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I wouldn't - Would you?

I wouldn’t – Would you?

I mean really where would our society be without a set of rules and a protocol of niceties?  But not wearing white after Labor Day?  Who said so and why?  My friend Gail posted a link (from the web site Mental Floss) on Facebook that answers that question and so I’m going to post the link in this blog. 

But first I’m going on record as YES I was and am one of those people who adhere to that ancient admonition about not wearing white after Labor Day.  I didn’t know I was following in the footsteps of some former elitist class but then again as a child of the 50’s that was how I was taught and so I passed it on to my daughter born in the late 70’s.  I know she followed that rule for some years after she left home but now it’s doubtful especially since she is living in Florida!

No White Shoes

No White Shoes

My husband on the other hand strictly adheres to the no spectator shoes before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.  It may be an antiquated way of thinking and behaving but when surrounded by a couple of generations that seem to have a no holds barred and anything goes attitude, it feels good to cling a few of the old rules.  Decorum has its place in society. Or would you rather walk down the street and pass young men with their pants hanging below their rear ends or girls wearing colorful bras and an open shirt or short shorts so short one wonders why not just wear the thong that the whole world can see anyway?  Or watch an awards show and see the entertainers half or more naked on the stage (because really what is that all about?).  Yes I must be getting on in years, showing my age (and my sensibilities).  But it isn’t fun to be on a bus or train trapped by loud-speaking-totally-unconcious-of-the-world-around-them youths who carry on phone and personal conversation at a decibel level practically illegal!

They're Everywhere!

They’re Everywhere!

So YES I will stop wearing white after Labor Day, No I will not wear gloves or a hat when I go out shopping, YES I try to wear age-appropriate clothing, NO I will not carry on a cell phone conversation on the bus, in an elevator or during dinner in a restaurant.  YES I always allow people older than myself out of the elevator or through a doorway before me and NO I don’t wear suede UGGS in the spring and summer with a Sundress!

Seriously?

Seriously?

Well now that I’ve had my rant, here’s the link to the article:  http://mentalfloss.com/article/12424/why-can%E2%80%99t-you-wear-white-after-labor-day

Some Things Are OK!

Some Things Are OK!

 

 NO PHOTO – A THOUSAND WORDS SAYS IT ALL

Sounds pretty disgusting doesn’t it?  Well I was going to call it Honey-Glazed Flatbread but that conjures up something thin and crispy, whereas my cornbread was like wafer-thin fudge!

Since I’m always touting myself as a good cook, I thought it only appropriate to let my readers know that I, too, sometimes make mistakes and when I do….well this time I made more than one and oh well, here’s how it went down.

I got up early yesterday morning to bake the cornbread I planned on serving with dinner Saturday night.  I had my friend Barbara as a house-guest and had invited Michael (who was bereft of house guests for a change) to come over for dinner.  And that’s a funny aside also; I sent him a text on Friday when it occurred to me he might not have company over the weekend and so why not ask to eat dinner with us.  I asked him to come over on Saturday and then for some reason I said, “or Sunday”.  That was a mistake! He promptly wrote back and said Sunday would be fine.  So now I had to figure out a way to gracefully renege on Sunday and push for Saturday.  Why? Because I realized I would not have anything to serve him on Sunday whereas we were having turkey cutlets on Saturday he only eats chicken or turkey.  I sent another text asking him if Saturday were out of the question, adding I had a friend here who would leave on Sunday and I was making turkey cutlets.  In my heart of hearts I KNEW he opted for Sunday because being younger and of sound body and mind, his Sunday routine lately has been to go a Boot Camp exercise class at 7am on Sunday mornings.  Well be that as it may, I really hoped he would acquiesce to Saturday and thank God, he did.

Back to preparing the cornbread (before breakfast and before my Grandé Americano, you see how I’m setting the stage for my soon-to-be-fatal mistakes.  Fatal that is, for the cornbread.  The night before I had Barb shear the kernels off an ear of corn, so I had that component ready.  I re-read the recipe and then looked up the various ways to make a substitute for buttermilk, since I opted not to buy a quart of something no one was going to drink so I could have a half a cup for my recipe.  There are about 6 ways you can make substitute buttermilk and I’m pretty sure I picked the wrong one!  The easiest way would be to put some lemon juice into milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  And there was also a method involving vinegar and then there was the one with Cream of Tartar. 

