♦ your life…your job

Dear Shaina,
Interesting titles from your last two posts…“your problem”, “your fault”. Have you given up on the “I” statement thing already? Just trying to keep up.

Actually, I thought I better respond quickly (not my usual pattern) just to clarify and allay some of the tension out there (not ours…everyone else’s). Interestingly, I have received almost no comments from anyone on your last post, not even Dad, other than he read it. One comment was just, “Kids!” As if to say, ‘you do your best and this is what you get!’ I suspect people think that we’re having a big fight …or something.

I don’t think they got it. Or maybe I didn’t. I just smiled when I read your letter. I do appreciate your sense of humor! You are way ahead of schedule in terms of examining yourself, realizing that you are fucked up, that much of it is inherited from your loving and overly-engaged family and…that it’s no big deal! We all have issues!. Accepting them, even embracing them, goes a long way toward minimizing the impact they have on our lives.

That, my dear, is the whole point. We can’t change who we are or the things that made us who we are. Learning to love our imperfections, not being embarrassed by our flaws, not trying to hide the blemishes…produces the change/growth we are looking for. I’m not saying it’s easy to embrace our non-idealized selves. Acceptance is hard and becoming your best self is a whole other line of work. I think you totally get it and I am very proud of how you own your life! It took me a much longer time to get to that place. Of course, I didn’t have a fellowship where they pay you to naval gaze.

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Dad and I are continuing to coast on the wave of retirement. No point in naval gazing at this stage in life. Once you give up on bettering yourself, all kinds of opportunities emerge. Dad and Robert performed their debut “coffee house” concert at a friend’s home with ten people in attendance. They were well received and hope to do a New Year’s Eve encore at our house.

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I decided that Shavasana is my favorite yoga pose, I only cook when I feel like it and I am planning a martini mahjong marathon for the day after Christmas. We are both hooked on Siamese Mahjong (a way to play mahjong with just two people). An arrangement of tiles and racks has set up semi permanent residence on our kitchen table. We’ve come a long way!

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I do hope you are having fun, wherever you are at the moment. Keep crying (it cleans out the eyes so you can see more clearly), keep laughing, keep struggling with it all…that’s your job right now…and you’re darn good at it!

Love, Mom
xxoxoxxoxoxo
I’m not doing much formal cooking these days, but I still enjoy puttering in the kitchen. I made a GF appetizer for the dinner/coffee house concert where Dad and Robert performed. I saw this beautiful ahi tuna and was inspired. I’ve done this before, but am never quite sure how it will turn out. I put together a slightly different marinade this time and there were no complaints. The recipe is easy, can be made Gluten Free and looks impressive even though it only takes about 15-20 minutes of actual labor. Aside from the marinating time, the slicing is the longest part.

SEARED TUNA WITH GLUTEN FREE MARINADE
Serves 10-12 for appetizers

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  • ~ 1 1/2 pounds fresh ahi grade tuna ~2” thick
  • 1/2 cup GF Tamari Sauceimg_9493
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1-2tsp Sriracha sauce
  • Juice from 1/2 fresh orange
  • ~1 inch of fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 stalks green onions
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds,
  • wasabi
  • pickled ginger
  • rice crackers

Cut tuna in blocks that are about 5” x 3” x 2”thick
Mix the next 8 ingredients together in a flat bottomed glass container large enough to hold the tuna.
Slice the green onions up into small pieces. Add the white and lightly green parts of the onion to the marinade mix. Set aside the green pieces for garnish.

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Lightly toast the sesame seeds by placing in a dry frying pan and heating over a low heat until lightly toasted, shaking the pan frequently and watching very closely to not burn the seeds. Set aside to cool.

Place the tuna in the marinade and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.

Heat grill to highest temperature. Use the sear setting if you have one.

Grill tuna 1-2 minutes on all sides or until it is done to your liking. 1-2 minutes will result in very rare tuna.

Slice tuna in 1/4″ thick slices and orange on platter.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and remaining green onion.

Serve with wasabi, GF Tamari Sauce, pickled ginger and rice crackers

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♦ More than Just a Knish

Dear Shaina,
I saw Riva a few days ago and she still hadn’t seen or heard your post. I told her she was famous and she said, “for vat?” Sheryl promised to reveal her online debut to her that night. I wish I could’ve been there.

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I love the way you and Rebecca brought Riva and Bubbe to life on the page and in the sound. I have seen Riva in action many times, but watching you and Rebecca exercise your respective tools (Rebecca with the rolling pin and you with the microphone) was the real show for me. Rebecca relinquished her assigned position on the couch and asserted her role as a true balabusta (competent woman of the home) and you, the shy quiet one, led the charge with the microphone-in-her-face interrogation. Riva was so proud of Rebecca’s dough rolling skills and assured me that you would get it with a little practice. There was little for me to do, but watch (and clean up the mess, of course).

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And then there was the tasting…similar to Bubbe’s, but different. And the discussion of the potatoes…there is always a discussion of the potatoes; the kind I bought, the kind she uses, when I cooked them, when she cooks them, the color, the quality, the wateriness, the denseness… Bubbe was exactly the same about her potatoes. There is a right and a wrong potato for knishes. Even though Riva asserts that hers are the real potato knishes, they both agreed on the potato part.

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All afternoon, Riva insisted that her recipe was a secret and that she was sharing it with us because we’re femily. The more she said it, the more nervous I got watching you with that microphone in her face, knowing where this recipe was going to end up. I nudged you. I whispered, you need to tell her. When you finally gently broached the subject and told her what you planned to do, she responded without skipping a beat, “Sure, go ahead and print it.” We were all speechless! “But Riva, you said it was a secret” you said. Her response…”Yes, it’s a secret, but I gave it to you. Now it’s yours, you can do what you want with it.” I only wish we had that on tape!

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Riva was in her glory. Bubbe was right there with us…I am sure in the fried onions and oil. I was proud to be the daughter and the mother at that very moment. The sticky dough, the savory filling, the delicate seasoning…more than just a knish…it’s femily, it’s tradition, it’s love.

Thank you Shaina and Rebecca! I am more than proud to be your mom and aunt!

Love,
Mom
xooxoxooox

P.S. Those leftover fried onions did not go to waste. In true Bubbe tradition, I just repurposed them. See recipe below.

Baked Brie with Caramelized* Onions

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*Okay, Bubbe didn’t know a caramelized onion from caramel candied apple. It just sounds better than slowly sautéed sweet onions in oil.

This is hardly a recipe. It was an impulsive brainstorm that popped into my head as I was putting out the Brie cheese on New Years Eve and came across the leftover sautéed onions in the refrigerator. I was going to top the Brie with my usual Pesto, but when I saw the onions, I thought maybe…
This dish got rave reviews and is super simple to make.

  • 1-2 cups chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 round of Brie
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley for garnish
  • Crackers or apple slices for serving

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Preheat oven to 350°
Sauté onions in olive oil until golden brown and caramelized.
Place Brie on an oven proof serving dish.
Spread caramelized onions over the top of the Brie.
Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is heated through.

Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers or apple slices.

Next time, I might even try adding some crushed pecans before baking for an added twist.

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