Bet’cha Didn’t Know

Hello. I’m revisiting something (I think) I’ve touched on before.

Here are a few of weird things (or maybe not) about me:

1.) I put double exclamation points on everything!! (See?) Ever since I’ve been pregnant with the twins, I’ve done it. Religiously, OCD-ishly, like a freak. Up until I landed my desk job and had to create publications where double exclamation points would be weird(er). Then, I’d write my double points by “cutting” one and “pasteing” it on top of the other one. Yeah. It’s like that! (Cut/Paste) My twins are 13. Run and tell that.

2.) I haven’t typed a swear word in years. Years. Maybe almost a decade? I don’t know for sure, but probably. Yes, probably. Maybe as long as the double exclamation points have been going on. Believe me, I’ve been tempted, tingling fingers. Especially in the last couple years. Frank stopped swearing for a while and it pushed me to try and curb my own words a bit. Typing was a test, my mouth is a whole new beast. I swear like a sailor. I’m not proud or ashamed, but there it is. Occasionally my kids correct me, but more often than not they… well, they have the same affliction.

3.) Bees tend to get caught in my hair. Maybe it is the curls.


OK, on that note, I lead to the photo of the hot dog, which has got to be one of my favorites. Iron skillet, cute doggie… perfection.

The REAL First Day of School

OK, so today was the real deal, at least for us. Like I said, Dante had school yesterday, but he’s in college and staying in a dorm. This is different. The house has been buzzing since about 7pm last night while we were watching a Brewer’s game and a quite impressive storm rolled in. Lightening was abundant, flashing through the sky relentlessly, barely giving it time to go black before lighting it up again. This brought us to a closer huddle where we continued to watch the game, watch the sky, text Dante and, for a minute, feel like we were all together still.

The boys went to bed around 9:30pm, all of them, which was uncommon. But, having the next day be an “event day” helped. Naturally, Lootie started digging for his backpack, and other things that should have been done long (longlong) ago. Franny did a find job pointing that out to him. I didn’t have to say anything. OK I said a little, but not much. “See, that’s why I started planning my clothes and packing supplies loooooooong ago.”

To bed they went, tucked in and cozy, surrounded by muffled thunder. Once, thunder shook the house with a booming cry, and Carlito called out to ask if I had heard it. Yeah, yeah, I did.

This morning I set my alarm a little earlier just to get up and be of support to my new sophomore and 8th graders. They’re pretty self-sufficient in the morning, which is really nice. They had packed a lunch last night, set out their clothes and were putting on the last-minute touches when I made my appearance. Lootie was still in bed, since he takes a later bus.

I didn’t know if the twins would really want a picture, but they happily obliged. Both were a bit overdressed with the sweaters today (high of 82), but the first day of school feels like it should be a cool autumn day, I guess.

(L-R: Sal, Franny)


These are Franny’s shoes. I like them a lot. Not just because they are a sharp shade of red. But because I found them, on sale, while picking up some shoes for Dante. What I love is that they were half the price I was hoping to spend on shoes, just happened to be the right size, and Franny loves them. It just doesn’t work out that way very often.

Lootie didn’t have the air of excitement that the twins had, but what can I expect? Last night he told me he felt like he was already in college. I don’t know what that means, really. Maybe it is because, while Dante is not here, he is the oldest boy, instead of the middle child stuffed between the one and only girl, and older brother, and a set of twins. Who knows. As long as it doesn’t mean he wants to drop out of high school, I’ll just go with the flow.

As he left I grabbed my camera. “First day of school picture?” I asked him. He made that groaning noise that commonly comes from a teenagers throat, but he turned long enough to roll his eyes and give me the opportunity to snap ONE picture.

I can’t help it, I always feel a bit sad. Lonely. I relish the house to myself (as I think we all do in our family since it is small and there’s so many people in it) for short periods of time, but I also take great comfort in a busy, stuffed full home, loud with my freaks, rooms alive with energy.

