I've never been a picky eater. Not really.
This is Jell-O Week and it reminds me of one of my favorite holiday treats when I was a girl ... my grandmother's jello, served with the meal, not after. She mixed fruit in with the jello, layered it with whipped cream, and served it in a parfait dish that was undeniably festive ... layer upon layer of jello and whipped cream visible through the clear glass sides of the parfait bowl.
Having a dessert-like dish served with the meal seemed so decadent ... even on a holiday.
My first experience with anything other than fruit as jello mix-in was with a gelatin meat mold that was served at a dinner where I was a guest. Pieces of carrots and sliced beef floating in the congealed gelatin. I'd never seen such a thing, and wasn't sure I liked what I was seeing.
But we were visiting and when it was passed around the table, to be polite, I placed a small spoonful on my plate.
One bite and I was done. Nope, not going there.
A more recent, and pleasantly surprising, gelatin dish I've discovered is coffee "jelly." Simple and refreshing.
Friday is National Cabbage Day and a friend has tried again and again to convince me that lime jello with cabbage is good. I'll take her word for it.
Would you or wouldn't you ... or have you tried lime and cabbage jello, whipped up a batch of coffee jelly, or served a savory gelatin dish? Share your story in a letter, an essay, or a conversation and see what gels.
The request is always the same. Birthday pie, not cake. And this year, apple pie. If I had to choose, I'd probably go with mincemeat (the dried fruit version).
I might choose mincemeat as my pie of choice to eat, but when it's comes to making pie ... blueberry, pumpkin, mincemeat, cherry, or key lime, it's the apple that gets my attention.
It's the one overflowing with ingredients that can't be measured.
The one that makes me think of my mum peeling ribbons of peel with each apple. And my grandmother ... whose voice neared a whisper when she told me she used only half the white sugar measure, instead balancing it with half brown sugar, despite what the recipe called for.
And when I make the crust I think of my friend who is a baker. She adds a splash a vinegar. And another, who shared her mother's recipe that includes an egg.
I'd never added an egg to my pie crust. Yesterday I decided to give it a try.
What a pie! It's delicious. My best ever, I think.
The crust is flaky and tender and the filling as sweet as ever. It's the perfect blend of ingredients ... some that can be measured and so many others that can't.
Recipes we love, remember, and share offer endless story ideas.
Share your experiences with traditional foods, comfort foods, that recipe your friend won't share, or that recipe fail ... we all have them.
Share your stories in a narrative poem, short essay, or a chapter in that book you want to write.
But before you go, how do you like your apple pie ... with a side of vanilla ice cream, or maybe like "M", with a few slices of sharp cheddar?
A picture book memoir of Agatha, nose-to-the-ground, scent sniffing basset hound who loved to walk ... and stop and sniff.
A beautifully illustrated book for dog-lovers of all ages.
"... We love everything about it. Dogs, nature, and phenomenally innovative art! Well done."
It seems I just can't help myself. Every time I make pancakes, which isn't all that often, I use the end of the batter to make heart shaped pancakes ... for anyone who's getting a plate. Doesn't matter how old you are.
Last week I made pancakes, and when I put the plates on the table (for just the two of us), there were smiles all around, including mine.
It's a silly thing and I sometimes say, nah, don't bother ... or, that's for kids, don't be so goofy. But then I do it anyway ... because even though it's silly and a bit corny, it shines some extra light on the day.
So let's not worry about being silly or corny or sappy(!) and do it anyway because it feels good ... no matter how old you are.
Who will tap the trees?
Nearly every morning I walk the neighborhood. Up one block and down another. And every spring I look forward to seeing the sap buckets hanging.
But it seems the people who lived in the houses and tapped the trees moved. From both places.
One family used traditional metal buckets, and the other used plastic. The plastic buckets were translucent and I could see the sap levels rise from one day to the next. I'm going to miss that.
My brother has lots of hobbies and fortunately, one of them is making maple syrup. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? The two glasses above (sap and syrup) are samples from his his harvest.
What does sap taste like?
Straight from the tree, sap tastes like water. It's not sweet, but if you concentrate, you can (kinda, sorta, maybe) taste a hint of maple. Though sometimes I think we want so much for it to taste like maple syrup before it is maple syrup we trick our taste buds into thinking it does.
As the sap water boils down, the liquid thickens, the color shifts, and it becomes syrup. Sweeter and sweeter the more it cooks down.
There are still no buckets in the neighborhood. But I'm watching.
What signs of spring do you see in your neighborhood?
Exploring the art and writing of short story memoir