It has been a crazy week for the Hendersons. One of my sons had been at home sick since last Thursday. He has asthma, and with the high ragweed count that we have experienced in Arkansas, he has been having a really hard time breathing. Unfortunately, the nebulizer has been his constant companion over the past 6 days A physician once explained it to me that it felt like trying to blow air through a straw into wet concrete. Yuck! But after 3 visits to the doctor, several shots, and lots of money at the pharmacy...he headed back to school today! Yipee! So along with being behind on everything (admittedly, that is pretty common with me--sick kids or not) I was finally able to get out and about and run a few errands today. Lucy (my minivan) and I were about to head out when I noticed a droopy-eared, incredibly pitiful looking dog staring at me longingly.... Our dog, Lucky, loves to go anywhere we go. In fact, he gets sad when he doesn't get to go... He knows when you are about to leave, no matter how nonchalantly you try to make it seem--he ALWAYS knows. Since it was errands that mainly involved drive-thru windows today, I said, "Oh alright. Come on." Oh, and boy does he desperately need a bath...but along with that weird smell that I can't seem to track down in the minivan, I didn't notice too much. :) It was bearable, and he had a big time! The nice ladies at the bank window always give him a treat, and when we pulled into that parking lot, his ears immediately perked up. Then he started doing that continuous staring thing he does until they sent him a dog biscuit through that magic dog biscuit delivery thingy. I bet he wishes he had one of those at home!
I think family recipes are a very important part of our generational history. For example, a recipe from your great-grandmother may give you insights into where she lived, what was grown in that area, or even a socioeconomic picture of the family at that time. I know there was a time in my grandmother's early childhood when cornbread and molasses was the breakfast staple. They grew sugar cane and lived close to a mill where corn was ground, and since if was during the depression era there was not enough money at times to buy additional items. So to honor this very important part of our history, I am adding a new section called "Just Like Grandma's." This will include recipes and methods that have been passed down to us from the generations of cooks that came before us. And to kick off this new section (that I think you are going to LOVE!) I am having the second PHARMCOOK GIVEAWAY! This prize is a recipe journal with lined pages featuring pharmcook photography on the front cover! Wow! I know you want it! :) It is a great way to jot down recipe ideas and old family recipes! So to enter this contest, all you need to do is sign up for my weekly updates on the sign up tab at the top of them page, fill out the form, and in the comments section let me know about a method or special trick you have learned from your mom, aunt, grandmother, or friend that has been passed down to you! For example, in my grandmother's sugar cookies, right before she puts them in the oven, she takes a bowl with a pretty design to press them with--and here is the little secret--she puts nutmeg in the sugar that she uses. That was a new trick for me! Got it? Sign up, and tell me about a special trick, old method, etc. in the comment section. Then you can win this! AND I will share several of these methods on this site so we can all learn a thing or two! If you have already signed up for the weekly newsletter, just fill out the form again, enter the contest, and leave a comment! I promise I won't send you two weekly updates! Thanks! Good luck!
My mom spent the night with us on Saturday night. We had a great visit, and the boys enjoyed being totally spoiled by their Nene. All went well until Sunday morning when my mom approached me and said, "Kelli, what I want us to accomplish today is getting you a meal plan for this following week. " Suddenly, the clouds outside darkened, thunder shook the house, and a bolt of lightning struck right outside the kitchen window. The room got all fuzzy looking, and my heart started beating about 200 beats per minute. This all seriously happened...you can ask my mom. :) And at this VERY MOMENT, my husband walked through the kitchen and chuckled..... THEN he grabbed the dog and said he needed to go to the gas station for a Red Bull. Hmmph. So much for loyalty. Anyway, it seems the last couple of times my mom has been down she has discovered a couple of items in my frig that might possibly have gone bad before I was able to transform them into a masterpiece. And apparently.....the straw that made her break my back.... was the fact that some hamburger meat, with which I had PLANNED on making Marvelous Mini Meatloaves, had in fact turned an interesting color. And the last time she was down maybe...just maybe.... she found some chicken in a similar state. Waste not want not, right? Well, that seems to be my mom's motto. I mean, I had great excuses. I had PLANNED to cook it, but it just didn't happen. Then she wanted to know why I had not just put it in the freezer? Hello, is there actually an answer for that. Duh, I forgot. It's amazing what kind of stuff you can learn about people. Like the fact that some people think that spoiled meat signals a need for an intervention. After 43 years of observation, I understood the seriousness of the situation because she had a notebook, pencil, and cookbook in her hand. Well, and wouldn't you know it, obviously right then something happened to the AC in the house, because I broke out into a sweat. So, of course, I excused myself to check the thermostat, but it seemed fine....and the front door looked inviting...but she was still watching me.... I tried to explain to her that meal planning makes me feel trapped, and that I need to feel free so my creative juices can flow, and how the rigidity of the confines of such a stifling process can destroy an artist.... She didn't buy it. So guess what I did yesterday. Oh yipee. So today I know what we are having for dinner for the next 4 nights.....sigh.....and I have the ingredients ready, and some of it is even already cooked...sigh, again.... And where is the joy? Gone is the spontaneous adrenaline rush when faced with 1 hour and only what is in the cabinet to come up with a supper idea. Gone is the thrill of running to the store this afternoon with the whole world of choices in front of me... Gone... So, today I have plenty of time to write this on my blog, and update my website, which I guess is her point. Hmph. Some people....
