Friday, August 31, 2007

You Are Canned!

The in-laws planted two tomato plants which I have been harvesting constantly. We have the beefsteak variety and the roma variety. To can, or not to can? I have to. My mom did it, I can do it. Of course, when she did it, she had no air conditioning and it was 95 degrees out. I should turn off the air, so that I can have that same experience? No. The canning process, combined with my ever-present hot flashes will simulate "the old days" just fine.

My neighbors gave me a two boxes of tomatoes last year..which I canned. I just used the last one. Lovely. Nothing better than opening a jar of "fresh tomatoes".

I'll be back to write about it...and when we get our new computer, I'll post some pics too!

If you have some ruby red delicious tomatoes that you want canned, bring em over by Sunday! I think I'll make some salsa as well!

[canning links: ] Also, Ball has a website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Can If I Want To! (from the archives)

[This was a "forward" from my sister Glenna. It was written by Kitty Willis...and I really love it].

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift. I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long. I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio.

I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old. I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten, and I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)

[can I get an amen?]

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some People

I was married to Dave M from 1980 - 1985. We had lived together for a year before that. He was/is/always will be an ass....a large trait I was unaware of until several years later. His grandma, however, was fabulous.

Ms. Florence married Mr. Dave SR, way back when. They always kept a large home in Norman, Oklahoma. I loved Ms. Florence. Their place was filled with the smell southern cooking, antique furniture from their parents, and love for family. She was such a "down-to-earth" and wise woman. I loved her and I know she loved me. I also loved her cook, who Florence admitted taught her all she needed to know about the culinary world.

Ms. Florence would come to Great Bend, KS. to visit her son and DIL (my in-laws)...and the rest of us.. at least twice a year. She loved taking day trips with me to flea markets and farmers markets. We had a blast taking inventory of what was valuable and she was so incredibly happy to be shopping for produce out of the back of trucks. Ms. Florence said that shopping at farmers markets was like being young again! My MIL would say "don't you write a check with our name on it, at those thrift stores."

I recall once, Florence was needing to use the "facilities" at what was then a very high-end kitchen store in Great Bend, KS. They said they didn't have a "local restroom" and that "Florence" would have to go home to use the bathroom. My poor 'grandma' was about to lose 80 years of integrity in this wanna-be shop. They had no idea who this lovely woman was. To them, she was just another old woman who they treated like an idiot, ( which is the way lots of older people are treated). I demanded they give her the same restroom that they use, unless they somehow hold their pee/poop all day long! [what I really said : you'd better let my grandmother use your facilities or I will personally shit into every bowl in your store]. Ms. Florence used the facilities..for quite some time that day. :)

When she finally came out of the restroom, she quietly said to me, "I have included my undergarments in my shopping bag...I do believe we should be headed home now". So we left. With her permission, we threw her soiled clothes into a dumpster behind the store and stopped at my home to give her some underpants to wear. We never spoke of it again.

She phoned me one day to tell me that she and her husband had caught a big King Salmon off the coast of Washington (while on vacation)...and she would bring it to cook for a family dinner. ( they were in their late 70's then). I was I was not sure what to do with a large fish. She promised to be there for me, in my hour of need. She showed up one day before...and told me how wrangle a 12 lb. King Salmon! She stayed with me the entire day..until the salmon was ready. She told me to spread the salmon open and insert onions, lemons, capers and wrap in heavy-duty foil....then cook for about 50 minutes on 350. She insited that I "touch" the fish in order to know if it was cooked just right. It was perfect! We always had a great time together...and she loved my boys.

Florence M died on about May 4th, 1985. Four weeks later, her grandson had his employees come into our/my home and move most of the furniture (including china) out....while my kids were at work with him...and while I was at my place of employment. He had been "their dad" for 5-plus years..and his parents had been their "grandparents" for five years, and his brothers had been uncles for five years. They knew what was going to happen that day...everyone knew but us. Then Dave takes the kids home and drops them this almost empty house..and waits for me to come home, after calling me at work to tell me he wanted a divorce. Classy.

It was a devastating experience for all of us. Florence would not have been happy about this. That is why he (the ex) waited until she was dead to do such a thing. My ex then shipped his girlfriend up from Dallas and they began to live together. There was a huge engagement announcement in the local paper... two months after the divorce. Ah,,,the picture of the ex with his new wife... holding onto his arm. The kids and I were still picking up the broken pieces of our exploded hearts.

When my boys were young ( 7 and 10) , Ms. Florence told them to choose "a bell" to take home. She had a bell collection she'd treasured all of her life. Mike chose the brass bell of Napoleon and Jer chose the brass bell of David Copperfield. I knew these bells were very old and cherished. I saved them for years and finally gave them to my grown sons. Recently I was in Portland, with Mike, Jenn and Elaina (grandbaby). She was shaking that same Napoleon bell...which was in her toy box. I hope that one day, she'll know about who it came from.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Katie Trujillo

Katie Trujillo died last Tuesday. She was a fabulous woman who spent the last 10 + years of her life suffereing from Alzheimers..or something very close to it. I don't know if she suffered from it, but I know her family did.

