This is Us

I read an article recently about how most children, when it comes time, don’t want any of their parents “stuff”.  There’s a minimalist movement going on and this stuff is seen as clutter and junk.  While I also like to live a very minimalistic life, there are some “things” I just won’t part with.  I don’t see these things as junk, or clutter, rather I see them as a way to tell my story and that of those who came before me.  Yes, most of these items are really just “things”.  Yes, most of these items do create some clutter in my home and require care and cleaning.  But, I see them as a way to visit with my family and keep those who have come before me close to my heart.

Today, on this rainy Sunday morning, my husband and I set out to wash all the items in a large wall unit in our living room.  It’s time to get ready to host Christmas dinner and to deep clean the living and dining room.  We barely use these rooms anymore, as it’s just the two of us.  Washing each item today took me on a nostalgic journey down memory lane.  As my husband carried each piece to me in the kitchen for hand washing, he began lamenting that we have way too much stuff.  I tried to explain to him, though I’m not sure he got it, that each item has a story connected to it.  I even tried to tell him a few of the stories to prove my point.  He smiled and continued carrying things back and forth for a few hours, not convinced but no longer complaining.

When my grandmother, lovingly known as Nanny, passed away 30 years ago my dad called and said they were cleaning out her apartment.  He asked if there was anything specific I wanted to have.  I told him I really only wanted two things – her green piggy bank and her junior high school autograph book.

Those were two items that nobody else would want and truly the only things I wanted.  I wasn’t interested in her pots and pans, her furniture or television.  Rather, I wanted a piece of her story, her journey through this life.  I wanted something that connected me to her, in a very personal way and would stay with me through my time without her.

When I was growing up, we didn’t need to wait for Christmas to see our family.  Most of my family lived in one apartment building on Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood, NY.

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A recent photograph of 932 Seneca Avenue. I can still see my Nanny at the top right window waving to us after we dropped her off at home after her visits with us.  

My Nanny and Baba had a apartment on the top floor.  Across from them, lived my Uncle George and Aunt Rose and downstairs my Aunt Catherine and Uncle Jimmy.  In the next building, lived my Aunt Rose’s family.  These were magical times, though we didn’t know it at the time.  Who knew that years later most families wouldn’t live like this, that this would be the exception, not the norm.  I spent most of my Sunday mornings at this apartment building visiting.  Many mornings we played Pinochle or Canasta and many mornings we just spent time together.  One thing I loved to do as a young child, was to pour out all the coins in my Nanny’s piggy bank.  I loved to sort and count the coins and tell her how much money she had in the pig.  Sometimes I helped her roll the coins to take to the bank and cash in.  My Nanny didn’t have a lot of money, so collecting change was a way she saved up to buy the extra things she wanted.  Having this piggy bank on my dresser, still holding some of her coins means the world to me.  When I look at it, I can still see myself as a small child pouring and counting as she and my dad sat in the kitchen sipping coffee and eating crumb cake.  I can hear her radio playing and her canary Chip singing along happily.

My Nanny also had an autograph book in her apartment when I would visit.  She never let me read it, or play with it, but I knew of its existence.  I am by nature curious and fascinated by stories from the past.  I love looking at old photographs and hearing about the people living in them.  I knew this book meant a lot to my Nanny, but just assumed it was the reminder of her youth that made it so.  When I received the book after she died, I spent time reading each entry.  Many are faded as the book is from 1928, but it struck me how similar the entries in this book were to those of today.  As I read, I imagined the people who wrote them, so young and full of life as they were setting out on their journeys.  I had no idea really who anyone in the book was, but as I saw multiple entries from someone called Wuff, I began to wonder who he was.  Finally I realized that Wuff was my grandfather and these were secret love letters he was hiding in her autograph book.  My grandfather was much older than my grandmother at 29, when she was just 14, scandalous really.  I believe he was hiding these notes in this autograph book so as not to be discovered.  How truly special this book is to me, even 30 years later.  I haven’t read it in awhile, but today as I took my trip back through time, I pulled it out.  I won’t share any of the personal notes, but here are a few of his playful messages.

Today, I wonder if nobody wants this so called junk anymore, who will carry forward these stories.  How will we preserve our past?  I know you don’t need a lot of stuff, but these personal items carry our stories.  Surely we can downsize these items, but do our children really need to throw them all away?  Maybe, we need to return to these days gone by to realize the importance of keeping our memories.  Having these trinkets helps me remember and tell the story of us.  I can touch each one and conjure up a memory of a person and a moment that was shared.  I hope that the generations to come can find a place for them in their hearts and homes, for if not many precious memories will be lost.