It’s strange having Dante off in another town, doing his thing, and not being a daily part of the circle. It feels not normal. I’m accustomed to Sophia being gone because she’s been gone for years. Even as a teenager when she was here, she wasn’t really here. She was always trying to get away. As a mom, I wonder when it starts to feel normal not putting a kid on a yellow bus to elementary school. Ever? Those days are so crisp in my head, while others are blurry.

I had grand plans for today, but am fairly certain 90 percent of that will not come to fruition. At best I’d like to freeze the black beans I have simmering in the pot since last night, take a shower, make a couple calls. Possibly go grab some notebooks, get dinner ready, freeze a couple meals. It is also double coupon day at Copps. I’d like to hit that.

Or shower, lounge in a chair, read a book.

First Day of School

Yesterday’s breakfast: oatmeal pancakes, parmesan garlic eggs, sausages.

Well. Technically today’s breakfast as well, since I just chowed down on some leftovers before the boys devoured them all. Everything was good, except for the eggs. They weren’t so good second day. I put a little dollop of plain yogurt and some maple syrup on my pancakes (like my mom used to do). Yummy.

Today is (technically) the first day of school, though it feels nearly like any other, since nobody in this house is going to school today. Lootie is a sophomore, and only freshmen go the first day. The twins are in 8th grade, and only the 6th graders attend the first day. So the boys are still stuffed under their comforters, cozy as can be. Which is why I was puzzled at the knots of worry and excitement in my tummy. Spring and fall always do this to me. Anxieties. Weirdness. It is a reminder of the passage of time, something I nearly always want to slow down.

We dropped Dante off for college yesterday, just Frank and I. This time it was “for real” – the others were just trial runs, really. We moved him in last week, but we knew he was coming home the following weekend for the holiday, to see his girlfriend off, and to pick up things he might have forgotten. This time, though, this was the real deal. We don’t have any set plans of when we’ll pick him up. He’s starting school today. He’s officially a college student.

I am incredibly happy, proud, excited (for him), and have a million flutters of great joy. It is all overshadowed by sadness. Not true sadness. Just greif. Maybe how people feel when their daughters go off and get married. Or.. sort of. I’m not sure. But I know I just have to work through this to get to the other side, because this experience is an amazing one for him. But I miss my little boy. You turn a corner when you send them to kindergarten, and then you turn another one when you send them to college. It’s a big milestone.

Franny slept in Dante’s bed last night. I kind of felt like doing the same thing. I didn’t, though. Really! But I did look around the room, stifled back a sniff. Took a deep breath. That coupled with this being the last year for my youngest before high school. OY. I’m feeling it. Feeling it a lot. Reminding myself to focus on the small moments, stretch time. Be present. All those good phrases that pop out of magazines, books and websites about savoring the moment, yanno.





Painting Your Nails Before Work… Bad Idea

I take a long time to get ready in the morning. Not because I’m all jazzed up and dressed to the nines. Just because my hair is difficult, I have a routine that I stick to, and deviance from that sets me off in an irritated spiral.

The main components that are a necessity when readying for a work day are: hair, filled water bottle, filled coffee mug, lunch packed. And, naturally, getting dressed. Everything else in between is gravy. Generally I will leave the house early so I can get to work early to finish any make-up I need applied, or hair fidgeting.

Yesterday I opted for a liquid breakfast, which left me a nice “spare” of 10 minutes. I don’t know what possessed me, but during that time I ended up painting my nails. I rarely have time to paint my nails, and when I do, the paint lasts for such a little time before chipping that I wonder what the point was.

Mission nails done completed. They weren’t too messy either. However, I hadn’t had my coffee, and wasn’t thinking clearly. When you go to a salon, before they apply your color, they have you take your keys out of your purse. Smart, right? I skipped that step. I skipped a LOT of steps. Like getting keys out (work keys, car keys), putting cellphone in purse, lunch in backpack… on and on. Thankfully I had already put my hair net on (to keep my hair in place for a short time during the initial air-dry). What a good idea to paint my nails while I have that on, right?

