Sunday, December 27, 2020

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Haddock All the Way!

With all the cooking we’ve been doing during COVID – no eating out and much less take-out than during “normal” life – it’s been a tricky exercise to find interesting and relatively healthy meals 7 nights a week, week after week, month after month.

Since David is a pescatarian, options of what we can enjoy together are limited. I’d love to share a big, juicy steak with him, or lamb chops, or brisket, or a big basket of fried chicken…you get the idea…but none of this is going to happen.  

Therefore, I made the decision that I’m going to have to expand what I’ll have for dinner to include more of what he’ll eat, which would mean either tofu (ummmm….no thanks) or fish…so I chose fish. Even though I don’t love it, I don’t hate it either, and it’s certainly healthier and more nutritious than the dishes I named above.   

While Lauren and Anas have been staying with us, David’s made killer salmon and branzino. One night, we discussed what else we’d like to try when fish night rolls around again.  

David had mentioned a memorable halibut dish he had at an Italian restaurant called Ports of Italy in Boothbay Harbor, Maine (you’ll never guess what I had that night?!?!?) so everyone agreed to give it a shot.  

Lauren put it on her next Fresh Direct order, and we all looked forward to it. 

David made the fish with a buttery wine sauce that was delicious. Since it is an extremely mild fish, it is essentially a blank slate for any kind of coating, thereby lending itself to endless possibilities for its preparation.

As David ate the fish, he said he didn’t recall the restaurant’s halibut tasting quite the same, although both are white, flaky fish. The fact that David used a wine sauce and Ports of Italy presented the halibut encrusted in nuts could have explained the contrast in overall flavor.     

When dinner was over, Lauren had a funny feeling that maybe she hadn’t ordered halibut after all; perhaps she had checked off a different fish.  

Turns out it was haddock she had ordered, not halibut! After all that talk about how good the halibut was, it wasn’t even halibut. Had she not examined the order after the fact, we would never have known that we were eating haddock, a fish none of us had ever made before.  

Here it was…a mistake, of sorts…and yet it was exactly what we were looking for in a fish.

I did some research on haddock because it seemed too good to be true. I learned that it is the fish primarily used for fish and chips (along with cod) which for a long time was the only fish I’d eat (with tartar sauce, of course). It’s also low in calories and high in protein…who could ask for more?

Haddock also helps with digestion and skin, makes stronger bones, reduces bad cholesterol, assists with the prevention of cancer, reduces stress, relaxes muscle, has high levels of B vitamins and is low in mercury…among other pluses.   

Unfortunately, it is high in sodium, but what the heck…it seems as close to a perfect food as one could hope for. 

Since then, we’ve had haddock 3 more times, with David’s nut experimentation of pistachios, cashews and peanuts. Hats off to the chef!

Additionally, haddock is 1/3 the price of halibut ($11.99/lb. for haddock vs. $29.99/lb. for halibut)! 

How often does an error turn out to be such a satisfying surprise?

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Karma

Last week I found out that a former co-worker whom I shall call “Cruella de Vil” – the woman who tormented me at my old job – is really “stressed” and v e r y unhappy about her new living situation.

I’ve got 2 words for her…Boo Hoo!!!!!!

Way back when, she talked about this plan for months with everybody who would listen, always emphasizing how great her life was going to be once she made this move. Her dream situation sounded awful to me, but I showed excitement for Cruella because 1 – it was the nice thing to do; 2 – I was hopeful that a little extra positive energy sent from me to her might soften her up a bit; and 3 – she would strike back otherwise.

But let me tell you…now that I can be true to my feelings and not fake any, nor do I have anything to lose, I am…gulp…r e v e l i n g in her misery.

Exactly how bad a person am I???

I feel slightly evil to rejoice in her anguish, and I generally don’t hold grudges, but she was impossible in every way. She created – not only with her natural abilities but with added zest – a toxic environment, and I was one of the victims. She has earned this place in my heart. 

As much as she tortured others, I knew she had to make herself nuts too, with no way to escape other than in her dysfunctional mind where all kinds of warped thinking took shape. 

Knowing that she must be miserable inside – because how could you not be if you were her – was how I managed to cope at work (along with Trader Joe’s nonpareils), since she was never held accountable for any of her wrongdoing.  

But now, it sounds like she might be.

