Sunday, August 24, 2014

Recipe: Blistered Grape Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes 
Cook Time:  15 minutes


3 pints Grape Tomatoes ( for variety try the Zima yellow tomato)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Preheat oven to 450 
Line your sheet pan with alumninum foil
Rinse and pat dry the grape tomatoes
In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and oregano
In a larger bowl add the tomatoes and olive oil
Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the tomatoes and toss
Place the tomatoes on your sheet pan
Scrape your bowl removing all of the oil

Tomatoes should roast for 15 minutes (they will be caramelized and some may have popped) 
Remove from oven and they are ready to go.  (Don't discard the juices, that is the best part)

For use later

Place in storage container and let cool before refrigerating
Eat within 24 hours
Do not freeze

For immediate use

While doing your prep, get your pasta water up to a boil
Once the tomatoes are in the oven, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box 
Upon removing tomatoes from the oven add them to a sauté pan over medium to low heat
Transfer pasta from water into the sauté pan
Toss pasta and sauce together
Should the sauce be a bit dry add a small amount of pasta water
Transfer to a serving dish and top with Pecorino Romano

Final Note
Everyone has different flavor preferences.  For example, Feel free to amp up the pepper if you like a little kick.  It is all about making the recipe your own.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hope and Perspective

Please note:  This was drafted earlier this Summer.

It's easy to look out my window and smile.  The weather has warmed, my daughters are nearly done with school for the season, and a fun filled Summer awaits.  Yes indeed economically times are tough.   Gas prices are expected to climb through the Summer and groceries still cost more than they should.


I can look out my windows at my daughters blowing bubbles.
          Instead of looking at an empty yard where my daughter and her classmates once played.

I smell the fragrance of charcoal through my windows that reminds me of BBQs to come
          Instead of the smell of fire and humanity from my new home on an abandoned air strip.

Through my window the gift of a sunset, filling the sky with flecks of reds, pinks and oranges.
          Instead of the dank view of a windowless warehouse wall in a new country where the
          passage of time is not observed.

In a few weeks the sound of illegal fireworks will pleasantly startle and yet remind of us of my families freedom as we celebrate July 4.
          Instead of living in fear of the rockets heard overhead  will they destroy my home, the school,
          our synagogue?

We all have struggles, indeed we do.  We are all in need of hope and a focused perspective.  Desmond Tutu explained it this way, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."  May we always see the light right in front of us. May we also recognize that when our light flickers dimly, it is still brighter than the darkness that envelopes others.  And may we keep pressing on and  never to be forced back when hope is in reach. 

Filling My Empty Window - A Fertility Struggle

“You give and take away, You give and take away.  My heart will choose to say,
Lord Blessed be Your name”

Planning to have a family, like a lot of women, was something I would get to eventually.  In all honesty I can’t say that I was building a career.  But, I loved the places I worked.  And working ten hour days was actually fun for me.  Fertility was something I assumed would always be there for me.  Let’s face it my Grandmother Beers had given birth to 9 babies and my Grandmother Rydbom had given birth to 15 babies.  And out of 90+ first and second cousins only a very small fraction of my cousins had struggled with fertility.  The numbers were on my side.  WRONG!

In 2005 I began a hot pursuit to become a Mother.  We had our initial visit with a fabulous Fertility Doctor and a plan was put together.  Between her plan and my family’s fertile history I thought that I would have a baby by Christmas. All we wanted was that image from painted by Lonestar "And the view I love the most is my front porch looking in."  So, the work began.  Blood work, pills, vitamins etc.  When the day came for our first IUI I was so excited. This would be it!  This is where it would all begin.  I had done everything right.  My husband and I even said a prayer before the procedure.  It just had to work.

Well, it didn’t. So, back to work I went. Some blood work, more pills, vitamins etc.  In my head I was thinking, who gets it right the first time anyway.  It will work.  So, the day came for our 2nd IUI and I was anxious.  It just had to work this time.  Again, my husband and I said a prayer and I have to admit I poured it on a bit heavier this time just to be sure.  A few days later I was back to square one and a bit baffled.  My entire life was built around a formula that had never failed me.  Follow the rules and procedures and the desired result will appear.  This was not the case and the more I dwelled on it, the more fired up I got.  

However, I was not about to give up.  For the next several months this cycle repeated itself over and over again.  Dosages of medicine increased and changed, various tests were conducted, procedures altered, weight was lost, prayers continued, tons of blood-work done and I even chose to take a sabbatical from the worship team at our church.  I was willing to do whatever it took.  But, it became harder and harder to be brave.

On occasion we would have to go into the Doctors office on a Sunday morning.  After the appointment we would head to church.  One particular Sunday, the worship team was introducing Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” And in the midst of the song – my emotions caught up with me.  I had been pushing so hard, staying so focused that I paid my emotions very little attention.  After each “you’re not pregnant call” I would have my moment of wallowing in self-pity by commiserating with my mother over the phone long distance (God bless her tolerance and love).  But, at this moment – this song captured all that I had and all that I was dealing with.  And there was no hiding from it.

