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Posts Tagged ‘love’

As I mentioned several posts back I’ve embarked on a new relationship. I was neither looking for one, nor really prepared for one, when one knocked on my door. Life really does consist of the times events are actually happening, and the gaps in between when you are waiting for events to happen.

I have a single friend who said to me the other day. “You are lucky to have found someone. I have been looking for ten years without any decent nibbles. Most men our age want younger women.” She then quoted an old saying, so not true, about women over forty being less likely to get married than than being killed by terrorists. What an awful, and totally sexist, statement. It surprised me it was coming from female lips. The problem is, I think, a lot of women have swallowed that hook. It implies, in short, women have less value after a certain age. I could not disagree more, and this not because I rank among their numbers. Most of the wisdom I have gained over the years has been handed down to me from women far senior to myself. Women who have already immersed themselves in their lives, dived in and tested the waters along the way, and in many cases made the current smoother for the ladies coming up behind them. When I was twenty there is no denying my skin was pristine, my eyes shinier, my body tighter and my bones more agile but I didn’t know a donut from a hot rock when it came to living my life. I also don’t feel “lucky” to have found someone. I feel am a lady with something to offer who is deserving of sharing time with someone who treats me well. Conversely, in defense of the gentlemen, I don’t like when I hear ladies say, “all the good men are already taken” when speaking of older men in the dating pool. Like everything from picking the best apples in the barrel to deciding what house to live in or where to invest your money, you have to sort through some unsuitable choices before deciding on ones which fits your needs best.

My new partner and I share a lot of similar beliefs, including a like spiritual path and similar political leanings. Both of us also lean toward silly, which I really enjoy. Someone too serious about life would never fit in well with my personality or lifestyle. I believe the younger version of myself concentrated more on surface attraction rather than delving into common interests or goals. One thing paramount to me at this time in my life, is peaceful coexistence. I have participated in my share of contentious relationships. Looking back on these pairings, I consider them a learning curve. From each union, I took with me newly gained knowledge about what I was willing to allow in a relationship and what I was not, what fit and what didn’t. These were not lessons I always learned on the first go round, I’m nothing if not hard headed, but eventually even my hard head was able to absorb what was and what was not productive to helping me flourish.

Trust is not a strong suit of mine. People are disappointing, and the people in my life sometimes couldn’t or wouldn’t keep my trust as promised. Lessons can be both negative and positive. I have found that each negative stone I have loaded into my personal baggage was best dealt with then left by the wayside. If I continued to harbor them, the burden became too weighty to carry on with lightness in my step. By the time we have achieved a certain age, most of us have pasts to contend with. Some people, of course, are more fortunate. Couples, for example, who meet their perfect match in high school, bear and raise lovely children with them, and usher in the unknowns of old age hand in hand rank among the luckiest in my book. For many of us, this is not the story we will tell. Being open to new love means leaving old wounds behind and embracing what is happening now.

One thing I know for sure, marriage is definitely not in my future. I have already run that flag up the flagpole and now am focused more on a companion or partner without benefit of shared paperwork. I used to think I had one ceremony, one partner in my future. I was young and the world seemed wide open in front of me with all the possibilities it has to offer. When I said “I do” the first time I thought that would be the last but certainly that was not to be. Each person creates their own story line. My grandmother had one love. When my grandfather died before his time, she chose to remain alone for the next thirty-five years. Conversely, my mother remarried for the fourth time in her eighties and was blissfully happy for ten years. Our perspectives and dreams have to morph and reshape as life transpires. Three years ago I did not imagine my world without Rick, yet here it is, and here I am.

So, I embark on a new adventure. I am open to exploring how this new piece of my quilt blends in with those already sewn in place . For me it is important to avoid comparisons, for that can be both self-defeating and frustrating. This is a new chapter not a continuation of the previous one and should be given its own consideration. I look forward to seeing what lies around the next bend in the road.

