Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SEVEN-NINETY-NINE




This happens to be Post #799, since I first began in 2008, and I keep telling myself that I HAVE to offer something besides a camera angle pointed down into a dish of FOOD.   But it is what it is---a lovely box of Caro's Christmas Wonderfuls, packed in pretty boxes all lined up on the counter, and right now out and being delivered by Chris.

I can take no credit for any of these, save for one batch of fudge, with the squares nestled beneath all of Caro's painstaking work.   

They both love spreading the joy, all year long, and their dear caring hearts are amongst my Major Gratefuls in Life.  

And I wish you all a SWEET, warm wonderful day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

MONDAY MORNING

Just checking in, and hoping everybody's well and warm out there, and enjoying all the wonders of this glorious season.


You know, I've never tried out any of those blogs which list each and every moment of the blogger's life, nor would I EVER inflict such a litany of all our dull doings upon anyone kind and interested enough to visit here.


But, maybe just THIS ONCE:


TRUE CONFESSION:

I've spent the morning holed up in the Cough Corner over there, with a big roll of tissue, the Halls, a soft banky, and the three-hour season finale of SONS OF ANARCHY.


There.   The secret's out.    Well, Y'ALL---it's HAMLET with HARLEYS.   What's not to love?




Perhaps I'll repent when I get all this Nyquil out of my system.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SOMETHING SWEET




SOMETHING SWEET FOR YOU!!

I'm just a bit swampy here, Y'all, with an almost-conquered cold and LOTS still not done for Christmas or the company to follow.    Luckily, before I came down with this grunge, I made and wrapped one pan of fudge.   So, in addition to that huge treasure-trove up in Caro's kitchen, that ought to do for any holiday crowd that might visit. 

This is the easiest, best recipe I've ever found, so I hope you'll try it (and trust that you won't mind a bit of a re-run, til I'm up to posting again).

The BEST, EASIEST  FUDGE.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

CHRISTMAS TEA---2011


Six of us ladies gathered in the upstairs sitting room, just about candlelight time on Sunday.   The guests chatted with Caro whilst I came downstairs to put the final little touches on the table, take a couple of things out of the oven, and light the candles.


I know burgundy and pink aren't QUITE the standard Christmas colors, but I love the combination, with the whites and silvers of the china and napery.


My Mother's china---she had two sets-almost-alike, and many's the time I borrowed them for a pretty luncheon party or dinner.   I love the simple shine and all the memories of lovely times they evoke.   Like my own Mammaw and my Mother---I have a Walk-and-Pat Will, in which I point out things NOW to all the children, and make sure they know they're to have all the lovely things which I've enjoyed and remembered so well.  (Or could probably take them home with them, if they were so a-mind).


Caro is the Break-of Dawn Elf---I never know WHAT beautiful or thoughtful or tasty thing I'll find when I wake.   The chandelier and the downstairs tree were my greetings one day this past week.  The little burgundy bird atop is privy to LOTS of Christmas Secrets.

Our Tea Table.  From the back, a bowl of crisp pita chips, one of some really delicious gluten-free crackers, the crudite, Devilled Eggs and a mound of Paminna Cheese.   In front is a big thermal bowl of Caro's Asian Meatballs with soy, cilantro, sesame, garlic and sliced water chestnuts.   Then a plate of chicken salad in croissants, some twee little cream-cheese-and-cucumber Christmas Tree Sandwiches---the only bow to a REAL Afternoon Tea, I suppose.
Next is a bowl of shrimp with a Cajun Mayonnaise for dipping, and in the center are a bowl of Hummus, some Scoops, and the copper dish holds a sizzly gratin of hot Artichoke Dip, with lots of grated Parmesan.

Caro's Asian Meatballs.



Crudite---blanched snow peas, three-color peppers, fresh crisp sugar-snaps, cauliflower, baby English cukes, grape tomatoes, with a Ranch dip.

Cucumber trees with Philly Garden Spread.


Chicken Salad Croissants.


Hot Artichoke Dip.   In back is Hummus with Scoops.


And what Southern Party is complete without Devilled Eggs and Paminna Cheese?

As a matter if fact, every dish on the table was gluten-free except for the cucumber sandwiches and the croissants. I served my friend a scoop of the chicken salad (breast of chicken, minced celery and apples, boiled egg and Hellman's) out of the dish in the fridge, and she gladly partook of everything else but the bread items.

She sat, chirping happily over the lovely plate of party food, for she usually eats at home before they go out.    "Oh, I've been DREAMING of your Pimiento Cheese!" she exclaimed, and we gently taught her the Southern pronunciation, echoed all around the table by all the ladies at once--all of us chiming in Puhhhh-minnnnna, like an old-fashioned spelling class.  And I think everyone took seconds of almost everything.






