Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mom's Special Dressing

My mom and I were very close. As her only child, I spent many an afternoon at her knee, helping her fix dinner. No surprise then, that I learned a few things. I'm truly grateful as my mom was an amazing cook! 

My mom made a special salad dressing, a sort of egg vinaigrette. She made it mostly in the summer when Boston or butter lettuce was abundant. It's so much better with these lettuces. Eggs, oil and vinegar, onion, seasonings, it made this creamy delectable salad you couldn't stop eating. Especially me. It's always been my favorite. When I helped her in the kitchen, I got to be the "taster" making sure it was just right! At the dinner table, I made my mom and dad take their servings so I could eat the rest! I would just stuff myself with it. 

My mom passed away in September of 2000 after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer. She hadn't been eating much for a while before that, or cooking, so it's easily been longer than 15 years since I've eaten this salad. Even though I've glad the recipe in my head all this time, I've never been motivated to make it. Until this summer.

I planted a container garden. Cucumbers, tomoatoes, red peppers and Boston lettuce. It's been one of my best growing items! I began to think that my first time growing lovely vegetables deserved a luscious salad dressing. What a more fitting tribute than my mom's dressing!!! As I harvested the head of lettuce I got very excited, and a little nervous. Would I really remember how to make it? Would it taste like hers did? 

I have to tell you, it was delicious! Just as I remembered. I can only think how proud my mom is knowing I'm carrying on this delightful family recipe! And I know she'd love me to share it, so I will. Enjoy!

Mom's Egg Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup canola oil
3-4 T apple cider vinegar
5 hard boiled eggs
Morton's Natures Seasonings
3 T chopped onion
Boston lettuce

Hard boil the 5 eggs and cool. When cool, peel them. In a large bowl, combine the oil, vinegar and Nature's Seasonings. Use a garlic press to squeeze only the onion juice into the bowl. Add the egg yolks to the bowl and mash into the dressing. Finely chop the egg whites, add to the bowl. Tear the lettuce, add to the bowl and toss. Bon appetit! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I'm a forty-something year old woman. Blonde bob. Preppy/stylish dresser. I drive a white SUV. Yes, I look like a soccer mom. Well, in the winter anyway. When I'm covered. 

Now that the weather is warmer, you can see my tattoos. I have nine. Right hand, inner forearm and calf. Left ankle, inner forearm, back of shoulder. My right collarbone/shoulder. When I wear shorts and rank tops, they mostly all show. I don't mind that. I chose them and the spots they should go. They majority of them have extreme sentimental value. A memorial tattoo (ladybug) for my mom. Chilly Willy for my dad. He loved penguins. I have their signatures from a greeting card on my arm. It means so much. My favorite bible verse. The Eiffel Tower on my leg. A French saying on my collarbone. Each one has been thought out, from inception to execution. 

According to the Pew Research Center, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo. 36% of those age 18-25 are tattooed, and 40% of those age 26-40 are. So, imagine my surprise, the other day when I was out to lunch and found myself the topic of conversation. A group of senior ladies was discussing my body art. I saw them poking each other and gesturing in my direction. When I looked up, they were quiet. My gut instinct? I was angry.

But then I thought about it. My mom and dad were of their same generation. I know they would also not be so understanding of my choices. In their day, tattoos were for the military and hoodlums. I'm not a member of either of those groups. I guess I'm just someone who has a lot to say. 

I wanted to say something to them. I thought against it. I don't really care what others think. I don't need other's approval. The better experiences are when people want to "read" me. Or comment how cool my Eiffel Tower is. It really is. 

Am I done? No, probably not. I still have design ideas swirling in my mind. I will never have full "sleeves" of tattoos, but still have some viable real estate. And I would tell those who shake their heads at me when they see my tattoos, my tattoos help tell the tale of who I am. And that's good enough for me. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Paying It Forward-Deliciously!

I'm a big fan of Paying It Forward. I feel like when a kindness is done to you, you must do one for someone else. Keep the momentum going. 

A couple summers ago, my dad and I purchased a beautiful, new, stainless gas grill. It had all the bells and whistles. It was a beast! I didn't worry about this as my dad was the primary griller. He was really good at it too! I can still see him, eyeballing the meat, cold beer in hand, waiting for the perfect moment of doneness! He always got it right!

Well, we only used it that one season, then my dad got sick and passed away. I couldn't even imagine hauling out that behemoth to grill for just myself. As luck would have it, my neighbor's grill gave up the ghost. They are that family that grills all the time, the aroma wafting deliciously into your yard. Eureka! I told them, "come over and get this grill. You'll get much more use out of it than me." And they sure have.

Today, my neighbor said, "we never discussed what amount you wanted for the grill." I said, "I don't want anything. You guys watch out for me, that means a lot." He graciously thanked me and went on cooking his food. About 10 minutes later, there was a knock at the door. His daughter was there with a plate filled with steak, shrimp, redskin potatoes and green beans! What a feast! And I no longer had to cook! Bonus!

I was overwhelmed by this kindness. I feel really blessed! I really believe people WANT to be kind, not uncaring or cold. Now it's my turn to Pay It Forward! I can't let this one pass by! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My life is going to the dogs....

Anyone who knows me, knows that I ADORE my two little Shih Tzus, Cody and Rusty. They are the best part of my day and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them. Lately, my role has become their personal chef! 

