Grandma Mary’s Artichoke “Pie”

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My Grandmother Mary worked at the A&P on Jamaica Ave. at 241st street in Bellerose for 23 years. By the time she retired in the early 90’s, Grandma was making about $13 an hour – we used to call her money-bags!

She was a hard worker, taking much pride in her position at the A&P. And people took notice. Grandma had a reputation as the best bag-packer in the whole store. Her line was always longer than the others because shoppers preferred to wait for her service. She made many friends with the customers this way.

There was one women in particular she became close with. My Grandma started to notice the same ingredients this women would buy every few weeks: artichokes, pie crust, pepperoni, mozzarella, eggs and romano cheese. While Grandma recognized all of these items as Italian based, she was confused by the pie crust. One day my Grandmother asked what it was all for. This was the start of her friendship with Elaine* – a conversation about food.

Elaine told Grandma it was for quiche and happily gave her the recipe. My Grandmother didn’t know what quiche was at the time, so she called it pie, because that’s what it said on the packaging – pie crust.

To my family, this savory quiche will always be called pie in Grandma’s honor. This dish has been a staple at all of my family holidays and parties for as long as I can remember. It’s a tremendous hit. Here’s the recipe – I hope you enjoy!

*I asked my Grandmother about her artichoke pie recipe when she was in her 70’s. She didn’t remember her friends name but she spoke very fondly of her. For the sake of the story, I called her Elaine.

Ingredients (for one pie):
Mrs. Smith’s 9″ Deep Dish Pie Shell
5 large eggs
1 8 oz. can of whole artichoke hearts in water
1/4 cup romano cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped pepperoni

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Drain the artichokes well. I squeeze them with my hand over the sink. Then flatten the artichokes into the bottom of the pie shell, covering the whole surface. The pie shell comes frozen, no need to defrost.
  • In a bowl, mix all the other ingredients together, then pour the mixture on top of the artichokes in the pie shell.
  • Cook uncovered for 40 minutes. The top should be golden brown.
  • Let the pie cool for 10 minutes. Serve hot or room temperature. You can prepare the pie in advance and freeze it if needed.

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tagged in grandma, quiche

grams of the week – april 18

Here’s a recap of the best instagrams of last week. If you want the day to day follow me here!

rum-coctails-cahuita-costa-rica-

It’s been a while since I posted Grams of the Week, sorry! The last 3 weeks have been very busy. I was in Costa Rica for 10 days. It was so relaxing. My husband and I made fruity cocktails at our Airbnb almost every day. In the next issue of The Wave you can read more about our vaca!

paula

New look, jk. This was at a bar called Outback Jacks in Puerto Viejo, think junkyard art sculpture bar. Something like this would do so well in NYC.

#porchlife-rockaway-beach

I hosted Easter Sunday and it was a beautiful day. It was also our first #Porchlife party too. Everyone was outside enjoying the weather. Spring is here!!!

homemade-salad-dressing

I made my friend Melissa’s homemade salad dressing and it was a hit on Easter. Here is the recipe.

tagged in instagram

A Grave Matter

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Previously published in The Wave.

I was taking in the mail last week – I received the mortgage (ugh) a Burpee Seeds and Plants  catalog (cool), the same Verizon advertisement I get like every month (annoying) and one of those white envelopes that has nothing on it except an address, which makes it seem really important. It’s a promotion for Pinelawn Memorial Park and Garden Mausoleums. It reads, “That’s right. You can buy a memorial site in one of America’s loveliest memorial parks for as little as $40 a month, interest free. …Return the postage-free postcard today and we will send you a copy of Let’s Face it Now (“Now” is underlined),” a booklet every family should have. …When your low total price is paid, you own your property forever.” I wasn’t sure if I was going to burst out in uncontrollable laughter or if I was going to burst into tears and have a panic attack.

A barrage of questions filled my mind, “How the heck did they get my address? Am I at the age where one is supposed to buy their “forever property”? Do they have a master list of all the 36 year olds in New York and every spring this mailer gets sent to them? Do you have to pay taxes on a grave site since it’s property?  If you’re dead, how can you own property?”

I’m a native Long Islander, but I don’t want to spend eternity there. Besides, Pinelawn is in Farmingdale and I have no connection to that area. I do have people in Calvary Cemetery in Queens – names here. I’m thinking that’s where I should go. Calvary is located near Goodfellas dinner, so after people visit me, they can have a nice lunch. Also, It’s accessible by public transportation, therefore family and friends will be more likely to come say hi. Who wants to drive all the way out to the Island anyway?