The contrast in the verses “Blessed be Your name, in the land that is plentiful” versus “Blessed be Your name when I’m found in the desert place” was right where my husband and I were as a couple.  Ike and I had never really struggled much as a couple – we both were gainfully employed and financially secure and had family that loved us beyond words could ever imagine.  We had everything.  And now, we suddenly felt in the desert not being able to take our family to the next level by adding a precious baby to it.  As the song progresses “Blessed be your name, when the suns shining down on me” and then moves into “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering” was so reflective of my personal struggle and the collapse of my magic formula – follow directions it will all work out. In college that formula worked like a charm and when I was a college student I felt as if the sun always shined down on me. And now all I kept feeling was loss.

The longer this process continued the harder it was to believe it would actually work.  At one point my doctor insisted I take a month off.  That was inconceivable to me.  The very idea, the audacious notion set in like a dark storm cloud.  My doctor was telling me to quit – well not exactly – but that is how I heard it.  Then the song comes back “When the darkness closes in, Lord still I will say  - Blessed be the name of the Lord..”  It said nothing about - When the darkness closes in  - I fight or I strive or I push – it was beckoning me to just Bless the Lord.  Problem is, that I am great at working a problem to death – I suck at resting in God.  And second, in my very dwarfed perspective – had nothing to praise him for. Hallelujah – my hormones are all over the place – Praise God – the phlebotomist gave me a bruise on my arm the size of California – I didn't feel any closer to becoming a mother and now I was to just take a break?

Thankfully my husband has a way of getting me to do the right thing in spite of myself.  So, we took a month off. We even took a mini-vacation to the Delaware shore – a place that has always been restful to me.  Now, I know each of you are thinking – and then she started up again the next month to find success and the motherhood she had always wanted. Nope not so folks – this is not a Hollywood movie.  It was my twisted misery. 

As the summer progressed the same cycle repeated. And I wasn't sure if it was me or not – but it seemed like we were singing that “Blessed” song a lot at church. And is it me or are there more pregnant women around in the Summer?  It sure seemed that way.  As Fall settled in, I was becoming more accustomed to the fact that despite my intentions I would not have a baby by Christmas and I may very well not even be pregnant.  As we neared the holidays my doctor again recommended a break and this time I was much more open to it.  I finally allowed myself to rest and enjoy the holidays.  Don’t think that I didn't break down crying on Christmas day. But, it wasn't that deep distressing I had felt earlier on.  It was just out of a deep longing to have another Dimitriadis around our tree. 

We started back up at the start of the year and this time I decided to take a more relaxed approach. I remained diligent, but became more mindful how blessed we really were.  We were both very happy at our companies – and I more so having just taken on a new role at a firm with a fabulous group of people – many of whom I had worked with in the past.  I had come to the point that if I got pregnant great – if not fine. Let’s be real – did you think I would say “Great” about not getting pregnant.

We even began exploring the option of adoption - the costs, the process etc.  God, reminded me of two women in my past- both of whom had struggled with fertility and then chose to adopt. The one had adopted her son – just mere months before her mother suddenly passed away. What a reminder of God’s awesome timing.  The other had adopted a son that as he grew up resembled the family in every way – he was tall, curly hair, loved baseball, and was sharp as tack – just like his mom and dad.  And I respected these women and I knew that I could build a family in that same way. 

It was a few days before another procedure and the wheels were in motion when my phone rang.  My mother’s sister Anna had passed away.  Her funeral would be on the same day as the procedure and I could not be in two places at once.  I loved my extended family dearly and wanted to go home.  But, I made the tough decision to move forward with the procedure.  Throughout the entire day I had no anxiety about the procedure.  I was excited and optimistic.  I had a peace that if it didn't work – the sun would still rise and all would be ok.  The procedure from all technical standpoints went well.  We were now in a wait and see. 

The very next day I was in tremendous abdominal pain.  Since I had been laying down a lot I assume that it had to be gas.  But, it got worse and worse.  I was so afraid that something had gone terribly wrong.  I finally called the Doctor and she requested I come in the very next day.  The next morning I woke up and my abdomen had grown over night and I was so uncomfortable. Full of anxiety, digging through my drawers to find pants that would be comfortable I just wanted to be at the Dr’s office already.  As soon as I got into the Doctors office, they drew blood. I was then rushed into an exam room.  As my Dr. entered the room – she looked me right in the eye and said I am almost certain you are pregnant.  Later that afternoon I got the call I had been waiting for – I was pregnant and within a few days we knew we were having twins.  What a thrill! 

Over the next three months we kept this a secret. But, I have to say that singing “Blessed be your name” brought joy, and sweet tears. It was and still remains to be a reminder of God’s faithfulness and my deep need to continue to trust him.  By Christmas of 2006 we had two beautiful little baby girls in our home.  “Every blessing you pour out, I’ll turn back to praise.”  We were so blessed!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Perfect NYC Cookie - Black and Whites

The other day I was on my way out of a local diner and saw a row of black and white cookies.  They are a staple in any New York bakery window.  My daughters enjoy them.  In case you haven't had one, they are a spongy shortbread cookie covered in equal parts vanilla fondant and chocolate fondant.  It struck me that this cookie is very symbolic of the duality that is New York City.

