Don’t forget to leave comment to enter this month’s giveaway. This set of canning utensils is going to somebody’s home!! Better sign up before April 15th or you will miss out on your chance!
I figure that since most people are too busy for soap operas on tv anymore, but almost everybody sits at a computer, I would offer an Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ soap opera for your enjoyment. It’s too long a story to put into one post and so you will get two installments – one today and one tomorrow. Will there be a happy endng? Stay tuned for…da da da (that’s organ chords)…The Old And The Feckless!
Isn’t it funny how we get it into our heads how something is supposed to be, get all bent out of shape when it isn’t that way at all and then God provides a whole new direction that puts us all back together in contentment? I had that experience last week and I thought that I would share the adventure.
Mr. Fix-It and I took a trip – a long trip! It started out heading to Georgia where Mr. Fix-It did some training to remind him that computers, his life’s chosen vocation, never work the way that they were intended. He’s just not as technologically savvy as I am. I know that the squirrels running the machine are simply out looking for nuts. Anyway, I took the opportunity to visit my uncle for the first time since my aunt’s death in December. It was a wonderful visit with much laughter and ample reminiscing.
And then we went north to Kentucky. Now, Kentucky is beautiful and it is a wonderful state, but I was a little bummed about the trip to the place because we had to go through the mountainous part of East Tennessee where my parents had lived up until a year ago and where I grew up…and we didn’t stop…because my parents aren’t there anymore. I was sad. My mom and dad sold their house and had moved to a retirement community in a town in Kentucky that I had never heard of before and which was not ‘home’. When we got off of I-75 to wind our way to the town on narrow roads carved into the sides of huge bluffs (with no guard rails) and which narrowed down to one lane bridges in a number of places, I felt heavier and heavier. We were in the middle of nowhere and I was looking for the dueling banjos. “What were they thinking?” I asked myself.
It was nearly dark when we arrived in their tiny town…and I do mean tiny. There are no fast food restaurants, only one gas station, a Dollar General Store (nope – no WalMart) and one grocery store. I had made reservations at a bed and breakfast (one of several) where the manager was kind enough to allow our little Ellie dog to join us in our room. The manager had informed me over the phone that we would be staying in a log cabin where the owner had a cat and so a little, long-haired dachshund would be no problem. We stopped at the main home of the two-part B&B, met the manager and found out that the cabin, we would call home for several days, was outside of town. We were to follow her car to the location.
It felt like we drove forever, but that is always the case when one does not know where one is going. Off of a main highway, we came to a drive that led a long way down into a “holler” to a picture perfect sight of two, big, authentic Kentucky log cabins. I calculated their ages as it was revealed to us that they were built before Kentucky became a state. 1792 was that year – George Washington was president and Daniel Boone was a resident of the state! Wow.
But my heart sank as we carefully navigated the flagstone walkway that just begged me to be my usual, accident-prone self and climbed the stairs to an uneven porch and to an old, front door. “Now you have to work really fast to get the front door to unlock,” we were told as the manager unlocked a single knob with no deadbolt lock. “Just shove the key in and turn quickly. If you are timid about it, you won’t get it to unlock. Oh, and be sure that you really jam the door shut and double check that it has closed.” There was a note taped to a door pane that ordered, “Please make sure the door is closed.” The obstinate door creaked open and we stepped into a dark entry way, lighted only by an old, opaque globe with a light inside, showing off the various countries of long ago.
First, we were shown our bathroom. The door to the bathroom opened out into the dark entrance where any other guest would walk right past. I was relieved to find out that it was our personal bathroom, but the privacy was definitely wanting. Inside the bathroom was an old claw foot bathtub with circular curtain and old shower assembly. A tiny space heater provided the only heat. We then went into the parlor to the left of the bathroom and I felt like I had walked into an Edgar Allen Poe story. The boards of the floor (original) creaked and sank under the weight of our steps and ancient furniture, books and multiple stuffed animals were strategically placed around an old fireplace on a wall that was obviously uneven, old, painted plaster. Electric Christmas candles in the windows and a floor lamp in the corner offered dim lighting, and a large collection of crucifixes adorned the mantel and hearth. I was looking for the raven quoting, “Nevermore.” A narrow door of vertical boards, held together by a couple of cross boards and painted with enamel paint opened to a narrow set of stairs that led to the rooms upstairs which were occupied by another couple of visitors.
