Friday, September 30, 2011

The Butterfly Named Mango

My three year old celebrated Rosh Hashanah at preschool this week.  The Jewish New Year has many traditions that revolve around food...from eating apples and honey to celebrate a sweet new year, to Tashlich where bread is thrown into a body of water to signify the casting off of sins to start the year with a fresh slate. 

This week a piece of paper came home in her backpack.  It is a blessing that they worked on as a class, and I would like to share it with you.  There is an utterly random food reference that made me laugh.

The Blessing For The World

We wish the world would have millions of monkeys and a butterfly named Mango.  Also, the world needs lots of present.  The world needs kisses and cakes and princesses.  We wish for peace, justice, and lots and lots of Mommy love and many beautiful flowers.  That's all.

The butterfly named Mango.  Why Mango?  The national fruit of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines.  The mango is used in rituals of Ganesha, remover of Obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and deva of intellect and wisdom.  Butterflies in many cultures signify the soul of either living or dead.

Combine the two: the world needs a soul that removes obstacles by nourishing art, science, intellect, and wisdom.  A butterfly named Mango, mascot for world peace.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Coffee at the Breastaurant

If you haven't noticed, lately I have been blogging about coffee.  Lately being the past year of my life, but having two children between the ages 1 and 3 has that effect on people.  Lil' Bit started school, and I volunteered to be a "room mom."  This week I will meet with the other "room moms" to talk about...well not sure...the room? 

The "room moms" discussed where to go have a cup of coffee and figure out this vague job for the year, and I thought to myself Hooters.  What would these two other thirty-something women, I barely know say if I threw out the name of the local breastaurant?

"Hey ladies I have an idea.  What about Hooters?  I hear they have great coffee and it is loud with plenty of room for my 1 year old to roam around.  If it is nice we could sit outside on the deck...."

What I if I said that with a warm straight face to these two women, these mothers, with whom I have never had more than a three minute conversation? 

Breastaurants are strange.   I first learned this word about 2 months ago when Chef says to me one night while lying in bed, "So breastaurants are pretty lucrative, and there is a new one that is a bit more sophisticated than Hooters that is really taking off.  It is called Twin Peaks. What do you think?"

"Did you just say the word breastaurant?"  I had never heard that word before, and I found it utterly hilarious and perfect. Breastaurant.

"As long as people have to sit at tables to eat and the food isn't total crap, I am cool with it.  I mean, if that is where you want our daughters to pick up shifts as teenagers during the summer.  I had a friend in high school who really worked her way up the Hooter ladder.  Got into a calendar or something." 

Chef dropped it.

The girls and I drive past a Hooters on the way to school every morning.  It sits nestled on the water next to a small bridge and marina.  It is a place where some people come to eat, watch sports, and stare at tits, and where some people work. They fry wings, or sling beers and cleavage.  It is a lucrative business model that has its rightful place in society.

I think we need to explore this restaurant concept further.  Maybe transform the common package store and bar to a haven for the under-appreciated heterosexual woman.  A softly lit tavern where you can get 2 for 1 margaritas, where you can watch talk shows or reruns of dramas and comedies from the 90' Melrose Place, or the Golden Girls, or My So Called Life.  Where you can get a great mixed salad and buy your bottle of gin for the week, and perhaps where the waiters strut about in black Speedos, and retro threadbare shirts that are just a little too tight.  A Package store with a big P.

Now that is an idea I will run by Chef.  A market that really needs to be tapped....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Late Summer Harvest

The eggplants were tired at 29 South, so Shannon pulled them.  Before our amazing gardener did the dirty work I managed to snag a few fruits.  Eggplants and peppers are amazing vegetables.  Through the maddening heat of late summer they push through a bounty that is unbelievable given the circumstances.  They are relatively small plants, with smallish leaves and it is surprising how they produce so much fruit, and they seem to thrive in the dead heat of summer.   

I think we could learn something from late summer vegetable plants.  They have extraordinary stamina during a time of year when everything else seems to be dragging.  And they do so with panache.  I mean look at these colors.

It is hard to go wrong with roasted vegetables.  Olive oil. Salt. Pepper. 
A holy trinity.  
I needed a quick fix for dinner the other night and looked to the veggie bowl.   Eggplant from our garden and summer squash, red and green peppers from the farmer's market.   There was some Israeli cous cous in the pantry.  Feta in the fridge.

It is hard to go wrong with roasted vegetables.  Olive oil. Salt. Pepper. A holy trinity.  
The end product was so good I forgot to photograph it until it was almost finished three days later.  This is one of those dishes that just gets better as leftovers.

