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********

 

 

 

 

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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!