Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Carnival Time

To celebrate Mardi Gras, here's a picture from the treasure trove I inherited from my parents. This one is of a 1954 costume ball at the Grimón residence during carnival season in Havana, which preceeded the beginning of Lent. My parents were newlyweds in this photo (lower left corner). My half-sister, Carely, is the little girl seated in the front, and the boy next to her is my first cousin, William, who eventually became my godfather. This constituted the younger set who dressed up in costumes. The elders unfortunately, did not pose.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cassoulet boom!

Boy, I'm checking out the blogs of two sisters-in-law and two other friends and everyone's been traveling. The most exciting thing that's happened to me lately is blowing up my crockpot while learning to make cassoulet.

Here's the story: I was following a slow cooker recipe that called for sauteeing directly on the porcelain insert. I checked the manufacturer's booklet, and it said that it was stove-top safe. Well, they lied. As soon as it got hot, it cracked and made a horrible exploding sound. Fortunately, I had only just begun adding ingredients so the only thing I had to toss was the panko, and I had more of it so there was no need for an extra trip to the grocery store. The only problem was that now I had to make the dish in a regular dutch oven, so I had to alter the recipe. My old trusted "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child came to the rescue.
Cassoulet is really peasant fare. It's made with goose (left over from the production of foie gras), or pork, and sausages, cooked with white beans, tomato sauce and a few other ingredients. It's sort of the French version of pork and beans.

It turned out delicious, but after all the work, I realized it was similar in taste to a white bean soup recipe I make now and again, except that my soup recipe is a lot easier to make. All I need to do next time is add the pork and chorizo sausage, and add a little more thyme . . .

Still, it's been a while since I got to play in the kitchen, and I felt like a sorcerer conjuring up a new potion. It was very cool - especially when the crockpot blew up. Lee was asleep in the recliner and he shot out of the chair like a rocket! The man can still move.

The recipe took literally hours to prepare so here's the best advise if you want to try it:
  • Buy a plane ticket to France
  • Find a restaurant
  • Order the cassoulet and a lovely bottle of wine to go with it
  • Voilà! Enjoy. There's no cleanup with this recipe. And no exploding crockpots.
Not exactly a trip to the Caribbean, but we must try to find excitement where we can.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe is just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
—Langston Hughes
Time and again, I am drawn to the poetry of Langston Hughes. This wonderful poet of the Harlem Renaissance speaks in a language common to us all, transcending race and time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bath hoodies

These two pictures tickle me so. I never would have thought to put them side-by-side, except that I'm organizing the boys' baby pictures. I had to do a double take myself to make sure I could tell them apart. Can you guess which is which?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Post-Holiday Gathering

Get-together with Mary Ann, Bill, Joy, Andy, Rina, Bob and Laurie at the Langman's residence. Mary Ann, as usual, put out a delicious spread.

Here are two of my sisters-in-law, Rina and Mary Ann, playing with Rina's new camera.

I wish we had taken more photos, but we were so relaxed, the photos were taken by Lee as an afterthought.