Patty Duke and Crepe Suzette

Today is National Crepe Suzette Day. As soon as I hear crepe suzette, I think of the Patty Duke Show. The Patty Duke Show was an American sitcom that ran from 1963 to 1966. The show was created as a vehicle for rising star, Patty Duke. In the show, however, Patty’s character was named Patty Lane.

Here is a brief synopsis:

Patty is a normal, chatty, rambunctious teenager living in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City. Her father, Martin Lane (William Schallert), is the managing editor of the New York Daily Chronicle. Her “identical cousin”, Cathy Lane (also played by Duke), is sophisticated, brainy, and demure. Her father, Kenneth Lane (also played by Schallert), is Martin’s twin brother and also works for the Chronicle as a foreign correspondent. Cathy moves to the United States from Scotland to live with Patty’s family and attend Brooklyn Heights High School. 

The girls are identical in appearance, but their styles, tastes and attitudes are nearly opposite, which is what brought the comedic situations to the show.

So I was between six and and nine years old when this show was popular. My older sister, five years my senior, would have been between 11 and 14 years old. I remember her loving this show. 

The opening song to the show mentioned the words “crepe suzette” and it completely stuck in my head. Here is the third stanza.

Where Cathy adores a minuet,

The Ballet Russes and Crepe Suzette

Our Patty love to rock and roll

A hot dog makes her lose control

What a wild duet!

But I always wondered what in the world was a crepe suzette. 

Crepe suzette is a French dessert consisting of crepe with beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier or orange Curacao liqueur on top, prepared in a table-side performance, flambé. 

A more simple explanation is this: A thin dessert pancake with a brandy and citrus sauce, usually set aflame when served.

It sounds pretty good but honestly, I may be more on the side of Patty and prefer a hot dog slathered in mustard bought from a vendor on a Manhattan street corner.

I think my sister dreamed of being Patty Duke. I think I dreamed of being Laurie Partridge. 

C,mon get happy. 

National Bugs Bunny Day

Bugs Bunny has a few character qualities that are quite charming. Here is a quote by Bob Clampett on Bugs Bunny, written in first person.

Some people call me cocky and brash, but actually I am just self-assured. I’m nonchalant, imperturbable, contemplative. I play it cool, but I can get hot under the collar. And above all I’m a very ‘aware’ character. I’m well aware that I am appearing in an animated cartoon…And sometimes I chomp on my carrot for the same reason that a stand-up comic chomps on his cigar. It saves me from rushing from the last joke to the next one too fast. And I sometimes don’t act, I react.” 

I love that. It describes all of us from time to time. 

Bugs is known for his popular catchphrase “What’s up, doc?” Chuck Jones, commenting on the catchphrase, describes it as “…asking a perfectly legitimate question in a perfectly illogical situation.” Which is what makes it funny.

I discovered that this mainstream catchphrase was written by director Tex Avery for his first Bugs Bunny film, A Wild Hare (1940). Avery explained later that it was a common expression in his native Texas and that he did not think much of the phrase. When the cartoon was first screened in theaters, the “What’s up, doc?” scene generated a tremendously positive audience reaction. As a result, the scene became a recurring element in subsequent cartoons. 

Bugs Bunny first appeared in a short film on April 30, 1938 and has been enjoyed by millions of viewers. He is characterized by a Brooklyn accent, which I find completely fascinating. He is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality. 

However, if we analyzed Bugs Bunny and had some real ‘heart-to-hearts’ with him, we may discover that he is in need of unconditional love and support, as are most flippant and insouciant-appearing persons.

Bugs is 80 years old today! I hope that when I am 80, I will be youthful and thin, standing with my hand on my hip, nonchalantly saying: “What’s up, doc?” 

Which reminds me, I need to add ‘bag of carrots’ to my grocery list. 

What’s up Doc?

Today is National Doctors Day. My first memory of a doctor is when I was a little girl, being taken (reluctantly) by my mother for immunizations. The office was on the second floor above a bank and a jewelry store. As soon as my mother opened the heavy glass door that led from the street and we began to descend the marble stairs, I could smell it.

It was an olfactory overload of alcohol swabs and general “doctor’s officeness”.

The doctor was older (though probably my current age or younger) and was always kind. He patted my head and shuffled around the room in a long, white coat, covering his ironed shirt and perfectly tied tie.

