Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Family Gathering

I hope my aunt does not mind my mentioning her age, but when spending time with her it is easy to forget that she is 97. If we went out for meals at restaurants, she was matching us step for step; if she was hosting the family for dinner, she was managing the kitchen and making a crudite tray with dips; and if the conversation covered family activities over the past decades, she had anecdotes and questions for those in the conversation. What a joy to be around her.

It was also wonderful to spend as much time as we did with other family members (right): my cousin Sandra (standing), Shelly (left, Sandra and Tim's daughter) and her 14-month-old daughter Abby, Margaret, and Sandra's husband, Tim.

We also enjoyed conversa-tions with Matthew (16) and Allison (14), [shown here (left) with their friend Augusta (center)]. Shelly and her husband Ken can be very proud of their children. (Our schedules and Ken's did not match up for the chance to spend time with him.)

One evening's dinner at Margaret's in Sun City provided an opportunity for kitchen creativy. As Kate notes: Dinner preparation was a joint effort. None of the effort was mine-–I was busy doing our laundry. Chuck peeled the potatoes; Margaret cooked the bacon, chopped the scallion tops, and toasted the garlic bread; Sandra cooked the potatoes in chick stock and grated the cheddar cheese. The end result? A great tureen of potato soup that we could top with the bacon, cheese, and scallions.

I'm including this photo just because I think it's a nice picture of three mom's (and four genera-tions); Abby, her mother Shelly, her grandmother Sandra, and her great-grandmother Margaret.

Kate continues: The afternoon before our departure from Hemet, we joined Margaret, Sandra, and Tim at the China Super Buffet in Temecula, CA. As is the norm, overeating at the buffet was the order of the day.

While these photos only show one of Chuck’s plates, I do want it entered into the record that he made multiple trips to the multiple buffet lines.

On one of his forays, he returned with a plate that contained a skewer of barbecued chicken, fried wontons stuffed with a small nugget of cream cheese, breaded shrimp, and pot stickers.

My first plate held: the same fried shrimp that managed to stay crisp and greaseless even when kept warm on the steam table; clams in a light black bean sauce; a mild white fish poached in a light soy broth; mussels (my least favorite of the buffet items); and salt and pepper shrimp. The latter were slightly sweet from the Five Spice Powder that is used to season salt and pepper items in a Chinese restaurant. (The pepper refers to the Schezuan peppers in the Five Spice Powder.)

My next trip to the buffet brought forth a plate containing: the fried wontons with cream cheese filling; shu mai that were seasoned with garlic and ginger; fried pot stickers; a very good version of Mongolian beef; a juicy and tender barbeque chicken skewer; and a second helping of the poached fish. In the center of the plate is a small cup of soy and scallion sauce that I enhanced with a few good glugs of spicy sriracha sauce (made from sun ripened chilies which are ground into a smooth paste).

Time with family members was all too brief.

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