Recently, I watched on TV a food truck chef make Bread Pudding in her truck. It looked delicious and I remembered I often made Bread Pudding based upon a recipe from the following book:
I lost the book and mentioned this to Susan. And guess what? She bought me a copy.
It’s a great cookbook, a history book filled with vintage photos and “…great Creole and Cajun recipes from the city’s grand restaurants and modest cafes, from mansions and country kitchens, superbly clear directions, local cooking secrets.”
Here’s the recipe (Note: I added asparagus and I used cocktail shrimp which I added to the wok for the last few minutes:
(Introductory note. The number 8. According to the Bible, number 8 is considered to be a symbol of creation and new beginnings. God rested on the 7th day, which means that the 8th day was always a day for the new beginning. Eight is a symbol of infinity and a constant flow of energy and power. The number8 is considered the luckiest of numbers in China and they believe the more 8’s the better. The Cantonese word for eight, which is pronounced “ba”, sounds similar to the word which means “prosper” or “wealth”. In regional dialects the words for “eight” and “fortune” are also similar. The number eight in the Bible signifies Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the number of a new beginning. Eight is 7 plus 1 and since it comes just after seven, which itself signifies an end to something, so eight is also associated with the beginning of a new era or that of a new order.)
My last post was dated March 8. Today is April 8 (Finishing this post now on the 9th.) . A new beginning. Always forward. Never back. “The past cannot bind me. The future does not limit me.”
Thinking about March.
My birthday was March 7. I celebrated my 69th year to Heaven.
I am still singing this song:
Here I am with my grandchildren about to celebrate with a piece of carrot cake.
Self-portrait. Sunday. March 7, 2021. My birthday.
This is me, too. An old resume–a direct mail brochure. It got me my first job at Hearst Magazines. My cousin, Donna, sent it back to me as a way to wish me Happy Birthday. Read her comment:
This is the front, the mail side.
Check out the stamp! 15 cents!!!
Here’s the inside of the resume:
I hope you can read it. The baseball team? That’s my Little League team; Old Salt. Can you guess which one is me? All my childhood friends thought I was going to grow up to be a professional baseball player.
In addition to what is noted on the resume I have been a lifeguard, gardener, antique refinisher, short order cook. But never a professional baseball play. I did, however, coach my daughter’s softball team!
Back to my birthday. I made an updated version of Shrimp Scampi (olive oil, butter, shallot, garlic, crushed tomato, mild banana peppers, red pepper flakes, spinach, shrimp, linguine):
Susan made us a Chocolate Cake:
On my birthday, I always remember a poem by Dylan Thomas, “Poem In October. It begins:
It was my thirtieth year to heaven Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood And the mussel pooled and the heron Priested shore The morning beckon With water praying and call of seagull and rook And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall Myself to set foot That second In the still sleeping town and set forth.
My birthday began with the water- Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name Above the farms and the white horses And I rose In rainy autumn And walked abroad in a shower of all my days. High tide and the heron dived when I took the road Over the border And the gates Of the town closed as the town awoke.
It was read to me and a college friend by our English Literature professor when we were in college. This was when we were young and innocent and our hair was long and our future, like the grassy hill in Tarrytown, New York, over-looking the Hudson River, on which we sat cross-legged passing a joint, was and would be beautiful, perfect and pure, ever-changing changeless.
I have made these a few times and they deserve to be made more often. The first time I followed the recipe below and they were delicious. I made them again with ground beef instead of turkey and used sour cream as I didn’t have any yogurt; not as perfect but still delicious, particularly with roasted cauliflower (picture at below).
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used 1 cup dry)
6 dates, pitted and finely chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup French green lentils
2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 thyme sprigs
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used fresh orange juice)
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used orange zest)
In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey with the bread crumbs, dates, eggs, sesame seeds, sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils, garlic, thyme and cinnamon stick with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and transfer to a bowl; pick out and discard the seasonings. Stir the olive oil and vinegar into the lentils and season with salt and pepper.
Form the turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Spread the meatballs on a lightly oiled large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned on the bottom and cooked through.
Meanwhile, blend the yogurt with the lemon juice, mint and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs with the lentils and yogurt. ~Food & Wine, 2004
Pictured here a “Virgin Bloody Mary.” It tastes pretty much like a Bloody Mary, less the vodka, of course.
I bought the Bloody Mary mix (Agalima Organic, The Authentic Bloody Mary Mix) back in October thinking we might have one or two on Thanksgiving and on Christmas. In years past, family traditions included a large pitcher of Bloody Mary mix next to a bottle of vodka on a counter.
Because of Covid there were no family get-togethers and no Bloody Mary mix on a counter next to bottle of vodka.
We never did have a Bloody Mary or two but come Dry January, I enjoyed a Virgin Bloody Mary or two.