The doctor’s nurse was an attractive brunette named Laverne. She wore a crisply starched white dress with her nursing pins on the collar. A pristine white cap perched atop lovely coiffed hair. Her legs were covered in white nurse hosiery which connected to her blindingly white, sturdy shoes. She always wore red lipstick. When she smiled, her teeth matched her shoes.

However, that smile was only on her face because she was the one administering, rather than receiving, the giant needle in the buttocks. After the dreaded stabbing, we would promptly leave the office with a green Dum Dum lollipop in my hand and a few tears drying on my cheeks.

March 30, 1933, was the first observance of Doctors Day in Winder, Georgia.   Dr. Charles B. Almond’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond, wanted to have a day to honor physicians.  On this first day in 1933, greeting cards were mailed and flowers placed on the graves of deceased doctors.  The red carnation is commonly used as the symbolic flower for National Doctors Day.

For a bit of fun trivia, the first ether anesthetic for surgery was administered by Crawford W. Long, M.D. on March 30, 1842, marking the date for Doctors Day.  On that day, before Dr. Long operated to remove a tumor from a man’s neck, he administered ether anesthesia. Following surgery, the man would swear that he felt nothing during the surgery and was not aware of anything until he awoke. Thankfully, it worked. What a brave man to be the test case.

In 1991, President George Bush gave Proclamation 6253 as National Doctors Day. I’m guessing that most people do not realize or recognize the day. I believe it is honored more within the medical community. But it is continuing strong.

My doctor-husband teasingly asked what I was going to do for him for Doctors Day. I smiled and told him the same thing I do every day; love and support him and respect the work, the dedication, the commitment and the priority of his patients.

I may throw in a carrot cake, too.

 

Hey Joe!

It is National Joe Day. Go figure.

I am not sure if “Joe” day refers to a name or refers to coffee – – as in ‘cup of joe’. Either way, Joe is a good day.

My father was named Joe (Joseph). My oldest brother is named Joe (Joseph, always Jody growing up). My middle son’s middle name is Joseph. A cousin is named Joe (Joe Wayne). I know three other Joe’s, non-family. Every Joe I have known is a good guy. And since that is true, I will write about Joe Day.

I actually always wished my mama had named me Josephine after my dad, and then shortened it to Joey. But since my oldest brother took the name, I got stuck with Rebecca. Oy vey.

When the word ‘joe’ refers to coffee, I really love the word.

I have fond memories of awakening in my upstairs bedroom and hearing my parents talking softly in the kitchen below. I could smell coffee and I could hear my dad stirring his cup of coffee. He always added cream and sugar and had a distinct quick-clicking stir method; the metal spoon against the glass cup. My parents did not use mugs. I tend to think that is a more recent trend, perhaps within the last 15-20 years.

My parents used glass cups and saucers, never just a cup, always a saucer, too. I have a vivid picture of my dad tilting the saucer up to sip after a bit had overflowed the cup…catching every drop. Ah, a man after my own heart. Or, a girl after her dad’s heart. Either way, it’s in the genes.

I did not learn to love coffee until I started working early mornings at The Jewish Hospital. Everyone drank coffee. I still remember my boss loving the cream more than the coffee. He would occasionally ask me to grab him a cup and would say “Just add a little coffee to my cream.”

When I first began to intake the liquid gold, I used cream and sugar. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. In the last 10 years I have dropped the sugar but kept the cream. The goal with cream is ‘color’. I prefer half & half but if it is not available, I will use milk. Again, it’s not so much about the taste as it is the look.

I once told someone that I always color the coffee to match my dad’s eyes. He had beautiful warm, hazelly eyes that, truly, resembled the color of coffee with cream.

Now that I have three grown sons and a lovely daughter-in-law, one of my favorite things is to sit and chat with them over (multiple) cups of steaming coffee. We are making new family coffee memories.

So on this day, connect with someone named Joe; give him (or her) a call or a hug or buy that Joe a cup of joe.

It’s just a day. It if helps make you or the Joe in your life feel a bit special, then just do it. In aging, you realize how important those remembrances really are. I once read this quote, author unknown:

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.

 

 

National Everything You Think is Wrong Day

I have felt that way, that everything I think is wrong. And by George, that pitiful mindset now has a national day of its very own.

