Archive for the ‘Food Stuff’ Category

Nyel’s Sweet/Spicy/Sumptuous Homecoming

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

We thought we’d NEVER get out of the Seaside Hospital yesterday!  Nyel had wakened with a “dangerously low” blood pressure and they said if it didn’t come up they’d have to keep him.  Interestingly, there was no speculation as to why it was low.  And, had they asked, we could have told them that that happens occasionally to him but it always come back to where it should be in a few hours.

That’s what happened yesterday, too, of course, but the doctor was super cautious.  Instead of discharging him at 10:00 as planned, it wasn’t until about 4:00 that we were finally in the car and on the road.  The car was full of equipment — a two-foot-long shoehorn, a grabber/picker-upper, a stiff cloth ribbon-like item with a noose on each end for lassoing a recalcitrant foot and lifting it onto the bed.  In short, everything that a one-and-a-half-legged man might need to help him become independent!

Nyel managed to walk into the house on his own steam (with his walker) and was greeted, first thing, by a gorgeous bouquet and six chocolate cupcakes on a silver tray.  Then there was the biggest chocolate bar of all time, beautifully wrapped!  And in our fridge was a home-made lasagne (“a little spicy”) with an accompanying salad, salad dressing and bottle of red wind for our dinner.  And for dessert, fudge brownies with a hint of orange zest!   What fabulously thoughtful friends and neighbors we  have!

As I schlepped  stuff from car to house, Mr. (or Mrs.) Swallow flew through the living room door — no doubt eager to add its welcome on behalf of the new family on the porch.  I know Nyel thought it served me right for not destroying that nest at the get-go.  Was there just a hint of amusement in his eyes as he sat wheelchair-bound and watched me  flail away with the broom…

Just as the bird flew out,  Erik and Pat arrived.  Suddenly, I wasn’t a bit concerned about putting away medical supplies or reading the manual for Nyel’s portable wound-vac.  It’s really amazing how many frustrations and worries a delicious meal with good friends can erase, to say nothing of the warm glow we both are still feeling about such a wonderful homecoming!  Neither of us can quite wrap our heads around the amazing generosity and support our friends (and even “friends” we hardly know!) have provided during these past months.  There aren’t enough hugs or thank yous to begin to express how we feel.  We only hope we can “pay it forward” as time goes by.


Library Paste Notwithstanding

Friday, May 24th, 2019

I remember that, in the days of my youth, there were kids who sampled the paste every time we had an art project.  Of course, in an effort to dissuade them from their adventuresome behavior, they were usually told that paste was made from horses’ hooves.  That did not stop them.  No doubt such epicurean experimentation has stopped now glue sticks have come into fashion.  (However, I wonder if kids do give those scented ones a taste test now and then.)

“Did you ever sample the library paste when you were a kid?” I asked Nyel.  (And why, exactly did we call it library paste, anyway?  Was it of particular use with books?)  My question was not random.  Nyel had ordered clam chowder for lunch and I remarked that he seemed to be enjoying it — which mostly he doesn’t no matter where he is.  “Tastes like library paste,” he said.  But he kept on eating it.  And the rest of his lunch, too!

Bit by bit Nyel’s  appetite is returning, as is his strength.  He can now actually get himself into a sitting position, use his arms to scoot himself a-little-at-a-time toward the end of the bed and then transfer himself to a chair — even if there are a few inches of disparity in the height of the two surfaces.  This is a HUGE improvement. Everyone who sees him do it (the nurses and therapists and doctors often pause in his doorway to watch the “show”) and to clap and cheer.  (Quietly.  Like in a library.)

This morning one of the Orthopedic Team said he might be put back on his blood thinners next Friday.  We sincerely hope so.  Besides the obvious reasons, he won’t be discharged from here until that happens.  Meanwhile, we hope against hope that no new setbacks occur and that library paste morphs into more palatable fare.   Ki yi yippee yippee yay!

As long as it’s not al fresco…

Monday, April 8th, 2019


When friends Lynn and Mike arrived at our door yesterday afternoon bearing gifts of food, I was delighted!  There’s nothing like being fed by professionals – and Lynn and Mike definitely qualify in that category.  They have a highly successful bagel business in Portland, for starters, and are passionate about their culinary escapades in their fabulous kitchen here at the beach.

Since Nyel’s latest injury, they have been bringing us comfort foods to die for.  Last time it was Lynn’s grandmother’s (or was it Mike’s mother’s) eggplant parmesan.  This time cioppino!  Plus, a fancy dessert (a galette?) that melts in your mouth and is covered with pine nuts that I’m sure are not randomly placed.  In fact, there might be a secret message involved.

