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My Dad was Hungarian and a very good cook. I think he even had his own Hungarian restaurant once.

Mom, on the other hand, was known far and wide for her burnt porkchops and except for a few tried and true ultra-simplistic recipes, she was not considered an inspiring cook.

Maybe it is true that opposites attract.

But Mom’s brave attempts at gourmet cooking caused Dad to make a teasing proclamation he repeated often at the family dinner table. It was an anonymous quote guaranteed to make Mom angry when she had done the cooking.

And the impact of those words echo in my memory and remain a constant reminder today of what constitutes a good cook.

What did my Dad say to provide such contemplation and inspiration?

He said, “The cook is not in love!”

And that meant there was not enough salt!

Nowadays we all seem to be “watching our salt” intake. Still, there is something to be said for tasting as you go. And that was the way of the best cooks in my Dad’s experience. Poor Mom stayed quiet and just kept trying.

On occasion Dad would give me his recipes for the dishes I liked best. Here’s a good one, for the most favorite dish in my family.

HUNGARIAN CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

For a family of four: 6-8 chicken pieces or more.

In large pot, melt 2 sticks of butter.

Add 2 large chopped onions and saute until onions are translucent.

Add the larger pieces of chicken (breasts) skin side down.

Spoon some of the onion over each layer.

On top of that, add the smaller pieces of chicken skin side down.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Reverse and turn everything.  Now put smaller pieces of chicken on the

bottom skin side up and the bigger pieces on top of that, skin side up.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes more.

You should now have lots of juice.  If not, add some water.

Also now add lots of paprika – 4 or 5 or 6 tablespoonsful. 

You are looking for a very orange colored gravy.

Simmer another 15 minutes.

Your Hungarian Paprikash is done!

Serve over cooked egg noodles or spaetzle.

Serve with sour cream on the side.

The odd thing about this recipe is the only spice is Paprika. NO salt or pepper are called for and in fact discouraged. Each diner can add salt or not at will. And no comments will be made about the cook not being in love.

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Another Valentine’s Day came and went,

The only card I received was from my oldest, longest friend, Kit the Wit. Kit knows me well since we have been friends since childhood. Anyway, she knows I married a good kind generous loving man who does not believe in Valentine’s Day.

In our younger life together I put on a brave show of agreeing with Bill.

“It’s a Hallmark Holiday,” said we.

“It’s all commercialized.”

“Yup.”

And so the years went by. When hearing about our strange family custom, some friends sent cards and even candy but those acts of sympathy never lasted long. Only Kit the Wit persisted in remembering that her old friend always spent Valentine’s Day wishing for a surprise.

This Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2021 came and went like all the others.

Until February 15, 2021 – the day after! Actually the night after.

It was already dark and a holiday (President’s Day) so we were not expecting any deliveries, but suddenly Elsa the Dog began frantic barking and the lights of a delivery truck lit up the house. It was a gift from our three grandgirls – a beautiful box of chocolates with fond wishes for our enjoyment.

How wonderful is that?

THANKYOU MY SWEET AND THOUGHTFUL GRANDDAUGHTERS FOR LITERALLY MAKING OUR DAY!

AND HAPPY BELATED VALENTINES TO YOU TOO!

We love you more than you will ever know!

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Once upon a very long time ago, when I was but a wee bit of a girl, my parents took me and my little brother to semi-professional ball games at a local park. It was a way to cool off in the evenings since we lived in Florida and had no air-conditioning in those good old days.

To us kids, those parktime excursions were wondrous, not only for the star quality of the young athletes in their dashing uniforms, but for the air of excitement and the vendors who went up and down the stands hawking, “Get your hot dogs here! Get your peanuts here!”

And Dad would buy us each a bag of warm wonderful peanuts. I think they were maybe 10 cents a bag. But what I recall is the delightful aroma.

The memory of those rich fragrant little bags of nuts stayed with me for years until I found out how to make my own replica in my own kitchen. Since then I have been giving tins of them for gifts, offering them up when company comes (before and hopefully after Covid), and keeping batches of them in my freezer.

Now, if you are allergic to peanuts, feel free to burn this page. But if you are not, just follow the recipe for Dor’s Home Roasted Peanuts.

DOR’S HOME ROASTED PEANUTS

INGREDIENTS:

One pound of Raw Blanched Peanuts (I get mine at a local Farm store, but I am sure you can order them online too).