This is one ‘national day’ that I am not going to fully buy into.

There is a mantra of being open to (hopefully constructive) criticism. That is a good thing. There is a mindset of self-degradation. That is an okay thing. It can even be a charming thing. There is humility in realizing your own lack of knowledge about certain subjects. That is a healthy thing. There is honor in being able to admit you are wrong. That is a great thing.

However, not EVERYTHING we think is wrong.

I believe we have lost confidence in what we know is truth. Perhaps that is because we think truth is elusive. It is not. Truth is founded and grounded and rock solid.

My children know I love them. That is truth. They know it is truth and never, not ever, do they doubt that. Gravity is truth. We can prove it at any moment. Free choice is truth. Consequences are truth. Pizza is good for us, that is truth. Oops, sorry, I got a bit carried away. That last one may not be truth. But everything above it most certainly is.

As a disclaimer, some ways we think are indeed wrong. But, not everything you think is wrong.

My husband would say, no more “namby-pamby” business. Let’s man up and woman up and trust our truths.

I sound like one very bold 60 year old. I’m not always. However, I want to be brave. I want to trust my brain to be right about some things.

This day is dumb. That is my philosophical opinion.

No, that is RIGHT.

Cabbage Forever

National Cabbage Day is observed annually on February 17. With St. Patrick’s Day exactly one month away, National Cabbage Day is a great way to test out some recipes with cabbage, a staple ingredient for Celtic holidays.

The word cabbage comes from the French word caboche, meaning head. The cabbage family is varied and includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kohlrabi and kale. Cabbage is an ancient food with origins in Asia Minor (now Turkey) and eastern Mediterranean.

French explorer, Jacques Cartier was the first to bring cabbage to the Americas. I think that is far too snooty a name to bring such a common thing to America. Personally, I think he brought watches.

Cabbage is very versatile and can be eaten raw, steamed or sautéd. It is also a culturally diverse food, popular in Asian, German, Irish and Latin recipes.

And lastly to boost cabbage love, it is low in calories, only six per leaf. It has no fat or cholesterol, is low in sodium and carbs, and is a good source of Vitamin C.

I have very fond memories of my mother grating a head of cabbage to make coleslaw. She made homemade dressing with mayo, sugar, vinegar and a little salt and pepper. It was so good! We usually had this on chili night or with barbecue sandwiches.

Often I hung around the kitchen with my mama. I always had an interest in cooking and she was a great cook. I learned much from her.

On cabbage grating supper nights, she always gave me the core of the cabbage. Sprinkled with a little salt, it is crunchy and delicious!

For one of our family’s Christmas gatherings this year, my sister included Asian Slaw on the email menu request list. I volunteered. It had been many years since I had made it.

I found a great recipe and it was gobbled up quickly. I have been making it every other week since. Mike completely loves it. He believe it is helping him lose weight. He has lost 10 pounds, so that may be true.

Of course the base ingredient in Asian Slaw is grated cabbage. We actually have been adding in a bag of cauliflower pearls, too. The slaw also contains toasted sliced almonds and toasted sesame seeds and a great homemade dressing. In case you are interested, the website is called Genius Kitchen. You are welcome for the plug, GK.

For far too long, cabbage has been in the background, in the shadows. It has been the red-headed stepchild of broccoli and the wind beneath the wings of kale.

Let’s give cabbage the love it deserves. We should keep the sophisticated word caboche and see how many people flock to Whole Foods to purchase this new French wonder.

 

Men (and women) in Blue

Today is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. It feels that law enforcement appreciation is an oxymoronic statement. Oh how much we appreciate law enforcement when the police have corralled a speeding car who is weaving in and out of traffic. But oh how much we disdain the police when they have stopped us for exceeding the speed limit in a school zone.

This photo is from June 29, 2017. It shows the newest members of the New York City police force hug during their graduation ceremony. Over 400 men and women took the oath of office and pledged to protect the people of New York City in a ceremony held at the Madison Square Garden Theatre.

It is a great photo. They look happy and proud. They also are rejoicing in the brotherhood (which includes women) of what they do. They depend on each other. Their partners in the force have their backs, literally. I believe, on at least one face, you can see the density of what is happening. Perhaps that one at this moment realizes the job ahead. The rewards. The dangers. If they have committed to protect the people of New York City, they have committed to do it with their lives, if necessary.

