Heart Full of Hope

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Christine Geery

Christine Geery
February 17
I've never played by the rules. I was absent the day they handed those out. I believe in being kind, playing fair, laughing often, not judging others and drinking red wine. And I always kiss my Sweetie goodnight. It may lead to other fun stuff. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Life is short!  Break the rules!  Forgive quickly!  Kiss slowly! Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably... And never regret anything that made you smile. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Always remember that stressed spelled backwards is desserts. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. ~ Mark Twain


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FEBRUARY 10, 2012 2:31PM

Somebody Has To Get The Last Piece

Rate: 30 Flag


A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to help her prepare for a dinner party for about twenty people. Naturally I said I would. We entertain quite a bit and thought this could be a lot of fun and really help me to use my talents and time wisely. We decided on an Italian theme because large quantities of various delectable offerings could be made to fancy even the most fastidious eater.

My friend decided on a date and proceeded to invite her friends. Naturally, the list grew but I was not alarmed. I assured her that all would be well. After all, we were in this together. It was then that she realized that Sundance would be going on that week in Park City, and since she runs her own division of NPR, she was going to be extremely busy interviewing VIP's all week. Again, I put her fears to rest. “Everything will be fine. I'll prepare 90% and you do the rest.”

For the next two weeks I made lists, shopped, cooked, froze what could be frozen, and dreamed of nothing else but putting this party together without a hitch.

I made appetizers, huge lasagnas, one meat and one butternut squash, a pork roast the size of a large fire log, tiramisu, cannoli, and even remembered to trim the tables in an Italian theme complete with red, green and white flowers, m&m's of the same, and plenty of candles. Martha would have been so proud.

The forty or so people who came had a great time. At least I think they did. After my third or forth glass of wine, it didn't seem to matter to me as much. All I knew was that it was going to be a while before I felt like cooking again. What is it they say about best laid plans?

While at the party my husband, Daniel, struck up a an interesting conversation with a documentary film maker. You might say, “they bonded” and soon I heard the following words escape from his lips before I could slap him. “You should come to dinner while you're in town.” I smiled and said that was great idea and he should bring his partner. They jumped at the idea and said that Tuesday would work for them. I figured I would be healed by then and joked about ordering a pizza. He laughed and said that would be fine as he was not fussy. Anyone who knows me knows that I would never order a pizza for company. I was already formulating a menu in my mind.

The next day we received a call from them stating that they could only come on Monday night. “No problem,” I said, although I had really been counting on that extra day of recuperation. I'm not a young chick anymore and healing takes more than twenty four hours.

I summoned all the moxie I had and decided that I could do this one last thing, and then die. I chose to make Moroccan chicken. It looks impressive but is surprisingly easy to make. Fresh steamed veggies with herb butter, Parmesan couscous and an Apple Crostata for dessert would round out the meal nicely. The pie dough disc was already in the freezer, so easy right? And it was.

I flew through the house making it ready, set a beautiful table, the guests arrived. We sat down at the table and then the bomb dropped. Our new friend surveyed everything on the table, and said, “Boy everything looks wonderful, but I'm a Vegetarian.”

Right then and there you could have heard a pin drop. I'm sure he must have seen my eyes bulging, my pulse quicken and my skin color turn pallor, because he immediately apologized that he had not shared his eating habits with me and said he would eat around the chicken. For a brief second I thought about all the wonderful vegetarian meals I make on a weekly basis and could have prepared, but now I could have cared less. I was tired, no, make that exhausted and I just wanted this evening to end.

The next day I came down with a head cold and moped around all day in bedclothes. I was thankful that we had leftovers because I was never going to cook again. Every time I passed by the kitchen I would take note of the last piece of pie sitting lonely on it's plate. I had decided that I would save it for Daniel, because that is what I always do. I never eat the last piece of anything. I suppose this self sacrificing comes with the business of motherhood. Give, give and give some more. About 2:00pm I gazed at that pie again and for once my altruism took a back seat. I grabbed that plate and placed it in the microwave to heat for a few seconds, pulled the vanilla ice cream out of the freezer and placed a big scoop on top of that pie.

