Thursday, February 26, 2009

Family Food Traditions

Jello. That iconic food staple of all Lutheran potlucks. "Make some Jello tonight" the ad says. After all, it is so simple - what could, in fact, be easier? It's got only two ingredients: a box of Jello and WATER. Any idiot should be able to make this successfully. Last night I proved I am the exception to this rule.

My older sister, Dona, remembers Jello a bit differently. She spent her early years in a small community with a lot of relatives from both sides of our family. She went to school each day in the company of my mom's youngest brother and sister. And Sunday "dinner" (what I would call "lunch" today was referred to then) was always at Grandma McDonagh's house after Sunday Mass. The menu never varied - meat, potatoes (and other vegetables - they had a vegetable farm then), sliced white bread and Jello. And just as invariably, the jello was lumpy. Grandma always forgot or never had time to start the process any earlier so she relied on the "quick set method"...dissolve in boiling water, add some cold water and some ice cubes. Now the remainder of the instructions for this method were to remove the ice cubes at some point but shepherding 10 kids out the door to church created sufficient distraction so that particular detail was customarily overlooked. This meant her jello had a rather unique consistency - of course as my grandpa would say "still tastes the same."

Having learned to cook from her mom, my mom continued the tradition and we often had jello for dinner (I think others might have called this "supper"). Mom always made the jello in her 9x13 aluminum cake pan (which I now possess) which imparted a slight metallic taste. Sometimes she would put fruit cocktail or other fruits in it and often, apparently in keeping with tradition, she would forget until the jello was fairly set before remembering to add the fruit. This meant that the fruit "floated" on the top - not so much a problem if she was adding canned fruit cocktail to green or yellow jello but if she was slicing bananas into strawberry jello (one of her favorites), the oxidation of the floating slices was less than appealing to a kid. My dad would say "still tastes the same" so we ate it whether we liked it or not.

Both my younger (Margo) and my sister-in-law (Rosanne) have mastered the art of jello - the concoctions they create are beautiful and tasty, sometimes layered and/or molded, using all the flavors of the rainbow. And each time we're there, my kids look to me and ask why don't we have jello at home? I never have a good answer...

Until last night. Yesterday, I decided that lime gelatin with pears just plain sounded yummy. Maybe I was thinking that it would be an okay substitute for a catholic who was denying herself a dessert on Ash Wednesday...maybe I just wanted to use up a box in my pantry. In any event, I went to the store and purchased canned pears. I was a bit late getting home from lunch and errands but I was determined NOT to make lumpy jello by "quick" method. So I dissolve the jello in the boiling water and then put it in the fridge - setting the timer so I don't forget to add the pears BEFORE the jello completely sets (I don't want any "floaters"). I was going to break away from all family traditions!

The step I neglected was adding the remaining cold water to the mixture BEFORE putting it in the fridge. When I checked it 1/2 hour later, I discovered that I had essentially made "jigglers" - the kind of jello you make for a kid to eat with their hands. I tried to stir in the fruit regardless and well let's just say grandma's lumpy jello had nothing on me! My daughter (Sarah) was visiting and she thought I could just stir in the remaining water now. My son (Chris) was skeptical and suggested I at least try to whisk it in.

It worked pretty much as you might expect, which is to say, not so much. But God love my husband, Gerry. As we sat there at dinner, he gamely tried it and pronounced it "still tastes the same."


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Best TV Show You're Probably Not Watching - Part II

Lie to Me (Fox, Wed. @ 9 pm) - Only 4 episodes into this new show and already I'm watching people's expressions far more carefully. Brought to us by the same team that created 24 and like Bones (based on a real person and situation) Tim Roth stars as the "leading deception expert" using his skills to figure why someone is lying (because he already KNOWS when they are lying)...makes me look at email communications in a whole new light! It's taking a little break (3 weeks) so you'll have lots of opportunity to get the TIVO set up to record.

Also, an update on Leverage: TNT is going to have a Marathon on Tues. Feb. 24th, running all 12 past episodes leading up to the final episode that night. I'm making popcorn!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Welcome Home!

He's coming home! I can't believe it (that he signed with the Mariners or that Howard Lincoln apparently reads my blog) but Ken Griffey Jr. will once again be part of my boys of summer...

NOW I'm finally looking forward to Opening Day and the rest of this season!


The Best TV Show You're Probably Not Watching - Part I

Leverage (TNT Tuesday nights @ 7 pm Pacific) Sorry to say that next week's episode (2/24/09) will be the last one for this season (TNT continues the very successful concept of rolling out shows on a different schedule than the "major" networks) but the really good news is that they have already green-lighted this series for another season. I can hardly wait!

The writing is tight with high level humor and no emphasis on forensic science (I like CSI: and Bones but it's refreshing to watch a show that doesn't begin with a "graphic warning" message for a change). The cast includes Timothy Hutton who is excellent but also some relatively unknown newcomers and they form a very cohesive ensemble.

My only complaint might be that some of their lines are not much more than mumbled asides to each other, but thank God for Tivo!

Seriously...check this one out. Full episodes can be found at and you're gonna want to catch up before Season 2.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Somebody else has to go!

Since my only 'travels' today were errands to the big city of Redmond, I guess I will use my soapbox to vent my current frustration.

The AP has just reported that Ken Griffey, Jr. is headed to...Atlanta. Not Seattle. Management here tried to entice Jr. - no doubt just to get a few people to commit to season tickets this season. Then, as usual, when it comes right down to it, Howard Lincoln says "no, I don't think we've got any money for free agents this year."

I'm not sure the M's will (or should) have any money for Howard Lincoln this season. While I do recognize that Jr. is no longer the kid we all loved to watch, the one who had them put Nintendo games up on the Diamond Vision while everyone else was working out, he still would have been fun to watch. At least he could serve as a daily reminder of the good ol' days when baseball was fun in Seattle.

Now I'm stuck watching a team that talks a good game but refuses to walk that talk. Another building season...another season with no one in the stands...another disappointment...and I don't even think that spring training games have started. Apparently I will have to once again record my "voodoo voice mail message" - it worked to oust Bill Bavasi. Now I will turn my attention to HL and hope for similiar results!

Stay tuned...I still have "Octo-mom" to vent about!


Monday, February 16, 2009

Joining the Blogosphere

Well I'm here.

I'm not exactly sure that I'm going to either like this format or even figure it out but I'm committed to at least giving it a try. (I've also joined Facebook but seriously...I'm finding that a bit confusing and rather underwhelming. Really? A format for finding friends, possibly. But it seems that users spend a great deal of time "buying virtual drinks" and "throwing beads" and adding sentences that begin "Terri is..." - fill in the blank. I'm sure getting the hang of Facebook won't prove too difficult but finding the justification to spend time there is going to take some serious thought!)

Anyway, back to the notion of blogging. Sarah does a great job with her blog, but then she's got a fabulous topic (Mattias) and I anticipate that Jenny will do as great a job once her "topic" arrives this summer.

Me? I figured rather than send out email updates with the continuing adventures of our travels, I would try blogging them instead. Sarah promises that it is easy and very addictive. Hmm...maybe I should be putting together a 12-step program for weaning one's self off of the technology. There's bound to be money in that.

In any event, this is today's entry...I've arrived in the 21st century. Something to look forward to (I know I am!): Panama (and other assorted central American countries).