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Posts Tagged ‘asparagus’

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Friday was “euuuuwwweee” night at our house. Every few months we both man a pan and cook a dish each of us enjoys that the other does not. On such occasions Rick often indulges his passion for organ meats (hence the euuuuwwweee) while I break out the scallops, a seafood not on his list of favorites.

Growing up in Nova Scotia seafood was a mainstay at our house. As a child often I accompanied my grandmother to the fish market. Walking hand in hand along the pier, fishing boats would be lined up one after another many still unloading their catch of the day. Inside the massive market area itself, fish of every color and description lay on beds of ice, some so fresh they still showed signs of life. A huge bank of aquariums lined the back wall housing lobsters of all sizes. Once a selection was made, your purchase was wrapped tightly in butcher paper or newspaper and tied with a piece of string. The overwhelming smell of the sea often lingered in our clothes hours after leaving the building.

I digress (as usual). As I was saying, euuuuwwweee night was on the calendar. I had decided to bake my scallops to make life easier. Company was arriving over the weekend so there was much to do outside of the kitchen. Rick had an appointment in the afternoon but assured me he would arrive home in plenty of time to get his half of the program on the road. Yea.

At around 5:15, the time I expected Rick to roll into the driveway, the phone rang. An unfamiliar number around dinnertime was probably a robocall so I waited  to hear the caller identified. It was Rick. Picking up, he told me he was calling from a massage parlor (a discussion we’d have later) because he’d forgotten his cellphone. The SUV, it seemed, had gotten hung up over a curb in Nevada City. The streets in the historical mining town are narrow and when he’d backed up the rear tires dropped over leaving them spinning. Our insurance company had been alerted and a towing company was on its way.

Shortly after hanging up the towing service called. A snippy sort of woman explained they had been trying to call Rick to have him verify his ability to cover the $80 charge for sending a truck out. I explained he had forgotten his phone and road service is covered under our insurance. Apparently deaf as well as difficult she again asked if we could pay.  Politely (no really) I suggested they send someone out to find Rick and he would straighten out the payment situation on their arrival.

In the interim my potato was cooking in the oven and Rick wasn’t due in for some time. Hmmmmm. Easily a half an hour later the tow company number showed up again. Really? On answering the same woman informed me her driver couldn’t find Rick at the location given. She asked me to call him and get further details. Hello? Once again I explained he’d forgotten his cellphone (a concept she couldn’t seem to process) and I could not call him. Nevada City is a small town with about ten streets in the downtown area. How many irritated looking men pacing in front of a red SUV hanging over the curb could there be? My potato at this point was beginning to look a bit prunish and my stomach was beginning to growl.

Twenty minutes later the woman and I were once again on the phone. One more call and we were going to be picking out china patterns. Still no Rick on the horizon. Outside it was turning to cold and beginning to get late. Hanging up, I pulled on a pair of jeans, grabbed my cell phone and waved goodbye to my potato now completely imploded in the oven. Sigh.

Not having been to this location before I programmed the address in my GPS and headed north. Twenty minutes later I turned up a street to find Rick as expected pacing in front of the SUV obviously listing to one side. “How did he do that?”, I wondered, but decided this along with the massage parlor issue would be a question best left for later.

Finding a parking place outside of the building I noted on the plaque the exact address I’d given to the tow company. Rick explained no tow truck had ever shown up. Grabbing my cell phone to dial the road service number it powered down out of juice before I could complete the call. Are you kidding? Luckily two twenty somethings were walking by. What nice guys they were, though they made me cold in shorts and tank tops. I swear if there’s a hint of spring in California people rub on suntan lotion, pull on flip-flops and throw themselves on the ground waiting for the tan lines to show up. Anyhow they were good enough to loan us a phone. Once again on the line with road service it appeared the original tow truck company had cancelled the call, unable to locate Rick. Now how did I go directly to his location with my GPS if their driver whose business it is to find people couldn’t seem to do so? Another time.

Sure enough a sign reading “Massage Parlor” hung to the left of the building. One question answered. Shortly the proprietor came out and handed Rick his phone. Apparently his was the number Rick had originally called the road service company from and they were calling back. Secretly I hoped nobody was half massaged inside.

Finally just before dark and nearly three hours into the program a tow truck showed up. By this time both twenty somethings had joined us as well as the massage parlor proprietor. A guy with an enormous dog had stopped by to offer suggestions for dislodging the SUV on his way out to walk the beast and on his way back. A myriad of walkers and passersby stopped to chat along their route. It takes a village.

