The Second Hand Hanukkah Party

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I am having a Second Hand Hanukkah Party this year. Instead of bringing my vintage pre antique treasures to the Good Will, I have begun to put them on the dining room table and will allow guests to choose their vintage Hanukkah gifts. The youngest will go first and so on, round and round until the table is empty. I have decided to tell them that we put a hundred dollar bill in one of the gifts to add extra excitement to the gift giving.

So many people are downsizing and those two words stick in my craw. In downsizing, people cram their blessings from the past into cartons and bags and shed tears as they drop them off and get their coveted tax exemption receipt.

Now you may want to know how hard it is to give your treasures away. It might have had some difficulties years ago, but not today. They opened a Good Will down the street from us and we drop in on occasion. There are my things, or shall I say things like mine. Anytime I want a dish for graceful grapes, or a dish for dainty olives, or a platter for large meat dishes, or perhaps a scalloped dish for creamy veggies, or a dish for cheese and crackers, all I have to do is go down the street to the charity shop and for $ 2.99 I can buy something I may need. If I need a very dressy jacket, a sporty cashmere sweater, or a never worn crispy blouse, I can go and get one for a few dollars. I don’t need to worry yet, because my stuff still has stuff.

I did shop in the various stores where in the past I have purchased great gifts, but my mind turned to the drawers full of my treasures, soon to belong to others via the Second Hand Hanukkah gift share. I feel happy.

 

Experience Guinea Fowl for dinner, we did.

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It depends on where in this world you live how easily or difficult it is to find Guinea Fowl to cook for your dinner. In our case finding it in Los Angeles took some research, but here he/she is and the last one in the case at that.

After bringing our bounty home we washed our bird, then dressed the bottom of the pan with onions, apples and a little apple juice, topped with a small amount of cinnamon and sugar on the apple onion base. Added to the guinea fowl’s skin 1/3 cup of melted butter or olive oil, add seasoned salt. Never mind, leave the neck head and beak, because that is all part of the allure.  Bake for 1½ hour, but I added time on to our baking because of insecurity.

Everything during the baking of your first Guinea Fowl produces anxiety followed by lots of good smells. You probe your Guniea every once in awhile, you baste it with cooked juices, and you to fuss with several side dishes. The choice on side dishes is yours, certainly there are many and varied ideas.

When your bird looks very ready, out you pull the perfectly browned body, yummy apple onion bottom bake and neck head and crown. This glorious sight is all set aside to rest while you finish your early celebratory glass of wine. Soon it becomes time to carve your Guinea Fowl.

The carving takes a steady hand and well worked out muscles. Guinea takes finesse as well as brawn. Am I trying to say it is a bit tough? Only the carving. The meat is tasty and secure. The flavor is very good, acrtually borders on delicious and the apple onion base is spectacularly lovely, making it all worthwhile in my humble opinion. Save the memorable furcula.

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Would we hunt and find Guinea Fowl again. Probably if you asked us to cook it for you we would, but not for an everyday meal. There is a place to purchase Guinea Fowl called The Pieking Poultry in chinatown on S. Broadway Street, Los Angeles California. Google it. Call ahead.

 

 

 

This is the Humdinger Casserole Recipe as Reqested.

Cooked ground turkey well seasoned

Browned onions

10 Frieda’s French style Crepes (Ready to use.) They are in most Super Markets. If you make your own, splendid!!

Two packages frozen chopped spinach drained.

Hands full of Feta cheese and do be liberal

Shaved Parmesan cheese and again be liberal.

Olive oil

Cream, preferably whipping

Salt and season to your preferences

Put olive oil at the bottom and sides of pan. As you form a lasagna type of layering using Freida’s crepes and the filling, remember a very important generous sprinkling of cream on top of crepes before you place filling and you liberally sprinkle the Parmesan cheese. The crepes are stiff and the cream plumps them up.

Feel free to add your special touch. Special touches are what will personalize and create YOUR special version of the Humdinger Casserole.

Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees and remember if you want a little more of a baked look you can leave the Humdinger to bake an extra 10 minutes.

A Humdinger Casserole can be made in as many different variations as you can think up. Be creative and create one new Humdinger after another.

THE POTLUCK DINNER AND THE HUMDINGER CASSEROLE

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We were invited to a potluck dinner party in a lovely home overlooking the sea. All of the participants were asked to bring something to grace the dinner table. I wondered for days what to bring. I thought about going to the chic market down the road with an assortment of ready-made items of elegance that looked perfect for a Pot Luck Dinner Party at the home with the sea view. The days rolled along, and I did nothing to decide.  The day of the party, I knew there was the market food option, but I also knew I had all of the ingredients to make one of my Humdinger Casseroles, so I did.