I sat myself down in front of the TV, flipped on the food channel just in time to see Paula put a big piece of something gooey in her mouth. I felt victorious and naughty and it felt great. I had had the last piece for a change, and I deserved it.

© Christine Geery 2012


Moroccan Chicken (adapted from Ina Garten)


  • cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large Spanish onion, grated (about 1 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons canola, grapeseed or olive oil (not a heavy olive oil)

  • 1 to 2 preserved lemons, depending on size

  • chicken thighs, with bone and skin

  • Stems from the parsley and cilantro, tied with twine

  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron or 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric and 4 strands saffron

  • 1 cup pitted green Moroccan or Greek olives

  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, about 1/4 cup chopped

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, about 1/4 cup chopped



In a large bowl, mix the garlic, cumin, gingerpaprika, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup grated onion, and the oil.

Rinse the preserved lemons, and remove the pulp. RESERVE the lemon peel for later use.

Add the lemon pulp to the mixing bowl. Add the chicken. Mix everything together and place in a large plastic bag to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. (Twenty-four hours really gives the chicken the best flavor.)

In a large Dutch oven or casserole, place the chicken and marinade; add the stems of the parsley and cilantro, the rest of the grated onion, the powdered saffron and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn down to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove the cover, stir the chicken and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Keep sauce on stove and begin to reduce.

Slice the preserved lemon peel into thin slices and add to the sauce along with the olives, parsley and cilantro. Reduce until the sauce is just a little thick. This shouldn't take more than 5 minutes at most.

Uncover the chicken and remove the skin from the chicken. (It doesn't look pretty and who needs the extra fat.) Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Preserved lemons

2-3 lemons (or more) cut into sixths lengthwise

kosher salt

Place lemons in a non-corrosive dish(like glass)

Sprinkle with salt and cover with water

Cook in a preheated 250 degree oven for 3 hours. Cool and refrigerate. Can be stored in refrigerator for 6 months as long as they are in a covered mason jar. 



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Oh brother. That would have made me so mad! How could he not tell you that he was a vegetarian? I'm sure the Moroccan chicken was delish.
How in considerate can a person be. No, not you Christine, your guest! It would not have been inappropriate to have poured gravy over all the veggies.
Glad to see you back at the keyboard again.
Erica, I did think it was rude
Limb, you'd think he would have had the manners, don't you?
Jane, believe me I am not wonder woman and there is no need to be impressed. Of course you can do the recipe. Even the preserved lemons are easy to make. I'd better go back and post that. Thanks
Should have been, "Today you are not a vegetarian!! EAT! EAT!!" :D

How could someone do that! If he said nothing ahead well then he should have said nothing at the table. You deserved TWO pieces of pie :)
But Tink, then I'd have to clean up his mess, if you know what I mean
LL, I concur
Moroccan chicken rules and so do you. Thanks so much for the post. Will try this soon.
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man that would have cheezed me off but I am sure he had enough to work around with..:)
I cannot believe you did all that.. and good for you.
One piece of apple pie a la mode.
for Christine.. seulement..:)
Well, what a lovely photo Christine! and what a rude guest, but you made the most of it.
Enjoy the pie!
Thanks Algis, but you are the ruler.
Linda, that pie was probably the best piece I ever had.
You're more considerate than I am. I don't "cook" for vegetarians nor do I ask them over for dinner. Nor would I ever consider cooking something "special" to suit them. Your guest was both rude selfish not to have divulged his "eating habits." I hope he sent a nice thank-you . . .
So listen.... now I need your preserved lemons recipe. After we talked, I spent a stupid amount of time looking at different ways to make the stuff, but nothing sounds like the one you make.
Signed, a frustrated Pissie in Hamilton.
Good for you. Mother's always put themselves last and deserve indulging now and again.

Anyone with culinary requests should always say so. Not your fault.

Your recipes are always mouthwatering. Mine are so calorie related these days...but don't appear to work. Could be the accompanying vino however.
How rude! I'm glad you ate that last piece of pie, and I hope you didn't feel guilty afterward.