Regular salt and if you have it,

Seasoned salt (usually more powdery than regular salt so it sticks better to the peanuts)

1 1/2 teaspoons butter (I use coconut oil but butter is fine too – it’s just to give the salt something to stick to).

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Pour all the raw peanuts into a rimmed pan. I use the bottom of my broiler pan.

Put the pan full of nuts into the oven and the timer on for 6 minutes.

After 6 minutes, stir them up and move them around for more even baking.

Time them again for 6 minutes. Repeat.

Repeat the 6 minute timing and shuffling for a total of 3 or 4 times.

When the peanuts look golden and brown enough, immediately remove from oven and stir in the butter all around to give the peanuts a light coating (just enough for the salt to stick to). If you use 2 teaspoons of butter it will probably be too much.

Now simply start salting to taste. I start with the stickier Seasoned Salt, generously apply and stir around. Then the regular or sea salt – apply and stir.

Serve warm or serve right out of the freezer. Mostly, ENJOY!

The taste of these peanuts is totally different than anything store bought. They are as close to the Ballgame Peanuts of my childhood as I have ever found.

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Oh, to be thankful for a bit of good luck lately. But is it luck that Covid-19 will see many of us in the history books of the future. And if we outlive this virus, we are like the souls who survived the Great Plagues of earlier times.

Old Wives’ tales abounded then as now and regional customs took over with their guarantees of good luck. Wearing a necklace of garlic to ward off evil vapors is one I read about years ago. I haven’t tried that yet.

But dining on Pork on New Year’s Day was a tradition in Bill’s childhood (leftover from Plague times?) and a pork roast on New Year’s Day became a yearly family ritual in our home.

Most years I baked a traditional pork roast drenched in sauerkraut to bring us good luck, and though the luck did seem to follow us from year to year, the big roast got heavier and heavier, especially after all the sweets and goodies that collected over the Christmas holidays.

Eventually we decided to try simpler fare, and so arrived DOR’S APPLE PORKCHOP RECIPE (Good for good luck on New Year’s Day and beyond):

The question is: Will one pork chop bring as much good luck per person as a big roast?

Quality versus Quantity Equals Pork in the Time of Covid

DOR’S APPLE PORK CHOPS

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 fairly thick Pork Chops (I use only two – one for Bill and one for me)
  • 4-5 apples peeled and sliced to lay on top of the chops (like a blanket)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown sugar, more or less
  • 2 Tbs Sage
  • 1 thinly sliced whole Onion
  • 1 Carrot cut into little tiny bits (mostly for color and a hint of health)

Rub a roasting pan (small one for only 2 chops) with the raw chops (to grease it a bit)

Put chops in one layer in the baking dish or pan

Cover chops with sliced apples

Sprinkle all over with brown sugar.

Sprinkle sage on top.

Spread onion slices on top.

Sprinkle the little bits of carrots on top too – for color.

Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 1 1/2 hours.

This is really delicious served with Baked Beans and a nice green salad!

Happy New Year to my friends here and there in the Blog-Us-Fear.

And Good Luck!

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Is it Halloween yet?
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Today is downright cold. “Sweater Weather,” my Mom called it. In Florida where I grew up Autumn announced its arrival with a delightfully cool breeze that offered blessed relief from Summer heat. We knew more of that was coming and we could not wait to greet the season.

Virginia is different. Things can and do change overnight. Winter’s warnings here are loud, clear and insistent. Last night the warning came with a breeze too cold to leave the windows open and a sudden need to cover up.

Yes, summer tops look strangely out of place in the closet now and shorts, bathing suit and sun hats are ready for wistful hibernation. I should have been prepared for this since the little market down the road has been showcasing mums and pumpkins for many days now. And the internet is featuring autumn decor and Halloween.

Even recipes emerge that I haven’t even thought of all Summer. I suddenly want to make more stews and hearty meals. I am famous for simple, easy, recipes that taste like they took alot of work. Here’s a good one for Old Fashioned Meatloaf with a great tangy twist.

DOR’S BARBECUED MEAT LOAF

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 15-16 oz. can of tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

            Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixer bowl; add ½ can of tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10x6x1-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

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It was just another visit from our son and three grandgirls.  That was way back in November.  It was prepademic you know.  And none of us had a clue about a virus that was to shut us all down and stop family visits from out of town.

We were all sitting around the kitchen table shoulder to shoulder and I remember telling them about the wonderful exotic tropical fruits that grew in my backyard when I was a little girl.  I lived in South Florida where we had avocado trees, bananas, oranges, kumquats, mangos and guavas.