Needless to say, I arrived with my hair net on. You can see in the picture above that my hair looks about half done. Nail polish and make-up intact, ready to start the day.

My hair dried well, by the way. I’m growing it out curly again and transitioning is a… difficult process. But I’m determined to make it through to the other side. I’ve had some hair fun over the summer, and I’ll share that once the kiddos are in school and life settles a bit (as if).

Today I’ll be picking up some odds and ends for my college student, trying to meal plan and stock my fridge and pantry. We’ve done a pretty good job with eating a lot of stocked pantry food and items from the freezer, but I do think the kids would enjoy opening up a nice bounty of fridge food. It’s been pretty bare.

Enjoy your last days of summer!

Confession: I Am A Lettuce-Eating Freak

The title says it all, really.

I eat lettuce.

I don’t suppose it is too weird that I eat lettuce. It’s maybe just a little odd how I eat it, though. I eat my greens like some people eat potato chips. Or… Oreos. In excess and like a pig. Sometimes I take a bag of naked greens to work to eat. I like to eat them with my hands. Grab a bunch, pinch it together, and cram it in my pie hole. Because I like to eat it this way, it makes me feel like I’m taking a quarter container of Pringles, stacked, and shoveling them in my mouth. I feel guilty.

Sometimes leaves of greens will drop at my feet. My dog Wheezy doesn’t eat them, so it makes it hard to cover my tracks.

I’ve felt kind of weird about this for a while, now. I’d make my salad on the side, sans dressing, and grab bits with my hand when nobody is looking. I don’t think anyone has noticed, but you know, I’ve decided it could be worse and I might as well embrace it.

Yesterday I made this Lentil Chorizo Stew (mother of pearl, you need to make that, like NOW – it is that good), and when I went to put the kale in, I found myself doing the same thing with the kale. I literally backed off to a corner of my kitchen and ate it raw. Twice. For some reason you can’t right-click on the author’s site with the recipe, but essentially the same recipe is right here, too (posted by same poster), so go there if you want to copy/paste it into a printable form. In fact the one below uses 4 potatoes, like I did, to beef it up a bit.

Lentil Stew with Chorizo and Kale

  • 1 bunch Italian Kale, Chopped Into 1″ Pieces (I used bagged and chopped – easier)
  • 1 pound Green Lentils, Rinsed
  • ¾ pounds Chorizo Sausage, Cooked
  • 4 whole Red Potatoes, Cut Into 1/2″ Pieces
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • ½ whole Yellow Onion, Diced Into 1/4″ Pieces
  • 8 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 leaf Bay Leaf
  • 1 pinch Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • I added  pinch of red pepper flakes

Preparation Instructions
Melt butter over medium-high heat and add garlic, potatoes and onion. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and starting to become translucent. Add chorizo, lentils, chicken stock, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add kale, stir, cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

(I really liked this recipe, and so did everyone else. I did, however, get quite uncomfortable digestive-wise after it, so I don’t know if lentils aren’t my thing or if it was a coincidence. I’m scared to eat the leftovers and find out, but it was tasty enough that I will give it a go.)

Anyway, so I’m making that and shoving kale into my mouth. As I’m doing that I’m wondering why in the world am I feeling guilty?

Today, I’m making dinner, kids are gone, and after I’m done I reach into the fridge like a dirty birdie, pull out the half-empty container of spring mix greens and run downstairs with a glass of wine and a fork feeling like I’m mugged someone. It’s not a flat of doughnuts or cookies. Why the guilt?

Maybe it is just indulgence, period. Then again, maybe it stems from being a kid. I loved sneaking into my mom’s garden and eating the veggies like a famished rabbit. But I wasn’t really supposed to be doing that. So I’d grab them like a burglar and stuff them in my mouth. I distinctly remember hoveling down in the garden, eating peas like they were going out of style, breaking into the cherry tomatoes and stuffing myself to the point of illness. And then there was that time with the rhubarb. Overindulged. Still to this day can not touch the stuff. Rhubarb isn’t something you ever EVER want to sneak in a garden and stuff yourself on.  Word to the wise.

