Friday, April 15, 2011

Suggestions for Cooking

Last night I was attempting to cook rice noodles for dinner. The dry, brittle sticks of "rice vermicelli" as they're sometimes called have various means of preparation depending on the type of noodle. Some noodles need to be soaked in warm water before cooking. Some should be dropped into boiling water briefly.

The instructions on my particular package of rice noodles weren't very helpful, but they were quite humorous! I particularly like the title - "Suggestions for Cooking." No exact measurements or precise directions in Asian cooking - only suggestions! Notice, also, the very specific ingredients such as "condiments, etc." Here, for your reading enjoyment, are the word-for-word instructions on the bag of rice noodles.

Suggestions for Cooking

1. Frying: Pour some oil in a pan and heat. Saut'e pork shreddings, shrimps, dried mushrooms, condiments, etc. Add proper broth and bring it to the boil. Then put in rice vermicelli and stir up until done.

2. Boiling: Fry the sub-ingredients in a pan to half done. Add much broth and bring it to the boil. Then put in rice vermicellit and boil until done.

3. Deep-frying: Put rice vermicelli in boiling oil and stir up until done. It is savoury and crisp when used to help down congee or assorted with other dishes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dictionary of "Grandma-isms"

My Italian grandmother, Rosina Ianelli Currie, had such a positive outlook on life. Anything was possible. Anything was fixable. And every ailment or problem or trial in life could be managed with the help of a heaping plate of lasagna and her famous "meatless meatballs." Even though Grandma Currie's in heaven now, I can still see the twinkle in her eye and hear her infectious laugh when I remember some of her favorite sayings.

- "The cat's pajamas" (Her name for any dish that was made with whatever you could find in the fridge)

- "A hop, skip, and a jump" (Something that's not very far away)

- "You gotta use your coconut!" (You have to use your brain)

- "You gotta be smarter than the average bear"

- "That's because of the good Italian blood in you!" (When any of her grandkids did something noteworthy)

- "It's not your fault. You can't help it that you're not Italian." (With a sigh and a shake of her head to my dad, who, though not born Italian, at least was vindicated by marrying an Italian!)

- "Did you know I'm FBI? Full Blooded Italian!" (With a secretive air to wide-eyed kids in her church. She would often wear a pin that said the same thing)

- "Two things improve with age. Wine and Italians!" (A magnet on her refrigerator that she loved pointing out to guests.)

- "Now, we gotta use our coconuts and out-smart these squirrels!" (To her grandkids as we plotted ways to keep the squirrels from eating her birdseed)

- "I've got a brain-wave!" (When she came up with another brilliant idea.)

A Woman's Work is Never Done

Sticking with one task and finishing it completely is nearly impossible for me to do. I feel like I'm just easily distracted. But my mom tells me that I have great "mom sense" - that built-in alertness to the needs of people around me, that compulsive need to pick something up someone has dropped and put it away (even when clothes fall off their hangers in large department stores), that ability to do several things at once, which is God's way of preparing me for motherhood one day.

Today after lunch I wanted to wipe the crumbs and spills off the table. I went to the kitchen to get a damp cloth, but there were no clean cloths in the drawer. So I decided to check in the laundry room, where I saw that the load of clothes I had washed earlier this morning was done. Since it's a sunny day, I wanted to hang them outside on the clothesline to dry, but there was no available laundry basket to carry them in. So I searched the house for a laundry basket, putting away the salad dressing and salt and pepper shakers from lunch and hanging up a stray sweater as I went.

The missing laundry basket was upstairs, but it was full of clean, folded clothes. As I put away the clothes, I found an unopened letter addressed to me from my insurance company, which I set on my desk to read later. Then I took the empty laundry basket downstairs, filled it with the wet clothes, and took them outside to hang on the line. I had to first take down and bring in the dry clothes from a previous load, then hang up the next batch.

When that was finished I decided to wash the rest of the dirty clothes in the laundry room, treating a stain on one of my shirts as I loaded the washer. There weren't quite enough clothes to fill the machine, so I thought I'd go check my room to see if there were any stray items I could add.

As I passed through the kitchen on my way upstairs again, I noticed the crumbs on the table from lunch. Almost an hour after I started, I still hadn't cleared the table, which is what I had set out to do in the first place!