The Cheese Plate:   From one--Pecorino Romano, a Triple Cream Brie, Morbier, and Gorgonzola. Also included, 2 types of dried figs, apricots, dates, green grapes and Seckel pears. On the side, not pictured, a new jar of Adriatic fig spread. The Morbier had a duskier, more ashy rind to it than usual. 

It was a relaxing, laughing time with good friends, and of the exchange of all the Christmas Sweets we made and exchanged---moire non, perhaps on Friday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

OF TEA. . .MOIRE NON


HAPPY MONDAY!!

I wish you could have all been right here for our Tea Party yesterday, and when I'm all finished with all the putting away and all the re-tellings of our fun to Sweetpea, I'd love to share some of our evening.

Until . . . Moire Non,



Friday, December 9, 2011

SANTA HATS


Caro has already made I-Don’t-Know-How-Much candy and baked goods---all sorts of barks---with whole almonds, poured onto the platter with my mistakenly saying,“Whose plateful of Northern Beans is this?”  There are also other batches snugged into two high stacks of long Glad Boxes---with crushed Oreos, with crushed Nutter Butters, with crumbs of peppermint pinkening the entire puddle.

She’s made Heath bar and chocolate chip and one batch with Heath-chips-and-mini-M&M’s gaudifying the whole top of the chocolate pool, like every child’s candiest dreams. There are great pans of seven-layer bars and dozens of pretty candy-papers holding coconut haystacks.   I think I remember one big pan of a kid-version of Rocky Road, with only the marshmallows.

She’s stood in that kitchen for hours, and as soon as I make these three five-pound batches of fudge, we hope to be boxing and sending a sample of all the goodies to all the chillun around the country.  Plus, we're having a very small tea party/cookie exchange on Sunday afternoon.

Somewhere in all that great counterful of sweetness are five gallon-Ziplocs of “Crack”---the Chex/pretzel/peanut/M&M’s  dipped into white or dark chocolate and broken apart into the munchiest, cravingest stuff to come out of Candyland.   I’d suggested the addition of Bugles this year, thinking they’d look enough like little elf-hats  mingling into the mix, but she’d seen these little cuties online, and this is what I woke to this morning:

She had held them by the sharp tip, dipped them into red Wilton Candy-Melts, then dipped the little damp horn-bell into the tee-nineciest sand-sized nonpareil dust.    She laid them onto parchment, where a lot of them would balance on the open ends.   When they were dry, she held them by the fluff-ends, dipped the sharp ever-so-slightly into the red melt, then pressed a little marshmallow onto the end.

I have no idea what they’re destined for, but our tea party/cookie exchange on Sunday will feature some peeking out from the candy trays, I’m sure, and our little ones will receive the fairy-size little morsels in their packages.   They'll surely marvel and admire---for a brief moment at least, I imagine, before they munch.

I certainly admired and oohed and aahed, and though she hates the cutesy-poo word, I teased her by uttering an under-my-breath  “squeee!” as I left the room.   

I wish you could each and every one join us for Tea on Sunday!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

REPRIEVE?

You know that little sigh of relief you sometimes get when you find that an event or appointment or social gathering---especially company coming--- has been cancelled or postponed, even though you were REALLY looking forward to it?   You know how it feels to simply have the time back, and the evening or day or week to do normal stuff and just let down and not wax the floors this week, or get all those boxes out of the guest room just yet, or not have to wear those Spanx and can take off those uncomfortable shoes in favor of comfy old slippers, and go what-the-heck and plunder the fridge for supper?

That letting go, that leaving off of preparation, that escape from the scurry to get things done in time---that REPRIEVE.   I think I’m in one of those---for our Thanksgiving group had to postpone their trip until after Christmas.   And so, we’ve had the days to put up one of the trees, plus we’re SIMPLIFYING everything this year---especially the d├ęcor (less is less and MORE is banished to the storage room).   We’ll have lots of lively young folks filling up the rooms, so we want to clear away all the geegaws and tabletops and sofa-cushions---just to fill the space with good times and plenty of room for the fun stuff.

And I didn’t in ANY way need a reprieve from THEM---I could just scoop up their cheery presences with a SPOON---it’s the fact that I haven’t yet had to move THAT chair to vacuum behind for the stray Poppycock, or run all the clean bankies through a lovely warm freshening cycle, readying all the beds for all the storytimes and sweet sleeps.
Or get this pickup load of stocking-stuffers and bags of books and camping stuff out of the kids’ bedroom.  