Now seriously, why would I pick that one?  I have no idea! I don’t know what Cream of Tartar is and I think I read once that you could polish your silverware or your chrome faucets with it.  Oh well, I chose that method probably for the reason that I have a huge tin full of spices I never use and I was sure there was some Cream of Tartar ( I keep conjuring up some kind of Eastern European warriors) in there.  Strike 1.

First challenge was that all the methods called for making a cup of buttermilk and this one required 1 Tablespoon of Cream of Tartar.  I should only use 1/2 Tablespoon and for some lack-of-caffeine-brain-not-engaged reason I think I filled my tablespoon measure about a 1/3 of the way – WHAT was I thinking?  AND I don’t know the shelf life of Cream of Tartar but I’m pretty sure this one is from the other millennium.  Strike 2 – I looked at my milk choices in the refrigerator and again, some kind of brain freeze took hold – I didn’t pick the Almond milk and I didn’t pick the 1% milk.  Oh no, I picked the Hood Dairy Drink!  Duh where does it say MILK on the carton?   That’s Strike 3!   I set the milk or fake milk aside and waited for the clumps to form as the web site said would happen.

Next I carefully, measured out the butter (unsalted) into 4 tablespoons melted and 2 tablespoons melted.  I got the honey out of the cabinet, as well as the flour, an egg, the baking powder and some sugar.  Everything was mise en place, and the oven was pre-heating.   I lightly greased the pan.  I whisked the dry ingredients together and made a well and added the egg and some melted butter and honey and the buttermilk which had no clumps!  I mixed the ingredients together and poured it into the pan.  Right away I realized something was wrong – I had forgotten to gently fold in the corn kernels!!!!  Strike 4 I should have quit right then and there.  I scraped it out of the pan and back into the bowl and added the kernels.  Not sure as how much more greasing the pan needed so sprayed a little bit more and the thought, fleeting as it was, flew through my mind that some of pan grease was now in the mixture – I dismissed that thought. Strike 5!?

Pouring it back into the pan, it looked very flat and thin to me and I thought perhaps my pan was not 9″ x  9″ but maybe 10″ x 10″.  Oh well, into the oven it goes.  I set the timer for the shortest amount of time recommended because it looked so thin and my oven is ancient, never really sure it heats up accurately.

Thirty minutes later, the kitchen smells good and the toothpick came out clean when inserted.  However, I did note that it seemed only the tip of the toothpick went in before striking the bottom of the pan!  It looked wierd;  Pale yellow and flat.  I made the honey butter glaze and with pastry brush, spread it across the top of the bread. 

Once it cooled, Barbara thought we ought to taste it.  Mmmm interesting – NOT exactly what we expected.  Actually Barbara thought it not only looked weird, it tasted weird too.  It was more than dense…it definitely looked and felt like fudge.  Optimistically, I cut it up in squares and put it on a plate to serve later with dinner.

Dinner is served!  The turkey cutlets are golden brown in their panko crumb crust and dressed with a lemon, wine, caper sauce, the corn looks succulent and sweet (and it was), the Caprese salad looks beautiful on a white platter – juicy red tomato slices, mozzarella and fresh basil julienne sprinkled all over.  We had a mélange of zucchini and Golden Egg yelllow squash and Vidalia onions  sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with thyme.  Then there was this small plate of pale yellow squares, I urged everyone to try.  No one said a word, no one asked for seconds. 

When Barbara and I were cleaning up, I mused over the strange consistency and flavor of my cornbread.  It was at that moment, I had an epiphany!  Once when I was making scones in the Tea Room and they were coming out flat, I thought perhaps it was the Baking Powder which may have gotten damp and old.  SOOooooo I went to the cabinet, pulled out the baking powder AND OMG – the expiration date was Best used by December 2009. What kind of cook/baker has 5 year-old baking powder in her cupboard?  One that clearly doesn’t bake a lot!  There’s no such thing as Strike 5 or 4 for that matter, game over, I’m out! 

Moral of the story: Remember that baking is a science, it’s not creative cooking..  Every ingredient and its amount is there for a reason.  Start to substitute and improvise and you don’t get a delicious, sauce, soup or stew – NO you get cornbread fudge!

Footnote:  Dining under the stars, slathered in Skin So Soft, citronella candles on the patio,  t was a delightful evening!!