The month, Dry January, is really about wellness and it feels fine and healthy to enjoy the month without wine at dinner—or a Bloody Mary! I think we will keep it up. Within reason.
Of course, Dry January is all about living an alcohol free month—not dessert-free.
And we have enjoyed a few spectacular desserts.
Susan made this delicious Berry Cake!
Susan also made Fika, a Swedish chocolate treat!
I made a Banana, Blueberry, Chocolate, Coconut, Walnut Bread which was so good!
And a few days ago, Susan made an outstanding Orange and Chocolate cake!
I haven’t lost much weight but once it warms up outside (It was 2 degrees this morning with a wind-chill of -12!) and I start walking again I am sure the weight will start to disappear and I will get back to my college wrestling weight class.
Yesterday, Friday, January 8th, was Susan’s birthday. When I woke up on the day before, the 7th, I thought the 7th was the 8th.
Before she woke (on the 7th), I scrambled to wrap her present and make her card. (See Freddy above sniffing at her card and present.) Soon she came out of the bedroom and I said “Happy Birthday!” She said, “Today’s not my birthday. It’s the 8th.” I said, “Today is the 8th. Come. Let’s look at the calendar.” Sure enough it was the 7th. This confusion a sign of the times. To misquote a song by Chicago, “Does anybody really know what day it is?”
I know tomorrow is Sunday because the Sunday New York Times is delivered. And Wednesday is garbage day because I see that our street is lined with barrels filled with garbage. And Friday is Brooks and Shields (Now Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart since Shields recently retired). But other than that I am never sure of the day or date. Or time! This a sign of the pandemic and being in quarantine. I need a calendar!
Susan opened her card first upon waking on the 8th, a picture of our kitchen table which I think says much about who we are, our interests, our love of books and beauty. And it reminds me of a painting by French Impressionists. I enjoy still lifes of our home.
Years ago, I wrote:
Round, of grace
A flowered tablecloth
A bowl of lemons and limes
Apples and oranges
We hold hands
Thank You God
For these gifts
We are about to receive
From your bounty
Through Christ our Lord
A table of grace.
We then enjoyed a cup of coffee and soon I made us bacon and blueberry pancakes.
I spent much time organizing my photos of Times Square @ 1980s for my book, “Famous People Famous Places“. I am happy that I have made great progress on the project since reading about myself in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review section a few weeks ago (See previous post).
This is how the organization comes along. First I printed contact sheets of all the photos, cut them into “negs” and placed them on a large paper board.
Then I spent many hours looking at the images, determining an order, a sequence that made sense to me.
I then took these negatives and taped them into my journal so that I can reference them as I upload to Blurb.
During lunch, Susan suggested we order out for dinner. We often do order out for pizza on Friday nights. But after I walked Freddy in the afternoon, I returned home cold and thought there’s no way I want to go out later for a pizza. So while Susan napped in the late afternoon, I made a birthday dinner for her (It was her birthday!): Roasted Chicken Thighs with Pears and Dried Cranberries; Wild Rice; Carrots.
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each) (I used 2 skinless boneless chicken thighs)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (I used 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (I didn’t use.)
2 teaspoons cornstarch (I didn’t use)
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar (I didn’t use)
2 medium unpeeled pears, each cut into 8 wedges (I used 6 canned and drained pear halves)
1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until a thermometer reads 165°, 8-10 minutes. Remove. (I roasted the chicken thighs in oven at 375 for 45 minutes)
Meanwhile, stir together next 5 ingredients until blended. Pour into skillet; add pears and dried cherries. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are tender, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet; simmer, uncovered, until heated through, 3-5 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional minced rosemary (I warmed pears, stock, vinegar, cranberries on stove top)
After dinner, we watched Brooks and Capehart and then a fascinating documentary of James Beard. I had forgotten he had a great gift for writing. I once had two Beard books (He wrote 18.): “Beard on Bread” and “The James Beard Cookbook.” I lost them in one of my moves. I will have to see if I can find a few in a used book store.
The show brought home to me the fact that I need, I am called, to again write. To write about food. To write about art. To write about life.
To tell stories. Which reminds me; did I ever tell you the story about the times I had lunch at the Four Seasons bar?
This might be the best pasta recipe I have ever made. It’s based on one from Melissa Clark. I made a few changes which I note below.
Melissa writes: “Studded with salty olives, pancetta and Parmesan that gets golden and crisp at the edges, this is roasted cauliflower at its brightest and most full-flavored. You can serve the caramelized florets either as a vegetable-based main dish or a hearty side to roasted meats or fish, or big bowls of pasta. The recipe calls for using a package of finely diced pancetta that practically melts into the sauce. But if you prefer a chunkier texture, you can dice it yourself into 1/2-inch cubes, and add them with the cauliflower. Or, to make this vegetarian, just leave the pancetta out.”
