One of the things I could always rely on to make Mom relax into a smile when she was fighting her last pitched battle against pneumonia was the mention of any of her favorite foods. She often thought she was hungry — and I bet she often was hungry— because the dilapidated rehab she found herself in refused to serve her any food that was not ground to an unrecognizable mush. Everything the kitchen brought to her looked like dog food. Worse than dog food, actually, because it was called something tasty, which raised expectations that there might be something delicious or even just edible under the tarnished silver dome. I know mom died of pneumonia, finally, but I also think that that rehab was starving her to death. So I would tell her that when she got home her caregiver and I would make her favorite chicken soup, or whitefish salad, or hotdogs and beans. I brought her my homemade egg salad, which she loved, but I could feed her no more than a few forks before she declared herself full. Every day, since she died in December, I make it a point to try to honor her memory in some way. And today, because one of her favorite meals was corned beef and cabbage, I’m celebrating her with that classic Irish dinner. I wish I were sharing it with her. But with every bite I’ll be remembering her delight.
(The recipe is from allrecipes.com )
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Let them eat cake.
In New Orleans, the king cake has evolved into a braided brioche bread ring that is topped with sugar, usually with a cinnamon-roll like flavor. The sugar alternates in the three colors of Mardi Gras: purple to represent justice, green to represent faith, and gold to represent power. Tucked inside the bread is a favor — commonly called the “baby” as that is its most common form. Traditionally, king cake is first served each year on Twelfth Night, January 6, and is served throughout the Mardi Gras season until Mardi Gras day.
Every year at Thanksgiving, my godmother in New York City has to send a jar of ginger preserved in syrup cross-country to me in Seattle. Every year she complains that the postage for mailing the heavy glass jar costs more than the ginger itself, but it’s an unspoken bargain between us. The preserved ginger is a hard-to-find ingredient that’s necessary for making the world’s best cranberry preserve, which was originally her mother’s recipe. It’s okay; another part of our unspoken bargain is that a godmother cannot refuse a goddaughter any request. (She got off easy since she didn’t have to pay for my orthodontia or college education.) And every year we preserve another tradition: laughing about the Thanksgiving dinner when one of her friends forgot to wear pants. (Really: just a big shirt over pantyhose. Not a good look.) The memories are as sweet as the candied ginger. The Recipe... Cranberry-Ginger Conserve 1 c. white wine 1 c. sugar 12 oz cranberries, rinsed grated rind of 1 large lemon 1/2 c. golden raisins 1/2 c. ginger preserved in syrup, finely chopped, plus 2 - 3 T. of the syrup In a stainless steel or enamel saucepan, mix the wine and sugar with 1/2 c. water. Bring to a boil. Add the cranberries, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, until the berries pop. Add lemon rind, raisins, and ginger with syrup. Simmer 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate overnight. Makes about 6 cups.