A Birthday Filled with Indulgences

A BIRTHDAY INDULGENCE

 

Sidewinders

Mexican Latte- espresso, chocolate, cayenne & cinnamon

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Brugger’s Bagels

Everything bagel with cream cheese

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Skyline chili

4-way & a cheese coney

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Gaslight cookies

Chocolate chip cookie

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Sixteen Bricks bread

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Toast w. butter

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LeVain’s Cookies

Dark chocolate with chips

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Dewey’s Pizza

Pepperoni & onion

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Graeter’s

Banana split w. Mocha chip & Cookie Dough ice cream, bittersweet chocolate, butterscotch, whipped cream on top

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Next day….food hangover….I don’t think I will do that much cheating in one day again or at least not on my birthday!

 

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

Einsteins to Katzingers and UC to OSU & Lots to Eat In-between

Life is funny! Sometimes. Other times…not so much!! I have heard people say what is your 5-year plan? Your 10- year plan? You can’t plan life. Life happens! I find it so comical when someone asks me that question. I have no idea where I will be and what I will be doing and neither do you! I heard a great quote years ago and for your non-religious but spiritual friend here it is…

“MAN PLANS AND GOD LAUGHS!”

It is so true. Don’t plan your life. Enjoy your life!

Something really, REALLY sad happened and it makes the above so true! And it goes to show how life can change on a dime. In a New York minute! Grab your happiness when you can. Where you can! Life is short! Appreciate everything!

The couple that bought my grandmother’s home in Wyoming. Caveat here. The nicest, most down to earth, salt of the earth people; lost their 23-year old son, and it shook me to my core. He was driving down a street behind an 18-wheeler and the car BEHIND him…the car he had NO CONTROL OVER hit him from behind with such FORCE that it shoved his car under the truck and killed him. I did learn that it wasn’t instantaneous, which I find a blessing and a curse at the same time. Blessing that the family gets to say their goodbyes and I DO believe people in comas can hear those words, right or wrong, I believe it, and you aren’t changing me on it. Curse because I just hope he was not lying there in pain, maybe it would have been easier to just go to those puffy clouds in the sky.

His organs went to save the life of others. I love that! Even in death, Charlie did something heroic to help others. He was a good kid. A sweet, kid. A real tragedy. Happens all the time, but when it hits so close to home and affects people you really care for, it hurts like the dickens! My heart goes out to the family.

I have spent my LIFE listening to my dad tell me it is unnatural for a child to predecease the parents and that there is nothing worse. He does not know this from personal experience. I am an only child. BUT…because he told me that countless times spanning several years, when I was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago, he was the one I feared telling the most. He handled it the best, but the thought of the chance that I could die before my parents and what it would do to them was excruciating to me. In a lot of ways, I was more worried about their fears than mine. And then to see these parents so torn…it just makes me think and put things in perspective. It forces you to take the time and say what is important, so my blog readers…I implore you to do the same. Life is short. Enjoy! Be happy. Tell the ones you love, how much you love them, how important they are because life can change on a dime and in a New York minute, and because I am a humorous soul at MY core…you know what I am going to say next…GO EAT SOMETHING YUMMY!!!! You deserve it!

On with the food and the blog…the heavy part is over reflect on these important words while you eat that chocolate brownie or drink that Fleur de Bee.

Onto the enjoyments of life…and reading the crazy tales of my life.

I came back from my trip to New York and I did very mundane things like bathe the stinky dog that smelled like a New York sewer and as much as I love the scents of New York there are some I CAN live without! Dulce and I went to Clifton and did our lovely long walk and she had to sniff out all the messages from all the previous dogs that she had missed spanning several days.

We ran into my friend Beth and her boyfriend David, which it was so nice to meet him after hearing about him for so long! They invited us back to their home for brunch.

We finished our walk and I went over there. I don’t know if it was the spontaneity of it, or the fact that their home was so reminiscent of a Cambridge home, or the food was so like the food of the Cambridge brunches I used to attend, but being in their home, with those foods, in that setting took me back to Sunday brunches in Cambridge, Massachusetts at my friend Philip Greenspun’s home and at my friend Sebastian Fixson’s home. Both MIT grads, both hosted fabulous Sunday brunches with MIT nerds and I say that with great affection!!! The guests were brilliant and came from across the globe and the food was intriguing, unusual, delicious, and worldly. The company of all these friends and their conversations were exhilarating. I actually did more listening than speaking at those brunches. I wanted to soak it all up!

Here I was at Beth’s and she was serving figs (which I couldn’t find in Cincy), fresh raspberries and a bowl full of grapes. Dolmades, stuffed grape leaves, which I adore! Then David made an omelet of sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and olives, which I replicated for the next three days because I enjoyed it and craved it so much!

It was a wonderful surprise and it was such a lovely day and such a great way to ease myself back from New York. I spent the day with a New Yorker and her beau!

That evening a small group of friends were being treated to a dinner at the Public Incline in Price Hill next to the Queen’s Tower (and Primavista) with an equally cool view of Cincinnati, and somehow, I was fortunate to make the list!

Here are the views and the fried pickles…they were yummy!

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My friend Stacey and I went to try Fusian in Kenwood. I had tasted their food at my friend Josh’s daughter’s graduation party. The guy behind the counter remembered me AND my order. It was so cool and eerie at the same time, but even more impressive. We had a great lunch!

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I think what I REALLY loved were their teas and I am not a tea person! They were delicious! And I loved being able to eat gluten free sushi!

That evening Shirley, Vivian and I sat on Shirley aka Trouble’s balcony and tried to solve the problems of the world while Shirley brushed all the knots out of my sister Dulce’s hair. I asked Shirley the secret of the dog NOT crying when she brushed her. She said her hair had a lot of knots so she was gentle because she sympathized!

9.11.

After all these years, I feel like every year I handle that day better and in the last few years I feel unaffected, but then I stay away from the news on 9.11. I don’t need to relive it again and again. I saw something on the internet about 9.11 and OH SO STUPIDLY clicked on it and it was the police officer or fireman ringing the bell in memory of those lost that day and it catapulted me back in time and how I felt that day. I wept! Uncontrollably. It hit me like a ton of bricks! And then I heard God Bless America and cried all over again. That is a wound that scabs over, but never fully heals.

Joan and Charlie invited me to brunch with their friend Amber. Amber and Joan met MANY years ago when they both were on a vacation to Italy and they were the only two in the group that had a true sense of adventure so they became the duo explorers and became fast friends and have remained friends for a long time.

Amber is a NYer! And she and I got to talk about food and chefs and she was impressive!! We sure had a great time discussing food! It was so much fun and so now I have made a new friend too!

After doggy sitting my sister Dulce for 10 consecutive days with a short break when Trouble took her, it seemed that the monetary value of LeVain’s chocolate brioche and hockey puck dark chocolate cookies was a priceless exchange, but I still felt like it was not enough for two people to be awakened DAILY by a dog that is a morning dog. 6:30 am. SO RIDICULOUS! You do not work, Dulce. No reason to be awake at the crack of f—ing dawn! Sleep late, pooch. Well, I invited Jo and Dave the doggy lifesavers over for brunch! Of course, she thought they were coming to see her. SHE IS SO SPOILED!!!!

Every other Monday, if I can, I go sit with my friend Mare who is going through chemo for colon cancer. She is such a trooper. I have a hard time going from my car to her seat in the room. Passing all those people with tubes everywhere…is hard, but once I get to Mare’s seat I am fine! And it means the world to her! And we have fun chatting up a storm!

I had a meeting at Children’s Hospital about a book I have written. Will keep you posted as it progresses!

Ruth Harriet comes to town, which means two things….BUSY and how much can any one human being eat?

My mom arrived and we first went and ate lunch down @ The Banks @ a place called Jefferson Social.

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We were able to sit outside and eat with Dulce in tow. We shared a con queso dip with chips. We chatted with a man who lived around the block and came to work there with his dog in tow.

Then we went home to my place and relaxed and then we ventured out to a place called Littlefield. It is a bourbon bar down in Northside that has great small plates. We aren’t bourbon people, but we are foodies.

We shared lamb meatballs with jalapeno fig jam

lamb meatballs

and then a BLP, which is bacon lettuce and peaches. They had a HUGE bourbon list and we passed on that and they had a really interesting drink list, which we decided to come back and try another day! They had this purple drink with an edible hibiscus flower in it. For dessert, we shared an upside down banana cake.

upside down bana cake

Friday evening we were invited to my friends Joan and Charlie’s place for cocktails and nibbles. The array of Asian food nibbles was quite interesting. We made plans to come back for Joan’s Venetian surprise for my mom.

Saturday, we packed it in tightly. We started at SIDEWINDERS for Mexican lattes and then progressed to City Flea to walk the booths of the local artists selling their wares.

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We dropped off Dulce and then went down to WCET for their Kid’s Club event.

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They had all these life-sized animals from a variety of shows walking among the kids. I volunteer @ CET and my mom used to in the 70s, so I asked if I could bring her back! They said yes, and so glad we did, because we were assigned to the face-painting table and she is an artist (aka my children’s book illustrator) and I AM NOT!!!! So, when kids asked to be a Bengal tiger, or get a butterfly painted on their hand…she could do it. I COULD NOT!!! They had little cutout designs for ME to place on faces and color in the lines.

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Here is some of her work…

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Then we went to UC Homecoming down on The Banks of the Ohio River. It was cool to go to it, and my mom a UC graduate loved it, but the floats were kinda lame. Apparently, because they had to drive the floats from Clifton to downtown and that is hard on a float, they don’t do a lot to them. People said when it is near the school the floats were MUCH different!

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My mom got her pic taken with the Cincy Bengal tiger! She was so excited!!!

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After the parade we went to Clifton and stopped at DRUNKEN BENTO to buy sushi to go. We were going to go to THAI EXPRESS and get pad Thai To me, the best Thai in Cincy but it was closed for a leak.

