I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts, Now Robots…

mexicorn chowder

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts! Now Robots…

 

Last night I had a nightmare. No not about monsters or a werewolf that looked remarkably like Michael Landon. It wasn’t even about my last blind date, strange as that may seem.

It was about Google.

And what’s so scary about Google you ask.

It’s watching us. It’s Big Brother come to life. It’s George Orwell’s worst nightmare and now it’s ours.

In my dream I was hiding inside my house while a little Google robot that was mainly eyes was floating outside my windows peering inside. I was crawling on the floor to escape detection but it hovered outside my windows and every time I looked up it was there. I would scream and duck and it continued to float like a headless object outside watching me like a secret service agent watches the crowds.

Grow up you say. It was only a silly dream. But was it really?

In case you’re wondering what brought on this sudden burst of irrational Googlenoia, it started with Siri.

Oh sure innocent enough except that my Siri, which is only supposed to talk when spoken to…I have an older Iphone…has begun taking it upon herself to start a conversation for no apparent reason or prompting on my part. Yet when I ask her a question directly she acts as though I’m speaking a language she’s never even heard of?

“Siri how do I get to 335 Maple Drive?”

“Here are the directions for 772 Elm Street.”

I first noticed her new chatty habit when I was baking one day and pulled a cake out of the oven. “Perfect,” I said to no one in particular.

From the living room I heard a voice say, “thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Not only does she speak to me she contradicts me! Is she so neurotic she can’t take a compliment?

“No, I’m not perfect!!”

What’s next, a tirade against her motherboard for her dysfunctional childhood?

Siri’s problems aside I thought it a fluke of nature and found it rather funny. So much so I related the incident to my daughter at her home a few weeks later.

Siri was charging on the kitchen counter and I was telling my daughter about the incident while she looked at me like a child who is thinking she should start looking for a good nursing home for her mother when suddenly Siri decided to join the conversation.

My daughter looked over and said. Oh my gosh, that is so annoying.

Well yes, but at least Siri’s response will keep me on the streets and out of a nursing home a little longer.

“See,” I said. “It’s true she talks to me all the time now.”

My daughter just shook her head in that only-to-my-mother-does-this-happen way she has and I just went back to playing with my grandsons.

Who Siri went on to talk to next I have no idea, nor do I care.

Now it has become a regular thing. When the TV is on Siri will comment on something spoken.

I just agree and move on.

Shortly thereafter my daughter bought one of those Google robots for the home and that lasted less than a week before it went bye bye.

Annoying? Yes, but then why scary?

Because they are listening all the time!

The FBI recommends you put tape over your computer camera screen opening because someone could be watching you.

Well that’s their bad luck because when I’m on the computer I’m usually in my robe and glasses and looking like the wrath of God.

If they are expecting to see Cindy Crawford good luck Mr. Snoopy, not here, not today.

Today’s generation is acclimated to a lack of privacy. They grow up with Iphones, computers and robots in their homes.

I wasn’t. My robot model was Hal in 2001 and that’s not a good thing.

And although the Jetsons painted a rosy future of a robot named Rosy to clean up after us, the world never delivered.

Oh sure Isaac Asimov would have us believe that the three laws of robots precluded them from harming man, but hello! STUFF HAPPENS.

The feeling someone is listening to what I say, hovering above me—welcome to the world of drones on top of everything else literally—and watching what I do, to me is offensive and frightening.

Now I have to worry that drones will be falling from the sky unto my head. Where’s Chicken Little when you need him?

Of course it’s not that I’m plotting to rob the Tower of London or sneak into the subway, it’s that it makes me feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s just plain creepy.

I can’t change overnight just because the new world is so accepting of Big Brother’s presence.

From what I can remember he wasn’t a good thing, right?

So, why is it now so okay to spy on people and collect all my information, personal and otherwise and make it public?

It isn’t, and that’s the point.

Perhaps we are too accepting now. We should rail against this new world where our lives are open for business 24/7 and there is no respect for our private space.

I fear it’s too late now. My computer just winked at me and Siri stuck out her tongue. I suppose I’ll have to accept that next an army of robots will descend upon us, capture us all and make us their slaves.

I think they already have and no one knows yet.

Well I don’t care, I’m not putting on lipstick to sit on my computer so take your chances.