Back in 1987, when I was home for a visit, I was over at Katies house where she gave me some solid advice in child-rearing. One of my boys was in trouble and she told me to just love him, no matter what, and that he'd turn out the way he's supposed to turn out..eventually. She gave me a big hug...I was enveloped in acceptance and love. Katie had a twinkle in her eye, a vibrant sense of humor, and great love for her many children and grandchildren.

She was my brother's mother-in-law and Ruth Elliott's mom. I loved it when she brought whatever she cooked to a pot-luck picnic or (if I was lucky enough) to be over at her house when she was cooking. She made her own tortillas (torts)....just thinking about it makes me drool. Her beans were the best and she made some great tamales. My sis-in-law, Ruth, is also a fantastic cook...and I always look forward to going home just to be able to eat her fabulous Mexican creations. My bro is a lucky man.

Many Blessings to the Trujillo's and to the Elliott's. Katie will be missed on this earth.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Who's Up For Tango?

I was over at our other house in S. Sac near the Pacific Rim Plaza this morning. I was going down 65th and spotted Tango Cafe. It was only 10:15 a.m., but decided to give it a shot.

Tango Cafe is competing with a shit-load of asian restuarnts over there.It's blah strip mall on the outside, but on the inside it is filled with wonderful color, some beautiful, well-placed plants and huge orchids, and some nicely appointed furniture. I could do without the big screen tv's..but it seems to be a popular feature these days. The sound was turned down so I got to enjoy the Vietnamese pop music playing over their system. I also noticed what seemed to be an electric piano under the tv. Hmmmmm.

Their ouside patio area was filled with what appeared to be 30-ish Viet locals and on the inside sat a few tables of older gents, apparently enjoying some gossip over the wonderful vietnamese coffe. I wish I understood their language, because one of the gentlemen called the server over to speak about the noodle soup. They both laughed so I assume all was well. The big bowl it was served in was gorgeous and there were lots of noodles..and the guy was an expert using those sticks and that spoon to get them in his mouth. I was so envious. Now this is my kind of breakfast place!

I asked the young female server what she would order. She quickly said "I sorry" and ran to the back to get the owner who speaks English. She was very pleasant in returning to my table to fill my tea glass and make sure I was "okay". Phuc recommended the #7. Green Papaya Shrimp & Pork Salad for a reasonable $7.00 and the #18. Chicken Stir Fry in Lemongrass with Chili Sauce (an entree for $7.00). I thought about getting the avacado shake, but decided on tea instead. Mr. Dong brought me a fork and spoon with my meal. I should've asked for chopsticks.. but then, I always feel self-conscious cause I'm not really great with I let it go. I must practice at home!

The salad was good but I was hoping it would have had more "heat" to it. Maybe they "dumbed it down" for me. The presentation was beautiful, as was the dinnerware it was served on. The chicken stir-fry was fabulous. I had asked Phuc for a spicey entree and he steered me right. Again, beautifully presented and well-prepared. Delicate but spicey..just what I like about Vietnamese food. There weren't any condiments on any of the tables..and nobody asked for any. At most Vietnamese places I see lots of condiments and it seems I always get limes, sprouts, and basil. But no..and since nobody else was asking..I didn't either.

They have Heineken and Corona and what they call their "house wines". Their menu comes in a leather-like binder and is short and sweet. Sometimes too many choices confuse me. Next time I want to try their hot and sour fish soup and the salty fish fried rice..and one day thier Rice in Claypot dishes. The most expensive entrees were $12.00...Saigon Cube Steak and the New York Cognac.

Tango Cafe has only been open for 3 months. They have the green pass certificate on the front we know it passed the first health inspection. Oh, the woman's bathroom was very well appointed too. I like that. Someone must have used fung shui when certainly felt open, welcoming, and everything flowed nicely :-) It looked like they had their cash register placed in the "prosperity corner"...and I wish them luck. I do hope they increase their appetizer section, and the papaya salad could have been colder with more spice.

Here is the slogan printed at the bottom of the menu: "Vietnamese fare gets fine diplomatic treatment in a stylish, appealing setting". I'd agree with that.

Tango Cafe
6680 65th, Suite 45 & 50
Pacific Rim Plaza
Sacramento, CA 95828
Phuc Dong, Manager

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Chapter in Dee's Life (from the archives)

Dee was headed home from another day at school. She hated the sixth grade.
The kids teased her about her clothes and how she smelled bad.
She knew she smelled bad. Her thoughts drifted off with the snow.
Her legs burned from the cold, her feet felt as heavy as her heart.

She kicked the snow off of her old shoes, slipping and falling on the cracked linoleum floor.
The little dark house was frigid. The sound of her mother’s labored breathing was
all that could be heard. Tiptoeing around the corner and into the back room always
brought more dread. She could see Lydia’s breath in the cold air.