In the end the car got towed, we got home, new friends were made, and the scallops the livers remain untouched and uncooked waiting for tonight.

This was my first attempt at asparagus soup. A friend gave me four bunches of beautiful fresh asparagus. We have seen it in every way but on a burger this past week. This was smooth, creamy deliciousness.

Creamed Asparagus Soup

1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 onion, chopped
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
Crumbled crisp bacon for garnish (optional)

Add asparagus and onion to deep skillet and pour 3/4 cup vegetable oil over top. Bring to boil and then reduce heat partially covering. Cook for 6-8 mins. or until asparagus is tender (check often and add water if liquid gets to low). Cool slightly and then puree in blender.

Melt butter in same pan. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 mins. stirring constantly (do not brown). Whisk in remaining 1 1/2 cups of broth and bring to boil over med-high heat.

Whisk in asparagus puree, half and half and milk. Add sour cream and lemon juice. Continue cooking 3 mins.

Top with crisped bacon bits if desired.

Serves 4

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Photo by Susie Nelson

Yesterday my other half and I spent some time with a real estate agent exploring the local homes for sale, specifically within the parameters of the downtown area where we live.  It was an interesting, and eye-opening few hours.  As I’ve said before what is written about the condition of the house in the flyers or on-line ads, and what is in reality the condition of the house are quite often as unalike as Howard Stern and Billy Graham.

After speaking to the agent, we settled on four houses to tour.  The first was built in 1900 and like those of us with a few years worth of birthday cards in their drawer was starting to fray a bit around the edges.  The first thing I noticed was walking across the living room floor I bounced up and down as though beneath the well-walked carpets a previous owner had installed a trampoline.  Interesting.  Also, hidden within the rosy scent of the recently sprayed room deodorizer was a lingering smell of old cigarette smoke and that musty smell old houses seem to acquire over time.  In some instances, I actually don’t mind that aged smell in an old home.  This, however, was not one of them.

Lots of potential – needs a little TLC

The first tick off my list, it was dark.  Bats would have flocked there by the thousands if word got out.  Now, for me, as for many women, the kitchen and bathrooms are places we put some serious emphasis on when looking for a place to hang our hats.  This kitchen was, to say the least, interesting.  There was a window to let in some light, and though old as everything else in view, the flooring wasn’t bad, but to the right of the room there was a three-quarter wall with a door at one end which led into the next room.  In the center of the wall was a hole in which a refrigerator was sitting, front half facing in the kitchen and back half facing into whatever room was behind it.  Tick, tick, tick, ticktickticktick.  Ach, broke my pencil.  As it turned out the room with the hind end of the fridge was the laundry room and the only room with actual light in the house.  Good, I would want to have lots of light so I could see the workings of the fridge while I folded clothes.

Thanking the gentlemen in residence, we moved on.  The second house was a newer edition, I will give it that.  It was in a nice area on a corner lot.  As we walked by the garage a blind swept in an out in the wind through a missing pane in the window.  Ok, these things can be fixed.  Entering the front door the kitchen was to the immediate right with a small eating area attached.  Someone had had the genius along the way to paint the kitchen cabinets forest green and then complement this by adding a sort of marbling effect in a lighter green across the faces.  I had an immediate craving for pea soup.  None, however, for the house itself.

Again, the house was dark.  In the living room the same ingenious decorator had painted the already dark room a deep burnt orange.  Other than olive drab this is one of my least favorite wall colors.  There was one light source, the sliding glass doors and two happy big dogs were sitting there liberally slathering the window to show their excitement.

As we made our way to the back of the house there were three bedrooms, one painted sort of a lime green.  I was starting to wonder if this was maybe where the Easter Bunny hung out when it was off-season.  In the smaller of the two back bedrooms a vinyl floor had been laid, but not secured, so in one half of the room where there was no furniture it laid somewhat flat but where there was furniture it buckled and rolled like the Aegean Sea.  Really?  It was explained that FHA would require a floor, so the three guys that lived in the house laid this down.  Apparently no one had taken the extra step to tell them it needed to be glued down.  Exit stage right.  Note to self, get new pencil.

The third selection was another old house but imbued with much more character and potential than the first.  It was an odd layout, however, like whoever originally built it had kept adding rooms as they went without much thought to continuity.  Sort of a Winchester Mystery House in miniature.  I will say it had a lovely garden area with grape arbors trailing along the fence and sort of a romantic feel to the backyard.  Not bad, but not for us.