Before my parents retired recently and moved away, my mom, as usual, had a garden. She’s grow tomatoes and peas in barrels and when they were gone for a week or so, she’d have me water them. My savage ways continued. I’d water them, alright. I’d water them and rob them of every ripe tomato in sight. Considering my own black thumb, it was Garden of Eden to me. It was something I could never attain myself, and couldn’t resist either. Inside my mom’s houseplants would be wilting away from neglect, and outside they’d be over-drenched and robbed of their fruit, then parched to near extinction because they had nothing left to offer me. I wonder what my mom does with the abundant bounty of her plants, now?




She Gave Me A Flower

It has been record-breaking HOT here in Wisconsin. I’m sure some of you are feeling the heat wave, too. We are blessed to have air-conditioning in the house, and I have it at work, too (Frank does not). But I have to admit, after a week of sucking in conditioned air, I’m ready to throw the windows open to drink in some freshness. I have been going out on the deck, suffering the heat to read a book, have a glass of wine with blueberries in it (1 cup frozen blueberries + 1 cup wine = heaven on a hot day). It’s almost like going into a sauna for a spell, then retreating back to the shock of a climate change.

I’m not a hot weather person. The fact that I’ve been outside at all beyond work and running errands is a testimony to how cooped up I’ve been feeling.

Day 5 (or so) today of the heat wave and I’m literally almost jumping out of my skin, craving movement, outdoors, change of scenery. I dropped the kids off at baseball practice this evening and it was a sweltering 99 degrees out. At 7pm. I was kind of envying them. They got to go play, get sweaty, dirty, have fun. What kept running in my head, though, was the timing of my shower and how I wasn’t going to take one tonight. I’m tired of falling asleep on a wet head.

I came home. Waited. Did laundry. Went back to pick them up. Saw dirt, sweat, enjoyment in exhaustion written all over them. Gunned it home. Cleaned up dog urine (someone hasn’t enjoyed fireworks over the last few days), grabbed a baggie and the leash and stomped out the door.

Just one round, half a walk, just around the block once. Maybe I won’t sweat so much.

Bowzer was thrilled, practically choking himself over his own incontrollable enthusiasm. We made it down the first block, which was relatively quiet. Not many are fool enough to swim through the thick, humid air. Half way down the first block there was a woman with two children, tending to the lawn. I complimented her on her work. I pressed on, remembering the state of my hair, tank top, tight pants, house shoes. I… hadn’t expected it to be light enough out for people to witness me in my state of horror. Darn.

Ahead I spotted a family walking, slowly. I was sure we wouldn’t meet. Relief. As I passed around the next block, just as I’m passing a familiar house, in pulls a car loaded with one of Frank’s acquaintances. One of those people who has a nice clean car, cute clean kids, and didn’t look like they’d been lifted up, tossed by a tornado, and ran through the dryer (like I did). I gave a cheery “hello” and said something about staying cool then picked up my pace. By the end of that block both Bowzer and I remembered it was hot and slowed down. He still wanted to walk, as did I. I was already sweaty and knew a shower awaited me, so I might as well do my full walk.

Down the next block I headed, straight towards the family of slow walkers. Great. My shadow showed my hair outline as freakishly non-human. Why didn’t I check myself in the mirror before I left? Why? I’d use the excuse of my dog to cross out into the street and avoid eye-contact. They grew closer, a small gang of children, one haphazardly pushing a (much larger) sibling in a… stroller? No, it was a wheelchair. The mother sauntered along as the little one in command of the chair skidded, bumped onto lawns, and nearly upended the kid in the chair (who was smiling and raising his arms in glee at the peril, naturally). Just as I was about to make my escape, two small girls and a boy ran up to Bowzer (aka Bowzer The Kid Magnet) and asked to pet him.

