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Deb Geisler
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In October of 1988, William C. Geisler, a 54-year-old Korean War naval veteran, manager at Sears, Roebuck and Company, father, grandfather, and husband, succumbed to Lou Gherig's Disease, or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He was my father, of course.

Dad did not live to see my wedding. He never met most of his grandchildren. The Internet didn't really exist when he was alive. There were no cell phones, nor iPods, nor...well, half of the tech in my car. When Dad took his last breath, Ronald Reagan was still the president of the United States, and the Soviet Union still existed.

When Dad found out he had ALS, the first thing he told us kids was, "It is almost never hereditary." He wanted us to know we didn't share his death sentence. My dad wasn't always the best person - lord knows he had his failings - but he didn't want us to face the sort of end he knew he would have. And he did have it. ALS is an ugly, brutal, horrifying end. It leaves the mind alive as it strips the body of strength, volition, and dignity.

How would my Dad feel about the ALS ice bucket challenge?

He'd laugh his ass off. He would crow that so many famous people are involved with this silliness so that they can draw attention to a killer people have ignored for too long. If he were still alive, he'd be right there with the ice brigade.

So, to those who say "it's all political," tough toenails. I mean, really, I do not care a whit what you say. If you haven't lost someone you love to ALS, your opinion about this absolutely does not matter to me.

Does every person "challenged" have to sit still and have ice water dumped on them? No. Am I absolutely delighted with the publicity this is all giving to ALS research and the amount of money being raised by the ALS Association? You bet your sweet bippy I am.

And bravo to all of the challengers, including former US President George W. Bush...and the lovely Laura Bush, of course.

According to the ALS Association, the ice bucket challenge has raised $31.5 million as of today. Excellent work.

Typical recipes for au gratin potato dishes involve heavy cream. I don't think this recipe (which uses bacon fat for the roux) is *less* caloric, but it is an interesting take on the average recipe. We like it very the recipe first from the cookbook Favorite Brand Name Cookbook. This was not a cookbook I would have bought for myself, but we've gotten 3-4 really exemplary recipes out of this book, including this one. (We just ignore when it tells us to use specific brands of ingredients.)

Here's the recipe.Collapse )

This is one of those meals that helps when the temperature is 45.9°F on 28 May. That would be why we made it tonight. :-)

Today was our day to cook for the "soup kitchen" down in Waltham, and Mike said our jambalaya was requested. (They requested either the jambalaya or the grape leaves...) This is the recipe we created about a dozen years ago:

Deb and Mike's
"No, we're not Cajun,
but we do have leftovers" Jambalaya

Apologies for not putting it behind a cut originally!Collapse )

Yesterday, some friends came over for a very tasty potluck. Dinner consisted of many (yeah, too many) tasty things...including three-meat (chicken, beef, shrimp) satay, Vietnamese lettuce wraps with beef, an Asian chicken and cabbage salad, a Balinese pork curry, and an excellent dessert course of three ice creams (green tea, red bean, and ginger), spiced oranges, and "cigarette" cookies.

Our part of dinner included:

  • Steamed Jasmine rice
  • Appetizer plate of lychee, shrimp, grape tomatoes, and fresh pineapple
  • Spicy mango salad
  • Vietnamese style prawns and hearts of palm with green tea soba noodles
  • Thai salad with cashews
  • Thai stir-fried greens with oyster sauce
  • Of the new-to-us dishes we made, the only one that was sort of a bust was the prawns and green tea soba noodles. We *would* make it again, but skipping the soba noodles and adding in other salad components. The flavor profile is amazing, but the pasta adds nothing and actually detracts from the prawns and hearts of palm (the stars of the show).

    The ones we'll make again? All of the rest. The Thai "greens" involved Chinese broccoli and were particularly nice and balanced.

    Everyone who joined us cooked quite wonderful foods. There are even some leftovers for tomorrow. (Tonight we had soupe l'oignon and crusty French rolls.)

    We had to start this recipe several weeks ago. Actually, we could have started it Monday last, but life got in the way. This recipe is a dish by Moroccan cooking guru Paula Wolfert of chicken, preserved lemon, olives, fennel, and a melange of improbable spices. The ingredients came together to form an amazing dish that can only be described as "unctuous."

    First, preserve a mess o'Meyer lemons.Collapse )
    Once you have preserved lemons in the fridge, you can make Paula Wolfert's Chicken with Preserved Lemon, Olives, and FennelCollapse )

    While this is mostly for a project gerisullivan is doing, it's always a good idea to save these recipes, just in case my iPad goes kerblooie.

    First, the tzatziki sauce/salad/stuff.Collapse )

    Next, the stuffed grape leaves.Collapse )

    Serve dolmas with tzatziki, lemon wedges, and pita cut into triangles. least at the Benveniste & Geisler house, where we made a plethora of pies, most of which have left the house. This was our weekend to cook for the soup kitchen (the last time was just after Christmas and surgery), so we opted for chicken pot pies.

    I'm going to duplicate the recipe here...with a warning.Collapse )

    We are about to eat the leftover bits from our little chicken problem. Yum!

    They're not the flash or the sizzle.

    They are Alex Deibold, who took an unexpected bronze in snowboardcross. This is his second Olympics, sort of.

    He was at the winter games in Vancouver four years ago - as a wax technician, keeping the boards in shape for the four men who were actually on the US team. Now? Now the 27-year-old Vermont native has a bronze medal...and we can hope that he'll get real sponsorship, so he can concentrate on his sport instead of the variety of jobs he's held to pay for his passion.

    And there's gold medalist David Wise, who is not the bad-boy-rebel-type of freestyle skier.

    Wise is 23, married, has a 2-year-old daughter he dotes on, and, while he has some sponsorship, it's not the splashy sort. He hasn't been featured on sports magazine covers. While he does some advertising, the television ad he was in before Sochi...was for Pampers. :-)

    Steady. Solid. The very opposite of the showy and self-absorbed athletes the media usually focus on.

    I like these guys. They're damned fine role models for future Olympians.

    After all, they're all rodents. Rodents of unusual size with good PR firms and cutesy names.


    Okay, I'm not watching this year's Super Bowl for the game. While I'm fondish of Seattle, loathe Denver, and hope the Seahawks prevail, I'm not hugely invested in the outcome of the game. Me, I watch for the ads...and my students and I will be discussing them on Tuesday in my Persuasion class.

    This is, however, one of those modern food occasions, when people get together with friends, swill beer, and eat many things. Sausages seem to be one "traditional" food. Chicken wings. And Mexican specialties like guacamole, chili, chile con queso, tacos, and lots of tortilla chips and salsa.

    Our Super Bowl dinner is "Gina's Hot and Spicy Tortilla Soup," together with whatever munchies from the antipasto (peppers, cebollitos, etc.) we got yesterday...and, later, caramel apple bread pudding.

    Here's the recipe for my memory banks...Collapse )

    I think this is the best chicken soup that can be made in 1 hour or less, providing you like the ingredients. (It is not overly hot at all, btw.) It is probably one of the best chicken soups period. Mike first made it one night when I was teaching a night class, and it was cold, wet, and nasty out, and I was completely exhausted. I came home to this. It was *amazing.* so, of course, is Mike.

    The recipe makes enough for two meals for two people, and it reheats well (since you don't anoint the base soup with tortilla chips, etc., until it goes in individual bowls).

    Think of it as Mexican pho.

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