Sighing slightly at this point and pulling a bag over my head to get oxygen we moved forward to the final option for the day.  Outside of town by about six miles, it was in a lovely small development, quite new, and unfamiliar to either my other half or myself.  A sunny little community unto itself adjacent to the forebay of the river and nestled in between fields of swaying grasses.  Lovely.

Toying with the lock box we finally gained entrance to a sparkling clean (on the outside at least) little house with fresh paint and tons of windows.  Susie, that being me, was doing the pee pee dance with anticipation.  Carpets still showing the marks from being recently cleaned were in a lovely rich sage color and the walls pristine off-white.  A fireplace showing little use sat in one corner and light, light, light spilled in from every orifice.  Yea.

It was a lovely house, and just the ticket for us but most likely came about a little soon for us to move on it and also most probably unless we do decide to stay where we are, not the right town for us.

It was a productive day, nonetheless.  We got a feel for what’s out there, what we want and most definitely what we do not.

I made this asparagus last night.  No false advertising here.  It looked as pretty on the plate as it tasted going down.

When choosing asparagus look for a bright green color and heads with leaves close together.

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon and Mustard Sauce

2 bunches of fresh asparagus
20 cherry tomatoes
1 lemon
Garlic salt
2 Tbsp. EV olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray (I used olive oil spray). Place tomatoes on foil and cook for 15-20 mins. until they begin to pucker and wilt. Remove and set aside.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and mustard. Season as desired with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Wash asparagus and trim the hard ends.

Cover asparagus with water in large deep saucepan. Add salt and sprinkle the water with a pinch of garlic salt. Cut lemon and squeeze one squeeze out of one half into water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking until fork tender. Should be bright green but still crisp.

Arrange on serving platter. Top with wilted tomatoes. Ladle sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese. Cut 2-3 slices out of remaining lemon half and place on top. Yum. Serves 4.

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I am sad to report that my exercise program seems to be in the dumper. Lofty thoughts of sweat stained shirts and hours on the treadmill entertained the night before, just never sound quite as good in the light of day. I am reminded monthly by my other half that the money is still being deducted from my account whether I am present for the workout or not.  Fine.  Sigh. Further I’m told that although vacuuming (which I count as exercise) is actually light cardio, based on the fact that my carpet lines are immaculate I shouldn’t hold out for that call from Sports Illustrated regarding their upcoming swimsuit issue. Drat the luck.

Last week wouldn’t rank in my top ten best.  Tuesday sucked and Thursday was worse. When I think of that week I’m only going to include all days not beginning with T. I took two of my granddaughters to their dental appointments after school on Thursday. The dental office lobby was huge, and yet there weren’t many empty seats. After getting in line, the receptionist presented us with an entire pine tree’s worth of paperwork to fill out before they could be seen. After checking “no” to everything from pregnancy to gout, we stood in line to give the paperwork back to her and returned to our seats, which were now occupied. Exactly one hour and a half later, the first girl’s name was called.

Finally finding a seat, I noticed there was one magazine in the lobby, a medical journal, and it was more popular than a single man at a wedding. Even I found myself eying it as it was laid down.

Two and a half hours later after exploring every possible position in that chair and unable to locate one suitable for the backside, both had both x-rays and exams and were free to leave. Well, not free, I’m sure the sizable bill would be arriving in due time.

In my list of past accomplishments, I can include dental assisting. A brief, foray into the scintillating world of molars, autoclaves and mint flavored dental floss. School was great. We all wore uniforms and it all felt very official and clinical. Applying myself, I did well and was asked to keep in mind continuing my education and becoming a certified hygienist.  It was something I considered strongly before actually working in a dental office, and tossed out with the contents of the spittoon after several weeks on the job.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I think it’s a great profession and I admire people who are accomplished at it and enjoy their work, it was just not for me.  To begin with, I hate going to the dentist, so why I thought I would enjoy a working environment where the very smell of the office makes me want to cut and run, escapes me for the moment.  After graduating, I took my state test for x-rays and immediately got hired by a thriving orthodontist’s office close to home. For me, the best part was the uniforms.  As his practice was geared mainly towards children, we were encouraged to wear colorful prints in youthful themes. I was a riot of pink bunnies and swinging monkies carrying bunches of bananas.

