Food For Thought: Learn How To Park, #&%@head!

My mother, The Split Personality Eater (SPE), has certain limitations with motor vehicles. Years ago, my brother-in-law, unable to drive due to an injury, had to ride shotgun with my mother from New York City to Pennsylvania. That journey so rattled him that fifteen years later he does not permit his children to drive with her.

And parking is not SPE’s strong suit.

But still we were all amazed when she showed us the note that she’d found tacked under her windshield wiper. It said, “Learn how to park, &#%@head!”


IMG_0050Who would go to the trouble to find piece of a paper and a magic marker, to scribble a note, adding the expletive, and then to vacate his or her warm car, to step into the cold, and to tack the letter to a stranger’s car?

Now we didn’t see the park job. SPE claims innocence as the lot was a gravel area with no designated spaces.

But still.

There’s a lot of meanness in the world. Everybody is shouting at each other. The politicians are ranting. Facebook is full of nastiness. Watch the news and you’ll start to believe the sky is falling.

But there is an antidote.

It’s called The Compliment Game and it’s wonderful for Sunday dinner conversation. Here’s how you play: each guest gives one compliment to each person at the table. At first, the game is hard and feels awkward. Why is it difficult to be nice, especially to the people to whom we are the closest? But soon something magical begins to happen. Everybody can’t wait to receive their compliments. It’s fun to play with a group of friends, too—maybe at your Book-Of-The-Month or Dinner Club.

Who knew The Grazer thought his sister, The Well-Adjusted Eater, was a good student and, in turn, that she was proud of her brother’s athleticism? Recently during a long road trip with a dear friend and both of our daughters, I introduced the game to her family. I still pause in the gift of kind words my friend gave me.

It feels good to give compliments—so good that you might want to take it a step farther. Set the alarm on your phone for two times during the day. When the alarm sounds, stop what you’re doing and give someone a compliment. Try this for a week. The world starts to look like a better place.

And the next time you see a really bad park job, refrain. It might be my mom.

It’s time to eat!

Thoughtful Food:

When probed as to what he was eating in such large quantities as to trigger another Food Account is low notice from the school, The Grazer answered, “Sheppard’s Pie.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

I’ve never made Sheppard’s Pie.

But if my picky Grazer was willing to eat it, I needed to find a recipe. Thanks, Chef Jon of Allrecipes (watch his video here)! My husband, The Vacuum Cleaner, ate three servings. The Grazer insists the school mush is better. I don’t think so! Tonight, we’re pairing Sheppard’s Pie with an Arugula Salad. Enjoy!

IMG_7677Chef Jon’s Sheppard’s Pie Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

2 pounds lean ground lamb (I used ground beef)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 tsp minced fresh rosemary

1 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ketchup

3 cloves garlic, mince

2 ½ cups water, or as needed

1 (12 oz) package frozen peas and carrots, thawed

2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved

1 Tbsp butter

1 pinch ground cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/4 pound Irish cheese, shredded

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 egg yolk

2 Tbsp milk

Chef Jon’s Sheppard’s Pie Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes and then mash together with butter, cayenne pepper, cream cheese, and Irish cheddar cheese until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and milk together and then mix into the potatoes. While potatoes are cooking, begin the preparing the beef mixture below:

Place olive oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and lamb/beef and brown for about 10 minutes. Then stir in flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika, cinnamon, ketchup, and garlic. Cook 3 minutes. Stir in water and bring to a simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas and carrots.

Spread meat mixture in greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoe mixture.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes until top is golden brown.

IMG_7675Arugula Salad Ingredients

1 bag of Arugula

6 figlets, diced

¼ cup grated cheese

4 Tbsp toasted pine nuts, prep ahead

2 Tbsp honey

2Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Arugula Salad Instructions

Toss arugula, diced figlets, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts together. In a small bowl whisk vinegar and honey together and then drizzle over arugula.




Thought For The Week:

Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Let me know how your family likes the Compliment Game.


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