Frank, I've been waiting for someone to call this guy a moron.
Gary, actually a vegetarian friend is coming tomorrow, but it's fine because I make a great veggie pizza or pasta primavera. Thank you note? Are you kidding?
Deborah, you're welcome.
Chrissie, get your eyes checked. Under the recipe is the recipe for the preserved lemons. I could say something else, but I'm too much of a lady. Ahem
Linda, the vino? Really? Could be my problem too!
L, no guilt. Not this time!
What? No photos?!!
Just kidding, Christine :o)! I understand how you must have felt. Your guest was rude. He could have just eaten around the chicken or asked just for some vegetables with gravy without announcing his vegetarianism in such a way. Best would have been to let you know before hand.
Missed your writing, glad to see you back.
You were missed...I'm glad it all turned out well, especially the last piece of pie. My mouth watered while reading the story.

Happy to see you back!
Oh crud. I knew I should have read the directions to the very end.
All I can say is, good for you! You certainly did deserve that last piece. I hope it was the most delicious one.
I am betting he wished for a moment or two that he wasn't. I have had "vegetarians" go crazy for my Thanksgiving stuffing with sausage- even though I always make a meatless one for them. Anyhow, it was your husband's gaffe, and it was your piece of pie. Cheers!
Thanks Fusun. I suppose Vegetarians can't even eat the liquid that the meat was cooked in, but I don't know. He enjoyed everything else though.
Buffy, thank you. Hope you are well
Jeanette it was the best. Thank you
Oryoki, Ya why would I save that pie for Daniel? Our guest did say that he salivates every time he smells meat, but he made the decision 15 yrs ago.
Chrissie, ya think?
If I was your guest, I'd have not said a word and ate accordingly. I'm so sorry, but please don't stop cooking, you love it far too much!
Thanks, Michelle. I won't stop cooking, just took a little break.
The Moroccan chicken sounds good. I'll come by sometime when you feel like cooking again. Tho I did cook tonight - I stuck a chicken in the counter-top oven, drizzled some hot (chili-infused) honey on top and turned the knob to on. Ate the breast meat with some of the juice ladled on top. That's my limit.

I used to always leave the last piece, take the least yummy cob, etc. I've changed over the years. Tho, of course, living alone means you get the FIRST, MIDDLE and LAST piece of anything. That's the good news. The bad news is that the pieces are not of anything all that good... (Tho tonight's chicken was pretty good...)

P.S. - No vegetarians should come to dinner w.o. mentioning their status.
It all sounds delicious to me--clearly his loss. I'm available any day of the week and I eat everything, even last pieces of pie.
I nominate you for the Congressional Medal of Honor as one of our brave women in uniform. R
Myriad, I probably wouldn't cook much if it was just me either.
Jl, you may have the last piece.
Thoth, thank you very much.
Wow! A great story plus a delicious recipe. Who could ask for more.
My wife will never take the last piece either, but since I was drilled as a lad that if I didn't finish, the children in Korea would starve, it is my duty to those unfortunates to take the last piece. R
Gerald, you are so noble!
Sounds wonderful. When I was in residence on Culebra, PR. we had very little choice when it came to fixing meals. We used whatever was available and fresh. I did make a dish similar to the one you describe. Most of the spices and greens were available. They called it Creole style...but in any event I love it. Delicious!!
You poor thing!! And your guest was a trooper too. I don't eat meat, but I'm not to the point where I can't "eat around" on the rare occasion (although I know for some people it's a nearly religious thing; for us it's a simple choice) -- like the first meal we ate with my parents after we stopped eating meat and my mom made chicken and dumplings but it was "vegetarian" because she'd picked out all the chicken meat! Ha. We just appreciated her effort.

After all that you DESERVE the last piece.
Did you ever deserve it! You sound like a cooking wizard.
I guess people really do think you can read their minds. It sounds like he had plenty of vegetarian food to choose from on the meal you made.
rated with love
Bell, your comment cracked me up. Your poor Mom thinking she was helping with your decision.
Thank you, Poetess. Perhaps he thought I knew.
What a beautiful dish, and what a crummy guest. Anyway, bravo on your last piece of apple pie. (And if it's any consolation, I'm making the Moroccan chicken...tonight!)