Okay so I ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but robots well that’s a whole other thing.

 

Mexi-Corn Chowder

 

2 cups of chicken bullion

2 cups cream

2 ears of corn roasted

½ cup red peppers

½ cup yellow peppers

½ cup red peppers

¼ cup green chilies

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup chopped jalapeno peppers without the seeds

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes if you desire more heat.

 

 

Rub about two large ears of corn with butter and a sprinkle of salt. Remove kernels from the cob and set aside.

Sauté onion in butter and when translucent add chopped peppers, chilies, corn and seasonings. When softened add soup and sauté for another ten minutes. Using a hand blender blend together about half the soup. This will thicken it and when done add cream. Stir and simmer for another five minutes on low heat.

Serve with shredded cheese or popcorn on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Bug Grammy!

pasta salad slaw

Don’t Bug Grammy

I hate bugs. Seeing a bug crawling thorough my house makes my skin crawl. First response is immediately to step on it, swat or drown it. If that sounds horrible to those who believe it’s wrong to kill a bug or a spider perhaps they have never awoken from their sleep with a giant spider bite on their face.

I come by this revulsion honestly, after watching The Incredible Shrinking Man as a kid and watching him narrowly escape that giant spider, yuck, I still shiver at the scene.

I totally accept the fact when I am outdoors, bugs rule. It is after all their domain and they are entitled to live and be free, as long as they stay far away from me.

However, in my house, it is a different story. They are unwelcome visitors and as such, well guess I’m calling the shots, huh?

My children never paid much attention to the bug world. My daughter’s reaction was to call out for help when she spotted one in the house.            My son never cared one way or another if they hung around.

And now comes justice.

I feel it may be some karmic reaction to my heavy foot on the anti-spider colonies that has created this newfound world I suddenly find myself within.

My grandson has an inordinate love of bugs.

Yes, that’s correct.

Grandma now plays games about bugs; Bugopoly and Don’t Bug Me are the favs.

Games are fine, it is when he calls me over to see his pet beetle ensconced in its own cage, I balk a bit.

Oh, sure I know I cannot demonstrate my ichiness at seeing these creepy crawlies, so I feign approval and admiration for his “pets.” I have even found myself on my hands and knees helping him catch them outdoors to take home and nourish.

How can this be? I wonder as I am on my hands and knees on the sidewalk using a leaf to catch a bug for his jar.

Who is this person, this grandmother who despite, arthritis, and a disdain for bugginess is now partner to the catching and admiration of bugs?

Oh, of course I have heard that a grandparent will go to any lengths to make their grandchildren happy, that their love is limitless and no task too formidable for them to undertake, but bugs, really? Seriously?

“Oh look Grammy, it’s a black widow spider.”

Instead of grabbing a shoe, I nod my head and compliment him on his ability to discern one from another. No worry then my daughter steps in and steps on the nasty little bugger.

Meanwhile I’m thinking, this damn thing is a killer spider and what if it bites someone?

I once tried to swat a fly buzzing around the kitchen table and he started to cry. So now I merely track its whereabouts and well, if it dare get too close while my grandson is out of the room…

Before you judge me too harshly, I must in my defense say I have come a long way. I admire his lizard pet and even coochy coochy it as it scurries around its cage.

I try not to gag when it is being fed its dinner of live bugs and remark on how cute it is.

Yet, when I am home alone and I see the shadow of a creepy fuzzy spider crawling up my bedroom wall, coochy coo be damned.

I have awakened too many mornings with spider bites from a sneaky monster that attacked me defenseless in the night.

Coochy coo, I think not.

Still, if it makes my grandson happy when I fawn over the little creepy crawlies, than fawn it shall be.

As long as they remain like the Czar in Fiddler on the Roof, I say may bugs live and be well, far away from me.

       Shrimp Crab Meat Pasta Slaw

1 package Shredded cabbage (may use the pre-shredded packages in grocery store)

2 cups Rotini pasta cooked (colored or plain, but I use the colored)

2 cups cooked cut in half Shrimp

2 cups either real or fake crab meat

Salt and pepper

Add all together and toss with mayo dressing

 

Frieda’s Mayonnaise dressing

1 cup of mayo

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 heaping tablespoon of sugar (artificial sweeteners may be used here instead, but will have to be sweetened to your particular tastes)

Mix together all and toss into slaw mixture. If you like it with more dressing just double the recipe.

