Friday, March 27, 2009

The Coffee Pot Game

My father started it. He used to say, "you can get a lot done while the coffee is perking". So being my father's daughter, I have played this silly little game for about the past 36 years or so. It's kind of like that old game, Beat the Clock, but it's beat the coffee pot. Here's how it goes. I get up at 5:30 and the first thing I do is make the coffee. Now, this is often a challenge because most nights I go to bed with dishes still in the sink or junk still laying around on the counter. So just to get to the coffee pot is often a feat in itself! But once I press the button, its like somebody says, ready, set go. I have timed it and it takes just about 16 minutes to get the finished pot. Now, my husband is one of those people that stands around with his empty but well seasoned coffee cup in his hand, waiting for the last drip to drop. Pacing, looking, dawdling, waiting. Not racing, not playing the game. He will occasionally pull out the pot just a little bit to check the progress. When I catch him doing this, it really burns me up, and I usually chastise him with something like, wait till its done, or its not done yet, or something obvious and lame like that. But I digress, that is usually a weekend event because the four days a week that I work, I am up at 5:30 and quite frankly, he's not. Well, not until lately when he started working an hour and a half north, but he usually waits till my little ritual is done. So the game is mine, alone. So back to the button, its pushed, and the countdown starts. Usually, I start with the dishwasher, because typically, I have filled it and washed the dishes to some extent, but there are always others laying around. So I empty the dishwasher and put the dishes away, but, okay, here's another confession, I have this counting thing, so I have to tap each glass before I take it out and count them, I know it's nutty, but I can't stop. So first I count them, then I take them out and put them on a towel on the counter, and make sure they are totally dry, then I count them on the counter, and then put them in the cabinet and count them as they go in. Now if I could stop this obsession, I would probably cut at least two minutes out of my race performance, but it is just not possible. Okay, so now that all the clean dishes have been counted and put away, I attack the dirty ones laying around, wash them out, rinse and put in the dishwaser . . . okay, I count them too. Then slam the dishwahser, wipe down the counter. Coffee is still perking. I still have quite a bit of time to go. If I can perfect this, I could probably try out for the Amazing Race! Next is packing up my lunch for work, and breakfast because I go in so early, so I have to pour out my cereal, get some fruit, cut it up if it is strawberries for instance, then put either a leftover in a container or make up a salad, throw in some fruit, get that all done, put in a bag. Coffee is still not done. Next tackle is the kitchen table, I go through the mail, sort it out, keep checking the coffee pot, checking the clock, okay, I am way ahead of the pot now. Next is my medicine, I put it out on the counter, get a coffee mug out, put the medicine next to the coffee mug. That's done. My father would be so proud of me. Keep the eye on the prize they say. Well that prize is the first cup of freshly brewed coffee, one pink sweet and lo and one coffee mate dollop of french vanilla (I know, the french vanilla kind of makes the sweet and lo seem ridiculous, doesn't it!). Anyway, during all this craziness, that's my goal, and the strong aroma of that wonderfully flavorful coffee, the first cup from the freshly brewed pot, the first splash after the last drip . . . . ok, I am salvating, let me get back to the race. So I am done with my lunch preparations, emptied the dishwasher, reloaded, counted, cleaned off the table, thrown out the junk mail, and I still have time. I check the clock again, hmmmm, just a little over a minute. What can I do? What can I do, I have to be productive, or the game isn't the same, oh yea, I can run downstairs and find the movie I rented from Netflix and package it up, and check my email again. Okay, done, ten seconds to go, just enough time to climb the stairs, and watch the last drip, you know that last drip that signals the pot is done, and the first savory, delicious, rewarding, cup is ready, just for me, just because I have used my time so wisely, my reward, my steps quicken, I am almost skipping, I reach the top of the stairs just to pass my husband as he walks out to the garage, unlit cigarette in one hand, coffee cup in the other, full coffee cup, fresh coffee, first cup, my cup, "Good Morning" he nods as he saunters out to savor that coffee/cigarette combo. For today at least, I know the agony of defeat!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are you ready for this!

Ok, here it is! My newest nuttiness! The apron is hotter than the kitchen collection of not your granny's aprons! Check it out. More patterns to follow!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's that smell?

