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Monday, September 22, 2014

Collingswood Food Swappers: Beer Booze or Grub Swap October 11th

Late in getting around to this, but the next installment of Collingswood Food Swappers will be on Saturday, October 11, 2014, at The Factory, in Collingswood.  6 to 8 pm.  The plan is to hold it at The Factory, on 2nd Saturday.  The folks at The Factory will be holding a Halloween event, with 2 bands.  We'll be doing a Beer, Booze or Grub swap.  Our first one was so popular, I thought we ought to do it again.

Registration is at EventBrite, which is free.  I need a somewhat accurate head count, so I know whether or not this event can be held.  Register soon!  Here's the link:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Food Memories

Food memories are more powerful than we give them credit.  I recently saw a bag of circus peanuts in a grocery store and was instantly transported back in time to my childhood.  Eating a bag of oddly colored orange and banana flavored  peanut shaped and vaguely marshmallowy candies. The memory made me happy.

In sharing my guilty pleasure food, I started to think about other peculiar foods and memories that I have; eating a McDonald's hamburger and drinking an orangeade at my Catholic School's monthly "Hamburger Day" school luncheon.  The time after I had my tonsils out when I was 30 years old, and I couldn't eat for over a week. My first sold food was a hamburger from Nifty Fifty's. It was a simple, thin patty hamburger. I had it with a vanilla milkshake.  Bliss! 

 I remember dipping my French fries into a McDonald's chocolate shake.  My favorite meal when I was really young was my Bobci's (Polish for  grandmother) Sunday supper of roast beef, creamed corn, smooth buttery mashed potatoes; cucumbers and sour cream.  In high school, I spent a lot of time at my friend Marie's house.  Her mom, Jean used to make wonderful chocolate chip cookies - basically Toll House cookies but she made very thin and crisp.  After school at my Nana Rhoad's house I ate Lender's Bagels, toasted and topped with cream cheese and grape jelly.  Safe, comforting food and memories.

The life I had growing up was chaotic and violent.  The happy memories that I retain are what got me through my childhood and adolescence.  I think it's also what has propelled me into an adult life filled with cooking and food writing.  Food is memories, food is comfort, food is sustenance, and food can be a love substitute, for good and for bad.  I often think that when I throw a party or attend a party, the mark of how well the event went is by how good the food was. 

There is a Chinese practice to feed one's guests until they are full.  Many Asian cultures do this, preparing elaborate feasts that are over the top, with way more food than one should/could consume.  I attended one such banquet many years ago.  Towards the end of a multi-course meal, bowls of rice were given to the diners.  Many of us were so stuffed we couldn't even stand to look at the fortune cookies on the tables, let alone think about eating a chopstick's worth of rice.  We didn't know the protocol, so we ate the rice.  I think it was in bad form.  The rice was to signify that we were all full. By eating the rice it signaled to our hosts that we hadn't had enough to eat! 

Within the meals we've had, the ones we attended, cooked, shared, we cull through our life's history.   To be able to share in that with others is, for me, one of the most rewarding endeavors I can accomplish.  Food is more than nourishment. Food is memories.  What food memories do you have that make you smile?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Food and Film: The Hundred-Foot Journey

A few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to go to the movies, in a real movie theater! It's a big deal for me because I've seen about 3 movies in a theater since our son was born nearly five years ago.  In my foot-loose and fancy-free days, I used to go to the movies weekly and I would often go to film festivals, seeing two movies in one sitting.  I remember days of doing a double feature, back when you could - but it wasn't so far back that the double feature cost a nickle or a dime! I"m old, but not that old! 

Planning a trip to the movies is an ordeal and an expense.  Tickets cost a fortune, then there's paying a baby sitter.  And DON'T even get me started on the rudeness of movie-going patrons. Talking. Texting. Cellphone lights. Ugh.  I prefer the comforts of my own home, knowing what's in my popcorn and not having gross sticky floors to walk upon; unless Nate spilled juice...