The recipe is so easy and you can use it for any veg.  Here...try it this weekend.  It will become a regular go to in a pinch.  This is my recipe, one I concocted using broad strokes of excuse the vagueness.

  • 4 cups of seasonal vegetables chopped in 1/2 inch cubes.
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of cous cous of any kind
  • a big hunk of feta cheese, crumbled (Buy feta in a block and crumble it yourself...not as dry as pre-crumbled cheese and no low fat cheese...unless you must.  The real deal adds a creaminess to the dish.)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Chop your veg and put it in a bowl.  Toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper
  3. Spread veg out on a cookie sheet and put in oven.  Roast for 30 minutes.
  4. While veg is cooking, make the cous cous according to the package directions.
  5. When cous cous is done put it in a large bowl and add veg to cous cous.
  6. Add feta to bowl and toss and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*As a side note:  I like to add fresh basil, or mint, lemon or chopped kalamata olives to this dish depending on the veg flavors.   

      Friday, September 2, 2011

      Wild Horses, Wild Women

      This summer I went to an epic bachelorette party, or as they say in epic "hen" party. It is a new tradition for a woman to be thrown a raging party by friends before marriage compared to its compliment, the "stag" party.   While the latter has been around for centuries in its common form, the idea for women to go out and get plastered as one last hurrah has really only become common since the 1960's. 

      This particular party was no bar hopping hose down.   Nope.  The bride to be, my cousin, brought 11 of her closest gals to a sea island where she spent much of her childhood exploring life.  That is Sarah above showing me how she can peel a shrimp in two moves.   I prided myself as a three stage peeler, but growing up on an island as the daughter of a ship captain...well lets just say the girl knows her way around seafood.

      As family in the restaurant business, I volunteered to be in charge of food and beverage...the duty of a bridesmaid called.  I did this without much thought to what it would entail, you see Cumberland Island is mostly National Park.  You have to get there by boat, cars are allowed only to the handful of people that live there, and there is no grocery or liquor store to restock if the cupboard runs dry. 

      Chef and I set to work listing all that would be needed.  There would be two breakfasts, two lunches, and one dinner to be prepared on site.  I asked the bride to be what her favorite foods were for each meal and a menu took form.  As did a cocktail line up.  Not hitting a bar scene had no bearing on the debauchery we had planned.   Beer, Wine, Tequilla, Vodka, Gin, and Goslings Rum for the bachelorette's favorite beverage the Dark and Stormy (captains daughter classic) were boxed with appropriate mixers and readied for the boat ride.  

      The day before we set off we began stockpiling boxes and coolers in our living room for the voyage.  A repair man came to our house to fix something and asked what it was all for.  I told him "camping" not wanting to explain that we rented a house on an isolated island...yada yada yada.  He looked at me like I was a capricious lunatic. 

      One of the other bridesmaids was helping us with this endeavor and when it came time to load our little fishing boat she doubted it would run with such a load.  Oh, but run it did.  We cracked open some beers for the ride and Sarah, her sister/maid of honor, and two ginger bridesmaids cast off with Chef as our captain.  He got us to the island safely, did his Sherpa duty, and then left us to our business.

      I had a game plan, and each meal went wonderfully.  Breakfast happened spontaneously as we dragged ourselves out of bed.  We had two fabulous picnic lunches.  One at Plum Orchard, a grand abandoned home perched on a field scattered with wild horses.  There we dined on a variety of gorgeous cheeses shipped from California, by a bridesmaid that was unable to attend.  Another lunch on the beach with a variety of salads brought by the bachelorette's sister in laws.  We had two dinners on the island.  The first meal we made at our little cottage.  The menu:  boiled shrimp, Sarah's father's grouper with special sauce,  grits, and mixed green salad.  Chef had taken the grits out of the package, and without internet we had no idea the proper way to cook them.  Luckily, a southern sister in law swooped in and gave us a lesson. 

      The last night we had dinner at the Greyfield Inn.  Every Christmas Eve, Sarah's family comes to the inn for dinner, and she wanted to share a taste of her family tradition with us.  It was a gorgeous meal.

      After dinner, we had a lingerie party, did shots and went skinny dipping in shark infested waters.  Who needs a table top bar dance when you have man-eating fish, rip tides, and tequila to make your last hurrah wild and crazy?   Tipsy girls being circled by large predators...just like any run of the mill bachelorette party bar scene right?  Wrong.  This bachelorette party was extraordinary, just like the lady it honored.

       (Sarah on the right, with her sister Molly...beauties!)