Family Food Life


When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about pancakes. This surprised me. I like pancakes, but I’m not sure why they’d be on my mind right now. I rarely eat them or even consider them now that my sons are grown.

Nevertheless, the more I thought about them, the more I wanted them. So, I decided to make pancakes for breakfast.

Before I could get started, however, my husband announced that he was making pancakes for breakfast. He’s also not much of a pancake eater, and I hadn’t yet mentioned my plans to him. So, his decision seemed especially random, especially remarkable.

We’ve been married a long time and agree on a great many things. We also disagree on a regular basis. I love chocolate; he can take it or leave it. His favorite color is sunset orange; mine is emerald green. We’ve had our fair share of “lively” discussions about world events, house decor, grocery shopping lists, and driving styles.

In the end, however, we always come together. As we will this morning, sharing our unexpected (and delicious) pancake connection.

Family Food


My great-grandparents (on my mother’s side) immigrated to the United States from Norway, setting up a family farm in Minnesota where my Nanny grew up. I never met them, but when I was a young child, we spent one Thanksgiving with her brother and his family. That was when I was introduced to Lefse.

Lefse is a simple flatbread made from Russet potato dough. It’s traditionally served with butter and sometimes cinnamon sugar or fruit jam. While the bread itself is basic, the process of making it requires patience, skill, and a good amount of counter space.

Unfortunately, by the time I was old enough to learn the Lefse process, Nanny was no longer up to teaching it. Consequently, it’s not something I’ve ever attempted on my own, and the deliciousness has been only a memory.

Then yesterday, my sister and I visited a little shop filled with all things Norwegian. In the cooler, there were packages of Lefse, freshly-made, ready to take home and eat. I put a package in my basket and thought of my Nanny. I thought of how she’d have enjoyed this little place, the stories that might have been prompted by the items in the shop, the window into her life that we might have had if she was there with us.

This morning, I’m enjoying a bit of Lefse with my cuppa, and I’m thinking about making my own. There was a woman at the store who said that she offers Lefse-making classes, and I want to learn. Nanny won’t be the one showing me the steps, but I have no doubt she will still be part of the experience.

Food Fun


I dreamt of cookies last night.

Some of them were chocolate chip, others were sugar with sprinkles on top. They were being offered to me, on a plate, by somebody. I don’t remember who. As with most dreams, many of the details disappeared as soon as I opened my eyes, leaving me with bits and pieces, fragments of feelings and images.

I do remember that I ate some of the cookies. I also remember saying, “These are delicious.” I don’t actually remember the taste of them, but I rarely meet an un-delicious cookie when I’m awake. So, the odds are good that my dream cookies were, in fact, delicious.

It was a nice dream. Even nicer, when I went to make the coffee this morning, I remembered that we have cookies here, in the kitchen. They’re sitting in a box, on the kitchen counter, waiting for action.

Here’s to making dreams come true.

Food Fun Pets


My dogs, Mollie and Charlie, recognize certain words: outside, walk, breakfast, dinner, squirrel, no, good. They know what those words mean and react appropriately (or, in the case of squirrel, inappropriately, with loud barking and much drama). And recently, they’ve learned a new word: snack.

It started one morning when we all woke up early, and I was not quite ready to put their breakfast out. I offered them each a doggie treat, calling it a snack. Over time, it happened again, on early mornings and sometimes in the evenings, before dinner. Occasionally, they’d get a snack after a walk or before bed. They eventually learned to associate the word snack with their doggie treats.

They’ve also perfected the art of Begface: loving eyes, a slight head tilt, nose occasionally sniffing the air, mouth slightly open in an eager half-smile. Who can resist? Certainly not me.

And so, snacks are a routine now. I’ve started branching out, looking for new snack options, flavors and shapes and textures. It’s sort of like choosing between crackers and potato chips and popcorn, except for dogs.

I do my best to be a responsible pet owner, and I know that I need to keep their snacking under control. Just like humans, it’s easy for dogs to eat too many snacks (there’s a reason a well-known potato chip company built an entire ad campaign around the fact that nobody can eat just one). Still, it’s fun to reward them, to say the word snack and watch their happy reactions. It’s a sweet little ritual we share, an entertaining (for me) and a delicious (for them) moment in the day.

Here’s to snacks, the tasty tidbits of love that I share with my pups.

Food Fun


Today is National Coconut Cream Pie Day. Consequently, I’m now thinking of the TV show, Gilligan’s Island.

I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island back in the Olden Days before VCRs and video tapes and cable TV. The series was no longer filming, but the local TV channels had access to the existing episodes.

Where I lived, Gilligan’s Island was shown every Monday through Friday at 4:00 p.m. I’d get home from school, turn on the television, and join the Captain and Gilligan, Thurston and Lovey, the Movie Star, and the Professor and Mary Ann there on Gilligan’s Isle.

Growing up, my family’s desserts were most often layer cakes and chocolate chip cookies; I don’t recall coconut cream pie ever being served in our house. So, as a child, my knowledge regarding coconut cream pies was based solely on the TV show.

What I noticed was that the pies showed up at various times during the episodes, but they were rarely eaten. Instead, they most often supported one of the zany storylines. While I understood why they were used in that way, I couldn’t help but think that maybe they weren’t as tasty as they looked, and maybe that’s why the castaways were so careless with them. Certainly, if I was stuck on an island and had a truly delicious pie available to me, I’d want to enjoy it, not throw it.

I also wondered how the castaways had been able to make the pies. Sure, there were coconuts on the island, but where did they get the rest of the ingredients? How did they bake the pies? And, why was it always coconut cream? Why not mix it up a bit with some banana cream?