I was prowling around in my grandmother's cookbook drawer on Tuesday, and I found something that I feel I must share with you...just in case you are on the prowl for a man.... Interested? Or maybe you are happily married, and you just want to stoke up the fire a bit, well this may be the ticket for you! Who knew the answer to everyone's love life would be found in my grandma's drawers? Oh my...the kitchen drawers of course! She'll get me for that one! :)
This old Settlement Cookbook is apparently the "Way to a Man's Heart!" This is obviously not the first printing, but I did a bit of research and it was first published in 1901! Wow! There are a lot of goodies in this one, and I can't wait to explore my way through it! Apparently soft hands help get a man because Mrs. Kander included this little tip.... "Wash your hands with white (castile or IVORY) soap, if you wish to keep smooth hands, and wipe them dry." I would love to know if any of you own this little jewel of a cookbook....and if it helped you get a man! :)
Yes, she is showing me exactly how to cut the butter...and I am doing it EXACTLY like she is telling me to!
At least I come by it honestly! I am talking about following a recipe...or rather, not following a recipe. Yesterday I joined my grandmother to make her "Famous in our family" cookies. I have asked for this recipe before, and she has given it to me... In fact I have copied it down word for word several times, because I have a tendency to lose things...
Below is the original Polar Flour cookbook that is over 60 years old with the recipe "Grandmother's cookies" I have no doubt that it makes a good cookie...but it's not "Memaw's Cookies!" When I began to lay out ingredients, she immediately started with..."Oh, but I use this instead," and, "I add some of this," and "but I don't do it like that, I do it like this!" And, of course, I have no doubt that what my grandmother has come up with is MUCH better than the original! In fact, it has been great for 60 years! So, there! I have an excuse! It is obviously genetic!
I am very fortunate to spend some time each Monday morning with my 86 year old grandmother. I call it "Mondays with Memaw!" We usually just visit, but today we are making cookies together. I am very excited because we are making the cookies that she has been making for 60 years! Can you believe that? She started making these cookies for my dad when he was around 3 or 4 years old, and has made them ever since! I feel as though a great honor is being bestowed upon me! The original recipe is from a Polar Flour cookbook, but of course she doesn't follow the recipe. (See, it is genetic!) And I LOVE these cookies! I can't wait to share it all with you! Don't worry, I am going to take LOTS of pictures! :)
This past week I made my great-grandmother's pineapple upside down cake. Thankfully my mom still had the recipe! I have to admit I wasn't crazy about the cake part of it...so I added a little here and there, etc....and I am SO happy with the results. I think the cake is a bit lighter (and I didn't use 3 cups of sugar! Yikes!) and moister, but I also was able to preserve the integrity of the recipe. Of course, I still made it in an iron skillet! Check out the picture below! Ok, I am off now to make cookies! Yipee!!!
An unfortunate thing happened a few days ago in the food world. Anthony Bourdain (The Travel Channel's No Reservations) fell off a turnip truck. He must have hit his head pretty hard, because he made some really nasty comments about Paula Deen in an interview with TV Guide magazine. Here is what he said about Ms. Deen:
"The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f***ing bad for you. If I were on at seven at night and loved by millions of people at every age, I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us. Plus, her food sucks.
Well, this southern girl from Arkansas is really riled up about this! I have always been a fan of No Reservations, and I thought he was a pretty intelligent man. Obviously I was wrong because if he actually thinks that southern cooking is the reason we have an obese nation, he is a bit delusional. Maybe he could check out some statistics on fast food location versus average weight. And there are already statistics out showing the impact of westernized fast food when it is introduced in a foreign country. And I do know for a fact that Ms. Deen was not mentioned in those studies. Butter has been used for a lot longer time than our country has been fat! Another thing he doesn't understand, obviously, is balance--his earlier shows are a testament to that! The more indulgent southern foods aren't about every day! They are made with love during special occasions, Sunday dinners, family get-togethers, and etc. What he doesn't get is that this kind of cooking is about loving your family, pampering your guests, and carrying on traditions. It is obvious that Mr. Bourdain has no idea who or what he is messing with. I can assure you that any man that tries to take down a strong southern woman will understand very quickly that he better just back off...because it's about to hit the fan. Another thing that Mr. Bourdain (and may I add when I type Mr...my head is bobbing, and the pronunciation is elongated...) would do well to understand, is that we stick together---like molasses! In the words of my 86 year old grandmother...and she is still living...and using butter... well, "I just don't know what has gotten into that boy!" But we all know the real problem, don't we? He has just gotten a bit to big for his britches. It will all work out just fine, Ms. Paula Deen, and I hope you don't worry your pretty little head about it, you hear? Because it is apparent that "he just doesn't know any better...."
