I was just Skype type-chatting with my sweet husband, who is in Houston. I said, “Where are you sleeping?” because he is there on business and, even in Houston, that usually means some hotel or another because of meetings first thing in the morning at said hotel. His response, “I slept in our bed last night,” made tears jump into my eyes. He was in our home in Houston. And suddenly I was more homesick than I can express. And then he told me he spent two hours last night visiting with my mother and he’ll spend tonight with his mom. Oh, man.
Do you ever have moments like that? Where you just WANT TO GO HOME? You know, it doesn’t matter that where I live IS home and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but sometimes it just comes over me that I want to go home, home.
The most vivid memory of when this happened to me was when I was pregnant with younger daughter. We had a beautiful house just outside of Paris and Spring was springing (She was due in July.) and all should have been well with my world. But all I could think about was going home. With a capital H. I wanted my mother and my sisters and family and Houston. At that point, we didn’t have a house in Houston to call our own. It was definitely the people. I think it still is.
I tried to express my feelings back then, and choked up. Tears welled in my eyes. I figured it was hormones but there was no denying the desire for my mom and Houston. My dear husband, bless him, said, “Go.” I booked the tickets for me and elder daughter, then two years old, faster than you can blink. I don’t even remember how long we stayed, 1 week, 10 days, two weeks? But it was enough. I returned to Paris, sated. Ready for the rest of my pregnancy and delightedly waiting for our new little one. I also rested comfortably in the knowledge that my mother was coming out to visit two weeks after the baby was expected. An impending visit always helps.
Meanwhile, I have been cooking up a storm in preparation for my trip to visit our daughters during their university spring break. I can’t leave dear husband without meals! So far, I have in the freezer:
Tomato borlotti beans with smoked pork chop/rice – 2
Linguine with Bolognaise Sauce– 2
Salmon with spicy couscous – 3
Spicy Thai Pork Meatballs with egg noodles – 2
Penne with shrimp and blue cheese - 3
Eggplant Parmigiana – 2
Greens and Pea Manicotti – 2
Lasagna – 3
Shrimp curry with rice - 3
Artichokes with shrimp stuffing – 3 (not a full dinner each since they are small but tasty)
I have had so many things on the stove or the cutting board at once that I didn’t even attempt to record the process, except for the last item. Artichokes are in season here and I cannot resist. We are talking LE1.25 the last time I was in Carrefour which is about 20 US cents per artichoke! They are practically paying me to take them home, people!
So, shrimp stuffed artichokes. Hold on to your butter dish! These are tasty!
4 fresh artichokes
2 3/4 oz or 80g butter
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
16 large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
5 slices of sandwich bread
3 1/2 oz or 100g feta cheese
Small handful flat leaf parsley
Cut the stem and the top couple of inches off of the artichoke. Rub the cut ends with half of the lemon to keep them from turning brown.
Trim the pointy ends of the lower leaves with a pair of scissors and rub with the lemon.
Steam the artichokes, stem end up for about 30 minutes or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, chop your onion and garlic and then sauté them in half the butter with a generous drizzle of olive oil to keep the butter from burning.
When the artichokes are done, remove them the heat and leave them to cool slightly. When they have cooled enough to handle, gently separate the leaves and use a small spoon to scoop out the fuzzy, inedible choke.
Chop your shrimp into small pieces. Salt and pepper liberally. Add some cayenne if you like things spicy.
As your onions and garlic get soft, slice your bread into small cubes. Add in the other half of the butter to the pan.
Chop your parsley, separating the stems from the leaves. Add the chopped stems to the onions and garlic. Give the pan a quick stir and then tip in the chopped shrimp.
Cook for just four to five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in the cubed bread and use two wooden spoons to gently toss the bread in the olive oil, garlic and butter.
Put the mixture into a mixing bowl so it can cool slightly and preheat your oven to 350F° or 180°C.
Meanwhile, use a fork to crumble your feta. (This feta came from my new Bible study friend, Natalia’s husband’s company. They make all kinds of wonderful cheeses including Brie, Camembert and a lovely goat cheese, all of which we love. If you live nearby and want to order, check out their website http://specialtycheeses.com/ It’s a family run business owned by lovely people who make great cheese.)
Add the feta into the mixing bowl. Add in the egg and cayenne, if using.
Juice your remaining lemon half and add about half of the juice to the stuffing. Add in the chopped parsley leaves and give the whole thing a good stir.
Using a spoon, fill the artichokes. Put them into a baking pan and liberally drizzle all the artichokes with olive oil. Make sure to get some in the outer leaves as well as over the stuffing.
Bake for 30 minutes or until lovely and golden. Drizzle the remaining lemon juice into the outer leaves.