I've cooked my way through most of last year making foods that are familiar and comforting for me, my family and neighbors. As each day progressed, I became bewildered as to how long could I do this and still remain positive. It was a struggle. A real struggle...especially on days when my friends in healthcare texted me about how difficult it was caring for patients and their own families. These are the people I'd worked with for six years who are on the front lines of caring for our most fragile human beings. Those at end of life.
I've thought back of patients over the past few years that have touched my soul in the deepest of places. Families of a loved one who would come together and cook entire meals in the family kitchen at hospice. And their loved one would join them in their bed or wheelchair, sometimes able to talk, sing or laugh at the private jokes they'd shared. Food brought them together in a way like no other. The familiar taste, smells of foods that brought them sweet memories of better times.
Food has always brought me a sense of peace and comfort as far back as I can recall. It was usually the simplest foods like rice pudding, pound cake, apple sauce, soups, grits, a bowl of buttered noodles, stews and roast chicken that seemed to taste best, even on the worst of days.
Our Moms 1-2-3-4 poundcake is still a favorite
My sister, Susan and I loved food way back when and we relished our Saturday morning adventures which started with a big breakfast at the Sage Diner on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, New York. The waitresses all knew us and we usually sat at the same table. We could hear them yelling into the kitchen "the twins are here; the usual, serve it up." They couldn't tell us apart and asked, "who gets the easy over eggs and soft bacon?" We'd ply money into the table jukeboxes and sing along as we ate and gabbed. After endless cups of coffee, we'd make our way to the local mall and shop for nothing in particular. It's still one of my best memories.
Fast forward to 2020 and Susan and I haven't seen each other in person. We'd had great plans for her to visit me in Cleveland when she retired from teaching. Visiting a list of places that I'd talked about and spending time together cooking in the kitchen. Well, that didn't happen, however, we came up with another solution to visit together and dish. Twins Talk Food is a video series we started doing during the holidays just so we could see and talk together about one of our favorite subjects, food.
Susan was a little apprehensive about being guest on a Zoom video, however, she was a good sport. We spoke the day before and I told her it would just be a casual conversation. She asked if she needed a headset like the one she’d seen me using for podcasts. Of course not...we’d do it over Zoom and I’d send her the link. She’d simply click and join the call. Susan did receive new EarPods from Santa, by the way. Thank you Santa.
Turns out that these videos are more than just casual conversations. They are peppered with inquisitiveness, curiosity, revelations and laughter, mostly at each other. Susan has been diligently making lists of topics for us to discuss, but mostly we ad lib which has proven to be such fun for both of us. Susan has a favorite segment which is about kitchen tools (she has so many novel gadgets and stories about each tool) and I just roll with it. As the "producer" I am also the timekeeper, and we try to keep the segments to just under 30 minutes.
We've learned a few things about each other that were revelations, however, its been fascinating for each of us to recall a certain occasion or memorable moment. And our friends who've listened to the videos love the bantering we do back and forth.
Twins Talk Food
Susan gets to show off her vanilla sugar in an Episode of Twins Talk Food.
Recently, we made homemade marshmallows (recipe below) with a couple of friends over Zoom. I'd been telling Susan that homemade marshmallows are nothing like store-bought and once you've made them, there's no turning back. I was right. We had an absolutely delightful Zoom with our friends Pam and Hillary.
Homemade marshmallows made over a Zoom call with friends.
Link to the recipe: Whipped marshmallows
These videos have been a lifeline in year that defies description. We look forward to when we can cook alongside each other, but for now, Twins Talk Food helps fill the void.
Here are a couple of the recipes we've talked about in our videos.
Susans cooks notes: I also added to the milk mixture a few grains of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Key is to use challah bread and butter your baking dish. I sprinkled some sugar on the top before baking. You can add raisins if you choose. I don’t eat raisins. Pretty simple and foolproof. I also used whole milk.
This recipe was shared from a friend of Susans. It's a keeper.
Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food company. Pat's Granola is sold online at www.patsgranola.com and is also available at several Northeast Ohio businesses including:
Troubadour Coffee Roasters www.troubadourcoffeeroasters.com
Sports and Spine Physical Therapy www.sportspine.com
Local Flavors Shoppe www.localflavors.net
Rittman Orchards and Farm Market www.rittmanorchards.com
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport www.clevelandairport.com
Locle Box www.loclebox.com
Market Wagon Northeast Ohio www.marketwagon.com
Made Cleveland www.madecleveland.com