A Certain Age

There’s no recipe in today’s post. I can’t cook or eat anything else, I need to go on a diet after this weekend! So no food, we’re just chatting today.

Conversation of the day (sometime in early November):

Mom: What do you want for your birthday?

Me: A new camera. I need better quality pictures for my blog.

Mom: (silence…)

Me: And I want to take photography classes next year.

Mom: (a pained exasperated expression…)

Me: (quietly pouring a vodka shot and slowly pushing it towards her).

Mom: I saw a nice pair of earrings that’d look great on you.

Me: I want a new camera.

Mom: You’re now a woman of a certain age and need to present yourself with substance!

Me: (huffing and puffing and spreading my weirdo wings like an eagle) I’m definitely of that age where I’m certain what I want for my birthday!

Mom: (silently writes out a check and leaves the room).

Me: (smiling… Poor mom, she’s stuck with a weird kid!)

But, WTF is “a certain age”?! As I’m certain I’m not behaving appropriately for it!

And, I had a great “Sex and the City type” of a birthday celebration with my 3 best girls last week (minus the part of taking random guys home for a sleepover) but we sure had fun that Friday night! Rinse-repeat that Saturday again when my kid came home and we went out for my birthday dinner and then to my best friend’s place nearby (and got stuck there for half the night as it was hailing rain outside and Uber was charging like $250, not kidding!). And then my kid had to get up at 8am on Sunday to drive to Maryland to get a new car. So, not much sleep was happening last weekend, and I think I’m still trying to metabolize all the consumed alcohol.

Conversation of the day (yesterday):

Mom: So, what kind of gift did you get for yourself?

Me: I scored a $1000 Nikon for half the price!

Mom: (silent with a deeply disappointed look).

Me: And it’s red!

Mom: (looking concerned and defeated at the same time).

Me: Do you want to see it?

Mom: You should’ve bought the diamonds instead! (leaves the room sighing).

Me: (grinning…)

So, this is me, at the height of my birthday outing last Friday  (but still looking mellow), presenting myself with different type of substance, in a vintage dress.

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And a pair of shoes to match. #70sRock

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And, I’m fairly certain, despite being a year older now, I’m at that age when my soul is going backwards.

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Being Thankful

Being thankful is an essence of Thanksgiving holiday. I’m grateful for having a chance to send you these holiday wishes and for all the chances I get every week to bring a difference into your world with my words, my recipes and creations.

Thank you for sharing this journey and trusting me to make your life brighter. My dear readers, you’re my real inspiration!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and may all your thankful wishes come true!

The Heart of The Matter

After such a nice family outing on the weekend, I’ve been laying in bed with chest pains for the past two days. I have them sometimes, or other times my heart decides to do some disco moves and just not working properly. I think my heart is still mad at me for being poisoned with chemo nine years ago, and I may have some small inborn defect that was still cooperating until last year. I don’t want to do surgery, at least not now. I don’t even want to go to ER, which is what my cardiologist wants me do when chest pains start, but, he knows me well by now that I won’t go unless it’s really bad, so, he usually just yells at me a bit for being stubborn and does the usual testing in-office.

If I get really silent one day, that means I went to Heaven so watch out for strange things happening at your home as I’d definitely be haunting you. It’s just my way to remind you how much I love you!🙂

What’s Cooking This Week

We have a quick recipe post today as I wanted to make sure you get it in time before you start planning your Thanksgiving menu.  It’s not your typical Thanksgiving dish, it’s much lighter in both calories and teste but it’s definitely full of seasonal flavors. Plus, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other traditional side dishes so my recipe would serve as a nice balance to some heavier sides you generally find on any holiday table. I’m using a lovely citrus colored cauliflower but you can use regular one if you can’t  find it. And, cherries are full of antioxidants and anti inflammatory substances that are good for heart health.

Roasted Cauliflower with Almond-Raisin Cherry Chutney 

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1 small cauliflower, cut

1 cup of cherries, drained

1/3 cup of golden raisins

1/4 cup of almonds, chopped or slivered

3 Tbsps of bourbon

1 Tbsp of honey

1/2 Tbsp of coconut oil

2 shallots, chopped

1 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp of curry powder

1/2 tsp of coriander

1/4 tsp of nutmeg

salt, pepper, olive oil spray

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Lightly coat cauliflower chunks with oil spray, salt, pepper and roast at 400F degrees turning often till it’s all done, about 25-30 minutes.