Extra Crunch Garlic Bread

I must admit, though, the cioppino gave me pause.  It looked delicious and smelled delicious but… I’d had a long-ago experience with cioppino at Sam’s in Tiburon and I wasn’t sure I was over it yet.  It happened almost 50 years ago, mind you.  But still…

Sam’s is THE place to go on for Sunday brunch if you live in the Bay Area. Their enormous deck overlooks San Francisco Bay with a view to Angel Island and the City beyond and maybe a bridge or two.  Their drinks and food are to die for and well worth the long, looooong wait – even if you have reservations.  People arrive by sailboat or yacht or ferry besides the usual more pedestrian ways, the seagulls vie for crumbs the diners drop and all-in-all, it’s al fresco dining at its best, despite no reservations taken on the deck.

Sam’s, Tiburon

The one and only time I strayed from my usual Eggs Benedict, I ordered cioppino.  It was an unusually slow day and when our meals finally did come, a seagull came cruising over our table just as my lunch was served.  I felt a warm splat on my head and looked at the bowl in front of me to find it dotted with blobs of sour cream and parsley… or was it?  After all these years, I don’t remember if the management replaced my lunch or not, but I do know that, until yesterday, I’ve never tried cioppino again.

Mike’s was delicious, by the way.  And there was no parsley-garnished sour cream in sight.

The Best of All Let-Down Days

Friday, November 23rd, 2018


I love the day after Thanksgiving!  Of all the days-after of all the holidays of the year, the Friday after Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite.  First of all, it’s the left-overs!  No worries about what to fix for lunch or dinner – there is always plenty.  In my experience, even if you go out to dinner – to be with friends or family or (once for us) to a restaurant – you are always sent home with leftovers.  Yum!

And that reminds me of one of my favorite Thanksgiving stories, told to me by Virginia “Gin” Williams Jones when I edited her autobiography, “Gin’s Tonic,” for the Sou’wester magazine in 2007:

“Gin’s Tonic” Sou’wester

We were an ecumenical family.  On Sunday everyone went to the church of his/her choice.  Grandpa and Nana were Presbyterians. Dad and Mama raised us in the Presbyterian Church.  Rees was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and sang in the choir all his life.  He married Marg who was a Roman Catholic and raised the boys to be Catholic.  Jack was an elder in the Presbyterian church.  He married Julia who was a second-generation Christian Scientist.  Their children went to the Presbyterian Church.  Uncle Lew and Aunt Elaine were Episcopalians and raised Warner and Rodney in that church.  Aunt Nell and Uncle Krummie were Presbyterians and raise Herb and Lewie in that church in Portland.

We were all very respectful of each other… until Thanksgiving.  In those days Catholics couldn’t eat meat n Friday so the Catholics would eat turkey like mad Thanksgiving night while the Protestants yelled, “Get those Catholics out of the kitchen!”  Then it was all reversed the next day Friday, when the Catholics would yell, “Get those Protestants out of the kitchen!” but it was always with a great deal of humor.

Pumpkin Pie

The other wonderful thing about the Friday after Thanksgiving (unless you adhere to the modern Black Friday shopping “tradition”) is that it is an absolutely free lollygagging day.  Not only is there plenty of food in the kitchen to see you through, there is an entire weekend coming up during which you can do all the necessary weekend things.  Thanksgiving Friday is an absolutely FREE LET-DOWN-DO-WHATEVER-YOU-WANT- DAY!   Yay!

The News from Olympia

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Dale, two years eleven months

My mother, Helen-Dale Espy (Little) was born November 13, 1911 in Olympia.  (It was during the period of time that her father was serving as a state senator and both my mother and her 11-months-older brother Willard had been born in the state capital.)  Most of the rest of the family was at home Oysterville in the care of Mama’s sister Ruth.

This letter from my mother’s sister Medora (who was 12) tells of how she learned the news in those long-ago days of slower everything.  The “cast of characters” includes my mother’s other siblings:
Mona, 6
Sue, 8
Edwin, almost 3, (who apparently was with Mama and Papa in Olympia)
Willard, 11 months.

1912 – The Espy Children (Dale, Willard, Edwin, Mona, Suzita, Medora)

Wed. 8 p.m.  Nov 15, 1911
Dear Mama,
At recess yesterday morning Mona came over and said I had a baby sister.  She told me first and then Sue.  You can imagine how tickled I was.  Mona is tickled to death and insists that its name is Katherine.  I haven’t heard anybody’s opinion on the subject.
Sue said yesterday “I think Daisy is going to have a calf,” and Ruth said, “If you think Daisy is going to have a calf when she is walking around in the yard, can’t you tell when your own mother is going to have a baby when you live in the same house with her.”  And Sue said “I tho’t Willard is too young.”
Ruth received a card from Papa written in Tacoma.  He said he would be home Thursday.  He said Edwin was with him.  I guess Edwin was sound asleep thru the whole performance.  I do hope you don’t have the severe after pains
Sue was promoted to the third grade Monday.  I sent to Meier and Frank’s for her books.