So, we went to another nearby place for a Bubble tea and we got SO much more than “Just” tea.

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There was “something” in the tea! I have no idea what, but something in there that made me delusional and my mom overly tired.

We slept it off!

We woke up and ate sushi and were happy and happy to be home!

The next morning we woke up and did our traditional thing! One does NOT, cannot, WILL not go to Burlington Flea Market without a SIDEWINDERS Mexican Latte in hand. It is sacrilegious to not have one!

So, we went to Burlington coffees in hand and wandered around looking for things to inspire creativity.

I found the perfect ring to hold my magic sand. If you want to know more…you will have to read the book when it comes out!

Then we came back to the condo for the last day at the pool! I love our pool and I love my pool friends!

Then I took my mom to THE COMET to listen to bluegrass music and share a burrito with me. I think she really loved it!!! The music. Not the burrito. It was her first EVER burrito. She is more an tamale gal!

The next day we took a long walk along The Ohio River so she could see all the wonderful things they have done along the river. They have done such a nice job.

My favorite is the metal swings looking out to the river. Dulce and Mom liked that too!

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Then my friends Tom and Linda came over to meet my mom and visit and chat. They had a wonderful time. I knew they would get along well and easily.

That evening we went to Django for dinner. I had the Cowboy Stew, which I really like with Southwest chicken and pork and served with jalapeno bacon cornbread.

My mom was REALLY digging the fresh combinations of spinach, tomato, onion, guacamole, verda crema on a rice cake with bacon. A real gem!

salmon from Django

The following morning we went to meet our cousins for breakfast at THE SLEEPY BEE and my mom and I shared the Avi omelet and the horrible sounding (to me) pancakes that ROCK, because the butter and the maple syrup and the fact that they taste good AND ARE HEALTHY is such an awesome merger!

Here we are with our family. AND this is real, true, blood family. Both of my folks are adopted but my mom found her birth family. They are so cool! I love them!!!

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After brunch, we went to get my mom’s haircut. She was begging to find someone good to cut her hair! Finally, she did.

Then that evening, she was going to get her surprise dinner at Joan and Charlie’s.

Here is the background story. YEARS ago, when I was backpacking through Europe after college, my mom came and met me in Venice. A restaurant named Madonna Trattoria or Trattoria Madonna was recommended to us. We ordered an appetizer of squid ink pasta with squid ink on top of it, and an entrée. The app was SO UNBELIEVABLY KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF GOOD AND SCRUMPDILLY-UMPTIOUS that we cancelled our entrees and ordered more squid ink pasta with squid ink sauce. EVER since that time…we have tried to find it, re-create it and it is NOT sold in this country. Well, it is in small packets that are NOT the same. We can find the pasta but not the sauce. I went back to Venice when I was living in Paris in 2004 and ate it again, but since then, nothing.

Fast forward to the present, Joan and Charlie spend a month in Venice and she brought some back and served it for dinner. I was stuffed but managed to stuff two full plates down into my belly…I was in heaven! HEAVEN! Now, I am craving it! Crazy good!!!

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And here is a pic of this restaurant with the magical pasta and sauce…

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The next day my mom and I took out our passports and traveled to Harrison, Ohio to go to the highly recommended vet named Laurie.

It was a bit of a poke and seemed even further for my mom and I, but the vet was a great gal. And she had a Boston terrier puppy mix there…OH SO CUTE!!! They called him Squishy. Isn’t he? He was like a belly full of jelly.

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Why is a puppy/dog/cat/elephant/hippo adorable with a large waist but people don’t think humans are? That really bums me out! They say everything goes full circle. I am hoping that the folks from the days of Rembrandts, Renoirs and Matisse paintings who were full figured come back into style one day! I am not saying super chubby, but cute chubby should be CUTE!

That night we went back to LITTLEFIELD to try the Fleur de Bee, which consists of Prosecco, Violette, St. Germaine and Raspberry. They’re insanely good. They knocked both of us on our ears, duffs, tushies, you name it. One drink. The edible flower was delish. I highly recommend it.

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Then we went home and I cooked a homemade meal and my mom set up the balcony for a candlelight dinner. She is so into the ambiance while you know me. I am so into the food!

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The following day we had the Sanibel Sandpipers over for a meeting. The Sanibel Sandpipers are a group of retired women in my building that I have gathered together to sew my Peri the pelican stuffed animal. Here they are with their red noses. I will explain the noses later.

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Later that evening and I do mean much later. Around 9ish, we went to dinner hop. We did it last Fall. We go to 2 restaurants and share two apps at both restaurants.

We started at a fairly new restaurant in Cincinnati called Salazar. The acoustics were atrocious. You can’t hear a damn thing! I hate, detest loud restaurants. I want to talk to the people I am with not shout and grin a lot.

Most people favor the little fried oyster sandwich with kimchi, radish sprouts, and garlic mayo. It was good but the bread overpowered it. Too much bread. My favorite was the duck leg rillette. It comes in a jar with four slices of Blue Oven bread, jalapeno jam, and pickled red onion and to merge all those flavors together is quite the symphony of tastes. I would go back for that one!

duck leg rillette

oyster sandwich

We left there and bellied up to the bar at Jean Robert’s Table. We shared a lobster salad, which was called the Red’s Lobster salad and contained cracker Jacks in it for the Cincinnati Reds. It turns into the Bengals Lobster salad when football season kicked into full gear. It was good. How can good lobster not be good? But I wasn’t in love with it. We had an oyster omelet, which I did really like and my mom was blah on it. It contained oysters, ginger, lemon, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and Kentucky’s sheep’s cheese. I enjoyed the medleys of all the foods together and there was an interesting texture to it all.

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The following morning we went to breakfast with my friend Lynn. She had found this cute little place downtown Cincy, which I am not sure I had ever been to and it was an eclectic little neighborhood. Lynn had read about THE CHEAPSIDE CAFÉ in the paper and I would have never found it if it had not been for her. It was in this tiny little, obscure, architectural gem of a building. The name comes from the street name and it was adorable. Fresh herbs were growing on a shelf. A mural sized photograph of a Cincinnati hillside covered a portion of the wall, while a wood structure captured the majority of the wall. Outside was a wooden teepee that we ate inside of it.

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I had the smoked salmon sandwich with cucumber, pickled onion, and herb cream cheese on salted rye.

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Lynn and my mother had the breakfast sandwich, which consisted of a fried egg, bacon, and pimento cheese on multigrain bread.

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I thought mine sounded better, but I thought theirs was hands down better than mine. Then we ordered some yummy, although espresso sized cappuccinos. Sorry folks, those capps need to be bigger! Because it is too pricey to drink two and one is just too small!!!

After breakfast we went to the Zoo. My mom had not seen the Cincy Zoo in over 20 years! It was so much fun to go there with her and see her face as she saw all the wonderful enhancements to our Zoo. I remember being at the Zoo with my mom as a young child.

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Then we went to Findlay Market, which we both marvel at the fact that when we lived here years ago, we didn’t take advantage of that market. It is truly fabulous! We bought food for dinner and then went home and had another dinner out on my balcony! My sunsets ROCK!!!

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The following morning we drove to Ohio State University for the OSU v. UC game! My stepfather has kept his OSU tickets since his college days. He’s now 76! Do the math! I stink at math! So, my mom and I had the tickets and we were going to see my stepsister’s oldest son who was a freshman at OSU. To me, seeing Matthew was a highlight!

But first, I asked to go to Katzinger’s!

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I was so ridiculously excited for a good Jewish Deli. I knew it wouldn’t be New York good, but I held high hopes! And it is really, really hard to compete with Carnegie Deli, Katz’s, 2nd Ave Deli and Eisenberg’s. It just is!

But when I walked in the joint. I felt like I was in a New York deli and that is such a beautiful thing.

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You can’t go wrong with a corned beef and pastrami sandwich.

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I had to try the potato pancake. Nice crunchy outside.

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And the rugelach was KILLER!!! I mean KILLER!!! And the bagels were VERY tasty too! We brought one home for breakfast the next day!

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Then we went to the game. We parked in China, but the transportation was so unbelievably good.

It was neat to see the stadium!

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My stepsister, Amy’s son, the freshman at OSU and I haven’t seen each other since he was a tot!

He is so adorable! Here is a pic of him with his Auntie Erin.

Matthew and Erin

And his Abu, which is Spanish for grandmother.

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Matthew is part of this group called O block. Here is a pic of where he sits!

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It is so cool to see the band write out Ohio with people.

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The seats were in a great location as you can see but they were MISERABLY uncomfortable. Benches with no backs! I cannot sit on a bench without a back for hours on end. I don’t sit on bar stools unless they have backs. I know what it will do to my back. Agony! You know I am not a complainer but that stinks for me.

A ex-UC football player sat next to us. He was adorable!!!

The next day we went on the Northside House Tour. It is so cool to see the unexpected gems and what people are clever enough to do inside and outside their homes.

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And then you just stumble upon a random cool house. Look at the top of this house!

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After the house tour we went to visit the Guggenheims who lived up the street from us and were one of my folks’ best friends when I was growing up! And my Uncle Jack, who has Alzheimer’s, who I never thought I would see again was home from the facility. They are really, really good people!!!

Then my friend Stephen threw a party for the pool people with yummy nibbles. My mom had a ball visiting with people.

We went to King Wok and I of course had the Moo Shu Pork. It was good and plentiful!

It has been there a long time and Polly Campbell gave it a good write up! My mom says she can’t find good Chinese food in Savannah. So there we were!

Last day my mom was here! My friend Jennie who my mother A-DOR-ES!! Came to breakfast. My mom made this breakfast of guacamole, feta cheese, and a fried egg on top. She placed hers and Jennie’s on a place of sourdough bread. I skipped the bread.

Here was her inspiration.