Of course, the most basic question, the one that those of us who watched Gilligan’s Island always got around to asking eventually, was how this group of people could build a neighborhood of huts, replicate many of the creature comforts of home, and figure out how to make dessert – yet never manage to repair the hole in the side of the boat.

But then, I’d remind myself that it was a kid’s TV show, not intended to be a true-life documentary. And I’d get back to enjoying the island adventures.

As an adult, I’ve eaten coconut cream pie. I like it. Each bite reminds me, just a tiny bit, of those fun childhood moments.

Happy National Coconut Cream Pie Day. Here’s to delicious desserts and fond memories of lighthearted entertainment.

Family Food


The National Day Today calendar tells me that it’s National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was my father’s favorite. He’d always request it on his birthday, and we’d cheerfully oblige.

I’m not sure why he liked it so much; his food preferences tended toward plain vanilla (literally – that was his favorite flavor of ice cream). He was also reluctant to step outside of familiar traditions, so you’d think that he’d favor something more classic, such as a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. But every year, he wanted Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and that’s what he’d get.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake can be a bit tricky to make. The recipe isn’t complicated, but the final step, the part where you flip the pan over to release the baked cake topped with the gooey melted butter-sugar-pineapple mixture, doesn’t always go as planned. My dad didn’t care too much about what his cake looked like, however. If some of the “good stuff” got left in the warm pan, he’d happily scoop it out with a spoon, smiling as he enjoyed each tasty, candied bite.

Here’s to Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, birthday traditions, and sweet memories of celebrating with the people we love.

Food Fun


In general, I eat things that are good for me. Vegetables, salad, chicken, etc. I’m not a health nut, but I recognize the difference that healthy food makes in my ability to think, and sleep, and move.

I have a major sweet tooth, however. If I knew that a comet was on a collision course with Earth and would wipe out life as we know it, I’d spend my last days in a sugary frenzy of fudge and frosting.

In order to maintain a balance between my love of sweet treats and my health, I limit my consumption of candy, cookies, cake, etc. to weekends and holidays. I look forward to Sunday night ice cream all week long. And every once in a while, not very often but from time to time, I’ll share my weekend mornings with a Pop-tart.

I’m partial to the Chocolate Fudge and the S’mores versions. I’ll toast those babies up, pour myself a cuppa, and enjoy a glucose and carb-filled wake-up experience.

I suppose I could have a donut or a fluffy chocolate-chip muffin instead. They’re all in the same “candy disguised as breakfast food” category. Sometimes, I do enjoy one of those options.

But, Pop-tarts can stay fresh in their box on the pantry shelf longer than a donut or a muffin can stay fresh in their containers on a kitchen counter. So, unless I’ve made a special trip to the store or am in the mood to do some baking, I’m more likely to have a Pop-tart available if I’m in the mood for morning dessert.

Being a grown-up requires using good judgment when making decisions. The days are full of expectations and rules and considerations; it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of life’s pleasures. An occasional treat is welcome and fun. As Mary Poppins taught us, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Here’s to a little sweetness to start the day.

Food Holidays


Where I live, it’s a New Year’s Day tradition to eat black-eyed peas. Doing so is supposed to bring good luck.

I’m not a fan of black-eyed peas, but I’ll take all the good luck I can get. Breakfast today is a bowl of tradition to go along with my cuppa.

What I’d prefer, however – what I really wish we had instead – is a New Year’s Day good luck tradition that requires me to eat ice cream. Or chocolate. Or maybe some pancakes or pie.

Now, that would be a tradition I’d enthusiastically support.

Food Neato


During the past month, astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been growing a small batch of radishes as part of ongoing research into plant life in space.

The radish crop is fully-grown now and will be placed in cold storage. Once returned to Earth in 2021, the radishes will be evaluated as part of NASA’s work to understand the best options for space crops.

I’m all for these kinds of experiments. Although the likelihood that I’ll ever fly in space is zero, it’s still exciting to think that, one day, astronauts might take trips to other planets and that average folks will live and work in space. These experiments affirm the possibility that future generations of space travelers will need food sources beyond the short-term options that currently exist.

However, I’m not a fan of radishes. So, the thought of astronauts dining on a combination of pre-packaged meals and radishes is somewhat disappointing.

Hopefully, NASA’s plans and experiments include other vegetables. Carrots or cucumbers, perhaps, or some tasty tomatoes.

I also hope they’ve locked down a way to make condiments available in zero-g. I doubt that somebody who is living in a vacuum-sealed tin can for long periods of time, eating their veggies without any ranch dip, is going to be a happy camper.



There’s a new trend these days: hot cocoa bombs.

A hot cocoa bomb is hot cocoa mix inside a sphere of chocolate. You put the chocolate sphere into a cuppa, pour hot milk over it, and the outside chocolate melts, releasing the cocoa mix into the milk. Sometimes, the hot cocoa bombs also contain marshmallows, or peppermint bits, or other tasty treats to add to the cocoa experience.

I find them enchanting, and not just because I’m a chocoholic.

“Bomb” is an ugly word, a destructive word associated with pain and terror, normally. So, the association of the word “bomb” with chocolate and warmth, comfort and sweetness, is a nice turn. It doesn’t eradicate the other definition, but it does add a new layer, a happy alternative.

Perhaps one day, these delightful treats will be the first – or even the only – thing we think of when we hear the word “bomb.” We aren’t there yet and likely won’t be for a long time. But it’s World Kindness Day, so it’s a good day to celebrate our potential for changing the narrative, to recognize our ability to shift the focus from destruction to deliciousness, from hatred and horror to sweet, warm hope.