A Special Kinda Guy

On this Father’s Day I’m remembering the man I didn’t call “Dad”!

To all fathers everywhere, I wish you a joyous and blessed day. May you be celebrated for your tireless efforts and shown how much your love means to those you touch.Love doesn’t have restrictions.

There have always been exceptions to the traditional family. Our family was no different. For a time I lived with my mother’s sister and her husband. Now they already had five children, two of the boys had Multiple Dystrophy and in wheelchairs.

My aunt was a stay at home mom and my uncle worked two jobs. Before work each day he prepared the boys for school and came in at night to put them to bed. That man loved his family and he showed it every day. I don’t ever remember him yelling or really mad. 

What I do remember is a man that always had a wink and a smile. Early Saturday mornings were special since just the two of us were up. We’d share breakfast and he’d asked how I was doing. He would sit there and listen to the little chatter box and sip his coffee. Sometimes we would sit on the front porch in the old wooden rocking chairs enjoying a moment. He gave the best hugs! Moments with my uncle still make me smile.

He had family in Maryland or Virginia that owned a farm I believe, because he would bring home fresh eggs always needing to be washed off, the fruits and vegetables were in bushel baskets and in the winter there was salt fish.

I stayed with them a little over a year. Over the years my aunt and uncle started doing foster care. They would take in those with special needs. They even adopted one of them.

When my uncle passed away so many wonderful memories flooded my heart. My children loved him. Our last Thanksgiving together, I had the honor of walking him to grace the table.  

His funeral was packed with people that loved and respected him for all the unmentioned selfless deeds he had done throughout his life. Up front with his immediate family sat all those foster children.

The father of our hearts was at peace.

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Not the Same Old Pots and Pans

Sous Vide Cooking 

Last year I bought myself a Sansaire Immersion Circulator.  It’s a waterbath cooking process. Food is sealed inside a plastic bag, dropped into a pot of water with the circulator at the desired temperature. This allows you to control the foods doneness, maintains the juices and marinated flavors.  A quick sear or a few moments under the broiler gives you the browning effect.

The other day my friend Melissa had sent me some of her “Daisy’s Secret Sauce Marinade”, just when I was wondering what to do with some drumsticks I’d taken out of the freezer. Once the chicken thawed, I placed it in the bag with the marinade for 30 minutes before placing it in the pot. 

While the drumsticks were cooking, I steeped myself a pot of her “Raspberry Blush” tea. There were some strawberries in a pitcher of simple syrup in the refrigerator. All I needed was a tall glass of ice. Perfect for hot day like today.

Then I cooked some rice and steamed a few baby carrots.  I used the marinade as sauce over the chicken and rice. The flavor was amazing. It reminds me of rice dishes from the islands.  I will be adding it future recipes.


Sorry there aren’t more photos but the dish was getting cold!

Summer Breeze

Right now I’m working on my first of the season Supper Club Party.  Trying to get the music together since its one of my inspirations as I cook.  I play some of my past playlists to pick and choose for the next one.  As I’m riding down the road after enjoying brunch with a dear friend; one of my old-time favorites starts to play…the Isley Brothers Summer Breeze!  Since I’m on a back road I turn up the volume and enjoy.

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Today is a hot one and I go down memory lane thinking of red popsicle and snow cones from childhood.  Drinking sweet red wines and Sangria as an adult; then it hits me as to what I want to create for the party.  Once I get home, I mash a few raspberries in a glass, pour a generous in a amount of sweet red wine, add some finely crushed ice, then finish it off with some of Miss Melissa’s Summer Breeze iced tea. The drink is sweet and slightly tart with  slushy consistency.  It cools you down immediately.

While I sip on this; why don’t you tell some summer songs you’d want me to play and a few menu suggestions for the virtual Party!  They may used and posted for the actual party.  I’m listening…

The Return of the Round Table

PetitePlateYears ago I started a group I named the round table.  We’d pick a topic, a date and a local restaurant to enjoy a meal along with some lively conversation. The rules were simple, don’t take anything personal and whatever happened at the Table stayed on the Table!  Whenever possible a private room was best for our grown folks discussions.  Language could be rough and voices raised.

After a while it became clear the meeting space, food and drinks were getting expensive.  We moved the meetings to my home where we had a more relaxed atmosphere and no time constraints.  Meals were potluck and you could bring your drink of choice.  We added an additional rule…too much to drink meant being driven home or spending the night to sleep it off! Discussions could go on well into the wee hours, winding down to everyone sitting back listening to old school music.

