My Grits, but please don’t kiss them

The other day at work, a couple of us started talking about grits. I was left out of the convo, because all I had to say was, “I’ve never had grits.” And, “what is a grit anyway?” The others began to tell me what I was missing out on, how they fixed theirs, and how often they ate them. Granted, I was curious.

That afternoon around 4:15 (my optimal binge eating time), which just so happened to be the day before Valentine’s day, I just so happened to be at The Walmarts getting all the things that I just so happened to have procrastinated buying earlier. Mom stuff. Party stuff.  Valentine’s stuff. Stuff like: party refreshments for EK’s Valentine party, Valentine cards for EK’s party, crafts for making EK’s Valentine box, candy for EK, candy for J-Dub, a card for J-Dub, and all the other things.  Do you see a pattern here?

A few things to note:
1) The Walmarts has recently been rearranged completely. So trying to find anything is enough to drive a sane person stark-raving, run-down-the-street-naked, pull-your-hair-out, crazy. Can I get an Amen?
2) The Walmarts before Valentine’s Day is probably second in crazy only to Black Friday shopping, especially the candy and card aisle; both of which I had to maneuver.
3) 4:15 is when I am really hungry . On the verge of Hangry. You’ve been warned.
4) I should never go to The Walmarts at 4:15 (during my optimal binge eating time) the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s a dumb idea. Neither should you.

You probably know where this is going. I’m at The Walmarts at 4:15 the Day before Valentine’s Day and I’m pulling everything off the shelf whether I need it or not, because this is basically a high stress time and I need to get the holy crap out of there with my life. I tried to remain calm; going within, thinking happy thoughts, humming. Instead of calming me down, I was only annoying myself more. The only thing that was going to make this better was buying food items I never buy because it’s 4:15 at The Walmarts on the Day before Valentine’s Day, and eating is my Xanax.

Loading my basket with red yarn, googly eyes, Kool Aid Jammers, Cap’n’Crunch, Chex Mix, Pink and Red cookies, and you guessed it… Instant Grits, I arrived home fully intact but a bit disheveled. J-Dub remarked about my interesting choice of foods I’d purchased. Well yes, it’s 4:15 at The Walmarts the Day before Valentine’s Day. Need I say more?

Today I prepared some grits. I understand that instant grits isn’t going to measure up to (whatever the opposite of instant is)…..slow grits? But I’m an amateur. I have to begin somewhere, and “instant” is usually where I like to begin. I read the directions, prepared them like instant oatmeal, and tried a taste.  I got the cheese grits, so I thought they would have a nice taste, not really needed any extra, but I can only imagine what the un-cheese grits taste like. I added salt, that didn’t help. I added milk, that kind of helped. I added sugar, that really helped. Still, I don’t think I’m a fan.

Truthfully, I’m lost about grits. I don’t  know whether Grits are a breakfast food or a supper food. I don’t even really know how a grit is different from corn meal. And I really don’t know what the term “kiss my grits” means for sure. Anyone remember Alice? Flo? Any help would be appreciated. If you’ve got the answers, I need them.

From this experience, here are my take-aways . Besides learning when not to go to The Walmarts—(4:15 on the Day before Valentine’s Day; if you’ve not been paying attention), I also learned the best way to fix grits:

 

 

******* Throw them out, and pour a bowl of Cap’n Crunch********

 

 

 

 

Sara Lee, my first love

I just so happen to be one of the unfortunate souls who’ve been cursed with a sweet tooth.  Mine doesn’t hide in the back with the molars, but actually lives up front and center and it makes sure that it gets noticed when a hankering comes along, which is just about every day around four o’clock.  And sometimes at 2:00, and it’s been known to complain at 8:30 in the morning and then give me fits about every 2 hours afterwards.