1 large head cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 8 cups)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
⅓ cup olives, crushed, pitted and chopped (I used Castelvetrano olives.)
1 fat garlic clove, finely grated or minced
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
⅛ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
¾ teaspoon cumin or caraway seeds (I used cumin seeds.)
½ cup shredded (not ground) Parmesan
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or mint leaves and tender stems, for serving (I didn’t have so I used fresh chives.)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet (I used a cast iron pan) and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well coated. Roast for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together olives, garlic, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking well.
After the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, add pancetta and cumin seeds to pan and gently mix to combine. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender, the pancetta rendered, and cheese is golden brown and crunchy. (I added #4 to the cast iron pan for a few minutes.)
Spoon olive dressing all over roasted cauliflower while still hot and toss to combine. Taste, and add more salt, red-pepper flakes or lemon juice, if needed. Scatter parsley over the top before serving. (I used fresh chivies.)
Tonight is the last night of summer. You can see autumn coming today in the color of the lace hydrangea leaves.
Where did summer go?
I have a record of sorts; a list of the everyday routines.
I wake up when Freddy jumps out of bed. This happens between 5:00 and 5:30. Sometimes, but rarely 6:00 or 4:30. I give him a snack and then we wait for a glimmer of sunlight to appear in the eastern sky so we can safely go for a walk. This morning it was cold. Thirty one degrees. It was still dark and I carried a flashlight.
I had intentions to write every day but my will to write has withered and all I am left with are these lists. However, I do find solace in what G.K. Chesterton said: “The greatest poem is an inventory.”
Thus, I have written the greatest poem. An inventory of my everyday routines.
Here from a few days ago:
Up at 6:00
A walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast
Food Shopping at Big Y
Susan working on shutters in garage
Susan picking up things in living room
Susan cleaning the bathroom
Ham Salad Sandwich for me, Salmon salad for Susan
Susan cutting my hair
Hummingbird at zinnias
Wine outside with Susan before dinner
Grilled Petite Sirloin and Broccoli Ramen Salad for Dinner
A walk with Freddy
Seeing a Pileated Woodpecker
Early to bed
These lists of my everyday life are, in fact, my gratitude journal, my 1000 gifts. I am grateful. I am very grateful. I have a smart and loving wife in Susan. Two smart and happy children. Two happy grandchildren. A beautiful home. My gifts, from photography to cooking to finding and sharing beauty.
Susan and I have seen our grandchildren once since early March when we celebrated my birthday. The quarantine has kept us all apart (and I have gained The Quarantine Fifteen. If not, 20!). But we did see them to drop off a present for Matthew’s birthday a few weeks ago, keeping somewhat socially distant and no hugging.
Susan and I have always spent a lot of time together and more so now than ever. We miss our volunteer work at a local elementary school and going out for dinner every so often. But I believe, if it is even possible, we grow even closer every day. God has certainly blessed us.
Now we are working together to paint our kitchen and re-wallpaper two walls.
(to be continued)
I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.
A few weeks ago, my friend, Gretchen Smith Matthews, an Inspirational Blogger, wrote on her website (Saving her words here on my site for remembrance.)
“Bruce Barone is a professional photographer I ‘met’ through Instagram and who I’ve followed for about 2 years. I truly enjoy seeing the joy-filled photos he posts of his garden, his wife Susan, and their dog Freddy (who actually smiles like my dog Frassie did when I was growing up) – as well as of more scenic vistas, as the one pictured here. Conversing with him made me think that an interview might make sense, and so here we are – the very first of its kind, a simple interview for Like the Dewfall.
“Sometimes a photograph is mesmerizing. The artist has captured the ineffable – that something just beyond the reach of words. When that force is goodness, I can’t stop looking. I want to see more of it through the artist’s eyes.
“And so it was that I discovered photographer Bruce Barone on Instagram. Born and raised in New Jersey, in his childhood Bruce was two great kids rolled into one: a baseball player who wrote poetry. He discovered his passion for creating images, stories, and combinations of these while still in middle school. His creations eventually led to a career as a corporate photographer, writer, and marketing executive at Hearst Magazines (Good Housekeeping, Cosmo, Esquire, House Beautiful, and Town & Country). He later moved to Massachusetts and started his own design and marketing agency, then an art gallery and photo studio in a renovated factory.
“Today, gorgeous shots of his garden, family, and everyday beauty delight me and all of his many, many followers and customers. It is my joy to interview him here on Like the Dewfall.”
You do weddings, portraits, nature, and documentary photography. How have you noticed your approach change in the years you’ve been working, and what experiences have contributed to maturity in your portfolio?
That’s a great question and required of me some deep thinking. I think my approach has been fairly consistent over the years, maybe because my love of people and nature has been consistent. The French philosopher and Jesuit Catholic Priest, (Pierre) Tielhard de Chardin wrote: “Seeing: We might say that the whole of life lies in that verb – if not ultimately, at least essentially.” I think we can find, see, and experience an epiphany in the richness of the ordinary day. To see. To be astonished. To embrace truth.