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We sat and talked and had a wonderful time! Then we went to Einstein’s so my mom could get bagels to take back to Georgia. They had a doggy bagel for Dulce! You know my mom got that for her. Then I took my mom to the airport. Hard to put your mom on a plane to go home and pack up a house and start a new life. My heart goes out to her on what a trooper she is being through this whole ordeal. So unfair. My stepdad is a REAL stinker!!!

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

Bok Choy and Snap Peas, Indy 500, Fried Chicken, Blue Eyes, and Swing Sets on the Ohio River

 

 

I was invited back to my Tasmanian friend Phyllis’s condo for a game of dominoes with Stephen and Martha. We sat around a table playing Mexican tiles, which Phyllis calls dominoes, while laughing and telling stories. We had a ball. Phyllis makes me miss my Tassie friends and my time over there.

However, I just found out one of my best friend’s from Oz, who lives in London is coming to Cincy to cover the Cincy tennis tournament so we will have loads of time together. I can’t wait!

The diet continues. I have been finding recipes in old cookbooks, Saveur, and my neighbors Tom & Linda are sharing their Bon Appetit with me. So, I am experimenting and I am falling in love with all these yummy new dishes.

Bok Choy and Sugar Snap Peas sautéed in Peanut and Sesame Oils and then Soy Vay Very Very Teriyaki Sauce. I have now made it twice and both times I think there is enough to last me for 3-4 meals, but nope I got two meals out of it and it is because it is so darn tootin’ good!

 

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I went up to visit my friends Karen & Bill and Karen served apple slices with lemon slices because I love a Granny Smith apple with lemon juice on it, but this time, she also had lime and the combo of lime and lemon on the apple slices was divine. I loved it! I am really weird, though. I tend to only eat apples from October to May and then switch to Nectarines and Peaches in the summer, so I hope I remember that great combo in the Fall.

I was taking a walk in Spring Grove and felt something looming over me. I looked up and there was a blimp over my head. It was beyond shocking. I was not near the Reds baseball stadium and it was so low, but it was cool.

 

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Viv and I went to check the pool prior to it opening. She tried to push me in the deep end but I wouldn’t let her. She asked if we could dip our toes in the water. The guys said we could. So, she dipped her toes in the water and then looked at me and said, “You wouldn’t push me would you?” I am thinking, if I push my 85 year-old friend in the water, I am going to hell in a hand basket. I told her of course not! Well, when it was my turn to hold the ladder and dip my toes in the water, she caught me off guard and pushed me. No joke. My friend pushed me in the water. Hence, I am the first one that was in the pool this summer, a day or two before the official opening.

 

Of course, I instantly forgave her and a few days later we went to Spring Grove to see the gravesites of the famous gypsies that come to pay their respects to their lost loved ones.

 

When I was a kid, I remember hearing the gypsies are in town lock your doors. I remember hearing stories of them robbing people. My mother only remembers the scams of offering to black top driveways and then just painting them black with paint alone.

 

Then you think of the movie, CHOCOLAT, and how much you liked those gypsies and you think twice about these people.

 

Well, I asked the guy at the information tent at Spring Grove about the gypsies, because they go to this particular cemetery and pay a fortune in floral arrangements that are over the top and they are displayed around the grounds. The info guy was not informative at all and I thought ‘DUDE, respect your gypsies more than half of Cincy is coming to this cemetery to see their floral arrangements. Don’t shun them. Don’t pretend they are not here or be disrespectful. Heck, Johnny Depp was a gypsy in Chocolat it is not always a bad thing!

 

Well, we found the flowers. You can’t miss them. Here are examples below…

 

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What I later learned is they prefer to be called travelers and they are of Irish & Scottish descent. Of course, I think of Johnny Depp and the gal who was in the movie so I think dark hair, eyes, Spanish and exotic looking and the Spring Grover’s don’t say anything about them out of respect to them, their privacy and the fact that they have spent so much money on stones for loved ones that they want to respect them and their privacy. So, I did feel better after hearing that, but you can see where I thought they weren’t respecting them, and where they saw me as not respecting them either. Oh what a sticky wicket!

 

On Memorial Day, I went to my friend Stacey’s for a BBQ. Her hubby grilled burgers and chicken kebabs on the grill. She had yummy side salads that I have since replicated and doctored to my liking.

 

She had green beans in an Asian dressing, which is always a yummy treat, but then she had this salad that I loved which was feta, avocado, cilantro (which I hate) and chickpeas. I could barely taste the cilantro, but when I made it at home I made it with: chickpeas, avocado, mozzarella, olive oil, salt and pepper and loved it. When I made it a second time, I threw in pomegranate seeds and I think it added a sweet tart flavor to the mixture that I truly adored.

 

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My friend Stephen invited me to dinner at his home with his brother John, our friend Phyllis and another friend of his named Nancy. Nancy was talking about her travel plans to Europe this summer and it allowed us all to escape there with her even if only for an hour or so. Stephen’s brother is amazing, and quite frankly, incredibly sexy. He attended Princeton, and then went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. He returned to the States to go to Harvard and landed in North Carolina. Sexiness is so in the brain for me. I love a smart man. But he does remind me of an old boyfriend twenty years from now and that is more than I can bear.

 

Trouble and I went to see a play at the Cincinnati Playhouse. My friend Becky, who has moved to Asheville refuses to part with her theater tickets, and so thankfully she frequently offers them to me. I took my friend Shirley to see The North Pool. I loved it. Heavy, yes. Intense, yes, but so good. So worth seeing if you have the opportunity. It is one of those plays that makes you think about the topic at hand.

 

 

I came home and made some baba ghanouj for the next day and I am not good at making it. I have tried a few times and mine is never as good as I have had it elsewhere. And then I oversalted it. I did google how to handle that or remedy it. The answer was to add vinegar to my concoction and damn if it didn’t work. Science. Gotta love it. I then roasted cauliflower in olive oil, salt, pepper, and capers in the oven at 400 for 25 minutes and the next day for lunch and dinner, I spread some baba ghanouj on the bottom of a bowl and then tossed the cauliflower onto it. It was different, but good.

 

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As you know, I am a volunteer over at WCET (Cincy Public TV station) and they did their live auction where people buy tickets, come eat dinner and bid on interesting items from vacations, to Oscar Robertson basketballs, to who knows what! The first pic below is how beautiful they made the Music Hall Ballroom. The second is a pic of me with my dad’s old college buddy and the basketball star of Cincy….The Big O. Oscar Robertson!

 

 

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Erin & Oscar Robertson

 

 

Well, there was an Indian Hill Ranger at the event. I was registering people and I kept seeing this man pacing near the door and I thought he was waiting for someone or had been stood up. Finally, he came over and said I guess I should introduce myself to you. I am a Ranger and I am here tonight keeping an eye on one of your guests. My response was, “An Indian Hill Ranger?”

“Yes,” he replied.

Indian Hill is one of the wealthiest (most people think the wealthiest) neighborhood in Cincy. Rangers are what they call their cops! Of course, I looked around trying to figure out who from Indian Hill was at this function that demanded a bodyguard. I was clueless! I was also determined to figure it out. The only one that made sense to me was Carl Lindner who owned Chiquita bananas & Great American Insurance, but he was dead, so it certainly wasn’t him. Maybe Peter Frampton the musician? You gotta admit, it piques your interest.

 

 

A friend approached me that night about the possibility of ghostwriting his book. He has a great story, but do I want to work for someone else? I can’t listen to dictation and type it out. I can interview him and take notes and go from there, but I wonder is he going to be easy to work with, difficult, picky, fun, and easy. There are so many questions you want answered before you start THAT kind of a business relationship. I am in the running for the position. There are other candidates. I will keep you posted if I get it. Sadly, I can’t tell you the name yet.

 

 

I went to dinner at Frisch’s with my friends Carolyn, Roy and Lynn. It is the first time in maybe 20 years that I have not ordered a Big Boy. A Cincy tradition. It is a double decker burger with tartar sauce. Don’t make the scrunched up face look till you try it. It is YUM-MY!

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Then we went to Final Friday at the Pendleton, which is 8 floors of artist studios.

We went to see our friend, Bill Feinberg’s sculpture. I have spoken about Bill before now. He is incredibly talented.

We didn’t get through the entire place, but vowed to come back and try it.

My grandmother had the most unbelievable book collection. In it was a set of Life books about cooking in different countries or regions of the world. I was particularly intrigued with Latin America’s food, the Middle East, Chinese and Japanese cuisines. In it it broke down the regions within the countries and the foods they ate and gave recipes.

There is a fair in Cincy every summer called The Greek Festival and I go for the food, but in particular the Baklava and the Moussaka. I have never tried to make Moussaka, but today was the day. I knew it had a gazillion calories and filled with things I should not eat. I tweaked it for my diet and I devoured it.

I am not going to give you measurements because I didn’t measure it.

  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Fresh parsley
  • Dried oregano
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 eggplant
  • can of diced tomatoes
  • can of chickpeas
  • Parm cheese

 

I sautéed the onions in olive oil and then added the eggplant and the spices and then the tomatoes and chickpeas and let it simmer covered for at least 20 minutes. Then before I pulled it off the heat, I added the Parmesan cheese. I have made it twice since then! I took the unhealthy stuff out: beef (which I may add in another time), butter, flour, and eggs. Usually, there is a béchamel like sauce on top and lots, scratch that LOADS of cheese and I took the really fattening stuff out and still loved it.

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My friend Eric and I ate in a Middle Eastern restaurant in NY in the last year or so and they had a dish that I loved that caused me to try this idea.

I put the moussaka I made in a skillet and shaped it like a donut and then put butter in the center and cracked an egg into it. So basically frying an egg in the center. I plated it and then stuck my fork in the egg so the yolk would run and mixed it into the moussaka. It was really good.

 

June 1, four years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am four years out! I sometimes forget, but it is always there in the back of my mind. I feel like five years is the first real marker.