Add soup or fruit or both and it’s a great meal.

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Justice, Ho Ho Ho And a Hallmark Movie

lazy latkes

The theory goes justice is blind. I myself have always suspected she merely looked the other way if she found someone attractive. However my opinions aside, justice seems to have left the building in this new reality we are all living.
Yes, blind she was, but now she seems to be conspicuously absent from life on a regular basis.
So what’s a girl to do who is hanging onto the last shred of idealism like a cheating dieter holds on to the last Krispy Krème donut?
I am grasping at straws to believe that there is some justice left on the planet and fighting desperately to fend off cynicism like a tiger protecting its cub.
Enter Christmas movies. Hallmark especially. My heart takes flight as I watch knowing and waiting for the evil landlord that is evicting the whole town at Christmas to get his just desserts in the end. I revel in the knowledge he or she’s gonna get theirs, the town will be saved and the two lovers that broke up fifteen minutes before the end of the movie will reconcile, TV kiss and make up.
And although these movies always stretch credulity to the limits of what any intelligent person could endure, knowing justice will prevail no matter how far over the top they take the plot points, keeps me happy.
Although lately there doesn’t seem to be any retribution doled out to the perpetrators in these movies of evil deeds so I’m only half content in the end. The thought these scrooges never received visits from the three spirits is hard to resolve. But I am pragmatic and at this point I’ll take what I can get.
Besides I am certain that the spirit of Christmas will endure.
Kind of sad you’re thinking that one must wait for Christmas to believe there is still justice left on earth, but I say what better time.
After all isn’t Christmas the time when there is peace on earth and goodwill toward men?
When for one day the lion lies down with the lamb and all is well?
According to Snopes and of course we all know if Snopes says it’s true we can believe them, the following event occurred in 1914.
“During World War I, in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in all of human history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy, man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever.
All of a sudden, German troops began to put small Christmas trees, lit with candles, outside of their trenches. Then, they began to sing songs. Across the way, in the “no man’s land” between them, came songs from the British and French troops. Incredibly, many of the Germans, who had worked in England before the war, were able to speak good enough English to propose a “Christmas” truce.
The British and French troops, all along the miles of trenches, accepted. In a few places, allied troops fired at the Germans as they climbed out of their trenches. But the Germans were persistent and Christmas would be celebrated even under the threat of impending death.
According to Stanley Weintraub, who wrote about this event in his book, Silent Night, “signboards arose up and down the trenches in a variety of shapes. They were usually in English, or – from the Germans – in fractured English. Rightly, the Germans assumed that the other side could not read traditional gothic lettering, and that few English understood spoken German. ‘YOU NO FIGHT, WE NO FIGHT’ was the most frequently employed German message. Some British units improvised ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ banners and waited for a response. More placards on both sides popped up.”
A spontaneous truce resulted. Soldiers left their trenches, meeting in the middle to shake hands. The first order of business was to bury the dead who had been previously unreachable because of the conflict.
Then, they exchanged gifts, chocolate cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco. In a few places, along the trenches, soldiers exchanged rifles for soccer balls and began to play games.
It didn’t last forever. In fact, some of the generals didn’t like it at all and commanded their troops to resume shooting at each other. After all, they were in a war. Soldiers eventually did resume shooting at each other. But only after, in a number of cases, a few days of wasting rounds of ammunition shooting at stars in the sky instead of soldiers in the opposing army across the field.
For a few precious moments there was peace on earth good will toward men. All because the focus was on Christmas. Happens every time. There’s something about Christmas that changes people. It happened over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem. It’s been happening over and over again down through the years of time.”
I’m tearing up here. So I am a believer in the whole Christmas miracle theory and being Jewish does not dissuade me a bit.
I am well aware that watching or reading the news it becomes more and more difficult to believe in miracles or even good anymore.
It seems every year we must fight harder to find those small miracles we think of as great human-interest stories we sometimes hear at Christmas or on a news channel not afraid to report actual good news.
Thus I am a firm believer we must make our own miracles and take our joy where we can get it every day.
Christmas movies are one way I can stave off the negativity that surrounds our everyday lives.
For those who say be grateful, think positive, look at the glass half full or as Eric Idle sang as he hung from a cross in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, “always look on the bright side of life.”
I take that very seriously, well sort of, and I do seek out special things to remind me that although the news is grim, I am responsible for my own happy mood.
So what can I do besides Hallmark movies?
I turn to the classics and prefer the real hard-core tearjerkers.
Who couldn’t feel great after an hour of sobbing your heart out after watching It’s a Wonderful Life or cheering at the television when Santa Claus wins his court case in Miracle on 34th Street? (Hey if Macy and Gimble can get along so can China and the US.
For big laughs I tune into Ralphie and his father’s stocking covered leg lamp in The Christmas Story and to round out the sob fest the original Christmas Carol. Then I fall on the floor in convulsive sobs before Tiny Tim even finishes his sentence, “God Bless us one and all.” Just a minute I need a Kleenex.
When some complain that Christmas has no place in our American society and Christmas decorations shouldn’t be allowed, I cringe. I am Jewish, but I cannot condone removing something that so brightens the world for shoppers and those enjoying the season.
So what is the season? Religion aside it’s a special energy that only happens once a year.
Malls and cities are filled with those who are focused on the happiness of others.
Toys are collected for children in need, soup kitchens prepare holiday dinners for those who don’t have the means to enjoy the luxury of a good meal, or perhaps any meal, children are filled with joy and excitement dreaming of what they are receiving from Santa and every religion is celebrating the season as well.
Usually Christmas and Chanukah fall around the same time each year so if you add the smell of latkes frying,  briskets cooking and dreydels spinning while chocolate coins are won and lost, it adds to the happy spirit of the season.
The holidays are a time of year when people forget their problems, focus on happy times with family and friends and celebrate. If decorations add to that by reminding the world of the festivities at hand, I say Right on Santa!
There is too much sadness nowadays, but there can never be too much happiness, justice or caring about others.
If watching a Christmas movie or seeing a twinkling Christmas tree in a mall or taking the kids to see Santa can bring more joy it is a good thing. And good things are well just that…good.
Could These Be Any Easier Lazy Latkes?
1 pkg of Simply Potatoes hash browns (Usually found in the section with the eggs or cheeses.)
3 eggs
1 small or half of a large onion chopped and sauté until limp but not browned in a tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of flour
1½ teaspoons salt you may add more if you like saltier flavor
1 teaspoon of pepper
Oil for frying I prefer canola because it adds no taste
Sauté onions
Lightly beat eggs and add salt and pepper to eggs
Add eggs and onions to potatoes
Use an immersion blender to mix until the desired consistency
I prefer them smooth but with a light sprinkling of potato pieces here and there.
Add to hot oil that is at least 350 degrees.
Fry until edges crisp up and then turn
They should be lightly golden brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towel
I serve them on a platter with sour cream on one side and applesauce on the other.
I also add chopped eggs and caviar if they are for company or bite size.