 

Honey Glazed Corn Bread

Honey Glazed Cornbread

Honey Glazed Cornbread

Now that we are nearing the end of my favorite season, summer, there is a plethora of Jersey tomatoes and corn available.  Oh it’s been a delicious summer all around.  I made my Garden State Gazpacho, we’ve eaten so many ears of corn I couldn’t guess how many and had Caprese salad often – love having a basil plant in the backyard.

As I was going through my emails, I came across a recipe that caught my eye and I can’t wait to try it out this weekend.  WHY?  Because it’s a corn bread that actually uses fresh kernels of corn.  This recipe is  a POW WOW original and I’m passing along their serving suggestions also;  Serve with eggs and bacon instead of toast, try it with a crunchy dinner salad and think about using this cornbread with ice cream and berries instead of shortbread.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2  tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 TBS melted butter, divided

4 TBS honey, divided

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (uncooked)

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 9 baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder to combine

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 4 TBS of butter, 2 TBS honey, the egg and the buttermilk.  Mix all the ingredients to combine.

Gently fold in the corn kernels.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.  Bake the cornbread for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

While cornbread is baking, combine the remaining 2 TBS of butter with the 2 TBS of honey.  As soon as you remove the cornbread from the oven, brush the glaze on the top of the loaf with a pastry brush.  Let bread cool 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

 

 

Probably the most memorable line in the movie, Love Is Strange.  It certainly brought the audience to a loud laugh, but then again, we were in Manhattan watching this tale of love and marriage which takes place in The City.  The film’s main story is that of Ben and George who after 39 years of togetherness, get married and then things go down hill.   George loses his job at a Catholic school but not his faith and without his steady income, the couple is forced to sell their apartment.  Homosexuality is not the subject of the movie, real estate is.  The couple is forced to go separate ways while they look for another affordable apartment.  They call a family meeting and put their dilemma out on the table.  This being New York City, no one has any room to accommodate the couple. That is except for Mindy who lives in Poughkeepsie and has an extra bedroom.  True to NYC island mentality, they all  think living in Poughkeepsie is unthinkable, not even remotely feasible.  That’s when the fun begins…Ben moves in with his nephew, Elliot and his wife, Kate and their son, Joey in a  small two bedroom apartment in  Brooklyn, George moves in with friends who just happen to be a pair of gay cops leading a rather boisterous life, partying night after night, filling the apartment with hordes of people.

Love Is Strange

Love Is Strange

The secondary story involves Kate (Marissa Tomei), wife of Ben’s nephew and writer who works from home and their son. One of the funniest scenes and one I wholeheartedly related to, was where Ben keeps starting up a conversation with Kate who is trying very hard to finish writing her book.  Ben is quiet for a moment and then asks her yet another question.  She is so frustrated, she almost loses it.  Joey, Ben’s nephew is tolerant up to a point;  His world is getting smaller as Uncle Ben takes over part of his bedroom, and intrudes on the already cramped space in this small two bedroom apartment in New York.  He (Joey) has developed a friendship with Vlad, who although may be the same age as Joey is light years beyond him in street smarts and this is cause for concern to his mother and father. 

Actually as I’m writing this, I think the real story in the movie is STRESS.  Ben and George are totally stressed out because they are separated and each is living in someone else’s home.  I think it’s George who says that when you live with someone you get to know them much better than you would want to.  Kate is stressed because her husband Elliot is never home so she is the only one who deals with Joey and Ben.  Elliot is stressed because he’s a filmmaker and well that comes with its own set of issues, George is stressed but for the most part he internalizes it until one night when he just bursts through the door to see George and bursts into tears.

The first word out of my mouth when the movie was over was “Arty” – the film was arty, it was low-key and slow-moving, no micro sound bites here.  John Lithgow and Alfed Molina are point and counterpoint personalities and each one brings his best to Love Is Strange.

MY FLOWER DRESS

Who knew?  I mean really!  There was a time when this little blondie wouldn’t wear a dress or a skirt.  She eschewed pink sparkly Mary Janes, ruffles didn’t do it for her.  She loved pajamas and red rubber lady bug boots, lime green clogs  or sometimes when it was hot outside, she insisted that her tan suede Uggs were exactly and the only thing she wanted to wear on her feet.  Her blonde hair and angelic smile were antithetical to her garb.  She was not to be deterred;  You couldn’t convince her to wear sandals, bribes didn’t work and logic was certainly out of the question.