 

I went on this diet to lose weight, but I wanted to lessen my odds of reoccurrence and I have heard so many arguments for cancer loving sugar and do you blame it? I LOVE sugar!

The scale is not moving, which is horribly depressing, but the clothes are fitting better so pardon my French screw the scale.

Now, I am not supposed to eat or drink anything sugar free. I know this and I don’t do sugar free things, EXCEPT recently. Two things in maybe five years. They both tasted so bad that I had to come home and consume food to get rid of that horrible after taste on the sugar free products. I will not be doing that again. So, I have trained my body to detest sugar free anything, but I can’t teach it to have an aversion to expensive stinky cheeses and chocolate anything, or Graeter’s ice cream? It is a cruel, cruel world.

 

I went for a walk with my amazing friend Mare, who is such a trooper. I have to share this with you because I find it fascinating and it goes to show how amazing science can be.

Sadly, very sadly, Mare was diagnosed with colon cancer. It spread to the lung and liver. They were able to take it out of the colon and lung but not the liver and she was given 2 years to live as of last June. I tell you this because maybe you know of someone in a similar situation and this information can help that friend.

Mare did chemo every other week for the past year and Dr. Gloom and Doom was not hopeful. This has thankfully changed! They are going to radiate the hell out of her liver where the tumors are a plenty and hope to kill that portion of the liver. In doing this, the blood will hopefully flow to the good portion and your liver can regenerate itself. So, they will give it 4-6 months to do just that! THEN, they will take out the portion they killed and hopefully the regenerated portion will survive. They will chemo the heck out of her as an insurance policy to make sure the cancer is gone and she will be cancer free and hopefully get another 10 years!!! A-MAZING!!!! I just love science. Glad I didn’t have to take a lot of it, but I love it!

So, my friend with Stage 4 cancer, is in such good shape that she wants to walk 3 miles along the Ohio River from one end to the other! She is going to beat this thing!

We hit the new section called Smale Park and there are these swings that face the river. I can sit on a swing and swing and look at the Ohio River. It is so well done.

There’s Mare!

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I was in NY for a lot of the park renovation along the Hudson River and no one does renovations like NY, but this is impressive.

Mare said we needed to walk to her garden where she bought a brick when she thought she was dying. She took me to her garden in Central Park toward the edge of the park on the East side. It was beautiful. A best kept secret section of Central Park. This was ALMOST as beautiful!

On my way home, I stopped at the store to buy ingredients I had never bought and experiment with things to cook.

I had a strawberry rhubarb pie in NY years ago that I found ambrosial and never had since. I discovered a recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb compote and I thought I would give it a try.

In a saucepan, I took the rhubarb that I cut like I would cut celery. Same consistency, but red instead of green. I put it with three tablespoons of water and a ¼ cup of sugar and you cook it till it becomes soft and it also begins to froth.

I then pulled it aside and added ½ t. nutmeg and ½ t. vanilla and then stirred and tossed it in a bowl and added the sliced strawberries into it and tossed again. Holy moly it was good!

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I ended up putting it in the refrigerator and adding it to my homemade yogurt, and I used it to sweeten up my fruit smoothies.

 

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I really wanted to try Swiss chard. I have probably had it before, but I had never bought it and cooked with it and since I am on a diet where I must get my carbs through veggies…this is the time. And those leaves are so big and beautiful with their shocking red stems.

 

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This recipe was so easy! Olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions and the garlic then cut Swiss chard leaves and toss them into the pan and continue to sauté. It all turns bright vibrant colors. When it is cooked to your desire toss it in a bowl and add a dollop of horseradish and mix it together and eat it. I must confess. I really liked it. So much so, that I made it again last evening for dinner.

 

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I have this cousin named Lynnie who lives in the Keys of Florida. She is always hell bent on finding me a man. She said she was always like me and not looking for it, but then she met her hubby and she adores him! So, she wants me to have the same thing.

Well, she invited me to Indy to hangout with her and meet her hubby and experience Vintage Car Racing. I was excited to go, but after ten minutes of sitting around, I thought I wanted to leave. This quickly changed.

 

Now, let me tell you about the race! I had never ever been to the Indy 500, but now I am curious. My friend Jared went when we were in college. He said he went in a helicopter that dropped him off in the field. He saw the race, got back on the helicopter and left and that was the way to go!

Well, I thought it was going to be like a horse track and that you could see the entire track in front of you, but you just see the portion of the track in front of you. The track goes on forever and is mammoth! Actually, quite brilliant how they set it up. It offers a spectacular view for all spectators.

And my cousin Lynnie’s husband, I instantly liked him. What a nice guy and so passionate about the racing and I asked him why he got into it and listening to him talk about the race, he just lit up!

He got into his fire retard clothes, shoes, earplugs, neck brace (key element after the Earnhardt crash) it was invented. He left and we raced to something called the “False Grid”. This is where all the cars line up in a row and then when they are ready, they fall into line one after the other to enter the stadium and take off.

We watched them go one after another into the stadium and then the first race I went up into the stands with Audrey and her son, Evan, who are fans and friends of Lynnie and Tom.

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The second race, I went into the pit.

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I stood on what is hollowed ground for many famed racecar drivers and I watched these guys go racing by at top speeds. The sounds and the energy were great! It was really cool and I was so glad I had a chance to do this once in my life!

Tom’s car didn’t come around after a few rounds and we all turned purple. Why weren’t we seeing his car? Then the radio was with Dan, Audrey’s hubby. No Tom. After the race, we went back to the trailer and shortly thereafter we got word that he ran out of gas. Scary! I don’t think I could have the stomach for letting my hubby do that! Kudos to Lynnie! He loves it and she embraces it!

Here’s Tom and his baby!

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And a little later, she and I took a walk around the grounds. I saw some really cool old, antique, vintage cars. I just love old cars like that. My old boyfriend Ian loved cars and used to tease me that no car affected me like an old car or a new mini cooper. And, Lynnie’s friend Karen, who was a neat lady, her husband owns and races in Paul Newman’s first race car and I have a pic of me sitting in it.

 

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So, Lynnie who hates, detests that I am not smitten and in love. She had a man she wanted me to meet. Blue eyes and gray hair. My thought was been there; done that don’t need to repeat. She pointed him out to me and I said, No. She said come meet him. Shocking, I know, I became PAINFULLY shy! No, I don’t want to go! She made me!

I like my men with big, puppy dog brown eyes, but his eyes were lovely. They were big and blue! Then he told me he retired at 43 and I thought, oh great another one, just like the last ole’ blue eyes. Nope, this one had figured it out and like me, was a mediator, and then got into rental properties and Laundromats and is in the process of opening a bier garden and coffee shop and is successful, but that was not what was nice about him. He was so wonderfully down-to-earth, fun and funny. Nice, nice guy and the best way to describe him was that he was adorable!

There was a dinner after the races, which consisted of fried chicken, pulled pork and salad or those were the things I opted to eat. I do NOT turn down fried chicken and that pulled pork was the best I have had in a long time! There was also corn on the cob soaking in a bath of beautiful BUTTER. La beurre! Then mac and cheese, and cookies and brownies. I am ashamed to confess this to you. Don’t tell anyone. I had to have two bites of a brownie. I needed a bite of sweet and that turned to two bites of sweet. Then I had to throw the rest away or I would have finished it.

Then we went to dance to the band. Grand Funk Railroad. Blue eyes was there and we talked, danced, sang. It was a lot of fun!

 

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I decided that I was not going to crash at my friend’s condo and instead I wanted to come home, sleep in my own bed, but I had to wait to see the fireworks. They were good and never ending which is awesome.

My cousin, Lynnie’s cousin and his girlfriend and I were heading to the car when it started to rain. I said we should get blue eyes to take us in the golf cart. He said he would and then they were gone. We drove around looking for them to find them back at the trailer. Silly kids. We all got onto the golf cart and were deposited at the parking lot.

Fifteen minutes later, I get a phone call. What mile marker are you at? I told him, he said, I am behind you but catching up! I’ll call you back in a bit. Sure enough, “where are you now?” I told him. “I am five miles behind you. Wait, I just passed you.” Of course you are going to pass me when you are in a Porsche and I am in a HONDA Civic! We chatted and then before we hung up, he said he was going to slow down, get in front of me and he drove with me all the way to my exit to make sure I made it home safely. I am telling you the guy was adorable!

 

 

So for someone, who wanted to leave after the first ten minutes, I ended up having a ball!

 

 

I woke up the next morning at 7:08am. It seems to be the time I wake up these days! I don’t get out of bed, but that is the witching hour. My sister Dulce has trained me well.

I was craving sugar. Okay, not sugar, more specifically French toast. I have been craving it for weeks!!! I think I needed to have it, go for a long run and it would be a wash!

I have this amazing cinnamon bread with coffee cake crumble crust that I bought a Jerry’s on Sanibel. I needed to use it. It is in the freezer and will last, but this is my rationale.

I put butter in the pan. I put the toast in till it is toasted on both sides and then I realize that it has been SO LONG since I made French toast that I completely forgot to dip it into egg first! Yes, I went to Harvard! I bet most four year olds remember that part of the recipe. Not me.

So, I dip it after the fact. Place it back in the skillet and cook it. It is now dark brown and I am scared I ruined it and wasted precious Jerry’s cinnamon bread. I plate it and sprinkle sea salt on it and then confectioner’s sugar and then maple syrup. It was almost crunchy. Every bite like a symphony on my tongue. I was in heaven. Absolute heaven. I made a Dean and Deluca cappuccino. I was in bliss! I didn’t photograph it for you because it looked like burnt toast with powdered sugar. Like most things I cook, it wasn’t pretty but it sure tasted great!

I then went for a run in hopes of using my carb intake to propel me to run well. It did help, but I was sore because I had not run in awhile, so I pushed myself to get rid of that French toast. My body would later punish me for pushing it too hard!

That night, Shirley (aka Trouble) and I went to the Opera in Washington Park. I sat on a chair staring at Music Hall (which is majestic and beautiful) and listening to Opera.

