Skipping a Generation

Like most people, I learned the basics of cooking from my mother. Her most useful instructions include how to perfectly dice an onion; how to fry thin-sliced potatoes; and how to use a pressure-cooker without fear of blowing up the kitchen. She worked my entire childhood and so had to make dinner quickly when she got home. And God forbid if there weren’t both meat AND potatoes on the table. My stepdad was literally a meat-n-potatoes man. While we had a garden that produced a bounty I only now–as an adult who loves to eat my veggies—can truly appreciate, we never had a single meal that didn’t include beef, pork, chicken or sometimes fish (salmon, canned — in Oregon, land of salmon. But that’s a blog post for another day.) And that pressure cooker could blast out a slab of corned beef or a small roast inside an hour.

The funny thing is, as much as I cook and the fact that I started making the family dinners by late middle school (even manning the pressure cooker!), I realize I never now make anything that my mom made. No, that’s not entirely true. I DO make corned beef and cabbage – but I put it in a Dutch oven or slow cooker and savor the aroma all day. But other than that, I don’t make anything I ate growing up. No pork chops and gravy or fried chicken. Or this thing we called “rice junk” – a goulash of meat, mushrooms and celery in a gravy served over rice. It really wasn’t that bad despite the name. But I’ve never made it once.

Most people have recipes handed down from generation to generation. Mine seems to have skipped one as I do make what I call “Grandma’s French fries.” To die for and, just like when I was a kid, they barely hit the bowl before they are scarfed up. And her chicken and homemade egg noodles, which were an all-day endeavor.

My grandparents lived next door to us when I was in elementary school and I would wait for the bus there in the morning after my parents went to work – and again after school until they got home. On a Chicken and Noodles day, Grandma would be mixing up the dough in the early morning. It was essentially flour, eggs, and salt. That’s it. She would then roll it out flat on her tiny, linoleum-topped kitchen counter and let it sit. Sometime later, when I was in school, she would roll the whole thing up into a long cylinder and let it sit some more. About the time I got home from school, she would cut the cylinder about every half-inch or so – and this was the part I loved – she would then unroll each ribbon of noodle and leave them on the counter to dry some more. I usually pinched a few to eat “raw” until she chased me outside to play.  On the stove was a big pot with carrots, celery, onions and, of course, chicken. Once she boned the cooked chicken and put it back on to simmer, it was time to add the noodles. About 5 minutes until they were done. And we never had dinner late. Grandpa got home and dinner was on the table.

I realize it has been too long since I made this. One thing I realized is that it’s not essential – probably not even a good idea—to leave an egg-based dough sitting around unrefrigerated all day like Grandma did. Dunno, but just like mom throwing her arm across our chest during a fast stop in lieu of the car seats we now use, it seems that it’s prudent to play it safe and either refrigerate the dough until you’re ready to cut it up or make it pretty much in tandem with the chicken and veggies.

Good thing fall has arrived because this is a perfect Sunday dinner once the cool air sets in.



1 cup flour

2 eggs

Salt to taste

8 cups water or chicken broth (about 2 of those cartons)

1 large onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 whole chicken (or the equivalent in thighs, legs or breasts)

1 tsp.  each dried thyme, oregano and parsley

To make noodles:  Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and stir until the dough is stiff and a little sticky. A fork works well – and it’s a good upper body workout!  When you’ve got a solid ball of dough, split it in two and set it aside, or refrigerate. Put a good coating of flour on your workspace and keep it handy. Roll each half out to the thickness you want, as close to a large rectangle shape as you can. Don’t go nuts but it’s easier to roll and cut later if you do this. Sprinkle the dough with flour as you go to keep it from sticking. These noodles really grow in the pot, so thinner is usually better.  Once you’ve rolled it out, start from one of the long ends and begin to roll it up into a cylinder. Once that’s done, take a sharp knife and cut into half-inch rounds (think refrigerated cookie dough – same process). Then unroll each one and let them rest and dry about 30 minutes.

To make chicken: Put water or broth in a large stock pot. Add onion, celery and carrots and bring to boil. Add chicken pieces and herbs and let simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until chicken is starting to fall off the bone. Turn heat down to low, use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken pieces to a strainer in the sink. Let sit until chicken is cool enough to handle. Remove from bone and cut into bite-sized pieces and return to pot. Return pot to low boil, add noodles and cook 4-5 minutes or until at desired doneness.


My Personal Peace Trail

I began regularly walking the bike/walking trail that cuts through my town. It’s on the railbed of the Old Put Line (short for Putnam as the train used to go from NYC to Putnam County, just north of us). The trail will take you all the way to the Bronx if you go south.

Over the course of the last 6 months I’ve really fallen in rhythm with the marsh I pass, which is my favorite place on the trail. I got to know when the muskrats would be toodling through the water, building their nests and sometimes just frolicking with each other. Scooted a young snapping turtle out of the trail and back to the water so the spandex-clad Lance Armstrong wanna-bes who fly at 100 mph wouldn’t nail him coming around the corner. Watched a whole family of ducklings grow from babies to young adults before they flew off who knows where. There are blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, the ubiquitous Canada geese, of course. But I’ve also seen some birds that are really on the outer rim of their migration range: a green heron (actually think there’s a nesting pair now) and a glossy ibis.

