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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Foods I don't like....... so far. Number 1: Liver

As a child, we were not given a choice of what we wanted for dinner. The food was put on the table and we ate it!  End of story! I think this is why my brothers and I will give most any food a try.  Luckily for me, liver was not a mainstay at our home.

Liver and onions, Aunt Tassie's Thanksgiving rice and liver dressing, French goose liver pâté, liverwurst, etc... My dad happens to like liver, but we never had it at our house.  He tells a story of going to a coworker's house for lunch and the mom served liver.  His friend had told my dad that his Jewish mama made the best liver and onions in the world. Well, if someone makes the "best" my dad wants to try it.  Off they go to a special lunch.  Dad eats his steak rare (as do I), but he has never had liver steaks cooked rare.  How did the mom cook them you may wonder?  ...very rare. For once, my dad was at a loss of what to do.  Being taught to respect elders, eat what you are served, etc... he did what anyone would do. He ate a bite of the liver, told his mom it was delicious, and when she left the room, promptly, gave it to his friend who had already polished off his serving with gusto.  HAHA!  Yes, that's my dad.  I may have not told the story verbatim, and I may have embellished it a bit, thoughtfully omitting his descriptive "blood dripping off of every bite" and the like comments, but nonetheless, my dad can tell you in his own words if you just ask.  

I have a few liver stories of my own.  I have many friends and relatives who are Jewish and liver seems to find its place on many tables at several occasions.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard: "she makes the best chopped liver in the world". By gosh, if it's the best, I want to try it.  Try it I do!! I must have tried the "best" liver hundreds of times, yet I still don't like it.  

While living in France, I stayed with a wonderful lady who wanted me to experience all of the traditional French foods.  Tried them all with the gusto of a world traveling gourmand until..... the beautifully presented pâté de foie gras. Goose liver!  There it sat on a plate, sliced from the perfect rectangular mold, mocking me as I stared it face to face.  I knew I would like the French bread...that's a given, but the liver? Oh my... I'm sure I was asked if I liked liver. "Biensur" (of course) I like anything BEFORE I try it (unlike many children who say "I don't like it" before they have even tried it) and I had not had homemade pate before.  In the back of my mind, the haunting of other liver episodes reared their ugly heads into my conscious mind.  I tried it and there it was, the unmistakable liver taste that I just can't bring myself to enjoy.  The old adage of "try something three times and you will like it" just hasn't worked with the liver. I've tried it so many times, I've lost count.  One thing that I do enjoy, which at first glance, looks like a rustic "oh my gosh, not again!" liver pâté is pork rillettes.  It was an occasion, where to be polite, I was going to HAVE to eat that darn liver. What a pleasant surprise, when it wasn't liver, but pork! Yes, good ole pork.  I could eat that all day with French bread and little cornichons.  It's made of all things pork except for the liver.  If the liver is there, I certainly would taste it.  Another liver adventure...... 

My aunt Tassie makes a traditional Thanksgiving stuffing using giblets, liver, and rice. Since it's a family tradition, I will always eat some.  Yes, it has bits of liver in it, but also cinnamon.  The cinnamon saves the day. Those specks of liver and gizzard are discretely hidden on my plate, or sometimes, I can tolerate them, barely though. It's an interesting combination to say the least. My eldest brother would always have a pot of it to take home since he loved it so much. He would forgo the turkey and just eat the dressing I do believe. 

The photo that goes with this story, was taken at a restaurant in Chamblee, GA.  I saw "rabbit livers" and a few of my friends were saying that they like liver.  Me, on the other hand, had visions of liver and onions sitting in the line of a southern cafeteria, crackers with liverwurst, baguettes with pate, chicken livers sold in little margarine-like tubs with a happy chicken on the container (why is it happy, it's missing it's liver?) and I quickly remember that I don't really want to spend $$$ on something that with all probability I won't enjoy. I had the risotto with vegetables.... including BEETS! Oh my gosh, it's another food that I will eat to be polite.  Beet stories for next time. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Time to Write

It seems that I've not written in quite some time.  Being that I don't measure my ingredients when I cook, I find it quite difficult to remember to measure ingredients for the blog.  So I may start writing like one of the tv chefs that gives her measurements by a pinch of this and a dash of that.  That's just my preferred way to cook.  Even if I am following a recipe, I will adjust it sometimes. I have so many food related stories that I can share that don't really have recipes included.  So,  I decided to write a few posts as yesterday was surrounded by food.

 Yesterday was Father's Day.  My dad never knows what he will get from me, but it will probably be something edible.  At least I know he will use it.  Dad has always been the "fun" shopper.  If it's unusual, he would buy it, we would eat it.......well, most of the time. That tin of steak and kidney pie stayed in the pantry for years!  It became a novelty.  I went to my local Whole Foods store knowing that I would find some wonderful fish.  Red snapper has always been my dad's favorite fish and I can't say that I blame him.  It is fabulous! We ate it a lot as kids. I'm guessing it wasn't as expensive back then as we had a lot of people to feed that had enormous appetites.   I purchased enough fish to feed an army as well as some jumbo shrimp, Greek cheese, and lemon (knowing full well dad has a bowl of lemons on the counter, but just to be safe).  Dad, at 86 still cooks up a storm every day.  His refrigerator is packed to the gills.  We had a great afternoon visit and I heard some stories that had us both giggling and laughing.  As I was leaving, dad said: "wait, I have a cookbook for you and a cooking magazine"!  He knows I love cookbooks and I will gladly share them with my sons. Our family share a love for food. We read about food, talk about food (I think there is "the great omelette debate on here somewhere), cook food together, and finally enjoy food.

On the way home, I decided to go to a farmer's market near my dad's house. Buford Hwy Farmer's Market is 100,000 square feet of wonderful, glorious, and unusual foods.  It may become a weekly visit.  I have never seen a market that was so huge!  Aisle after aisle of specialty foods.  Part of the store was devoted to Asian foods and other aisles were devoted to other areas of the globe. African, Scandinavian, Eastern Europe, Holland, Russia, and of course a lot of the store was for Hispanic cooking. Huge Asian and Hispanic populations in Atlanta are well represented here.  I was like a kid in a candy store....figuratively and literally speaking!  I purchased some Russian cookies, Dutch sprinkles for toast, espresso coffee, Swedish crackers, French mustard and some Mexican spices.  They had an entire row, which is much longer than your standard grocery store aisle full of nothing but Ramen noodles.  To be healthy, I did purchase some ginger and carrots that were yellow, purple, and orange.  I can't wait to try those.  I'll have to get the purple potatoes another time.  I'll skip the "white dirt" which is kaolin from GA and people actually eat it.

Later that evening my dad called to tell me he cooked the snapper for dinner.  He told me that he prepared it  with butter, lemon, and oregano. He hasn't changed in his 86 years! I knew already how he would make it.  He broiled it like he did when we were children.  I would probably prefer it grilled as that is my preference.  He said: "That must have cost you a fortune, you bought so much.  I had so much that I have enough for breakfast tomorrow!" Yep, that's my dad!  Fish, eggs, slice tomatoes, Greek cheese
and a hearty bread for breakfast!

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Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar

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