Monthly Archives: September 2012

“GARRA”

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In a devotional I read this morning by an author named Max Lucado, he describes a Portuguese word “garra” which means claws. A person with garra has claws that burrow into the side of the cliff and keeps you from falling.  His interpretation is that if you hang in there until the end…if you go the distance, you will come out on top and you will be saved.

I, like a lot of other people in the world, have been facing a lot of uncertainty with the instability of the economy and job market. I find myself burrowing into the side of the cliff to prevent myself from falling. There are a lot of people out there on that cliff with me at this very moment. Every person has their own set of personal challenges and cliffhangers. If we, each and every one of us, keep digging our claws into the rock of God and just keep hanging on, I know He’ll make sure we get to where we’re supposed to be.

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MMM, MMM, GOOD!

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When I was a kid and came home from a snowy winter’s day of making snow forts, having snowball fights and building snowmen, there was nothing that brought more warmth and comfort than a bowl of steaming hot tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Mmm, Mmm, good! I’m drooling.

With the abundance of the crop-end of Jersey tomatoes, I’ve been frantically trying to come up with things to make before they spoil.  I’ve made quite a few quarts of spaghetti and pizza sauces.  And then I thought about what it would be like to concoct a tomato soup that would taste just like those many bowls of soup from way back when. I came across a recipe that comes pretty darned close and wanted to share it with you.  I’ve also added a bruschetta (pronounced, I’m told,  “brusketta” in Italy) recipe and another recipe I found from Michael Symon of The Chew for fried green tomatoes.

Enjoy!

 Tomato Soup

4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 small onion sliced

4 whole cloves

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste

In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors.  Remove from heat and run the mixture through a food processor or blender and then pour into a bowl.

In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown.  Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest.  Season with sugar and salt and adjust to taste.

You can add chopped basil and cream for a creamier taste, or garlic and olive oil for a Mediterranean flavor.  I like just like it plain.

Bruschetta

2 lbs. fresh tomatoes

½ red onion

4 cloves garlic

1 cup fresh basil

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil, mix all ingredients together, salt and pepper to taste.

 

 Michael Symon’s Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk Dipping Sauce

Tomatoes:

3 green tomatoes sliced into 1/3 inch thick slices

½ cup flour

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup cornmeal

Vegetable oil to fry

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Arrange flour, buttermilk and cornmeal in three separate bowls.  Season the flour with salt and pepper.

Dip the tomato slices into the flour, then buttermilk, then cornmeal to coat and then put into hot oil and fry for 2 – 3 minutes per side until golden blown.  Do not crowd pan.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Buttermilk Sauce:

¼ cup buttermilk

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon shallot minced

¼ cup parsley leaves

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon mustard

Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a blender until emulsified.  Season to taste.

REMEMBERING 911

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It was a sunny Tuesday morning, and I had just sat down to eat a bowl of Rice Krispies with peaches.  I was starting a new job in a few days and was savoring the last of my leisurely mornings as I turned on the news to catch up with the daily events.  The channel that was on showed a puzzled Katie Couric saying, “A plane accident has occurred at the Twin Towers.” As the camera panned to a live view, another plane appeared out of nowhere and crashed into the second Tower.  I watched in shocked horror, as did Katie, trying to make sense out of what had just happened.  She looked as amazed as I felt, not quite sure what to make of it.

My daughter called from college in tears.  I worried about my younger daughter attending high school.  Was everyone safe?

I switched around to other stations to see if this were real, and a little while later settled on Peter Jennings.  For the next 10 to 12 hours I sat glued to my set, watching in sheer disbelief – wanting to walk away but paralyzed in front of the TV – frozen in horror. And there was Peter Jennings, reporting up to the minute details and trying to give us some kind of reassurance as we slowly realized nothing would ever be the same.  I remember seeing the hundreds of rescue workers and ambulances lined up, ready to take people to the hospital. Waiting and waiting in eerie silence, not yet understanding there would be few survivors from those buildings. The magnitude of the loss of life was still unrealized.

I stayed with Mr. Jennings for most of the day, trusting his expertise and insight.  Way after 11 p.m. he was still there, sleeves rolled up, tie off now, looking haggard and drained but still telling us the details we needed to know. He was soothing and reassuring, trying to keep a nation calm in the midst of hysteria. When Mr. Jennings passed away a while later, my heart ached as thoughts of 911 came flooding back, along with the question of whom we could count on to see us through the next catastrophe.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones in the horrible 911 tragedy.  My heart aches for their loss. Watching the roll call this morning brought tears to my eyes once more. I’ve been thinking about all that has transpired since then, and the word “trust” came to mind.  I realize that in this ever-changing world in which we live, filled with so much uncertainty, the only One we can really trust to see us through is God.

Where were you on 911?

BACK TO SCHOOL

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First day of school – Meg & Kate, Grandmom & Pop

Fruit punch and cheese doodle stand.

By the time you read this, your children will probably be back in school.  Oh yes, I can hear you shouting, “HOORAY!” Now, I know we’ll all miss the slower pace of summer, whether it’s getting to sleep in later, going to the beach or lounging by the pool. It’s great just to be outdoors, and mealtime is so much simpler – burgers or hot dogs on the grill with some Jersey corn, and you’re good to go.  It’s the time when kids are less stressed since there are no tests to take or homework to do.  They get to hang out with their friends, ride their bikes and have sleepovers. Summer is just more fun, but eventually those little darlings are driving you nuts, and you feel it’s time to turn the page and get some kind of order back into your life. When school starts, parents who work get some relief since child care arrangements ease a bit.  Those who are lucky enough to be able to stay home with their kids will probably be happy that they don’t have to act as master of ceremonies for the daily game show, “What Are We Going To Do Today?” In either case, you just can’t wait until they get back to school, and you’re back to packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and waving goodbye as the bus sputters down the road.

Kate moves into her first dorm room.

The kids may be back at school and out of your hair, but now all the other stuff starts. You’re driving them to dancing lessons, soccer and lacrosse games, school play practice, cheerleading and birthday parties, and life is zooming by at the speed of light. The house is a mess and laundry never gets done because by the time you return home from all of the activities, you fall into bed and crash to sleep. But autumn turns into winter then spring, and before you know it, summer is back, and you start all over again.

Kate graduates.

Elementary school, middle school and high school are all whizzing by, and you’re tired and wish you had a life of your own. Before you know it, you’re taking your kids, now sort of all grown up, to college, and you squeeze them so tightly they can’t breathe. Tears are pouring from your eyes, and you can’t stop them.  They graduate, they get careers and they’re off on their own, and you sit with that life of your own you wanted so badly where you can do anything you want, except now you don’t remember why or what that actually was.

Meg graduates.

You find yourself wanting to go back to those lazy days of summer when you ate ice cream cones with your kids on the porch. You want to build sand castles with them and color and play Barbie dolls and have tea parties and make lemonade for their stands, unless they’re like my girls who insisted on selling fruit punch and cheese doodles. You want to recapture those school days all over again and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that time is gone – in a wink of an eye.

Tearful goodbye – Meg moves to Florida.

Summer, autumn, winter, spring; summer, autumn, winter, spring – the seasons come and they go, and you don’t realize how fast until your children are all grown up.

Kids are exhausting and amazing, and the best thing you’ll ever do, so slow down and don’t rush time. Appreciate the precious present and give your kids an extra hug today while you still can. It will be winter before you know it.