Memory: The Start of a Family Tradtion

In late January of 1966, Central New York was hit with an epic blizzard that shut the area down for days. Here’s a link to some photos taken at the time.

I grew up in a rural area. My aunt, uncle and four cousins lived next door on one side, my grandmother and step-grandfather lived on the other side of us. My uncle and dad couldn’t get to their jobs, so there was lots of family time between efforts to dig out.  Here’s  a photo  of  my  dad  on  the  1934 Ford tractor  and  my  Grandpa  Jim  working  on clearing away  the snow.

It was during the blizzard that two of my family traditions began.

My parents pulled out the flour, sugar, eggs, and such and went on a baking spree. We worked together as a family. I recall my mom unearthing a cookie press she’d never used, finding a recipe for chocolate spritz cookies and using the cookie press to make them. They were wonderful. A pain to make compared to mom’s usual cookies (and my mom baked great cookies!), but worth the effort. And yes, my dad was also involved in the bake-fest.

The first lesson I learned was to always make sure there is a stockpile of food in the house come winter. Ingredients and basics. It’s a lesson I had to remind my son of when he moved out on his own. Even if you keep only cans of soup in the cupboard, make sure you have something to eat. You never know when a storm is going to hit. Which is why you’ll never find me out on the night before a predicted storm scrounging for bread and milk.  I’m always prepared.

The second lesson is that baking together during a snowstorm makes wonderful memories. Now, I didn’t often get to take snow days with my children, but the times I did, we pulled out a box or two of quick bread mix (I am not my mom) and baked together. I used the time to teach them fractions (if the recipe calls for half a cup, how many quarter cups should you use?) and other life skills. Plus we were spending time together. That was the important thing.

I hope their memories are as nice as mine.

Meal: Cheese and Pie Crust

My mom always baked:  bread, cookies, cakes, and pies, all from scratch.

As a child, I didn’t understand why she always made extra pie crust when it was pie day. When I got older,  her secret was revealed.

She would slice cheddar cheese, wrap it up in the “scraps” of pie crust, and bake it along with the pies. It was her secret indulgence. Once I discovered the absolute deliciousness of it, she had to make more.

Something so utterly simple was a real treat.

MJ Monday-Meals: Lunch Hour

Warning: Self-serving 1st World Whining Ahead!

Pre COVID, I had a whole hour for lunch breaking up my work day. I didn’t have to think about lunch, because I could run out and grab something. I could run home and grab something. I had 60 minutes to deal with food.

When COVID hit, my employer changed our hours. We now begin our day a half hour earlier. Lunch breaks are now 30 minutes. And we get to leave an hour earlier than we use to. And that leaving an hour earlier is really nice.

My issue is the abbreviated lunch break. Even after eight months, I still haven’t gotten the knack of planning my lunches for the week. My choices are now to pack a lunch (something I really really hate, childhood “trauma” and all that) or order in. And ordering in gets expensive. Yes, GrubHub is wonderful, but expensive.

So I need to think about lunches. I try to plan meals where there will be leftovers for me to carry to work. How many days a week can I eat leftover pasta? I do try to remember to purchase things for sandwiches, but I really hate sandwiches. Unless they’re hot. (Thirteen years of tuna salad or baloney and cheese did a number on me.) A weight loss program I was on further traumatized me, although I have discovered good deli sliced turkey in no way resembles the sliced fat-free slime I once consumed in an effort to be svelte.

I warned you I would be whining. I know I’m lucky to have a job, lucky that I work in an “essential” business; lucky I have money to purchase food. I’m blessed in so many ways.

I just wish I could find a workable lunch break solution.

MJ Monday-Meal: My New Sandwich

Here’s my new favorite sandwich.

It’s made with turkey (good deli turkey, not the slimy, fat free stuff that you buy in plastic tubs), pesto (my supermarket sells small jars of premade basil pesto), roasted red peppers, and provolone on a sandwich thin (I prefer sandwich thins to bread because they’re not so . . . bready).

Spread pesto sauce (stirred well to incorporate the olive oil) thinly onto each side of the sandwich thin, as if it were mayo or mustard (I’m not a fan of either condiment).

Add a slice of turkey (doubled over) to each side of the then, then top with strips of roasted red pepper.

Add a slice of provolone. Personally, I prefer smoked provolone, but my husband doesn’t, and he buys the cheese at a local warehouse store, so that’s what I use.

Slap the two sides together and voila, a sandwich.

MJ Monday-Meals: Pasta Salad Redo.

In an attempt to de-carb our meals, I experimented with my standard pasta salad recipe, substituting Quinoa for pasta.

The first thing I did was cook two envelops of Quinoa and let them cool overnight.

I dumped them into a large bowl and started adding my standard pasta salad ingredients:

  • black olives
  • artichoke hearts
  • peas
  • carrots
  • red onion
  • roasted red pepper
  • chopped yellow bell pepper

and for something a little different: sliced radishes.

Then I made my standard dressing, doctored up with additional garlic powder, dried basil, and dried parsley.

All the flavors and most of the textures of pasta salad without its heaviness. A keeper.