Some time ago, I had read that pumpkin and sweet potato were both very good for dogs. So I bought a can of pumpkin and some sweet potatoes. The pumpkin was hardly labor intensive, I only had to use a can opener. The sweet potatoes, however, I roasted and mashed. The pumpkin was a no-go. Sniffed and turned their noses right up. The mashed sweet potatoes were a hit-for a while, anyway. One day, they just turned against them. Back to square one. 

I longed for my beagle, Comet, who I lost last April. He would eat anything. And in about 30 seconds. The bowl was clean, nothing left. My two little guys are more grazers than eaters. They'll eat a few bites, walk around, chase a squirrel, eat a few more bites, chew a boney. Never early morning eaters, they much prefer brunch or lunch. What's wrong with plain kibble, you ask? Nothing. Except they won't eat it.

They prefer a mix-in. Liverwurst, roast beef, ham, turkey. Never, never plain kibble. And I need to be psychic to know which mix-in they prefer at that meal. Otherwise, noses up, sniff, sniff, walk away. A Shih Tzu is resolute in their dismissal. Sniff, sniff, done.

So I decided to revisit the sweet potato again. Cubed and boiled one, no way. Sniff, sniff, nope. Baked and mashed one. Cody ate a little. Rusty? Sniff, sniff, sitting up, saying, "I'm hungry!" No amount of begging, pleading, cajoling would get him to try the sweet potatoes again. 

I wanted to stand firm, I really did. I tried channeling my mother. She never made multiple dinners just because someone didn't like what she was serving. You didn't like it? Guess what, you didn't eat! I wanted to be like this, I did. But when I had the sweetest little face, staring up at me, sitting up in the cutest pose, begging for something to eat, my resolve crumbled. 

What did they end up with? Dearborn Honey Ham. Rusty scarfed practically the entire bowl! 

Shih Tzus : 1, mom : 0. One thing's for sure, it's never boring with these two around!

Monday, March 3, 2014

You Get What You Need

Needed to go pay my car insurance bill. Not a task I was looking forward to. And it was due today, of course. Procrastination at it's best! 

I pulled into the lot and parked. I noticed a little old lady parked next to me. Putting on her "rain hat" as my mom called them. Yes, my mother wore them. She got out of her car, moving slowly. I jumped out, heading towards the door, moving quickly. "Excuse me," she said, "would you help me?" She wanted my arm, to steady her as she walked towards the door. She'd had a bad night, she said, her back was bothering her. We moved slowly in the bitter cold, I reassured her to go at a pace she was comfortable at. 

We were both going to pay our bills. "Do you want me to wait for you?" I asked her. "That would be really nice," she said. So I did. And arm in arm, we walked out together. She told me, as we approached our cars how grateful she was that I arrived when I had. "Don't know what I'd have done without you." 

Lately I've been missing my mom so badly it's been hard to draw breath. I thought of this sweet little lady, she was someone's mom. I knew I'd be happy if someone helped my mom like this. Made me feel so good! I knew my mom put her in my path. She knew I needed this. Thanks Mom! I can breathe again! 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bumpy Cake, Coneys and the Crying Girl

Last Saturday dawned bright and sunny, the first true spring day after a very long winter. It was also a holiday. Sanders, a Detroit institution known for their many delicious confections, was celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Bumpy Cake! If you haven't had it, I'm sorry. It is quite the most delicious cake I've ever tried! My mom always made sure I had Bumpy Cake for my birthday.

In honor of this celebration, Sanders was giving away a free slice of Bumpy Cake! Yippee! I eagerly went to claim my slice. After some errands, I stopped for lunch at National Coney Island, another Detroit institution. I had a craving for a Hani. They were quite busy, no doubt everyone wanting to be out, enjoying our fine weather. There was an older couple seated in the booth in front of me. They had the ease and quiet happiness of couple who've been married a long time. The wife, seated facing my direction, caught my eye and smiled. I was drawn in by their relaxed conversation and happy attitude. She caught my eye again. I asked her if she had claimed her free slice of Bumpy Cake. She eagerly asked me where was the nearest location. We will go after lunch, she said, twinkle in her eye. She thanked me for sharing with her.

I finished my lunch before they did, so as I went up to pay my bill I handed her one of the envelopes with the gift card and just said, thank you. They made me hopeful that a relationship with a great partner is indeed possible.

I'm having surgery in a couple weeks and needed to pay my bill with the surgeon. The office was empty except for the sounds of someone sobbing extremely loud. This was indeed odd for a doctor's office. Whoever was sobbing was also talking to themselves. "Don't be so stupid," she said. "Stop it." She came walking up to the desk and was startled by my presence. She was still crying. She said she hoped I hadn't been there long. I said no, only a minute or so. She explained she had slammed her finger in a drawer retrieving a patient file and it hurt so bad. She went on to say that her grandfather had passed away the previous day and she was so sad. She apologized to me for being so stupid, as she put it. I told her she wasn't stupid and I'm sure that her finger hurt, but it was probably more the loss she experienced to bring on the tears. I told her that our emotions are what they are and they will come out one way or the other. Although her finger hurt, it was the loss of her grandpa that really caused her pain. After I settled my business, I handed her an envelope and said I hope this would brighten her day a bit. Hopefully it did.