Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Holiday without Dad
Easter is coming and another holiday without Dave.  He was home for ten days in February which included my birthday and he will be home next month for another ten for Spring Break and his father's 94th birthday. After that we will have a long dry spell until his August vacation.
In June it will be a year since the hurried decision for him to go from our home in Gig Harbor to Prescott, AZ in order to go back to work for Lockheed Martin.  Through frugalness during these past nine months we’ve been able to pay off the home equity loan we had so that our house by the sea is paid for—again. 
Modern technology has kept us in touch.  I marvel at the Greatest Generation and wonder at how relationships stayed in tact with only sketchy mail from far flung soldiers during WWII over the course of four years.  Although cell phone reception is dodgy where Dave is living he is able to call and text me from work and because he has Internet access where he lives with a friend he can email me before we both go to sleep at night.  He can’t mow the lawn through technology, but at least we can share our news of the day.
So over the weekend I baked cookies for Dave, boxed them up in a shoebox and sent them off.  He received them today, along with a packet of newspapers and magazines that keep him connected to Gig Harbor and Ilwaco.  Sunday morning I’ll take pictures of my daughter Amy and my Grandson Gabriel with their Easter baskets and pass around the phone at dinner at my mother’s.  Spring Break is just around the corner, after all.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Stab to the Heart

Maybe it’s the full moon last night or I am just getting to be a cranky old woman, but my suspicion is otherwise. Incidents have been popping up in my life involving behavior on the part of the younger generation that point to a lack of respect for their elders. If this sounds familiar you may have read my previous blog about my experience with an insensitive deli counter worker. Unfortunately my day of frustration did not end when I posted that blog.

Just before I turned off the computer and the light to go to sleep Monday night I received an email from a dear friend telling me of a hurt done to a mutual friend who lives in Oregon. What I read broke my heart and has been a stone in my chest ever since. I read that our mutual friend had had a trip to the coast planned with her daughter and granddaughter during the granddaughter’s Spring Break. Our friend had prepared a picnic lunch and was looking forward to getting out of the city and her 300 sq ft apartment and go to the beach with her family. What shocked and appalled me is that before leaving her daughter called to un-invite her for the trip. It seemed that the granddaughter did not want her grandmother to come. While that shocked me, what appalled me was that the daughter was letting a seven-year-old call the shots and devastate our friend.

In talking to both of my friends I have learned that the mother of the seven-year-old subscribes to the philosophy that her daughter makes all the decisions. She thinks it’s great. If children were capable of making cogent decisions we would let them vote and do any number of things that endanger themselves and the rest of us. I’m not sure if the mother understands what parenting is about. At age seven it good to give children options to choose from, but make them appropriate options. In this case she should have been told, “No, we’ve already made plans with grandmother and we are not going to be rude and tell her to stay home, but in a couple of days just the two of us can go to the zoo together alone.”

What this youngish mother doesn’t realize is that she has given her daughter a lesson in how adults are treated. Someday she will be a grandmother, alone and craving time with her grandchildren and be left out of excursions and occasions because that’s okay. In short, as my mother would say, the chickens will come home to roost. As an old woman with some experience I can attest to the fact that your action toward others generates the same action toward you, generally at a magnitude of three. The Golden Rule on steroids, so to speak. Whether you believe that philosophy or not it is a fact that you teach people how to treat you and the granddaughter not only learned how to treat her grandmother, but how to treat her mother as well.

Also on Monday I read a blog by my friend Sydney Stevens recounting her experience with kids gone wild in her village of Oysterville. A mother allowed three children to run around the Oysterville Church grounds pulling up daffodils. When Sydney confronted the mother…Well, I’ll let you read what happened h

I have a nice story that give me hope for the generation raising children right now. Not all of them subscribe to the theory of letting the kids call the shots and teaching them to have respect for family connections. The same day that I received the shocking email from my friend I had come home in the afternoon to my grandson talking on the phone to his great-grandfather. I learned that he had also called my mother that day. This was instigated by my daughter-in-law who cares about family. This thrilled two elderly people and strengthened the connection between the generations. We could make a case for the fact that my daughter-in-law was not raised here. She was raised in Brazil and had a much more European upbringing where family matters.