 

 

 

 

Dieting Becomes Her: And by Her I Mean Grandma

cickenpaprikash.jpg

         Dieting Becomes Her (And By Her I Mean Grandma)

 

Dieting comes as natural to most grandmothers as lying comes to a politician.

I find a small bit of comfort in attempting to discern which of the old wives tales contain a small scintilla of truth, not only for the obvious reasons, but to pass them on to future generations.

Many believe that if you eat standing up, the calories automatically drop to your feet and at worst your size sevens will become a half size larger. Okay, I concur there is a bit of sense in this, gravity and all that. But, try as I may, I can’t get it to work for me. Sure my feet get fatter, but so does everything else. There is definitely something wrong at the very core of this theory.

Eating while standing serves no purpose other than to get less exercise by foregoing pulling out a chair that must work off a few calories. It is also more labor intensive to walk an entire cake to the table than to rationalize standing and eating said cake over the sink. Eating upright leads to the evening off process, leading to the shoveling of more bites into the mouth process, which ultimately leads to the you’re a fat pig result.

I shall explain.

You grab a cake or pie out of the fridge. You must be somewhere in twenty minutes, so you say to yourself, “I have no time to eat. I’m in a hurry! I’ll just grab a piece of this and run. I’m so busy I’ll work these calories off in no time.” (Let me know if any of this sounds familiar).

