It’s Big Anne’s Birthday!

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As you can see from this picture, my mother comes by the name “Big Anne” honestly. Ok, well it may not be so apparent next to my son who is at least a foot taller than her.

She is “Big Anne” because even though she has a small stature she has a very big reach.

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 When we were kids all she had to do was look at us and we would straighten up. The pool was in our backyard and my cousins towered over her but just one crack of the window and we would all freeze frame on the pool deck.

Here are my top 10 nuggets from my mom:

10. Thanks for making me spell the word A.T.T.I.T.U.D.E. when I was a kid. As it turns out, a good one is nearly all you need to live a good life.

9. You were right about not fighting with my sister and pulling all her long straight hair out when we were kids because she ended up being my best friend.

8. Homemade birthday cakes really are better. Thanks for that!

7. You will always be my Miss America to me. I remember watching the pageant every year and being envious of their long legs and their long hair and before she would kiss me good night she would give me that affirmation…a very sweet memory. We also got to meet several of them and go to dinner with them because somehow my father booked their first public appearance at his car dealership for the new car introduction. Amazing when I think back…

6. Treating your mother-in-law well is just another way to show your husband you love him. Thank you for modeling that for me.

5. I’m no better than anyone else. BUT, no one is better than me. Wow…I just love that one…

4. You want to do it, then do it. She was way before Nike’s time!

3. Think about how long you think something will take and double it. God I wish I paid attention to that one more…

2. Friends may come and go but family is forever.

1. Faith, family and food…and if you can have all three at the same time you are triply blest.

20120926-131632.jpgHappy birthday to my most wonderful mother!

Have a yummy day!

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She Was A Father Baker Baby 2/8/28 – 8/28/12

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20120830-075229.jpgHere is my mother-in-law at Fairfield Beach in May celebrating my son’s graduation from Fairfield University.

Mom wasn’t drinking out of red solo cup but she didn’t need that modern day symbol of celebration to grasp the enormity of this passage. Her life was one of hope and dedication.
She was one of the Father Baker Children.

20120830-080808.jpgHis road to Roman Catholic sainthood inspired her and gave her a source of pride at what many would consider unfortunate beginnings. Her own path to a loving family had twists and turns and when she finally was welcomed into the home of Frank, a landscape designer, and Theresa Carl she learned the value of hard work, faith and service.

She was a PTA mom, a railroad employee and the ultimate church lady. She loved her friends, her family and her church faith community. Anyone who knew her also knew about those she loved since she shared every tidbit of information she could glean from them. The downside of that is obvious but the upside is also good. If you needed to know the married name of the girl you shared a locker with in grammar school, Lorraine was the woman for you.

My mother-in-law was a woman of simple taste. If you fed her some meat and any form of potato she would dine in perfect happiness.

20120830-083643.jpgI remember one meal, years ago where I made rice as the starch. Everything was on the table and I was finally seated. We said grace and began to pass out the food and my mother-in-law was quiet, scanning the table like she was looking for Waldo. I asked if she was ok and she said yes but she was wondering where the potatoes were. I guess rice was not even a cheap substitute!

She made the most wonderful turkey stuffing with bread and a seasoning called Bell’s Seasoning.

20120830-092408.jpgIt is completely different from the Italian style stuffing my mother makes…and I love it.

Every picnic was not complete without her potato salad. Her recipe is so simple:

 

 

Gramma Rainbow’s Potato Salad

Servings: 8
Prep time: 1:00
Total time: 4:00
Categories: Salad, Vegetable
Source: JudeTheFoodie.com

Ingredients

• 4 Russet Potatoes
• 2 Stalks Celery, finely diced
• 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
• 1 Medium Green Bell Pepper, finely diced

• 8 Oz Mayo
• 8 Oz Sour Cream

• Salt, pepper

Directions

Scrub 4 russet potatoes (2 servings per potato) and boil in their skin until you can put a fork through (do not overlook). Cool. Remove skin and chop into 1 inch pieces.

In large bowl add potatoes, celery, onion and green pepper. Salt and pepper to taste Fold in equal parts of mayo and sour cream and coat evenly.

Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Stir gently before serving.

Made with The Recipe Box. http://www.therecipeboxapp.com/

Swiss steak with thick gravy, pork and sour kraut and potato salad were her signature dishes and I will miss them all.

Mostly, I will miss her. She was pretty amazing.

God rest Lorraine…2/8/28 – 8/28/12

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Gramma! You know how to make ice cubes?

20120822-122817.jpgRemember these?
I saw this post on Slate and thought of a true story that happened at my mother’s condo in Florida when my college sophomore niece was about 8 years old.