The door to our room was the same type of door, but wider. It was a little lopsided so that there was a gap between the door frame and the top of the door when closed. The doorknob was the old, metal enamel type with no lock. When opened, the door revealed a large room with three chinked log walls and one plaster one, a set of twin beds on a floor that sloped enough to mess with your equilibrium and a very large, lighted Christmas tree in the corner.
That tree, along with a floor lamp, a set of electric Christmas candles in the window, a dim table lamp and a collection of strange, lighted plaster art on the mantel of a huge fireplace, served as the lighting for the room. In other words, it felt like we would be living by kerosene lantern light. The bed that would be Mr. Fix-It’s had one leg leveled by a wooden block. There was a television. And there was a light switch on the wall, but we were cautioned that the light switch would turn off everything, including the space heater and it was cold!
Because there were no electrical outlets, a maze of extension cords and spike bars crisscrossed the corners of the room and over the mantle. A large extension cord dangled from the mantel to be used for a space heater on the hearth. Mr. Fix-It surveyed the electrical nightmare with horror. I just looked around in dismay at the very weird room. By this point, I was really depressed…(and with that, I will leave this to be continued tomorrow!!)
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Archive for the ‘Humorous’ Category
I’m a big ol’ softy when it comes to animals, especially hurt animals. That awful ASPCA commercial on television that uses the Sarah McGlaughlin song, Angel, just sends me into sobs and now, I just have to turn the channel at the first strains of the song. Dump a dog and I’ll hunt you down. Bugs and snakes, I could care less about, but birds and mammals hit my tender spot.
And so, this morning, as I was preparing to leave the house for the day, that instinct kicked in. I heard Mr. Fix-It come back in the front door after I thought he had left for work. “There’s a hurt cardinal in the flower bed. He must have hit the window,” he said matter-of-factly. Actually, Mr. Fix-It wasn’t expecting for me to do anything about it. He was just informing me in the same manner that he would tell me that the UPS truck had just driven up. He headed back out of the door, hopped into the car and was gone.
I, of course, went out to check on our feathered friend. My heart broke to see this gorgeous, male cardinal flopping around under a rose bush, wing dragging, and obviously broken, and mouth open in a pant. I had to do something!! And so, I went into the house, slipped on my pair of leather gardening gloves and went back out to retrieve my patient.
I have this bad habit of acting before I think, and this time was no different. I tried to gently capture the bird, but he dove farther into the rose bush. I managed to finally grab him with one hand and he let out a squawk that so surprised me that I nearly dropped him. He grabbed a gloved finger of my other hand and bit down for all he was worth. He would not let go. I stood in the garden, unable to free my hand, unwilling to turn him loose from the other hand’s grip, and contemplating the fact that I had not made preparations for this invalid in the way of a “hospital” setting. I stayed stock still in an attempt to keep the bird calm and for me to decide what to do. Mr. Cardinal let out another squawk which released my finger. Then he looked at me, calmly, with the biggest, blackest, most unsettling eye as if to say, “OK, dummy. What’s your big plan?”
I opened the front door with my free hand and wandered around the house, carrying the bird and trying to be creative. I thought of our pet carrier, but thought the cat smells might upset the birdie. “I tawt I taw a pootie tat.” I spotted a couple of laundry baskets and a brilliant idea formed in my pea brain. With my one hand, I grabbed newsprint and lined one basket with the newsprint. Dragging the basket into the front guest bedroom, I situated it in a draft free location and went to retrieve the second basket. And of course, Mr. Cardinal was still trapped in my left hand, being whisked from room to room in my frenzy to solve my problem.
I grabbed a small bowl and filled it with water, went to the garage and got cardinal food with whole sunflowers and then placed the water and the food into the floor of the papered basket. I gently placed the bird onto the floor of the basket and quickly put the second basket upside down on top of the first basket. Mr. Cardinal just sat on the paper and stared at me. It was then that I remembered my suet that I had made and proudly announced to the stricken bird that he was in luck. I grabbed some of the suet from the frig and shoved it through a slat in the laundry basket right in front of the cardinal. I shut the door to the bedroom to protect the bird against our aging, but agile, Mr. Sway Cat.
I had to get on my way and so I decided that I would call an animal rescue mission near us and see if I could bring the bird by later in the day. In the meantime, I would text my friend down the road to see if she might have a bird cage. Feeling rather proud of myself, I took off to accomplish my various required journeys.