WE arrived at the lovely home, casserole in hand. We were ushered into the home and told to put the offering on the table. So we did. We joined the festivities and enjoyed the conversations. As you may remember, I am training myself to look behind me as well as in front to gain access to more information about the surroundings, therefore, hopefully gain twice the knowledge.

There was a mirror behind me and I turned to face it fully. I gasped at the table image presented and all of the most elegant offerings. I gasped again when I spotted my dingy looking, well-baked casserole among the stately offerings on the potluck table. My face turned red and I wanted to hide. Oh frickin’ “mirror, mirror on the wall”, how do I get out of this one? I would not be able to eat anything. My life was over for the moment.

The eating began with standing in line for the offerings.  Time went by; I mustered all of my nerve and went up to the table late in the eating game. Nothing looked so elegant anymore after the birds had picked through it. My Humdinger Casserole was gone. No the dish was not gone, all of the food in it was gone and everyone was raving about the Humdinger, wanting the recipe, wanting to know how long to cook it to get the well-baked look. Oh happy me.  So you see, sometimes in your difference you do shine.

The blessing here is, do not fear your difference and your independence; embrace it for it may be the next Humdinger Casserole!

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A VISIT WITH THE WHIRLING DERVISHES #5

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First I would like to share Miss Parrot Flower’s message on how to savor the moment: “It is related to gratitude, relishing the good, the simple, the beautiful, the fear, the storm, the vastness, the magnitude, the wonder, the now and giving thanks for everything.”

Now about the Whirling Dervishes: This is how I remember the explanation before we went to the performance: It takes at least a thousand and one days for a dervish to learn how to whirl. Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi is credited with developing the philosophy of the twirling to gain piety and perfection. The performance begins with the prophet representing love and then followed by the sound of ancient instruments. The next ritual is that each participant bows and greets each in the group. Several other rituals are performed. Then, the black robes covering white dervish costumes are dropped and the twirling begins. We had front row seats and you were wrapped in the cool swirling air of the event. The performance ends with the reciting of the seven advices of Mevlana.

  1. In generosity and helping others be like a river…
  2. In compassion and grace be like sun…
  3. In concealing others’ faults be like night…
  4. In anger and fury be like dead…
  5. In modesty and humility be like the earth…
  6. In tolerance be like the sea…
  7. Either exist as you are or be as you look…

We enjoyed the performance in the evening. Our show lasted 45 minutes, but accomplished dervishes can twirl for hours.

The next day we drove to Konya and were treated to a visit of the Tomb of Mevlana in Konya. The tomb and shrine of Mevlana, the founder of the Mevlevi Order of Whirling Dervishes and is a pilgrimage for people from all over the world.  The tomb has also been converted into a museum, which has items that belonged to Mevlana and other dervishes.

Here is where I saw the full breadth of Faith in physical human actions.  The visitors could not get close enough to the encased items. They touched the glass gently with their hands and faces, desperately trying to get a smell from a slight open space in the glass.

We moved along with the crowd and did as they did. This site is revered by so many and is as crowded everyday as it was when we visited.

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The tomb and shrine of Mevlana.

The tomb and shrine of Mevlana.

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Visitors coming to the shrine.

Visitors coming to the shrine.

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SEATTLE: THE WOW FACTOR Day #1

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When you realize you are going to the home of the first Starbucks you know you are in for a treat. You have read that the first Starbucks resides at the Pikes Place Market, the “soul of Seattle”. We got settled in our digs at the waterfront and headed off to Pikes Market, right? Doesn’t everyone do that first? It seemed that everyone in Seattle was at the market because there was shoulder-to-shoulder traffic in every spot in and around the market. It was electric, inspiring and the soul of Seattle refers to the taste of the market. Everything is the top of the top in quality and taste.

Shoulder-to shoulder traffic

Shoulder-to shoulder traffic

My new favorite potatoes are the Rainbow potatoes. You can have fun with a bag of those.

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Rainier Cherries: The cherries in Seattle were the most delicious I have ever tasted and plentiful. A handful a day keeps you quite regular.

And Not your mother’s beans.

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How about some Elephant Garlic?

How about some Elephant Garlic?

Everyone knows they throw fish across the market stalls in the Pikes Market to get your attention and they do. There is no photo because of the massive crowds surrounding the event. Following are a couple of delicious looking possibilities in the fish market.

