You’re grossed out by my fish!! I haven’t slept for a week worrying about that bacteria laden cucumber you ate off the streets of India! At least my fish…every last slimy sticky glob of it…was washed repeatedly in Birmingham’s finest chlorinated water before being sterilized for over an hour in a continuously boiling salted broth. My Gefilte Fish would pass surgical hygienic standards.
My only comfort is knowing that they have now discovered that we have as many types of bacteria living in our gut as we have cells in our body…and that many of them are beneficial to our health. In fact, the greater the diversity of bacteria, the more likely the good bacteria will beat out the bad bacteria…or something like that. We know you have lots of bacteria and they are certainly diverse…let’s just hope the good kind wins! I also understand that saliva contains antibacterial qualities, so be sure to immerse that street food in a lot of spit before swallowing.
Shaina, it is hard to believe that you will be 25 years old next week. Where has 25 years gone? Bubbe and Zayde’s words are ringing in my ears, “Ahh, the life…it goes so fast!”
Your birthday is a day of celebration for me too. It is the day I became a mother. I had no clue what that meant or how it would “look” on me. I thought I knew exactly what you would be like. I realized very quickly that I had to get to know who you were, separate and distinct from me. In your own quiet way you showed me and I slowly learned how to be your mother and …to find myself in that role, as well. You have been teaching me ever since.
Here I am, again, readjusting my step and finding my balance as I wander into my new status as the mother of a budding-independent-young-adult child. I watch you negotiating and maneuvering the foundations of your adult life…so far away…so different from my own world…so filled with richness and promise….and I am proud and a little anxious…and filled with love and awe!
I am honored and more than grateful to be your mother and I will celebrate the day of your birth with gratitude… and prayers for many more birthday celebrations.
In the meantime, I am feeling pressured by all this intense recipe sharing. I know that kids are supposed to grow up and surpass their parents..and I am truly grateful that you are well on your way to doing that. I am just so intimidated by your menus and the disparate flavors and food you so ingeniously put together. I remember Bubbe’s longstanding repertoire of foods. She had her specialties…briskets and blintzes, strudels and knishes…and we loved them and asked her to make them on every occasion…again and again.
I tried on her recipes and made them mine. I filled in with my own culinary experiments and derivations and she eagerly tasted and complimented and kvelled (bragged to anyone who would listen) about my prowess. There was room enough for both of us in the kitchen.
I find myself retreating to my own specialties and comfort foods, content (while kvelling) to leave you to venture into unfamiliar species of grains and chias and edible grasses. There will always be room enough for both of us in the kitchen.
The recipe (I am embarrassed to even call it a recipe) I am sharing today is one that you survived on as a child and your friends requested when they slept over. Dad and I often enjoy it on leisurely Sunday mornings or as a middle-of-the-week dinner. The Cheese Omelet holds a lifetime of memories and thrives in every life stage and transition. It can probably even be replicated in India.
Shaina, your Dad and I wish you a very happy and healthy and safe birthday…and many, many more! We love you all the way to the outer edges of our hearts!
Standard Cheese Omelet
(for 2 or 3 people)
- 3 whole eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 2 Tablespoons half and half or milk
- ~ 2” square of Vermont aged cheddar (grated or in small chunks or slices)
- 1 tsp butter
- Sea Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- A non-stick 12” frying or sauté pan with lid
Beat eggs and egg whites with milk with a fork or whisk.
Heat a large 12” non-stick frying or sauté pan over a medium flame and add butter.
Pour beaten eggs into heated frying pan with melted butter and swirl the pan so eggs cover the entire bottom of the pan. The key to a good omelet is having a thin enough egg base to cook quickly through without burning the bottom of the omelet.
When the eggs are cooked enough to hold their shape, but not all the way through, distribute the cheese evenly over the omelet. Use more or less cheese to suit your taste and preference. Reserve some cheese for the top of the omelet.
Lower the heat and cover the omelet with the lid for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese a bit. After the cheese has melted a little, fold the omelet in half and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Reduce the flame to simmer and put the lid on the pan for about a minute to allow the omelet to cook all the way through.
Cut and serve with fresh tomatoes, sweet potato hash browns or a fresh green salad…and your favorite bread.
Different spices, cheeses or veggies can create a whole new dish. Mix herbs into beaten eggs. Sauté veggies in pan and pour eggs over them. Always add cheese last.
Tarragon and Jarlsburg cheese
Basil, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese
Sauteed onions and mushrooms with cheddar or gruyere
Sweet Potato Hash Browns
- 3 sweet potatoes already baked ( I always bake extras and use the leftovers for hash browns)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon butter or olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat frying pan over medium heat and add butter or oil.
Sauté chopped onions in butter and oil until translucent and add minced garlic.
Cut up sweet potatoes with skins on into small chunks (~1”) and add to the frying pan with the onions and garlic.
Cook over medium heat until potatoes and onions are browned to desired crispness.
Serve as a side with the omelet.
(Just because I like them and I eat them with everything)
- Fresh beets (as many as you want)
- Olive Oil
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Heat oven to 375°
Trim leaves and roots from beets. Leave skin on and wash thoroughly, removing any rough areas.
Cut beets in small wedges or chunks.
Place cut up beets in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with olive oil ( 1TBLSP is enough for 3 cut-up beets) and toss beets in oil.
Place beets on large enough baking sheet, covered in parchment paper, to hold all cut-up beets in a single layer.
Lightly salt and pepper to taste.Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until done to desired crispness.
Serve as a side or garnish to any meal. Adds great color and flavor to green salads.
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