I’ve kicked the sugar habit in the past before and really, I’ll agree, that the first 2 or 3 days are the worst but if you can make it past that, it does get easier.  I need to kick the sugar habit again, but it is hard when Sebastian the Sweet Tooth bellows and moans and groans like he does.  He’s like a spoiled child in the grocery store kicking and squalling until you give in on the candy aisle.  He needs quieting and that comes in the form of any sort of sweet in the house.  I happen to be married to a fellow sweet tooth harborer, and you can bet there’s usually a cookie or a brownie, a cake or a scone lying around to curb the fit.  When I’m in dire straits to hush Sebastian the Sweet Tooth, I pop open the Semi-sweet chocolate chips and have a small handful.  Sometimes two.  And sometimes with a spoon of peanut butter.

But the worst temptation of all for Sebastian the Sweet Tooth is Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake.  It’s actually not allowed in the house unless there’s a special occasion or a weak moment, usually the latter.   It doesn’t last; the pound cake not the weak moment.  And I mean it won’t last 2 days.  Even if it’s the family size all butter pound cake.  Family Size means just enough for me and Sebastian.  I like it cold, not frozen or room temperature and I find myself with a butter knife in hand, eating it by the slice repetitively.  My sweet husband will buy it for me every now and then as a profession of his love because obviously he doesn’t mind loving a curvy woman.  He knows the way to my heart.

This past week J-Dub went grocery shopping.  Unpacking the white plastic sacks, he reached his hand in one and with a coy little smile he said, “I got you something.”  I was hoping I was right when I guessed.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake.   I waited until the next morning around 8:30 when Sebastian the Sweet Tooth awoke grouchily.  I noticed on opening the package that the lid stuck to the cake more than usual and pulled off quite a bit of the top layer.   I sat down with my cup of coffee, because there aint much better than coffee and cake wouldn’t you agree, I sliced the end piece, took a bite, and made a dreadful face.

It was awful!  So I took another bite.  I had to.  Perhaps my taste buds had gone awry over night.  It was sticky, and instead of a firm texture it had more of an angel food cake texture, sort of spongy, and a terribly salty aftertaste.  Well, I finished the piece, thinking surely it was just me, but I didn’t enjoy it.

So at lunch, Sebastian the Sweet Tooth and I attempted another piece since that crusty end piece really is never all that good.  But we got the same results.  Awful.  I checked the date on the package and it had like a year left, you know all those preservatives.  Upon further inspection, I noticed something I had never noticed, and you can bet I had looked at the cover of that pound cake plenty in my time.  But right there it said “now more moist”.  What?????  That could only mean one thing.  My taste buds are fine and dandy and instead the recipe to my beloved All Butter pound cake had been altered.

Now I’ve been upset before in my life.  When I get upset, the first thing I want to do is react in some way that is unbecoming to myself with screams and stomps and plenty of embarrassment and regret following.  So more often than not, I allow logic to win and I start talking to that street fighter in my head.  I talk him out of any reactions that are bubbling in my belly, expanding with force and trying to push themselves to the top of my throat and out of my mouth.

But this?  This was too much.  They’d gone and messed up my Sara Lee Pound cake.  I couldn’t just let it go.

So I emailed them and asked them if they had indeed changed the recipe and kindly told them that I prefer the old cake better and to please change it back.  I received an email from them in about 24 hours, explaining that yes they did change the “formula” because people complained about it being to dry, but they received an overwhelming amount of new complaints with the new “formula” and were returning to the original.  My heart leapt.

Today I received a coupon from Sara Lee for a free product up to $6.99 in value.  That amount  will more than cover a family size *ORIGINAL* pound cake for sure.

Sara Lee,  Sebastian and I thank you!!!!

 

Gobble, Gobble, Wobble

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Yes, I know the song refers to the Christmas season, but I disagree.  I believe the Thanksgiving season is the most wonderful time.  It is my favorite by far. 

This thanksgiving, 2011, I am blessed beyond my wildest comprehension.  There has been loss.

And there has been gain. 

 

 How much things can change in one year.  
This time last year, I saw my dad alive for the last time.  We sat on the steps of my old house on a beautiful Autumn day as birds honked above overhead.  I mistakenly called them geese.  He was quick to inform me they were sandhill cranes.  He always loved the birds. 