In a mean while, make the chutney. Heat up coconut oil and sauté shallots till translucent golden, then add drained cherries and cook for a few minutes about half way through. Then add raisins, bourbon and spices, a pinch of salt as not to overpower the sweet taste and cook for 1-2 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate. Add almonds and coat chutney in honey, toss around till everything is cooked.

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Serve chutney on top of freshly roasted cauliflower. The sweetness of vegetable is nicely balanced by sweet and spicy chutney, which makes it a great addition to your holiday table and can be served alongside with turkey or any other meat roast.

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Peddler on the Roof

As you’re reading this post, Peddler Mom, Peddler Kid and Peddler Me are getting ready to head out to theater to see Fiddler on the Roof. The three of us usually have some kind of show outing during the holidays (and the kid and I generally have another one for just the two of us), but, judging from the fact that kid will have finals almost til Christmas, and, even if he’d find some time to venture out, he’d definitely be grumpy. I mean, I can handle his teenage nonsense, but my mom should get the best side of him I thought and offered to do an early outing this year.

So we’re going. My mom has been asking to see this current production of Fiddler on the Roof and we’re going to an early dinner after the matinee. I’m sure kid will ask for more dinner once we’re home, because that’s how 19 year-old male body works. Therefore I’m ready. With good homemade food of course.

Cooking was not what was planned for yesterday. I was off work for Veterans Day and alone at home, determined to clean out my closets. Hahaha you already know how it went! I mean, I did a little cleaning, I organized one bedroom closet (247484&726 other ones to go) but then got distracted and veered off to the kitchen. Damn, that always happens!

But, I guess it was meant to be. The Drifters came on the radio channel, and their song holds such joyous memories that you can’t clean closets during it, you have to go into your happy space and cook. You have to go Up on the Roof.

“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
Let me tell you now
When I come home feelin’ tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)
On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof (up on the roof)
At night the stars put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me”

 

What’s Cooking This Week

We have another Russian recipe today and it’s a fun one! Clay pots that I’m using for this dish are traditional Slavic pottery that are great for baked meats, grains, vegetables and eggs. If you can’t find them, just use individual porcelain dishes to make my baked meat and vegetables stew topped with a soft roll that was cooked with the steam produced by the stew. So, sometimes it’s Up on the Roof where you find peace and comfort, and other times, you have to go Under the Roof to eat a delicious meal. Let’s make this stew and top it with a little roof!

“Under the Roof” Veal and Rainbow Vegetables Stew

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Makes 4 portions:

2 lbs neck or shoulder veal steak, bone-in

2 small golden beets

3 cups of citrus and green cauliflower

10-12 pearl onions

1 bag of rainbow baby carrots

5 oz of chanterelle mushrooms

7 black peppercorns

4-5 garlic cloves

3 bay leaves

1 tsp each thyme and rosemary

2 tsps cumin seeds

1/2 tsp of oregano

2-3 sprigs of fresh tarragon

salt, pepper, olive oil

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Rolls, makes 4 large ones:

2 cups of flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten free mix)

100 g of sour cream (or dairy free plain yogurt)

3 Tbsps of butter or coconut oil, melted

2 eggs

1 tsp of sugar

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of salt

1 tsp of dry rosemary

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Pre-heat the oven to 375F degrees. Use a cast iron skillet to brown the meat first. Heat up some olive oil and brown veal about 1-2 minutes on each side. Then add about a cup of water, peppercorns, fresh tarragon, bay leaves, garlic cloves, salt, pepper and bake veal for about 20-30 minutes or half way through turning it midway and adding more water if needed.

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In a mean while, prep all the vegetables, cut cauliflower and beets into large chunks. Distribute among the pots, add pearl onions and mushrooms. Look how beautiful that rainbow plate is!

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Once the meat is cooked about half way through, take it out, cut into chunks and distribute among the pots. Pour meat broth that veal was cooking in, add more salt and pepper and the rest of spices.

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To make the rolls, combine wet and dry ingredients separately and then mix to make a soft dough. Kneed a few times, divide into 4 parts, make a large flat roll and top each pot pinching the sides to seal it around.

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Bake at 375F degrees for about 30-35 minutes till the tops are golden. The inside of rolls are soft and juicy due to all the steam coming from the stew yet the tops are crusty and are great to dip into the broth.

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To eat the stew, cut out the middle of the roll and eat it straight from the pot.

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Or you can empty it into a plate and enjoy it the regular way.

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