Often, I ask myself, “What am I called to do?” and “How can I make the world a better place?” To paraphrase Rumi, the 13th century Persian, poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic; I remind myself: you need to be permanently astonished–this is the real work of religion. Maybe of art. The second thing you need is love; draw upon love for energy. And the third thing is sacrifice–give the drop that is ourselves; we are given an ocean. To be astonished, to become more like a child. Gifts are all around us. Be nourished by being amazed–it is a great thing to be alive.
Simone Weil, the French philosopher and political activist, said: “Absolute attention is prayer.” Seeing. Astonishment. Prayer.
Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, writes:
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
We design the world by the way we choose to see it! Yes; I choose to see beauty and to share that wonder, that astonishment with all.
How would you describe your general philosophy when it comes to your work?
I believe my photography reflects my passion for life, a love of life, nature, beauty; a calling to share this vision, This, I believe, is my ministry. I believe I have been given a gift from God. A gift for seeing beauty–-creating artful, remarkable, memorable photographs. Drawing on a degree in Art and English, inspired by Nature, a passion for telling stories and years working as a writer and photojournalist helps me to follow my heart–bringing a heightened sensitivity to all my photography. I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened while you’re working?
True story. I was photographing a wedding one sultry summer day. As was my custom, I was wearing a dress suit and carrying two cameras. When the ceremony ended I made a dash for the outside so I could photograph the bride and groom leaving the church and walking down the 20+ steps to their limo. My assistant stayed inside to photograph them walking down the aisle. Perhaps, my pants were too long. I’m not sure, but no sooner had I started to walk down the steps when I lost my balance and tumbled down a few steps. I was OK; just a bit shaken up. And my cameras were okay. Only a few people saw the tumble!
What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken to get a shot? Did it pay off?
I am not sure if this a risk, but I can be fairly outgoing and once on a lunch break when I worked at Hearst Magazines in New York City I stopped at a friend’s bar for a beer (It was very hot that day!) and a bite to eat and sitting at the bar were the members of the band The Clash. I was giddy with excitement. I loved them and had just seen them in concert. I sat down at the bar next to Joe Strummer, the leader of the band. After some small talk, I asked him if I could photograph him outside. He agreed. I must say he was a very nice man. He passed away in 2002 at age 50. He’s drinking the beer in the photo. Bandmate Mick Jones behind him. Actress, singer Ellen Foley on the left. I don’t know name of woman on the right.
In all of your life, professionally or otherwise, what are you most proud of?
First, my children and my wife. And second, my gift for bringing beauty into people’s lives.
A stranger once wrote to me the following:
“Thank you for making my life more beautiful with each of your photographs. Thank you for your art.”
“You have shown me to see the world with a completely different set of eyes. Every single day you bring beauty, joy, depth and a new perspective into my life. I cannot thank you enough for being the beautiful, kind, loving, gentle, and soulful man you are.”
What personal qualities do you think you still need to develop and why?
Focus and persistence because these are tools to help me bring greater and brighter light into the world. I often find myself procrastinating!
What are you most grateful for right now and how do you express that gratitude?
My children, grandchildren, my wife, my dog. My gifts. I express this gratitude with love.
I understand that you are Christian. Was this always your faith? If not, when you did choose to follow Christ?
Some family history…My great-grandfather was one of the first Baptist ministers in America. My mom was a Sunday school teacher at our Congregational Church. One of my sisters was the Director of Christian Education at a Congregational Church. I taught Sunday school. (Funny story. One year I had my son and a girl named Julia in my class. They must have been in third or fourth grade. Years passed and they met again working at summer camp. They now live together in Denver.)
I was a Deacon. I often spoke in church. Once, after giving a talk about stewardship, people said you should be a minister!!!
So, yes. Faith has always been part of my life.
Why is your faith important to you and what benefits do you receive from pursuing this path?
It gives me guidance. Hope.
You recently gave a classic black and white photograph of Ducky’s Hot Dogs on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in New Jersey to Ducky Fornicola’s family after he passed and cited Luke 6:38 and Hebrews 13:16 in your blog post about it. The gift meant a great deal to the grieving family. How does Christianity affect the way you run your business and interact with people?
It truly is all about love.
What does the word ‘grace’ mean to you?
Grace for me is God’s gift. It is always there. I think of it as the path in the park, the river nearby, the stars in the sky; it is always available to me, the good that is always present.
How do you see evidence of grace in your life?
Grace flows like a river to me and through me, filling me with hope and renewing my faith, guiding me, an ultimate gift of perfect love.
Thank you, Bruce, for your the time and love you’ve shared with us here.