What I didn’t take into consideration was that although their parents may have been enthusiastic about their little one’s dental health, their little nose miners, not so much.  Also, small mouths are difficult to place x-rays in and should have a sign hanging from them reading, “proceed at your own risk, loss of digits may occur”. After several weeks I began to classify my young patients.  The biters, their opposite numbers the teeth clenchers, the screamers, the thumb suckers, the squirmers and a small percentage of little angels with big eyes who never uttered a word, shed an occasional silent tear, and just opened their mouths on cue.  I always snuck them an extra treat on their way out.  It interested me that a dental office gave their small patients their choice from a bowl of candies afterward. Perhaps it was to keep new business moving steadily through the door.

In school, the proper use of the suction device was heavily touched upon.  Even though the wand is small it has a powerful enough suction. If it’s resting on the soft tissue or you suck on someone’s lip it can leave a sore or a blood blister.  One day I had a white knuckled lady in the chair who, as was well noted on her chart, suffered from extreme dental anxiety. While clipping the bib around her neck she grimaced three times and began to wring her hands. Personally I’ve never considered fastening the bib to be one of the more painful dental procedures, but her acrylic fingernails digging into my arm ranked definitely high up there on my pain threshold. A crown procedure was lengthy, so in order to keep her in the chair and calm she was administered a low dose of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”.  Soon she was as giddy as a school girl and after proposing a number of inappropriate activities to our dentist, a married man with three children, she became as flexible as Gumby under the broiler, making it difficult to keep her still while the drill was on.

Between trying to suction, managing the instruments, and reaching up to pull her arms down, I heard her mumble, “owche”.  This followed by a soft tinkling in the wand.  When she’d walked in the door I noticed she was very well-appointed style wise.  At the time I had admired the delicate wires dangling from her ears each with a tiny gemstone. After checking my suction and not finding a problem, I once again turned my attention to the woman.  Immediately I noticed there was now only one stone in place.   Oh-oh. As the stone, which turned out to be a small diamond, was probably about the same size as dental waste from old fillings we suctioned from patient’s mouths it probably passed through the filter and into the waste receptical below.

After the procedure was done, I informed the dentist, who in turn informed the patient, who, feeling pretty good about life in general at the time, thought that was the funniest story anyone had told her, and laughed until she got home and regained her senses.  In the end, the dental office insurance covered the loss, I decided to retire my swinging monkies and pink bunnies, and went back to pounding the keyboard which better suited me.

Wouldn’t do it again, and wouldn’t trade it.

These are really good for a quick appetizer.  If I’m just serving heavy appetizers, I leave them whole, but if they’re before a big meal I cut them in thirds.  Yummy.

Asparagus and Brie Roll-ups

12 slices good quality sour dough or white sandwich bread
1 wheel of brie cheese
1/3 cup Dijon mustard (you may not need it all)
12 asparagus spears, cooked
4 Tbsp. melted butter
Grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Using a rolling pin flatten the each slice of bread as much as possible. Trim crusts. Place on large cutting board and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave for 10-15 mins.

Cut brie into similar shape as asparagus spears. Spread one side of each piece of bread evenly with Dijon mustard. Place one asparagus spear and one slice of brie on far left side of each piece of bread and roll.  Brush liberally with melted butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Place rolled pieces on buttered baking sheet and place in oven for 15-20 mins. or until bread is nicely browned and cheese is bubbly.

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I was asked the other day what exactly it is that I do for a living. Could you repeat the question? Can I phone a friend? After some deliberation, I responded that most days I mainly just go about the business of being me, and, although I quite like the job, I must admit it doesn’t pay very well.

This, and reading another blogger’s post on a similar subject, got me thinking back to what my aspirations were when I was a kid.

In high school I loved to write, and kept a diary in which I wrote faithfully each night before going to bed. On rereading this in my twenties I found it typically packed with teenage angst, mainly male generated, my favorite lip gloss colors, or if I gotten a pimple the day before a big dance. Nora Roberts was not sweating the competition.

At that age, and at that time, girls expected to get married out of high school or college and raise a family soon after. It was the early 70’s and women were definitely making great strides in the direction of careers but the stereotype still leaned more heavily on the side of diaper bags than briefcases.

I wanted to travel, and since my parents didn’t own a hotel chain, or a string of silver mines, I decided towards this end I would become a stewardess. Being young, this was all about the uniforms, the glamour associated with the job, and most probably a hot pilot or two thrown in the pot for flavor.

As with many directions I’ve headed in my life, the path I started out on didn’t always lead me to the destination I’d intended to go. This was no exception. At nineteen I met my first husband, eight months later we exchanged vows, and three months following I was expecting my first child. The closest I got to the “friendly skies” after that was serving juice cups and sandwiches on plastic trays and fluffing an occasional pillow.