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Gosh, I love Opera! The first time I went in college, I didn’t care for it. Then after college, in Vienna, I was so incredibly lucky to pay $2.50 as a student and get in and see Pavarotti and I fell in love with it and ever since it has been love for me. I just love it!

Of course, I got the time wrong and thought it started at 8 and it had started at 7! Thankfully, we were early and they played an additional 15 minutes. Then we sat there and people watched, pet passing pooches and enjoyed the perfect weather.

Then we went to Sidewinders for coffee in the back outside by the two bunnies Eppi and Patrick Swayze. Last time we were there, they were humping. I thought…just like rabbits! This time they were cuddling. Cute things. Maybe I should bag the dog and get a rabbit?

Next day, I went to talk to my pool-walking friend, Mary Lou and I took a cup of iced coffee with me. I finished it before I ever got to her place. I suck coffee down so fast!

I saw a new friend Joan and she said if you want a second cup come over! I went to Mary Lou’s. I left and saw my friend Roy in the hall as I was heading to Joan’s and he said come say hi to Carolyn. I went to say hi to Carolyn and then crossed the hall to Joan’s. See why I love it here so much! It is like summer camp for me. I love my friends!!! I think there is such a cool mix of people in this building. It is my Manhattan! It is Brooklyn in a high rise!

At Joan’s, I was in heaven. Why? Because we talked about Venice and she and her boyfriend spend a month at a time in Venice and have found an awesome reasonable place and they love it and so talking to them about Venice, I was back there. I could feel the breeze on my face as the waterbus took me from the train station to the San Marco stop. I could feel the sway in the gondolas. I could taste the pasta with the squid ink from Trattoria Madonna’s. I remember the awesome food market. Getting lost in the tight alleys. And then I remember lying on my bed one night in the summer and the hotel didn’t have air and I was lying there sweating thinking how bloody hot I was! Then I took myself back to Rialto Bridge, San Marco, and really incredible gelato. I didn’t want to leave because I wanted to stay in Venice. But eventually, I went back home! Literally and figuratively.

I poured myself another cup of coffee. I can’t believe how much you crave sugar when you eat it and when you ween yourself off it, you lose the craving or the hunger. I should think about Venice instead of food!

For lunch I made the avocado, chickpeas, and mozzarella chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper. I love that salad! It is so easy, healthy, light and delicious.

That night for dinner, I made a new beet recipe. Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, has a great beets recipe that you use orange and orange juice as key ingredients and it yummy.

This recipe was every bit as good! Beets in a Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing. You make the dressing while you roast the beets for 50 minutes in the oven. Then peel off their skins, mash them, and try to not get beets splashed on you as you do it. Tricky. Then toss the beats in the lemon vinaigrette dressing, which consists of: lemon zest, lemon juice, dill, salt, pepper and a dollop of Greek yogurt. I loved it.

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So much so that I bought more beets to make it again! I am telling you, this is the most fun diet I have ever been on in my life!

I am sitting there gorging myself on beets in lemon vinaigrette and thinking I can’t believe how much I love this recipe when the phone rings and it is Martha who I had called to send my sympathy about her 37 year-old daughter-in-law who had died of breast cancer. She said she had it so much harder than I did. That is a mild understatement! I just don’t get it. She was so young, with a loving husband and a 4-year old child. Heartbreaking! This is why my diet is beets and Swiss chard! Anything to lessen the odds of reoccurrence is a good thing.

I don’t want to leave you on a sad note so I am going to do a non-sequitor and completely change topics. No one has sent title ideas for my latest trashy novel and I have another request for dear friends, who know me well. Tell me your favorite, funniest Erin story. I need to write three super funny monologues and if you remember a story that made you laugh till you cry…I want to know it so I can write it.

In the meantime…

 

Until we meet again…

 

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

 

Cincy to Sanibel , Beaches and Doggies, Oh MY!

So, it is cold and blustery up North. Go grab a coffee, a cappuchino, a hot chocolate and curl up with my latest blog!

 

HAPPY HAPPY GOOBLE GOOBLE DAY from sunny Florida! It is chilly here but NOTHING like up North…I wore one sweater, two jackets to the beach this morning with a scarf!

 

I came home warm and sat on the couch with Dulce, mom and I drank hot chocolate as we watched the Macy’s Day Parade.

 

Well, thank you for all your notes and well wishes about my truffle oil French fry accident that caused my hematoma in my leg. I am kidding. The doc didn’t believe it was caused by French fries. I am still not sure she is right!

 

I must confess my blog is behind me by two weeks so one minute you think I am in Sanibel, and I am in Cincy. The next you think I am in Cincy, and I am really in Sanibel.

 

My mom didn’t like my last blog. She said I talked about really mundane things and you all could careless if I ate bananas with blueberry yogurt on them or not. So, I am going to try to trim the fat, in addition to catching you all up so you live in the same time speed as me. So, we are going to the do the National Lampoon, Chevy Chase version of the last two weeks!

 

I came home from Sanibel and went to the doctor. It was a hematoma. It probably was a result of the combination of driving 8 + hours, walking in bad shoes, getting a leg cramp and bending funny. I asked her if it had ANYTHING to do with the truffle oil fries.  She laughed and looked at her assistant and said, “I LOVE THIS GIRL!” Then looked at me and said, “NO!” I still haven’t had a fry. What a great way to temporarily stop eating French fries.

 

She suggested that I stay home and do nothing for the next few days, except take Alleve, elevate my leg and keep heat on it. I spent Saturday and Sunday doing just that and catching up on my junky television shows. I have friends that love reality shows. I detest them!!! I hate all that crap! But I love another kind of crap…SCANDAL, REVENGE, NASHVILLE, BLUE BLOODS, CASTLE, WHITE COLLAR, GREY’S, ELEMENTARY, THE GOOD WIFE, THE MENTALIST and I am sure I am leaving something out. I watched three weeks of those shows in TWO DAYS!!! It actually was pretty darn awesome. I couldn’t do anything else…so why not!

 

Monday my father called and announced that he and my Uncle had decided to take Veteran’s Day off and my stepmother was at a volunteer job and it would be a good time for us to go to lunch. He wanted Mexican, because she won’t eat Mexican with him. Sadly, they were all closed so we went to Dewey’s and had salad and pizza. The waiter told us there are no calories on holidays! Yippee! “Let’s go to Graeter’s then,” I said.  We planned to share a mocha chocolate chip dip. We walked in the door and heard someone saying, “BOBBY & ERIN!” I said, “It is ERIN & WALLY! My dad has an identical twin named Bob. NO ONE can tell them apart.

 

It was Kathy Graeter , who played tennis with my Uncle for 24 years and still can’t tell them apart. She came and sat with us. My dad asked her about business and how it has grown so much in recent years. They are even putting one across from Holtman’s Donuts on Vine Street. I think they should partner, and give ice cream to stuff inside the donuts and in the reverse, donuts to crumble on the ice cream? Just a thought. I also learned that one can get Graeter’s in Publix in Florida. Wonder what this expansion is doing for the shipping business? I love that I can go to my mom’s and not have to miss my Graeter’s!

 

I went home and got ready for a retired minister in my building who asked to come over for tea and to discuss “issues” with me. We had a nice visit, but no building issues were discussed. We just chatted. I can tell he was a real looker in his day. A real lady’s man and charmer too! I was told to not trust him, but he seemed harmless. I will keep you posted.

 

The politics in my building at the moment are becoming a bit intense. Everyone has their nose in everyone’s business. We keep needing to reiterate AD NAUSEUM….let people do what they want to do! Leave people alone! People will do what they want to do and they should. It is called FREEDOM!!!

 

A gal in the building came to discuss some of these issues with me. She seems to be on the right track! I hope the problems go away before it divides the building. It is so interesting to me. I grew up in the same house from baby till college. I have lived in apartments ever since, with a few exceptions of homes. I had no idea how there are people that were meant to live “city life” in condos and apartments and others that are incapable of playing nice in the sandbox. Everyone has their thing…I am just a city girl at heart!

 

The following day, I went and met my friend Mindy and her awesome kids: Brady, Ruby & Herwyns at the OM Café in Clifton for turtle drinks. Okay, hot chocolate with caramel sauce. Need I say more! Definitely try THAT at home!

 

Some of you know this, others don’t. I am a VERY proud breast cancer survivor! I went through a pretty toxic chemo. I lost all of my hair and the silver lining was that it came back curly with these AWeSOME and SERIOUS blonde streaks, so guess what? I didn’t want to cut it. I finally broke down last week and got it cut. It was starting to look like Andre Agassi’s hair and real skunk like at the ends. I did lose a lot of the blonde. Such sadness. Remedy, I am down on Sanibel (NOW) and I am going to do everything in my power to let the sun bleach it blonde for the winter. I will be walking around with crusty hair from lemon juice, or dunking it in chlorinated pools, whenever I pass a pool, you name it. I will be doing it.

 

 

Friday, I met my friend Stacey. Stacey and I went kindergarten through 12th grade together. I always, always liked, trusted and felt completely comfortable around Stacey, and she used to do this dog name thing that used to make me laugh till I cried. We lost touch after high school, I saw her once in Boston with her hubby and another high school friend and then lost touch again. When I moved back to Cincy, I found her. She is now one of my best friends. So, we met at this awesome sushi place she and her hubby discovered when moving back to Cincy from Chicago called MEI. They do a miso soup, salad and two sushi rolls for $10, and it is really good.

 

I left Stacey and went to Barnes & Noble, because I was told they have a section for local writers and I should go talk to them about taking my books. It looks like more Ohio authors than Cincy writers, and it looks more non-fiction than fiction, but I will do the paperwork and see where it lands me. They decide on a national level, so I guess there is a chance that it would go into all B & N stores on a national level, which would not hurt my feelings at all.

