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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Lady Behind Gourmet Jail Food

Yesterday, as fortune would have it, I attended a meeting of The Friends of the Murrieta Library, where author Louise Mathews spoke about her career and promoted her book titled: Jailhouse Cuisine(From the Right Side of the Bars). I’ve listened to many presentations by interesting authors but this one seemed to be truly unique. First of all, the writer held the attention of everyone for over an hour of speaking, with amazing stories of her career as Chief of Food and Nutrition Services for the
Sheriff's Department in charge of food service management for enormous Prison systems. Feeding over 8000 souls a day had to be a tough job and thankfully, Louise Mathews wrote a book about it.




When interviewing for the top spot, she told them not to hire her if they wanted good food. Challenge accepted, she went to work changing things from old and outdated ways to new and improved ways such as the cook/chill system and no strip searches outside of the kitchen. Inmates benefited from her “laws,” her humor and her family recipes. Her 42 years of experience earning her a Doctorate of Food Service and many awards.








   "I would not recommend going to jail in many of our states 
as some places are better than others if you find yourself incarcerated."
--From Jailhouse Cuisine by Louise Mathews

 The audience at the library was doubling over in laughter when she talked about her lunch that scurried away in the South or the cake that moved. In her book, she even explains why pie seemed to have "magical wings." Overall, I learned so many interesting things that I had to share this information with anyone interested in the truth behind prison food. I found out what Pruno is, and even the unsavory methods male prisoners use to make it. Her broccoli soup recipe, in the book, points out that it's best to use white pepper instead of black pepper because inmates don't trust black flakes in a white soup, something that sounds helpful for anyone raising teenagers. I even picked up a tip about how to use leftover potato chips but I don’t want to give her secrets away. Find out more by clicking here. Her book is chock full of hearty, well-tested recipes and fascinating stories assembled by a hard working and phenomenally brave woman that I had the special honor to meet.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Happy Mother's Day Thank You Poem


To All the Moms
by Eve Gaal


To all the moms who kissed away tears,
listened to our fears,
taught us how to sing.
To moms who baked pies,
told us white lies--
about how cute we were in bell bottoms.
To moms who scurried off to work,
putting up with jerks,
who talked down to proud women.
To moms who tried to curl our hair.
Braiding or trimming as we sat restless in the chair,
working on her patience.
To moms who tried to make us eat,
our veggies and some meat,
while we made faces and ducked under the table.
To moms who scolded us when we were bad
but reminded us not to be sad,
because if they could do all of this—

then someday--maybe 
so could we. 
To those devoted moms who wait for calls,
from deserts or hallowed halls,
while their child marches to a bugle. 
And....
To moms who planted special seeds,
by having books around for us to read,
prompting gardens of creativity,
filled with mindful blossoms and wildly grateful hearts.  


(I hope every mother has a wonderful day including mothers of fur babies and dads who had to step up to the plate and be mothers too, not to mention us empty nesters and stepmoms who wait for happy calls.May all of us remember our own mother with love, this Mother's Day.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring Haiku

Took this photo on a walk around the block




Rather than compete
With the lilies of the field--
I humbly stayed home.

 
This should be a fancy perfume. I discovered it around the corner.

The Black Locust tree
Blends white with black forever--
In scented glory.

 
A little breeze and all of a sudden I feel like royalty!



His hands made me Queen.
I walk through strewn rose petals,
in gardens of green. 




Has the snow melted where you are? Is it a lovely Spring? 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Inspired by the President and Hemingway


Our illustrious Commander in Chief has inspired me to try a new marketing campaign for building my platform and increasing followers. Figure I'd jump on the proverbial bandwagon and find out what all the fuss is about. I mean, if he can tweet, then so can I. 
(Take a breath here--because my Tweets won't have anything to do with those tweets.)

 I’ll be sharing uplifting and inspiring quotes written by famous people and since I’m fairly good at writing one-liners, I’ll be sharing my sense of humor through short, silly jokes or witty remarks with the main purpose of making people smile. For free. There' no hidden agenda other than I wouldn't mind having more twittering friends. (And if you want to re-use something I wrote, please give me credit for writing it.)

My thinking is that since Twitter’s all a-flutter with high anxiety--thought I’d try the happiness approach--thereby creating more interest in my writing--naturally generating more blog readers. And who knows? Maybe I will receive some financial gravy as in book sales and writing assignments too. It can't hurt to try, right?