Is she nice? She’s cute! She’s a he? What’s his name? Bowzer? Cute! Oh he likes petting.

The mother smiled, tiredly, and urged them along. I was about to pick Bowzer up so the kid in the chair could see him, but they moved away too fast. The little girl hung back and held a flower to my dog.

For Bowzer. She paused to look up at me, extended a small stem and head of a flower, stolen from a yard along the way. No… for you! You have the flower.

Oh, but it would look so pretty in your hair.

No, in YOUR hair.

I took it. I smiled. Not just on my face, but inside, I just smiled. The crazy-haired, sweaty lady receives flower.


Here I think I’m doing so much better at blogging, and then I look at my last post and realize that a month has nearly gone by. “Busy” has been the word, bird.

The school year ended. Big D graduated (my first one). It was almost surreal. I’ve been trying to pay attention to each moment, so that kept me from panicking too much. From, well, from slobbering all over myself. I’m such an emotionally-charged person. For years I’ve worked on stuffing my emotions down (probably some self-preservation, guarding). Sometimes I wonder who I am, this person who stands back rather than pushing forward, is nervous at times where I would be fully open and outgoing. I don’t like it. I’ve realized this. My self-preservation mode has brought me to a point where, at times, I’m simply no longer ME. Too often. So when he walked across that stage and grabbed his diploma, instead of blubbering to the ground in a heap of salty tears, I screamed out loud and smiled. I let the joy bubble over. What else is joy supposed to do?

He who never smiles let some joy shine through, too:

Jease. I started out wanting to share a yummy recipe these popsicles I made, and now I have to table that because I’m racing off in another direction. Once. Again. Oh well. Who pays the bills ’round here? Exactly.

I didn’t graduate, not like this. I was pregnant and married when my graduating classed walked across the stage. I suppose I could have continued in school, but I didn’t want to. I was truly ready to move on, excited to go to college more than I was wanting to go back to high-school. I finished up outside of school, and moved on. I missed the experience, though. For a few years I wondered if I should have gone back. It played on my mind a bit. But eventually the present times overrode that desire. I continued on to college instead and found satisfaction there. But still – I haven’t graduated college! It’s on my list of things to do. But I do want more for my kids. Doesn’t every parent? My oldest didn’t graduate, so this was my first experience with a child walking across the stage. It isn’t mandatory, but it is symbolic. The younger brothers got to experience it (they haven’t before). Frank and I got to (I never have). It is closure, but also an open door. Everyone went, from Sophia to the twins. We experienced the joy, the sadness, the nervousness, the excitement — together.


Graduation kept us busy. Two days later – graduation party. It went well. More on that next time.


A Generous Theif

How are my kids growing up so fast?

I suppose this means I’m getting old(er). Obviously. I surrender and fight.

Next weekend is Dante’s graduation party. When we set the date it seemed so far off, and here is comes at the speed of light. Sophia is already 20 years old, living in an apartment a few miles away. Dante will be heading off to college in the fall (and this summer). Though I’m not yet 40, life marks us in stages rather than ages sometimes, and I am the mother of two young adult children (and three other teenagers).

Yesterday I took the youngest three to the park, and they played on the baseball diamond while I walked around the path. A path I’ve walked many times; alone, with Frank, with the kids, all of us as a family. One night in the thick of winter, it was icy, crisp and black, I walked the path under the stars. I was sad, angry and needed to just be out in an open space, to move and not think.

Yesterday I allowed time to slow on me, walking the dog, listening, thinking, smelling, feeling. Being present as much as possible. I people-watched as two mothers (possibly my age, but with infants), donned in track suits with their babies in strollers, warmed up on the basketball court in bounding leaps towards the strollers, the retreated in a light jog back across the court. Bounding leaps, light jogs. Back and forth. They looked incredibly ridiculous. I applauded their efforts of sacrificing appearances for fitness. My mind then wandered to ponder to what a pioneer from long ago would think of such a sight. After all, who needed to a run treadmills and make crazy in in public to be fit back then? Who would have thought in the future people would have to set aside time to work a body hard?

