Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ordinary Me: W

W: Waldorf salad--a staple of my childhood Thanksgiving table.
Warehouse--my father is a beer distributor. When we were kids, my sister and I would take every opportunity to play on beer pallets, climbing ever higher over the cement floor without a net. What were my parents thinking? (It was difficult to get to over two pallets high because the second pallet never had packages removed from it--no footholds.)

Writing--my job since forever--first I wrote display ads for a publishing house, then I wrote book jackets at an academic publisher, then I went to graduate school in English lit for a million years, while there I taught writing to college freshmen. Then I put together events and edited a newsletter--and wrote a little column (if you know my real name, and you do, you can find some of the pieces I wrote for that). Oh, I wrote a dissertation. Now, I write nonacademic stuff. It's funny, I write for a living, but I don't consider myself a writer. In the stuff I brought to PA from my parents' attic there are all sorts of scraps of my writing. And, boy, a lot of it really sucks.

Wigilia--our family celebrates on Christmas Eve with the oplatek. It's supposed to be a meatless meal, but ours never is--I guess it's because my Polish grandfather died when my mother was quite young and he either didn't adhere to it or my grandmother (the one you know and love) never noticed. Anyway, we have a sort of hodgepodge of Polish dishes (pierogi, kielbasa, babka--this is the wrong name for it, ours is a cake made from potatoes, a latke on steroids), New England dishes (lobster stew), and family recipes (spanakopita, liverwurst pate, my aunt's famous cheeseball, teriyaki chicken wings).

Auntie's Famous Cheeseball (I bet you thought you were getting the Waldorf salad recipe)

  • 2 pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • 2 jars Kraft pimento cheese spread (if you're really good I'll give the family recipe with Kraft Old English cheese spread. Mmmmm....spread.)
  • 4 oz blue cheese
  • Tabasco sauce
  • walnuts

Mix everything together except the nuts. (My aunt's recipe says to use a dash of Tabasco, but I really pour it in; it gives a nice tang without being spicy. ) Form into a ball--I sort of do a half-sphere because, well, it's softened cream cheese. Pat the nuts onto the surface. Refrigerate. That's it. People love this stuff. When I first made it in grad school people laughed at me, but even the guy who doesn't eat cheese loved this. And I'm pretty sure it's why the dude loves me. I know it's the reason he consents to go to Christmas with my family.

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