August 9, 2010

Moving to Boston

Posted in Children, Food, Travel, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:50 am by Liliana

Mike, Karen and Sam - picnic lunch

Mike, Karen and Sam - picnic lunch

I spent last week moving my oldest son, Mike, and his girlfriend, Karen, to Boston. Sam, my younger son, came along to help.

Mike is starting law school in a week, so we had a lot to do. Mike and Karen drove in Karen’s car – overflowing with suitcases, books, and a delicate side table with long fragile legs. Sam and I drove in our minivan – overflowing with furniture, books, suitcases and who knows what else.

We were a Gypsy caravan.

It takes about fifteen hours to drive from Michigan to Boston, and we hoped to do it in one day. One thing we resolved not to compromise on, though, was food. We decided to make a delicious picnic lunch and have a feast along the way.

And we did. Karen is a wonderful cook and she made a pasta salad with roasted peppers and other seasonal vegetables. In our rush to leave early in the morning, though, we forgot to take it with us. Luckily, we had plenty of other food.

We bought excellent Jewish rye bread and deli meats – salami, turkey and ham to go with it. Ripe avocados as well as lettuce, tomatoes and pickles spiced up the sandwiches. I had made a fresh basil and mozzarella salad ahead of time, and added sliced tomatoes right before we ate.

We also brought plenty of washed, fresh fruit to snack on – Michigan cherries, Michigan blueberries, grapes, apples.

We stopped at a beautiful spot in the New York Hudson Valley, spread out a clean tablecloth and sat in the sun. We had a delicious picnic – ate, drank mineral water, and talked.

Than we packed up, saving the leftovers for later. Rested and refreshed we got ready for the rest of our drive. Boston was waiting.

August 6, 2010

Going Home

Posted in Children, Home, Travel, Weather tagged , , , at 7:53 am by Liliana

New York City

New York City

My family immigrated to the US in the summer of 1973.

We got off the “boat” (airplane in our case) on the night of June 30th.

All around us New York was boiling in luminescence, heat and humidity. We didn’t know where to look.

A family friend waited for us at the Kennedy Airport and drove us to their house in Queens.

My parents, sister and I were jet-lagged, dazed, overwhelmed, frightened.

What was this world we had landed in?

What kind of place was this enormous, sprawling, ear-splitting, airless, labyrinthine mosaic of a city?

Home.

August 5, 2010

Family Favorite – California Scampi

Posted in Food, Health, Recipes, Uncategorized at 7:46 am by Liliana

California Scampi

California Scampi, a family favorite

We try to eat fish of some sort or another fairly often. The health benefits are many, not least of which is that they are a great source of Vitamin D, which North Americans tend to lack. In addition, they are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can:

  • help protect against heart disease
  • lower cholesterol
  • decrease blood clotting factors
  • increase relaxation in larger arteries and blood vessels
  • decrease inflammatory processes in blood vessels
  • reduce arthritis symptoms by fighting inflammation
  • strengthen the immune system
  • alleviate symptoms of depression
  • lower risks of getting cancer
  • reduce the development of Alzheimer’s disease

This recipe is fast, easy, and tastes great.Enjoy!

1 lb. California shrimp or spiny lobster
1 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine
¼ tsp salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon wedges

Melt butter and oil together in sauté pan. Add garlic, sauté for one min, and add shrimp. Sauté for one min , add wine, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Sauté quickly while sauce reduces and shrimp turns pink. Do not overcook. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Serve with sauce over noodles or rice. Garnish with lemon wedges.

August 4, 2010

A Long Holiday

Posted in Books, Family tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:56 am by Liliana

A perfect escape

A perfect escape

I haven’t been able to take a relaxing vacation this summer.

Our family has a lot going on.

We celebrated three graduations  (one high school and two college); people moving out of and people moving into our house;  lots of visitors; children preparing for law school, college and jobs; people starting graduate school.

It has not been a lazy summer, but eventful and overflowing with new and transitional events.

I needed to escape.

And I have, with an intriguing book. For the last few weeks, I have been reading The Passage, by Justin Cronin.

It is a frightening account of a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world – part social commentary, part science fiction. It is not the kind of book I usually like to read.

But for this summer, it is perfect.

A serious and accomplished writer, Cronin has weaved an engrossing plot with engaging characters and elegant prose.

This first book of a trilogy is over 700 pages long.

A perfect escape. A long holiday.