Here are a few trinkets I visited with today and the special memory attached.

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My dad gave me the Lladro on the left on the day my daughter was born.  It depicts the love between a mother and daughter, as well as my love of reading and the stories that connect us.  Lladro on the right belonged to my mother. It was bought by my dad when he was a young, beat copy working in Jackson Heights.  He came upon a store that sold china and Lladros and purchased many treasures for us throughout his career.
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A Lladro gifted to my by my brother after his trip to Spain.  While they were away I took care of their house so they purchased this for me as a thank you.  This was from the 1980s and in the height of my obsession with aerobic class and leggings.
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Housewarming gift given to my parents by my Nanny & Baba in the early 1950s.  This handmade pottery was used through their 60 year marriage for snacks and candy at any party my mother had.   Totally not my style, but I can still see it in its grandeur filled with love.  Mom cared for it lovingly as I do now.
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My mother loved to be modern and this vase was one of her first purchases as a new bride decorating her apartment in the early 1950s.
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One of the many equestrian awards my daughter won   This was won with her first pony, Spring, for Pony of the Year.
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My daughter on Christmas morning when she received her second horse, Blue Whisper.  My parents and I went down to the barn with her on a very cold December morning.  She was in fourth grade at the time, about 9 years old.   These two horses loved each other and gave her such joy and success in the horse show world.
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Cathy and Blue Whisper at an Eventing competition.  This picture captures his fire and her joy riding and competing.

I’d love to hear about items that carry special meaning for you. Feel free to drop me a line below and share your story.

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Stuffed Eggplant & Meatballs

When I was younger, I worked at Morgan Stanley in midtown Manhattan.  I had just graduated high school and had been working there part time my last year in school.  I was offered and decided to take the job, as they had a program that would pay for me to get my undergraduate degree.  I remember telling my parents that I’d be moving out at the end of the month.  Both were shocked, as I was only 18 years old and had just graduated high school.  I remember my mom freaking out that I was leaving the house at such a young age.  I remember my aunt asking me how I could possibly do this to my parents.  Truly, my only initial supporter in this move was my grandmother.  She reminded me how proud she was of me that I was so independent.  She reminded me that being a strong, independent woman who could take care of herself was a good thing.  I wonder now if she saw some of herself in me.  I wonder now if she wished her life had turned out differently, as she had married at the age of 16 and had two children by the age of 18.  Maybe she wished she’d been just that much more independent in her time.

During my years at Morgan Stanley, I reconnected with running.  I had a group of friends at work that liked to run after work in Central Park.   When we signed up for some races, I knew I’d have to be more consistent with my training.  I grew up across from a beautiful park in Middle Village, NY – Juniper Valley Park.  When I was running at Juniper Park, I much preferred running on the track.  It was soft and flat and I had no trouble guessing how far I’d run.  Remember, those were the days before technology kept track of your distance.   Since there was really no place to run, that I felt comfortable running alone, near my new apartment I drove back to Juniper Park to run.

Every year on Memorial Day there was a fun run in our neighborhood.  My dad and I would run this race together, though he was always much faster than me. He still tells the story of how some friends of mine came upon him out on the course and asked if I had left him behind.  Nope, he had left me behind likely in the first mile.  I’m now the age he was then and gone are the days of running together.  Memories of those runs linger with me still.  Each Memorial Day as I stand at the starting line, I feel his presence and chuckle at his much told story of being that much faster than me.img_1255

Four years ago, we started a Biggest Loser competition at my school and I decided to start running again.  When I saw a Memorial Day fun run in the neighborhood, I signed up immediately.  I posted on my school’s communication board that I was running the race and hoped someone would join me.  A few teachers did sign up and we had a great day.  We still run this race together each year to kick off the running season.  Through the years people have come and gone, but there’s still a core group of us that show up each year.  The course is flat and fast, but we don’t really care.  We just really go to honor those who have given their lives to ensure our safety.  We run to spend time together as a team.  We run to kick off the summer season with a great after race party.