I equate myself to a slightly raw piece of fried chicken. I keep getting thrown in hot oil but when you stick a fork in me I’m just not done yet. In my defense, I have narrowed down my likes and dislikes, and cleared a lot of misconceptions off my desk, but there is still a pretty good pile of to-do’s, and what if’s, that I need to sort through.

At one point I went to school to become a dental assistant. I excelled in the classroom working on the dummy patient we affectionately referred to as Ruth Canale, don’t ask.  Unfortunately, when I actually went to work in an orthodontists office I found, albeit a bit late, that not only did I abhor poking and prodding around in people’s mouths, but I really hated watching them writhe in pain. It’s a personal problem. Also, pit bulls have nothing on small children as far as tenacity when their jaws are clamped firmly on your fingertips. These and a myriad of other reasons ended a short and less than illustrious career in the dental profession.

During the years that I was raising my children it was necessary to hold down conventional full-time jobs, sometimes more than one at a time, as my kids were extremely demanding and insisted on eating three times a day. On the precipice of my fortieth birthday my son went into the army and my daughter moved out to go to college. All that was left of nineteen years of wiping noses and cutting crusts off PB & J’s was a murky bowl that I was told contained a living gold-fish which required feeding once a day, and regular phone calls usually involving a pen and a check book on my end.

Up until that point my jobs had been fairly run-of-the-mill, as I said, executive assistant, stenographer, ad nauseam.  In Massachusetts for two years I typed, yes typed, it’s a machine that you insert paper in and has a keyboard similar to a computer (oh, never mind) , insurance forms for a large well-known insurance company.  My other duties included replacing the tapes on the computer banks, (I’m just not going to explain this one) and filing.  In order to keep my head from perpetually nodding onto my desk I needed four espressos and a No-Doz before my first break.  This is why work is a four-letter word.

After my children moved forward into their lives and out of our lives, per se, I suffered a severe bout of empty nest syndrome.  I would sit with the murky pot of fish in the empty bedrooms and cry.  Truly, it was pitiful.  Had I not lived in my own body I wouldn’t have chosen to keep company with me.  Not usually a “pity pot” sort of human (my mother always says that given a pile of manure I would dig through it looking for the horse) this martyred existence didn’t work well for long for me.

Soon thereafter I met a nomadic sort of human and for the second time in my life stored my worldly possessions in a storage locker and took to the road.  During this second leg of my travel adventures across the U.S. I worked as a motel maid in Washington, a feed and grain clerk in Alabama, and cleaned chicken parts in West Virginia. Unencumbered for the most part of my material goods, I discovered thrift stores where miraculously you could buy a mismatched baggie of flatware for $6.00.  Who knew?  I was introduced to the sultry, humid world of the deep south for the first time, and partied with the Cajuns deep in the Louisiana woods.  It was an experience.  So I guess to answer the first question posed might be I’m the sum of the whole of me with pieces still missing.

My neighbor in Arkansas made this for a block party and gave me her recipe. Yum.

Fresh Asparagus Pie

2 9″ refrigerated pie shells
1 lb. thin asparagus spears, trimmed
3 bunches scallions, trimmed
3 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blanch aspargus in a skillet in salted boiling water (1 tsp. per quart) for 30 secs. Remove and drop in ice-water bath and leave for 5 mins. Repeat the process with the scallions.

Drain and pat dry. Set aside.

Cream Sauce

In medium saucepan melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook 2-3 mins. over low heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add milk a bit at a time, whisking after each addition. Repeat with heavy cream. Bring to a simmer
and cook, stirring constantly, until a creamy smooth consistency. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, dry mustard and paprika. Mix well and set aside to cool.

In bottom pastry shell arrange the scallions and the asparagus. Sprinkle bacon on top. Pour cream sauce over vegetables. Place top shell over all and crimp the sides together. Cut six slits in top layer of dough to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 15 mins. at 425 degrees until slightly puffy and browning. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and cook an additional 15 mins. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

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I have issues.  Let me preface this blog by saying that children and animals are among my favorite creatures on earth.  Although children are not guileless past the breast-feeding age, or perhaps before, I do find them endlessly  fascinating in their openness and incredibly endearing when they’re reaching for my hand or nestled in my lap while I’m reading them a bedtime story.  I just like the little buggers.  Truly.