My mind carried on to the next scene, young soccer players darting after a ball. Quite a contrast to last weekend’s games where big boys with muscles and five o’clock shadows prowled the field. They were young once, too. I remember it. Vividly. Franny and Sal especially.

My what time does. It robs you and gifts you simultaneously. A generous thief.


Simple Shortbread Recipe (Super Easy)

Memorial Day weekend flew by. Well, not really. I shouldn’t say that. We were out of town with the boys, and it was time nicely spent. Both Dante and Franny had state soccer tournaments for three days straight, one game a day, Saturday through Monday. Dante hasn’t played soccer all season, but stepped in with his old team to help with this tournament. Franny’s been playing with the same team ever since coming back after his leg break. Dante’s age group is all graduating, heading to college; Franny’s is splitting up. Dante most likely won’t have another game with this group, Franny has only a couple left. It was bittersweet. Though both boys would be separating from their respective teams,  instead of yukking it up with their teammates, we ended up spending most of our time together as a family.

Franny, waiting for his game.

Things are shifting, changing. Dante will be going to college next year and his brothers will miss him dearly (as will we). They know this. Darn, I’m going to get teary in a post I’m actually writing about shortbread? What the heck? But, well, it is there. It is touching that the boys, knowing they are rounding off their seasons, chose to spend time with each other over the weekend, together rather than apart. We watched their games together during the day, and caught the Brewer’s baseball series on TV during the evenings at the hotel. Not bad. Relaxing together slowed things down a bit, the weekend not being entirely rushed from field to field and event after event.

I took some pictures, but not a lot. Seems like I’m feast or famine with pictures. I’ve got thousands or I’ve got only a few. As the kids get older, and continue through these life stages, it is nice to have a camera on hand. But it is also nice to sit and savor the moment, too, without the distraction of trying to catch it on film. You can soak up the warmth of the sun on your skin, how good it felt, but you can’t adequately capture it to disk.


Yesterday I spent the majority of my day baking bread and doing laundry (hanging it out to line-dry). Sunny, windy days just scream for me to hang laundry on the line. It was a rhythmic day. Load in, load out, load up, knead and stretch, knead and stretch, rising, shaping, baking, hanging, taking down… cooling off, working up to a sweat, cooling off, working up to a sweat.

I loved it.

Not wanting to figure out a meal, I took out some meatballs from the freezer (they tasted a bit better in the sauce – I’m the critic, though, everyone else liked them), threw them in the crockpot with a couple jars of sauce and called it dinner. We ate almost as soon as the boys got home. After dinner was served, they all headed off to soccer practice. I knew they would be hungry when they got home. For some reason strawberry shortcake kept coming to mind. After taking a load of towels off the lines, I ran to the store to score some heavy cream and strawberries. Instead, I made out with tilapia filets, heavy cream and a loaf of bread (I know I baked bread – don’t ask). Strawberry crates were ridiculously small, moldy and overpriced. I knew I had some frozen blueberries at home and they would do just fine.

I found a shortcake recipe online and based my recipe off of that. I say “based” because there were a few things I just had to tweak, like the entire cup full of butter the recipe calls for. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But, skeptical at first, this recipe made a believer out of me. It was pretty easy, and everyone loved it. There is no need for Bisquick when you have an easy recipe like this.

Simple One-Bowl Shortcake
[makes 12]

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter [1/2 cup – cold]
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut butter into small cubes; add to bowl.
Cut butter into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives. I just went in there with my hands, pinching and squeezing the butter into the flour. Stir in cream and egg. Continue to knead, right there in the bowl. The dough will come together, forming a nice ball [think cookie dough]. Take large egg-sized handfuls, flatten them in your hand and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches in between. No need to be pretty – I made mine quite craggy and sloppy– they’re better that way! You should have 12. If some are bigger, snag a bit of a bigger one and slap it on a smaller one. Again – you don’t need to be pretty about it.
Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until golden.