 

 

 

 

 

Today, as we prepare for the holiday, it rained all day.  I went early this morning to a yoga class to begin my day.  Then I went to the market to pick up some fresh vegetables for meals this week.  They had some beautiful eggplants out, so I picked one up to cook today.  My husband really wanted Sunday sauce, but I really wanted to keep it light if possible.   I decided to cut back on the cheese and avoid breading, or frying the eggplant.  I only used two slices of mozzarella in the entire recipe.  I decided to skip the eggplant parmesan and make stuffed eggplant instead.  This would enable my husband to have sauce and meatballs and me to avoid the extras I didn’t want.  It was a delicious and filling meal.  We split one half of the eggplant and have another left over for another meal during the week.  We chose not to have any pasta and plated the eggplant with a nice arugula salad.  The recipe for my sauce can be found here – Sunday Gravy

Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • Chopped sirloin (1/2 pound – use the other 1/2 for meatballs)
  • small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • Tomato sauce (Sunday Sauce, or marinara)
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella (2 slices)

Directions:

  1. Cut the top off the eggplant and then slice in half lengthwise.
  2. Scoop out the eggplant leaving enough meat to hold the shape when baked.FEBFD2C1-4CA9-41D9-A782-FA85AF1CB565
  3. Cut up the inside of the eggplant you scooped out into small pieces.
  4. Boil the cut up eggplant meat in water for 10 minutes.
  5. Brown the onion in olive oil in skillet. (4 minutes)
  6. Add the garlic and saute. (1-2 minutes)
  7. Add chopmeat to the pan and brown until cooked through.
  8. Add the drained, cooked eggplant meat
  9. Add scoop of Sunday sauce, or marinara sauce and stir.00EEE540-66C4-4CF1-80CD-F65209AB6FFD.jpeg
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Add 1/4 c breadcrumbs and one egg and stir to combine all
  12. Scoop meat mixture into the insides of the two eggplant halves
  13. Cook on baking sheet for 50 minutes at 350 degrees

We ate our meal without pasta, but you can certainly serve this over rice or pasta.  We had a meatball on the side and some arugula salad and topped all with some parmesan cheese.   This picture is one half of the eggplant, which you can see is large enough for two.CE34CAAE-34DC-48CE-A8FD-718E48C9944E.jpeg

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

My parents got married on May 16, 1954 in Ridgewood, NY.  I have no idea what the weather was that day, or who was in my mother’s bridal party beside her twin brother Walter and my father’s only sister Catherine.  I do know that my mother’s gown was in the style of Princess Grace and borrowed from her girlfriend.  I do know that they were both very much in love that day and that’s never changed.  I also know her parents, especially her mother, didn’t approve of my father because he was an Irish Catholic.  My grandparents had hoped my mother would marry someone better, but what they didn’t realize was that she married one of the best men ever.  If they only knew how he cares for her now, as he did their entire marriage, they’d surely change their thinking.18A6340E-D300-4DBA-B749-7201A859A55C.jpeg

Sixty four years later my mom lives in a full time care center, not by choice but by necessity.  My mom has Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that robs one of their memories and ability to function.  For ten years my dad lovingly cared for mom at home, including feeding and diapering her himself.  It wasn’t until there was no other option, that he agreed to place her in the care center.  Even though she has no idea, he goes and sits there with her every single day.  He still feeds her, even though there are people there who can do so.  He brings nice outfits for the aides to dress her in and makes sure her hair is done.   Though many have criticized him for sitting there each day, there is truly no place he’d rather be.  If you’ve ever read the Notebook, you know how the story goes.  It’s heartbreaking, yet so inspiring at the same time.62F3421B-2D38-4C2C-8B27-BC97E5BF133D.jpeg

I see so many sad people when I visit the care center.  One gentlemen never married and has no family to care for him.  He placed himself in the center to live out his remaining years.  Another, after eight years in the care center, still talks about how he is getting better and will be going home soon.  He has no idea that his wife will never be taking him home again.   Not too many people come to visit these long term patients, only the rehab patients seem to have visitors.  Believe me it is extremely hard for me to go there and visit.  I dread it and some weeks it takes me a few days to not feel depressed.  When we visit we always bring Sonny along because the people there love seeing him.  We always seem to end up with other patients sitting with us when we visit, but we really don’t mind.  Like my dad, I know that there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

 

Today, after so many days of dreary gray skies and rain, the sun made a comeback.  When I went outside this morning, I couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was.  Yesterday, we had heat on in the house and today we need air conditioning.  Cooking is very therapeutic for my after my visit to the care center.  Music, wine and cooking are the best medicine to get me out of my funk.  Today, I decided to make my husband’s favorite dish today, Chicken Parmesan.  I decided to try to lighten it up though and make a somewhat healthier version.  I used chicken tenderloins instead of full breasts and baked them instead of frying.  The tenderloins were just the right portion to eat 4-6 ounces of chicken, which is all you really need.  We both felt the chicken was super tender and delicious and it cooked a lot faster too.  Swapping out the pasta for zoodles also helped to lighten up the meal.