There is something very strange about eating cake or pie with a fork sans knife. It is difficult to cut perfect pieces. The grooves of the tines seem to stay in the food like fingerprints on a victim’s neck. Screaming SHE ATE CAKE! SHE ATE CAKE! OINK!!!!

My overactive imagination? I think not. Otherwise, why would everyone go to such great lengths evening off the piece they ate. Making certain to cover the fork marks and make the edge smooth to the eye. This eliminates any evidence and usually very little cake or pie for the next person. By the time you cover your tracks, one of two things has happened. Either you’ve eaten an extra five hundred or a thousand calories during the evening off process or there’s so little cake left you’re forced to finish the evidence and tell everyone you had to throw it away because it got moldy or the cat walked across it.

Oh sure the story would stand up in court because who could prove otherwise? Except on the scale and when you are bulging out of your pantyhose. So, if you think I’m telling you not to eat standing up, no way. I know you will, but I guess it’s okay if you’re eating while running around the block three times or jogging cross country or, oh for goodness sake if you’re a jogger, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place!

Of course there are also those who claim eating food from someone else’s plate is best since the calories stay with the initial owner of the food and do not transfer to the interloper. I have yet to prove this theory, but will continue to probe further until satisfied if it be truth or legend.

To add a positive spin to my diatribe, I must admit as we age our appetites do decrease. Ergo the sharing of the sandwich when out to lunch in lieu of a whole one, smaller portions and filling up more quickly. I suppose one must find comfort in this revelation although the fact our metabolism seems to move in a turtle-like fashion must offset this happy occurrence.

I am not one to judge since my metabolism and I have been at odds for years and it is the Rip Van Winkle of the metabolism world.

Or as my friend Yolanda so often points out, she now has the metabolism of a corpse.

So I shall continue to downward dog and Tai Chi my way into some semblance of fitness hoping against hope that my Grammy pants remain loose and I can keep up with my grandsons. This of course is the best form of exercise and I embrace it fully.

 

 

 

Chicken Paprikash Soup

4 large Chicken thighs

1 onion

2 cans chicken broth

2 heaping tablespoons Hungarian paprika (more may be added if your tastes run to spicy)

Salt and pepper

Flour for dusting

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or ½ teaspoon hot sauce

½ cup each of sour cream and half and half

½ cup crumbled crispy bacon for topping (optional)

Season and dust chicken thighs

Sauté chicken in butter and oil mixture (Easy on the fat is okay)

Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent and soft

When chicken is browned drain excess fat and add chicken broth to deglaze the pan

Add paprika and cook until incorporated

Add salt, pepper and cayenne or hot sauce to taste

Temper sour cream until room temperature and begin to slowly add to broth and chicken. When creamy, add half and half.

Finish warming and serve with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche or crumbled bacon pieces. Chicken may be served on the side or shredded into the soup and spaetzle may also be added to soup before serving.

 

Cooking to a Soundtrack

breakfast biscuits

I don’t understand how anyone can cook without a soundtrack. After all, the process of creating a recipe can be a sacred moment of art and discovery. Does this not warrant background music as powerful as when Charlton Heston raised his hands and parted the Jell-O?

There is no doubt in my mind that I am far more creative in the kitchen when inspired by a great soundtrack.

How can someone bake holiday cookies without the strains of Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song filling the air, or Chanukah latkes without Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song or Dreydel Dreydel Dreydel wafting above? Is it possible to bring forth into the world an elegant masterpiece like that soulful soufflé without the strains of Bach or Beethoven?

And who would even attempt a perfect pot roast without the sound of Motown in the background. Not me; that’s the sure!

It isn’t just about setting the mood it’s also about generating a cooking energy. Bopping to the beat lifts and inspires one to greater heights and gets those endorphins geared up.

In the end we all need inspiration and where we acquire it is personal I guess.

Yet, music and food just seem to fit so well. When there is music playing it fills the air with the sounds of another’s genius. This makes me want to be a part of that creative process.

Oh, I know you’re thinking, “Seriously Norma, Bach and a soufflé, can you honestly equate them?” Or even use them in the same sentence actually?

To that I would answer a resounding yes.

Cooking is a form of art after all. How gratified to know your art inspires.