We took a drive around the old Celanese plant  where he spent some time working years ago, and although we didn’t say much of anything, I’m sure he was venturing down his own memory lane, just as I am now.   Days gone by.  Out of reach.

I snapped this last picture of him and my sister lying in the floor, right before we watched Four Christmases together.  He forgot that blue handkerchief when he left.  It’s now washed and folded and put away in a box of things, along with a pair of glasses left forgotten.  He passed away the following February, and I have missed him everyday since. 

But we shall meet again, and there will be rejoicing.

This time next year, we will have a 10 month old little girl crawling around, possibly beginning to pull up, yanking all the popcorn and cranberries strands from the Christmas tree.  She will have brown hair and brown eyes and little dimples on her knees.  We will play peek-a-boo and patty cake, feed her pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream, and smother her in kisses. 

And I’ll be tired, but it will all be worth it.

Things change.  There’s no doubt I’ve changed. 
And thank God for that.

Robert Frost said he could sum life up in three words.  “It goes on.”

And thank God for that too.

I hope you take a moment to be thankful today and everyday.  We are so blessed. 
Praise God.

Cherish Loved Ones.

Be happy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
Angel

In Memory of My Dad #33—Armadillo

No matter how many times I leave Tahlequah, I’m always ready to return to the old hometown—but first, I had a commitment to some friends in another town to take care of before my departure for home. I had already said goodbye to my two daughters, and after a rousing night in Donny Duree’s bar, I said adios to the Golden Spread and headed southward toward where my friends live.

3:00 a.m. is what the digital read out on the clock beside my bed said in bright bold numbers—the drinkers hour.  Drinkers all over America were coming awake at this hour, staring at the shadows as they prepared to do one more dance with the demons.  I was no different as I went into the bathroom, washed quietly, then went into the kitchen to prepare a huge pot of coffee prior to leaving.

The morning breeze was cool on my face on that morning drive south.  The eastern sky was turning a pale salmon pink, when all the coffee that I’d drank teamed with the beer from the night before and told me it was time to stop and check the atmospheric pressure–I lifted my foot from the accelerator and let the pickup coast to a stop beside a wild plum thicket.

I was standing there admiring the sunrise when an uncommonly amount of noise came invisibly through the shinnery.  Whatever it was I felt vulnerable standing there dressed in nothing but a pair of cutoff wranglers with a twosome of ratty flip-flops on my feet.

Squinting into the semi-darkness and trying to walk backward and keep the loose shower shows on my feet and fumbling with my zipper, I sat right down in a patch of sandburrs.  Sandburrrs are God’s bane to the barefoot traveler.  They pierce the skin so easily and once they’re in the flesh they curl into unforgiving hooks that bring grown men to tears when they’re being removed.

I was glad for the darkness as I removed my shorts and tried to get the miniature hooks from my hands, feet and posterior.  I was working diligently on my hands and feet, when something that resembled a basketball tumbled down the embankment and started making its way toward my pickup.

“Hey Bob, that’s an armadillo.”  I said.  I had seen plenty of the little creatures dead alongside the highways, but in my short lifespan this was my first encounter with a live one.  The creature moved like a live steel helmet snuffling and poking its small nose into every nook and cranny until at the last instant my scent must have wafted gently on the morning breeze and the little armored one veered off and unhurriedly made its way down the bar ditch.

I stopped at a roadside park and hour or so later and who should pull up but a member of the Fish and Wildlife Division.  so I thought why not do a little impromptu research on the little critters. 

I found out that the armadillo was named by the conquistadors as they made their way through Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  But most Texans today simply refer to them as diggers because of their penchant for digging for larvae and grubs.  My Dad used to call ’em ‘borers” and swore that they fed on the newly buried.  I never knew he was talking about armadillos though.  I’m certain that  armadillos looked for grubs or what have you in freshly dug graves, but going down 6 feet and through a couple containers for your dinner seems a little far-fetched and the game ranger assured me that it was.  There goes another old wives tale out the window.