I made a pot of Sunday Sauce this morning to use in this recipe.  I did not make meatballs as we were eating the chicken today.  I did put some hot sausage, removed from casing, into the sauce for flavor.  Recipe for Sunday Sauce can be found by clicking here – Sunday Gravy

I made the zoodles about two hours before we ate them.  I cut them in half today (after spiralizing) to make them easier to eat, as they come out very long.   Zoodles really are awesome and honestly make me feel like I don’t miss spaghetti.  The consistency of them raw works best for me.  Recipe for zoodles can be found by clicking here – Mother’s Day

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Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloin (1 lb. package was enough for two with leftovers)
  • Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • Fresh mozzarella sliced into strips

Directions:

  1. Cover baking tray with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray
  2. Mix two eggs in flat bowl dish
  3. Place panko in second flat bowl dish
  4. Dip chicken in eggs, then panko and place on oiled tray
  5. Spray all chicken lightly with olive oil spray
  6. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and place in cooking tray with sauce in bottom
  8. Top with mozzarella strips and cover with aluminum foil
  9. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes covered.
  10. Serve immediately over zoodles and add sauce as needed.9F17D2BF-6920-45A3-BA91-3347DC9A42E5.jpeg

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Turkey London Broil

This weekend was opening day for my running group.  Our first meeting of the season and our first run together in my favorite place – Central Park.  I have such a long history of going to Central Park and whenever I return after an absence, it feels as if I’ve come home.  I wandered those rocks, tunnels and paths as a child and teenager.  I spent countless days discussing life on those rocks, as we sunned ourselves and laughed the day away.  When I was 13, my friends Stacey, Michele and I used to ride the train from school to the park and hang out.  We spent so many days just wandering around and I remember how grown up I felt to be there.  We spent a lot of time at the zoo and just enjoying being in the city.  There’s really not a better park in New York City that I know of and none that holds so many of my memories.  Forty years later, as I run past those rocks, I find myself glancing up hoping to catch a glimpse of my younger self as we were back then.  Oh, if only for a day…

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Will look for photos from our middle school Central Park days. This is Stacey, front and center, circa 1979 in Central Park.

This weekend, my running group met at the YMCA on 63rd Street and proceeded to walk over to the park together.  We did our loop of the park and then returned to the YMCA for a breakfast meeting with Olympian, Jeff Galloway.   This run was my first run since that fateful injury in late October, just two short weeks before the NYC marathon.  I must admit I was slightly nervous, but knew I had worked hard on my functional strength over the long winter.  I’m not at my running weight yet, but my legs are strong and ready to begin again.  Thankfully, the first run is just one quick loop around the park.  Anyone who actually enjoys running knows what I mean when I say how good it felt to be able to run again.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I had my friend Helen by my side.  My husband and dog were hanging out in the park, waiting for me at the finish.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.

This is the group entering the park at Columbus Circle.  You can’t see me, but I see Helen’s blue shirt.  We are in the middle front, behind the woman in the pink jacket.

Today, I am happy to say my glutes felt like they were used on the run.  I woke with slight muscle soreness and was so excited that it wasn’t in my quads, or feet, where it normally lands.  The training is working and I will continue to strengthen my core and glutes. This morning, I went for a 90 minute yoga class which ended up being a beautiful mix of flow and stretch, ending in a wonderful restorative resting pose.  It was exactly what my body and mind needed.  When I got home, my husband showed me a beautiful Turkey London Broil he had purchased.  I’ll admit I wasn’t as excited as he was, but quickly set out to prepare for our Sunday meal.