August 3, 2010

The Old Well

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Garden, Serbia tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 8:24 am by Liliana

The Old Well

The Old Well

In the corner of my grandparents’ garden stood an old well. It had been there for a long time, hundreds of years.

During the early part of my childhood, before there was plumbing installed in the village, all the water for cooking, bathing, drinking and animals was fetched from the bucket in that well.

The children knew not to go near it. The well was very deep and dark, and if anyone fell in, they would not survive.

Although there was electricity in my grandfather’s house, in the early 1960’s my grandparents didn’t own a refrigerator. No one in the village did. No one owned any kind of modern day appliance – no electric ranges, no washing machines and certainly no dishwashers. Those came gradually and later, in the late 60’s and 70’s. Before that, people used wooden stoves for cooking and heating, and all the washing was done by hand. The water was pulled from the well.

Because there was no refrigeration, the food had to be eaten quickly. Chickens were prepared by my grandmother the same day that my grandfather slaughtered them. Fruits and vegetables were picked and consumed the same day. We ate what was ripe and in season.

Sometimes, my mother made ice cream and we children helped. I still remember the steps.

My grandfather would bring a bucket of heavy cream, skimmed of the milk that his dairy cows provided that morning. He would place it in the cool of the veranda while we washed berries or pealed fresh peaches, or other fruit from the garden trees.

Our mother would cook the cream with the fruit, stirring and adding a bit of sugar if needed, until the concoction thickened. Then we poured it into porcelain cups, which she placed in the well bucket, and lowered into the coolness of the water so it would solidify.

But no matter how long we waited, and the time seemed awfully long, our ice cream was never the same as the ice cream we bought in the store. It was cold, but never frozen.

It was smooth, creamy, fruity and delicious. Different generations assembled in the cool shade of the veranda, eating ice cream with tea spoons out of those delicate porcelain cups.

“This is not frozen enough to be ice cream,” one of the children complained.

“Maybe not ice, but it is cream,” my grandfather answered. And no matter how many times he said it, we always laughed.

August 2, 2010

Organizing

Posted in Cleaning, Home, Organization tagged , , , , at 9:09 am by Liliana

Creating order out of chaos

Creating order out of chaos

My sister Branka is a great organizer. Creating order out of chaos gives her pleasure and a sense of accomplishment.

She approaches each challenge systematically and with purpose. Currently, she is working on my basement.

The task is daunting, believe me, I have been avoiding it for years. But a few weeks ago, the basement got flooded, and something needed to be done right away.

Thank goodness that Branka was willing to adapt this project as her own. My gratitude is beyond measure.

First, she cleaned the place up. We had tons of books, bags of children’s paraphernalia, Branka’s and Joe’s belongings. She went through everything, organized keepsakes in labeled plastic boxes and threw away the rest.

Then she painted the ceiling white, the walls sunny yellow, and the bookshelves sparkly white.

Next, she will be overseeing the tiling of the floor – our brother-in-law is taking on that job.  We bought creamy beige ceramic tile and I can’t wait to see what our basement will look like when it’s installed. It will make doing the laundry almost fun!

All I can say is – thank you, dear sister, for bringing order into my life!

August 1, 2010

Coconut Tapioca

Posted in Food, Recipes tagged , , , , , , at 8:31 am by Liliana

Tropical getaway

Tropical getaway

I found this recipe on Salon.com. It is unusual, exotic and delicious!

It’s flavors will transport you to a tropical getaway.

Serves four

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons small uncooked tapioca pearls
  • 1 pound small bananas, ripe but firm, peeled
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Garnish: toasted white sesame seeds
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Variations

  • Substitute chunks of fresh mango for the banana, after soup is fully cooked.
  • Substitute chunks of cooked sweet potato or taro for the banana. This combination is known as bo bo cha cha and is served in Singapore and Malaysia.

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Add tapioca pearls, and stir frequently to prevent them from sticking. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the tapioca pearls are almost clear.
  3. Cut peeled bananas on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick discs.
  4. Once the tapioca is cooked, add in the coconut milk, sugar and salt. Bring the mixture back to a boil.
  5. Add banana pieces to the soup and simmer over low heat for two minutes.
  6. Remove soup from heat and add vanilla, if desired.
  7. May be served warm or cold.
  8. If serving cold, allow soup to cool, then cover tightly and refrigerate for a few hours until cold.
  9. Ladle into individual serving bowls and garnish each with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Source: Salon.com

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