The game ranger, while admitting that he was no expert on the subject of ‘dillas, said that it would be fitting if they did feast on the dead because poor whites cooked the ‘dillas with a mess of greens and cornbread where during the Depression they became known as “Hoover Hogs” or “Texas Turkeys’ and graced many holiday tables.  Even today, some poor blacks still  barbecue the soft meat of the ‘dilla and consider it a delicacy.

Ancient Mayans refused to eat the armadillo because they believed that common vulture did not die but metamorphosed itself into an armadillo.  Smart people, the Mayans.

But the young ranger assured me things were going better for our Cenozoic cousins now.  Texas law protects the hardy reptile from the exploitation of commercial hunters and that means it would be harder to find a lampshade or a purse made from the skin of one of the tiny varmints.  The main concern of the armadillo today is to keep from getting its remains pressed into the asphalt by passing cars as they amble myopically down life’s highways.

It was coming onto noon by now and I just passed the outskirts of Quanah, Texas when I thought that I’d stop for a quick bite to eat.  Quanah is named for the great Comanche war chief Quannah Parker, born of mixed parentage.  Parker, a self-styled hellion, made things tough for the Texas Rangers just before the turn of the century.  His name means “fragrant flower” in Comanche and was said to be the cause of many-a-fight with Quanah’s boyhood pals.  But writing about him would take up a whole column, so we’ll let that slide for now. 

The Dairy Queens and the drive-in parking lots were filled with cars and pickups and the few promising looking steakhouse lots were filled also, so I opted for one of those plastic, laminated looking places called the Brewbaus or Der Schnitzel Palace or something like that.  I knew I was in trouble when the menu read “order by number please”.  I ordered number whazzit and received a grey-colored wiener covered with sauerkraut and a mixture of slurry that was supposed to be German potato salad.  The wiener squeaked like I was chewing on rubberbands and the potato salad had the consistency of and tasted like wallpaper paste.

I sat there chewing this untasteable mess and found myself wishing  I had a hunk of that barbecued Hoover Hog and a good mess of turnip greens.

~ Written by Bob Briggs
1943-2011

Why I Blog

I began blogging in November 2008 for reasons unexplainable.  It first began as a place to journal my unprivate thoughts and to catalogue my days.

I blogged six days in November of 2008 and then didn’t blog again until January of 2009.  After that it was hit and miss for a season or two. 

It’s hard to blog and I believe anyone who has attempted to be consistent with a blog can attest to that fact.  Some days you succumb to the evil angel at your shoulder who tempts you with napping and sitcom watching instead of writing.  Heaven knows I do.  Succumb is my middle name.

My blog has evolved from short little paragraphs of how I spent my day to longer narratives of jibberish.  These days, I feel more free to write my innermost feelings.  I have a pretty good idea of who my audience is.  And I can take chances a bit more.  Blogging is a type of medium for me.  Somedays it’s therapy when I feel my life is sucking.  It’s a way of remembering stories that have happened to me and to others.  It’s a way to express my feelings and my opinions.  And I’d like to think  it’s a form of entertainment or at least brings a smile to someone once in a blue moon.

One of the best parts of blogging, however, is getting to know my readers better.  Especially the ones I’ve never met.  Take Lenore for example.  Lenore is a blogging buddy who blogs over at http://lenorediane.com

She’s got two adorable sons, a devoted husband, and is an excellent writer.  But the main thing about Lenore is she hearts Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.  Especially Phish Food.

Now me and ice cream don’t have a love affair so much.  I’m more of a Sara Lee pound cake kind of kid.  I have never to my recollection sampled any flavor of Ben & Jerry’s.  So when I read about Lenore loving on her Ben & Jerry’s, I decided to try some.  On a scale of one to 10, I found the flavor I chose to be about a 7.  I commented on her post and told her about my experience and that I’d have to try another flavor before I completely knocked the whole B & J experience.

