Categories
Food Fun

Cookies

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.

Categories
Food Fun Pets

Snacks

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.

Categories
Food Fun

Pie

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.

Categories
Family Food

Cake

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.

Categories
Food Fun

Pop-tart

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.

Categories
Food Holidays

Luck

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.

Categories
Food Neato

Radishes

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.

Categories
Food

Bombs

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.

Categories
Food Nature

Veggies

We added peas and brussel sprouts to our garden yesterday, so I chose my Garden Cheerleader cuppa today.

If our new garden babies are doing well by Thanksgiving, I plan to include peas and brussel sprouts in our holiday menu. We may not end up with a bumper crop; it’s more likely we’ll get just a few from each plant. Still, it may be enough for all at the table to enjoy a bite or two. I expect they’ll be the tastiest of all the veggies, coming from our own backyard, served to the people we love.

Here’s to homegrown and the joy of sharing the bounty.

Categories
Food Nature

Kale

It’s been a while since I gave a Garden Cheerleader update.

The tomatoes are doing well, not a bumper crop but delivering at least one or two ripe tomatoes every few days. The peppers are also popping with regular frequency, and the oregano and basil do well as long as they are kept watered.

Our one tiny cluster of grapes is shifting from green to purple, which is exciting. I’ve been around gardens before; my grandmother grew tomatoes and other vegetables every year, and so did I when I was a child, once or twice. But this is my first experience with growing grapes. I’m so emotionally invested in this first batch that I may not be able to eat them once they’re ripe.

What’s truly thriving in our little backyard garden is kale. It doesn’t seem to require a lot of watering. The occasional rain shower and some in-between offerings from the backyard hose are apparently sufficient. Sometimes, I see evidence of bugs on the plants, but for the most part, they seem to be bug-free, growing steadily in their dark green, heavy-leafed way.

I’m not a fan of kale; my experiences eating raw kale were not enjoyable. I chewed, and chewed, and chewed, and the pieces didn’t seem to get smaller, and the flavor was acrid and unpleasant. In my opinion, kale has one purpose: to be cooked into soups and stews, a hearty background vegetable that gives a touch of texture and vitamins. Cooked into something, the leaves become soft, and the flavor becomes secondary.

Like a good Garden Cheerleader, I’m proud of the kale success we’re seeing, even if I don’t put kale at the top of my vegetable favorites. I know it’s good for me; I’m grateful to have it.

Where’s the soup kettle? Let’s make some dinner.