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Deb Geisler
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Since I am not Italian (and my brother did not meet his wife Denise until he was a grownup...ish), these cookies were not a feature of my childhood. But I shared with my mother a love of licorice. She and I would do battle over the black jelly beans, and we both loved anise as a spice. While the cookie recipe below originally called for all vanilla, that made a wicked bland cookie. I've changed that up to lemon, almond, and anise in the past, and the anise works out the best.These are not Italian cookies of the sort my sister-in-law makes, so I post the recipe with no shame.Collapse )

*And Geisler-Benveniste, in this case...

This is the original "Chex Mix" recipe. It is not what you will find today, and we called it "Scrabble" growing up. Can't tell you, 57+ years on, if it was called "Scrabble" because of some joint marketing effort between Ralston Purina and Parker Brothers...or if it started as a snack mix created by someone else...or if the family just ate a lot of it whilst playing the eponymous game (and trying to beat my maternal grandfather, Lewis R. Shannon,* who used to include names of archaic farm implements and other things). We ate a lot of it, later, playing pinochle. Many, many games of pinochle. Here is additional background and the very yummy recipe.Collapse )

So, this is the recipe we ended up developing, based on what Mike wanted to craft. It is mighty fine...lightly smokey, a titch warm (but mild enough for most people), looser and soupier than our usual (but, again, I like it that way). Here's the recipe. It's easy to cut in half, as long as you don't chop the pot in 2.Collapse )

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 much...got 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.

    ...at 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!

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