It’s Just Words

by on January 27th, 2015
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I’ve always been fascinated by words. Probably a good thing now that I’m a ‘writer’ of sorts. When I was a little kid, words and how they were pronounced was always interesting to me. Why is it deTERmined? Why not DETER-minded? The ‘deter’ part comes first, right? And of course, I was pronouncing deter like ‘Jeter’ (a Yankee fan even then…ok, he wasn’t born yet, but I knew!) As I got older and began to study biology there was a cornucopia of new words to learn. Usually to describe something that doesn’t sound nearly as fancy in their “common” name. A favorite was Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus. Know what that mouthful really means? Spiny-headed pig worm. Hell, if Spiny-headed pig worm was my name, I’d go with the fancy one too, wouldn’t you? You’d definitely get more dates. When I left teaching and entered the corporate world, the words got even better. Because now I was learning very elaborate descriptions for very simple concepts. LET LOOSE THE JARGON! In the world of corporate training, you couldn’t just call it customer service training. That would be too simple, too uncouth. No, the couther way would be to say “In Pursuit of Unparalleled Service” training, or IPUS for short. Now come on…IPUS is better? Really? As a customer, I’d rather stay away from you if you PUS…(ew.)

My latest word fascination involves those used to describe losing your job. The first time it happened I was a teacher, so I was “excessed”. Bet you didn’t know that was a word, did you? If you look it up, it actually means “an amount or quantity beyond what is normal.” Is that nice? NO! Second time around it was ‘laid-off’. Interesting choice of wordage when you think about it. Getting ‘laid-on’ has a completely different meaning in my head, but either way I suppose the end result is getting screwed. Third time was ‘eliminating the position’. Because you know, the higher the salary, the more words needed to relate the sacking that is about to occur. I sincerely hope that’s the last phrase I become personally acquainted with, because I don’t like any of these; down-sized — you’re on a job-diet; let go — you really wanted to go, so they let you; sacked — sounds a tad like shagging to me; canned –said with thick NY accent, naturally; right-sized — the company with you just wasn’t quite ‘right'; agreed to part ways or agreed to disagree –reserved for very high paid canning; and retired the position –as in a race horse put out to stud…if only you were getting that kind of action. Let’s face it; there really isn’t a good way to do it. I’ve been on both sides of the table giving and getting the news, and it sucks, plain and simple. But, if it ever does happen to me again (God forbid, ptew ptew ptew), I think I’d like this one, thank you: Karin, your exemplary skills, intelligence, savvy, and quality of footwear were SO high above everyone else’s, you were making the rest of us feel awful. Please take this 15-year severance package and help us feel good again…

A post about words deserves a recipe with a very fancy name, don’t you think? Here’s one for you: Sformatta di Ricotta! Know what it really means? Ricotta Flan. This one comes from the New York Times, and was adapted from a recipe in the cookbook “Italian Easy: Recipes from London’s River Cafe.” I’ve made it as both a side dish and dinner all by itself. Either way it’s delicious, luscious, scrumptious, delectable, mouth-watering, and lip-smacking GOOD!

Sformata di Ricotta (Ricotta Flan Makes 6-8 servings

2 tablespoons butter, softened 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 10 ounces cherry tomatoes 1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling 6 large or extra large eggs 2 1/4 cups ricotta 1 cup crème fraiche (sour cream works, too) 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (stems removed)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Grease the bottom of a 3-quart casserole using 1 tablespoon of the butter, and then sprinkle on 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Add the tomatoes and the garlic, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and then generously season with salt and ground pepper. Shake the dish to coat the tomatoes with the cheese. Bake, shaking occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are hot and start to split. Remove the dish from the oven. After the tomatoes have cooled, spoon them (along with their juices) into a bowl; reserve the baking dish but do not wash it out. Let the dish cool, then grease the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the remaining butter.

Mix the eggs and ricotta in a food processor or mixer until smooth. Add the crème fraiche, half the thyme, and a few more shakes of salt and pepper, and process or mix until well combined. Transfer the ricotta mixture to the baking dish. Scatter the tomatoes and their juices and the remaining thyme on top, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Drizzle a very little extra olive oil on top. Bake at 400°F about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the outsides are puffy, the center is relatively set when jiggled, and the top has touches of golden brown. Calories: 410 per 8 servings, 550 per 6 servings.

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