Sorry, no pictures. We ate these warm in a bowl with berries and fresh whipped cream on top. They were yummy.

Need help with the berries?
While shortcakes are baking, take about 3 cups of frozen blueberries [or other berries – I used frozen blueberries, and mixed berries]; add to saucepan. Sprinkle with 1T sugar [or more if you’re a sweet freak]. Heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Turn to low to keep warm, giving them a stir with a spoon every now and then. Note: If you like a thicker sauce, you can sprinkle the berries with 1/2 T. flour in the beginning when you add the sugar.

Cooking With Grandma

Recently my grandmother passed away. She was a vibrant, loving woman, one I remember fondly for her round shape, but also for her presence in the kitchen. I was always eager to eat dinner at Grandma Wolfe’s because it was always something spectacular. Not necessarily in content, but, even as a kid, I could discern a meal that had been prepared  by someone who loved their kitchen and loved to cook for people. Grandma did. My regret was to have never cooked alongside her as an adult. As a child I would stand in the kitchen and watch her move through her small kitchen, making recipes from far off places with spices I was not yet familiar with. I tasted jicama for the first time at my grandparent’s house. Cut into square fingers with a fresh hit of lime and sprinkling of chile powder – I was hooked. I’m sure I ate more than my fair share, as my grandfather sat cross-legged, chatting with grandma and asking me what I thought of the crunchy root.

My answer was evident in my noshing.

After her memorial service, the family went back to grandma and grandpa’s house (not the one that I remember from childhood, but the one they moved into for their last years of their lives) and reminisced over numerous pots of freshly ground coffee. My cousins, younger than I – some the ages of my own children, drank me under the table, adding cream to their cups, and sugar from grandma’s sugar canister. Their mother, my aunt, remarked that when she left for the long drive home, she was taking grandma’s (her mother’s) pizza pan. They had been using the pan while they stayed in the house, and it was going to a new home. She said she’d fight for it. Her desire for the pan sparked a wanting of my own. I figured it must have been one heck of a pan. I realized, though, that I had only been thinking of myself. That day I learned there were plenty of people who held fond memories of grandma’s kitchen. It was a place of wonder. Who wouldn’t want a part of it?

Conversation continued, twisting and turning down numerous roads of topics, but one tidbit I picked up on was that my uncle had scanned the majority of her recipes and made a PDF of them. In my scatterbrained life I do drop the ball and forget to follow-up with quite a few things. But getting a copy of that PDF I did not, and my uncle faithfully delivered.

Grandma’s service was in January of this year, and grandfather’s was last week. He couldn’t, and didn’t, last long without her.

I love this photo of them. Looking at it, you can see why a long-time separation wouldn’t do.

Clearly my thought was to share a recipe of grandma’s, and I will. I’ve only tried one of them, the one that was most pressing, and it was a smashing failure – not giving justice at all to grandma’s version. I have a feeling, though, that her cooking is similar to many of that generation – a written version is a guideline, the real recipe is written in their own mind. Frank’s grandmother, an Italian/German cook, is fabulous in the kitchen, but I’ve never seen a recipe card anywhere.

The recipe below I remember asking for seconds and thirds while I sat with my brother in front of the television, eating off TV trays, while the adults chatted in the background. As usual, my mother was more than likely horrified at my request for more (and more and more). It’s OK, though, because I have a couple kids that pay me back with that same horror of requesting more than their fair share at events revolving around food.

Greek Egg Lemon Soup
1 Qt. water
4 pkg. chicken broth
1/4 C uncooked rice
4 T. lemon juice
3 eggs (or substitute?)

Boil water. Add broth powder and rice; cook until tender. Beat lemon juice and eggs. Whisk half of brother into mixture. Pour into remaining broth and heat (stirring) until thick. Do not boil.

Easy enough, eh? I don’t know where I messed up. I’ll have to try again.