Have a lovely weekend. I have my corned beef in the fridge waiting to hop in the pot with the carrots and red potatoes. I am celebrating St. Patty’s Day a bit early this year as I get my second Covid shot on Monday and don’t know what to expect as a result.

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It is three a.m., which seems to have become my Covid norm time for waking up. Eyes wide open, I’m ready to commence with my day (which doesn’t officially start for three hours). The saddest part of this story, I finished my second cup of coffee before I sat down to begin this writing.

There has been a new male presence in my world over the last year or so. I’m having difficulty defining this relationship. What do you call a partner when you’re getting a bit gray about the temples? Boyfriend, sounds ridiculous at this age. We are not going steady, the prom is not in our future, and the likelihood of me wrapping dental floss around his class ring to make it slide on my finger is slim to none. To be honest, I don’t know what is in our future. We are exploring the possibilities, concentrating mainly on what is happening today.

Intrinsically, I am a nester. Having someone to “do” for is somewhat of a happy place for me. Cooking is an activity I greatly enjoy, and though I do cook nice meals when here by myself, it is not the same as having someone seated across from me at the table to appreciate them with me. In this pandemic enforced solitary confinement, I believe my landscape would have looked far more bleak without his silly sense of humor to cut through the fog on the darker days, and his companionship to help ease the encroaching loneliness forced isolation can breed.

Different questions have to be answered when you’re entering a relationship as an older adult then when you are a kid. Actually, I prefer “older person”. It’s a split hair, but one I enjoy splitting. Not sure I’m ready to be graduated to full adulthood yet. My inner child is currently a work in progress. In my minds eye, she is a young girl with an easy smile who loves to walk barefoot in the sand and sing along to her favorite song using a spatula for a mike. I think I’m keeping her around for a while. There’s plenty of time later to be grown up.

Obviously, as an older couple you don’t discuss if you want children in your future. That ship has sailed, docked, and been hauled off to the mothball fleet. At this time in your life, you either have children or you do not. If the answer is the affirmative, then that is another brick in the wall (to quote a little Pink Floyd). I’ve experienced a variety of scenarios when it comes to bringing children into a new relationship. Young children on my side, young children on my side and his side, adult children on my side and adult children on both sides. All of the above, tend to add a little zest to the stew. Now, I cannot speak to everyone’s experience, only mine. Some couples may have been able to combine their “tribes” with ease, traversing this minefield seamlessly. God bless them. I use the word tribes, because warriors in full battle dress carrying spears is an image created in my mind while discussing this particular subject. For me, it was no walk in the park. Perhaps the ones who made it work without issue should have published a manual for the rest of us idiots stumbling along in the dark to follow? There are pratfalls in all of the scenarios. Young, young children are perhaps more open to accepting a new person being introduced in their lives. This, of course, is if the new person is loving and generous of spirit. But, even if they are up there at the benevolent heights attained by Mother Teresa, they cannot, nor will they ever be able to be, the child’s birth parent. This, creates a natural fault line that can and probably will widen and diminish as situations come up. Older children, are more likely to step back and scrutinize the newcomer. Their keen searching eyes looking for financial stability, any obvious major health problems, and how the interloper treats their mother or father. In some cases they will embrace them, in others tolerate them, and in still others voice their displeasure with the new addition and banish them forever from the kingdom. In most cases, adult children want their parents to be happy. Another motivation to welcoming an aging parents new love interests into the fold, is not having to see their parent’s clothes hanging in their spare room closet or to have them taking up extended space in their mother-in-law quarters.

What a person is looking for in a companion as they age often changes considerably from when they first arrived on the dating scene. In my case, I have pretty much established through trial and error what I want and what I don’t want in a partner. My relationships looked much like my mothers and grandmothers when I was younger. Like the women before me, I cooked, cleaned, managed the laundry and bit off a healthy portion of tending to the kids needs, and as in my mother’s case, I also worked outside of the home.