So, instead of taking a leisurely pace at the readying, we decided to have a tea-party this coming Sunday.  I’m perfuming the house with Old English and Windex and Pine Sol and Scott’s Liquid Gold, and blessing those little Mr. Clean sponge-thingies, a mighty step-stool for fridge-tops, some big ole pink gloves and an endless coffeepot.

If I don’t faint from the fumes, I’ll see you at the Tea-Table.   One lump or two?





Endive with chevre, dried cherries, and walnuts candied in Port.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

BOSOM BUDDIES

The rainy patch on the weather map stretches from the Coast to the Great Lakes, and apparently the GREEN is going to cover us for several days.   And so for all of us who need a little sunshine, a smile, and a little BRIGHT---

Here are  two of the brightest spots in the Show-Biz Firm-a-Ment:  Angela and Bea.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

CHECKIN' IT TWICE



A little girl came out of school into the bright wind, running into the breeze, delighted with the freedom and the prospects of meeting her Mommy for lunch at her favorite restaurant---the one with the big playroom with all its colorful slides and stairs and big windows and fun things to do.



She got into the car with her grandparents, and they all met at the restaurant, ordered, and ate their lunch.   As they sat, they saw several children go in and out of the doors to the playroom, and once, a beautiful little girl in a black leotard and tutu came out, her face streaked with tears, and ran toward her Mother.    She pointed back at the doors, was comforted, and stayed with the others at her table.



Our own little girl finished her lunch, and asked to go inside and play.   Her Grandmother got out the washcloth, washed her face and hands, and they went into the playroom, at that time filled with a loud tangle of little boys and girls.    Grandmother sat, and little one went into the staircase-tube to climb up; she reached the little balcony, and began to turn the big bright cogs of the wheel on the window.



“Listen to my MUSIC!” she said, the words muffled a bit by the plastic shield.   Her Grandmother nodded and smiled, as our little girl’s Mommy came in the door.   “Please go finish your lunch,” she said, and Grandmother responded, “In a moment; I’m enjoying this.” 


They sat for a few moments, as Mommies called their children out for Time to Go, and other kids wandered in and out.    In just a bit, the Grandmother noticed that our Little Girl was still up HIGH on the balcony, along with a couple other children---two little silvery-haired boys, perhaps four and five.    Another minute and there was a wail from Our Girl, then a full-out CRY, as Mommy and Grandmother jumped up from their bench.



Mommy called out, asking what was wrong---answered by more and more loud crying.  



Mommy shouted at the biggest boy to let Our Girl get by onto the stairs, and at the other one to stop blocking the slide so she could come down.   It took quite some time, and quite a few loud words from Mommy, but they finally moved and Our Girl finally came down the slide, tears dripping and her cheeks pink with the crying, and was taken gently out the door by Mommy.



Grandmother remained behind, placidly sitting on the bench, as the two little boys slid down and halted at the bottom of the slide, turning their backs to her.    “Oh, My,” she said, in her soft, kind voice, with its southern accent still apparent despite her long years in the North.   “Do you not know who that IS?”



She pointed out through the glass at the Little Girl, sitting on the lap of a round, jolly fellow, with kind eyes and twinkly glasses and rosy cheeks and his red shirt setting off his snowy hair and beard, as he wiped away Our Girl’s tears.  

The little boys peeped,  then looked at Grandmother with WIDE eyes.    “He’s her GRANDDADDY,” said the round lady softly, her own rosy cheeks and small gold glasses twinkling beneath her little bun of  pale hair.    


The boys took another look, eyes big as plums, and did not move as the Grandmother turned and left the room, gently closing the door behind her. 





Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE THROWS OF CHRISTMAS


My dear online friend Kat just said on her blog that she had boxes and decorations and glitter in every room of the house and was in the “throw” of decorating (quotes hers) for Christmas.  

That one brought a smile---for first I thought of her lovely home, always perfection, always beautiful and neat, with all those cardboards and cartons and spills of sparkly stuff---probably the only clutter allowed to grace that well-ordered space all year.

THEN came the remembrance:   My first SIL and the ICICLES!   We used to buy those little flat packs of the thin-thin shredded aluminum/lead foil, to be draped onto the limbs of the tree to represent silvery, quivery shards of ice.   They came in a slim flat box, were thinner than tissue, with a dull gleam, and, since they were probably a foot-and-a-half long and folded in half around a little shirt-cardboard for convenience---they fell apart at a whisper, leaving you with a little mingy half-drape across the limb.