It was around 1:30 in the afternoon when Mr. Fix-It called me to let me know he had gotten home early. I told him about my brilliant accommodations for the bird and I explained that he could not open the door or leave the door open to the bedroom because of the cat. I neglected to tell Mr. Fix-It that I wanted to take pictures of my friend before I took him to the shelter. A few minutes after this conversation, my phone rang again and it was Mr. Fix-It. He nearly screamed, “There’s a cardinal flying around the bedroom!!!” I told him to shut the door so the cat wouldn’t get it. He seemed to think that was a little condescending for me to think I would need to tell him that! And then he said, “Now he’s perched on top of the curtain rods of the window! He’s going to mess on everything!!” I asked Mr. Fix-It, rather incredulously, if the bird was actually flying. I got a very curt “of course…how do you think he got onto the curtain rod??” I then asked Mr. Fix-It if he had taken the top laundry basket off of the bottom one. I was definitely NOT making any Brownie points with him at this point. He said that he had opened the door to the room and that the bird had already escaped. It was my fault. I hadn’t tied the baskets together. I guess cardinals are strong little suckers. And I guess this cardinal didn’t have a broken wing after all. He had just been stunned.
I told Mr. Fix-It to just wait until I got there and that we would figure something out. I was mentally visualizing a butterfly or fishing net, neither of which we own. My hubby wasn’t too happy. I could just see him standing in the room next to the antique 4-poster bed, ducking each time the red bird dive bombed him. And he couldn’t open the door to leave because..well, yes…because of the cat. Of course, my blogger brain was calculating, “I’ll take a picture of the cardinal on the curtains, for the blog, and THEN we’ll catch him. I kind of giggled, because I was certain that the distinctive cardinal ‘peep peep’ was being aimed at my husband and that the cat was probably outside the door in a fury. Poor Mr. Fix-It.
However, I don’t give my husband enough credit. Before I ever reached the front door, Mr. Fix-It had managed to get the window open and the screen removed so that Mr. Cardinal ‘flew the coop’ without so much as an ‘au revoir’. I got no picture – just bird poop on the carpet, the comforter, the curtains and the window table, bird seed scattered all over the carpet and a soggy mess of water and newsprint in the bottom of my laundry basket. But, yay for the bird. He’s off somewhere happily reunited with his wife and hopefully a little wiser about big windows.
I know they say that hell is paved with good intentions, but this time, I like to think that I gave that bird some R & R so that he could gather his wits before a dog or cat got him. At least he lived to fly another day!!
It’s been rather crazy around here. Much, much traveling with back-to-back trips. One trip was to Georgia so that Mr. Fix-It could do some training while I got to spend time with my precious Aunt Lois and Uncle Ed and see the new cottage that they are building. It is next to what will be their daughter’s home. They are in a retirement home right now and all I can say is that I am THRILLED that they are getting out of there and into their own place. I am not lying. I felt 90 years old when I left that retirement home. No smiles. No laughter. No sound. No nothing. Very dismal. It is so gratifying to see how my cousins are willing to give their parents the support, encouragement and help that honors the sacrifices that my aunt and uncle made for their children over the years.
Of course, if one is in Georgia during peach season, one MUST buy peaches and that is exactly what Mr. Fix-It and I did at the most enormous peach orchard I’d ever seen. There was no end to the peach trees and it just made me tired to think of all the work that goes into dealing with that many peaches. This family-owned orchard also supplies homemade peach ice cream to perspiring customers who brave the heat and humidity to purchase baskets of huge fruit. And what fruit it was! “Like candy,” comes to mind.
Mr. Fix-It and I came home to an even hotter Oklahoma of 110º – 114º days with no rain. We watched as grasses dried to a crunchy carpet of brown and trees slowly died, even though Mr. Fix-It diligently watered everything as best he could. Fires raged in nearby areas and the thought of leaving again was not really an option. But I had a high school class reunion to attend and I am sure that y’all can imagine that Mr. Fix-It was chomping at the bit to attend it with me!! This reunion, I am willing to admit, was my 40th year shindig. Yep. My classmates are all old. I’m not old, but they are! Fortunately, we Okies got about an inch of rain to alleviate any fears of leaving home to the fires and so Mr. Fix-It got his wish to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to a party where he was to converse with people he’d never met, didn’t know and who played absolutely no part in his world.
