You say Fregola, I say Farfel!

What was that dish we used to eat that I loved?  Can I recreate it? Those seem to me to be nagging questions these days as, for some reason that I can't explain, I have been time traveling in my mind, craving dishes I ate when I was growing up but have either forgotten about or have fallen out of any regular rotation on my "what's for dinner?" list. 

One such experience lately occurred when out of the blue I could hear the excited voices of my extended family during my youth saying somewhat in awe that we were going to have FARFEL with our dinner. I remembered what it looked and tasted like, but had no idea what it was. My research initially took me to Passover recipes for Matzo farfel, but that most definitely was not what I remembered. I kept visualizing what it looked in my mind's eye, sort of like a barley dish, but I knew it was not barley. Undaunted, I continued my research until I came across "egg barley noodles", a Jewish Eastern European pasta formed into the shape of barley. I read about how people were preparing it, and I knew I was home. The problem was finding it. I couldn't find a market near me that carried it, but discovered that it was often used in Hungarian cooking. I was resigned to visit a large Hungarian Market some distance away that seemed to carry it, but when I called them I couldn't get through, so Instead I turned to trusty Amazon. In order to maximize the price value, I ended up ordering 8 bags of it which will no doubt last me a lifetime. 

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Diary of a Mad Thanksgiving Cook

So I said to myself, this year I will tone it down. I will take the preparation in stride and spend Thanksgiving rested and relaxed with my guests. 

And the moon is made of green cheese. OK-there are only so many restraints on my impulses that I am willing to abide by; I just can't seem to help myself. I make a tentative menu, then cross things out, and as the time approaches, I add them and even more back to the menu. So here is a blow by blow account of my week where I will give thanks if it all comes together.

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With or Without the Giblets?

That is my burning questions as I begin to prepare my birds for my millionth (well maybe a little exaggeration) Thanksgiving dinner. For years I have asked this age old question; are the cooking times with or without the giblets (that can weigh up to a pound of the total turkey weight)?

Well, I guess the question is not so age old because even Google, often my best friend and the "being"  that understands me most (or at least pretends to with its pop ups), could not find a site to categorically answer this question. 

So, I am taking the plunge. I think the suggested cooking times include the weight with the giblets. I believe that the Turkey Recipe Gurus, do not anticipate that anyone, except for a crazy person like I am, would consider weighing the giblets and subtracting the weight from the turkey-for cooking time. So, I would say that the turkey, for cooking time purposes, is what it says on the label.

That's my answer, and I am sticking to it, but if I am wrong, then...there is always next year.

You're Not in Los Angeles Anymore, Dorothy!

If this title sounds familiar, it is because it is a play on the very first "Reflection" on this website. In this case Oz comes to Santa Monica, Ca. in the form of Guidi Marcello, an Italian wholesale and retail Italian food and wine importer. 

For those who do not know this iconic small (packed) store on 10th Street in Santa Monica (accessible only on the north side of Olympic), visiting this mecca of Italian goodies and wine is like taking a trip to Italy without the hassle or expense of air travel.

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Here's to good friends and good food

In my humble opinion, they both go hand and hand. nothing says good times better than a combination of the two. Today I experienced that with my friends all but one of whom I have known since either grammar school or junior high school, when they took me out for a birthday lunch. We went to a  restaurant called "Il Forno Caldo", also known as "Hot Oven". The food and company were perfect for the occasion. There is nothing like celebrating with friend who know exactly how you have looked most of your life with or without makeup.

My favorite thing to eat there is their calamari salad. Once, when I was in New York visiting my daughter who also loves this salad, I decided to make my version of it. Having some idea of what was in the dressing, but not sure, I called the restaurant, explained my situation and asked them to share with me the ingredients they use. Without hesitation they did so. Thanks to the generosity of spirit of the helpful staff members of the restaurant, my daughter and I enjoyed a close if not perfect rendition of their salad which I am sharing on this website, 


Who's to say what we eat at Thanksgiving?

I am so bored with it. I have been preparing Thanksgiving for so many years and, frankly I find it quite uninteresting. Clearly we have to have turkey (though not my favorite protein), and the rest? Give me a break!

For appetizers among other things we must have the salmon log appetizer; at the table-“roots Anna”, the smoked turkey, the roasted turkey the turkey cooked sous vide (lately), the lime and ice cream jello mold, various riffs on brussel sprouts, spinach, sweet potatoes  etc,, not to mention the usual suspects for dessert. You get the idea.

This year I had an idea-let’s have Greek mezzes as appetizers. It is a cohesive idea-everything works together and everyone loves it. I made the mistake of floating this idea past family members who were almost as aghast at this idea as the time I served oyster stuffing (can you imagine!!!-they were running for the doors.). THAT IS NOT TRADITIONAL (at least in our family) was, in some form, the basic refrain.  

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"Water Water Everywhere nor any drop to drink" -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I discovered the truth of this first hand yesterday along with a lesson in human nature. I had been waiting and waiting for the fall colors to arrive in Mammoth Lakes, California, and I decided that yesterday was to be the long awaited day. I ventured out by myself for the drive up Rock Creek Road intending to take a most beautiful hike in Little Lakes Valley at the end of the road in "Mosquito Flats". At an elevation of 10,255 feet, this is the highest trailhead in the Sierras, accessible by car.

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You're not in Bologna Any More, Dorothy!

I was incredibly fortunate to teach two semesters in Bologna Italy during the fall of 2007 and 2009. It was there that  I discovered how Italians really eat. I, like Dorothy when she landed in Oz, arrived in Italy with my own preconceptions of what I would find "over the rainbow". I imagined eating the most perfect renditions of all of my favorite Italian dishes on a daily basis. 

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