These days work is something I do to make extra money as opposed to something I deal with on a daily basis. This does not mean I am financially free as a bird. I pinch a penny, and then squeeze the copper out of it. Since, according to my doctor, I’ve inherited my mom’s excellent genes, should I be lucky enough to live to be her ripe old age, I’d better have a tin cup and a cardboard sign at the ready to meet the occasion. That being said, anyone I take up with will have to be able to be able to stay afloat themselves when it comes to money matters, because my financial lifeboat is only equipped with seating for one. I’m an avid sharer, but can’t take on additional monetary responsibilities. As I start writing all this stuff down, I might in the end just consider getting another cat. Just kidding. She never appreciates anything I put in front of her.

Another thought is how I like to keep my house. By this, I mean I like it tidy. Some people simply don’t care if you can write your thesis in the dust on the coffee table. Let me say this, I am not one of them. Whatever anyone wants to do in their own space is first, last, and always up to them. Well, unless it’s a health issue or a danger to others. Let me rephrase, I accept everyone’s right to live as they please in their own surroundings. If a person wishes to eat fried chicken and throw the bones in a pile in the middle of the living room floor for the dog to yak up, I’m all about their right to do so. If eating soup out of the bathroom trash can when there are no clean dishes available suits your mood, I’m on board. I may not choose to do that, but accept fully it might be something that works for you and certainly your right to live and thrive in any way you want. There, that sounds more like me.

For years I have picked up, swept up, worked around, and generally managed other people’s clutter. Note here, I do not want to do this anymore. I am my children’s mother. That is all I signed up for. Anyone else is on their own if mothering is what they are in the market for. If I drop my clothes on the floor, they remain there until I pick them up. No one, at least in my experience, has ever gone by my clothes and on seeing them there either; a) hung them up neatly in my closet, or b) thrown them in the laundry and washed, dried, and pressed them for me. This, is because they are my clothes. However, during my marriages somewhere the lines got blurred where all the clothes in the house seemed to end up with my name on them. The dishes also, though I only ate off the ones placed at my seat, seemed all to be mine when it came time to load the dishes in the dishwasher. One of my husbands did the dishes during the week, while I took over on the weekends. This could have proved a great system, except he only did what I would call the “easy to clean” dishes (one swipe with a sponge, rinse, voila). That left me the following morning with a sink full of the stuck on pots and pans or heavy cleaning items like casserole dishes or deep fryers. These, apparently, were my pots. To give my husbands credit where it is due, for the most part, each of them took out the trash, mowed the lawn, and did whatever quick and simple repair jobs were deemed necessary around the house. Rick, bless him, always believed that having repairmen on the premises was doing a service for the community. Raised in an upper middle class neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt his family had servants. He told me as a teen he would take his clothes off before taking a shower and leave them where they fell. His wet towel joined the pile when he was done showering and when he went into his bedroom his clothes were laid out on his bed for him. I told him my union rep said I needed double time plus bonus pay for extras such as these and that, as they say, was that.

Another important piece of the puzzle for me would be how a potential love interest felt about animals. Boo, the queen of cats, is an intrinsic part of the fabric of my life. This silly old cat is a part of the family. Also, I have an innate distrust of humans who don’t bond with animals. You may be a cat person, or you may be a dog person, but if animals in general make your skin crawl, you will never be found in the cards for me. How people react to our furry friends, I believe, is indicative of how they will treat the people in their lives. Most likely I will always share space with an animal so that box needs to be checked for me before moving forward.

Before I move on, I have to put in a brief paragraph about the exes. Exes can be really touchy territory. Many couples I know, include their ex spouses at holidays and on special occasions. This is as it should be with children involved. I have sat at many wedding tables next to ex-wives. As long as too much champagne isn’t consumed loosening lips and allowing the horror stories of their relationships with your current squeeze don’t start, life can remain copasetic. I suggest an escape plan for such events be in place, in case you find yourself trapped in a corner and their lips begin moving. It can get ugly.

Love is a welcome gift at any age. I will not overthink the prospect for now, but rather allow things to open and unfold as they will and see what lovely surprises are to be discovered inside. Have a great day. Fill your cup with love, because you cannot have too much of it in reserve for times like now when it sometimes feels like a dangerous and cynical world. Stay safe.