And then, lo and behold, I received a card from my friend Lenore with a coupon for a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream included along with a sweet note.  It made my day. 

So go over to http://lenorediane.com/2011/07/01/the-lovin-spoonfuls/ and read about her obsession with Phish Food and show her some love on my behalf.

And tell me, what flavor should I purchase with my free coupon?

 

Potato Leek Pizza

Three seconds after I had filled my belly with the morning’s eggs and toast, wiped my mouth and pushed my plate away, my husband inquires, “What do you want for supper?”  I find this the worst possible time to ask someone what they want for supper, because the obvious answer is something along the lines of: who cares about supper, I just ate breakfast, how can you possibly be thinking about food at a time like this?  But he is thinking about food, because my husband is all about the groceries.  He walked into the kitchen, opened the freezer and began rattling off possibilities:  beef fajitas, chicken, tenderloin, or pizza.  I chose pizza. 

Tonight was pizza night at the J&A Chicken Ranch.  But it ain’t your ordinary pizza.  We forewent greasy pepperoni slathered in tomato sauce and instead made a dreamy homemade pizza.   It’s a recipe for Potato Leek Pizza from the Pioneer Woman.

I know what you’re thinking.  Potatoes? On a pizza? 

Listen folks, don’t knock it till you try it. 

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

The recipe is in her cookbook, which is really worth buying, but the recipe is also plastered all over the internet.  Having this silly, nilly blog, I do consider copyright laws on occasion.  Also I’ve never broken a law in my life, especially copyright laws.  Being a teacher, you must know I would never, ever copy something wrongfully.  Not a lesson.  Not a test.  Not a book.  Not my bottom on the Xerox machine.  Never.  

Plus, I would hate for Ree Drummond to sue me for my chickens and oyster shell, therefore I am choosing not to post her recipe.     But bend an ear to me.  Closer.  A little closer. 

me whispering in your ear:   If you really want it, just google it.

It’s a magical combination of

crust

bacon

leeks (white parts only)

red potatoes

fresh mozzarella, parmesan, and goat cheese

There’s probably a special section in heaven where angels sing Odes to cheese.

You layer it all together,

 stick it in the oven,

 

and *presto* instant happiness.

We don’t make our own crust.  We’re just not that talented around here.  But I’m sure with a homemade pizza crust, it would be absolutely out of this world. If you’re ever in the mood for interesting flavors and something completely different from your average run of the mill pizza, then you should try this.

Then after your belly is good and stuffed, carry  the green tops from the leeks and leftover potatoes outside.  Throw a little  in the compost pile, and the rest to the chickens. 

They deserve it.

A Marble Cake

She’s 12 today.

A beautiful joy.  Even with a wad of orange gum in her mouth.

She asked if she could have a marble cake.  Sure, you can.  And then she looked at her grandmother, and in her best 12-year-old, you’ve-got-to-be-kiddin-me, pre-teen, on-the-verge-of-knowing-everything voice, she said “You know that’s a KIND of a cake, not a cake with real marbles.”  She may have even rolled her eyes.  

Oh my.

As if my mother, her grandmother, has managed to live 60 some-odd years and not know what a marble cake is. 

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, Hey teenager! Tired of your parents?  Move out, get a job, and pay your own way while you still know everything.

Last night I baked a birthday cake for my niece.  It was one of those beautiful double layer chocolate cakes.  I wish I had a picture to show you, except it was an awful mess lying out in the pasture where I chunked it.  First of all, when I flipped the cake pans over, half the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan leaving lopsided, gouged out layers.  Not the total end of the world, I thought.  Maybe I could level it out and still make it look nice.  Icing it was another problem as crumbs mingled with icing causing a gloppy mess.  Finally to top it off, I picked up a big bite-size chunk of cake and popped it in my mouth.  It may look bad, but at least it tasted good.  Wrong.  I was talking on the phone when I was mixing the batter and, well, I must’ve been a bit side-tracked and doubled or maybe quadrupled the salt.  Salty cake just ain’t all that tasty, let me tell you.

