Friday, November 14, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger Audra!

Audra learnes some new tricks in the Kitchen.

tarts- above and below.

So the other night, some night previously this week, I'm not sure which as I was as alert as a comatose tortoise, I made tarts at the O'Willard's. I shouldn't say "I" did. All I did was unwrap hundreds of caramels, drop all the wrappers in the floor and make horrible faces while swallowing a cosmopolitan. But Robyn had "work" to do, so I was assigned to entertain Ginnie by making dangerous mistakes in the kitchen. Brett came along, and after we hassled the harried hateful parakeet, I went into the kitchen with Ginnie and Brett settled down to hassle Robyn.
On this particular evening the task at hand was to create two apple based desserts. I remember nothing. But for the sake of explaining the lovely pictures Robyn took, I will try to come up with something. The first dish was supposed to be apple bars. I peeled-WASHED-then peeled four apples, sliced them up and put them somewhere. Ginnie made some mash out of splenda, wheat flour (which I clearly remember one should never use), NO EGGS (which I clearly remember because I love to break eggs), and potentially some vanilla. I didn't see too much of what my mentor was up to as I was engrossed in unwrapping a 14 oz. bag of caramels. Then we put them in a pot on the stove and I stirred them up while they melted. Brett recommended putting a bit of water in the caramels to help them liquify faster. They looked like a liver before we happened upon that solution.
Then Ginnie put the stuff she made in the bottom of the dish, the apple slices went on top of that, then the caramel. I think. I then had the responsibility of mashing it together. Looked like a big muddy footprint. So we cooked that, printed off recipes for the tarts that were our next project, and managed to forget all about what we had in the oven until Ginnie commented offhandedly on the odor of burning popcorn. So we took it out. Only about 1/16 of the dish had turned into a tire.
The rest of it was quite good once Ginnie wrestled it out of the dish. She recommends using Pam or buttering the dish if you try this. For the tarts, I made dough. Which you make, and then wad up, wrap in that clear bendable stuff that keeps things fresh and stick in the fridge. Ginnie recruited one of her drinking glasses to serve as rolling pin/cookie cutter and I made tart crusts out of that dough after it chilled. Once again, I was not privy to the actual cooking going on by Ginnie.
I made crusts, then wandered away to flirt with Ned while she slaved on. We filled the crusts, cooked them, took them out, tasted them, and decided unanimously that they were TERRIBLE. So Ginnie got out a basin of lard, some gallons of brown sugar and perhaps an egg or two. She melted that all together and ladeled it over the tarts. Robyn and Brett thoroughly enjoyed them. Oh- we ate our desserts very daintily off of special shoe dessert plates. Oh no- we decided against the shoe plates and went with the ice cream plates so Brett would not feel too prissy.

Anyway, I very much enjoy cooking with Ginnie. Robyn amuses me when she wanders in and says something condescending and completely uninformed about the recipe. :) And we decided to open a bakery, Ginnie and I, called Lard Ho's.
(Audra and Brett are staring in Stage I theatre Company's Production of Tick...Tick...Boom! along with the awesome Durron Tyre- I saw it on opening night and LOVED it - please get your tickets today!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Challah

Forgive me gentle readers, I have sinned - it has been almost a week since my last blog post. I have many legitimate excuses but none of which I will bore you with.

I am off work today for Veteran's Day and in honor of all the Veterans in my family I am making a Challah from scratch. You may think that is an odd choice for Veteran's day but to me it is not since it was a staple for the Veteran's in my family.
One of my favorite Veteran stories is one that my Kitty-Mom tells about her Father. Grandpa Jamison was a pilot in the Army Air Corps - before the Air Force was created that is where all the pilots were. When the Air Force was established he choose to stay in the Army. He was a Lieutenant Colonel. One day, during WWII time, he was traveling with his family and his Lieutenant's family from somewhere in the North to Fort Bragg and at a point on the train ride, I guess they were passing the Mason/Dixon line or something, the conductor came by to tell him that the Lietenant and his family had to move to the back of the last train car because they were black- except the last train car was then called the "colored car". Grandpa Jamison threw a fit and basically said if he is moving then my family is moving back there too. In the end, the conductor had them all stay put.

Today I am thinking about my Great-Uncle Sidney, who before the war, had received the good news that he had been drafted to play baseball for the Baltimore Orioles. My Uncle Sydney was one of 7 children. The Steinberg children, all of whom were first generation Americans, were Pauline, Miriam, Ruth, Sherman, Joel, Sydney and my Grandfather Bernard (who I am named after). Bernard was the oldest. All the boys went to pharmacy school for pre-med but due to the Jewish quotas enforced at that time none of them were able to go to medical school and all of them became pharmacists. When my Uncle Sydney was drafted into WWII he was a very young man in his early 20's. I believe he got drafted into the war within days of getting the news about playing for the Orioles. Sadly my Great Uncle never got to play baseball. Sydney was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge and became paralyzed from the waist down. He returned to Baltimore and lived with his father the rest of his life.
My Grandfather Bernard bought a set of parallel bars that would fold up and fit in his truck and every Sunday for a few years after the injury he would take Sydney to the park and have him practice using his legs but he never regained the use of them. I remember visiting Sydney and my Zadie (my Great Grand Father) in the house they lived in which was right across from Pimlico. He loved taking pictures of us and making us smile.
Sadly, Sydney never married, never played ball and lived his entire life with his Father. I struggle to find a "silver lining" in my Great Uncle's story, something that could take the sting away. I have decided it is this: Sydney lived a long life and passed away only a few years ago. He lived to see the end of the Holocaust, the forming of the State of Israel, and no doubt he heard many moving liberation stories. He was also surrounded by a large family that was devoted to him. It is my hope that he knew he was a hero. I think about him often but today I hold him very close to my heart.