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Where Starbucks was born:

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We did not have the desire to go into this Starbucks because of the crowds, but seeing Starbucks birthplace reminded me of my recent experience in a crowded city center establishment; the ultimate tourist experience. I must admit I am not a youngster. I do not have the Starbucks thing down. I know you go to the counter, order, and give them your name, an alias. Never give your real name, so I said my name is Alias.  Starbucks ethics. You don’t want them to yell out your real name and have someone follow you, yelling your name causing you a stir.

I did not see the line, old, nearsighted, unfamiliar with protocol, whatever, I went in the front of the line that later I saw snaked out the door and into the street. I wondered why people raised their eyebrows, but did not understand until I sat down and got the proper perspective. Sitting in shame, I hear them call, “Alias.” Nothing registered, again, “Alias.”  Oh, that’s me. Sheepishly, in my most old lady persona, I approached the counter to retrieve our drinks.

Heck, it all tasted as good as if I would have waited properly in line and given my real name. But, deep inside I am sorry for my Starbucks behavior and you can be assured I will check out the line and place myself properly on all other visits.  I will continue to use my new Starbucks name, “Alias.”

CHIHULY MUSEUM AND GARDENS: http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/?gclid=CJW03tiTirkCFeqDQgodew4ASA

We were privileged to enjoy the Chihuly Exhibition Hall, Glasshouse and Gardens before our revolving lunch at the top of the Space Needle at Sky City Restaurant with an unbelievable 360-degree view.

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Dale Chihuly is a native of Washington and can still be seen supervising the blowing of glass in his studio. His work is distinctive in the field of blown glass. He became world renown and in the interim he had a car accident, which he recovered from and was still able to blow his glass sculptures. Again, he was injured. This time it was in a bodysurfing accident involving his right shoulder leaving him unable to hold the glass blowing pipe. He hired helpers to do the work he outlined and said when he was able to step back from his work,  in the view. there appeared a new dimension

The first time we became familiar with Chihuly’s work was at the Bellagio and the MGM in Las Vegas. We walked into the lobby and saw everyone staring at the ceilings. We did the same.

The Chihuly Museum in Seattle is well worth the visit and includes a special delicious melting feeling, as if you are melting into everything that exists and that you hold meaningful. Now it is your job to pull the melt apart and examine what it means to you, personally.

I have included a few photos that look so yummy you feel like licking and biting.

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The Sky City Restaurant is at the top of the Space Needle and the views show Seattle’s intricacies, vitality, and spirit.

Normally you would pay a fee and be elevated to a perch high above Seattle, but for just a few extra dollars, you can sit in the revolving restaurant, scenes changing every few minutes and dine on gourmet food. We chose the few dollars more and here are some of the views:

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Better Bend Your Butter

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Better Bend Your Butter

I have to make a cake for a 70th birthday party tomorrow.  I was the baker of the cake at the 30th, 40th, the 50th, and the 60th, so I have a tradition to uphold.  I have all the ingredients laid out on the counter.  Usually, I just throw in whatever I want, neglecting to measure anything for fear of making a mess.  This time I have to painstakingly measure out each ingredient.  Each has its time to go into the bowl.  Not a minute before or after.  The main ingredient that needs the most special care is the butter.  You absolutely must have the butter at room temperature when you cream it.  I know that this for a fact.  If it is too cold the cake will be flat and will not crumb properly.  If it is too warm it lumps up and does not allow the cake to bake evenly.  The sides cook too rapidly causing the middle to bulge up into a peak.  If you are going to frost the cake you must expertly slice the bulge off making a smooth surface for frosting and layering.  If the butter is too cold it will break into pieces.  If the butter is exactly at room temperature you can bend it beautifully.  If you can bend your butter, you will have a well-crumbed cake.  Well-crumbed cakes are important.  Aren’t they?  I am telling you about bending your butter because my mother used to walk the floors of our home with an Emily Post’s book open to just the right page for everything we were doing.  She had special cookbooks that told you what to do each step of the way.  She had an oven door that gave the correct temperatures, the correct measurements and all of the things you needed to know when you cook.  I don’t know any of those things today and just put handfuls sometimes, or a palm full here, a palm full there, plus some sprinkles of things into a pot or bowl and it all comes out delicious.  Well usually, but there are those very few occasions when I bomb.  Now, my mother would never have allowed herself the leeway to fail.  Perfection was my mother’s motto.  It must have worked because after all she has the perfect daughter.  Oh sure. But seriously, my mother is the only person who could make chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cakes and anything else she made more than once come out exactly the way it had the first time.  I have her recipe file and I can tell you I have never, ever been able to make the dish, cake, cookie or brownie, made previously come out anything even like that former dish or baked goods. Here is to the perfectionist, bravo. Here is to all of  us who may be on the way, bravo to us, too.

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