After rinsing my mouth out under the faucet, I picked up the glass cake  stand by the pedestal, carried it out to the pasture, reached back, and slung the cake off the pedestal as far as I could.  I’m sure a coyote had a nice treat last night.  And probably a belly ache.  Today I imagine he’s suffering from hypertension due to an elevated sodium intake.

My husband, who hangs his Superman cap in the closet each night, cooked ribeye steaks, risotto, asparagus, and spinach strawberry salad for my niece’s birthday dinner tonight.

Oh yeah, and he stayed up until 1:30 IN THE MORNING baking  her a lovely cake.

One that came out of the pans beautifully,

Iced wonderfully, and

Tasted divinely.

The best  marble cake I’ve ever had.

Happy Birthday Ashy!

Dig This

A proverb from me:  A sunny day makes the heart happy.

The temperatures climbed today and gave everyone around here a bad case of spring fever.   And then to make matters worse,  a Gurney’s Seed Catalog arrived in my mailbox.

Oh the joys of gardening!  I would love to reap the rich rewards of a well planned garden.  But alas, the word “plan” is not really in my vocabulary.

I’ve never been a planner.  I wasn’t taught to be, and it’s a good thing because it just doesn’t suit me.   I would rather meet each day as it comes.  Head-on.  I don’t lay out my clothes the night before, nor do I pack my lunch.  I’d rather be in a frenzy every morning.  Obviously. 

I rarely think about what’s for supper until my stomach growls and then I realize I have no meat thawed.   Good thing I love cereal.  If only my husband would learn to love it half as much.

The occasions I have planned,  have usually gone okay, but I’ll tell you what.  When those plans get a kink in them, I don’t bend easily, which is why it’s best for me to not plan at all.

With one exception.  The one area of my life that I am forced to plan is my job.  And let me tell you, it was a lesson learned the hard way.  Teaching a classroom full of kids typically means if you don’t have every single second of their day filled, they’ll find something to fill them with.  Which usually isn’t good.  So I am diligent about planning my school day.  I have to be, I learned early that it saves me from heartache,  high blood pressure, and murder.  Nevertheless, it was a hard habit for me to attain.

And then there’s the garden.  You can’t really have a garden if you don’t plan for it.  One year I attempted to grow pumpkins without planning.  Or watering.  And that just doesn’t really turn out well.  I don’t advise it.

This year I’ve decided to be a planner in the garden.  I’m playing offense instead of defense.  I’m being proactive rather than reactive.  I will have pumpkins in October not December. My summer will be filled with the earth’s bounty.

I am experimenting with a gardening technique I read about called a No Dig Garden.   Basically it is gardening on top of the ground, layering your soil with organic materials that compost and feed your soil and you don’t have to dig.  It doesn’t matter what kind of condition your soil is in either.

It’s kind of like seven layer dip: the beans, the sour cream, the salsa, the guacamole, the lettuce, next the tomatoes, the cheese, and if you must eat those nasty little black olives, go ahead.

I did a little studying up on the No Dig Garden Technique, filed it away in a filing cabinet in my brain under G for gardens, and went about my business. 

Well on Sunday I was piddling around out at The Place while Jason worked inside our little trailer house and I decided I’d just go ahead and get started on my garden.  No time like the present right?  So I chose my garden spot, then I began the layering process. 

This is the recommended layers:

  • Start with newspaper or cardboard
  • Then a little alfalfa
  • Add a little nice manure (chicken, horse, cow, whatever you’ve got on hand) or Commercial Fertilizer
  • Straw
  • More fertilizer
  • Compost

Next you water it well, and you can begin planting seedlings for an instant garden.

