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Archive for July, 2011

I grew up in a household where food was plentiful and tasty.  Chicken was almost always fried, potatoes were served with gravy and I had to beg my mom to buy me rice-a-roni.  She couldn’t figure out why in the world I would want to eat that packaged junk.  When I became an adult and started cooking for myself I had a lot of food related realizations.  I’ll share some with you today.

Chicken doesn’t have to be tough as leather in order for it to be safe to eat.   My mother had a fear of salmonella or something.  I remember her putting chicken in the frying pan and leaving it there for a REALLY long time.  When we sat down to eat it, we would wear our jaws out chewing it up.  I don’t remember it tasting bad at all, it was good.  It was just so TOUGH.  You can be sure it was cooked thru, though.   The first few times I made chicken for myself I was shocked at how little time the recipes would say to cook it.  Shockingly, it was always done and even moist and tender!

Baking is not that difficult of an undertaking.  In our house, almost everything was home-made.  The exceptions were most baked goods and bread. (especially cakes, some cookies and pie crusts)  The closest to home-made bread my mom got was using the refrigerated bread dough rolls.  For some reason, my mom just did not have the patience or desire to try whipping up a yeast dough.  Honestly, I don’t even know if she ever attempted it.  In the past year I have made several yeast dough projects and they have always turned out at least decent.   As far as baked goods go, she always bought the mixes for cakes and cookies, too.  I’ve come to really not like boxed cake mixes.  I don’t like the chemically taste.  As far as cookies go, I LOVE to make home-made chocolate chip cookies and find that even the cookie logs you can buy are gross to me now.

There is such a thing as “too sweet.”  My mom’s claim to fame was her sweet tooth.  This woman would start the day with a Diet Coke and Hostess Snow Balls.  No joke.  I don’t think she put salt in anything.  She would double the amount of sugar in recipes!  I found this out by helping her make a pie one time.  That explained why her pies never set up properly.   I’m not saying that I don’t have an affinity for sweets because I will be the first to stuff a Twinkie in my face but I have learned that good flavors are all about balance.  I don’t like cheesecake unless it’s served with a side of tart cherry topping.  Sweet is good, but sweet and salty or sweet and tart is tens times better.

Not everyone is raised in a household where the food is delicious and home-made.  I vividly remember my mom saying “most people don’t know what good food is.”  I found that to be a cryptic statement.  Good food is good food, right?  I get it now.  Now, that I have been around different families, co-workers and friends. It’s all relative.   It seems that some folks are totally happy with the orange mac and cheese and cookies made from a log.  I know a lot of it is how we are raised.  If orange mac and cheese is what your mom made you when you were sick, then that will be your comfort food when you are in your twenties and thirties.  I feel so very lucky that I know the taste of home-made sausage gravy and pudding made the old-fashioned way with eggs and flour.

What food epiphanies have you had in your life?

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1.  Snow Cones –  This summer we have totally rediscovered snow cones.  They are cheap, light and refreshing.  My favorite flavor so far this summer is orange creamsicle.  Orange and vanilla heaven. Yum.

2. The sound of locusts – Nothing says summer to me like the hum of locusts on a hot afternoon.  It makes me think of laying out in the backyard and swimming in friends pools.  That sound is so calming to me.  LOVE IT

3.  Horrible, guilty pleasure shows like Big Brother and Jersey Shore – a terrible, awesome time waster.

4.  Summer rain storms – We are having one of these as I type this.  The hot air has been replaced by not so hot air and moisture.  The smell of rain is delicious.

5.  Flip Flops – I have to admit that I am guilty of wearing flip-flops nearly year round.  When the temps start to go under the sixties I do put them away but I can be spotted wearing flops well into fall.

6.  Berries, watermelon, and summer squash – I am craving some fried summer squash.  Also, fried okra! Is there anything better? I still haven’t bought a watermelon this year but really need to.  There is nothing like a cold watermelon to cool you down and quench your thirst.

7.  Sleeping with my little, tiny plastic fan on –  The sound of it kind of lulls me to sleep at night.

8.  Early summer mornings – The temps are still bearable and the sun is not as blinding.

9.  Cute summer dresses – Perfect for wearing with flip-flops and so cool!  Great for when the thought of getting into heavy denim jeans makes you break out into a sweat!

10.  Homemade ice cream – My family hasn’t quite perfected the recipe and although the texture is off, the banana variety that I have grown up eating is still as yummy to me as it was when I was a kid.

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Last night, we were on our way to a dinner obligation when we got into a little fender bender. I don’t even think fender bender is the correct term.  It was more like a fender chipper/door smasher.  I’m not going to go into details, but I feel pretty strongly that it wasn’t our fault.  Unfortunately, the other party may disagree with me.  We’ll see what happens.

The first time I was ever in a car accident it definitely was not my fault.  I was idling in a long line of cars at a stop light.  All of a sudden there was a huge impact and my car slammed into the rear of the car in front of me.  That car crashed into the car in front of it and so on and so forth.  It ended up being a five car pile up caused by a teenager who didn’t stop and hit the car behind me.  Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.  I remember making it to work later in the day and being so upset.  It was so unfair! I was just sitting there minding my own business and then suddenly my car was damaged beyond repair. I was out time at work, my car was gone and I was totally innocent.

A few hours later I was thinking about the accident and something occurred to me.  What about all of the people whose loved ones are taken away from them in senseless, unfair crashes.  How must they feel?  Immediately, I had perspective.  Losing a car was nothing.  Yes, it was a hassle and a nuisance but I could deal with that.  A car could easily be replaced.

That first crash was about seven years ago.  Since then I have had some major life changes, and I try to always remind myself that life isn’t fair and doesn’t always go the way we think it should but sometimes I forget and have to be reminded.

Last night, the accident was all I could think about.  I felt wronged, damaged and unjustly punished.  We JUST bought the car a few months ago.  How could that happen? I blamed it on about twenty different people.   I went to sleep still feeling angry.

This morning the first thing I saw when I turned on the news was the story about the man who lost his life going for a baseball at a game.   How must his family feel? My heart broke for them and is still breaking for them.

I then thought about another friend of mine whose father is going thru and very serious cancer battle right at this moment.

The truth is, I should know better than to be upset about a stupid car.

Just three years ago, it was my family who was watching as my late mother battled the disease.  Talk about perspective.  I can remember at the time being so mad at co-workers and friends who would complain about things that seemed so pointless to me.  Work problems, money problems,minor  health issues and of course, PETTY LITTLE CAR CRASHES.

It’s amazing how soon after having seen actual tragedy and loss, we become immune and callous to others who are going thru the same thing.  I know it’s happened to me.

My prayer is that I will always have perspective and that I will never forget what it feels like to have your heart truly broken by actual loss.  I don’t ever want to be unaffected by someone else’s suffering and I never want to be so self-absorbed that I think that losing something without eternal value matters.

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