We’d separate carefully, taking them out one at a time---sometimes one person taking out and holding out, and the other gently removing the strand and laying it over the limb.   There were several camps on the decorating front:   Ours had careful one-string placement amongst the green, like this:


photo from jillsbooks

 

There were the ones who believed in decking the limb-tips only; the lavish grab of several, with the centers welded together by the pressure, placed around amongst the ornaments, and the one person I ever saw who loved the forest primeval look, and so grabbed them by the very end and squeezed an inch or so around the branch, so that they trailed down long and smooth.

And then there was SIL’s Method.  She believed in making it “look natural”---as natural as a lead-encrusted evergreen could look, with big handfuls tossed upward toward the tree, so that they fell as nature would have intended, had the skies showered great Pern-clumps of metal strings.

Whatever hit, wherever it hit---that was the intended spot.   And whatever landed on the floor was picked up, gathered into another, messier handful, and given another shot at it.  The whole thing looked like droves of drunken spiders had been spinning droopy, disconnected webs all up and down the tree.  Great bare spots were flanked by big ole crinkly wads of the things, and whole sections dropped their unbalanced little burdens onto the carpet, the tree-skirt, and all the presents below.  

And family lore still has it that you could set the Christmas Day clock by SIL’s front yard---the minute she licked the last scrape of Sweet-Tater Pie off her fork, she’d head home, and in a bit there would be a green mound out by the garbage pickup site, winking silver twinkles in the sunshine before the rest of us could finish the Dinner Dishes.


Did you ever use these?  What was your application method?

And someday----SOMEDAY---when I get to know you better, I’ll tell the story of our very first Christmas here, and the very interesting decorations on the perfectly-good little tree we pulled out of the Dumpster the week before Christmas.

A HAPPY DECEMBER TO EVERYONE!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

YOU'RE MY FAMILY



Thanksgiving was a quiet, homey day, with two slow, gentle days of getting-ready, of getting out the cloths and the goblets and which-bowl-for-what, knowing full well that the snap beans would go into Mother’s silver-rimmed little Harmony House bowl, as always, and the chocolate chess pie into Mammaw’s old chipped Homer Laughlin pieplate, brought out just for the honor, once a year, like an old faithful servant still asked to fumble a dish or two onto the table, because of their splendid service of the past.



Somehow, when I took out the two tablecloths, a sorta pinkish tan, with deep shades of fruit and flowers, bought at a yard sale several years ago for two dollars apiece, I just automatically reached for the heavy old pink goblets.   After all, they would GO, and I DO have five of them, and there WERE five adults.   Besides, the dozen bigger, older Mammaw goblets we usually use were snugged WAY in the back of the shelf, with a little sherbet dish nestled into each, to make space.



And so, Our Pink Thanksgiving table came to be---even a last-minute prink by our Sweetpea, who gently re-arranged the silverware and made sure the tea things were ALREADY set and waiting---well, those matched just dandy, too.

The plates were heavy burgundy crockery, handed round hot into our napkins after we sang the Blessing, and we had most of the old favorites from Mammaw’s and Mother’s tables.





The fresh-snapped beans, “canned” the day before by my first Mother-in-Law’s recipe of vinegar and sugar brine, then drained and cooked down low with onion and bacon:





The cornbread dressing, rich with Caro’s homemade chicken stock, studded with tiny mince of onion and celery, with the Mammaw's Kitchen scents of sage and black pepper. Two kinds of gravy peeking over the top.




 The sweet potatoes---not our usual custard with marshmallows, but the tiny “patties” usually only available this time of year in the “meat” aisle.  They were layered into a buttered dish and a thick-reduced simple syrup of brown/white sugar and vanilla poured on before baking.   They were still bubbling heartily when they were set down on the table, and were one of the favorite dishes of the day. 






A simple plate of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, with a little dish of cheese sauce beside, and Sweetpea’s Mac and Cheese.



Of course, the devilled eggs, the two kinds of cranberry---one homemade, the other the standard Ocean Spray, with the little can-pleats still showing, and a dish of DDIL’s famous (and that is literal---people call and want that recipe every year, and Sis says it’s become “her” family tradition in Texas, as well) broccoli/cauliflower salad, with bacon and cheese.




And that gorgeous Turkey---brined and then cooked in the just-so-regulated grill for hours that morning, to come out with the burnished mahogany sheen of a well-loved Camaro.




Shining and magnificent---the drumsticks just woggled around in the crisp skin, and came out warm and juicy: 





Sweetpea finished early, of course, and named off people around the table---"You’re my family, and YOU’RE my Family, and YOU’RE my Family."    Then she went around giving hugs all around, because “You’re my FAMILY!”