The peace of anonymity, yet the loneliness of never being noticed.

The sale of knock off designer goods on the same block where the originals are designed

The tranquility of our parks surrounded by the clamor of traffic down our avenues.

The intense pursuit of fitness and health, all the while being the home to the finest and busiest eating establishments that owe part of their reputation to butter and cream.

The Broadway stages that feature both refined and bawdy shows that are both equally entertaining.

The towering buildings that symbolize prosperity by day and yet provide a place for a homeless man and his dog to sleep at night.

The existence of a pharma company that creates a drug to curb nicotine addiction in the same neighborhood as the company that creates the addiction.

The enviable fish market next to waters you may not instinctively want to fish in.

The existence of a community that wants to "buck the system" and those who have created the system.

We even have two baseball, two basketball, and two football teams.

Every city has it contrasts.  But, I argue that the contrasts within my city are some of the starkest.  And I find sweet irony that it can all be summed up in a cookie.  Even Jerry Seinfeld referenced the cookie on "Seinfeld:  "...the black and white cookie.  I love the black and white cookie.  Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony. It's a wonderful thing isn't it?"   It is no wonder that you can find Black and White cookies in nearly every diner, bake shop and Starbucks in this city.  The city that enjoys a little vanilla with its chocolate.  Or should I say a little chocolate with its vanilla?

Looking In My Window

The hardest thing in starting this blog was the perspective I would take.   The harder I tried to nail that down the more I boxed myself in.  First it was, do a mommy blog.You have twin are a "stay at home" ...maybe cater to that audience.  But, you love to cook, eat, talk, and write about food....maybe Foodie Mommie???? We can all agree that idea is pretty lame and lacks one ounce of originality.

 Plus, I am also passionate about politics and spirituality.  Then there is the ill fitting corresponding stereotypes.  I am a Christian stay at home mama, who doesn't homeschool  (God bless those of you who do) and a feminist who has chose for a season to be home.  Since 1989 I have been a member of the Democratic party but I root for the Republicans because I get very excited about all things bipartisan. And yep, you guessed it, I vote both ways.

Like every woman before me, after me, and around me...I wear many, wife, sister, aunt, and daughter. And as I grow up, I have grown wiser.  In my twenties I thought I was an expert.  In my thirties I quickly (finally) realized that I had a lot to learn.  Now in my forties I am wise enough to know there is a lot to learn and miles to go before I get there.  Sharing what I have learned is humbling, because it requires that I admit to my mistakes.  And I have sure made my fair share.

As you have now had a glance into my particular window, understand I am here only to be a voice to the unique perspective that is mine.  I have never worked at being unique and set apart.  In fact, I have spent a good deal of my my life trying to fit in and comply.  But, the older I get I have to listen to that voice in my head - my faith, my conscience, my truth.  I was once told that as I got older the heart would take second place to my mind.  I admire Winston Churchill, but I don't agree with the  - "Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart."  I have actually found that my heart and brain grow closer together each day.

Some of you may like my food stories and recipes.  Some of you may find my perspectives on politics and faith audacious and interesting.  Whatever your reason is for peaking into my window, I look forward to keeping the drapes pulled back and opening myself up to learn from you.  Iron sharpens iron.  So, please sharpen away.

Windows, Why Windows

Windows are everywhere. Through windows my eyes have seen some of the most spectacular things.  Losing my breath as I stared out my hotel window at the high towering mountains in Innsbruck Austria.  Melting into a childish wonder when I first laid my eyes on the holiday window displays at Lord and Taylor. Or always being drawn into the caramel popcorn filled windows at Dolle's on the boardwalk.

Walking past windows in my neighborhood there are windows full of intriguing books to be read, gorgeous gowns to be worn, and enticing cakes to be gobbled down.  Standing near certain windows can awaken my nose and make my tummy growl in hunger with the fragrances of garlic, curry or bacon.  And at times I hear things too...the voice of a frustrated mom (who doesn't realize I hear her), the pulsating rhythms of meringue music, or the chorus of men praying at the local synagogue.

Windows are revealing. They show us what lies inside whether it is our intent or not.  Some windows are intentionally fashioned to project an image - lure you inside.  Whereas there are times that through windows we are laid bare.  The argument overheard through an open window late at night. The argument that seems to just get louder and louder and longer and longer.

We walk by windows every day.  They become a part of the mundane.  We stop looking in.  We pay them no mind.  Yet for me.... maybe it is the child inside.... I love windows.  The Mark Twain window of the warm pie cooling on the ledge and the tempted young boy who just wants to devour it. The picture of home as described by Lonestar in their song "My Front Porch Looking In." The stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals that remind us of long held religious truths. I adore windows.

Windows make me look up.  Windows cause me to look in and deeper. Windows help me to look out and beyond.  We all need an adjustment in perspective from time to time.  We all need a different view.  A move from the confines of a cubicle toward a look at the ocean as it spills into the horizon.  A break from the computer monitors glow to grab a glance at the super moon outside.  I continue to learn from windows.  Not all windows are the same. And thank God for that. So much to discover and to reflect on. And as I learn from the windows I pass by, I look forward to letting you take a peak inside.