Wednesday, October 28, 2015

To eat like a child

Caesar salad at ten in the morning? Pizza and ice cream for breakfast on a cruise with Sarah? Key lime shakes at home? Finally figured that one out.  Where would I be without my Vitamix?

We laugh about the day we were taken in by the $400 blender. It was the first day that it appeared in Costco. We concluded that we had reached the age of insanity, or was it maturity, when we actually bought it. And we haven’t been sorry, not for one day.

So there I was at ten this morning. There was a big container of Caesar dressing that I had whipped up in my Vitamix two days ago. It was sitting just above some fresh romaine lettuce, and it was beckoning to me, so I answered its call. Is Caesar salad for breakfast less bad for you than cotton candy?

When the company named the Vitamix, I think they had the word vitamin in mind. They demonstrate all these yucky shakes with vegetables and fruits with the skin and seeds, of course. They add some evil-looking powder and let you taste it. It scares me because I have to read the ingredients on everything I eat, lest there be some migraine-making-monster hidden in the list. So I never try their stuff. I stand there and keep muttering about my key lime shakes. Really healthy stuff: ice, sweetened condensed milk, and key lime juice (I live in Florida, so it’s available at the corner store.).

So what went into the Caesar dressing? Unfortunately, you really do need a Vitamix to make it because it's so powerful that it heats the eggs to kill whatever bacteria might be lurking Otherwise, you have to warm the eggs some other way. 

I start with an egg or two (I’m terrible at giving out recipes—my way is taste it to try it.) Let it whirl until the eggs are warm, just short of cooked. They dump in a can of anchovies with the olive oil, a clove of garlic, the juice of a lemon or two, and drizzle in some olive oil until the dressing looks like mayonnaise. On top of it all goes a hefty amount of Parmesan and some pepper (no salt—anchovies are salty enough). The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two. Serve it with Romaine lettuce and some croutons. It was a really good breakfast. 

To a real restaurant, like Keen’s Chop House in NYC, where the Caesar salad has been legendary, my method is a sacrilege. They start tableside with a big wooden bowl. They rub it with garlic and add a raw egg, then the lemon and the anchovies and olive oil, mashing like mad with a wooden spoon. In goes the Romaine, that they claim they tear (Romaine is never supposed to go near a knife.) and then the Parmesan. It’s really good, but costs a small fortune. About now my mouth is watering for the mutton chop dinner. If you haven’t been there, you won’t understand.

But back to my Vitamix: If the Caesar dressing looks like mayonnaise, it’s because mayonnaise is made from nothing but eggs, lemon, and oil. Try making your own with really good olive oil: Hellmann’s beware. The same emulsion method works for Hollandaise sauce, but you use less lemon and butter instead of all. The trick is the Vitamix. I never could make it work with the Cuisinart. I guess it just doesn’t spin fast enough.

Oh no, it’s lunch time. May I have some more Caesar salad?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Maybe the world has really changed

Has the world changed? Where have all the thoughtful people gone? Is morality a dirty word? 

My husband gleefully said “I told you so.” His harping back to his small town roots where they used to leave the keys in the car because they knew no one would take it, even for a joyride, has been getting on my nerves for the last 53 years. 

I hate people who live in the past. I want to think about today, about tomorrow. I want to live in the moment. The incidents of last few days have begun to change my mind. 

We spent the weekend at John Pennekamp State Park. On the way down, we stopped to try to fix the hitch that was carrying our motor scooter. The road between Florida City and Key Largo consists of two lanes, one in each direction, except for an occasional passing zone. It was built in the Everglades on the swamp and not very stable, with deep dips. 

I guess we should have done better when we engineered the hitch because we watched the bike fly up about three feet and come down, luckily intact and without tearing the mirror from its mooring. So there we were, fixing the connections in the 90 plus degree sunshine on the side of the road—no one, not a soul stopped to offer assistance.

We made it to Pennekamp and  got the thing back to Florida City on its own wheels—our son came down to visit and rode it back. More engineering and welding are on the agenda for this week before we return to Pennekamp. Either that or I’ll have to, heaven forbid, drive a car down there.  A 40 foot bus is a bit cumbersome when it’s your only mode of transportation in the Keys.

We returned to Florida City sans motor scooter, parked the bus, and found that we had new neighbors. Our half hour ritual of plugging and attaching and connecting yielded no satellite service. I plugged and unplugged and couldn’t zero in on this week’s issue (Last time it was a bad connection, but this error message was different.) 

This morning I realized that someone had run into the tripod and bent the leg, knocking the dish out of position. Nice new neighbors. I’d better stay away from them. You can’t hit the thing so hard that you bend it without knowing it. So no TV until Tuesday afternoon when the Dish repair person can come to fix it.

This morning was for errands. I parked in a wide spot away from everyone. When I came back to my car, my white bumper had been scraped beyond repair by a black something. And that was the bumper that was supposed to have been painted after the last Good Samaritan scraped it. Does it pay? Maybe we should all have cars that are scraped and banged and dented and use them for shopping, while we keep the pristine ones parked for driving around and showing off.

My last stop was Walmart. I was too lazy to calculate the number of items in my basket, so I chose a line with someone with a large order, followed by a young man who had only a can of soda. I was about to tell him that if he wasn’t already in front of me, I would let him go ahead, when his wife appeared with her basket filled to the top.

Years ago, when I let someone ahead of me in Walmart, the very senior citizen behind me grumbled so loudly that I asked him “What are you in such a hurry to do, die?”