There was cheesecake with cherry sauce, and a Chocolate Chess pie, and we finger-ate all the big ole grapes out of the centerpiece.  After most of the dessert things were cleared, Sweetpea started handing round all sorts of percussion instruments:   A tomtom, a small drum, a tambourine, plus the two sets of drumsticks and odd items for striking:  She gave Caro a drumstick and a small pastry-brush from the drawer, and my big ole melmac cup “drum” was presented with a wooden spoon, so I licked my pie-fork clean and we started up the Rhythm Band.



We sang and tapped and bammed, and perhaps it was because I was getting so tired and turkey-lethargic just sitting there at the table for so long, but I started the TAP TAP KNOCK!  TAP TAP KNOCK! with all of us adults joining in and then coming in right on cue:   "WEEEE WILLLL, WEEEE WILLLL ROCK YOU!!" to Sweetpea’s bewildered, then delighted face. 

Oh, my.   Don't know the words, and never much cared for a rappy style, but nothin' like some seventies Queen to set the tone for nice genteel people, after a lovely repast, rockin’ out and banging on the crockery.  

After we wound down with THAT, she wanted the “Kitchen song” which I quickly realized was that twangy version of “You are my Sunshine” on the O Brother soundtrack---I sometimes play the CD on the Bose. 

When we all got up from the table, it was like my dream of Holidays---like the scene in The Big Chill after the big dinner, when they’re all rockin’ to music and dancing in the kitchen as they clear away the dishes and put away the food.

I hope yours was wonderful, as well.   I'm moving SLOW, but after this good family time, and yesterday's long hike, I think I'm back.

  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

THANKSGIVING, 2011

You've all come to be like my Family, all the year round, and I wish Y'all ALL the very best blessings on this Thankful, Thankful day.

and moire non,

rachel

Saturday, November 12, 2011

THREE YEARS OF LAWN TEA

Three years ago today, I tentatively sent out the first post of these almost-eight-hundred, just flinging thoughts and memories out there to the whole universe, and now here we are---later in time and life, with many changes and new happenings happened and written and shared.


Still not up to posting as I'd like to, but I thought today should have at least one little Hello and a very large Thank You to all of you who have joined in and shared the moments of our days.   I appreciate and love you all, and am so grateful for all the wonderful sweet friends who have come to be such a part of my life.


So---just a small moment---a morning walk with Sweetpea, as we walked and marveled and looked at the world with wonder---the ordinary and the marvelous.

ADVENTURE WALK

We came upon a broken bag at the curb, bits of someone's plastic recycle scattered for several yards, the colors and the shapes splayed in the sunshine.   A paint tray, coat of pale yellow in the bottom, with a small waterline of soft blue to attest its former use.   We talked about the smell of fresh paint, how it brightens up things, how the roller rolls smooth through the thick colors and transforms walls with a swipe of the arm.   We speculated on places which might now BE those lovely colors---a cozy kitchen in the soft butter yellow of my own, or a baby's room in either that or the pale blue.


The rollers, some small bright cylinders which had been the V-legs of what looked like a child's easel, bits of crumbled pearly egg cartons scurrying in the breeze, a deep quad container which had held four hefty pots of new plants, long blue ribbons of painting-tape, dotted with color and furled into the bows and twists of Mardi Gras---all testament to New Beginnings---lay sprawled on the pavement like scattered toys.


I explained how it was to be refurbishing a house, trying to imagine the cool silence and vast expectant rooms, stripped to the echoes, awaiting transformation and renewal.    And I tried to imagine all those NEWS---the starting outs, the clearing aways, the brightenings and the cleanings.   






We came home and sat down at the dollhouse, which has accumulated WAY more than its share of needfuls---there always seems to be a new denizen for the never-ending backyard menagerie flowing from Ganner's pocket, and what started as a few little farm animals has progressed past farm, through Noah, and into Open Range/Jungle/Pampas/Veldt stage.   The little herd of cows, the couple of chickens, the goat and the lambs---those have blossomed, beginning with the yak, I think.   After all, after a YAK, the sky's the limit.

And now we have monkeys and an elephant and a raccoon, many cats, from snobbish little pillow-puffs to a whole fleet of fast jungle ones, a dozen dogs, a kangaroo.  All sizes of fat pink piggies, a whole stableful of mis-matched horses, with such a giant steed standing eaves-high guard outside the patio, folks are gonna be driving up craving Dan Dan Noodles.  

The latest is a white tiger, which she triumphantly claimed and crowed, "A SNOW Leopard!!"  And could not be dissuaded, though we explained spots and stripes, so Ganner proposed that perhaps this leopard got caught out in the rain and his colors ran.