My advice to the mother of the seven-year-old described above would be to cancel the trip to the beach with an explanation to the child that if grandmother isn’t going no one is. Her next step should be to call her mother and beg her forgiveness. Someday her mother will be gone and it will be too late. Someday she will be a grandmother, not wanting to be left out of her grandchildren’s lives.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What's the Matter with Kids Today?
I guess I’ve turned into my own parents when I mutter, “What’s the matter with kids today?”  I work in a high school and have high tolerance for fooling around and can be patient with stupid behavior, but today I was on a broom about a young woman working the deli counter at Fred Meyer in Gig Harbor.
My almost 42 year old daughter Amy has Special Needs.  She marks the days of the week with rituals.  Friday is pizza and Thursday is bagel (she’d eat bagels every day if we’d let her).  Tuesday used to be rent a movie and get a hamburger.  Then the video stores closed one by one.  When Dave retired the first time he started taking her to the $2 movie at our local theater on Mondays and then out to Subway for a sandwich.  Sometimes her sister-in-law and nephew went, too.  When Dave left to work in Arizona Amy didn’t want to go to the movies without him and so Monday devolved into “sandwich day.” 
If I have shopping to do I get her a sandwich from the Fred Meyer deli.  After a day of work it makes my life easier than going to Subway.  Today when I arrived at the counter I waited patiently to be helped.  “May I help you,” asked a young woman from behind the counter.  “Yes,” I said, “Are any of your baguette sandwiches turkey?”  Sometimes it is difficult to tell the deli turkey from the deli ham.  The sign said, turkey, but I would have gone for the ham if the turkey was gone.  It’s frequently gone by 4 PM.  They need to get a clue and make more turkey than ham.  Anyway, the young woman quickly said, “No, we are out of turkey.  Who’s next?”  The woman standing next to me began to laugh and another worker behind the counter said, “No I think she…”  I cut him off.  “You know,” I said, “I would have purchased a ham sandwich, but you’re rude so I guess I’ll go to Subway and get a sandwich there.”  The young woman just stared at me blankly.  She seemed to have no clue why I was angry.
I continued my shopping.  I love Fred Meyer and in all the years the store has been in Gig Harbor I’ve never had a bad experience.  I kept on shopping as Amy needed more drawing paper and some yogurt and I bought some pudding mix for my mother.  Maybe because it was the end of my work day or maybe because I’m getting to be a cranky old lady, but the more I thought about the girl’s behavior (reminding me of the Seinfeld soup Nazi episode only in this case it was “No sandwich for you!”) I reached the conclusion that just telling her that I thought she was rude wasn’t good enough.  If she’d apologized or even looked concerned I might have left it at that but she seemed totally clueless.  I went to the customer service and asked to speak to the manager.  I got the PIC (Person In Charge) and  I related the story to him.  He asked if I wanted him to get me a sandwich when he talked to her.  “No,” I told him.  “She needs to know she lost a sale for the store.  I’m in here all the time and probably should just have the school district send you my paycheck so I’m going to finish my shopping, but whether it’s because she’s young and needs more training or she’s insensitive she needs to know that she did the store a dis-service.” 
“Okay,” he said, “but please accept our apologies.  I see you in here all the time and I am so sorry this happened to you.” I went on my way.  I was headed to the dairy to get Amy some Swiss cheese when here came the PIC with a baguette sandwich all wrapped up. “Here,” he said handing me the sandwich.  “There was a turkey sandwich there after all and I want you to have it with no charge.  The girl has been counseled by her supervisor and by me.  Really, we’re sorry and want you to have the sandwich.”  I had no wish to seem ungrateful and refuse to take the sandwich and thought I’d just go ahead and pay for it when I got to the cashier—I was grateful to not have to make another stop to get Amy her Monday treat— but when I got up front I’d changed my mind and told the cashier, “Roo told me it’s on the house.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ashe Anar or Pomegranate Soup
From Irish to Persian in just a few days! Today is the first day of Now Ruz, the Persian New Year’s which is older than and has strikingly similar aspects to Easter.  It seemed appropriate to have Persian food for dinner tonight and although this is not a traditional Now Ruz food it is a favorite of mine and nice to come home to on this blustery first day of Spring.  I like to use the crockpot because when I walk into the house after work the spices fill me with anticipation.  I have made some modifications to the recipe, specifically the meatballs.  While they are yummy, they are a lot of work so I simply brown the hamburger and throw the onion, spices and vegetables directly into the soup and go to work.  Additionally, I have used the vegan crumbles in place of the hamburger when we’ve had vegetarian guests and it does not diminish the flavor.  No one knows.
This recipe is from In a Persian Kitchen by Maideh Mazda.  I’ve had it since the late ‘70s and many pages are covered in spills and spots.  I’ve never made anything in it that we didn’t like.