We also had Sapodillas!

“What is THAT?” they asked.

“Oh, I haven’t tasted a Sapodilla since I was a little girl about 70 years ago,” I said.  “A Sapodilla looks exactly like a kiwi (but uglier) on the outside.  But on the inside the fruit is brownish and has the most beautiful shiny brown/black thumbnail sized seeds.  And the fruit tastes so sweet!”

All three girls sounded interested but we eventually moved on to other subjects.

Enter the Pandemic ShutDown and I haven’t seen my family since.

Can you guess what the three Grandgirls got me for Mother’s Day?

A beautiful box arrived in the mail and it was:

FIVE POUNDS OF SAPODILLAS!

I simply could not believe it.

“WOW!  WOW!  WOW!”  I said. “This is an amazing gift and how did they ever remember and how did they ever find it and what a precious thing that they thought of it and acted on it so many months later!”

And my first taste was like floating back back back to childhood.

There was my Dad again and I was just a little girl.  He was once more telling me not to eat the seeed and saying, “You will love this my little Gypsy.  It will taste just like honey.”

And it did.  And it does.

And it was the nicest gift ever because it was a gift of memories.   I only wish the Grandgirls had been here too, so I could have introduced them the same way as my Dad did.

Now every little bite of the five pounds is gone.  And only the memories linger.

And the smiles!

Note:  You will probably never see a sapodilla in the grocery store.  At least I haven’t in all my years.  The kids found them online.

Sapodilla (Sapota)

Sapodilla or sapota (chikoo) is a popular tropical fruit. Sapota is a tropical evergreen, fruit-bearing tree belongs to the family of Sapotaceae, in the genus: Manilkara. The fruit, popular as nasebrry, is a most relished tropical delicacy.

sapodilla
Sapota fruit cut section. Note for dark brown seed.

 

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Bill and I just discovered a golden restaurant to return to again and again.

Golden Garden3 Sign

 

The Golden Garden is comparatively new in our little town of Lexington, Virginia.  It specializes in Sushi and Pan Asian Cusine.  “What is Pan Asian Cuisine?” I asked Google and came up with foods originating from the greater continent of Asia including, but not limited to, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Indian.

Let’s try it,” we said.

Over the years we have devised our own criteria list for ranking local restaurants:

  • Must be quiet enough to talk without yelling,
  • must be very clean,
  • have pleasant wait staff,
  • and hopefully serve great tasting healthy food.

The Golden Garden surpassed all our criteria. The restaurant is quiet enough, very clean, and the staff are lovely, kind, eager to please and welcoming.  Not only is their food delicious but it is beautifully presented and there is so much of it, you inveitably wind up boxing up for lunch the next day.

We were so impressed with this new restaurant in our little town that we returned for dinner the following week.  I loved the Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables (with optional White Sauce and Brown Rice) and also tried their Wonton Soup, Spring Rolls, and the Seaweed Salad  – all truly scrumtious!  To give you an idea of the size of the entree, Bill had General Tso’s Chicken (see photo below).

Golden Garden2 Gen Tso

Bill’s General Tso’s Chicken after he added rice on top and stirred around the initial presentation.

I wish I had taken photos of the entrees as they were presented, as yet untouched.  Guess I was too eager to dive in!

Anyway, if you live in or near Lexington, Virginia, or if you are simply visiting, remember that Dor highly recommends The Golden Garden.

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B's 85th with Cake

Gathering

There was a gathering last week for (Dad’s/Grampy’s) Bill’s birthday!  And our once quiet little house in rural Virginia became a beehive of activity with lots of talking, shouting, and barking from Elsa-the-dog, all vying to be heard to catch up on our lives.

The Grandgirls 2019

And there was the birthday boy of course.  There were MaltShop Music DVDs from the 1950’s as a backdrop.  What fun.  What memories.  A chocolate birthday cake with chocolate icing was a hit too.

Dining Delight

I made a new dish for dinner which is now a family fave.  It is called Sausage and Linguine.  Basically it is just that with a few other things like red peppers.  It was a major hit though.  Nothing like a recipe with 5 or less ingredients.

Playing with a Rescue Dog

Elsa Loves Son Corky, who managed to actually play with her.  Elsa does not know how to play.  She runs away from squeaky toys (afraid they are crying and hurt), will not fetch a ball or play tug-o’-war either.  Sad.  But she loves Corky.  He treats her like a puppy, challenges her by showing and hiding treats and and Elsa wags her tail and acts much like a puppy even though she is 7 years old now.

