Christmas Day in the Age of Corona

December 31st, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have always been spent with family (youngsters up early on Christmas Day, eager to open presents which were super numerous.). Due to the pandemic, HG/BSK were at their Prince Edward Island home, alone for the first time in 57 years of marriage. Yes, FaceTime has allowed HG/BSK to share holiday joy with son Jeremy, his wife, Maiko, and kids, Teru and Haru (all in Tokyo and busy with their Freeman Shokudo restaurant); daughter Lesley, R.; husband, Massimo, R., adult granddaughters Arianna and Sofia (they are in New Mexico since the original plan was for HG/BSK to be with them for holiday fun and feasting before the pandemic interfered). So, all alone HG/BSK had to open Christmas Day gifts without the familiar delightful frenzy. Gifts were fabulous. Riva family sent splendid gifts of books (Obama, Prince Edward Island history, etc.); warm. colorful socks; music CDs selected by discerning Massimo; a device to make sparkling water (BSK is fond of fizz). As usual, BSK gave HG perfect presents. Fleece-lined slippers, Warm socks. Stylish, flannel-lined zippered sweater. Comfy pajama set for chilly New Mexico (and PEI bedtimes). Yes, HG will have head to toe joy. Isolation ended in the early afternoon when HG/BSK motored to BSK’s sister, Noel M., and husband, Yossi M.’s Ocean Mist Farm for Christmas dinner. BSK brought a big pot of butternut squash soup (a holiday tradition started by HG’s beloved late sister, Beulah Naomi.). The savory soup began a holiday feast of roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, mashed squash done in the manner of sweet potatoes but without dreaded marshmallows; haricot verts and mushrooms (cooked by BSK). Dinner companions included N. and Y.’s neighbor, Murina, and her son, Daniel (husband/dad Amram is currently in Israel but was FaceTime’d). HG/BSK received a fabulous gift from Yossi and Noel–a lavish amount of PEI oysters, world’s best. And, Noel gifted HG with knee-length wool socks (HG’s chills have been taken seriously by folks who are fond of HG). And, Noel found a New Mexico crossword puzzle for BSK. Meal ended with a green salad and climaxed with dessert: A lavish layer cake baked by Murina accompanied by much ice cream. With glasses held high, all wished for a healthy 2021 and a return to American sanity.

Delicious Mussel Improv

December 25th, 2020 § 4 comments § permalink

Prince Edward Island mussels are, in HG’s opinion, the world’s best. Confirmed locavores, HG/BSK are happy that tons are harvested in St. Peters Bay, just minutes from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home. Few Americans know anything about glorious Prince Edward Island. However, if they eat in good restaurants, they are glad that mussels they order are identified as coming from PEI. HG/BSK buy their mussels from Mussel King in the nearby town of Morell. MK is probably the largest harvester and shipper of mussels. And, their mussels are super fresh, just minutes out of the Bay. BSK serves mussels in a variety of ways: with linguini and a lot of garlic, onions, red pepper flakes (HG’s favorite); in chowders; in savory fish and clam broth with plenty of ciabatta for dipping. Very cold last night so BSK improvised a hearty mussel stew. These were the ingredients: Two and a half pounds of mussels; onions, garlic. tomatoes, fennel, potatoes, parsley, clam broth, white wine, olive oil, slices of spicy sausage. The stew received a dusting of piquant Spanish Pimenton plus grinds of black pepper and sprinkles of Maldon sea salt flakes. The stew warmed the body and enlivened the taste buds. Another BSK improv was a dinner winner.

Savory Stracciatella

December 23rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Straciatella in Brodo is a delicious, warming, easy to prepare Italian soup. It takes only minutes to get ready. And, that’s what HG had for a light lunch on a sunny, breezy, chilly Prince Edward Island day. Here’s how you do it. Beat one egg, chopped parsley (preferably Italian flat-leaf), grated parmesan in a small bowl. Bring chicken broth to a boil. When boiling, gently pour the egg mixture into the broth. With a fork, stir clockwise to form egg/cheese curds. Salt and ground pepper when serving. Perfect as is, but HG/BSK sometimes get more ambitious and add tofu, chopped basil, baby spinach, shavings of carrot. If you toss in some leftover shredded chicken breast, chopped scallions and a squirt of sriracha, you’ve got dinner. For a more filling dish, pour the mixture over some rice flour vermicelli.

Plush Pumpkin

December 16th, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

HG is not fond of pumpkin. Dislikes pumpkin pie and all the other pumpkin-inspired foods prevalent during autumn and early winter. Once tasted potimarron (pumpkin) soup in a Paris bistro. Bland. However, HG is flexible. HG is willing to taste any of BSK’s dinner creations. Invariably, HG finds them rewarding. And, that’s what happened last night. BSK cut the top off a pumpkin (from Ocean Mist Farm) and hollowed out the interior. This is what BSK mixed with ground beef: Leftover orzo, cinnamon, nutmeg, onions, garlic, jalapenos, toasted pignoli nuts, parmesan, blue cheese, spinach, salt and pepper. It went into the oven for a long, slow bake. The result was a spectacular dish. The savory meat stuffing partnered beautifully with the pumpkin which had achieved the soft sweetness of a baked sweet potato. Spice loving HG added a spoonful of Chinese garlic chili sauce to HG’s robust portion. Drank many glasses of pinot noir. Once more, BSK improvised a lush warming dinner that chased away the chills of Prince Edward Island winter.

Thanks, Beulah Naomi!