We scooped everything out of the bright plastic rooms; we put our faces deep into the tiny spaces, shouting  a little HAH! into each small emptiness, as she always does when we enter a building, to hear the resounding in any vestibule, especially those little entry-ways with two sets of glass doors and nothing but space between.


A little Pine-Sol spray, a few paper towels, a pretty piece of border from a sticker-book cut into a cunning carpet-runner and matching valance and stuck in the little dining room, and our tiny house is refreshed.


And so, with several days since to work on my own house,  I have been slowly going floor-to-ceiling, round the room down here, scattering debris, putting the fear into dust bunnies, finding a lost brooch, the top to the tiniest teapot, a long-despaired-of shoe---in rightening these rooms for the great arrival of five-to-stay and more to visit.   

Moving slowly, and looking forward, still shouting a little "Hah!" out into the world, hoping for an echo.





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A SWEET MEMORY

 Another memory from the past---from when I first began posting---this is an "old family" recipe, by default, anyway, by dint of having been used by FOUR generations already (though actual time elapsed is only twenty years or so).   I hope to be back when things quiet down, when the world is not so much with us, and when I can post without cussin' the molasses in the gears of this machine.


Thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts---I can feel the lift.


 +++++++++++MOTHER'S APPLE DUMPLIN'S++++++++++++




I don't believe I've made my Mother's recipe for Apple Dumplings in several years. My memory of the date I cooked any given thing is not so keen any more---I do remember the Thanksgiving the year after her death, when we had all gathered back at the family home for one last time.   Daddy had called us all and said that he had sold the house, and he'd be back in town for a wedding that weekend, so if we wanted anything out of the house, we needed to get a truck and come on down.

And so we gathered, the ten of us, and packed and remembered, losing time and work in the reminiscences, and the stories attached to many of the things of our upbringings. My sister's son is a chef, so he and I cooked the Thanksgiving dinner, beginning sort of long distance, with my bringing a lot of the ingredients and several dishes already made and in coolers, the five hundred miles down the Interstate. He and I stood at the same stove, on the same gold-patterned linoleum on which which I'd stood to bake and stir and fry all those years that I lived there, and where his tiny pamper-bottomed self had scampered amongst our feet. 



This recipe is just as written down for me by DS #2, who has made this old standard for our Christmas Dinner for a long time, now; I had made it before, and had it memorized, but that’s faded, and I wanted the exact measurements.

Way back then, in that old familiar kitchen, with its Brady-orange countertops and copper EVERYTHING, I dictated quickly to the tall young man---now a chef in his own right:

“Make a Simple---1/3 white, 1/3 brown. Melt stick of butter in pan. Peel, quarter, wrap, pour, 350, 35/45.” And his chef’s training took over. He made a lovely pan that we enjoyed one last time around that familiar table, all of us together under that roof for a final Thanksgiving before the house belonged to other people, other traditions.

Mother’s Recipe, written down for me by my son, who makes them for all our occasions:


Granny Smith Apples---4
2 packs Pillsbury Rolls---Pack makes 8
Brown sugar 1/3 cup

Sugar 1/3 cup
Stick of Butter
Water 

A cup of juice or Cider
Melt stick of butter in 9x13 Corning ware pan. Core and peel Granny Smiths in 1/4th. Separate rolls.  Wrap and pull rolls around ¼ of apple.    Place in pan. 


*Evenly Sprinkle brown sugar and reg. Sugar over top and around Dumplings. Take a spoon and drizzle a little water over each one. Pour about a cup of cider or apple juice into the bottom of the pan to make the syrup and it will thicken around the bottoms of the rolls. Bake on 350 for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown.
 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is exactly what I want to do---bake these wonderful pastries with DS next time he's here---when days are not so entwined, and the scent of Old Times can fill the house with memories.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ROOTS, REDUX

Thank you all for the kind words and thoughts and prayers.   While things are still down here, a re-run from the blog's beginnings.   We could all use a fresh start now and then:

Deep Roots, March, 2009


I've been looking into some of the names of my forebears, just Googling a surname now and then, running an eye down the lists and the branches, finding kin, finding even from this remove an unexpected sprinkling of names of friends-back-home whose lineage parallels or channels with my own, merely by dint of a far-ago marriage in the place we both are from.

Memories kindled, smiles of recognition and astonishment at our links in the long chain---it's been fun to scroll across the names of old friends and acquaintances whose names echo mine in the long past. Something about being from the South, of the near-and-dear relationships, the kinship of place as strong as of family---it's a heart-thing, absorbed through the air and the heat and the long vistas of flat Delta gumbo, from that primal scent of first-plowing to the nip of Fall, with Winter delineated by getting out jackets and gazing on the drab scape of gray fields shorn to stubble.



