five spice powder.  It just so happened to be a snowy Saturday when batch number two finally made it next door.  And would you believe that when The Mistah and I went outside to shovel, the neighbors had already cleared the sidewalk in front of our house.  Now, I can’t guarantee that these brownies will have the same power with your neighbors, but it can’t hurt to try.  As Dara said when I related my neighborly story to her, “Simple is good at times.”  I couldn’t agree more.

  • 1 box of Brownie Mix
  • 1 orange finely zested (Microplane works great)
  • ½ teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder (even McCormick makes this-not hard to find)

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and follow the box directions.

{printable recipe}

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Food Memories – Mofongo

My Mofongo

Christine of Christine Can Cook provided this Food Memory.  She said, “Mofongo is a typical Puerto-Rican dish. It’s not something my family made growing up, it was more of a special dish to be had at restaurants and ordered for special occasions. It definitely isn’t an everyday meal- it can be super heavy and starchy and needs to be fried to enjoy the crispy textures. However, it’s one of my favorite meals and is extremely versatile. It can be done with stewed chicken, beef, vegetables, or as I made it here, with shrimp.” Continue reading “Food Memories – Mofongo”