My friend, LeAnne, of the blog,, mentioned on Facebook that she had the chance to see and review two films on the same day - The Hundred-Foot Journey and Get on Up, the James Brown bio-pic.  She wanted to see both because the former film speaks to the blog's brand; the later film speaks to her heart!  I offered to see The Hundred Foot Journey in her place. A food movie, set in France, with interesting cultural clashes and cuisines.  A movie custom cut for me.

My thoughts and review of the movie, along with a recap of the panel discussion that took place after the movie are all on LeAnne's blog.  I hope you'll all wander over there to read it. You can find the link right here! Leanne's blog is a fantastic place to land.  she has the most unique voice and honest approach to her reviews.  Plus she's witty and engaging.  LeAnne and I go back over 20 years now - I wrote about her in a post last November, as part of a group of blogger friends' Follow Friday series. 

Go read my review.  I'm saving the choicest parts for you at! FoodieFilm: The Hundred-Foot Journey

UPDATE!: 8/13/14 - Leanne submitted eh post to BlogHer, a blog website for women bloggers, with all sorts of ranging topics and blogs.  We were the guest post blog on today's site!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pop up but don't pop out

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Christmas in July at The Top Gun Abode

Christmas in July is a novelty that I truly love.  It's not for the QVC shopping aspect, though I do tend to watch the home shopping network more fervently during this time frame, it's because there's something a bit wacky and wild about celebrating a winter holiday in the middle of summer.  With this in mind, I was inspired to throw a theme party at our house this past weekend - a Christmas in July fete. All it takes for me is one small idea and I can grow the biggest event out of it.  In two weeks time, we sent out invitations, planned the menu, shopped, cooked and decorated for our party.  It was one of the more fun and original ideas for a party that we've had in many years.  It was also a great success, as we not only made it a bit of a pot-luck dinner, but we also asked our guest to bring a donation for a food bank and/or a charity that gives toys to children throughout the year. 

Our family-friendly affair brought out a lot of kids.  Families from our circle of Opera Moms, to the families we have made into our village in Collingswood.  I loved seeing the children who had never before met play with each other, make new connections and just run with wild abandon.  I like to say that I know a party at our house is a success when I find the kids in the area behind our garage digging in the dirt and with faces and bodies covered in so much dirt that they look like they are young chimney sweepers!  The kids played, ran, dug and had a ton of fun.  When it came time to straighten up Nate's room, I found crumbs and sprinkles in his bed! The kids had FUN!

Our adult friends enjoyed themselves too.  I set out a feast for the occasion - cooking all night for the meal.  Cider brine roasted turkey; Coca Cola braised ham; sweet potatoes marshmallows; string beans with sauteed peppers and onions; cucumber salad; home-made guacamole. Guests brought watermelon medley; panzanella salads; ramen noodle salads; home-made tortillas and sweet empanadas.  I made a huge pitcher of 100% proof Southern Comfort Manhattans and 3 gallons of slamming red wine, brandy and fruit sangria (I'll be drinking this for weeks, there is so much left!)   Looks like enough for another get-together will have to be organized!

While I enjoyed myself very much, it was a lot of hard work for 3 days straight. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating the house with holiday lights and garb.  Then a full day of undoing it all and putting all the stuff away.  I am filled with awe at our friends' generosity.  So many people, from so many various aspects of our worlds came over to hang out and to donate to our charities.  We are donating the food to The Food Bank of South Jersey.  I think we collected over 200 pounds of food to bring to them! The toys will go to PegsPresents, a charity run by my friend, Lee Romano. She and her husband, Andrew, bring gifts, toys, gift baskets to kids who live in shelters.  They do this periodically throughout the year, not just at Christmas.  We received great things, games, puzzles, a skateboard! I know that there will be many happy kids and well-fed folks thanks to my friends!

I think the above photo captures the spirit of the day and will become a classic keeper photo.  The blending of our worlds with kids being the focal point of our lives.  Merry Christmas!