 

I then went to Trader Joe’s to find roadtrip snacks so I do not have the challenges of KFC and Dunkin Donuts or the upset belly again. I bought Wasabi almonds. I bought a trail mix of Chocolate, Cranberries, Cashews and Pistachios. This time I was determined to do it right.

 

I also went and bought a pair of compression socks. I am sure if I didn’t wear long pants I would have reminded someone of their granny with what looked like knee high panty hose.

 

That night, I was invited to a restaurant called RUTH’S in Northside that is located in the Can Lofts.  The people doing RUTH’S were the folks that did the beloved MULLANE’S that used to be downtown. My friend Mary Lou was retiring from being an OR Nurse and her friends asked me to be a part of her celebratory dinner. It was a lot of fun! I had a great burger and they made homemade pies. I had apple, which was yummy, but a friend had raspberry and that was divine. The place was hopping. It was crowded from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. Northside sure is a mecca for foodies!

 

I left there and rushed over to the Clovernook Country Club because I had been asked to dinner there and thought I could go join friends after my dinner, but they were gone. It felt so college-like going from one festivity to another one.

 

 

Saturday and Sunday, I geared up for my long drive to Florida by resuming my sitting on the couch for an inordinate amount of time! I had taped Law & Order episodes and sat there, leg in air, heat on it and watching the telly.

 

I finally took a break to go to the pharmacy. I had two prescriptions that I had been sparingly using for ELEVEN years. One was for cankers, which I get when I eat too much fruit, another for my itchy ears, which I seem to have WAY too often. Well, I mislabeled them. With a Sharpie I wrote CANKERS on one and EARS on another one. It wasn’t till I saw what my mom was putting in her ears that I realized that I was putting the canker meds on my ears and the ear meds on my cankers. So, I went to the pharmacy to confirm. He was more upset that I was using SUCH outdated meds than the fact that I reversed them. Everyone else laughed. He tried SO hard not to laugh….Yes, I DID go to Harvard! See, this is why I usually don’t tell anyone, that is so bad that I did that!

 

I came home from the pharmacy and a neighbor cornered me about the board and issues and then another one. I thought I always wanted to be in politics, with the exceptions here and there, but this is too much!  

 

I then went to visit my dear, dear friend Edie and her hubby. Edie has been battling cancer at the ripe age of 80+ and she has done it with so much humor, integrity, strength, and perseverance. She is such a great lady and her husband, such a nice fella.

 

Monday I went to sit with my friend Mare at chemo. She has 3 chemos left out of 12. She looks fabulous for this horrendous chemo she has endured. The doc says she never will get over the chemo or stop. She tries so hard to not let it get her down, but it is hard. She feels bad that I come sit with her because it is so depressing but it is only depressing when I first arrive and then I focus on her and forget where I am! Plus, so many nice folks sat with me during chemo, I think it is good karma passed on!

 

Wednesday morning, I went to Sidewinders and ordered a large Mexican latte and drove to Atlanta. I stopped at Temple’s and hung out with her and her children during Atlanta rush hour. Once rush hour was over, I left and went to Forsythe, Georgia and met my Cincy neighbors Roy & Carolyn in a Waffle House for dinner. It was so perfect. I had a ham and cheese omelet, I ate cinnamon and raisin toast with Apple butter. I know, no bread, but I was on the road. Excuses, excuses, and look I did a chain restaurant and didn’t complain! It was so great to see them and it broke up the trip and gave me a second wind to drive 2.5 hours more.

 

I walked into a hotel in Valdosta, Georgia near the GA, and FL. Border. Nice Drury Inn and crashed there. Nice breakfast. Drive thru at Starbucks was next door. I went and got a Chai latte and drove the rest of the way to Ft. Myers. I returned my books on DVD to Cracker Barrel. Do ya’ll know about this…..go to a Cracker Barrel and get a book on DVD…listen to it and return it to another Cracker Barrel and pick up another one. SO great! I had this awesome Harlan Coben book I listened to over 17 hours!

 

Then…I went to Norman Love, or Norman, my love, google him (http://www.normanloveconfections.com/) one of this country’s top chocolatiers! So amazing. I bought 2 dark chocolate bars. Then I went to TJ Maxx’s for a bathing suit. Didn’t find one. I guess I am stuck with my 1996 Ralph Lauren bathing suit that is like a Timex watch. It takes a licking and keeps on lasting. BARELY!

 

I arrived home just in time for sunset. I grabbed my mom and the dog and off we went.

So, nice to be home! So nice to see the sunset over the water.

 

My mom made Salmon & Spinach for dinner. Still working on clearing those arteries!

 

Next day, I went to find THE ISLAND COW guy to talk books, I went to the CVS to get a passport picture, because my passport is due to expire soon and I am NOT going to be in the percentage of Americans that DON’T have a passport. What if I met the man of my dreams and he wants to whisk me away to Paris or Venice and I have to say, ‘ No, my passport is expired!’ I don’t want that to happen. Now, that would be a travesty!!! Plus, I have so many friends that aren’t Americans and they ALL know that a lot of Americans, don’t have passports, don’t leave this country and that is a shame….We ALL need to see the world!!

 

I left there and went to the post office to mail in my passport. Laura behind the counter asked how long I am home and talked about her cool art. This Sanibel is a lot like Mayberry. I love NYC and I love Mayberry.

 

My mom and I went up to Captiva Island to meet my friends Karen & Bill at a place called Key Lime Bistro. We sat outside surrounded by palm trees and I realized why they call this paradise. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes, I don’t!  It was like a scene out of an islands magazine.

 

My mom had arranged for us to walk with her friends Tom & Sylie and their 4 dogs. Two greyhounds named :Rumo & Ralla, and two bearded collies named: Winnie & Cookie.

 

Tom & Sylvie are from Germany and have a place on Sanibel. Sanibel is a mecca for Germans and Brits. Don’t know why…it just is…

 

Tom went to Business School in Cambridge at Harvard Biz School and so we talked Harvard, Cambridge, Boston and that was a lot of fun!

 

Then Ellen from Chicago came out with her dogs: Tess, Sadie and Bella and we all walked.

 

We ran into Tom & Anne and their poodle Cleopatra.

 

Imagine this…these adults, and then NINE dogs!!!!

 

It is doggy heaven here! I love it. I love the down-to-earth people.

 

 

We came home and made a big tossed salad for dinner. It was nice to be back home on Sanibel, especially since it was going to 25 degrees in Cincy.

 

75 degrees, sunny, beach, dog, mom, friends on Sanibel vs. 25, cold, bleak, and no friends wanting to go out in Cincy. No brainer.

 

I had a book signing on Saturday at Bailey’s. I saw so many folks I knew. I sold a little more than a handful of books, but the folks I knew coming through the market was enough to entertain me most of the time.

 

I returned the leashes I borrowed from ISLAND PAWS the dog shop on Sanibel. The gals that own it Liza and Tracy are so great!!! They were kind enough to let me borrow leashes to photograph for the cover of my new book called THE URBAN LEASH, which is a fiction book for dog lovers! Stories of a dogwalker. Hopefully fun and funny! Thanks Liza and Tracy! The book just came out on amazon.com. Click on link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Urban-Leash-Erin-Moss/dp/1494269562/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1385673796&sr=8-2&keywords=Erin+Moss

 

 

Another kid’s book is out as well! It is called THE OLD OAK TREE and it teaches kids the importance of respect, boundaries and the difference between wrong and right. Also on amazon.com under the name E.M. Holzman. Click on link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Old-Tree-E-M-Holzman/dp/1494283271/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385673854&sr=8-1&keywords=E.M.+Holzman

 

 

Then I went for a sunset walk with my sister Dulce and we were meeting my friend Joyce and her dog dude. We went to her boardwalk and met this nice couple from NJ named Marty & Dot. I told Dot my favorite character in my book, Women in Pink is probably the gal named Dot.

 

Marty & Dot live on a farm with horses 40 minutes outside of Manhattan. Is that the best of both worlds or what? Country and City so wonderfully close together.

 

I came home to Cobia dipped in butter and lemon with a side of mushrooms. My mom asked if 3 mushrooms would be enough for me? I said try 5…3 are you kidding me? The woman eats like a bird. I am not talking Portabellas. I am talking button mushrooms. Would 3 be enough for you?

 

Sunday we went to Overeasy Café, also owned by the ISLAND PAWS people. It was a cast of 8 friends and three dogs. The dogs get food ordered for them as well. NO JOKE!

Then I got to see a friend of a friend that I ADORE….named Jim. An appeals judge from Kansas. Love this guy! So psyched to see him. Hello Jim!!

 

Farmer’s Market was the next stop and another group of friends there. And more dogs….My mom just left me in one spot and I was able to mingle. So much better than the last time I was there and unable to walk. And you wanna talk dogs…had to be at least 20-30 there. My Dulce was in heaven. She really hit the doggy lotto. She went from who knows what, to a rescue, to eating breakfast in restaurants, letting the wind blow in her fur in the convertible, to eating fish, chicken, etc. and to having the opportunity to come across so many doggy friends and walk with them on the beach daily at sunset. Rough life!

 

After market, I went back to Joyce’s. I went to talk books with Marty & Dot (her neighbors) and she kindly bought 5 of my books. Since we both were in NY for 9.11, we shared stories. Two I want to share with you, because as we discussed these stories need to get out!

 

Their daughter or daughter-in-law had a kid who had a best friend and they wanted to walk into school the first day together. Dot and Marty’s kid were late with their grandson and it caused the other mom to be perturbed and late for her job as she and her son waited. She left her kid at school. She went to catch a train. It had left. She drove 5 towns up the road to get another one. She called her boss to tell him she was super late, but she would be there. He said don’t come! A plane just went into our building BELOW our floor. We are stuck here. Go home and be with your family. If she had been on time, she would have been up there and died. Sometimes things that seem annoying really do happen for a reason. It saved her life!