As I stared at the beautiful turkey meat, I dreamed of making a rolled and stuffed turkey meal.  Oh how great would mushroom bread stuffing be on this cloudy day.  I also thought about making a lovely mushroom pan gravy to eat over the meat.  Then, I remembered that I’ve got a goal ahead of me and my husband really wanted it grilled.  I mixed up a quick marinade and put the turkey in to sit for about 3-4 hours, turning once midway through.  I then spent the day relaxing, what a difference from the endless meal prepping I used to do on Sunday’s.  I love cooking, but not cooking all my meals for the week opens up the day to do anything I wish.  Plant based meals are generally super easy to prepare and can be cooked in 30 minutes.  This allows me time to make a quick, fresh and delicious meal when I get home from work.

Ironically, my husband has lost a ton of weight eating what I’m eating.  He didn’t even need to lose any weight, as he was already at a very healthy weight.  Isn’t it the way?  Of course he would lose more weight than me and fast too.  He’s so excited about it too and keeps telling me how good he feels.  Me, I’ve lost 10 pounds so far and have more to go to get back to a comfortable running weight.  The next phase of my online course will reintroduce foods that were eliminated to see how my body responds to them.  This will be done slowly, over the course of the next 3 weeks.  I’m truly not craving anything and eating intuitively has allowed me to eat what I need.  I haven’t been stress eating and mostly eat my meals and no snacks.  It’s been a great learning experience and I’ve decided to continue with the plant based meals, as I feel they are fueling me better and I just plain feel better.  I’m going to cycle through the online course again as it was a lot to process the first time through.

Turkey London Broil & Chopped Salad

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp organic raw honey
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinade Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together to combine.
  3. Place Turkey London Broil into the marinade and turn over to coat both sides.
  4. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, turning once.5150C680-BD2A-4453-AF25-86CD7B62F4B3.jpeg

Turkey Cooking Directions:

  1. Take turkey out of marinade and discard the marinade.
  2. Salt turkey on both sides lightly
  3. Place on hot grill and cook about 8 minutes on each side.  (I use a T-fal grill so no need to turn.  This grill has a sensor and tells you when the food is ready.  It comes completely apart when cooled and goes right in the dishwasher.  I’ve had it for years now and it was the best investment ever!)
  4. Let turkey rest for about 5 minutes before carving.
  5. Slice to desired thickness.

Leftovers can be used in salads or sandwiches all week.  It was a delicious, light meal which we plated with a hearty chopped kale, broccoli slaw salad.

This is the grill I use. Click on the picture to see further information.

Stuffed Roast Pork

We were out Saturday night for dinner with some friends.  We ended up going out to a German restaurant on Long Island and I ended up eating pork loin, which happened to be on the menu for Sunday dinner this week.  I prepared the loin to cook this morning, but decided to wrap and hold it in the refrigerator for Monday instead.  This meal is one generally reserved for holidays, but my husband has been asking me to make it since I didn’t make it on our last holiday.  He purchased the meat and brought it home, so how could I possibly say no.

My dinner friends have been friends since we were in kindergarten.  These are the best kind of friends to have, as you have so many shared memories.  We went all through schooling together K – 12, so there’s nothing we didn’t experience together growing up.  I’m thankful we have kept in touch through our adult years and truly enjoy the times we spend together.  I wish we lived closer to each other, but we still manage to see each other several times each year.  Each time we meet, there’s tons of laughter and reminiscing of days gone by.  Gail is the memory keeper who inevitably cleans a closet and finds a photograph, or note we wrote each other back in junior high school.  This was the 1970s version of a group text.  It’s so much fun to read something your younger self wrote.  Marianne was always the level headed one in the group, whose current self loves to call to question that label.  Barbara, who couldn’t make it this time, was and continues to be the wild child who keeps us laughing all night.  These ladies have shared much of my life journey and I’m thankful to have them still in my life.

 

Sunday morning we decided to hold off on our roast, but I still needed to prepare it for cooking.  I came across a cooking page – Cooking with the Kingfish – recently that showed an easier way to cut a roast for stuffing.  I decided to try that out with this roast and it worked out well, super easy.  I prepared my sausage stuffing, cut the roast, pounded, stuffed, rolled and tied it for roasting  It was then placed in a roasting pan and wrapped for overnight.  On Monday, my husband will place it in the oven while I am at work for roasting.