Suppertable

As the younger members married and began starting families meetings became rare to nonexistent.  I miss those times.  It gave me insight into my friends and allowed us all a chance to blow off steam from life’s daily grind.  My plan is to breathe new life into my Supper Club with a few differences.

 

Anyone wishing to join this Club will pay a fee to attend.  Meetings will consist of either a 4-course meal or a food tasting.  I will be posting dishes from past events soon.  I’m open to menu ideas and tasting requests.  I’m working on a meeting date and looking for discussion topics. Please leave your comments and requests below.

House rules still apply.

All About the Tea 

I have lots of memories of my life with tea. For me, it’s a ceremony and an indulgence wrapped into one. Beginning with the flavor and type of tea, how to brew it, choosing the right cup, lemon, cream, sugar, honey or plain, and ending with a sweet or savory on the side. Even with tea, my family has left an imprint on me as to how and why I do things the way I do.

I had a great aunt who didn’t have any daughters that was very fond of me. From a young age I would go help her with chores. My favorite was dusting her tea cart. Being only six or so, I couldn’t wash the fine China cups and saucers, nor polish her precious tea service, but I could do a mean bit of dusting. I’d always have brown stains on my fingers from polishing the wood.

My Aunt Geneva served a proper cup of tea using loose leaf tea with an infuser. After everything was cleaned, we’d set the table for tea. She preferred lemon and honey with a slice of pound cake and figs from her backyard in the summer. 

My aunt couldn’t cook a bit, but she taught me all about being a good hostess, table setting and being a lady. I remember her sisters teasing her about her lack of cooking skills and she’d tell them she didn’t need to when they all cooked so well. You were sure to get a visit Sunday after church if your menu was sounding good Saturday night. Our house had its share of Sunday visits.

Now my mother loved herself some sun tea. She had an old pickle jar kept just for sunning the tea. Early in the morning the jar was filled with water and tea bags. It was placed on the porch to steep in the sun. When I’d come home from school, mom would always want a few sprigs of mint she grew outside the kitchen window.
My favorite story about my daughter is her tea party. From the time she was three she and her Winnie the Pooh would have tea before her nap. She had one of those little hard plastic table and chair sets, which was fine for her and Pooh. One day her dad was home early from work so she invited him to tea, which he accepted. Let’s just say when a guy nicknamed “Bear” sits in a plastic chair and drinks imaginary tea, the memory stays with you.
That memory inspired me to host tea parties for my youngest granddaughter. It has grown from a few little girls in my backyard to a rented venue for mother and daughter tea. Since there are some dads raising daughters, saying they are being left out and mothers who’d like their sons to remember…sharing a moment with Mom is priceless; my next Tea in 2018 will be a Family Tea. I’m compiling my guest list now if anyone is interested.

Space at the Table

I grew up in one of those families that always had room for one more.  A few more ingredients were added to the pot to stretch the meal.  Summer cookouts were my TableSpaceintroduction to foods from different cultures.  I can remember my first taste of curried goat like it was yesterday.  I fell in love with spicy foods immediately.

The closer you became with your neighbors, the more they turned into extended family members.  To this day, my kids still address them as aunts and uncles.

As a young adult I remember my neighbor and I lifting her picnic table over the fence between our houses for hosting BBQs.  Extra kids at the house was a given, especially when school was out.  You wind up as one of the neighborhood houses and that’s not a bad thing at.  Everyone knows where to find their kids when the sun goes down.

The Wharf in SW DC

Growing up I remember most of our meals home made using fresh ingredients.  I still remember the vegetable truck which brought vegetables and eggs to your door.  We would sit on the stoop and snap peas, waiting for the cornbread or biscuits to bake.  Neighborhood butcher shops where a few dollars could feed a family. Then there were the farmers markets with a different vibe then today.  Vendors and and customers had an easygoing comrodory, you watched kids grow up on both sides of the counter.

But the wharf in southwest DC was like nothing else and you had to get there early, especially in the summer.  You could feel the dock swaying beneath your feet.  Crabs trying to claw their way out of the bushel baskets and fish so fresh the gills looked like they were still moving. Folks lining up to get their fish cleaned or seafood steamed.  

Friday’s meant some type of fish dinner.  My mother liked frying perch or flounder and if she had time, a rockfish stuffed with cornbread, clams and oysters would be baked.  If she was short on time it would be canned salmon made into patties.

Now with all the new construction, nothing looks the same.  No more driving by to look out on the water…it’s turning into a concrete jungle on the water. I’ll miss the beauty of the open air spaces of my youth.