Karma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Hanukkah

Last week, Anas, one of my sons-in-law who is staying with us for a few months with Lauren and Baby May, asked if we are going to put up some Hanukkah decorations.  

It was clear that he wanted to hear “Yes,” so I wasn’t sure how to explain that Jews don’t decorate for Hanukkah, as I grew up believing. I certainly didn’t want him to view me as a naysayer, or a curmudgeon, which I’ve often accused David of being around the holidays.

Since I wanted him to understand the reasoning behind the naked look of the house this time of year – relative to many of the others in the neighborhood, at least from the outside – I explained that decorations in wintertime have historically been centered around Christmas.

He then cited a home or two on our street that are adorned with menorahs and Jewish stars, and I too told him about the one I noticed across from our house with blue lights and glitzy Hannukah banners, both of which I assumed were dressed up for the benefit of the young ones at home.

When my kids were small, despite the “no decorations” mantra that echoed in my ear, I bought an electric menorah to put in the window. I did this primarily because I didn’t want them to experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) as I did when I was little and living in a neighborhood filled with homes lit up with Christmas d├ęcor which made my home feel so lacking in comparison.   

I remember asking my mom why all our neighbors had lights outlining their homes and we didn’t, and her response was that Hanukkah and Christmas are different kinds of celebrations and should not be approached in the same way.

She said that Hanukkah – known as the “Festival of Lights” – is celebrated by Jews to commemorate the Maccabees’ win in the fight for religious freedom against the Syrian army, in addition to the miracle of oil which lasted for eight days (instead of the anticipated one), shedding important light in the temple in Jerusalem after its desecration. Christmas, on the other hand, is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. 

For Anas, wintertime decorating is a festive activity to share with others, as opposed to a religious act that can in fact separate people. He started to embrace it in the U.S. when he moved here from Morocco some 18 years ago, even though Christmas is not celebrated in his own religion of Islam.

As for me, I’m going to have to step it up a notch with my grandkids (and Anas too, apparently), so that MomMom’s house has some enviable pizazz.

As I prepared latkes for the first night of Hanukkah, I was happy to take out our special tablecloth with menorahs and dreidels printed all over it.  

I asked Anas if it counted as a decoration.

“It’s amazing!” he replied.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

In My Dream

I woke up a few mornings ago feeling both happy and sad, desperately wanting to relive the dream I just had.      

The dream occurred sometime after I returned to my bed from a quick bathroom trip around 5 a.m.

I had made a phone call and instead of hearing the person I thought would answer, a faint, unexpected voice replied on the other end. I looked at my phone to make sure I had called the correct number, and surprisingly it said MOM in strange looking capital letters. Confused, I asked “Mom?  Is that you?” and she said very softly and somewhat unsteadily, “Yes, Judy, it’s me.”

I asked how she is doing, and she said “fine, good,” which is how she always responded to that question. Then, she asked, “Do you think you can come visit me this weekend?” and to that I excitedly said, “Of course mom, I will!”

When I woke up, I felt that I had just talked to her, and I was sooooo happy! Soon after, I realized that NO, I would not be visiting her this weekend.

I have had her on my mind a lot lately as we inch closer to the 6th anniversary of her passing, so perhaps that is why I had this dream, and/or maybe she was – as David cringes when I say – trying to communicate with me to let me know she’s doing OK…and that she wishes we could spend more time together.

For several mornings after that, I tried to recreate the dream. I’d get back in bed after my early morning bathroom visit and replay the phone conversation over and over again, step by step, thinking at some point my internal algorithm would kick in since I had been concentrating so hard…to no avail. The only other memory I have upon waking since then with any kind of clarity is holding on to a tree that was skating down a hilly sidewalk.

I wish I could make a reservation with the powers that be for regularly scheduled morning or afternoon greetings from my mom. It would be so wonderful to have this feeling of connection on a daily basis.

If I told David I feel upset that I may never experience this meaningful kind of moment again, I’m pretty sure he’d offer to rig something up electronically so that her voice would act as an alarm of sorts, regardless of the time of day. Perhaps through Alexa this could be arranged, but I have to admit that these artificial solutions to replay the conversation would end up creeping me out.      

When I think it all through, the most interesting part of the phone call is that it reminded me of how much I miss her inherent qualities, like the sound of her voice.

I am sure we all wish we could have another real encounter with those we have lost.

For now, dreams will have to suffice.