Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Missing Pieces

Ravings: I’ve recently discovered a piece of my heritage that has been a mystery since I was a child. I think it’s interesting that the missing pieces of one’s life are so much more a focus than the constants. When something is hidden from us, it becomes a desired object, but when it’s handed to us we give it little thought. At least that’s how it was for me. I’ve never really thought much about my maternal heritage. I am aware of it and will sometimes use it as a punch line in my often used self-deprecating humor. But I’ve never really identified with it in that internal way in which it defines who I am. But that missing piece has at times, consumed me. Hmmm…..I just realized I could be talking about having a baby here just as easily. There is a lesson in all of this. But I digress.

Here’s the back story. My sister and I have never met our paternal grandfather. My father hasn’t seen him since he was a pretty young child. The story that we all were told is that he was a prisoner of war and when he returned home was easily angered and violent, and that he took off, never to be seen again. At least that’s the childhood recollection. I’m sure my sister’s memory of the story differs slightly. We were kids after all and filled in the gaps and/or misunderstood parts with our own young imaginations. My father has been pretty angry about this “abandonment” for most of his life. My sister and I have always been curious, but have not wanted to upset my dad, so we’ve just gone on wondering for most of our lives. As we got older, we realized that the timelines don’t make sense and the details seem a bit off, but we were still afraid to pursue it. We toyed with the idea of finding out, but always stopped short. My sister even wrote a letter to our grandfather, and received a return letter from his daughter. We chickened out and never responded.

Recently, my father was in the hospital and began musing about finding out his heritage. He was heavily influenced by pain medication, but we ran with it! He still doesn’t want to reunite with his father, but he does want to know where he comes from. My sister got on and stayed up all night researching. She found some really interesting things about both sides of our family. What a cool site! Anyway, she ran into a roadblock and was unable to get any further that our grandfather’s birth in PA. We were told he was born in Spain, so already we knew some new variation of the truth! She then searched Facebook for the descendants that she knew. She remember the daughter’s name and I believe the letter had some other names as well. She found the woman who had sent her the letter so long ago and sent her an email on Facebook. Do you think Mark Zucherberg ever envisioned this kind of use for his little college experiment? After a long wait, she sent a quick email telling us that her grandparents, our great-grandparents were born in Brazil! I see a trip in my future:

She seems open to meeting with us or at least giving us some more information. It’s a strange feeling to know after all this time. But now I want more. I want the whole story. And I think, secretly, my dad wants to know!

Cravings: Since I didn’t get a chance to blog all weekend or yesterday, I have 2 recipes to report today.

The first was Sunday night. Super easy. Jason marinated 2 steaks (I think they were rib steaks, but any cut will work) in soy sauce and Worcester sauce. I made the salad, which was super simple. Earlier in the day, I had roasted two beets. We were going out for the afternoon, but you just need to do it with enough time for it to cool off. Wrap each one in aluminum foil and put it in the oven at 350 for an hour. I then just let them sit there all day on top the stove in the foil until we got home. Then I peeled the skins off and sliced them. I added that to a bowl of lettuce. I used arugula, but you can use whatever lettuce you like. I them sprinkled in some crumbled gorgonzola cheese (you could also use a good crumbled blue cheese), and some rough chopped walnuts. Then add the dressing: 2 Tablespoons good olive oil, 2 Tablespoons vinegar (we used a combination of apple cider and champagne vinegars), 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, juice of one lemon, salt and pepper. I also made a baked sweet potato for CJ, in case anyone is keeping track!

Last night I made Mexican. And I think I made it a little too spicy, so if you are trying this cut down on the chipotle in adobo because that’s what gives it the heat. I made soup with one can of fire roasted tomatoes, the same can filled with vegetable stock, about ½ can (or less if you don’t want it spicy) of chopped chipotle in adobo sauce, and 1 bag of frozen corn. It didn’t look like enough at this point, so I added about a cup of chopped cherry tomatoes and another can of vegetable stock. I served it with my avocado cream, which is just chopped, ripe avocado, greek yogurt, fresh lime juice, fresh chopped parsley (Jason doesn’t like cilantro, but that would work also), and a bit of salt. You could add shredded chicken to the soup also if you wanted a meat meal. I served the soup with a side of homemade nachos. I used organic corn tortillas (don’t remember the brand) spread on cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. They stuck so I need to try spraying the foil first! I then added about ¾ can of black beans, chopped cherry tomatoes, some store bought green salsa, (I wanted tomatillo salsa, but couldn’t find it, so I used this.) a few jarred jalapenos, and a generous amount of shredded white cheddar cheese. Bake it in the oven on 325 for about 10 minutes. Serve with beer!

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