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Posts Tagged ‘Danny’

A cooked rasher. Raw bacon rashers are an esse...

Mmmm bacon, bacon, BACON

OH what a good time we had!  Well I had a good time anyway, not so sure about Janet and Marian.  I say this because Marian had actually specified a couple of weeks ago, that we eat out -“No grilling”!  I wasn’t planning on grilling but I also didn’t particularly want to go out to dinner because we would never be able to “hang” out there for a long time.  I haven’t seen my cousins in more than a few months.

We have our rituals (thank goodness for some).  READ Janet and Danny brought all the mixin’ s for Mojitos.  What can I say?  Mojitos are the perfect summer drink, hands down.  If you remember from a previous post my cousin Janet travels with a well-stocked pantry, er I mean trunk.  You just never know what might come out of there!  So out came the simple syrup, the bunch of fresh mint leaves, the white rum, the bag of limes AND their own muddler.  Really!  I’ve said it before and will say it again, Danny is the master mixer of Mojitos.  Tart and slightly sweet, icy cold and laden with limes and mint, this drink just refreshes you with every sip.  We even got I-only-drink-gin-Peter to try one. Clearly he didn’t have as much rum in his as I had in mine (but then again no one else does have as much rum in theirs as I have in mine) because he was slurping that down like iced tea.  And then he made himself a martin-some things never change.

We had drinks and cheese and crackers and salsa and chips and all sat around in the air-conditioned living room – no beach, no front porch for us, no backyard barbecue – it was just too damn hot.  Actually I felt like I was recovering from heat stroke anyway from being on the beach for an hour.

I thought I had planned a fairly simple meal and I DID NOT ask either of my cousins to help me in the kitchen BUT even so, they meandered in and once again we had cousins cooking in the kitchen!  I think it’s great fun, I love having them there with me as we put together a meal.  I started frying bacon, Marian sliced tomatoes, I made a platter of lettuce leaves.  Somehow Marian felt putting the toast in the toaster was not befitting to her talents so instead she sliced the avocado and perfectly I might add.  Janet ended up finishing the bacon, I started getting out plates, platters and bowls.  There was a small problem;

My kitchen table seats four and we were six, the table itself could not hold all the food and the plates.  Janet figured out that if we put napkins and silverware on the plate we garnered a few inches and if we put the corn and salads on the counter and just put the sandwich fixings on the table it might work.  I’m sure this is a genetic characteristic she inherited from her mother, my Aunt Marian who always  managed to seat 24 people at table that sat 18 or some such number.  It has to do with exactly how much space (read width) one needs to be able to cut food using a fork and knife and get it into your mouth without bumping into your neighbor on your right. It worked.

Just in case you were thinking that the only thing we were serving was corn on the cob and BLT‘s, you’re wrong.  We had potatoe salad, two kinds of macaroni salad,  AND we had two kinds of bacon and tomato sandwiches.  You could opt for the traditional on white toast (the only acceptable bread for a BLT) OR you could have a bacon, avocado, tomato and sprouts sandwich on rustic Italian bread.  Yes I was channeling Martha, I admit it.

Dessert was a little of this and a little of that.  We had brandy cake backed by Marian, chocolate-covered strawberries from the ladies tea on Thursday, a few pieces of watermelon, and some cookies.  Sorry I even mentioned making hot tea….

Bob and Marian were considering taking the train home but Danny came to the rescue and offered to drive them back into the City before he and Janet wended their way back to their NJ hometown.  It being Friday night, I hoped they would make decent time – surely they would be going against the traffic.  

I did forget to mention one little thing and that is that although I think I am a cleaner-upper and put-it-away freak, my cousin Marian  has me beat.  If I was slicing something and laid the knife down for a moment to go into the other room and say something, when I came back the knife was washed and she was drying it!!! For Heaven’s Sake Marian!  I asked her to restrain herself till we at least were done with plates, pans and utensils before she was hell-bent on washing them.  I had to let her dry the dishes once the meal was over otherwise……..

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Chilled Gazpacho on a hot summer night!

There’s usually a modicum of truth and fact in every  trite phrase and/or axiom.   So here we have an age-old saying; “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth”.  According to Wikipedia, the definition of this phrase is:

“If too many people try to take charge at a task, the end product might be ruined.
also this means that where there are too many people trying to do something they make a mess of it.”

Well,… NOT ALWAYS!

Yesterday my cousin Janet and her husband, Danny and my cousin Marian stopped by for a visit on their way home from a short stay in Cape May.  I knew they were coming (I should have baked a cake) so I got up early and took off for the fruit and vegetable stand to buy the ingredients for Gazpacho.  It was already ridiculously hot and although this was MY day off and I wanted to get some tan, I knew they would not want to go to the beach.   And that by the way has been the story of my summer so far, but that’s another story!