This sounds wonderful right?  So I began laying down leftover cardboard from a gajillion boxes of laminate flooring we purchased.  The next layer is manure, so  I got a bucket and a shovel and walked out to the pasture to find some.  I soon found out, a bucket of crap doesn’t go very far on a garden plot.  After about 3 buckets full of grunt (my grannie’s word for dookie), I was about 1/5 of the way completed, and I happened upon my husband, who eyeballs my project and calmly quips, “You’ll never finish that before sundown.”

I gaze off into the west at the hot ball of gas nearing the horizon.  Sundown?  Oh yeah.  That’s when it gets dark.  I can’t build a garden in the dark can I?  Hmmm, just another example of my inability to plan.  Nice thinking, beginning a lengthy project at 5:00 in the evening.

Since my daylight was short, I then decided to use two buckets instead of one and walk faster.  Back to the pasture, shoveling my poo, carrying two buckets to the garden, dumping them on the cardboard, doing the  fast walk back to the pasture, shoveling my poo, carrying two buckets to the garden, dumping them on the cardboard, doing the  fast walk back to the pasture, shoveling my poo, carrying two buckets to the garden, dumping them on the cardboard. 

Never. Ending.

Needless to say, I was never happier to see the sun go down.   I found some bricks to lay on the cardboard so the wind wouldn’t carry them away, and then I high tailed it to the bed. 

I don’t know when I “plan” to return to my No Dig Garden.  Or if I “plan” to at all.

A roto-tiller is sounding pretty good right now.

Goulash, Grandparents, and Regret

Last night I attempted cooking, which in and of itself is a feat.  I can honestly say, of the things I have been complimented, cooking is not one of them.  There are people who are renowned simply for being a good cook.  If their name comes up in conversation, people’s eyes roll back in their heads as they utter the words, “oh, she’s a good cook, Have you ever tried her carrot cake, she can make the best homemade rolls I’ve ever tasted.”  Etcetera, etcetera. Blah, blah.

Not me.  Okay.  It’s not something I’ve ever learned to do or really enjoyed doing.

Last night, my little drummer boy husband grabbed his drumsticks and headed out to play a  gig, so it was just me and my niece Ashlynn at home. 

I wanted goulash.  J-Dub doesn’t like goulash, but I love it.  Mind you, I’ve only ever had one person’s goulash in my entire life, and that was my grandmother’s.  If she ever used recipes for cooking, I haven’t the foggiest as to where to locate those.  So when I searched the internet for recipes similar to her goulash, I was met with an assortment of crap.  Crap, I tell you. 

Obviously, goulash is a Hungarian dish, not a southern poor man’s dish as I always thought.  The  recipes called for ingredients that I’m sure my Grannie never had in her pantry at any time, like Rotel for instance.

So I text my sister, and she immediately texts back with a bunch of rigmarole ingredients for so-called “Grannie’s Goulash”. 

I had an idea that she was crazy.  Mustard really?  So I called my Aunt Bert (my Grannie’s daughter).  She thought it was a little this, and a little that, and maybe some of this. 

Well that seemed closer, but it just wasn’t good enough for me.  I need a recipe!!!  I need to know how much of this and that. I operate in teaspoons and tablespoons, people.

I returned to the internet, and googled Southern goulash.  Recipes popped up with okra in them.   Who in the world puts okra in their goulash???? Huh?  Huh?  Just answer me that.   Next I googled Old-fashioned goulash.    Marjoram and tomato soup?  Puh-lease!!! 

Then when my frustrations were at an all time high, and my stomach was growling, I got the crazy notion to google my grandmother’s name and goulash.  Just hoping maybe, just maybe, someone had published a long-lost recipe of her goulash. 

And to my surprise, that brought up absolutely nothing. 

Except it led me to an ancestry site. 

So my search for goulash took an unexpected turn to ancestry on my mother’s side.    And I’m fascinated.  I’ve never given much thought to my ancestors, but now that I’m getting older, my brain is changing, along with my priorities, and I’m understanding  the impact of my lineage. 

