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Jun 2, 2010

Nostalgia and Potatoes


What is it about reaching middle age that makes one prone to retro-travel? Is it programmed into the aging process? Or is it the sense that time and modernization is slowly erasing the evidence that our youth existed?

I cannot run errands without reminiscing. I'll spot the liquor store that satisfied summer junk food cravings or the renovated mall that marked the end of my childhood Christmas shopping at Woolworths. A K-Mart has replaced the once lively Los Altos Drive-In Theater, which reminds me of all the Walt Disney flicks I watched in slippers and pajamas.

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My interests are nostalgic, too. Recently, a sweet potato began to sprout and I pegged it with matchsticks and placed the lower half in a jar of water. My family laughed. It was ugly, but only for a few days. Within a week, vines and sprouts began to proliferate. Now, the pretty tuber has my husband concerned that it is going to choke the life out of us. Maybe not, but the plant has provided a nice reference to my youth.

Today, I made smashed yellow potatoes drizzled with butter, olive oil, and crushed garlic. While Barry and I enjoyed this side dish with chicken sausage, we were watching the new Cooking Channel which features my most favorite cooks! The recipe below was being demonstrated by Giada De Laurentiis and, with mouths full of potatoes, we were already lusting for the next new flavor!

Jun 1, 2010

Tea for Tuesday

I have been listening to the Empire of Tea by Alan and Iris MacFarlane, gaining more insight as to how tea became an international addiction.  As the world was searching for a beverage without health risks or the potential of inebriating the drinker, it is interesting to examine how tea qualified as the perfect drink.  The Chinese emperor Shen Nung wrote: "Tea is better than wine because it leadeth not to intoxication, neither does it cause a man to say foolish things and repent thereof in his sober moments.  It is better than water for it does not carry disease.  Neither does it act like poison as water does when it contains foul and rotten matter."

About Tea shares this: "Legendary emperor Shen Nung is said to have discovered many medicinal properties of plants. Worshipped as a god for the many gifts he gave to China, the discovery of tea is attributed to him and even dated to 2737 B.C. The story goes that one day, while resting under a tree, Shen Nung, who always boiled his water, saw a few leaves fall into the pot. When he drank the resulting brew, which he found delicious and refreshing, he discovered the stimulating beneficial properties of the tea leaf."

The above story reminds me of the "You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!" commercial.  Indeed, if some other leaves had fallen into his hot water, we might be drinking a completely different plant, or even a tree, today.

SPECIAL THANKS

Marsha Schewe sent me a Care Package over the weekend!  The envelope included 3 of her lovingly blended teas to sample: Southern Lady (jasmine, peack & ginger), Angel's Dream (blackberry and maple), and Sundae Parlour (white chocolate, caramel, and vanilla cream).  In addition, there were lists of her tea products, love notes, and a handmade fan to quell my hot flashes.  Bliss!  Emperor Shen Nung should have met Marsha!