 

Second story, profound in a different way. I never would have thought of this, but it makes sense. Marty said there was a commuters’ parking lot near where they lived that after rush hour emptied. The night of 9.11, half the cars that usually would have been gone, were still there. So sad. Scary.

 

 

I came home and that night my mom and I went to dinner with some dear old friends from TN named Max & Margot. My friend Joyce always calls them M &M.

 

We went to this restaurant on the island called TRADERS that a lot of folks think is the best. The ambiance is great and so is the food, EXCEPT that they have NOT changed the menu in ELEVEN years and we are all a little…okay a LOT bored with it.

 

I did have the special. Sea bass crusted in no idea what over a bed of risotto. VERY good.

 

Monday was a work day! My mom and I worked on books ALL DAY LONG!!! Won’t bore you with details. LONG, LONG day! And  I love her, but man OH man, can she be bossy!!!

 

Here is where I need your help. 2 things.

 

1)    I am looking for a company to make my Peri the pelican stuffed animal. I have a prototype, but I need someone to sew them for me. There are 2 catches. 1) I want it made in America, NOT China. 2) I don’t want to have to make 1000. I just want 50 to start. Any ideas?

 

2)    My next teenage novel to come out is titled STEPMONSTERS. My mom (my illustrator) and I are stuck on the artwork for the title. Here is what I want to convey. A stepmonster looks normal on the outside but is devious and underhanded on the inside. I need a cover to convey this. I am thinking a woman is holding a child’s hand and he/she is holding a balloon and the monster is reaching over her head with the other hand and is popping the balloon. So, here is an idea but I need the same concept but something more appropriate for a teenager. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

 

 

After a hard day of work, that night my mom made us Salmon BLT on open face sandwich. YUM! My mom used mayo, but I acutally think thousand island instead may have been really tasty. May have to try that!

 

Yesterday, we ran errands. Bookstores to drop of booksigning posters for the doors, Noah’s to see what is the latest and greatest there and donate things, and then we went and got that caramel milkshake. Yum. I know, Erin, step away from the caramel milkshakes. And what is even worse…I think the way to make one equally as yummy is Haagen Daaz Dulce de Leche with milk in a blender. Again, please try this at home.

 

Last night, the clouds and the sky grew dark, the waves on the beach were fierce and the wind blew and all us doggy folks from Santa Barbara, CA., to Germany to Cincy to Sanibel all congregated on the beach and chatted. Did I tell you how nice it is to be home?

 

This morning was glorious. The storm that is nailing everyone for Gooble Gooble Day was supposed to pound us. It did a bit last night, and it was due to linger today, but it didn’t. BEAUTIFUL morning. I took Dulce for a two-mile walk on the beach. My first REAL walk since before HALLOWEEN, but I wanted to see how the leg was and I even ran a minute or two here and there so she could get some exercise. It was heavenly until the wind whipped and either the sand or the salty water caught her square in the eye and she couldn’t open it and scratched at it. I was a mile from the car. I walked fast seeing her tremendous pain and knowing from personal experience how much that hurts. I stopped in a hotel on the beach and caught some super nice lady out front who was kind enough to bring me a glass of water. I dumped it on Dulce’s eye. No luck. I was pained to see her hurt so much!

 

I got her home and under a hose because it was salt or sand in her eye and she was scratching it with a salty and sandy paw. So I cleaned the eye and the paws. My mom was their with eye drops and now all well in the world. Dulce has been super mad at my mom because she keeps threatening to send her back to the rescue place. But since my mom was their with the drops, she seems to have forgiven her. I still think I am Dulce’s favorite. Don’t tell my mom!

 

I hope you all have a wonderful, happy food filled Gooble Gooble Day!

 

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

Foodie Adventures with Mom & Dulce, Family, Mexican Lattes & More

Life is so interesting sometimes it is dull and other times not so much! I was originally going to tell you about the attack of the ladybugs on my balcony and how I spent hours polishing my almost black silver. I know I should join the ranks of millions that gave theirs away but I just love it when it is all sparkly. I went to this really cool antique car show down at Spring Grove with over 300 antique cars. I went for a jog and there were all these cars.  They were so cool!  So big, beautiful! I was also going to tell you that I  decided to pull out canvases that I bought when I lived in NY and attempt to paint. I sat on the floor and turned the pics I was trying to paint upside down to see if I could paint them from another perspective, because I was taught if you can’t paint what you see…turn it upside down. My mom came to town and said, “Did your friends kids paint those?” I replied, No. She gave me this look of you poor, pathetic child. What she said was, “You are immensely talented in so many ways, but painting is not one of them!” Love you too, Mom!

 

Now, this is where life gets interesting. When my mom comes to town. We have this tendency to chop off our heads and run around like chickens. When I lived in Manhattan she showed up like clockwork every 3-4 months with a grotesquely large list of things to do and restaurants where she wanted to eat. We would get up early in the morning and just start running. We went till we dropped late at night. It reminded me of the National Lampoon movie, Vacation scene where Chevy Chase looks at the Grand Canyon and says, Next! My mom usually showed up when I was babysitting a cat that lived in a 10-million dollar apartment with neighbors that included Hugh Jackman and David Bowie. 

 

Now that I live in Cincinnati, she shows up once a year or once every two years with a relatively long list. The good part about the list is that it is full of restaurants she wants to try. The bad part about the list is that we both eat and somehow she stays skinny and I gain the weight for the two of us or so it feels. I go out for 3-mile runs to alleviate the weight gain and she sits on the couch and nibbles on leftovers. No justice.

 

This trip she brought my four-legged sister Dulce. Dulce is Spanish for sweet. We were concerned about abandoning her the first day so she went with us on our first food outing. TACOCRACY. It is tucked into a building down in Northside across from the now defunct Honey. The sign reads Northside Airport, but there really is not an airport out back. If there was you know I would be a daily customer.  In the back they sell clothes, make-up, bicycles, but in the front they sell these amazing gourmet tacos. I think I have told you I am addicted to the duck taco.

 

I told my mom to order whatever she wanted because I live here and I can go there all the time and lets face facts if it isn’t eyeballs or pig’s feet. I eat or will try virtually anything. So, this is what my mom ordered.

 

DUCK-sweet and savory duck slow-cooked with dried apricots & juniper berries, paired with an extra sharp Vermont white cheddar,
in a house-made crunchy corn tortilla with our “pear de gallo” salsa and romaine lettuce.

 

GREEN CHORIZO-locally made chorizo, cooked “green” style w/roasted poblano & serrano chilies, in a soft white corn tortilla w/extra sharp white cheddar & chihuahua cheese, uncured black pepper bacon, grape tomatoes, romaine lettuce, scallions, salsa verde & crema.

 

MUSHROOM MEDLEY- a collection of wild, seasonal and local ‘shrooms roasted with a smoky black truffle-balsamic glaze, on a flour tortilla with Chihuahua cheese, baby spinach, onion & grape tomatoes and rojo salsa.

 

We loved the duck and the green chorizo. The mushroom medley was very good but the others were our favorites.

 

We came home and hungout until we were ready for dinner. You think I am joking. Wait till you see how much we have eaten since she arrived. It is ridiculous. The fat specialist is definitely going to be writing me after this blog.

 

I have discovered this hole in the wall joint in Clifton called Thai Express. The gals are literally from Thailand and they have the biggest woks I have ever seen in my life! They make the best pad thai I have ever had since I lived in Washington, D.C. We also ordered the satay, which was good, but it was the pad thai that was so yummy!

 

Then I defrosted a hockey puck from LeVain’s in New York that I had bought for my mom. It was dark chocolate with peanut butter chips. It was good, but it didn’t knock her socks off, but my chocolate brioche would have!!!

 

Next day, we tried to recoup, but we had a long journey of food coming up! I took my mom to the unveiling of my dad’s Tennis Hall of Fame plaque. My stepmonster was certainly unnerved by the appearance of my mother. But my mom supported my dad’s tennis career and my stepmom made him stop playing so who should have been there? She was her usual delightful self not speaking to me. She couldn’t even say hello. OH so lovely, NOT! She was nice to my mom, she was nice to my Uncle and she was deplorable to me. Go figure.

 

We left there and went to meet my Aunt Barbara at Teller’s for dinner. She wanted to hear the dirt. She wanted to hear if there was a cat fight. Terry’s Turf Club and Zip’s are known for being the best burgers in town, but Teller’s has a really good burger. My friend Alex was checking out burgers and discovered that little kernel of goodness. Big juicy burger with cheese, white cheese, no clue what, bacon, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, onion so yummy.

 

And then…I know this will shock you, but I went to Graeter’s and bought a caramel apple. I split it with my mom. I can share.

If you haven’t noticed we are the folks that have to have a bite of something sweet after we eat. Even if it is only a bite. We need that bit of sweetness.

 

Next day, I took my mom to Knickers of Hyde Park to get her a miracle bra. Oh what a hoot! They really are not geared to the smaller set, but the gals there Jenny and Julie are so great! My mom didn’t find her perfect bra. She put one on hold and we were off to meet my friend Jennie at Green Papaya. We ordered a spider roll, which is a soft shell crab. Yum! We ordered a spicy tuna roll. We ordered two specialty rolls. Green Papaya Roll which is: shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, mango, cream cheese wrapped w/ green soy bean topped w/ spicy mayo, crab stick & tempura flakes. And a Rainbow roll, which is California roll Topped w/ assorted fish & avocado. I love Green Papaya. It is not Nobu, but the sushi is consistently good. The staff is good and friendly and it is a nice atmosphere.

 

We left Jennie and the fascinating conversations of narcissistic personality disorders and the variety of ways it affects partners who have it.

           

We raced down to Holtman’s Donuts to meet my friend Mindy and her four out of five kids. Love her kids. The oldest is at college. They are home schooled for the first time this year. I told them to figure out how eating donuts can be a school project. Does it have to do with math, science or how could it be homework? You all have to know if there is a way for me to rationalize eating something good, I will.

