Category Archives: Recipes

The Carrier.

CHAPTER 46.

The fresh zucchini had endured that suctioned sealer long enough. Removing both small tubes from the fridge shelf, she noted that each had become a bit moist and rubberized, more like the consistency of a full water balloon. Yet the touch to the tongue revealing no revolting after taste, she peeled, sliced lengthwise, lay each “finger” in a drizzle of olive oil, and set the pan about slow frying.

As the oil peppered its flesh, she added a liberal dress of herbs and spices. Oregano leaf. Basil. Smoked Paprika. Then, Onion powder and, finally, Celery Seed. Inhaling the chemistry, satisfied she covered the pan, and reduced the heat to just enough for smolder; then, removing a palm sized chunk of Goat Cheese from its bin, she scooped out a couple generous swaths. This would coat the bottom of the dish, she decided, to melt later.

Just in case the squash might be a tad overripe she tossed a few drops of apple cider vinegar in the mix, to kill any aggressive pestilence. There were dishes in the sink and, motivation to wash them always at the mercy of aversion, she rationalized a bit of extra time for frying and soaped up around a third of these, letting the saucepan sizzle for about four more minutes. Zucchini was usually baked, anyway; extra time in the pan wouldn’t kill anything except the part she wouldn’t want disturbing her delicate gut flora.

Minutes later, ladling the now limpid legs onto her trusty Corningware plate with its molded handle, she took a flat knife and spread the Goat cheese up and over and around the entire mixture of zucchini and herbs, watching it melt and meld into the meal.

Eating this little dinner, she smiled. It was so good. Zucchini was, after all, naturally tasteless – the perfect vehicle for the reason she cooked like this in the first place. Really, cuisine was about flavor, nutrients and a texture carrier. Who wanted to melt cheese on a plate, then douse it with leaves of plant? Spreading everything that had both pungence and palatability across one generic summer squash meant that she could taste the divine yet give her teeth a reason to crunch.

She still had her teeth, all of them but one, in fact, and being able to chew voraciously meant that she was still quite alive enough to live in her own house and use a fork. Good enough reason for one bland vegetable to carry everything else worth loving, while she still had breath.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 4/10/21. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Sharing by blog link, exclusively; no copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted. Thanks for being the honorable person.

littlebarefeetblog.com

MACARON.

Addiction drives the strangest behavior.

Mine isn’t booze, heroin or cocaine. Mine’s the one even lab rats choose first:

sugar.

The object of my affections had been ignoring me, all day. Petulantly. Enjoying my clamoring, ghosting to a narcissistic forte. By teatime, I’d hit critical mass.

Henceforth, because I needed a succouring fix, I did FIVE THINGS well out of my comfort zone. 1.) Without first placing a curbside pickup order, I drove to the Whole Foods Co-op; 2.) parked, and w.a.l.k.e.d. i.n.t.o. the store — something I had not done since M.A.R.C.H.; 3.) grabbed a sack of mini-peppers and some daikon radish sprouts, then headed for the bakery reach-in; 4.) chose a variety pak of chef made MACARON; 5.) rang out, waving to several I knew on staff, and side stepped out to my car.

Why so radical?

Macaron had proved the creme de la creme of confectionary. Only egg white, no flour, the premiere sweet for all gluten intolerants, and only a pro pastry chef could expertly craft each bite sized burst of scrumptiousness to the Parisian standard of perfection. Pre-Covid, I’d been known to drive 3 miles south after midnight, just to snatch the last batch at Wegman’s; but, the girl who made them at WFC had won my ribbon.

This month’s recipe was labeled (according to Customer Service) — “autumnal” flavorings. I’d already had this set, over a week ago – and, hadn’t been keen on it. My preference included: berries, and their cremes; vanilla, creme cheese, pistachio, and caramel. But, not….pumpkin. And, this set used pumpkin as a motif; even the creme cheese was tinted with the hue…and, the flavor.

But, you have to understand addiction. Sugah addiction. We dream of cookies and cakes, frosted confections… And, the piece de resistance is macaron. For us, reward for good behavior – and, even bad – is all about the taste buds. And, the receptors for sweet are everywhere; the tip of the tongue, the sides, the back, the flat surface, even the roof of the mouth. We can salivate to the point of orgasm, just thinking about sugar.

So, yah. Pulling up to the curb, I was giddy. Self-congratulating. After all, I’d savage the entire container of chicken salad first just to prove my nutritional planning was sound. But, two down, and three to go, the test would be: how many hours before all five macaron were dust?

My first selection: vanilla. Smoothe; cool; bright. Second: salted caramel. Texture, first; then, the rush. Number three: okay. Might as well get it overwith. Pumpkin puree.

First bite: Nawp. Was it the consistency ? Maybe a touch more creme to render the filling. What would normally gush from between two oh-so-delicate cookies felt more like a slurry at the bottom of a saute. On that note, I’d reached my A1C for the hour. Heck, for the evening. Two and a half down, I was sated.

You can have your spice lattes. I’ll take my pumpkin the only way it should come: in pie.

On Thanksgiving.

Even addicts have taste.

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© 9/11/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Sweet Thanksgiving.

The brisk breezes would stir the “whisker” tree’s fist sized tumbleweeds, scattering them between our feet as we scrambled up the steps and took the path between the rock gardens to the front porch at Mammy’s house. In summer we’d take the lazier, flat wide stone walkway from the drive, parallel the porch, the potted geraniums and succulents snuggled side by side along its railing under the broad, royal blue canvas awning flapping in the wind. From that side path, we could almost look Mammy in the eye, cushioned into her steel porch rocker in the far corner awaiting our appearance, smile alight.