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Valentine’s Day has already eluded me this month. For the first time since starting this blog I had no contribution. What a busy time these past few months have been. My beloved recipes and wonderful new pans from Santa have spent their time gathering dust in the cupboard. Mr. Rick, admittedly somewhat spoiled, has had a rare steady diet of take-out and hastily prepared meals. If a minute did come my way, I couldn’t seem to summon the energy to do much with it but take a deep breath and press forward. A friend told me recently “you need to slow down, girl”. Really? Believe me I would love nothing better than to hand the yoke to someone else and see the rows continue to form in the field. Unfortunately, most of my friends are involved in managing their own lives and don’t have a strong interest in taking on the responsibilities in mine as well. Shame that.

When a break shows up, I often turn on the television for a little diversion. Switching channels there is the political lunacy pervading the airways lately or an update on who’s been given the latest rose on The Bachelor. Sometimes while watching the news I feel like the Cheshire Cat peering down from a tree limb observing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in full maniacal swing.

Since this is the month of l’amour, toujours, l’amour let’s pause for a moment to ponder The Bachelor as well as its female counterpart. What can it be, I can’t help asking, people find so riveting about these shows? Explain this phenomenon to me if you will. The few times I have tuned in, all the hoopla accompanying each episode’s conclusion continues to elude me. For the most part, once the cameras are turned off it doesn’t appear many of these couples continue forward together.Should they actually make it to the altar they don’t seem to last long after arriving there. Six couples remain intact after 30 seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Not great odds to my mind. Poor odds aside, everyone seems to be lapping up each season like a litter of thirsty kittens hovering over a bowl of warm milk. Amazing.

Truly we humans are besotted by the idea of true love. Beloved fairy tales such as Snow White and Cinderella fuel the desire for finding Prince Charming in fledgling princesses before they even enter elementary school.  Even I (long past the princess phase) tuned in to watch the most recent version of Cinderella over the weekend only to find myself as captivated by the story line as when sporting Mary Jane’s.

Love, perhaps, is the last great embodiment of optimism. Statistics indicating the likelihood nearly half the couples coming together will not remain so, human beings continue to engage in the avid pursuit of the perfect mate. Once a desirable partner has been culled from the herd they stand before an officiate and exchange vows often including “til death do us part”.  Perhaps the vows should be amended to read “til do us part”?  All this effort is expended in the hope of sharing a life with one’s soul mate through the end of  time.

Yet, when you watch an affectionate elderly couple sitting comfortably side by side on a park bench exchanging a word or sharing a laugh it makes your heart hopeful. Living alone was perhaps not the original plan, though many do so successfully either by choice or happenstance. Those of us in the animal kingdom seem to be instinctively paired. Birds such as swans, turtle doves and the bald eagles choose one mate to create a nest with one other for life. A friend of mine had a lovebird by the name of Wilbur. Wilbur was a happy little soul who sang prettily from his cage each day to his lovely bride. Rarely did you see him without his mate at his side. They preened and groomed one another and occasionally produced an egg as a symbol of their union. One day the lady bird was found lying still on the floor of the cage with her faithful Wilbur standing at her side. Wilbur stopped singing, choosing instead to sit sadly on his perch. In an effort to console him a new mate was purchased and placed in the cage. Wilbur eventually began to sing again but never with the same exuberance. The mate, though accepted, was never given the attention the original female enjoyed nor did she ever produce an egg. Even birds can suffer a broken heart it would appear.

Often I ponder whether we are meant to be coupled as a means to perpetuate life, but are not naturally wired to be monogamous beings. This is a deep subject fraught with potholes so for today I will enjoy the lovely relationship I share and be happy to have it. No one can predict what is to come around the corner so it wise to enjoy fully day you find yourself in. Hope it’s a happy one.

This dish will definitely put a smile on your face. I will say if you’re looking for something to “throw together” this is not the recipe for you.  That being said, it makes a lot so I freeze what’s left over for another day when I don’t have the time to devote to it.