The NYPD is the biggest police force in the country, with over 37,000 uniformed officers patrolling New York’s streets. Wow. If you have visited New York, I think you would agree that you actually feel quite safe there. There are eyes on the streets. There is awareness. There is protection. The police are trying to do the work for which they were trained.

Last winter when I was in New York, we met up with our future daughter-in-law (now our present) at Grand Central Station. What a lovely place that is. It is not only aesthetically magnificent, it is beautifully full of people coming and going; full of activity. We were on the lookout and then caught a glimpse of her walking toward us, near the grand stairway. I was carrying a large black purse/tote on my shoulder and set it on the floor by my feet in order to squeeze her tightly. Within 10 seconds, a police officer was near me asking me to pick my bag up from the floor and keep it on me. For a moment, I was slightly perturbed that he had interrupted my sweet little hugging interaction. But then I realized that he was doing his job. He was keeping a watchful eye on everything that was happening. After some thought, I became grateful.

Law enforcement is, or should be, an equal opportunity offender as well as an equal opportunity pleaser.

I know there are major problems. Who is innocent? Who is at fault? I believe it begins with respect, from all. As citizens, we should and must give due respect to a law enforcement officer, whether that is your city police force or the school attendance officer or the guard at the crosswalk. And in turn, law enforcement must respect the rights and innocence of all people. That certainly sounds easy enough for both sides. But in truth and action, it is not.

As The Osmonds sang in 1970, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl.” Today, be good. Follow the law. Smile at a law enforcement officer and in your heart, be grateful.

 

Faux Fur Friday

Yep, it’s a real national holiday. The first Friday in December. Faux Fur Friday. I assume it is the antithesis of Real Fur Friday. This is non-issue for me since I have never owned a real fur.

When I was a little girl I wanted to wear one. I thought it was completely luxurious to have a mink stole (though I never really knew what that was.)

My dad would occasionally hunt rabbits and squirrels. I remember desperately wanting him to use those skins to make me a little fur jacket. That didn’t happen. We just ate the varmints. I once considered finding the skins myself and tossing one around my neck like a sophisticated boa. I’m guessing a couple of days of that thing sitting in my dresser drawer would have become quite unpleasant.

I feel that I was more enamored with a fur coat when I was not 60 years old. Some of those things are cool when you are 40 or even 50 but something about being 60 years old wearing a fur coat just makes you look 60. I want no part of that.

Though, I have my eye on a full length gray chinchilla fur coat with a shawl collar. Apparently it is the creme de la creme. I found one on sale for $27,000.

I’ll probably just stick with my J. Crew factory outlet faux fur edged hooded coat I found last year at end of season for $39.00. Dang.

 

Thanks, France

National French Toast Day. The history of French toast goes back to the 15th century English court of Henry V, when a version of French toast was the culinary rage. It was originally called “pain perdu” which means “lost bread” because the recipe called for soaking hard or stale or “lost” bread in a mixture of milk and egg, then frying.

I remember French toast as a child. I do not remember the specifics of making it. I only knew that egg and bread and syrup were involved. What’s not to love?

My husband is definitely not a cook. However, there are a couple of things that he “claims”. One of them is French toast. When we were newly married, I made us French toast one morning for breakfast. He (lovingly, because that is how you say things when you are newlyweds) said that the French toast was a bit too “eggy”. So, like a good, young married woman would say, I (lovingly, of course) told him that he could make it next time (smiling the entire time, at least on the outside.)

So he did. And it was better than mine (crap!) He made the egg mixture, but added additional milk. He also added a half cup of sugar and some vanilla. He cooked it a bit longer than I would have and it was golden brown and crispy. Dare I say, perfect? Nah. He slid that lovely toast onto a plate and slathered it with real butter, powdered sugar and WARM syrup. Okay, maybe it was perfect.

I have since made my French toast exactly that way. It is a Hendrixson house favorite. Occasionally he will step in and slip on the chef’s hat. And when he does, he calls it French toast “Dad’s style”. I allow him to revel in his moment of glory. And I just smile (on the outside and inside) as I sink my teeth into truly glorious French toast.

The next time he makes French toast I will simply say “merci mille fois”, which means “a thousand thanks”. If he starts answering me in French, I am going to be really mad.