Ashe Anar

Pomegranate Soup

½ lb. ground beef

1 small grated onion (If you don’t know the trick of quartering your onion and running it through your blender with water and draining it, you’re crying too much.)  The water cuts the onion fumes and the cleanup is easier than a food processor.  I’m all for easy. J

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. salt

8 C. water

2 tsp. salt (I eliminate this in mine)

½ C basmati rice

1 C. chopped spinach (I like about twice that)

1 C. chopped parsley (I used cilantro because I had it)

½ C. green onions

1 ½ C. pomegranate seeds or 1 C. pomegranate juice

`1/3 C. sugar

1T. lime juice (optional and I used lemon)

Spicing of soup

1 T. dried mint

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp.  pepper

Put the meat in a bowl.  Add grated onions and seasoning and mix well.  Make meat balls the size of walnuts.  Put water in a 3 qt pot.  Add salt and rice and let cook for 15 minutes.  Add vegetables and let cook for another 15 minutes.  Cut fresh pomegranate and take out the seeds to make about 1 ½ C.  Add meat balls, pomegranate seeds and sugar into soup and let cooks for another 20 minutes on a low fire or until the meat is done.
 These are the directions from the book.  Mine are: brown the hamburger and throw everything in the crockpot.  For spicing use the spicing for meat balls and the addition of mint.  I use pomegranate juice because it’s easy and I’m all about easy especially at 6 AM.

Monday, March 11, 2013

An Alernative to Corned Beef and Cabbage
Our family is not fond of corned beef, but we are fond of St. Patrick’s Day.  Actually, corned beef only joined the celebration of St. Patrick when the Irish reached the New World and couldn’t find the right bacon to have with their cabbage.  From the Jewish immigrants they got corned beef.  Personally I am not fond of cooked cabbage, but years ago I stumbled onto an Irish recipe that suited us all fine in the form of scallop mushroom pie.  It has become a family favorite.  I know that corned beef would be much more cost effective compared to scallops, but I only make it once or twice a year.

This originally came from A Taste of Ireland, but over the years I’ve tweaked it here and there and it has become a family recipe.  This year I will be making it on the Ides of March, my middle son’s birthday and the day his wife and child return from an extended stay in Brazil.  It will be comfort food for weary travelers.

Scallop and Mushroom Pie—I double this recipe for our family

8 scallops (if you use bay scallops, increase the amount)  

1 C. milk

4 T. sweet sherry

1 heaped T. butter

1 lb (3 C) approx. cold mashed potatoes

¼ lb mushrooms (I love mushrooms and use a whole box of sliced)

1 heaped T. flour

1 T. chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

Cut sea scallops in half.  This is not necessary for the smaller bay scallops.  Simmer in milk with salt and pepper to taste for 15 minutes.  Strain, but reserve the milk.  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mix well, then gradually stir in the warmed milk, seeing that it is free from lumps.  Add the mushrooms cut into pieces, the sherry and the scallops.  Put into an oven-proof dish and cover the top with mashed potatoes.  Dot with butter and bake in a moderate oven at 350 degrees until the top is gently browned, about 20-30 minutes.  Garnish with parsley.  Serves 4.

Serve with some soda bread.  For years my husband has begged me to put food coloring into the potatoes, but I’m having none of that!