Dale Espy Little, 1999 — “Mom at 88”

The three books we have to read out of school are Laura E. Richards’ “Florence Nightingale,” “Ethics of Success,” and “David Copperfield.” Mr. Sargant will buy “Ethics of Success” and I want to buy “David Copperfield” and “Florence Nightingale.” I have to buy one of them…
Mrs. Guy Hughes had a baby girl Saturday, Nov. 4th and Mrs. Bowen Friday. Nov. 3rd and you yesterday.  I guess we will hear of Aunt Susie’s baby soon.
With love and a kiss for the dear baby,  Medora

Mouth Watering Disappointment

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Tried and True

There’s no arguing with the fact that I’m on record as not liking to cook.  But what I seldom say and Nyel often reminds me is that I CAN cook and, not only that, I have several signature dishes – recipes that I brought in my dowry and that we both really like.  Recipes that seem to taste best when I make them.  Just sayin’…

So, yesterday we were both looking forward to spareribs.  I don’t do them often, but when I do, they’re bitchin’ as they say.  We had bought two big packages of baby back ribs at CostCo earlier this fall and had one package for dinner that very night.  The second package went in the freezer until day before yesterday when I put it in the refrigerator to thaw.


It was a shrink-wrap package and when I cut it open yesterday afternoon, the smell practically knocked me out.  OMG!  Talk about tainted meat!  I called Nyel – not to corroborate what my burning eyes and running nose already told me, but so that he knew that I wasn’t being overly persnickety.  That’s an ongoing issue in our house – I have rules about left-overs and other questionable food products; Nyel will eat almost anything.

“Throw it out!” he said.  I think that was a first.  But the garbage truck doesn’t come until a week from Wednesday and I surely didn’t want to smell up the neighborhood in the meantime.  So, the ribs are re-wrapped and back in the freezer until garbage day.

Next Time…

Meanwhile… I’m pretty much off the idea of ribs for a while.  And, no.  I’m not taking the package back to CostCo.  Number one, it’s not worth the effort of keeping them frozen on the way and, further, I wouldn’t want to inadvertently (or even advertently) expose anyone else to that odor.  It’s the second bad meat experience we’ve had with CostCo and, as far as I’m concerned, they won’t get a third opportunity.

Oh… and about dinner last night.  Nyel had made a huge batch of Coleslaw to go with the ribs.  It was delicious with our tuna fish sandwiches – tuna compliments of our friend Phil Coffin.  Now if only Mike Karvia was still raising pigs, we’d know just where to go for our next batch of ribs!

Take-out from The Bend

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

My grandparents always referred to South Bend as “The Bend.”  I don’t know why exactly.  I do know that most of their local day-to-day (more like once or twice a month) dealings were centered across the bay in the early days – the cleaners, the bank, the dentist, the barber, were all in The Bend.  Important business was usually transacted in Portland which, in the early part of the twentieth century, was the most accessible big city.  It wasn’t until automobiles and roads arrived that travel on the Peninsula, itself, became easier for north end residents.

These days, we seldom go to South Bend.  Not unless we have jury duty or other business at the courthouse or at the Pacific County History Museum.  Otherwise, South Bend is a place to go through rather than a final destination.  We usually stop there to use the public restrooms (thank goodness for them but they are truly the embodiment of “pit” in pit stop) on our way to and from Seattle.  That’s it.

Yesterday, however, we were passing through about four o’clock on our way home from the Emerald City and Nyel suggested to nip in to Betzy’s Tienda Mexicana to check it out – maybe pick up something to take home for dinner.  Great idea!  We have heard great things about their food but we seldom are there before their 4:30 closing time.

As it turned out, there weren’t many choices.  “We’re out of rice,” the pleasant cook said.  “It takes two hours for us to clean up, so we don’t have much left by this time of day.”  Nevertheless, she put together enough ingredients so we could build four “quesadillas” when we got home – two with chicken, one with beef, and one with barbecued beef.  It smelled delicious and tantalized us all the way to Oysterville.

It didn’t take long to put it all together after we got home – lettuce, onions and cilantro, hot sauce, sour cream and – of all things! – parmesan cheese.  We zapped the four taco shells which were folded around the chicken and beef and mozzarella, added the other ingredients and voilà! (or the Spanish equivalent).  Dinner was ready! Not quesadillas exactly.  Not tacos exactly.  Not Mexican exactly.  Nevertheless… a six or seven on a scale of one to ten.  We’ll probably try it again.