Then there are the days I can grab a snack on my walk. First, in early July, are the wild black raspberries. I started bringing a little tub with me to collect them and bring them home to have with yogurt. Later in July and early August, the red raspberries are all over. Then the blackberries. It amazes me how many people bike or jog right past these delicacies—especially with raspberries topping $5 for a half pint in my grocery store. Finally, the real surprise was the day a few weeks ago we found a vine of concord grapes. I would guess they grew from a discarded bunch or some seeds that someone spit out. Whatever their origin, that handful was real treat.

Now, with fall coming on, all the leaves are starting to turn at their own pace, making a lovely and ever-changing mosaic. The photo here I took just the other day. Not sure what the plant is, but I loved the yellow berries, which I hadn’t seen before

.yellow berries

This trail is a mere 2 minutes from my house—and I can walk for 15 minutes or an hour. I used to bike it but I realize now how much I missed going at that speed (but believe me, no wildlife was in danger at the speed I traveled!). Now I prefer the walk, as every day I notice something I didn’t the day before.

I hesitate to call what follows a recipe, since it’s really just tossing a few things together. But once after I came back from the trail with a little tub of wild raspberries, I made the following and it remains one of the best breakfasts I ever had. I know it’s very good with purchased fruit as well, but if you ever get the chance to forage for your breakfast, don’t pass it up!


1 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt

1/3 cup raspberries

1/3 cup blueberries

1 sliced peach, sliced

1 tablespoon honey

Wash and dry the berries, slice the peach and stir into the yogurt. Drizzle with the honey. Simple, but heavenly.

Make Mine a Mach 3

I called Charles from the CVS parking lot and asked if he needed anything. He asked if I could pick up replacement blades for this fancy new razor he got in the mail as a freebie—it has like five blades, a turbo-turning head and a built-in speaker system. He couldn’t remember the brand name but I said I’d take a look.

So when did a visit to the men’s shaving aisle become the equivalent of car shopping? No, correction. Muscle car shopping.  My choices included:

The Fusion

The Fusion Power

The Fusion ProRide (for those days when you want to feel like a NASCAR driver?)

Then there was the Mach 3…and, get this, the Mach 3 Sensitive? (I think it comes with a copy of “An Affair to Remember” a box of tissues.)

By this time I had forgotten about my initial task because I was so overwhelmed by the choices: the Hydro 3, Hydro 5, the Magnum 3 and, my favorite: The Blade 5. Images of swashbuckling men in need of a close shave filled my mind…

Nah, not really. I just shook my head at the ridiculous lengths marketers will go to to project this image, this personality on…a razor? This was nearly as bad as the “man candles” in a school fundraising catalog I just got. Bacon-scented candles? And get this, there’s one called “Man Town” and another called “First-Down.”  I am not joking!  So  I gave up. Charles is going to have to do his own car shopping!

So with these thoughts in mind, the recipe I’m sharing today includes shaved parmesan reggiano. You can finally use that little elongated slicer in the middle of your cheese grater! Or, if all else fails, go at it with a Mach 3!



1 bunch (4 cups) arugula, washed

1 small granny smith apple, washed and thinly sliced into wedges

Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons) – use a real lemon; the bottled stuff doesn’t compare

¼ cup olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 teaspoon vinegar (cider, red wine, or rice vinegar)

Shaved parmesan cheese (you can find a wedge at a good grocery deli. Do NOT even think about the green can!)


To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, shallot and vinegar. Toss with the arugula and apples in a large bowl, then arrange the arugula and apples on 4 plates – or a large platter if you’re setting out a buffet. Using the long slot on your cheese grater or a vegetable peeler, shave thin peels of cheese off the wedge and onto the salad.

Giving Myself a Blog for My Birthday

Well, why not? I keep saying I don’t need any more stuff–that these days I appreciate just experiencing things more. A number of people have encouraged me to start a blog and I’ve resisted. But if you take a minute to read my About page, you’ll see why I decided to try my hand.

And today is not just any birthday, but one of those milestones: 50. I happened to enter a sweepstakes on Facebook today and there was a drop-down menu for my age group–I had to click 50+.  Ugh! For that alone I should win the damned trip!

But I read the other day that 50 is our new “favorite” age, and the article sported flattering pix of Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Jodie Foster…so I guess I’m in good company! This feels especially true when I look at the likes of Miley Cyrus, the Kardashian Krew, and so many others who I can’t even name. They seem so bereft of anything resembling depth and substance that I am quite happy to be associated with my 50+ crowd.

At any age, there’s always something we haven’t done yet that we thought we would…some achievement that still eludes us….a lot of shoulda-couldas….but there are also a lot of things to drop on the plus side. Kids nearly grown who I actually love hanging out with and learning from; many, many friends from so many walks of life that could only come from 50+ years of taking different paths; and finally settlling into a solid, happy relationship not only with my boyfriend but with myself as well. That, perhaps, is one of the best things I can think of as I take stock at this juncture.

Finally, as promised in the title of my blog (and in the About section), here’s this post’s recipe. It’s what I made today for my birthday lunch, which I shared with a dear friend.


2 Tbl olive oil

4 slice turkey bacon, chopped

1 small onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 1/2 cups 1% milk

1 large sweet potato, diced

5 ears corn, kernels cut off and cobs reserved

2 tsp tarragon

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tsp salt

In a large pot, saute the bacon, onion and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, sweet potatoes and the COBS. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are done. Remove the cobs. Add the corn kernels, tarragon, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes or until corn is cooked. With a large slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of the solids and process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pot and stir into the chowder. Serve hot.