Archive: Family

Channeling Dad With Potatoes

On my Dad's lap at the age of 3. (Family photo) I knew my father for 16 years. His life was cut way too short at the age of 37; in fact, my kid brother is now older than my father at the time of his death. A lifetime -- 27 years -- has since passed, one of hopes and dreams both fulfilled and dashed, love lost and found, continents traveled, graduations, jobs, hurricanes, wars, a wedding and plenty of crumbs. I’ve carried on just fine, she says with a stiff upper lip, but inevitably at this time of year, when the rest of America salutes D-A-D with a tie or a new grill toy this Sunday, I get nostalgic for a man who’s been gone since the Reagan administration. His name was John. He voted for Nixon. He liked to watch the cop show “Hill Street Blues.” His...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 18, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

A Toast to Sunday Supper

A friend of a friend here in Seattle is an Orthodox Jew, and as such, every Friday at sundown, he and his family observe Shabbat. For 24 hours, J. et al put work and outside-world obligations on hold and focus on rest, reflection and quality time with each other. That quality time includes a long, leisurely lunch, or what some might call supper. Here at the Casa, Saturday is typically filled with errands and completing to-do lists, hardly a day of rest. But Sunday, that’s when life comes to a temporary halt (at least that’s what I like to tell myself), a day dedicated to the crossword puzzle, contemplating the meaning of life over coffee… and supper. Depending on where you grew up, the words “dinner” and “supper” may mean different things; for Mister MA, who hails from Kentucky, dinner is served at lunchtime, and supper is a late-afternoon meal....

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 5, 2009; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (7)

Kid Plus Kitchen Equals Good Eater

Hey Mom and Dad! Are you running out of kid-friendly ideas during Week Two of winter break? Don't overlook the value of the kitchen, as both playground and classroom. Guest blogger Shannon Henry, who's got two little girls (ages 5 ½ and 3) of her own, shares her philosophy (and a kid-friendly recipe) on early-and-often countertop interaction. The way to my kids' stomachs? Let them cook. (Shannon Henry) That's what I tell other parents when the how-do-you-get-them-to-eat topic comes up. Although many variables are at play – from irrational fears of new foods to personal taste buds -- I maintain that the way to get kids to eat well is to include them in the fun process of cooking. Needless to say, this strategy is far from fail-proof; just a few nights ago, while one child was enjoying the unusual chewiness of octopus, the other insisted on a supper of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 30, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Baking With Henry

While I'm on vacation, I've got a handful of helpful and savvy kitchen elves pitching in to keep the blog engine running. Today's treat comes from Elizabeth Terry, a washingtonpost.com colleague who spends much of her free time in the kitchen. My four-year-old nephew Henry likes to declare himself an “expert” on various topics (sharks, space exploration and the Red Sox are some of his passions). This year he has been interested in adding “baking” to the list, and he’s turning into a very capable sous chef. Last spring, he helped me with banana caramel cupcakes for his little brother’s first birthday (recipe can be found here ), and in August, he and my dad spent a full 30 minutes sitting on the kitchen floor, watching his “Olympic” cake bake through the oven window. (Elizabeth Terry) I’d been keeping an eye out for a yeast bread recipe I could try...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 17, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

He's Your Daddy: Your Kitchen Stories

Last month in this space, we celebrated Mom. Now, just in time for Father's Day (this Sunday, June 15), it's Dad's turn. In the same generous, kind-hearted spirit, you shared your stories about D-A-D, opening the virtual scrapbook with memory crumbs and photographs. Olga Berman (pictured, left) and sister, Anna, with their father, Leonid, in Moscow, 1983. (Family photo) "Popcorn prepared in the turkey roasting pan," is what Wisconsin native Jo Demars remembers about growing up with her frugally-minded, improvisational father. "This made a humungous batch which satisfied the brood throughout a long, long drive-in double feature movie night." For Sarah Choate of Odessa, Tex., the "flaming nachos" episode sticks in her mind; for Katie O'Hara of Alexandria, Va., it's the case of the exploding milkshakes while Mom was out of town, and for Cheryl Fountain, of Edgewater, Md., it 's the indelible images of those father-daughter Easy Bake oven...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 13, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Now It's Dad's Turn: Your Stories Wanted