My own raising, deep in the moist heat of that fertile flatness, was centered around family gatherings---Sunday dinner and birthdays and holidays and reunions and sitting together in the shade, waiting for the ice cream freezer to do its magic to the custard whose recipe was older than anybody present. The old recipes and jotted-downs and clipped-outs and the mainstays---we repeat the gestures, the measures, the tastes.

I cook Southern, but have been known to throw foie gras or caviar onto a table with crawfish, catfish, mallard, mountain oysters, rooster fries, buffalo and wild hog. I cook whatever we feel like at the moment, whatever is freshest from the garden or the Farmers' Market, or whatever was just brought back from a trip South. Food and cooking and the cultivation of both have been a greater part of the Southern perspective for time beyond memory, and the dedication and methods from the old ways have hung on longer in the South, it seems.

I own white gloves, lacy hankies, opera glasses, a well-sharpened hoe, a TALL ladder and a Troy-Bilt. A lifetime of food raising, hoeing, picking, canning, pickling, freezing and preserving has given me a deep appreciation for all methods of hunting and gathering. Deer, duck, crappie, barbecue and gumbo have appeared as often on our table as pasta, hamburgers or Mapo tofu.

The ladylike rosy shade of my own nape was earned honestly, bending over the beanrows, pea-vines, cornstalks and squash hills in that extremely HOT Delta sun. Redneck is as redneck does, I reckon.

But sometimes it would be nice not to have to waste so much time dispelling the notion that the lowest IQ in the room necessarily must belong to the person with the Southern accent.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hello

Still out of kilter/touch/abilities right now.   Hope all is well out there.

Any prayers and good thoughts sent this way greatly appreciated.

rachel

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FLY SWATTERS

How we have risen in the world, from the flappy old screens of feed-store giveaways, bent with vigorous use, hanging behind everybody’s door, to shapes and colors and materials of another age, while the flies go merrily onward, unchanged in a million years.





My long-time e-mail friend in Arkansas sent me a picture of her fly-swatter, a little grab-bag gift from one of those home parties, and she asked one of those “Do you remember the time . . ?” questions about our high-school days---this one concerning homecoming, a flat-bed trailer and miles of crepe paper.     I replied with quite a few memories of such and similar fun small-town outings from my own bulgy memory banks.





Then, somehow I segued into fly-swatters themselves---about as dry a subject as a regent's horsehair chownree---but I enjoyed delving into the little silly memories.   All our Grands have just LOVED them, beginning with Gracie quite a few years ago.   I bought a hot-pink one, fresh and pliable, for her use when she was still chewing drippily on everything she could raise to her mouth, and wanted so badly to get those itchy little gums on the big one hanging in the utility room.

So she had her own never-used, never-flapped one, and she gnawed it stem to stern, even leaving little tooth-dents all up the handle after she sprouted incisors.




THEN she discovered a horde of little moths which had invaded the house about this time of year---they somehow arrived, swooped about the downstairs, lit on walls and other pale surfaces (the more stupid they, since they are most visible and killable there).    She named the bugs FLOOS for some reason---sounds reasonable to me---and chased them for DAYS, dispatching them unmercifully.   She’d go get her floo-flapper and have at it.  She climbed chairs, she jumped and swung, she left gray smudges on every wall in the house.   

I followed her from room to room with a Lysol spray and a handful of paper towels.    Now I wish I’d left just ONE little smudged reminder.   I could have just hung a little picture over it, so as to uncover and remember now and again.

She did NOT, however, use her dear Pinkie for this purpose.   It is still sacred, and hangs on a special nail, high up in the utility room, so no one will use it by mistake.  It has taken on the status of a well-loved bankie and will probably travel with her to college and into her first home as part of her trousseau.

I, on the other hand, have a first-class green one, a gift from Chris when he saw her enjoyment of hers.   MINE has teensy plastic teeth like a very delicate single line of Astroturf, sticking off the wide end, and is to be used as a fly-scooper-upper, in conjunction with the too-too precious two-inch dustpan which snaps on just where flap meets handle.   It is the Rolls Royce of flappers, with its own little Susie Homemaker Barbie tools.  


So, my friend has a fun bit of froufrou; Gracie has a piece of history from her infancy, and I, the plebeian bug-getter, have the utilitarian work-horse.   

And now Sweetpea has had her own for quite a while---a little doll-face in a stiff bonnet.   No flies for her, either---Flappy sits erect and attentive in her small chair as Sweetpea teaches numbers and letters to all her compadres from the toy tub.








