Sour Grapes

Grapes on the Vine

A funny thing happened to me at lunch the other day. It was our usual luncheon fare, quesadillas and grapes. I first wolfed down my quesadilla and then started in on the grapes. They were the end of the package of grapes, so to finish it up, I had served extra big portions. Anne couldn’t finish all of her grapes, but I did. Towards the end though, my mouth started feeling kind of finny, kind of tingly. My lips swelled up, like when I get a bee sting and my throat got sore. I finally figured it out, I was having an allergic reaction to the grapes. 

It has been a couple of days now and the swelling is mostly gone. My throat is no longer sore either. I googled it and grape allergy is a thing, but I’ve been eating grapes daily throughout the pandemic and before. Fortunately, wine does not have any similar effect. Unfortunately though, just before I had my reaction, I had ordered another bag of grapes. Aptly enough, the brand is Passion Fire. They were very tart. I am leery of eating any now. It may not have been the grapes themselves, but could have been some chemical on the grapes. 

Food Fight

Playing with My Food

We’ve joined Weight Watchers. We decided that it was high time that we lose our Covid-10, 15… I have struggled with my weight for years.

Years ago, I had suggested Weight Watchers to my doctor as answer to his habitual admonishments, but then, he dismissed the program as a gimmick. At my last visit with him though he was totally onboard with the idea. What had changed?

Jay had so much success with it that we’ve decided to emulate her. Welcome to the hunger games! Anne had an hour plus Zoom call with her sister that I pretty much kept out of, but I’m really totally onboard with this plan. The girls cooked up a signup scheme that will save us a few bucks. I’ve downloaded the App and have begun counting my points. What do you mean that I only have enough points left for dinner and that I can only afford a small cup of chicken broth? At this rate, I might as well be prepping for a colonoscopy or something. Yesterday, Anne was a few points over on her first day’s count, but she hadn’t begun to count until late in the day. That sounds like a mulligan. I start counting today.

Yesterday, for the first time since before Christmas, we didn’t have chocolate after dinner for dessert. Hmm, this diet thing could be serious. Was the cookie fat free? In this endeavor, quantity is the devil that we must fight. That means quality must trump all else. I’m ready to take my culinary skills to the next level. What do you mean that a quarter teaspoon of paprika costs a full point? That’s total BS. There just might be a period of adjustment for me here going forward. 

Persimmons

Persimmons

Yesterday, we were very busy elves and Anne began working on our Christmas cards. I had been handling this task of late, but this year she has taken a more active role. She wrote our Christmas letter. I figured that it needed a different voice than mine. She then spent most of the day compiling our list of recipients. For this she used Google docs. I had been using a different system.

Every year, we hang the cards that we receive on decorative strands from the hearth. At the end of the season those cards go into a box, waiting for next year. I then used this box of past year’s cards to compile the new year’s list. She must have spent the better part of the day pawing through that box, rereading old cards and letters. Occasionally, she would read one aloud to me. I think that the best of these was one from her Uncle Louie, now passed. It must have been from almost ten years ago. Like I said, she spent all day doing this. In it Louis said that for his birthday that year, his ninetieth, he got a pacemaker. While his “younger, fitter” brother Harry, “the rock of the family”, only got a hangnail. They shared the same birthday, six years apart.

Meanwhile, I busied myself in the kitchen. After last Christmas, we ended up with an extra bag of cranberries in the freezer. Where it has sat all year, except to make a trip to the cabin and back. Why? I don’t know. Accompanying it on that cabin run was a Tupperware of cranberry sauce. For Thanksgiving, we put both items down. We had the sauce, which was no worse for wear, but the bag of berries lingered. Not wanting to see such a precious heirloom go to waste, I consulted the New York Times recipe section.

I have been digitally subscribing to the Times for years now. Ever since a certain someone dubbed it failing and I see it as a bargain, especially, on a Sunday morning, but it has always irked me that they want a second subscription to access their recipes. Why of all of the many sections of this paper should food be so special? Anne has been getting from them a regular, weekly emailed recipe of the week. Many of which I have made and we have enjoyed. I guess that it was over Thanksgiving that Anne just up and subscribed to their recipes section and I’m glad that she did. I made their Cranberry Lemon Bars that featured twin tartness and almost all of our sugar. As a shortcut, I used a sheet of leftover Pepperidge Farm dough for the crust, which might have been a mistake. We could never quite get it to fit tightly enough in the pan, so that when the top, rather runny layer of lemon was added, it ran all over everything. It still tasted fine, but it didn’t look like their photo.

In place of such a picture, I offer you the above photo of persimmons, still on the tree. They are supposed to be even tarter than cranberries or lemons. According to folklore, splitting open a persimmon seed will reveal the shape of a fork, spoon or knife on the seed’s interior. The image of a spoon indicates that the upcoming winter will feature an abundance of heavy, wet snow; a fork predicts light and powdery snow, and a knife forecasts a winter with bitter, icy winds.

J’accuse!

Yesterday’s food porn post was a big hit, but today it is time to turn to the seamier side of the kitchen. Something so seamy that even lemon cleanser can’t clean it up. Citron is a key ingredient in fruitcakes and is not to be confused with Citroën, the French automobile manufacturer that sounds the same, but has nothing to do with fruitcake. Citron is also necessary for Cuccidati, a dish also known as Italian fig cookies. Anne has a recipe for Cuccidati that she inherited from her Aunt Fran, who doesn’t spell it this way. Maybe her spelling has been anglicized? There were several variations of it on the Internet. Anyway, she’s made it before and now she is planning on making it again.

I have shopped for her on these occasions. It requires a wide variety of dried fruits. Its most exotic ingredient is citron. Citron is a tropical fruit, sort of a giant wrinkly lemon. This fruit’s skin is processed into diced gelatinous cubes that become the ingredient citron. Previously, I just picked it up at the store. This time, neither of my shopping services supported such an exotic item and I had to special order it. I went with Nuts.com. Now, I’m inundated with Google ads for fruitcake mixes, as if. We haven’t yet tested their products, but their packaging is sure colorful. As an aside, I also regularly order lemons in bulk. They come packaged in decorative bags that on one side refers to them in English as lemons, but on the other side calls them out in French, as citrons.

Making dinner, I had thrown away one of these bags, citron side up. Anne saw it lying in the trash and I got into trouble, me an innocent man. She must of thought that sometime after midnight, I had snarfed up all of her ingredient. Now this may not sound too unseemly, but trust me, this post has undergone cycles of wash-rinse-repeat. In Anne’s defense she was tired from having done so much cooking. But this is not the first time that I have been accused of something I didn’t do. I especially hate it when I am accused of doing something wrong in one of her dreams. Roundup all of the unusual suspects! Protect the guilty and prosecute the innocent. I didn’t do it… It was on accident.