Because I had so much fun reading your kitchen stories about Mom, I'm going to repeat the gesture for Dear Old Dad. My father, John O'Donnel, enjoying the summer of 1967. (Family photo) Father's Day is Sunday, June 15, and I'm looking for kitchen or food-related stories about your father, grandfather or assorted paternal figures in your life. Send'em my way at kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com. In the subject line of your e-mail, type "DAD" and in your note, please include your age, city and state, where you grew up and the size of your family. Please try to limit your stories to 250 words, but don't fret if it's over the word count. Send all stories no later than Monday, June 9. I'll select a handful of entries for a blog-stravaganza that will be published on June 13. Oh -- and if you've got a cool pic of Pop, send that along...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 30, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Saluting Mom: Your Kitchen Stories

Just one week ago, I asked for your personal stories about the important women in your life, as part of a Mother's Day tribute. Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate the rush of excitement and enthusiasm that was bursting open my inbox, and I am truly honored and in awe of the generous, loving spirit that came through in every one of your stories. With so many heart-felt nuggets to choose from, it was difficult to narrow the field of entries, which follow. There's Sandi, of Attleboro, Mass., who lost her mother last June to liver cancer: When I saw her last I fixed her shrimp and potatoes - that was June 25th. She even had a sip of wine. She waited for me to leave, and within two days she was bedridden. Beth McElroy's grandmother, Kathryn Violet, in her Selingsgrove, Pa. bakery in 1962. ...And Colette,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 9, 2008; 07:18 AM ET | Comments (10)

Fete-ing Mom: Your Stories Wanted

Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 11. As part of the celebration next week, I'm working on a piece about the force that is Mom. Have you got a kitchen or food-related story to share about your mother, grandmother or maternal figures in your life? Send'em my way at kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com no later than Wednesday, May 7. In the subject line of your e-mail, type "MOM" and in your note, please include your age, city and state, and where you grew up, size of your family. I'll select a handful of entries for a blog-stravaganza that will be published on May 9. Oh -- and if you've got a cool pic of Mom, send that along too....

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 2, 2008; 12:32 PM ET | Comments (3)

Bridging a Gap With Paella

It would be a gross understatement to say that this weekend I got together with old friends and cooked. It is much more accurate to report that I went back in time and returned to my roots. The town of Bala Cynwyd (say KIN-WOOD), Pa., is where my tadpole brothers and I morphed into frogs. In 1971, my very young parents (both 28) moved us into a big ole fixer-upper on a tree-lined street where we rode bikes, caught lightning bugs and made snow angels. My parents were highly social creatures, whether it was entertaining in the multi-colored dining room with the pink piano or dressing up in platform shoes to go out with friends. When I look into my mind's eye, I see swatches of leisure suits, squirt cheese in a can and the game of "Clue." I can hear my father singing to the musical stylings of Charlie...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 14, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

What's Your Christmas Tradition?

A recent e-mail from "Dionysia," a reader in Adelaide, S. Australia, prompted today's post about Christmas feasting traditions. In her note, she writes: We usually have a cold Christmas lunch with prawns and interesting salads and my mum's stuffing (It's a Greek recipe, and she bakes them in muffin tins now, and freezes them.) No one that keen here on Christmas pudding, so I do my Strawberry tart and mum does her Greek trifle. Over in the Southern hemisphere, where swimming is more likely than sledding on Christmas Day, a cooling repast sounds just about right. Alas, climate doesn't determine all menus -- I've been to Christmas lunches in the sunny eastern Caribbean, where the spread includes heat-stoking dishes such as oven-roasted ham, macaroni pie and fried fish -- oh, and lots of rum. Culinary holiday traditions are as equally imprinted by several other indelible ingredients -- family history, ethnic...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 24, 2007; 09:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Family Dinner Lives On

The plan: Come to Key West to get away from the noise and stresses of the city and the early winter we're having up north and to spend some pre-Christmas time with my mother and my brother, Tim. But, as John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." Sure enough, I made it to the Conch Republic, with leisurely bike rides and daily yoga practice in mind. What I wasn't in store for was the surprise arrival of my brother, John, whom I hadn't seen in more than three years. To be honest, it kinda threw a wrench in my vacation mojo. We never really hit it off -- he pushed me head first into a pile of dog poo when we were kids -- and his drug abuse and resulting brushes with the law didn't exactly bring us closer together. The O'Donnel family:...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 14, 2007; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (10)