Why I’ll bet Bach’s mother cooked his favorite guinea hen to the melodic strains of the Brandenburg Concertos filling her home. Perhaps it even sped up the process a bit for both of them.

The great thing about cooking is that it is one art form you can eat afterward.

Da Vinci may be a feast for the eyes, but Wolfgang Puck’s lox and cream cheese pizza, need I say more?

Watching a Mel Brooks film delivers great laughter, a crucial component of our existence, but damn a perfect lasagna now that’s art, too. Perhaps a chorus of Springtime for Hitler as we batter our schnitzel?

Or the wonderful and happy sounds of Sammy Davis Jr. singing  The Candy Man while dipping strawberries in chocolate?

I’m just saying that when we create we are usually alone with our Muse, so why not add a divine element to the process by enhancing it with music?

Can you actually make homemade pizza without listening to  Dean Martin and the strains of That’s Amour?

The great Edvard Hagerup Grieg, Norwegian composer once said, “I am sure my music has a taste of codfish in it.” Possibly because his wife or mother cooked codfish as he composed. I’d bet on it.

Obviously I am not the first to see the relationship here.

For me cooking is a major part of the holiday season and enhancing that festive spirit or any day spirit only makes things even better.

So next time you’re even making a peanut butter and banana sandwich prepare it to the sounds of Elvis wailing Jailhouse Rock and see how much better it tastes.

 

Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

4 pieces of crispy cooked bacon

Eggs

Salt and pepper

Bisquick mix

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions (optional)

 

Make the recipe for drop biscuits on the Bisquick box. I usually double it.

After mixing together add bacon, cheese and scallion or chives.

Form them approximately the size of a baseball

Bake.

When done, fry or scramble an egg

Cut sandwich open and add egg in middle.

I have also added a tomato or cucumber.

It works great for a simple breakfast, or to go. Also a delicious option for brunch.

 

 

People Who Stay in Our Hearts

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I wished a friend happy birthday on Facebook today. I haven’t seen him in eight years. We spoke a few months ago about getting together and I imagine we will sometime in the near future, and I truly look forward to seeing him again.

So begs the question, if you haven’t seen him eight years, why do you love or care about him?

At the risk of sounding like a dunce I will answer, I haven’t a clue why I do, but I know that I will always love and care about him because some people enter our hearts and never leave. They may leave us physically, but they simply become a part of our emotional DNA.

Of course those who know me will conclude I have a few theories about this phenom and I do.

First and foremost I believe it’s those people with whom we form an instant connection that seem to attach themselves the strongest. No one can deny they have met friends and instantly felt a strong gravitational pull toward that person. It’s as if a button has been pushed inside of us and a switch turns on and never turns off again. We may be friends and maintain a friendship that plays out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, or one that takes us far away from one another and yet remains strong and connected. I must admit I don’t know why these attachments form, but they grow like moss on the side of a tree and the sunshine and rain keeps them viable.

This friend I mentioned is very special to me. He came into my life at a time when I was in the midst of pursuing a favorite dream. I was open and engaged in the world in which he lived and becoming a part of that world as well. But it wasn’t simply the commonality of our paths at that moment in time, it was the joy he brought along.

My son formed a great attachment to him and he responded eagerly as well. He made us both laugh, at times his conversations with my eight-year-old made me cringe, but my son absorbed his off-color humor and language as a lesson in what not to say, so I am grateful.

Whenever we were around him we laughed, we felt joyous and that feeling never changed or ended. The funny thing about my friend is he considers himself incredibly negative and outspoken and his humor reflects those qualities in spades. He is as politically incorrect as one can be, and yet he has no idea the joy he brings into other people’s lives, especially those who see through his gruff exterior, and know the caring and loving individual that lies beneath and beats with a heart of gold.

As most will attest to some people have a way of crawling inside our hearts and never leaving. But why? Many times they do leave, at least physically yet the feelings you harbor for them remain intact. It’s a fact there are those we may not have seen for years and when they call or we see them it’s as though no time at all has passed.

I believe it’s because they become a part of your happy place. Yes there is such a place in us all so don’t make fun of my phrasing.

We all treasure certain moments in our lives when we felt highly charged, happy, fulfilled and at peace with the universe. It may be a special time in our work, family or love life, and those who enter that happy place with us just seem to stay there. Even when the moment has passed, our feelings for that person have not. Seeing them again evokes feelings long buried inside or at times forgotten.

