Tag Archives: Nostalgia

Musings of a Morning-Shift Waitress:

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Mocha Java and Tea CakesWhen I feel the urge for hot cocoa it generally means we’re nearing the Winter Solstice. There is some unconscious connection within me between molten chocolate and the beginning of winter.

 

I also crave bread. A good artisan-crafted rustic loaf that I can break off in chunks to dip into oil. This winter, I indulged in cranberry-walnut bread – the yeasted kind – more savory than sweet, and, dipped it in sesame oil – the cold-pressed, unrefined, organic oil that releases the natural sweetness of the seed. It’s scrumptious, but, on the cold, damp days when the sky is the color of mayonnaise, I tend to eat without paying attention to quantity. Before I know it, I’ve eaten half of a loaf. And although I don’t gain weight easily, this overconsumption may have future consequences.

 

I’m thinking of Grain Brain . . . the book in which the research connects wheat flour with the onset of Alzheimer’s. It’s almost sad that I know about this study because the simple joys of eating and hanging out in the kitchen on a wintry day have been tainted now. Nostalgia isn’t necessarily the healthiest indulgence either, but, sometimes the re-creation of one’s early hearth-and-home life helps to sooth the soul. Helps it to transition to the next moment of living. But, if I’m also fretting about its connection to physical ailments, then what joy is left for the present tense?

 

My conclusion: Too much science is unhealthy if it robs the heart of joy!

 

And speaking of hearts, I’ve noticed that I begin to crave a roadtrip when Valentine’s Day is just around the bend. I don’t pine for chocolate or hearts or roses (although a single yellow bud or a bouquet of whites would melt my heart at any moment). No, I have some internal compass that directs me toward the highway. Toward a bouquet of white lines that mysteriously soothes my soul and gifts me with a new perspective – a bit of mid-winter therapy.White-Line Bouquet

 

I’ve pondered this yearning over the years and really haven’t come to a conclusion, which I love because it allows mystery to reign.

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Well, just a bit earlier in the year, I experienced a gift of red sneakers. That story is told inside of Red Sneakers.

That tale I think of as yin. It’s soft, sweet, sassy, feminine in a quasi-original way. Plus it’s rebellious because it’s red rather than traditional white.

But it’s one half of the circle. The other swirl is classically black.

Its formation began on the day I received the red Chucks. My husband surprised me by taking me to California Pastrami – a tiny strip-mall restaurant that promised to satisfy my nostalgic hunger for a pastrami sandwich, just like the ones that I had in New Jersey as a kid.

So, you get the idea: the theme of the celebratory weekend was one of wistfulness and a yearning to look backward.

And it grandly succeeded. I don’t eat red meat, but, a secret craving had emerged and I sated it. All gooey and dripping with fats was the sandwich, and, I delighted in the entire mess.

After leaving the cafe, we walked a mere fifteen feet to our car and as I stood next to the passenger door, I turned to look back – to drink in one last vision-sip of the cafe that had time-traveled me back five decades.

That’s when I caught a glance of a blonde-haired, slender, little gazelle of a tween stotting across the sidewalk .  .  . heading into the pizza shop at the mall’s end.

Her movement was eye catching, however, it was her feet that stood me still.

She was wearing a pair of black canvas, knee-high Chucks. Something I’d never seen before, but, immediately fell in love with!

I shamelessly stared as she glided through the doorway with her family. Even more shamelessly, I told Hubby that I’d wait for her to leave, (just takeout after all), and get a better look at the prancing paws.

We waited. She was quick to leave. I took a mental photo and rhapsodized about them on our ride back to the hotel.

But I left it there. I searched for high-tops and nothing that tall appeared, so, I released the fantasy.

And then.

What should appear beneath the Christmas tree?

 

Sneakers -Black Knee-high Chucks

Yep. You guessed it: A pair of Knee-high black Chucks!!

Now I feel even more like a kid playing in a body that’s trapped in the role of an adult.

I just need to wait a few months for the snow to melt so I can go pronging outside and truly play in my new feet .  .  . truly complete the yin/yang experience of coveted sneakers.

 

 

 

Christmas Yin/Yang

Lemon Chiffon

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It was early morning. I wandered out into the front courtyard garden and was greeted by a late-blooming lily of exquisite delicacy. Flower - Lily

 

Like a parachute at dawn, this lily had silently landed – petals spread aghast – in a color impossibly soft.

 

Made of flouncy fabric with ruffled edges, so like a trill of tiny pie shell scallops that I jolted.

 

“Lemon Chiffon,” I thought.

 

Yes. The lemon silk pies my mother baked in the moist summer heat of her cherished kitchen.

Pie - Lemon Meringue

Attributed to BettyCrocker

 

The kitchen designed in tones of mocha icing: big brown blocks of linoleum knitted the floor together in a spray of geometric patterns. Countertops were speckled with confetti inlays of chocolate and bronze-metallic.

 

Why, I wonder, was tidy splatter ever appealing as décor in the 1960s?

 

Was it the mirror of a rebellion brewing in the human heart, or, something simpler: camouflage for crumbs?

 

My mother’s kitchen was, always, well-scrubbed with elbow grease. She had little to hide. Perhaps just a few . . .

 

Stealthy crumbs like pie crust crystals left behind after the rolling pin ironed the dough ball flat and the pewter knife trimmed the jagged ends and the crooked knuckles of my mother’s hands had crimped the 9” diameter of a tenderized tin plate.

 

The hot clammy summer weather soothed her crippled fingers, while its weight caused the pastry ruching to droop.

 

The process always looked futile.

 

Until she poured molten lemon custard from a stainless steel double boiler into the slumping, buttery pie shell.

 

And slide the tarnished pan onto the oven’s middle rack, baking it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

 

Tangy Lemon Chiffon Pie Photo by Taste of Home

Although this routine raised the already sweltering heat of the kitchen, she produced an animated, flaky-crusted, glossy-skinned meringue that floated cloud-like atop a lemon silk pie.

 

Impossibly soft in color.

 

Tartly refreshing in flavor.

 

Bordered with crisp, fluted edges.

 

Just like the perfect lemon chiffon summer.

 

And as the dog days of summer relax their bark and collar their bite, a slice of nostalgia seems so fitting to me.

 

A vision carried from childhood on the breath of God.

 

A snapshot of mother-magic.

 

To boost me forward on my earthwalk.