Although I’ve used Twitter for years, it never seemed like a serious place for an author. After all, what writer wants to be limited to 140 characters? Oh wait scratch that-- I guess Hemingway could have posted his six-word bestseller: 
  “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”


Anyway, follow me at Eve@Eve Gaal for some comic relief. When I can’t come up with anything funny, then it will be a serious quote like the one I just posted on Twitter from one of our greatest Presidents-Abraham Lincoln: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing."

Do you use Twitter? How does it help you? 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Butter Biscuits & Fairy-Tales



The best part about a fairy-tale is typically the happy-ending. I remember asking so many questions about the prince and his stallion. Where did he sleep when he wasn’t near a castle? What did he eat? Where did the witch buy her supplies? Did she make them from scratch? What do you cook for gnomes? Where do Fairy Godmothers buy glass slippers? When a story mentions red lips, does that mean she wore lipstick? Do the stepsisters grow out of being ugly like the Ugly duckling? What was inside Little Red Riding Hood’s basket? And so on and so on....

 I probably drove my parents bonkers with tons of inquisitive questions but they had to enjoy the fact that they could hold my attention for a short amount of time. Sadly, they couldn’t always answer all my inquiries so I ran to the library to read as much as I could about Dorothy and her friends from Oz, by Frank L. Baum. Inhaling books by E.B. White, Antoine de Saint Exupery or books by Jules Verne and any imaginative author who mingled reality and fantasy. I also often wondered whether Huck Finn really existed and if he did--how he managed to walk barefoot all summer?

But this post is about my mother’s butter biscuits. In Hungarian folklore, there’s usually a boy like Huck Finn or a girl, going on an adventure with their knapsack. It’s the magical way our parents pulled our imaginations into the story, ala The Princess Bride. Parents know that you can't go on a quest without tasty snacks. Most likely, he/she is running away to see the world and that’s where the story begins, because inside of the knapsack are the butter biscuits, which might best be described as a form of hard tack or scones, depending on the talent of the grandmother who made them. These are not soft biscuits, but crumbly ones that can survive a journey. In some tales, they have a coating of protective ash due to the old-fashioned method of dropping dough directly into the fire. 

My mother’s tiny tea biscuits are etched into my fading memories and I couldn’t replicate them if I tried. The following recipe is a satisfactory but easy version, nowhere near perfection. Mom used yeast and sour cream, creating a light, airy dough that once baked, melted upon contact with your tongue. Truly, her Pogacsas were--in my mind anyway--legendary. Of course, Red Riding Hood’s basket contained this type of mouthwatering biscuit, because after all, a buttery, biscuit has to be memorable for it to be in a fairy tale.


Hungarian Biscuits or Pogacsa
11 ounces of Ricotta Cheese-(the small tub is usually 15oz at the store.)
2-1/2 cups flour (plus a bit more for the cutting board)
A small pinch of salt
1-1/4 cup of softened, unsalted butter
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
(Coarse salt or caraway seeds if desired.)
Mix the flour and the baking powder
Knead in the butter, salt and the cheese until you have smooth dough.
Cover it and put it into the fridge for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the dough to ¼ inch thick and then fold it four times.
Repeat the above step of rolling and folding five or six times.
Using a small one-inch cutter, cut each biscuit and score with a fork.
Brush each one with the egg yolk and place onto a pan sprayed with Pam spray or lined with parchment.
Bake 30 minutes and place each warm biscuit onto a tray filled with either salt, caraway seeds or both.  

Now put on a pot of tea and tell a story! Enjoy. 

Did you like fairy tales too? Do you think you'll ever make these biscuits? 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Want 007 Pants-(A Fashion Post)



I have a gripe about pants. I figured a blog post is a great way to vent about any politically correct subject as long as there’s at least a semblance of humor involved. So here’s my droll scoop about personal issues with length, fit and fashion.

Length

First of all, I’m tall and most women’s pants have a 29” inseam which is average but 32” would ideally hit me at the ankle. Sometimes I see tall-fitting pants for sale in catalogs but they begin at 34” which would be nice if I wanted to wear high heels all the time with my jeans. Unfortunately, that’s not my style and the tall ones are usually in smaller sizes anyway. Most of the pants I own look like cropped pants or what my old high school ‘friends’ called ‘flood waders.” Basically, I have a love-hate relationship with pants because it’s one of those articles of clothing that an active lifestyle necessitates. Plus, I love adventures. Women wear pants for fishing, hiking, bike riding and campaigning for President. After seventeen years into a new century, modern women don’t even own dresses or skirts anymore. Type ‘wedding pantsuit’ into a Google search and you wouldn’t believe the heavenly white ensembles that exist.
 I think pants can look fabulous on women Ala Katherine Hepburn but they should also be flexible without being tight and uncomfortable. In a warm climate, most polyester blended fabrics are much too hot and in winter, twill or denim isn’t warm or flexible enough. Is it asking too much that I want to look nice while chasing after two disobedient Chihuahuas?