December 12th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK has a loose leaf book of old recipes accumulated during 57 years of marriage to HG. (How many thousand nourishing meals has BSK cooked for her family? An astonishing number.). In that book is the recipe for Thanksgiving Day squash soup cooked by HG’s beloved late sister, Beulah Naomi. And. there’s also the wonderful woman’s recipe called “Chicken Stew With Noodles”. BSK thought the description appetizing. BSK cooked the dish (adding a few tweaks) and it proved to be a lush and warming double header (a dish eaten two nights in a row). Here’s how BSK did it. Browned (and then removed) chicken thighs. Heated onions, carrots, garlic, herbs in a pot of chicken broth and white wine. Added a can of crushed tomatoes and the chicken thighs. Simmered until done. Removed chicken thighs and discarded skin and bones. Shredded chicken and put the shreds back in the pot with spicy pepper and salt flakes. In another pot, BSK boiled pappardelle until al dente. Added the pasta to the chicken stew. Wonderful eating and even better the next day.


December 9th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG has often praised BSK’s ability to raise old fashioned “comfort” food to new heights. Few dishes are more old fashioned and comforting than meatloaf. And, that’s what BSK cooked last night. After BSK’s creative treatment of the meatloaf and sauce, the meal was elevated beyond comfort to become a hearty gourmand’s treat. The loaf ingredients involved ground pork and beef, garlic, herbs. tomatoes, ketchup and other ingredients. It was cloaked with slices of thick cut bacon. When it came out of the oven, it was juicy, moist, crusty, slightly smoky from the bacon and jam-packed with flavors (meaty and herbaceous). Wait. There was more. BSK simmered a sauce of shiitake mushrooms, dried and then soaked porcini, garlic (of course), olive oil, tomatoes, chopped onions, some water from the porcini soak. rosemary and parsley. Smothered the meatloaf with the lusty sauce. Buttered orzo mixed with parmesan cheese inhaled some of the sauce. Sublime. Dazzling. In the past, during HG’s Colorado residence, HG often ate meatloaf and onion gravy at Denver’s Trinity Grill. Very good. However, the restaurant’s version was far inferior to BSK’s savory meatloaf and sauce delight, an enhanced classic.


December 7th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

The joint, pokey, slammer, bars. These are all nicknames for prison. There are more, all dismal. Prison is abhorrent. Even the toughest guys; murderers; seasoned mafiosi; drug lords, do their utmost to avoid being behind bars. And, that includes informing on their closest friends and associates in order to have criminal charges dropped. “Omerta” ?? Fuhgeddaboutit!!! The Nazi pig in the White House is like any other criminal. He will do anything to avoid imprisonment. HG/BSK believe this is the reason the swine is trying to demolish the structure and traditions of American elections. When oink-oink is an ordinary citizen, not protected by Presidential immunity, he would probably face a tax evasion indictment.. And, possibly other indictments stemming from his business indebtedness. Plus, illegal Presidential actions. While the foundations of the American democracy are being shaken, HG/BSK remain at their Prince Edward Island oceanfront home, possibly the safest pandemic free place in America. And, of course, comfort reigns at dinner. Two nights ago, BSK cooked Pappardelle alla Norma from Ottolenghi’s recipe. Lush. And, the luncheon leftovers were good. Last night, there was the ultimate comfort food: Bowls of steaming chickpea soup. BSK ignored Marcella Hazan’s excellent recipe and made BSK’s inventive variation. BSK hit a soup home run (with bases loaded).

Liar, Liar!

December 3rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

The Nazi/Fascist in the White House specializes in “the big lie.” Pandemic as a Democrat fraud. Obama birthing scandal. Russian influence in 2016. “Fake News” as a label for the media mentioning him and his policies unfavorably. FBI, the “deep state” and intelligence community plotting against him. Etc., Etc., Etc. But, his big lie about Biden/Harris winning the 2020 election is very dangerous. His continuous campaign charging a rigged, illegal election (He’s raised more than $170,000,000 to fight this battle) attacks a linchpin of democracy—the free electoral process. This is one more effort to use Hitler’s tactics to create an American autocracy headed by him. The German journalist Jochen Bittner wrote an illuminating article in the New York Times: “1918 Germany Has A Warning For America.” He pointed out that the rise of Nazism was based on “the big lie”: Germany was not defeated in World War One. It was the victim of a “stab in the back” by social democrats and, of course, Jews. Hitler’s message to the German people was only the Nazis could make Germany great again and avenge the cowardly “stab in the back.” The Germans swallowed Der Fuehrer’s Kool Aid. Despite the popular vote, despite the defeat of his legal challenges, despite the certification of his loss in key states, the Nazi/Fascist Trump continues to trumpet his election big lie. And, millions of Republicans are swallowing Trump’s Kool Aid. The Nazi/Fascist may be doing irreparable harm to American democracy.

No Turkey

December 3rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Thankfully, there was no turkey at the Thanksgiving Day dinner at Ocean Mist Farm, the verdant paradise on the south shore of Prince Edward Island. HG is not a fan of the bird. Noel and Yossi M. (BSK’s sister and brother in law) have made Ocean Mist a model of self-sufficiency. There’s vegetables, fruit and flowers galore. Plus livestock. The Thanksgiving feast featured a leg of lamb (lamb bred at Ocean Mist) and mashed potatoes (Yossi’s spuds are the best). BSK contributed brussels sprouts mixed with Greek yogurt and pickled shallots. And, following a family tradition introduced by HG’s beloved late sister, Beulah Naomi, the meal began with BSK’s creatively spiced and warming squash soup. Dessert was Noel’s squash/pumpkin pie topped with lots of vanilla ice cream. Turkey wasn’t missed.

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