But, come fall, we’d hasten past the battened down and molting toward the warm yellow light framed by the front door, halfway up the porch already hearing Aunt Martha’s belly and Pappy’s booming laugh rising out of the maelstrom of churring and chattering  already testing the outer walls of the entire house. Grasping the round, brass doorknob, and leaning into the glass paneled hardwood, we’d push and burst through, hardly noticed by the throng until one face turned and then Pappy, arms above his head, hands curled from hard work, roared out his raging welcome and everyone except the aunts who never stopped talking turning then to gather yet another of us into their arms.

Kicking the snow from our overshoes onto the multilayered hooked rugs, we’d stack them and take the short diagonal between the twin bookcases past the round oak dining room table and the African violets in the east window through to the kitchen, passing the ceramic cookie jar setting our paperbagged salad fixings carefully on the kitchen-turned- server table next to the apple, mincemeat, pumpkin, and rhubarb pies, where Mammy stood over the stove in her rick rack trimmed cotton apron, stirring a pot of gravy with a wooden spoon, the pressure cooker’s indicator bobbling and sputtering over the back burner like a steam train waiting in the station. All the aunts took their wide hipped turns in the kitchen, two of them diligent about the food and the other two appearing to inspect and taste test, the youngest with a wink toward a niece or nephew as she licked her finger.

Pappy was loud, and three of his four sons in law quiet, each quick with a joke or a witty comeback, Uncle Frank sitting with a closed eyed smile, Dad who was called Uncle Tony with his hands in his belt, napping already in the only scene where he would not command the center of attention, Uncle Bud standing tall near a corner already giggling through a long, spun yarn for the home movie camera and Uncle George, egging Pappy on with his bright, Irish bell tenor.

We grandchildren were fifteen in all, the firstborn Alan, a brilliant artist and pianist, rarely able to come home anymore being married in Michigan, his four other siblings Philip, Lydia, Lois and Frannie often present, living only two doors down, the elder girls wearing their engagement rings dressed in wool sweaters and straight skirts and pointed pumps, Frannie in keeping with her other, younger counterparts in winter wear warm enough for playing outside if there were enough snow later. Then, cousin Bonnie and half brothers Butch and David from Lawrence Park because Uncle Bud worked at GE, and me and my two brothers, Nathan and Paul, having walked from around the corner and across the street and, finally, our four cousins from Ohio, Becky, Beth, Timmy and Kathy, the latter two with flaming red hair. Being either the first or last to arrive, once all were in house the card table would come out, and the floral painted linens, we among the smallest cousins relegated to the workroom where the rugs were braided and the clothes sewn and the toybox waited and, while the piano took turns being played and songs chosen for singing, the family like a choir from an old country church, Pappy the only tone deaf voice among them, the potatoes were mashed, the boiled bacon drippings poured over the salad, the parsnips and rutabaga and peas and Lima beans and corn ladeled into their divided serving dishes, the silver plated forks knives and spoons set on each soft, embossed linen napkin, tomato juice poured into the slender tulip glasses and set at the center of each China plate, head lettuce leaves placed on each smaller one for salad, fruit filled Jello squares lifted onto each leaf, one half teaspoon of Hellmann’s to dot each center, the gravy poured into the boat, the butter set in its silver dish, the turkey carved and, finally, the Parker House rolls, ready and hot, in the round, linen lined bowl basket to table.

Pappy could be heard from any room in the house, but usually Aunt Dora Mae or Aunt Betty would call all to the dinner table. Aunt Dora Mae was hands down the better cook among them, Mammy’s eldest, but Mum’s voice was the most penetrating on account of her hearing loss and Aunt Frances was likely in earnest discussion with another of equal intellectual bent and Aunt Martha busy, laughing in a far corner, her nephews gathered around her ready audience testing their latest comedic mettle.

But, the food drew us all, to the oak table round circled by both Dora Mae and Betty as they’d labored the delivery of their firstborn, to the card table in the living room where Risk, Monopoly, Probe, and Life were won and lost, to the child’s table and chairs that Pappy made in the workroom just beyond the pantry and we, the Sweet family, sat our chaos down to the warmth of hot, family style Thanksgiving dinner and bowed our heads while Pappy thanked the God who brought him all the way across the Commonwealth to build cranes at BuCyrus-Erie, to the street corners to preach, to the City Mission and the Gospel Assembly Hall to settle his family in the east side neighborhood at 923 East 29th.

Then, everyone filled their faces, still all talking at once, Mammy finally sitting down at the kitchen end of the table, laughing with her mouth full, Pappy hunched over his plate, gumming his food with his teeth out, the aunts and uncles and cousins all tasting the same food with their own unique manifestations of the family DNA, all together, the whisker trees’ tumbleweeds flying about outside the east windows, as remnants of the feast wafted throughout the house to leave behind its everlasting aroma in the wallpaper, the white silken window curtains, the ceiling plaster, the floor underfoot, and the dark wood framing each room in the house, the collective spirit of nourishment sustaining life on one small, thankful speck of the planet as the world spun around once more.

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© 11/27/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo     All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line.

From the heart of Sweet gratitude: Happy Thanksgiving! from littlebarefeetblog.com