Fashion

Fashion wise, the current trend for women is the skinny look which works great if you’re ah—skinny. Some of these pants are cut so narrow, that they wouldn’t even fit my meatless skeleton. If I can pull them on, there’s a rustling sound with each step. Sadly, unless I want to take up Zydeco and pretend I’m playing the washboard, I also have to forget about corduroy. Of course, there are loose-fitting linen pants that look wrinkled all the time or chinos which are like like a cross between jeans and khakis. If they don’t fit right, then they look like Park Ranger-Government Issue pants. Too tight and you’ll feel like you’re back in high school marching band needing a new uniform after having a growth spurt. For extreme casual wear, there’s the yoga pant that looks good in one color only and that’s black. Same with leggings—have you ever seen beige colored leggings on a heavy-set woman? There are some things I wish I could “unsee.”

Fit

This brings me to how pants fit. Men can get away with wearing khaki pants that are loose and baggy. Modestly covering everything, they look perfect on busy dads who need to be able to move with even busier toddlers. Generally, men want to make sure their jeans are not riding too high and by pulling them lower they are baggier in the thighs and the hem reaches the floor. Problems arise because most men don’t have hips to hold up their pants. This is why they wear belts or should wear belts anyway. When men wear business or military slacks in gray, green or navy, the fit is classic, slightly loose and elegant. And finally, there’s the sophisticated tuxedo pant which reminds us of Cary Grant or Fred Astaire.
Those have to be stretchy pants!
I just had one of those aha moments. Remember how Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and even Jimmy Stewart were dancing in tailored tuxedo pants? James Bond is jumping out of an airplane or swinging from a chandelier in a Monte Carlo casino while kicking the bejeebers out of the bad guys. Jason Statham springs from his BMW sunroof and is punching five guys at once while looking awesome in Armani. The mystery must be a form of Hollywood costume finery just like those used by Jack Black in the movie Nacho Libre. Lycra—also known as spandex, was invented in the late fifties, which could explain some of the magic but still leaves me wondering how Rhett tried saving Atlanta before such obviously awesome stretchy pants were ever created.

 Lucky for me, I’m not a slave to fashion and enjoy wearing dresses too. Perfect slacks? Maybe not for my body-type but I can dream, while wearing an old-fashioned skirt. 

Any ideas about what kind of fabric goes into one James Bond suit before it's shaken and stirred?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

We Have a Leak!


We’re Not Quackiott, Duckyatt, Billton or Even the Web-foot Inn.

The ducks are back and Fiona’s not happy about it. I’m writing this upstairs and can hear warfare in the yard. I hear her tiny growl perhaps saying, “What a bleeping mess you make all over my warm stones.” She hates them and treats them like terrorists even though they look like they outweigh her by a pound or two. “Be gone you dastardly, disgusting creatures,” she squeaks. Or maybe she’s displeased because they interrupt her beauty naps, so she responds with a Garbo-esque bark that means, “I vant to be alone.”

The fine-looking ducks swim a few laps and as soon as Fiona noses over to where they are drying off, they rustle up, into the air, over the fence, landing with a splash in someone else’s pool--but not before quacking loudly--voicing their obvious displeasure at such a lack of hospitality. You’d think a rescued pup would have more manners!
I'm scared to bother her so I took this picture from inside.
The sun is setting but she's still on watch


 Maybe, I hopefully surmise, Fiona is working with the pool-cleaning company to make sure the water stays sparkling clean. I wouldn’t put it past her to take a bribe now and then. There’s probably a method to her madness and she doesn’t really care whether I’ve figured it out. After all, one of my nicknames for her lately has been “Special Ops.” While our other dog Pinky, is an exemplary example of a Secret Service type who would take a bullet for his/her management team and pounces out of bed in the middle of the night if someone is within ten feet of our home, Fiona prefers secret spying gigs, sleeping soundly under the blanket all night, perhaps gathering information telepathically from wireless, unnamed sources. Pinky worries about rabbits, but that’s another story. I guess Fiona saves her energy to fight the radical ducks.