Sausage Stuffing 

Ingredients

  • Onion chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • Sausage meat (I used sweet removed from casing)
  • Rye bread (half loaf)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Chop celery and onions small and saute in tablespoon of unsalted butter until soft (4 minutes)
  2. Add sausage meat and brown
  3. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute201C0C63-77F3-4F6F-9438-08BFD13E7EC2
  4. In separate bowl place cubed bread
  5. Pour sausage and vegetable mixture over bread
  6. Add egg and spices77BE9931-9B1C-43F5-8283-6F5C3492B94C
  7. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  8. Mix with hands until fully blended and set aside.110671EF-D293-4432-9CB2-1796FC68085D

Stuffed Roast Pork Loin

Ingredients:

  • 5 lb boneless pork loin
  • 1 onion chopped large
  • olive oil
  • 4 sweet potatoes chopped into large pieces (1 – 1/2 inches)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour cup of coffee because it’s far too early for wine and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.
  2. Rough chop onion and place in roasting pan
  3. Wash and pat dry roast and place on cutting board
  4. Slice gently with sharp knife the long way, almost in half but do NOT cut all the way through.
  5. Unfold the roast.
  6. Starting at center and moving toward outer edge slice in half without cutting all the way through and unfold
  7. Repeat this step on other half
  8. Place plastic wrap over roast and pound to even out24F53EB9-799A-477D-A46F-12D2FF793BF0
  9. Place stuffing on top of flattened roast and spread evenly07044235-8043-4E38-816D-DF4F3C2AC7F8
  10. Roll roast long way much like you would a jellyroll cake.
  11. Tie roast with roasting twine7D259DF6-07E8-41EC-A1A6-8986D68EACE7
  12. Rub pork with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.
  13. Stir together the flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the seasoned flour mixture evenly over the pork loin. (I didn’t put the flour on yet in the photo below. I’ll do that tomorrow, just prior to roasting.)
  14. Place on top of onion and sweet potato in roasting pan5063D2D3-BC4D-4556-AA74-0CAD47741C70
  15. Add 1 cup of chicken stock to bottom of pan
  16. Roast in oven at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  17. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F and continue to roast for 60 minutes
  18. Insert meat thermometer into pork – not stuffing – ready when 150 – 155 degrees F
  19. Let pork rest for 10 – 15 minutes.  Temperature should be 160 degrees F
  20. Slice with sharp knife and serve

In the past I just cut the roast almost in half and stuffed.  Rolling it made distribution of stuffing more even and presentation was much nicer. Delicious and enough for my dad and leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not My Mother’s Meatloaf

When I was a little girl nothing disgusted me more than meatloaf.   There was nothing about my mom’s meatloaf that appealed to me.   Seriously, who puts ketchup and raw onion in their ground beef?   I hated onions as a kid and putting ketchup on anything grossed me out – just ask my cousin how her dad tortured me with that one.  As meatloaf was a favorite of my father, it was in mom’s weekly rotation.   Gosh how I remember feigning sickness every time it came around on the menu.

When we were first married, my husband mentioned to me that he liked meatloaf.   I thought I had escaped this meal, but it was rearing it’s ugly head again.  I said I’d look around at some recipes and see what I could find.   I hoped he’d forget all about it, but he brought it up again a few weeks later.   I knew that I loved meatballs, so there had to be a way I could like meatloaf.  I vowed to have an open mind and give this meal another try.

We don’t eat meatloaf often around here, maybe once or twice a year.  After a lot experimenting I found a recipe we both can agree on.  Thankfully, it doesn’t require ketchup or raw onions, though that likely wouldn’t bother me as much anymore.   This recipe is very simple to make and we have had many different variations of it.   Depending on your tastes and side dishes you can change the filling to whatever you’d like.  Be creative and have fun with it.

My version of meatloaf is more or a stuffed meat log.   We’ve used chopped turkey or beef, but both prefer beef.   When we are in the mood for roasted potatoes, I fill the log with feta cheese and spinach.   When, like today we want a little sauce I fill the log with mozzarella cheese and spinach. Either way you make it, there’s likely not going to be much left.

This recipe as written was enough for two, with a care package for my dad.   Even though it’s not my mother’s meatloaf, dad still really enjoys it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup flavored bread crumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese chopped
  • Fresh organic baby spinach

Directions

  1. Pour a glass of Malbec and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen. 38B1C00C-2345-4189-9151-2AE4F8E082AE
  2. Mix ground beef, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and crushed tomatoes in Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. Spread mixture onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  B82B5BD3-BF30-4D98-9274-6F4A5490E813
  4. Put layer of chopped mozzarella and baby spinach on top of beef, spreading evenly.  Leave about 1/2 in border clear.  85D6CDAF-953B-4CCF-8664-90E812C620D9
  5. Lifting parchment paper, begin rolling beef into a log. End with seam down.  E4F405A6-549F-4622-BD21-349725389C57
  6. Place on greased, lined baking sheet. Be sure the tray has a lip to prevent grease from dripping in oven.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately with or without sauce.082BBFE8-6021-492E-803A-B79ACDF915F4

We ate ours tonight with homemade potato gnocchi and a touch of Sunday sauce. Delicious!