My mother was making a pitcher of lemonade and used up all of the ice cubes. You see, we don’t have an ice maker in our refrigerator down there.

20120822-123235.jpgMy niece was sitting at the counter rapt by the process of filling the trays with water. With the innocence of a child she said, with awe “Gramma, you know how to make ice cubes?”

20120822-123800.jpgThe only refrigerator she knew had ice and water in the door (along with lots of artwork and pictures, of course). When my mother explained the process of making ice you would have thought she gave her the formula for cold fusion. If gramma was revered she was now idolized.

And it was as simple as making ice.

Have a yummy day…on the rocks!

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Musings While Making Sauce

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My son’s Facebook status: “there is nothing in the world like waking up to the smell of sauce already cooking. I love being Italian“.

It’s many hours and many hand washings later and I can still smell what I cooked all over my hands. And, that’s not a bad thing!

I am using the last of the San Marzano tomatoes I canned last fall. I guess I will need to do more this year!

The herb garden is one of the stars of the show. I love seeing the green of the parsley in my meatballs.

20120722-162406.jpgI’m very loyal. I think Contadina makes a great, consistent product. When I don’t have my own tomatoes I always use Contadina.

20120722-162517.jpgI remember as a girl watching my mother make meatballs. She would shiver with how cold the meat was. Sometimes she would ask me to roll up her sleeves (I learned about food safely as a young foodie!).

20120722-162652.jpgThis bowl of olive oil and 1/4 cup measure are my secret weapons while making meatballs. With the eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs and spices I get ten 1/4 cup meatballs per pound of ground meat. It is exceedingly predictable so planning is easy and they cook evenly when they are the same size.

20120722-162940.jpgHere are those little soldiers, all lined up in a row. The secret here is the pork fat and juice on the bottom of the foil lined pan. Before I even chop an onion or pepper I fire up my broiler, line my heavy 13″ x 9″ baking pan and cook my pork. I used pork shoulder and ribs today. They were big so I cut each into three pieces.

20120722-163256.jpgYup, that’s nutmeg. It adds a subtle flavor that no one can recognize.

20120722-211022.jpgThere are six more just like it in the freezer. These two are going to friends.

Have a yummy day! JudetheFoodie.com

Tang, Aquanet, Beehives and Bewitched

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11 years ago today my brotherwent to heaven. Those last few weeks we used to joke that when he came home from the hospital we would celebrate with a “Tang Toast” like they mocked on Saturday Night Live.

I absolutely love Tang. Come on! The astronauts drank it so how bad could it be? Unless zero gravity did something to magically transform this incredible powder nothing you can say to me can deter me from being passionately in love with Tang.

I also cannot remember the last time I had it. Seriously, I guess they still make it but I have not had it in years…yet…as I type this I can taste it right now. And, I feel happy, awash in the memories I have so genuinely attached to the sweet and tangy tangerine drink.

As I enter the “way back” machine it is Thursday evening in 1969 and my mother is in the bathroom spraying Aquanet hairspray on her already perfectly quaffed beehive hairdo. It’s bowling night and she is getting ready to go bowling with her sisters and her mother.

20120720-004039.jpgMy sister is little, lying on her stomach in the middle of the family room watching television and waiting for Bewitched to come on at 8:30pm. My brother is around, probably doing homework or listening to his stereo in his original man cave (he didn’t have to share a room…) complete with a Kenwood receiver and Yamaha speakers

20120720-001033.jpgMy father’s car dealership closed at 9:00 pm on Thursdays and he stayed until the last prospect either signed or left. My brother was in charge! He was instructed to let my sister stay up and watch Bewitched but knew she had to go to bed immediately following her favorite show. Dad would probably not get home until at least 9:30pm and that gave us about 20 minutes for T.A.N.G!!!

Now, we never used a measuring spoon/scoop/cup to make our sugary elixir, no sir! We just poured it into the bottom of the glass and added water. There were times when we had so much powder in the bottom of the glass that no amount of stirring would blend it together. If he added ice cubes the sugar would plaster to the cube like glue making the ice almost slimy. All the better! We would sip away acting like kids who stole the bottle of rum, trying to finish our syrupy drink before dad got home. It was our Thursday tradition. I remember when he went away to Notre Dame missing the Tang buddy almost as much as I missed him driving me around everywhere.

I have so many memories of my brother but this one brings our bond into clear view for me.

Joe – do they have Tang in heaven? I’ll bet they do!

Live a yummy life!

JudeTheFoodie.com