Tuesday, October 25, 2011

HELPING HAND


In these days of hustle-bustle and going our own way and looking out for our own, with reports of passers-by just passing on by, even in the face of need and danger and injury---I’ve been thinking of a sweet little memory I have of a visit to England.    It was an everyday little happening---a fleeting thing-of-a-moment, but it’s stood as one of my fondest remembrances of the trip.

We were walking down a little street in Bristol, and my three companions stopped in a store.   I sat down inside a handy bus-wait shelter to get out of the proverbial noon-day sun---one of those huge clear molded plastic half-rooms, with a plastic seat molded in, and a perfect spot for people-gazing.

We were right outside a good-sized grocery store---one of the purveyors of choice in all the towns and cities large enough---their version of a supermarket, containing quite a few other types of items, as do our own.    It’s the mesh-bag-with-carrot-tops type of grocery, though they also offer 400 cheeses and more types of wine, but many of the customers emerged with the green plastic shopping bags imprinted with the store’s name in the most refined script.
I watched the crowds approach, go up the two steps into the widewide door, and my eye was caught by a pair of perfectly British ladies clad in skirts and tucked-in blouses and cardigans, their stockinged feet in entirely sensible shoes and their shopping bags hanging neatly on their arms.   One came toward the store doors smiling, looking upward at someone standing out of my view.   Her fresh-shined face with its unrestrained eyebrows, and the ever-so-small smudge of lipstick parted over her slightly-protruding teeth just gleamed with gladness to meet the unseen person.

She was a perfect complement to her companion, a twin in wide glasses and square-cropped hair---two from-the-pages denizens of St. Mary Mead of any era, both looking up pleasantly at the still-out-of-sight person perhaps a foot above them.  First Lady reached the door, stood at the foot of the steps and reached upward, and since both of the ladies right in front of me were of a certain age, I assumed that someone upon the top step had reached down to assist her up.

She kept smiling and spoke to the unseen one, then helped an even-more-delicate and aged dear soul to descend the steps, as she slowly and carefully put one laced-oxford foot down beside the other.   That dearie was smiling in return, and when she was safely deposited on the sidewalk, beamed back, “I’m ev-va so grateful deahr,” and made her way down the sidewalk with her own mesh bag containing two oranges and a cauliflower.    The lack of further conversation led me to believe that they had not met before.

It was just a tiny moment, but forever cast in amber for me---a memory of a time and place which may soon be as past as the tumbled wall which repelled the hordes, and now is hearth and home.   Just that beaming smile, the pleasure on her face in meeting a friend, or perhaps just someone who needed her at a time when her own need was to BE needed.   I’ll always remember her cheery little uplook-smile with the little teeth just peeping out, and the small moment of gratitude expressed by the recipient.   I wish them both well, and may they feel a warmth from a stranger’s memory and impression of their kindness and lovely manners.  


Monday, October 24, 2011

THE LION KING

Last weekend, we took Sweetpea to see The Lion King, and I'd never seen it.   Sitting there in the 3-D glasses like Fifties Folks, eating ten-dollar popcorn---we were UPTOWN! (Plus, it took us the third time's charm to GET there---first week, Chris had to cancel for a service call, second one, we stopped to kill time before the movie at a lovely playground and locked the keys in the trunk).   
 I LOVED it, for the pictures and all the little colorful moments just flying out into your face---took me back to my childhood's deepest COVET---a Viewmaster.   Despite the different characters and setting, it was kinda like being right inside "Cinderella" again.

 
You put in the little round disc with the dark shiny panes, put your eyes up to that magical machine, and were transported into the most enchanting realms of storybook characters and fairytale tales.   And they STOOD OUT.   They had depth and color and a shine past understanding, right there in the two inches before your eyes---like being inside a big sugar Easter Egg.    Faberge’s exquisite jeweled craftings for the czar had no such appeal and beauty as those bright vignettes inside that hunk of black plastic.

The glasses, contrary to those punch-out cardboard Fifties models with one green lens and one red, were big ole Buddy Holly models, a pale gray tint, and whatever magical polarization or prescription or pane, they were absolutely wonderful.    The creatures and characters took life, flying out of the screen, swooping out two rows ahead of you, and I imagine there was some ducking and flinching going on, but I was too enraptured to notice.  






 Do not use these in place of sunglasses, read the little blurb on the outside of the packet---which also admonished us to return them when the movie was over, but after we’d paid thirty dollars for two seniors and one four-year-old (before popcorn), plus three-dollars-each for the glasses, we just walked right out with all three pairs.

Maybe we’ll wear them again someday, just to look kewl.