“Mom..did the doctor come by today?” No response…just raspy, gutteral sounds.
Dee put another heavy old quilt over her mom and trudged outside to look for
something to burn in the stove. She had already torn one side of the outhouse down.

“Deeeee Deeeee!” She turned to see her sister and brother stomping up the path
toward her. She always felt better when they made it home. Patty’s tiny hands were crimson from the cold, her lips quivered while her teeth rattled against one another. Glen, a rowdy kid with a grin as large as his face, was following close behind. “Get in the house…stay with mom. I’ll bring some wood in”. Patty and Glen hurried into the grey, unpainted house.

It took another 15 minutes to get a fire going in the old stove. It was all the heat they
had that winter. Lydia’s husband had left her, so she came with the kids to
North Dakota. It was a little closer to family. She was a proud, hard-working
woman. Born in Romania, her parents came to the states when she was very young.
The chest cold hit her a few weeks back…couldn’t work anymore. Glen said “mommy has numponia”.

Dee told the kids to put their little bodies next to the stove. She gave them long
socks to cover their hands and feet…and a blanket to share. They were hungry.

Opening the creaking cupboard doors, hoping that a miracle had happened, she
saw only five large potatoes. That was what was left from the garden harvest last fall.
She grabbed the lard can and plopped a cast iron skillet on the top of the old stove…in what was the living room. She had tried to convince her mom to sleep out here, where it was warmer, but Lydia wouldn’t have it. She didn’t want them to see her sick every minute they were home. Later, after a dinner of fried potatoes, Dee would wash clothes in the makeshift "bathtub"…then string em up in the livingroom. Patty and Glen would hold onto one end, then Dee would twist until the water stopped dripping off the clothes. They never really got clean and they took days to dry.

Little DeLores cared for her mom and siblings that winter. It would take her years to learn to care for herself, and she knew that depending on a man for sustenance was a useless endeavor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Little Sista's Fond Food Memory

My favorite food memory of all time surrounds the Thanksgiving feast. It wasn't Thanksgiving Day, however. It was Thanksgiving eve. My mom spent several days preparing, but the day prior to Thanksgiving was, for me, the best day of the year. Everything was hustle-bustle.

My mom (Dee) made a stuffing that was pure perfection. She allowed me to be her taster. Of course, she had already tasted it and knew it was perfect. I can still hear her voice calling "Trish, are you ready to taste the dressing for me?" It was in its raw form (we didn't worry about salmonella in raw eggs in those days, in fact I still don't). She never would have had to cook the dressing at was that good.

Once I became an adult and had moved away, the day I looked forward to more than any other was Thanksgiving Eve. I would call my mom and ask her to go over her recipe with me once more, to make certain I had everything just right. We would talk about the recipe, and the entire dinner, for an hour or more.

My favorite holiday is still Thanksgiving...and it is my kids' favorite as well. I hope it is always my grandkids favorite too. It will link them forever with their great-grandmother who started it all with some stellar stuffing.

[thanks sis..for guestblogging]

Fond Food Memory

My mom, Dee, always loved to cook. Her mom was an immigrant from Romania, so we ate lots of stuffed cabbage, goulash, etc. Dee and Lydia loved farm-fresh produce so many weekends in the summer and fall (this was Montana people..short growing season) we would head to the Huderite farms armed with baskets. We could pick as much produce as we wanted, and it was inexpensive. We'd get big baskets of tomatoes, carrots, zuchinni, onions, cukes, etc. We children (me, Glenna, John, and Patricia) could eat all the veggies we wanted.

The memory of taking a fresh, warm tomato out of the basket and having the seeds and juice gush out of my mouth is one very fond memory. We also loved to take the carrots and eat all around them until we had only the sweet center left..and then devour that! I even liked raw potatoes..with salt. The summer canning process is a whole 'nother story.

I have a pic of my mom, oxygen tank and all, out by her tomato plants a few months before she died. I am so greatful we went to Wyoming that summer..even if I had to visit mom in the hospital. One of the things she asked was "how are my tomato plants doing?" Luckily, Dave had taken pics of them so we could show her. She was well pleased. (when I figure out how to post pics, I'll put the Dee/tomato one up).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why was my last post over a year ago?

Well, I decided to start a food forum instead of doing a blog. So I did. Then in June I got sick of that and decided to stop after discovering that I had a hidden agenda- and it was causing me great stress. Then after two months, I decided I missed having a local forum to discuss food stuff....but I still needed a place to write down my thoughts.

I don't have a clue how to go about this..but I'll learn.

My mom, the chef/cook/carpenter/organic gardner died on 9/11/01...that day, in a hospital in Billings, MT. I think she saw what was happening and decided she "was outa here". Okay, my father died on 9/11/94, 11 years earlier. Anyone have your speed dial set for a numerologist?

Let's see where this blog goes.