October 26, 2009

Never Seen a Pomegranate?

Wow.....today was a reality check for me.  You see, I grew up in the Bay Area.  Even though my parents were depression babies and my Mom went through a TV dinner phase.....we really cooked in my parents house.  My Mom made most things that we ate from scratch.......even better, we ate from my Father's fly fishing pole and my Mother's garden.

Today at work, a young woman walked into my kitchen and said that one of our teens wanted a pomegranate. Did I know where she could get one?  I pointed at the long wooden table that always houses at least five kinds of fresh, mostly local and organic fruit all year long.  She stood there for three or four minutes staring at the fruit.  Then, she looked up at me with a confusion on her face and asked which fruit was a pomegranate.  I thought for a minute that she was kidding, then I saw that her eyes showed complete innocence.  

I walked over smiling and picked up a large red globe and handed it to her.  Then I walked over with her an got a compostable knife so that the teen could open the fruit and enjoy it.  She thanked me profusely....and I handed her a handful of napkins before she left the dining room, letting her know that pomegranates can be really messy.

This whole experience threw me for a loop, and as I got back to work, setting up dinner for my kids at work.....I thought again about how fortunate I am and how important my job is.  

This is a well educated staff person.  All people who work at Seneca need to have at least a  BA and some life experience behind them to work with our kids.  Yet, this is obviously an area of their life experience that needs expansion.  How lucky am I that I can be the one to expose them to the wonders of the culinary world?   

I once read a book called, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"......about how enlightenment in life often can involve re-experiencing things in life in a new way, with new eyes.  I thought of that teaching today, and realized how lucky indeed I am.


Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the brisk air and the sunny skies.  It is at this time of year that I find myself really missing Providence RI where I went to school.  The scenery is magical there right now.  Gorgeous blue water all around, skies streaked with white and the leaves on the trees.....truly amazing.  But I think that the thing that I miss most is the smell of Fall and Winter coming.  There is a certain musky Fall smell that happens when the leaves change color and if you have never lived back East or where it gets really cold in the Wintertime, maybe you will think that I am crazy....but it is true.  I miss the smell the most.

Back here in Berkeley, I am kicking into "nesting" and making soups.  Saturday , after the market, I went with our neighbors Karen and Rich to their Church Without Walls Harvest Festival and it was really fun.  Since Lucia is being an angel for Halloween....and we dont want her to look like a fallen angel with a tarnished halo, we opted to rummage through her dress up box to come up with another costume.   Glinda the Good Witch, from the Wizard of Oz is what we named it, and she looked pretty cute, I must admit....with the perfect funky Berkeley touch...white sparkly sneakers!

Karen had arranged a harvest food tasting table for the event and recruited me to help serve.  Of the four fabulous soups that we served and one great roasted vegetable salad...the Thai Carrot Soup won the hearts of everyone who tasted it....so I am shamelessly going to steal the recipe and make it at work! It was different than most soups that I crave at this time of year but delicious.

Lucia, Erica and Josh had lots of fun running around and getting candy prizes for the games that they played and the watermelon eating contest proved to be the hit of the night with teenagers sticking their whole faces into huge wedges of the last melons of the season, and eating their way into watery pink bliss!

On Sunday, Lucia and Troy sat down in our backyard to carve our own pumpkin which Lucia has dubbed "Mr Smiley".  It was great fun to watch and thusly we have Mr Smiley proudly displayed in our front window to smile down on Allston Way. Afterwards, we sat down to a dinner of Pulled Pork, Roasted Butternut Squash and White Bean soup that had been cooking all day long.  It was delicious with Lucia and Troy both eating two bowls.

I love this time of year!