Rishta bi Betingan (Pasta and Eggplant)

2 eggplants sliced 1/2″ thick
Salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles with juice
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. rigitoni cooked and drained
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice eggplant and place in large deep dish. Cover with water for 30 minutes turning once. (You may have to do this in batches). Rinse well in colander and pat dry.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil until hot in large skillet. Working in batches cook until deep golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 6 mins. until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 min. until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices to pan. Bring to boil. Add eggplant breaking up slightly as you stir it into sauce. Reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for 10 mins.

Spray bottom of 9 x 13″ pan. Spread small amount on sauce on bottom. Top with one half of the rigitoni. Top with 2/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Top with another layer of noodles and finish with remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top. Seal tightly with tin foil.

Bake for 45 mins. or until bubbly. Yum.

Serves 6-8

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My oldest granddaughter is old enough now to explore dating seriously. I know! When did that happen? It seems I was just holding her for the first time and introducing myself. Now she’s up and moved to Phoenix as an independent woman. Whoa. Pause the movie. I didn’t even have time to finish my popcorn.

Dating, in particular first dates, can be an arduous process. For me, whether I wished to pursue getting to know someone further usually became fairly clear by the end of spending that first evening in their company. Not always true, certainly, because we’re all showing our best sides in the early stages of a relationship. Let’s face it none of us arrives for that first dinner date in sweats and a “I Have Mixed Drinks About Feelings” tee shirt. We save these little surprises for somewhere down the line. If we posted profile pictures of our mouths gaping open with a hint of drool sliding down the side of our faces probably our mail boxes wouldn’t lighting up. I’m just sayin.

My granddaughter was asking probing questions during our last conversation about how you know if someone is “the one”, and what the difference is between infatuation and real love. You are asking me these questions? If I knew the answers to those questions I’d have written a best seller and won a car on Oprah. Speaking for myself describing love is such a personal thing. What I might deem as being in love with someone, another person might consider chemistry or simply attraction. Love, like most of our senses, is unique to the ones experiencing it. For instance, I might get positively euphoric when smelling coffee brewing in the morning (which I do), while someone else might find the smell of Starbuck’s obnoxious or off-putting. These people need to be put down, but anyhow.

Individual tastes certainly vary dramatically. The old adage tells us, “there’s someone for everyone”. True or not, finding this person in a world overflowing with people seems to be the dilemma. I think we should be tattooed with a number with an opposite number suiting us perfectly issued to another human. This would narrow the search significantly, particularly with social media and the advent of the Internet. Like all things I feel, if we were sure of our perfect match wouldn’t it take some of the excitement out of looking for him or her? Kind of like knowing you’re going to win at a game before you play it. What would be the point of setting up the board?

Caught in the tenuous grasp of attraction and excitement, it is easy to overlook differences in lifestyle, perspective, money habits, goals, and whether the person wants children or not.  No one wants to waste time while lost in another’s eyes dissecting whether they like hot climates while you like cold, or they are morning people where you like to bring in the dawn. However, if these questions are shelved until the wedding cake is in the freezer, there might be trouble down the road.

For example, I was married to someone whose job required relocating frequently and often without much notice. In such a situation you have to leave your family behind, and find your life in a state of upheaval most of the time. For some people this would be disruptive or unsettling. In my case, I found it interesting and exciting seeing new parts of the U.S. and meeting the people living there. Had I not, this definitely could have created a problem in our relationship.

Married at First Sight, a television reality show where couples agree to get married without meeting each other prior to the ceremony. The cameras then follow their journey once they’ve said “I do”. Interesting concept. I suppose it’s not a far reach from arranged marriages, which though less common, are still a practice in many cultures. In the 90’s I worked with a lovely young woman from India. Her biggest fear was that her parents, holding to very traditional values, would marry her off in such a way to someone she did not love. Having watched her parents struggle with a somewhat loveless marriage, she did not want suffer the same fate. Several prospective men were brought over from India for Pooja to be introduced to.  Rejecting each as they arrived, in the end she married a man of her cultural background of her choice in a beautiful ceremony. Happily a mother of two now, things worked out for her as they should have in the end.