Calvary it is then.

I figured I should give them a call. But it’s an old cemetery and they may be running out of space. I also want to be buried with my cats* and I need to find out if they will allow that. Last, there is the issue of my husband. On many occasions he’s mentioned that he wants to be cremated and  flushed down the toilet. Don’t ask. This is a problem because I definitely want to be buried with him next to me.

I don’t want to be cremated.  I think it would be cool if, 5000 years into the future, aliens or advanced humans found my body and could learn something ground-breaking from my remains. Then they could make a documentary about their findings, like they did with Lucy from Ethiopia.

“We call her Paula, the Rockaway Beach Hominid. She dates back to sometime in what we call the Trumpozoic Era.”

At the very least,  I would hope my relatives who come to visit me would plant a little garden by my headstone. My decomposing body would act as organic compost.

I was supposed to make gravy that day but was totally side-tracked by all of these thoughts. Feeling contemplative and mildly depressed, I took a walk on the beach in an attempt to clear my head, but it didn’t improve my mood. Then I decided to get some wine because that always makes me feel better.  After two glasses, my gravy was simmering on the stove and I didn’t care so much anymore about the logistics of my burial. “I have some time.” I thought. “I’ll deal with buying my forever property next spring”.

*At Calvary pets are not allowed to be buried with you. In fact, this is a policy for all Catholic cemeteries. Problematic.

tagged in dying

Simon and The Duck

Previously published in The Wave.

Simon-Chardiet-an-duck

My neighbor Simon Chardiet* was surfing around beach 99th the day before “blizzard” Stellaaaa. While waiting for the next wave, he noticed a duck getting tossed around. Simon paddled over and saw the fowl was injured. He felt compelled to take action. “It was going to die. If I was that duck, I would hope someone would try to help me and not turn a blind eye.”

Simon managed to secure the duck and they both bodyboarded to safety. On land, he got assistance from a Russian guy. They inspected the duck and noticed his leg and wing looked limp. They made a little ditch for the bird in the sand but Simon soon realized with the pending snowstorm, the duck was doomed.

This is where I come in.

Simon called my husband knowing we’re animal people. “I found a hurt duck but I can’t keep it in my apartment. Can you guys take it in and we can reach out to some rescue groups?”

Next thing I know there’s an adorable duck on the rocking chair, on my porch. Simon helped carry the duck into the house. We made a little spot for him in the basement. I named him, for lack of quick thinking, Mr. Bird.

We reached out to the Audubon Society who in turn put us in touch with the Wild Bird Fund. It was late in the day. We were told they wouldn’t be able to make it to Rockaway until Wednesday – two days. I started stressing out… What do ducks eat? Do I need a tub of water for this thing? What kind of duck is this anyway? I started Googling: black duck, orange beak, Atlantic Ocean.

Turns out Mr. Bird is a male American Scoter (Melanitta Americana). This is a common offshore winter sea bird but it’s listed as near threatened by the IUCN. Their numbers are declining. Flocks are susceptible to oil spills and other pollution. Poor Mr. Bird and his family!

I was thinking I need to feed the duck if he was staying with us for two days. I learned American Scoters enjoy eating mollusks, crustaceans and small fish. “I should go to Cross Bay Sea Shell Fish Market, I’ll get some live mussels” I thought. Keys in hand, my phone rings, “They found a volunteer! Amy Aversa is on her way to bring Mr. Bird to the Wild Bird Fund headquarters.”

I was contacted a day later with the news. I wish I could write a happy ending to this story but despite our efforts, the Scoter duck did not make it through his ordeal. The veterinarians performed a necropsy to determine the cause of death. They found two golfball-sized masses in his abdomen, which had displaced his liver.

I find comfort that he was at peace when he passed, rather than at the mercy of the elements. Mr. Birds passing was not in vain, either. I learned about the American Scoter and other coastal birds in our area. I know now what can harm them and what we can do to help. Now I’m passing that information on to you. As residents of Rockaway, Breezy Point and Broad Channel we share our beautiful coastal home with many types of wildlife, including 355 different species of birds. If you see a bird in distress, please contact The Wild Bird Fund: 646.306.2862, 565 Columbus Ave, NY, NY 10024. Their mission is to provide medical care and rehabilitation to native and passing migrant wildlife so they can be released back into the wild. To learn more, visit wildbirdfund.org

*In addition to being a surfer and animal lover, Simon is a first-rate guitar player. He’s performing April 2nd at Thai Rock with Mike Severino – 6:30 pm.