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of “old” family.  There are people my same age, who grew up with a great-grandmother, a great-great grandmother even, but not me.  I’ve only ever had grandmothers.  My great grandparents died before I came into this world, and I never even knew a grandfather.  Sad huh?  I guess my people died young, or procreated old, and too many years are in-between.

I’ve heard my Grannie talk about her parents, but I’d forgotten their names until last night when they started showing up on my computer screen.  Suddenly they became real people, with dreams, and love for one another, and hopes, and journeys, and trials. 

Just like me. 

Now I wish when I sat in the TV room with my Grannie,  while she rattled on with stories I’d heard before, about people who were cold in the ground, with events that were unimportant to my teenage ears, that instead of slumping over in my chair and wishing she’d stop droning on, that I’d had a cell phone with voice recorder, a video recorder,  a tape recorder, shoot even a pencil and pad and would have written down her stories.  But of course, I never thought they’d matter to me. 

How foolish we are in our youth.

Since I’ve begun blogging, I’ve been forced to dip into my memory banks.  Often I find them empty or half erased, and I must fill them in with how I believe it must have been.  Was I wearing tennis shoes in that blizzard, or were they high heeled show girl boots like my dad remembers? 

I have stories to tell, people to remember, events to unfold.  Other people may not care about them, but I do.

“You and your husband might have looked out the same kitchen window for twenty years, your eyes might be as green as  your uncle Harry’s, but twenty bucks says you don’t see the world as they do.  Start writing to save your life.  Stories only happen to those who can tell them.”—-Lou Willett Stanek

 

START WRITING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.  STORIES ONLY HAPPEN TO THOSE WHO CAN TELL THEM. 

And then others must remember them, and in turn, tell them.

My great -grandfather Eugene “Gene” Ira married my great-grandmother Emma Olive (oh my gosh I love that name) and had 2 daughters, Mary and Imogene, my grandmother. 

I want to talk to those people.  I want to talk to them real bad.  I imagine their black and white faces, their frumpy clothes, their aprons, their weathered hands.  They were tough.  They had to be. I want to hear their stories, and share their stories.  It’s like instantly, I realize I am on this earth, in part because of these people. 

They are MY people.  

My great-grandparents:

Eugene “Gene”  Ira: Aug 22, 1883-Jan 15, 1966  Age. 81

Emma Olive:  Dec 7, 1879- Aug 7, 1911 Age 32

My grandmother Imogene, whose name came from her dad Gene and her mom Emma loved me, cherished me, delighted in me and made the best goulash of which I can not recreate.

And me?

I’ve forgotten her stories.

 Stories only happen to those who can tell them.

Making Snow Ice Cream

 

Put on your snowboots

with your sexiest bathrobe.  Make a fashion statement.

Take an empty bowl and a scooper of some sort, high step through the snow drifts and brave the bitter winds to gather up clean snow.

I find it necessary to scrape off the first layer, as you might find some specks from a tree, or blowing dirt, or your husband’s truck tires.  Or whatever.

Feel your fingers grow numb and nostrils sticking together as your snot freezes.

Get your butt in the house, shivering, rubbing your hands together, repeatedly saying “it’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold.”

Stick your bowl of snow in the freezer until you’re ready for it.

In a separate bowl, pour a cup of milk.

A half cup of sugar,

and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Whoa.  Holy Canolli.  Are my hands really that wrinkled?

Mix that together until the sugar is dissolved. 

Then begin adding the snow.  Mix the snow and milk/sugar mixture until it is a desired consistency.  If you see little specks of black, just pick them out.  It’s probably just a little dirt.  You’ve eaten worse at the Chinese buffet, unbeknownst.  Trust me.

Now taste your ice cream.

At first ours was waaayyyyyy too sweet, so we added some more snow, then it was waaaaayyyyy too dry, so we added some more milk.

You’ll have to play around a little bit to receive a nice consistency and flavor.

Once you have it to your liking, add some syrup and cherries.

That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh I like it.

Then drink it up, ’cause it’s practically melted by now.

Enjoy your sugar high until you crash.

Then repeat.