Love is capricious. For some of us it eludes us completely, for others it comes later in life, and in some cases, like a friend of mine with nine children, it arrives in high school and remains in tact throughout a lifetime. Perhaps it’s how our cards read, Kismet, or fate, however one believes. Some of us destined to explore life alone, other with partners. As with most things in life love remains a mystery. An intangible emotion, with no rhyme or reason, yet as lusted after as the most perfect of diamonds.

This hamburger is a sum of the whole. Each part of it adds to the enjoyment of the next. I make the bruschetta topping and the buns ahead of time and then the onions, keeping them warm. All that’s left is the burger and you’re good to go. Gooey and delicious on their own they don’t require any condiments at all to be absolutely mouth watering.

1Mushroom Bruschetta Burger

Mushroom Bruschetta

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. cubed mushrooms
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced
Pinch pepper and salt

Heat butter and oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook 2 mins. or until garlic just starts to brown. Add mushrooms. Stir and cook for about 5 mins. Add thyme. Deglaze pan with white wine and continue cooking until most of the wine has disappeared.

Add cherry tomatoes and green onions to pan. Reduce heat to med. low and continue cooking about 6 mins. until tomatoes have slightly wilted. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Buns

2 Tbsp. softened butter
4 hamburger buns, halved
2 tsp. garlic powder
4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler.

Butter both sides of buns. Sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp. garlic powder. Sprinkle each with 1/2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese. Place under broiler until browned and bubbly. Keep Warm

Fried Red Onion Rings

4 3/4″ thick slices red onion
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Oil for cooking

Beat egg in one shallow dish. Mix together remaining ingredients in second shallow dish. Keeping rings together dip each slice in egg and then dredge both sides in breadcrumb mixture.

Heat 1 1/2″ of oil in deep heavy skillet over high heat. Add onion rings to hot oil and cook until golden brown on both sides (about 3-4 mins. per side). Drain on paper towels. Keep warm.

Hamburgers

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
3/4 pkg. of Lipton onion soup mix
1/3 cup water
4 slices Meunster cheese

Mix meat, onion soup mix, and water together well with fingertips. Form into four patties. Cook over high heat on grill or stove until fully cooked and brown on both sides.

Top with cheese and continue cooking over medium heat until cheese has fully melted.

To serve

Place burger on bottom of bun and top with bruschetta and fried red onion. Serves 4

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Dating sites are really fine tuning their viewing audiences these days. If you are a lactose intolerant, Trekkie, with a house full of cats there’s probably a site dedicated to people who are perfect matches for you. Refining your likes and dislikes narrows the playing field when it comes to dating. Preferring men with hair to those without, would make signing up at a site promoting mostly bald men a waste of time, for example. Having religious or ethnic preferences certainly would be something you’d want to make clear before entering into a first date. Children in the house a really big check mark. There are men and women who simply are not interested in dating partners who have already started their families without them. There are sites targeting certain age groups, sexual preferences, even those honing in on occupations such as farmers, or chefs seeking fellow foodies. Researching this writing I was surprised to find there were sites specifically targeting people who have like diseases, or those having a preference for a particular breed of dog. Pug lovers have a site targeting other pug enthusasts. Who knew?

Lactose intolerant? No worries. Go to Gluten Free Singles to find your soul mate. Perhaps you want a financially secure man, or are married but like to leave the barn door open? Literally, there is something for everybody. Was I in the market for a mate I believe it would be like showing a starving man the door to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Bellagio.

Before dating sites, your choice of mates was limited to your surroundings or your capability of attracting one I would suppose. People you worked with were an option. Not always a good choice, however. Should you break up, unless you quit or work in a different building, you’re going to run into your ex every day at work. This left those potential love interests outside of the workplace doing whatever activities or lifestyle you pursued outside of work. These were pretty much the pools we laid our lines in back in the day. Nowadays the world is a dating playground. Many sites fill their photo albums with people from all walks of life hailing from all parts of the planet.

