Vacation duties of grandparents

I am sure all of you have experienced duties like the one I am about to tell you about today.

The last two weeks, our son and his family all went on a two-week vacation to Japan and Thailand. Right before they left, here the grandkids came to the house, bringing their pet fish for us to take care of for the two weeks they would be gone. Here they were carrying two fish bowls, the food and things necessary to care for the fish. That was serious business and they started telling me exactly and explaining what and how to take care of their fish, how much to feed them, etc., and little 9-year-old Calli’s last remarks as they were leaving was, “I hope our fish survives while we are gone.” I was really on the spot with what to them was a very important task of making sure the fish survived the two weeks in my care.

I did take precautionary measures, however, by going to a pet store to check on the type fish they were leaving in my care in case of an emergency I could replace the fish with the same type of fish and just hope I could find one close to the same size. I received several text messages from 9-year-old Calli checking on the status and condition of her little fish. One day my husband told me to reply that her little fish made a very good fish sandwich, LOL, but I do not think they thought that was very funny.

It was pressure ,and as soon as they came back the first thing I did was to return the fish in good perfect condition and your turn to continue taking care of the fish.

I can recall years ago when our children were young, we had two goldfishes and when we left to go to Europe, we left the fish with their godmother to take care of them. While we were gone, the one goldfish died so their godmother replaced it with another one, but to our surprise when we returned, the kids realized and recognized that they were not their fish and started crying and questioning what happen to their fish. All those memories and fears were in my mind while they were traveling these past two weeks.

I have no idea which is easier to take care of: fish, dog or cat? Animals are great, but they also tie you down when you have to go on vacation or take weekend trips, etc. Thank goodness they do have places you can leave your pets nowadays, although many people take their pet with them in the car or even airplane so they don’t have to leave them behind.

Another responsibility that requires attention when getting away is gardens, fresh flowers and yard care, and you are at the mercy of relatives, friends or neighbors.

That is one responsibility I avoid – no pets and only a few tomato plants and very few flowers – so when we want to pick up and go, we can without any problems

I can decide to go on vacation at the space of the moment, and pack the day before, even if we stay away several weeks, and I figure I can always buy whatever I miss packing. The one important thing if you take any medication is to be sure to pack enough to last the entire trip. I ran out of medicines I take while in Europe and that was a major task having them sent over, so be sure to pack your medications first.

Until next week!


Grape Broccoli Salad

6 cups fresh broccoli florets

6 green onions, sliced

1 cup diced celery

1 cup green graps

1 cup seedless red graps

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a large salad bowl, combine the broccoli, onions, celery and grapes. In another bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar; pour over broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerat until serving. Stir in bacon just before serving.


Tomatoes Stuffed with Pasta and Olives

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing

8 beefsteak tomatoes or large round tomatoes

1 cup dried very small pasta shapes

8 black olives, pitted and finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese



fresh basil sprigs

Brush a cookie sheet with olive oil. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and reserve to make lids. If the tomatoes will not stand up, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the tomato pulp into a strainer, but do not pierce tomato shells. Invert the tomato shells on to paper towels and pat dry, then set aside to drain. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta throughly and set aside. Put the olives, chopped basil, parsley and Parmesan cheese into a large mixing bowl and stir in the drained tomato pullp. Add the pasta to the bol. Stir in the remaining olive oil and mix together well, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the pasta mixture into the tomato shells and replace the lids. Arrange the tomatoes on the cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let cool until just warm. Arrange on a serving dish, then garnish with the basil sprigs and serve.


Grilled Vegetables

1 large eggplant

1 teaspoon salt, extra for sprinkling

1 large yellow onion

2 zucchini or yellow squash

2 red or green bell peppers

8-10 large fresh mushrooms, brushed clean

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 gloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup fresh basil or parsley, chopped

Trim the eggplant and then cut crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Place in a colander and salt liberally to draw out the moisture. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Prepare the remaining vegetables as follows: Cut the onion into slices 1/2 inch thick. Halve the squashes lengthwise. Cut the bell peppers into rings 1 inch thick, removing the seeds and ribs. Trim the stem ends of the mushrooms. Arrange the vegetables on a grill screen and grill, turning two or three times and brushing them with 1/2 cup of the olive oil, until tender-crisp when pierced, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the grill and let cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, stir or whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, the tomato, vinegar, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper and the basil or parsley. Add the vegetables to the tomato mixture and toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature.


Five-Fruit Salsa

2 cups cantaloupe, finely chopped

6 green onions, finely chopped

3 kiwifruit, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium sweet yellow pepper, finely chopped

1 medium sweet red pepper, finely chopped

1 8-ounce can crushed unsweetened pineapple, drained

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup strawberries, finely chopped

In a bowl, combine all the ingredient except the strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Drain if desired. Just before serving, stir in strawberries.

Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

10 8-inch flour tortillas

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Brush tortillas with butter, cut into eight wedges. Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the tortillas. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes or until crisp. Serve with fruit salsa.


Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad

Garlic Croutons:

1 thin baguette

1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter

1/2 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Stir in the crushed garlic. Fry the bread slices, a few at a time, until golden. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.


1 romaine lettuce, tough outer leaves discarded

1 large smoked chicken

1 1/2 cups Parmesan shavings

Separate the lettuce leaves, wash and dry throughly. Tear the larger leaves into bite-sized pieces and refrigerate until well chilled. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Refrigerate while preparing the dressing. In a large bowl, combine the torn lettuce leaves, chicken, about half of the croutons and half the Parmesan. Add the dressing and toss well. Arrange 2-3 whole lettuce leaves into each individual serving bowl, spoon in the salad and sprinkle with remaining croutons and Parmesan. Season liberally with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.


2 eggs

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons lemon

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 ounces anchovy fillets, drained

1 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Blend or process the eggs, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and anchovies. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil in a thin stream and process until thick. Season with salt and pepper.


Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.