Recipe for homemade gnocchi can be found here – Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi

Recipe for Sunday sauce can be found here – Sunday Sauce

Let me know if you try any of these recipes.  If you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share, send me a note below.

 

Diana’s Veal & Peppers

Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a person goes through in their life.  Losing two parents and an only sister within three years is unimaginable to me.  When one suffers such a loss, memories are often where they find solace.  Photographs, songs, letters, scents and recipes keep us connected to those we miss the most.  An old friend of mine, Joan often cooks childhood dishes to reconnect to happier times with her family. Living in Buffalo now, Joan’s food photographs pop up on my Facebook feed, often when she can’t sleep.  On those days, I feel like I can smell her cooking right through the computer and wish she still lived nearby.

I met Joan back when our boys were little.  Our boys attended elementary school together and were two peas in a pod, especially when it came to leaving their books at school.  My son Robert used to inform me that Gary’s mother would go and make photocopies of missing homework pages at the nearest drug store.  I told my son that was way too complicated for me with three young children, besides he needed to learn responsibility, right?

Joan was one of the first ladies I met when our children started Kindergarten.  She was hysterically funny and a realist when it came to raising her children.  We shared many laughs and cocktails together as our children grew up.  When Joan’s children went off to college in Buffalo, she and her husband decided to pack up and move up there.

A few years back, Joan lost her mom and dad within one year of each other.  When her mom was dying of cancer, Joan and her sister Barbara moved back into the family home in Brooklyn to care for her.  Joan’s posts were often like Seinfeld episodes, in which she described going back to the old neighborhood.  Throughout this most difficult time, Joan kept her sense of humor and helped her mom Diana keep her dignity.  Anyone who has gone through this knows that is not an easy thing to do.  Not long after Joan’s mom died, her only sister Barbara passed away unexpectedly.  This came as quite a shock to all as Barbara was a healthy woman and left Joan understandably devastated.

Joanandmom
Joan, Diana, Barbara

Yesterday, Joan commented on my sausage and peppers post.   She shared how she too, cooks foods from her past to feel closer to those lost.  She said she tries to make her mother’s recipes to hang on to her childhood memories.  Her mother’s veal and peppers recipe was her favorite as a child.  Every year for her birthday, her mom would let her request a special dinner and this is the one Joan picked.  As she celebrates her birthday this weekend, Joan made her mom’s treasured recipe and kindly shared it with us.

Like most women of her time, Diana never wrote anything down.  Joan said she often has the urge to pick up the phone when cooking to ask her mom how to make certain foods.  I’m sure many of you know that feeling all too well.  Here is Diana’s recipe as Joan makes it today.

Diana’s Veal & PeppersJoansmom

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 red peppers sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs veal cubes for stew
  • Flour
  • 2 small cans of DelMonte Tomato Sauce
  • Red wine

Directions:

I usually make the peppers in advance just to make life easier.

  1. Slice up 4-5 red peppers and 1 onion. Place in pan with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes. Mix it coating the peppers with oil. Cover with foil and cook at 400 hundred oven till almost soft. (15-20 minutes)
  2. Mix flour, salt and black pepper in dish. Coat veal cubes in flour.
  3. Brown veal in large frying pan with olive oil and minced garlic.
  4. When brown add splash of red wine to deglaze the pot.
  5. Then add 2 small cans of Del Monte tomato sauce and a little bit of water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer about 1 to 1 1/2 hours till veal is fork tender.
  6. Add peppers and onions and heat all together for 5 minutes or until hot. That’s it.
  7. Serve on rice
  8. Leftovers, if any, are great on Italian hero’s the next dayE974E165-6B44-4A51-AF72-1C9663CD0B1D

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment in the section below.  We’d love to hear how you liked it.

If you’d like to share a special recipe from your family, please leave me a comment and I’d be happy to feature it here on the blog.