           

So Mindy got a peanut butter and jelly donut. It was pretty tasty. My mother tried the chocolate donut with peanut butter swirled on top. I tried the cheese crown and let me tell you. Mine was the best! I was expecting it to be cheese filled but tucked in beneath a layer of cheese filling was a thick layer of the crumble part of a crumble coffee cake. Oh baby, baby! I was not expecting it. It was such a lovely surprise.

 

I then went home and ran with my mom’s pooch. I felt like I was running in the center of a large Firestone tire. I was moving slower than molasses. I can’t imagine why?

           

Then I came home and we ate leftovers. I knew with my mom in town, I was going to be permanently full.

 

Next day, Sidewinders for Mexican Lattes. We crave these drinks! We have tried a dozen times to duplicate it in the privacy of our homes and to no avail. I can’t figure out the secret. The recipe says it is espresso, chocolate, cayenne and cinnamon. A friend/chef suggested Mexican chocolate. Still doesn’t taste the same. I just can’t figure it out. And I desperately need to because I cannot afford to drink a $5 coffee on a regular basis.

 

However, it was a bonus day! My mom and I met my friend Libby who is a pastry chef at Bonbonnerie. The weather was so nice we were able to sit in back garden at Sidewinders and be with Patrick Swayze. He is the Sidewinders rabbit. Bet you thought there was more in my Mexican Latte than I alluded to originally.

We left Sidewinders and grabbed my sister. Remember, she has four legs and we took her to the new fabulous dog park at Washington Park. She was being coy and shy and so in a feeble attempt to get her engaged with the other dogs. I ran around the park and had all the dogs chase me. My sweet little sister shyly followed. The other dogs just thought I was the head dog and that afternoon I was!

 

That evening we went to this awesome little Chinese restaurant on Hamilton Avenue in College Hill called Chung Ching. It is a dumpy looking place. The write up in Cincy Mag gave it five out of five stars. Definitely not for décor. We shared a Moo Shi Pork and Szechuan Pork and veggies. Maybe because they moved slowly and we waited 30 minutes for the food or maybe it was just that tasty. I did get a fortune cookie with no fortune. Scared the crap out of me. The waitress ran and got me another one. The blank one was better!

 

Saturday morning we woke up to pouring rain. The only way to remedy it was to treat ourselves to anther Mexican Lattes at Sidewinders. We then went to something called City Flea that was in the Can-Loft Building in Northside. Cool space. It was a bunch of booths thankfully in a large space indoors and the items ranged from vintage clothing, to trinkets, to food, to cookware. The folks selling their wares couldn’t have been nicer if they tried, which I thought was a brilliant selling tool and one all retail folks should adopt. We tried a sample muffin that was a chicken potpie cooked into a muffin in muffin form. Clever!

 

Then as a gift to my mother the HUMONGOUS football fan, I called a college buddy and had him get us tickets to the UC football game. It was pouring outside. I was dreading it. The things we do for our mothers! Luckily, and thankfully the seats were undercover. We made it through the third quarter before we left. Go BEARCATS!

 

That evening we went to this hole in the wall authentic Mexican restaurant in Reading, Ohio located in the heart of the bridal gown district and one of the largest bridal gown districts in the country. There sits Margarita’s! I ordered a green enchilada. Yum. My mom the connoisseur of Mexico and Mexican eats and their authenticity said it was one of the best green Verde sauces she had ever tasted. Then I did a Tex mex thing and against my mother’s judgment I ordered a plate of nachos with cheese and chorizo. So simple and yet so delicious. Then to drink we ordered Horchatos. It is a Mexican rice drink. It sounds blah, but trust me on this one. It is delicious and sweet and the first time I ever had one was when I was traveling in Barcelona. A couple named Jay and Nini, who I met over there, suggested I try it. I drank it every day after the first day. I just loved it. They were a cool couple. They lived in San Diego and sold their condo and took the money from the sale and decided to take five months and travel around the world. Then he was going to MIT for an MBA. I was in graduate school in Boston at the time so we met in Barcelona and became fast friends. He always dared me to eat crazy things with him. I would eat certain things but not others. He kept saying that Chinese people would eat anything! He and Nini were Chinese. And you know what, I think he was right. And I am so glad he introduced me to the Horchato!

I know it is starting to look like my mom and I have a Mexican Latte issue because we were there for a third straight day, but it was our tradition to pick up a Mexican Latte and drink it on our way to Burlington Flea Market. We LOVE Burlington. It is open from April to October and it is the third Sunday of the month. It is booth after booth of antiques, treasures, and pure crap. I love to walk through it. I have bought tables, chairs, mirrors and probably so much more there. I try to go religiously!

 

We came home and called my crazy friend Trouble to come over for a few hands of RumiQ, my favorite game. Then I made us tossed salads for dinner. Living in NY, I learned to make a kick ass good salad and I always, always, always make homemade dressings. I am sick of romaine lettuce. I use butter, green leaf or red leaf lettuce. I slice a little onion into it and then depending on mood or refrigerator contents, I usually throw in some variation of the following. Tomatoes, avocado, ham, hard-boiled egg, bacon & cucumber. Dressing. I had a friend in Atlanta named Peyton who spent a year abroad in France and taught all of us this simple and yummy French dressing recipe that I do not have precise measurements, but just play with it. Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar and oil. Mix and serve.

           

Next day, my mom went out and so I did things around my condo and went to meet my friend Viv and her dog, Button. I took my sister along with me. Button and Dulce walked in circles smelling each other’s tushes. Can you imagine if we behaved that way? I came upstairs and started to cook for my family dinner party the following evening. So far, I had eaten rather normally since the evening before, but that was getting ready to go to pot because my mom was going to be ready to eat out soon. I could sense it. She made this huge proclamation that we had eaten Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and we were running out of nationalities. It was time to eat Indian. My favorite Indian in Cincy is Ambar India. When I left Cincy in the early nineties my friend Swami was the only one who owned an Indian restaurant. I moved back years later and there are so many here I couldn’t begin to count them all.

 

We ordered the Saag Paneer, which is the spinach dish with cheese. My mom loves lamb so we ordered Lamb Korma with cream, cashews and raisins. It all was delicious. I was terribly nervous when she ordered it. You order on a scale of one to six and six is the spiciest. It is crazy spicy. So spicy I tend to do a 1 or 2 and feel like a wimp. Not my mom. She went for the middle of the spectrum, but it ended up being just fine. Great Indian. A bit pricey, but really good.

           

The Indian gave my artsy, fartsy mother a boost of energy and she decided to do what she always does when she comes to town. She began to rearrange my knick-knacks and move things around my condo. After many years of observing this, I learned to move them back how I like them after she leaves town. If I remember to do it. Apparently, I don’t care enough to stop her in the first place!

           

After a spicy Indian dinner one requires a little sweet. My mom spoke of this amazing caramel milkshake she had on Sanibel and I had a killer one at Mr. Bartley’s in Harvard Square so I bought some Haagen Dazs, Dulce de Leche ice cream and made us milkshakes. Now, I have yet ANOTHER thing I am addicted to and love. And again, I am going to have to go for a run in the morning or I will weight a bazillion pounds the way I am eating.

           

Tuesday morning I woke up and began to cook. I have this friend named Alston who lives down in Lexington and she is a fabulous cook. She once told me her favorite cookbook was something called Bluegrass Winners. It is a cookbook of all these yummy recipes from the horse farms of Lexington. There is so much in that cookbook that is yummy, but one of my favorites is this dish called Chicken and Sausage Supreme. It is chicken, sausage and sautéed mushrooms in this brown sauce or roux and it is simple but yummy.

 

I have never ever made bread in my life. Okay, I have made beer bread, but I had never made a French baguette and I found a recipe to make a 4-hour French baguette from scratch. I thought, who better to experiment on than family.

 

Then I made Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa’s, apple pie, except I didn’t make a homemade crust. I cheated and bought that at the store and then instead of the criss cross apple pie covering I made a crumble like a coffee cake topping. It didn’t look so pretty, but it tasted delicious. I had none leftover.

 

Main course was the chicken and sausage supreme. The veggies included a mashed butternut squash that was sweet due to brown sugar and maple syrup. Then I roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese. I had homemade bread and then apple pie with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

 

My mom was adopted and found her birth mother many years ago and had a relationship with her. She died (my mom’s mom) and my mom kept in touch with the family via phone, emails, and they invited us to a family reunion. They are so awesome. For my mom it was the pieces of the puzzle that explained her. They all have the same fingers! It is so weird to look at my cousins’ hands and see they look like my mom’s. I have Holzman hands.

 

For me, meeting these folks was like meeting my kindred souls and explaining my personality to me. I was so nervous to attend the family reunion. We were outsiders and foreigners, but they couldn’t have been more welcoming and they are just so fun, so nice and so easy to be with, so outgoing, and spunky with hearts of gold. I feel so lucky to have discovered family. And family that I like and connect with so I have been fortunate enough to spend time with them, and I was now having them for dinner so my mom could spend some time with them too.

 

We had a ball. Every single time after I am with them I call my mom and this time I could look at her face to face and say I LOVE YOUR FAMILY! Our family.

 

We went in search of her dad. We connected with his kids, and for a while they were so great and they dropped us like a hot potato. My mom wanted to meet her dad. Even if he never knew it was my mom, his daughter, she didn’t care, she wanted to meet him. We tried to do it, but they just blew us off. It is such a shame. What is really eerie about that is that we saw family pictures from my mom’s half sisters and my mom and I look so much like them that if we put our baby pictures with theirs…we weren’t sure we could tell the difference.

 

Makes us want to meet him and them even more until they blew us off. I don’t know what concerns them, but it is a shame for my mom, but at least she met the other side of the family. They ROCK!

 

Well, I am going to stop for now. My mom is still in town and so I have plenty more foodie adventures to share with you!

 

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….