Old Ritual=New Ritual

I am reposting my birthday post from last year. I just finished making this year’s birthday pie.  Thanks to all for the birthday wishes!


Saturday was my birthday. And of course, we had a record breaking snowstorm that canceled my son’s and his girlfriend’s visit here.  As my husband and I were stuck in the house, I decided that I would make my own birthday treat.  And it is not cake.

It is pie.  I absolutely love pies over cakes. And how perfect is it that January 23 is National Pie Day! http://www.piecouncil.org/events/nationalpieday.

So I set out to make my very own, very first Birthday Pie.  And what flavor would it be? Without a doubt, it is strawberry rhubarb pie. I am completely in love with the tartness of the rhubarb, plus the brightness of the strawberries.

But strawberry rhubarb pie is part of a very special, old ritual for me.

In my youth, I was  a competitive equestrian. This was a huge commitment for both myself and my parents.  My father was totally devoted to my sport, and he drove my horse and me all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania to horse shows. My Dad was my biggest supporter, and my biggest fan.

Back in those days, horse shows were very local events, and usually a benefit for a school or an organization.  And there was always a food tent run by  a group of local ladies who made wonderful homemade soups, sandwiches, and pies.  And none was better that the Peapack Reformed Church Ladies Auxiliary food tent.  We would arrive at the show grounds at the crack of dawn.  And when my Dad saw their tent, he would park the trailer and make a beeline to get a strawberry rhubarb pie.  He would buy the entire pie, and pay for it then, and we would pick it up when I was done competing. We would drive back to the barn, and would talk about how the day went. Whether I had a good ride, whether the judging was fair (according to Dad, it was fair if I won, it was unfair if I didn’t..) It was a special time, just the two of us, and it is my favorite memory of time with him. He made me feel like I could  achieve whatever I wanted to.

Once we got the horse home and taken care of, and unhitched the horse trailer, we would head home and eat that pie.  He loved it just as much as I did.

My father has been gone for over ten years now, and I miss him every day. And every time I have strawberry rhubarb pie, it brings me back to our precious time together.

So now, from this birthday on, I have a new ritual.  I will always make strawberry rhubarb pie on my birthday.  And in my heart, I will be eating it with my Dad.

strawberry rhubarb pie-cropped




New Year’s Resolutions-Not

Its that time when everyone goes through the ritual of what they are going to change, give up, add to their lifestyle. Gym memberships will go up, for at least a few months, people will swear off sugar, carbohydrates, and will vow to increase their daily allotment of kale.  (Nothing against kale, I love kale.) So, instead of coming up with a list of things that I will give up, I am giving you all my list of the three things I will NEVER give up.  N.E.V.E R.


coffee cup cropped

I love coffee.  Love it with a passion.  My morning ritual is to get up and grind the beans.  No pre-ground for me.  The grinding of the beans, the sheen of the oil on the beans, the aroma while brewing. Add some milk and I am ready for the day.   My favorite brand is San Francisco Bay French Roast. Great cafe’ flavor, rich and  smooth.  They sell 3 pound vacuum sealed bags and offer free shipping on orders over $30. Plus you can set up a schedule as to when you want your order to ship, and you will automatically receive your order.  And they have a loyalty program.  Couldn’t be easier.

https://www.gourmet-coffee.com/french-roast-coffee-super-value-sized-3-lb.-bag.html It 


Farm Fresh Eggs

eggs cropped

When we lived in upstate NY, we had our own laying hens.  Every day, we would gather the eggs from our girls.  Real fresh eggs are divine.  The yolks are bright orange, and when you break a fresh egg, the yolk will stick up above the white.  Our hens laid super jumbo sized eggs,and double yolks were not uncommon.

And the flavor.  Rich, velvety goodness.  Our eggs were anywhere from minutes old to no more than a week old.  Store bought eggs from factory hens are usually 45 days old.   They have absolutely no flavor and the yolks are pale and flat. Once you  eat fresh eggs, there is no going back.  If you can’t raise your own hens, then support your local farmer, or buy them at the farmer’s market.  The price, anywhere from $4 to $8 a dozen, depending on where you live, is worth it.  We will be getting  our own laying hens in the spring, so you will see “chix pix ” then!


Balsamic Vinegar

balsamic cropped

I love balsamic vinegar for a couple of reasons.  One of course, is the amazing flavor. The slight sweetness enhances the flavors of what ever you are cooking.  We will roast almost any vegetable in balsamic vinegar.  It adds a rich, almost nutty flavor to Brussels sprouts.

The second reason is how versatile balsamic vinegar is.  Toss it in a salad, and it brightens all of your greens.  But what I truly love is what happens when you make a reduction.  Heat it in a pan, and reduce it by half or three quarters, and you have a tangy but sweet  syrup.  We will pour a balsamic reduction over vanilla ice cream for dessert. I make a strawberry balsamic jam that is to die for.  The sweetness of the strawberries is  enhanced by the slight acidity of the balsamic reduction.

Balsamic vinegars come in a variety of grades, so shop around.  A good balsamic vinegar has been aged in a wooden barrel, preferably of cherry or oak wood.  Cheaper supermarket brands are blends of 30% balsamic and  the rest being other vinegar.

So, tell me, what  could you not live without?