Halloween Looking Glass

I was Elvis once. A can of Campbell's soup, too A faded photograph reveals that I was a football player Back in the day And a for a brief moment, I Transformed into Pippi Longstocking (I think). O'Donnel Halloween, 1976. (Kim O'Donnel) The details are sketchy But as my mind's eye travels Back in time I can see the old neighborhood And the 100-pound cut-out pumpkin Perched on the wheelbarrow in the front yard On Penarth Road. My father's doing. He loved Halloween. I can smell the damp leaves That rustled under our feet As my brothers and I, and our assorted friends (I can see Julie Lerner, who lived around the corner) Set out at dusk Plastic pumpkins in tow For our evening of Candy begging. ...Trick or treat Smell my feet Give me something Good to eat.... I can hear the chanting The trick-or-treater's plea The candy mantra...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 31, 2007; 09:49 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers Make Good Lunch

A bunch of questions from yesterday's What's Cooking chat was left remaining at the bottom of the pot, begging for attention. Below, a few to whet your appetite for leftovers. Silver Spring, Md.: I have two different friends who recently had babies, and I'd like to bring them a dish they can eat now or freeze and have later. It's not really lasagna weather, so I'm a little stumped. I'm looking for something without red meat or (lots of) mushrooms. Upon reading this question, I immediately wondered, "How would the Fonzes respond?" Aka Sarah and Alfonso, the Fonzes are our former neighbors who became parents for the first time in February. True warriors though they are, they were grateful for any crumbs I sent their way during the first few months, when baby Aaron woke up at all hours of the night (We know first hand; the walls are that...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 20, 2007; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (16)

Share Your Family Reunion Recipe

With the long holiday weekend now underway, I am immediately reminded of "Family Reunion," a song by R&B/soul songstress/poet Jill Scott. The lyrics paint a picture of the motley crew that is family, getting together year after year, with food as the thread that connects them: We at the family reunion, tellin' jokes and playin' spades Uncle Dave is on the barbecue grill Grandma braggin 'bout the blanket she made For the new baby on her way Even though the daddy ain't really ready This child is coming...anyway, yeah Niecie made her famous potato salad, somehow it turns out green Maybe it's all the scallions, could be the celery But oh, Uncle Jerome loves it (Hmm) Hey baby baby, here comes my favorite... my favorite cousin He says he's doing fine, takin' it one step a day but in my heart I know it ain't that way It's funny, but...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 25, 2007; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Feast for Mom

Earlier this morning, I left a voicemail for my mother, with the following message: "Top of your head. Tell me the top three things you'd like someone to prepare for you on Mother's Day." I'm betting she'll say egg salad or some of her other odiferous favorites -- liverwurst and onion on rye, a pot of sauerkraut, a hunk of limburger cheese with crackers. Pass the nose plugs, please. Generally, she sniffs at dessert, which she considers too sweet, (unless it's on someone else's plate), so that's not even a remote possibility, I think confidently. A few minutes later, the phone rings. "Well," she says via cell phone with pouring rain in the background, "I'd like a really nice salad, with mango, like you've made before." She's referring to a curried chicken salad that I made on Mother's Day last year (recipe details below). "And the egg dish that you...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 11, 2007; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

My Mother's Un-Cooking School

The kitchen of my childhood was of near-phantasmagoric proportions. The walls and countertops were bright orange, a hue that might hurt your eyes. Hanging on the walls were found objects from my mother's weekly garage sale adventures. Instead of being used for chopping vegetables, the counters were a display area of Americana-style artifacts, such as a vintage mint-green milkshake maker and a glass jar of Christmas ornaments circa 1940. I think at one point there was an old sewing machine stand over by the oven, but I'll have to check with her on that. My mother, Susan O'Donnel, the technicolor wizard. (Jim Oschmann) The dining room was no less a kaleidoscope of color. Pepto pink was the dominant color scheme, accented by stripes of Easter egg yellow and green. The piano that we kids learned to play was pink, too. Filling out the space was a wicker baby carriage turned...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 10, 2007; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (6)

 

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