I am home after a whirlwind trip to Chicago for an annual trade show event that I attend every year in June. I grew up in suburban Chicago until the latter part of grade school and so Chicago always feels a bit nostalgic for me. Truthfully, I remember the neighborhood that I lived in but I don’t remember the city all that much. (The 1970’s were a long time ago!) But still there is something about the foods and the pace and the accents that feel like “home” to me. And yet, after spending a few days in a hotel and eating out at restaurants it felt so good to be home.
And while I was off visiting the Windy City, our new exchange student was getting settled in at our house. She is many miles from her home in Isreal.
So tonight’s theme for Wacky Wednesday is Home.
We are going to eat in our dining room, which is the first room we walked into when viewing our house for the first time. When I saw it, I knew that this was “the” place that would cease being a house we looked at and become a home a for our family.
And we will dine on foods that remind us of home:
- Cucumbers (Rony)
- Garlic Bread (Sophie)
- Chocolate Milk (Alex)
- Fruit Salad (Jen)
- Salami, humus, Olives, Tomatoes, Avocados, Cheeses (John)
Sounds like quite an eclectic mix but it is all foods that we eat a lot of at our home. At least several times a week. I hope it isn’t too boring for Wacky Wednesday? But I know I will appreciate the taste of home and I am hoping Rony will two as she is rounding out her first week of being away from her family for 4 months.
What foods remind you of home?
It’s a busy time of year. Last week was our busy week but this week there are several important events vying for attention on Wacky Wednesday.
The 21st has traditionally been our annual “French Night.” Before there was Wacky Wednesday, heck before there were kids, John and I celebrated December 21st by eating French food and remembering our trip to Paris in 2001. And it wasn’t just an ordinary trip; John proposed to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I was flabbergasted. Truly. In retrospect, of course, it makes sense why he looked so nervous riding up in the herky-jerky elevators where the only signs in English warned “Beware of Pick Pockets.”
The second is the Winter solstice. Being that today is the shortest days of the year it is ripe with opportunity. That the days are going to start getting longer is definitely a reason to celebrate. Especially when you live in a northern climate.
Third, it is the second night of Hanukkah. We typically celebrate with family and friends over the span of the 8 days but we usually do one night at home where we fry up our own Latkes (potato pancakes) and celebrate just ourselves. Now, I don’t want to sound like a braggart but our Latke recipe is pretty darn tasty. There is nothing complicated about it. Except it is very time consuming to shred the potatoes and then fry them to crisp golden perfection. Which is why, as we’ve learned over the past few years, people do the cheater version with pre-shredded hasbrown potatoes. No wonder they taste like soggy napkins. Trust me. It’s worth the effort.
So the challenge this week was how to incorporate ALL of these things?
Sophie suggested we make Latkes in shapes of the Eiffel Tower and the Sun. Honestly? Latkes on a weeknight kind of sound like a pain in the neck.
Instead, we’ll tune in some Caribbean music on the radio (thank goodness for satellite radio) and dine by while we eat some of our summertime favorites flavored with the herbs we grew in the garden last summer. For Hanukkah we’ll enjoy donuts (it’s typical to eat fried foods during the “Festival of Lights”) with a french twist.
Here’s the menu:
- Grilled Salmon
- French Bread with Pesto & Brie
- Fruit Salad
- Donuts with Nutella “Frosting”
What are you doing for Wacky Wednesday? Or Hanukkah? Or the Winter solstice?
How can it be that almost a month has passed since my last blog post? In a blur. That’s how. It’s been a busy fall. I do know that for a couple of the weeks, we managed to pull off slightly irreverent dinners even if it wasn’t out-and-out wackiness. And that’s okay. I think if we try too hard it might make take some of the fun of it out and who wants to do that?
Last week, Wacky Wednesday truly went to the dogs and we noshed on all our our dog, Lucy’s, favorite foods. We had chicken, buttered noodles, broccoli & carrots and then bowls of ice cream for dessert. Lucy got her own plate on the floor. And no, that didn’t stop her from begging at the table.
This week is a bit bittersweet for me. Lucy’s getting up there in years and we’ve had to make a difficult decision in regards to her care. At the same time, we’re planning for a family vacation that involves airplanes and the ocean. (It’s hard to say which the kids are more excited about.) And so the balance of life goes on. The yin-yang. The happy sadness.
The menu for this week will seek that balance. We’ll sip pink lemonade and have a picnic on the floor with the dog:
Heart Shaped Pesto & Olive Pizzas
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
Pizza is always a big hit at our house. The heart shapes are just to convey how much love and how big of a part Lucy has been in our lives. We adopted her as an 8-week old puppy from an abandoned litter. She was our baby before we had kids. She’s lived uptown and downtown and then settled down with us in Saint Paul where we’ve welcomed our real babies home.
And what doesn’t chocolate make better?
Yeah, it’s pretty unbelievable that I would let my kids share a piece of Mile High Ice Cream Cookie Cake that was bigger than their heads.
But what was truly wacky to me was that when I requested several spoons (so we could share with the group at large) the waiter gave us 3. For that bigger-than-my-adult-sized-head dessert I would have thought several would have been at least 5.
Still, it was a pleasure to visit an old friend who was passing though town. The dessert was, indeed, a big fat bribe. And it worked.
No, we won’t be travelling for Spring Break this year. Although it was fun to think and talk about all the possibilities. Should we go somewhere warm near the ocean? Should we go visit distant family? Should we strike out to some place we’ve never been? All tempting ideas. Especially the warm weather ones. But then the reality of travelling with a two-year-old set in and we decided a staycation was perfectly appropriate this year.
Sophie didn’t hesitate when I asked her where she would go if we were going anywhere, “France!”
Alex, who is parroting anything that anyone says that sounds remotely interesting, has taken to saying at odd moments, “I want to go to France, Mommy.” It garners some strange looks when we are out in public.
So, we will be travelling to France for Wacky Wednesday this week. Not a truly original idea for us since we celebrate “French Night” every year on the anniversary of the day John proposed to me on the top of the Eiffel Tower. We’ll dig out our pictures from that trip, listen to French music and cook up our approximation of a French meal.
I do actually think I am a decent cook but I have to say that in no way do I think my food compares to simple street fair we enjoyed from street vendors or little out-of-the-way bistros in Paris.
On the menu:
We’ve never made crepes before so this will be our first foray into them. We are going to try this recipe with berry and Nutella fillings available. I guess this is where the adventurous part of WW is going to come from this week.