Laughter Lingers

I'm in Cork 2019It was a lovely day for Bill’s birthday with calls and cards, and gifts and lots and lots of love.  The GrandGirls left first, returning to D.C., South Carolina and Michigan to resume their busy lives.  Then we had time with son Corky and daughter-in-law Emmy – time for shopping, talking, laughing, planning.  It was all such fun and we loved every minute, but they are all gone now.

The house is quiet again except for a couple of thunder storms.  Elsa is frightened and shaking under my desk at my feet.  I’m sure she misses Corky and all the other big humans who were here such a short time ago.

Ditto.

 

 

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There was no rain in the forecast for the whole week. Ha!  We had the gutters cleaned.  We are weeding and planting things.

Ahhhh Summertime (and the livin’ is easy)!

Good friends arrived one night as an unforecasted storm blew in.  And while we were talking and solving the problems of the world, our lights went off and on and then off again.

No problem. 

Only a little storm.

Even Elsa-the-dog was not intimidated.

And as we predicted, the storm subsided.

Off we all went to the Pink Cadillac for dinner, an old fashioned 1950’s style diner that was bustling as always. We placed our orders and kept on talking.

pink cad interior

Until the lights went out.

mystery-man-groping-behind-glass-square (1)

It’s hard to make a point

or conversation with

unfamiliar faces in the dark.

“Who ARE these people?” I wondered.

“They could be strangers I am talking to.”

At home again, the electricity was still missing.

Usually the eternal optomist, Bill was becoming negative and frustrated about the power outage.

And usually the eternal pessimist, I was beginning to see a bit of humor in the situation.

Hmmmm.  I wonder if traditional personality traits can get switched with age.

But I suppose it was easy for me to stay mellow when Bill was in charge of our survival up and down stairs to monitor the generator.

Then darkness descended and another friend drove up to our house in a panic.

“Help!” she cried.  My road is blocked by a fallen tree! Do you have a chain saw?” 

She was stuck, couldn’t get home, and at the same time, so were our dinner friends.

It took two men, two chain saws, and a big tractor to clear a “huge” tree from the road.

And of course Bill was Man #2 with Chain Saw #2.  And about two hours later he came home craving water and rest.  My hero!

And Hurrah!  The road was cleared.

We are expecting visitors in

the coming weeks of summer.

Hopefully anyone who arrives will not wind up sitting in the dark.

Let there be many joyful adventures but clear roads!

And may I please know who I am talking to (and what I am eating) at the dinner table.

 

 

 

 

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elsa hiding head

Elsa Heard a Noise

Gun Shots, Backfires or Fireworks?

The end of 2018 began with popping noises in the distance.  Elsa-the-dog is terrified of popping noises like faraway fireworks.  We bought her a “Thundershirt” (meant to wrap around her tummy to create a sense of well being).  The problem is we don’t get to it (the shirt) in time.

I suppose hiding your head is a good alternative.

More Cookies?

I started a new tradition this New Year’s Eve to celebrate Year’s End and a new year’s beginning.  I baked whipped shortbread cookies.  My sweet Canadian friend, Cindy, gave me the recipe for truly melt in your mouth fabulous cookies and I intend to make them every year for New Year’s Eve.

As my dear old Dad was known to say, “Delicious if I do say so myself.”

cookies shortbread 2

Whipped Shortbread Cookies – Recipe by Cindy – Made by Dor

Old Traditions or Old People?

Every year we replay the tradition of getting together with old friends for:

celebratory drinks at our house,

followed by dinner out,

followed by a movie at our house,

followed by champagne to toast in the New Year.

We aim to finish up at midnight and sometimes we make it.  This year, not so much.  We were all dozing off by 10:30PM so made our toasts and called it a night.

Something’s wrong here.

End of a Year and The Downtown Lexington Fall of the Ball

lexington_balldroprelee5_sm

This year I hope to urge our friends to have a very late dinner with us in downtown Lexington, Virginia and then proceed to Main Street to hang out and watch the falling of our very own small town ball!

More and more people are doing that even though it only takes about 30 seconds for the shiny thing to fall.

Then maybe 100 balloons float down upon the crowd of maybe 100 folks who are just as ready to cheer and holler as all those revelers in Times Square.

 I am awake now and trying to adjust to the end of a full-of-surprises 2018.

Hope your “endings” were fun and your “beginnings” too.

And now wishing you a very Happy New Year!

 

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