This little granddaughter of mine knows exactly what she wants;  I mailed two bead bracelets to the girls earlier this year, one was pink and white and the other was pink and purple because little Miss had previously informed me that purple was her favorite color.  Apparently that didn’t hold true for everything and since her bracelet was not exactly like her sister’s, she didn’t want it.  When I asked her if she liked it, she bluntly told me “NO”.  So I pushed back a little more and inquired if she ever wore it.  I was quickly informed that she gave it to the Nanny!  I mean, seriously??!!

A couple of weeks ago I sent a bright yellow and pink floral sun dress to each of the girls (matching) and WOW!  Was I ever surprised to learn that she wanted to put the dress on right away.  That was 2 weeks ago…. What follows is a pictorial diary.  Not every day is recorded in photos, however, I have it from the horse’s mouth (Mommy) that this is what she has worn every single day since it arrived.  Rest assured, it is getting washed in the evening.  Is it obsession or just a case of a girl knows what she wants.  I LOVE IT – I finally gave her something she really likes.  I’m very happy that she is enjoying it so much although I admit if left up to me, she would never get away with this – BUT then again I never had a middle child or one that was only two years younger than the first, so indulgence only goes so far with me.

Be that as it may, let me say again that these photos not only bring a smile to my face, they warm my heart because she looks so darn cute!!

Love Those Black Sneaks

                                                   Love Those Black Sneaks

Just Hanging Out

                                                        Just Hanging Out

Funny Face

                                          Funny Face

My Flower Dress

                                                       My Flower Dress

Here I Am!

                                                           Here I Am!

I'm A Middle Child

                                                  I’m A Middle Child

 

IT’S A SHORE THING!

 One of the things I love about having a cottage at the Jersey Shore is the ease of entertaining friends.It’s easy to meet new people in a small town and we’re lucky that some of our New York City friends also have cottages in this beautiful Shore town.

 Recently we met Angela and Seth, a very cool young couple. One day we walked past the porch where they were sitting, Really! There is a fabulous Victorian a block away from our house and we walk past it on our way to the beach. We’ve always admired this house because it is so perfectly put together. So we were pretty surprised to see the For Sale sign out in front and two young people sitting on the front porch.

 I have to lapse into an aside here because I believe front porches are one of the best means to meet and greet your neighbors, make new friends and visit with old friends. Porches are welcoming and beckon to passerby’s. There is a quote, actually more like a slogan that used to be published in every issue of ROADSIDE MAGAZINE that sums up an America we used to know, a place that I want to live and in fact I do when I’m in Ocean Grove. ROADSIDE refers to this slogan as a recipe for an American Renaissance: “Eat in diners, ride trains, shop on Main Street, put a porch on your house and live in a walk able community”. Sounds real good to me! And by the way, the stoops of Brooklyn and other boroughs of New York City offer the same way of life.

 There was an Open House sign posted and we inquired if it was their house. No, they were housesitting and we learned that the home belonged to the owners of the Flower Shop in town. They had recently sold the flower shop and were moving to Montana. It turns out that Angela and Seth were house sitting! What a great way to spend the best part of the year 1 block from the beach. And we found out that Angela was running the fairly new bakery, Daily Bread.

 Bread, for me, is more than the staff of life – I LOVE Italian bread, especially the chewy crusty kind, think Tuscany or Puglia. It didn’t take me long to express my deep regret and frustration about not finding a decent loaf of Italian bread in area so densely populated by residents of Italian Ancestry. Seriously, this area is bread-challenged. Soft crusts and airy puffy white bread! Like Wonder bread shaped into a baguette L Angela invites us to stop into her bakery and try some of her bread. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t realize the bakery had changed hands and apologize for not stopping by yet.

House-made Blueberry Muffins!

House-made Blueberry Muffins!

 The next day, Peter and I go into Daily Bread and Angela packs several chunks of different breads into a bag for us and gives it to us – no charge! For next couple of days, we feast on Ciabatta bread, French bread and healthy whole grain bread. Mmmm mmm good! Bread is one of my favas, right behind pasta and ice cream.

 The next weekend I bring some of Agata & Valentino’s Tuscan bread and their Cabernet loaf to Angela. Peter is afraid I will insult her, however my intention is only to share some of my City’s better breads with someone who I am sure will appreciate tasting them. A casual friendship is born.

