Mixed Berry Pie

Yesterday I attended the most beautiful funeral. My cousin Minda died Saturday, and the rest of this week has been a blur.

Did I mention that we’re celebrating her niece’s bat mitzvah this weekend, and that there will be 70 people at my house Saturday night in her honor? The occasion was moved to a synagogue here in Detroit from Southern California a few months ago because Marcia, the bat mitzvah’s mom, knew her sister would likely be too ill to travel, and might even die. Continue reading

New Year’s Resolution

Let’s not pretend any of this has been easy.

I am not going to write the “This is not normal” blog or the “What the hell is happening to our country?” blog or the “Let’s band together against tyranny” blog. I am only going to say this: Other than escaping from burning buildings, nothing good ever happens when we act out of fear.

I have told my children that many times. And I am afraid. Very afraid. Am I as afraid as those workers who don’t have the luxury of worrying about my reproductive rights because they’re too busy figuring out how to feed their children? Am I as afraid as the people who thought they lived in a Christian country? I can’t be sure. I only know I Related imagehave never felt this scared to be an American. Continue reading

Five Paragraphs: Unloved and Unnecessary

Mine may be the only dinner table in America where family members engage in heated discussions about both Monty Python and the five paragraph essay on a regular basis. Monty Python? Lots of people have something to say about that. But the essay? Yeah, that’s my family.

Even my sixth grade son, who has only written a single five paragraph essay, back in fifth grade, has an opinion on the matter, having heard his high school siblings (and me) rail against it for years.

What’s my problem? Let me lay it out for you.

Continue reading

Friday Poem: January 1

January 1https://i0.wp.com/i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/553/757/bce.png

I would post this
with a photo of a kitten
in a party hat: Happy New Year

to my friends who celebrate
My version of Happy                                     
Joyful                           Merry                            

to my friends who celebrate, and to those
who don’t, ignore this post, ignore
this message, this meme. My children

are schooling me in memes
over dinner, and I’m sort of getting it –
like existentialism or containment

high school terms I grasped well enough
to pass the tests, but which I couldn’t define
even then

FullSizeRender

Here are things I know –
repeatable, shorthand:
Your hand on my back at 2 am

when I cannot sleep…
The Purple Fiddle coffee mug
drying on the sill…

Half a pot of steel cut oats…
Snow, light as feathers
beyond the bow window

Chef Josh

Yesterday Josh asked for a mini fridge of his own so he can age meats in the basement. This is what you get when you give your sixth grader Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab for Chanukah.

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So far my boy has made mac and cheese (gluey), a French omelet (delicious, but requires some work on technique) and buttermilk pancakes (heavenly.) He flips through the giant book over breakfast, recites tidbits while I make dinner, and has explained in great detail the best way to boil an egg. He is also intent on scoring some copper pots as soon as he can afford them (bar mitzvah money, perhaps?)

I love to cook, and thanks to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, have learned to make most of my favorites without a recipe. I remember reading from my mom’s vast cookbook collection over bowls of cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches at the kitchen table all through middle school and high school – The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Maida Heater’s Chocolate Desserts, and Still Fiddling in the Kitchen, a fundraiser for the National Council of Jewish Women. I once spent months copying every recipe from her collection of recipe cards and mimeograph sheets onto pastel 3 x 5’s, then filing them by category. It made a great, labor-intensive birthday gift.

FullSizeRenderMy mom handed me a paper bag of mini jello molds yesterday – a little something for Josh to play around with. She found them in the basement with some old suitcases and other useless things. We are going to fill them with water and make fancy ice shapes for a punch bowl tomorrow night.

Right now, Josh is in the kitchen with my sister making banana pancakes. The house smells like butter.

Soup

 

Portobello-Mushroom-Barley-Soup

Jeannette: Mushroom Barley

I can hardly
keep my eyes open
the day she brings soup
in a jar — recycled; no obligation.
The baby is crying. I nurse her
over that first bowl.

Wendy: Butternut Squash

The house
is fragrant with onions
and cinnamon. I scoop
roasted flesh
from its shell, puree it
with vegetable stock. This
is the soup I will bring
when your new baby arrives.

Sandra: Matzo Ball

Thigh bones disintegrate
between my fingers
like you taught me —
pressure cooked to a pulp,
chicken concentrate
steaming up the windows. Strain it
then heat again Friday afternoon.
Add carrot slices,
matzo balls, bits of chicken.

Ellen: Split Pea

All I want
is soup for my freezer.
A gift
from my sister.

 

Friday Poem – Accident, Maryland

Yes, we really did spend a week in Accident, down the road from Deep Creek Lake. Until recently, I didn’t realize that a slice of Maryland was sandwiched between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Maryland Map

See if you can spot Accident in the top left corner of this map. I can’t help wondering why there’s such a narrow bit surrounded by other states. Whatever the reason, someone also thought it would be a good idea to bring Highland cows to Accident. We learned a lot about them… and which were the best ice cream flavors at Lakeside Creamery, and how to play our own version of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. We had a whole week with our dear friends – 4 adults and 7 children in a rambling house in a beautiful part of the country. I even started this poem while we were there.

Family Vacation
Accident, Maryland

I did not expect cows
beyond the driveway fence
content to take pancakes
and stale baguette
from our hands after breakfast

I did not expect our boy
to navigate waterfalls
so casually, the current
dragging him down
so he could climb again

I did not expect guitar music
and whiskey in the dark
or your hand
slipping into mine
whenever I walked by