There are also those who have fallen down in life. I have such a friend as well. When he was on top he helped so many people, including my daughter and I. When he fell on hard times as the cliché goes, “ nobody knows you when you’re down and out…”

I try to keep in touch and in my thoughts. It breaks my heart to see how those who owe him so much have forgotten him. When someone has been good to us they deserve a place in our hearts and our minds.

Despite distance we care about these people and want the best for them.

We are happy when we hear they are rising and we cry with them when they suffer sorrow. Our souls are intertwined.

Surprisingly, at times one person may feel much more strongly toward the other, but that is because the reason for your feelings are just simply embedded in more emotional bedrock.

Of course there is also a chance, if you believe in it, that the feelings may stem from a past life. Yes many discount the notion of past lives, but for those who believe, the explanation is viable.

No one I know haven’t experienced that unusual feeling of walking into a room, seeing a total stranger and yet despite never knowing them, you pick up a very strong vibe. Either you want to get closer to them or something is telling you to get the hell away.

Why is that and how can you possibly want to run from someone you have never met and know nothing about? You have never heard them utter a word and yet you feel that if you did you would hate whatever they say immediately.

Kind of weird, huh?

And yet it happens all the time. Why these vibrations are picked up from other human beings I have no idea.

I just know that there are people in my life that I feel close to whether or not I am. When we are together it feels safe and warm and right, and because it does, you want to keep returning to that person and never let go of the feelings they bring with them.

It seems to be the kind of shared experience we can now more easily embrace thanks to social media like Facebook or Instagram where we can keep track of friends so much more easily.

Yes, I know there are parts of this new craze that are problematic like loss of privacy and too many other things to mention, but it does allow us to remain in closer contact with those with whom we have formed bonds and friendships we choose to keep close to our hearts. Perhaps there is one of those special people you want to call today. There’s no time like the present to give yourself a present.

Pumpkin Blueberry Mousse

With Pumpkin Candy Crunch Topping

1 cup pumpkin

1 cup fresh blueberries

7 ounces of cream cheese

1 ½ cups whipped cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8/ tsp cloves

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix sugar and cream cheese until whipped nicely.

Add pumpkin and seasonings

Mix well. Set aside and whip cream until peaked.

Fold all but 1½ into pumpkin mixture. Set aside rest of whipped cream for topping.

Fold in blueberries and pour into parfait glasses or martini glasses. Top with whipped cream. If you don’t want berries you can leave them out.

Place in fridge to set.

Pumpkin Seed Candy Crunch

Place two tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar in non-stick frying pan.

When melted and combined add ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (Not roasted or salted)

Sauté on low heat (watch carefully so they don’t burn) for about five minutes until seeds are nicely coated.

Remove from burner and place in fridge to harden.

When set and butter is hardened remove crunch from pan and chop up into pieces. Not too small but small enough to fit on top of mousse.

Bring mousses back out and top crunchies.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret is Out! And Please no More Dates!

browniesnap

I was finally given permission today to speak the words “I’m going to be a Grandma” publicly. I wrote emails to some of my friends and a few I spoke to on the phone.

So how did it feel to actually be able to tell the world I am going to be a grandma? Pretty damn terrific, and yet still a bit surreal. After all, it hasn’t really sunk in fully because there are still seven months to go until zero hour.

It’s great to be able to say things like, “when the baby comes,” and “my first grandchild” and “how far in advance does Yale accept early applications?”

I have begun a list of restaurants where my grandchild and I can dine for lunch. I shall parade him/her down the main thoroughfares endlessly until everyone I know and don’t know has cast eyes upon the miracle child. Do you think I’m going overboard here? Nah!

Ten Weeks:

It seems we have a new wrinkle in time as the little mother takes action on a special project of her own. Nausea aside, her survival mode has kicked in full force and the first order of business seems to be getting Grandma out of her hair. To this end she has been eagerly perusing JDate and interviewing potential candidates.

Excuse me while I sing a chorus of “If Mama Were Married,” from “Gypsy.”

Of course after a short time on this mission from hell she realized it takes more than one person acting alone to find someone to contact. The final count 400 readings, two acceptable men to contact.