I had several other grocery stops to make before they arrived  because I certainly did not want to attempt to move the car on Saturday and lose my parking space – Hey I thought I was in Ocean Grove, not Manhattan! Anyway by the time I got the Gazpacho slightly underway they arrived.  My kitchen was in the throes of a Julia  Child meltdown, bowls everywhere, knives of all sizes out, cutting boards galore….well I sat Danny down with the New York Times and my cousins and I repaired to the kitchen.

Luckily  I come from a family of capable cooks and cleaner-uppers and so without much discussion, soon all three of us were busily chopping, juicing, peeling, slicing and mixing.  Sounds like a well-oiled machine right? Or at least a kitchen with competent line cooks.  Well, that’s a half truth since we are all competent but we didn’t have set places in the line!!  If you are a cook, you are beginning to get the picture.

Added to the fact that 3 cooks in the kitchen are inevitably in each other’s way, we compounded the problems by the fact that we were creating two dishes and some of the ingredients were the same.  Pretty soon the kitchen was humming with the sound of food processor as Janet ran the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cucumber through the machine.  Peter arrived with the much-needed tomato juice (I had forgotten to buy it-it wasn’t on the list) and I kept running back and forth between my two recipe cards trying to explain to Marian how to make the Tuna-Fennel-Bean salad. She’s mincing where we should be chopping and also telling me that the recipe didn’t call for this much of this or that.  I wanted to expand the recipe so it would feed all five of us.  Then I realized I didn’t have enough lemon juice but Janet who travels with a well-stocked pantry in her car, runs out and comes back with a lemon.   So now we are adding lemon juice to both recipes, zesting into the Tuna dish and rinsing beans.  I look at the front of the recipe card and realize I don’t have any chives;(something I had promised myself I would check before I left for the store.  OK, we all agree, Gazpacho without chives will still be great.  However, Marian does mention that probably when we all taste it, we’ll  agree it should have had chives.  The parsley is out on the counter…. I zip over to where Marian is working at the kitchen table and look at that recipe card and realize I don’t have  any scallions!  Geez, who the heck made the grocery list???  Consensus of cousins decide to use onion powder and not fresh onion because Danny can’t eat them raw.  I had considered going out to my lawn where wild onions grow and use the stalks.

Now here’s where things began to fall apart.  I had committed to opening the door to a friend’s house for a delivery.  The time had come to do so.  Since I was elbow-deep in peeling and chopping hot tomatoes that I had just peeled, I sent Peter and Danny to do so.  NO, I did NOT have the address, I just knew where it was.  That was a predictable disaster.  Peter calls me from his cell phone to say there is no beige house, there is no delivery truck.  Thinking this is typical Peter I yell at him and hang up.   He calls back saying he can’t find it so in exasperation, I tell him to come back and pick me up.  I’m pretty sure my cousins can handle the kitchen without me.  Long story short-I had given him the wrong street.

When I returned the kitchen was practically cleaned up. Janet was washing bowls, Marian was drying, the food processor had disappeared.  Wow, they are fast and efficient.  I look around and see the parsley still out and tell Janet, “uh oh, we forgot to put the parsley in”.  Not to worry, we will chop it up fine and throw in.  Then I turn the card over (you see I am the only one checking the recipe) and once again the big “UH OH” comes out. We didn’t put the olive oil or the red wine vinegar in either! Yes we can add it BUT by now the batch of Gazpacho was too big for one bowl so I had taken some out to put in another bowl.  So just what proportions should I be adding red wine vinegar and olive oil?? Competent cook know what to do and when to punt…. The Tuna-Fennel-Bean salad has come together, the last of the tomato mess in the kitchen has been cleaned up (although this morning I found tomato splash spots on the toaster) and God, it must be time for a drink!

When Janet and Danny visit, we have a tradition of drinking Mojitos of which Danny is the master maker.  I pick some mint from the yard, assemble the rum, limes, muddler and seltzer.  Mmmm there doesn’t seem to be that much rum which I was sure I had, and then realized I had more dark rum (for Dark & Stormy’s).  Janet says not to worry because of course she has rum in the car – I told you she traveled with a pantry.  I take out my simple syrup which Janet has deemed not sweet enough so she goes out to the car and brings back a container of syrup – see what I mean!

And here’s where I’m going to end my story. We had drinks, we yakked, we sat down to eat. EVERYTHING was delicious!  It would have been nice to have a crusty loaf of French or Italian bread but we didn’t and still the meal was a communal success!

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