We all grew up with sage one-liners, parroting them as children: "Save your pennies and the dollars with save themselves." --Lisa's Gram
"Don't cry over spilt milk."--my Mom
"They'll be grown and gone before you know it!"--every grandparent
And a personal favorite:
"Life gives you lemons, make lemonade."--every parent
Then around college age, we became more knowledgeable, 'wiser' and more eloquent than these trite '-isms' of our superstitious and ignorant ancestors. We may have been intelligent, but, not smarter as our own children would eventually remind us.
A few weeks back, we actually made it to the table one evening with a full house for dinner; every child present and accounted for! Once the call is made by Mom, each child that is handy, takes it upon themselves to yell for another child. Brendan yells down the basement stairs for Liam. Siobhan runs down the hall and yells for Fisher, knocks on his door and just in case he had nuclear earbuds in, she tells him that dinner is ready. Bonnie-Belle then runs over to the computer and gives Patrick a hug, whispering into his headphones that it's 'Time.' Much commotion ensues as Mom employs each attendee in a quick task.
"Quick, put this down in the center of the table."
"Put a glass at each setting; small glass, but, not a baby glass for Siobhan. She'll get mad."
"TONGS! Where the HELL are the tongs!?" Two seconds later, "FOUND 'EM!" Still out on the grill.
"Brendan, fill a water pitcher..."
Everyone gives a quick glance at the table before grabbing a chair, it all looks good we say to ourselves, and take seats.
A blessing is said.
Lisa has been doing some neat things lately with lightly dressed pastas and a variety of mixed greens. This evening, she had bowties tossed with arugula and baby spinach, crumbled feta cheese and a zippy vinaigrette. She grilled some thick cut pork chops which had been lightly rubbed with kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and a killer little sauce. Potatoes were quartered reds with fresh garlic and garden rosemary. It was simple, straight-forward, but, it had all of us practically falling out of our chairs.
"Whoa...MOM! What's in this PASTA...it totally rocks!" exclaimed Brendan.
"Yeah, and the pork chops are like...so grubbin'!" Liam followed.
It's nice to hear a compliment on your cooking, but, teenage boys are not that picky and will eat anything, pretty much. So, you kind of consider the source.
That night was different.
Lisa sat there taking it all in as the boys tried to guess what was so different.
"It's citrus-y," said Pat, "but, it's not tart or sour. It's not sweet, either."
"You're close, but, not quite there. Give up?" she asked. Siobhan was giggling and whispered something in Mom's ear. Lisa said, "OK."
"Meyer Lemons!" shouted Siobhan, "Mom and I picked them out at New Seasons."
Sure enough, Lisa and Bonnie had gone to the hippy grocery store after school, over by St. Agatha's and decided to find a fruit or vegetable that Siobhan had never eaten. Lisa made a lemon vinaigrette for the pasta and a Meyer lemon butter for the chops. The Meyer lemon was brought to the US in the early last century from China and is a cross between a lemon and either an orange or mandarin. The peel is thin and fragrant; the flesh is juicy with a tinge of orange.
The flavors of Lisa's concoctions were focused, lean and refreshing. The soft acidity kept the palate fresh after every bite; nothing was muddled or over-powered.
We took turns extolling the attributes of the meal from perfect grill marks to the vanilla toastiness of roasted rosemary to not liking spinach 'but in this pasta it was great.' Siobhan then got up from the table, still chewing and took a stance at the corner.
"Hey Dad, watch this!" as she stood at attention with her arms to her side.
"Pen-cil!" She then took a breath and flung her arms above her head while her feet jumped to shoulder width apart.
"Pencil-Angel-Pencil-Angel...," she continued, "I learned how to do Jumping Jacks today!"
The table erupted in cheers, laughter and congratulations.
"That's GREAT, baby girl," I said, "We're so proud of you. That Mr. Kelly is a pretty good PE teacher."
Patrick grinned and smirked.
"Dinner and a Show at the Quinn house..."
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
2 oz. meyer lemon juice, freshly sqeezed
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 t. cracked black pepper
1 egg yolk
6 oz. olive oil, extra virgin
Combine all but the olive oil in a small mixing bowl and whisk together.
Slowly pour the olive oil in a thin stream into the aforementioned mixture while whisking. Pour from the outside of the bowl and incorporate into the center of the liquid. This will aid in the emulsion or blending of the vinaigrette; it won't separate.
Brush this onto grilled meat, add to a cold pasta salad or use it for dipping. It's pretty versatile.
Have fun with this, we did.
Take care, God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends
the Best Things in Life aren't Things."