I thought it was appropriate that for my first blog entry I explain where home is. And yes, right now living in Seattle my little apartment with my husband and my two dogs is home. But home to me is really where you have that great meal with family and friends when you feel at your most comfortable. It is the bowl of Lentil Soup, Eggplant Parmesan, a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Risotto, Tamales, Veggie Noodle Soup, and Pasta and Marinara Sauce…home is where these meals are
When I am back in New Jersey and at my parent’s home is that pot of Lentil Soup my mom always makes for me. I know it is nothing fancy or extravagant but nothing feels better than having a bowl of Lentil Soup with them. Just about every visit back there my mom will make it for me. She lets the soup simmer on the stove all afternoon until its flavors are blended and tender. She serves it with a bit of pasta in it and great Semolina Bread. It is simply delicious and it is wonderful to sit around their table and eat it with them.
Let me not forget that whenever I am back in New Jersey my Aunt Fran always insists I come over and she will cook for me. She always makes me her Eggplant Parmesan. Once again it is nothing fancy, but she makes it all herself; and when in season the eggplant has come from their garden. She layers the breaded and baked eggplant slices with her homemade marinara sauce and tops it with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. I love sitting in her kitchen with the family and eating it as stories are told of life. I love having meals there with her.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
My husband makes the best grilled cheese I have ever had. I think he has mastered making them. He gets the outside of the bread nicely toasted and crispy with a not too gooey center of melted cheese. We even had his niece over so she could learn to make them with him. That was one of the best meals I have had in our home in Phoenix. Sitting around our table eating grilled cheese and hearing the humor of the nine year old is where my heart is.
I have a dear friend in Phoenix who I taught to make risotto. We made just a simple one with some veggies and lemon. We were standing in my kitchen in Phoenix; tearing up over chopping the onions, the constant stirring of the risotto, letting the rice simmer gently & slowly with the broth – it tasted wonderful. The great laughter of a friendship like hers will always be a home to me.
I have another friend from Phoenix who has a very large Mexican family and they all get together to make the best tamales I have ever tasted. They all sit together and make and assembly line; who is in charge of soaking the husks, someone else is in charge of the mixing the masa, and so on. They make an array of fillings in them too; chicken, cheese & chilies, pork, and beef. Their masa was always tender and the fillings so flavorful. I have been fortunate to be invited to a family birthday party and have tamales with them. It was wonderful to be surrounded by the generations of this family and share a meal with them and hoping they always keep this family tradition. I felt so homey being there with all of them.
Veggie Noddle Soup
I love how thoughtful my in-laws are of me. They made a Veggie Noodle soup for a family dinner because I am a vegetarian and they wanted to be sure I could eat the meal that everyone else was having that night. It was just so considerate of them. They made the veggie stock from scratch and all. They had an array of vegetables in it as well – carrots, celery, onions, green beans, and corn were mixed in with the noodles and the homemade broth. It was so great to sit around the table in their kitchen with the entire family and eat with them. I believe it had been some time before we were all together around that table. I knew I was home that night.
Pasta and MarinaraSauce
Sometimes life gets so busy…but never too busy for a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce. There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing this with my husband and it is a quick meal at that. The smell of the garlic sautéing in the olive oil with a bit of crushed red pepper, the sound the pasta makes when it is dropped into the boiling water. And when it is all done, topping it off with parmesan cheese that makes the sauce and pasta taste better then you thought it could have been. It is simply fantastic, and I do not think that either of us gets tired of making it or eating it. I have made it in his college apartment, my first apartment, for family on a vacation in Maine, in our home in Phoenix, and of course our apartment here in Seattle. Some things never get old.
So yes, home is where I have these great meals with family and friends. Nothing too fancy, no frills, just plain old food with great people to share it with. This is where my heart is. These meals are my home, good food, great memories, and fantastic people to share