We are funny when it comes to romance. Often we do more research when purchasing a few shares of stock then we do when choosing a mate for life. I’m not one to talk. I’ve said “I do” four times. My mother suggested after the last I do laundry on Saturdays or find a suitable hobby. Pheromones, I would suppose, have a lot to do with why we jump into relationships perhaps not the best for us with both eyes wide open.

Often I look at couples and wonder what brought them together in the first place. People have said this about Rick and I, very different people. We met on a dating site. I was number 241 on his list of suitable partners. The only thing we shared in common was being on the same site. Other than that if his favorite color was blue, mine would be purple. Chinese food number one on his list, would be found on the bottom of mine. Looking back I would have had ten children if life would have worked out that way, Rick sometimes questions in decision to have two. Yet, we cohabit beautifully, having few disagreements and finding each other endlessly interesting. Perhaps it is our very differences that imbue the life into our relationship? As usual I have no answers, only questions.

Looking for love seems to continue to present challenges for us humans. Keeping it once we’ve found it, the enigma. Perhaps we should take our lead from other members of the animal kingdom who mate for life. Swans, for one, are known for their lasting bonds as couples, sometimes swimming next to one mate for life. Wolves, belying the use of their name to identify philanderers, are very family oriented creatures. Family units, or packs, usually consist of mom, dad, their offspring, and their offspring’s offspring. Bald eagles, our national symbol, are known for choosing one mate and remaining with that bird until either its death or theirs. I had a friend who had lovebirds. Aptly named, Wilbur, the male of the duo, lost Ruby, his one true love, after the birth of their first eggs. Inconsolable, the bird stopped singing, lost his feathers, and no matter how many potential mates were introduced to him following Ruby’s passing never formed an attachment again. Awwwww. Poor old Wilbur.

With Hallmark gearing up for Valentine’s Day coming up next month love will be in the air. I know Valentine’s Day is around the corner because while in the drug store I noticed hearts filled with chocolate commingled with the discounted Christmas decorations on the shelves. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find Easter bunnies commingled with the hearts before the end of the month.

Yesterday we cooked together making moussaka. One of our favorite dishes, but a bit of a production, it was fun to share the stove for the afternoon and enjoy our yummy creation in the evening.

Greek Moussaka

3 large eggplants, sliced 1/2″ thick
salt
1/3 cup olive oil (plus or minus)
1/2 lb. ground lamb
3/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fines herbs
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Bechamel

1/2 cup butter
4 cups whole milk
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. white pepper
Salt to taste

Preheat oven t 350 degrees.

Brown lamb and beef in large frying pan with onions and garlic over med-high heat. Drain on paper towels. Return to pan. Sprinkle wit cinnamon, fine herbes, nutmeg, and parsley. Add tomato sauce and red wine. Mix well. Simmer for 20 mins.

Remove stems from eggplant and slice in 1/2″ slices. Toss ends. Sprinkle salt over both sides and allow to sit for 1/2 hour. Rinse well under cold water. Pat dry.

Add 2 Tbsp. of oil to large frying pan. Heat over high heat. Add eggplant in batches cooking each bath until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Spray bottom of 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray.

Layer 1/2 of cooked eggplant on bottom of pan. Top with all the meat mixture. Top with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Add remaining layer of eggplant and top with 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bring milk to scalding temperature (do not boil). Melt butter in large deep frying pan. Whisk in flour. Keep whisking and cook for 3 mins. on low. Gradually pour scalded milk into flour/milk whisking continuously. Allow to cook, whisking all the time, until mixture becomes thick. Add white pepper and salt.

Pour evenly over the top of the eggplant/meat in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Bake uncovered for 1 hour until bechamel is lovely golden brown. Allow to rest for 5 mins. before serving.

Serves 6

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