“Yes, Mother I understand now why you swore never to do this again.”

Ah, I thought, it’s good to be right occasionally.

So it seems she narrowed it down to two candidates. One hasn’t been online for over a month and the other made quite an impression. My daughter and her newly appointed “committee to re elect her mother as a wife,” were duly impressed with their choices and brought them forward for a vote.

I was instructed to send an email thus informing him the path had been cleared toward mutual contact and await an answer. The plans changed and she decided to take the initiative and write him. She told him she was acting for her mother and had selected him as a suitable and interesting candidate.

His response to my daughter was, “tell your mother to send me a picture of herself naked.”

And now a new can of worms has been opened. Not wanting to appear pessimistic about men, I hesitate to reveal my true feelings on the subject of online dating.

I didn’t tell her about the man who claimed to be 61 and was actually 93. Did he think I wouldn’t notice the over thirty-year difference when we met? Exactly where on my profile did it say I was blind? I also omitted the two dates with felons I’d had and the one who had set up a fake charity website to extort money from women. Maybe he should’ve added a phone number and address to that website to make it more believable.

So many of the young and romantic fail to realize that many women of my age are single by choice.

Desiring to be neither a nurse or a purse, I opt to live my life filled with family, friends, fun, work, Maj Jong, travel and above all, freedom. At my tender age I have happily discovered that none of these requires a male companion to achieve. Occasional dating is an acceptable alternative to a lifetime commitment.

After spending countless hours on the Internet dating circuit, I became acutely aware I was sorely wasting valuable time I could never retrieve searching for “the one.”

As great journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns, thrice married, once said and it may be true, “There is so little difference between husbands you may as well keep the first.”

Yet, I remain a cockeyed optimist and I am certain that should that special someone exist in this realm, there is no doubt we shall meet as I attend of the school of predetermination.

After another candidate went south, I was yet again faced with the dilemma of dashing my daughter’s pregnant hopes of finding a husband for mother. Dare I tell her? After all she is pregnant and stress is the enemy now.

So once again she has contacted me about another gem from JDate. This exercise in futility is distracting me from focusing my energy on being “the grandma” I have already envisioned myself rocking and singing and these are hardly romantic thoughts for a potential dater. Still, I am somehow happy with this picture. It fits and is inherently soothing to mind and soul. Perhaps it’s true after all that love and short skirts are for the young.

I only know that like so many other women of my generation, I am extremely content and have a full life. I choose to liken it to a chocolate cake without icing. A great chocolate cake has all the ingredients to make it yummy. If you add terrific icing it can only make it better. However if you add bad icing, you can ruin a perfectly good cake. I’m perfectly content with my bare cake. Besides in seven months, it will be filled with a new ingredient that will taste better than the finest Belgian chocolate panache. It is also at the forefront of my mind that anyone I bring into my life will be a part of “the grandchild’s” as well. How could I ever determine if he is grandpa worthy?

Oh darn, she just sent me another prospect from JDate. “If Mama Were Married, we’d live in a house, as quiet as quiet can be…”

Brownies Napoleon

Super Easy and delicious Brownie dessert fancy enough for company

1 box of brownie mix using chewy recipe on box or your own recipe

1 package instant vanilla pudding

1 cup of frozen whipped topping or homemade whipped cream

Fresh strawberries

Chocolate Ganache

Bake brownies using chewy recipe in a jelly roll pan so they bake up thinner

Prepare vanilla pudding according to box directions and then add 1 cup of whipped topping to the finished pudding. Set aside

When cooled cut brownies into rectangles of like size and scoop out a small amount from each inside with a small melon baller to make an indentation for the pudding mixture.

Place pudding on the top of a brownie and cover with another brownie rectangle forming a sandwich.

Liberally drizzle Ganache over top of brownie to cover and add fresh strawberries or decorate as desired. You can also add thinly sliced strawberries on top of pudding before closing the sandwich and covering with the Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces of semi sweet chocolate

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter let it sit before cooking until it reaches room temperature.

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside

Simmer milk in a saucepan on medium heat and pour hot milk over chocolate.

Let sit until chocolate begins to melt and then stir. Add butter and continue stirring until all are smooth and incorporated.

These should be handled gently as not to break brownies. They taste and look great when they’re done.