So in support of Ms. Deen, and all southern cooks across the nation, this morning I fried my toast. It's one of my favorite little indulgences (and Mr. Bourdain, this indulgence is legal!) and I encourage you to join me in this show of support for a way of life that has been passed down by the wonderful southern cooks that came before us, that loved us, supported us, and pampered us with this way of cooking!
And to think that I bought his book last week...hmm…I wonder if I can find the receipt…
Today I feel that it is important to address a problem that is experienced by at least 95% of mothers of school age children. (I totally made up that statistic, but I am sure it is correct!) It is called "First day of school" Syndrome. Symptoms of this aggravating condition include confusion and delusional thinking, exhaustion, and forehead wrinkles, just to name a few... If a mom around you has been affected by this disorder, you may notice overzealous to do lists, impossible scheduling habits--such as several Dr. or Dental appointments all on the same day, bags of organizing bins on kitchen counter, overstocked cleaning supplies, and multiple phone calls to social contacts that haven't been reached in 3 months. This is a serious problem because it can lead to frustration, guilt, severe exhaustion, and in rare cases occasional fits of rage have been reported. Apparently, the mom begins to believe that she will be able to accomplish all of the things she as wanted to do in the last five years on the first day of school. In her confused state, she is led to believe (by the voices in her head) that the first day will have no unplanned interruptions or unscheduled occurrences. In some severe cases, this disorder may continue through the first week of school, and possibly the first month, although most cases last about 72 hours. Chronic cases have not been studied due to the inability to get study participants because there is no room on their list. So, if anyone in your life is affected by this debilitating problem, seek help immediately. DO NOT APPROACH the affected mother, as situation may prove dangerous, but, nonchalantly, leave chocolate and an OPRAH magazine where it can be found. If the affected mom is not properly distracted by this method, an alcoholic beverage may be in order.... And whatever you do, do not contact a doctor, because I feel sure that has already been scheduled!
I just watched both of my boys get on a school bus this morning and leave for school! How sweet is that! Yes, they are going into 10th grade, but until this year, I have had to drive them across town. So actually, this is the first time they have ever rode the bus together to school. Awww...... Of course, they had to stand for the first day of school picture outside, while all the time darting their eyes down the road to make sure no one saw them, well....because....they were just humoring me, and would lay down and die if someone actually saw their crazy mom outside taking their picture. :) I REALLY wanted to actually take a picture of them getting on the bus, but I didn't want to totally humiliate them, so I just peeked through the slightly open door to watch--so they wouldn't know--as they got on. I am so proud of them, of course, and I look at that picture and remember the little boys that used to proudly pose with their new lunch boxes...and now they look like young men... A lot of thoughts run through a momma's brain on the first day of school...excitement for them and a new year, pride at what great young men they have grown into so far, and sadness because it marks another year off the mommy calendar. Yes, the first day of school is like happy and sad all rolled up in a big ball of emotion for a mom... Thankfully there is no time to dwell on that today, because the first day of school also represents the day that all mom's try to get done everything they have needed to do since summer began! :) So, raise your orange juice with me for a toast. Here's to first days! Hope yours is great.
I am happy to announce that things are almost back to normal in our house. Well, normal for us anyway. As you may know, we stimulated the economy recently with a new set of orthodontic braces, and the removal of wisdom teeth. These TRAUMATIC (sigh…) events caused my two hearty teenage boys to be deprived of their favorite pastime, eating. Tyler (wisdom teeth) has slowly made his way back on the scavenging scene, but Jared (braces) is not quite there, and all the more cranky for it. Tyler previously had braces, so I felt like I was totally prepared for this second venture in orthodontic land---been there….done that…. NOT! When Tyler first had his braces put on, he was a bit self conscious of how he looked, etc. Jared is not as worried about things like that (plus his brackets are clear and you can barely see them!) so I just thought this would be a breeze. So, what has been the problem? Well, Jared did not fully comprehend the fact that what he was able to eat would be affected. And boy was he unhappy on the way home after they had given him a list of foods he would not be able to eat! He wanted me to turn right around and go back and have them take “these things” off! Now! And that attitude continued for a few days. In fact in one oratory event, I was told that I would be the cause of his broken leg! Huh? Yes, because I MADE him get braces and he could not ever eat anymore, he was going to lose tons of weight, then he wouldn’t be able to bench as much at football, which would then cause him to get run over on the field and break his leg. I swear, I did not make that up! So, today is a good day, because the poor child was finally able to eat some pancakes. Whew…
Love yourself, and love your food!
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