My other half and I went out to enjoy a romantic dinner the other night for the first time in quite a while.  We chose a small, intimate restaurant noted for their excellent Italian cuisine.  Having owned a restaurant, for a time going out to dinner lost it’s luster, as it seemed we were always “out to dinner”, and also, liking to cook, chose rather to spend time sharing a meal with our friends or cooking together for ourselves. 

At any rate, going out just sounded good.  It was a long week, and the idea of having someone cook me a delicious meal in a romantic atmosphere sitting across from my favorite male was extremely appealing.

We arrived, and were immediately ushered to our table.  The restaurant probably seats 85-90 people at full capacity.  As there were few open tables and several larger parties, the tables towards the wall where were closer together than they had been on our last visit. Next to us, was a couple I would guess to be in their late thirties.  Also seated next to them were their three little boys, ranging from say ten and under, the youngest most likely around four or five.  Sigh. 

At our table, the candle was flickering and the menu was presented.  We ordered , and then the fun began.  While trying to carry on a conversation, the three commandos at the next table were on the move. I don’t have expectations that children are going to sit through a long meal with their hands folded in their laps but wrestling, pulling at each other’s clothes, knocking over water glasses and throwing things at other patrons is just over the top. Dad was on the cell phone, and mom looked like there wasn’t enough liquor in the world to make this night feel better.  The hooligans were throwing meatballs like missiles and using their crayons to write on the freshly pressed linen table cloths.

We forged on, determined to have a nice evening out.  I ordered an extra dry martini with two olives and my other half, who doesn’t drink, ordered an Evian.  While toasting each other, a piece of garlic bread flew a mission across the top of our table and landed in my other half’s appetizer.  Okay, now the having fun part was becoming more difficult.  The parents, amazingly, did nothing.  Not, “Hey, Bud, you need to calm down”, or “guys, this is rude behavior”. Nothing, nothing at all.  It appeared, on their side it was all good as long as he still had bars on the cell phone and wine in the carafe.

I’m starting to wonder if we haven’t shifted to a point where we’re actually afraid of our own children.  There is so much information on how to be a parent available now, maybe we were better off when we just flew by the seat of our pants or by the seat of theirs.  Apparently the word “no” is destructive, although it worked well for me and certainly my parents.  I didn’t spank my children, but they understood there were consequences for their actions.  Um, if you decide to do this, little man, know that this is coming down the chute immediately following. I just don’t know.

People in the restaurant were starting to murmur.  The three boys were into everything and running wild, and still the wife ordered more wine and the husband continued his phone conversation. What on earth is up with that?  I have serious issues about this.

My children, and to preface they were far from perfect, did not act like that. I taught them early on that the manners I expected to be honored at our table were to be expected when we went to someone else’s home or to a restaurant.  Come on.  Most of us have children.  They can be ornry and most usually choose the most inappropriate times to display their least endearing traits, but last time I looked we were still much bigger, hopefully more intelligent, and bear the responsibility, to teach them how to behave.

When my son was about six his father and I, along with his sister older by a year, went out to breakfast at a well-known pancake restaurant.  Coffee was served at the table in a carafe, hot.  I had reminded my exuberant youngster several times that he needed to get a grip, but he was hungry and most probably bored, and accidentally knocked over the carafe into my husband’s lap.  Truly, the hot liquid arriving in his groin area caused such a reaction that one of his shoes flew off and landed in a pile of blueberry pancakes on an adjacent table.  True story.  We ended up apologizing to the man at the table, retrieving the blueberry laden shoe and heading for the emergency room where it seemed my husband had suffered second and third degree burns on the most vulnerable part of his body.  There was no need to say anything to my son because he understood that for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction.  I didn’t punish him because seeing his dad in pain was way more punishment than anything I could have said.

We are their guardians, entrusted to move them along through life and prepare them for adulthood as best we can.  If we don’t who will?  The Internet.  I hope not.  I love my computer and enjoy all the endless resources that it provides me, but I am glad that my children are grown and I don’t have to police their use of it. 

At any rate, that’s my whine for today.

This asparagus is so good.  You can vary the toppings but this is one of my favorites.

Oven Roasted Asparagus Spears

2 bunches of fresh asparagus (I prefer the thinner stalks)
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss asparagus, olive oil, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice together. Salt as desired.

Place asparagus on large baking sheet. Roast for 8-10 mins. turning once. Remove from oven and set aside and keep warm. (This is also good cold in salads.)

Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsps. dried thyme, or 1 Tbsp. fresh minced thyme
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Toss asparagus with vinaigrette until evenly coated and serve either hot or cold.

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