Whew! It is strong in here! When you come in from outside it smacks you in the face. I was going to light one of the fragrance candles, but the competition of aromas would be too much. In the crock pot, I have potato and leek soup, and couldn't resist throwing an onion in. That was a very weepy production. But I noticed that Paula Deen was wearing these onion goggles, and I have to get myself some. Between the leeks and the onions yesterday, I could have cried myself a river, literally! Anyway, I am reheating that since I made it yesterday. I have some shredded cheese and crisp bacon to throw on top when it is ready to eat. On the stove is a slab of corned beef with all the seasonings that was in the packet, that has been simmering since about 10:00 a.m., and I just threw in the red potatoes. My husband is telling me to wait on the cabbage, he likes it firmer. Guess that will mask the taste of the corned beef that he hates! Anyway, my son and his partner are coming, so the table is only set for four. Daughter is very pregnant and tired, and the trip is a little too much these days, especially for a meal that you hate! I made cupcakes yesterday and coated them with sprinkles, green and white, and I did my second attempt at an ice cream cake, chocolate chip mint on the bottom, crushed thin mint girl scout cookies, mini chocolate chips and hersheys' syrup, then another layer of just vanilla ice cream. I did that yesterday and just took it out a while ago, and dyed some cool whip green and put the sprinkles on and put that back in the freezer. Hubby just came back from the liquor store with two kinds of Irish beer. Plus our cable company that plays music has all Irish music on the Sounds of the Season channel. It is pretty dreary out, misty and rainy. My neighbor is from Ireland and she tells me that is the way it is over there. I wouldn't know. I always dream of someday going to Ireland, but if that every happens, that would be a miracle. I'm all set for today though, a little bit of Irish heaven in Jackson, New Jersey. Plus, I was busy sewing this morning. Wait until you see what I made, I will post it later, but I want my son to model it for me first! So since my friend Nora asked me to post some pictures of my Irish kitchen, I have put some in here for you to look at! Pretty soon all the Irish stuff will come down and the Easter curtains, tablecloth, etc., will go up. Change, variety, the spice of life! Reminds me, I heard somewhere that change is the only constant thing you can count on. Thats for sure. Lot of changes, from the St. Paddy's day celebrations with my parents when we were kids, my own over the years with the house overflowing with relatives and nieces and nephews and grandchildren, to this simple table set for four. Many empty chairs, my brother and family moved to Illinois nine years ago, Aunt Edna has passed, David has passed, Mom and Dad Tietke, and of course my parents well over 30 years ago. Things have changed a lot, but a lot has stayed the same. Love of family, sharing a simple meal, carrying on a tradition.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Mother's Love's a Blessing

A mother's love's a blessing,
No matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
You'll miss her when she's gone,
Love her as in childhood,
Though feeble, old and grey,
For you'll never miss a mother's love,
Till she's buried beneath the clay.

I've been humming this song lately. It is kind of melancholy. I first knew of it when I read the book Angela's Ashes. I think of that song a lot this time of year, because of two occasions, my mother's birthday and St. Patrick's Day. My mom was born on March 16th, 1926, and growing up I always associated her birthday with our celebration of St. Patrick's Day. My mother was proud to be Irish. Margaret Ellen O'Brien was her name, but most people called her Peggy. Anyway, on St. Patrick's Day, she would always make a traditional Irish dinner of corn beef and cabbage and red potatoes, all boiled in the same pot. And we would have rye bread with lots of butter and she would put a drop of green food coloring in my father's beer. There was always Irish music playing on the record player, and my dad often sang, Peg of My Heart, or my Wild Irish Rose to her. She died in 1974, at the very young age of 48, suddenly, in an instant. One moment she was talking, the next she was gone. Earlier that year she had ordered a set of Irish records that were advertised on TV, you know the kind of infomercials that they had back then, even in the 70's. She waited patiently for them to come, and they did arrive, about a month after she died. I remember my dad saying, Mama's records came. I think we played them, but it just wasn't the same. Through the years, I have tried to recreate that festive Irish celebration for my family. My kids usually groaned, and my husband would annouce that he hates corn beef and cabbage but will eat it just once a year. I decorate for the occasion, I have special Irish curtains and a tablecloth that I made. In fact, this year, I bought new material, because my old set was getting pretty raggedty. I will buy the soda bread, corn beef, cabbage, red potatoes and rye bread. I already put out all my Irish knicknacks. My kids are grown now with families of their own, and I have been trying to coordinate their very busy schedules to get them home for an Irish dinner around St. Patrick's Day. One soninlaw is from Portugal and the other soninlaw is from Romania, so guess the Irish blood is getting thinner and thinner in our family! Anyway, we are down to two possible dates now, so it looks good for this year. So once we settle on that date, the music will be played and the food prepared and for one day I will step back in time and feel the warmth of my mother's love as she made that day so special for us. I have often told my kids that the best feeling I ever can remember is the embrace of my mother when I was a child. So much of our life is assumed, assumed that people know how we feel, assumed that we will have tomorrow, assumed that there will always be more time. So if you are lucky enough to have your mom still living, give her an extra long hug. As for me, I have to save my hugs until I see her again, but hope she hears me singing . . . . " . . a Mother's Love's a Blessing . . ."