 Last night we invited Angela and Seth to join us on our front porch for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. They would get to meet Michael, our friend, who was in town and who I invited to dinner. I had run into Michael on Thursday evening at Wegman’s and promptly invited him to dinner on Saturday night. I suppose there are those who might do that in Manhattan but somehow it all seems so easy and effortless when you are at the Shore.

 We had a delightful time eating and drinking for an hour or so. I served an assortment of olives, cheddar and Gouda cheeses with crackers, veggies and chips to dip into hummus and an artichoke spinach dip and some very addictive freeze-dried snap peas. I felt guilty about asking Seth and Angela to come for drinks but not dinner so I also heated up some quiche and served that too!

 We yakked and drank white Sangria, beer, wine and of course you know who had a martini. And, Angela brought us a big round loaf of beautiful bread and TWO boxes of delicious baked treats from her bakery.

 After they left, Michael, Peter and I moved to the backyard to eat under the stars and by candlelight. We had marinated chicken breasts, coleslaw, fresh Jersey corn and I made a Caprese salad with Jersey tomatoes, mozzarella and basil from my yard. We talked long into the night – it was warm and the citronella candles kept the mosquitos at bay, and the dessert treats and lots of wine fueled our conversation for the longest time till Michael said he really had to go because he was going to do a Boot Camp class in the morning! Did I mention that this group was from three distinctly different generations? Peter and I knew that while Angela was up early baking and Michael was doing push-ups we would be in bed watching Sunday Morning!

 

New York Telephone Co.

New York Telephone Co.

How many of my readers know who I’m referring to?  There was a time way back when the term Ma Bell was known to us all (well those of us of a certain age)   anyway.  The following  explanation comes from Wikipedia:

“The colloquial term Ma Bell (as in “Mother Bell”) was often used by the general public in the United States to refer to any aspect of this conglomerate, as it held a near complete monopoly over all telephone service in most areas of the country, and is still used by many to refer to any telephone company. Ma Bell is also used to refer to the various female voices behind recordings for the Bell System: “

But what you say does that have to do with the photo in this blog?  What you are looking at is a mechanical pencil with a silver ball on top.  This one is a vintage premium from the New York Telephone Co., which was part of the Bell Telephone system.  I found some more information on the web site, Tele Truth. Below is an except:

from “The Unathorized Bio of the Baby Bells & Info-Scandal” updated December 2001)

“For over 100 years, Ma Bell, sometimes called the “Bell System” sometimes called “AT&T”, controlled almost all telecommunications in the US. Once the largest company in the world with over one million employees, the company consisted of 22 local Bell companies, (including New York Telephone and Ohio Bell), AT&T Long Lines, (the long distance division) as well as Western Electric, (the subsidiary that manufactured telephone equipment) and Bell Labs, one of the premier research organizations.

Then in 1984, because of the monopoly control the company had over phone service, the company was broken-up and the local Bell phone companies were divvied up among seven, artificially created, very large companies called “Regional Bell Operating Companies” (RBOCs, pronounced “R-BOKS”) or sometimes the “Regional Bell Holding Companies” (RHC) and sometimes “The Baby Bells”.

Please note: AT&T no longer has any ownership relationship with the Bell companies. However, in our 1993 consumer survey, we found that about 1/4 of the population thought that AT&T still owned the Bell companies. Meanwhile 5% still call the companies “Ma Bell”, or the “Bell Company”.

Each company controls specific geographic regions of the US. For example, Ameritech controlled a five-state region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

This diagram gives the original Baby Bells, the phone company(s) it controlled, and the state(s).

Today, because of numerous mergers, there are only 4 Bells:
  • BellSouthSBC Communications, which owns Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, Ameritech, SNET
  • Verizon, which owns Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, and GTE
  • Qwest, which now owns US West

However, there is mass confusion on the part of the customers, not only because of these mergers, but also because of the various name changes.”

Now that you have the deep background on how Bell telephone which once monopolized the communications network was dismantled by the government.  If they had foreseen the future with so many household NOT using hard line phone service, perhaps Ma Bell would have self-destructed anyway.

But here’s the real purpose of Throwback Thursday – who remembers rotary phones?  The ball tip of the pencil was meant to save your manicure as you dialed a number.  Cute huh?

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