As for my part, I agonized over what to wear. You know: “What outfit will make me look like I stepped out of Vogue even though, I don’t know what Vogue is or how one steps out of it? What jewelry will give the appearance that the Queen of England felt obliged to give me the crown jewels? Sandals or dress shoes? Heels or flats? Teeth whitening or ventriloquize through closed lips?” And my Thyroid Eye Disease tends to make me look like I’m either drunk or shocked at the sight of everything – wide, red, watery and exaggerated – how was I going to downplay that? Let me tell you, if you make it to your 40th reunion, you no longer care what the guys think. You simply want the girls…er..women..er…mature females…to look at you and gush, “Oh MY! You haven’t changed a bit! Why, you are just as cute as a bug’s ear and pretty as a peach,” while thinking, “Oh my gosh. I’d have never known her without a name tag. Her hair is platinum (remember?! We don’t say gray!) and I thought she used to be thin! I’m thinkin’ she’s eaten one buttermilk pie short of a bakery!!” And so I chose my wardrobe carefully to reflect only half a bakery and settled for a raid on James Avery for jewelry. There was nothing to be done about my eyes, except to keep them closed – along with my lips.
The trip was uneventful – 15 hours of driving through drought-stricken Oklahoma and Arkansas and a stop at Trader Joe’s in Nashville, Tennessee. Trader Joe’s is my favorite. I’ve begged them to come to Oklahoma but was told by a number of their young, geographical geniuses that it isn’t possible to get over the Oklahoma mountains. What part of “wind comes sweepin’ down the PLAINS” do they not get?? We rolled into Knoxville to the home of our dear friends, Clyde and Mary, and settled in for the evening.
It was then, that my vanity reared its ugly head. (Yes, admitting one’s flaws is a direct road to continuing them without embarrassment.) I had taken my wedding rings off. I wanted to wear these beautiful gifts from Mr. Fix-It the next day, to prove to my classmates that I had really talked somebody into sharing his paycheck with me on a regular basis, but my ring finger knuckle had swollen twenty times its normal size. Not to be deterred, at 11:30 that night, with Mr. Fix-It and our host and hostess already in bed, I decided to make sure that I could wear the rings. I don’t know why. Don’t even ask me. All I know is that I was determined. I slathered a ton of hand cream all over my hand and finger and got the rings to the knuckle and then, with tongue stuck out between my unwhitened teeth, I forced them the rest of the way into place. There!! They were on. And as I happily looked at them, my finger began to swell more. Oh no. I knew that my finger was going to turn blue.
I tip-toed in to Mr. Fix-It, at midnight, and woke him up to inform him that my rings were stuck. You can imagine the sense of compassion and urgency he felt. He said, “I really wish you hadn’t done that. It’s midnight.” Long story short, he watched as I walked around the room with my hand over my head, stuck my hand in the freezer, ran cold water over my finger and tried another round of lotion to no avail. Clyde and Mary, stayed asleep, I think. By 12:30 am, the swelling had at least stopped and since my finger had not fallen off, Mr. Fix-It chose sleep over panic and I slept on the couch with my hand on the back cushions to keep it elevated. About 2 am, Mr. Fix-It came in to check on me, scared me to death and said, “I really wish you hadn’t done that. It’s 2 in the morning.”
The next morning, finger still immensely swollen, our friends recommended their family jeweler, Lamon Jewelers, for rescue and I was driven to a very painful experience of getting my rings cut off of my sausage finger. It hurt!!!! And when my precious jewelry had finally been removed, it lay in a bent and twisted heap of metal and jewels that looked nothing like a set of wedding rings. I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. However, this afternoon, I signed for a FedEx package that contained my repaired and glistening rings, shipped all the way from Tennessee and they look just like new. Thank goodness for skilled craftsmen!!!
The day of the reunion was full of fun, including a luncheon with a group of my former girlfriends and an afternoon spent with my friend, Robyn, traipsing through old neighborhoods to find the homes in which we had grown up. We found them and shot pictures of ourselves in front of the structures and even met the people who currently live in them. I found out that my old home is haunted – yep – that’s what they tried to tell me – and Robyn traded email addresses with the lovely woman who now calls her place “home” in order to send photos of the house from 50 years ago. The reunion was grand and I so enjoyed seeing the gang that I ran around with in high school, some of whom read this blog and were eager to meet Mr. Fix-It to verify that he is truly the wonderful man portrayed! They were in agreement. The trip back to Oklahoma the next day was also uneventful except for the moment that I came out of a restroom stop and calmly entered the car, wondering where Mr. Fix-It had gone, only to see him sitting in another car nearby. I was in the wrong car. He was laughing his head off. 1900 miles in four days is a bit rough, but it was worth it and I will treasure the memories of seeing so many people from my past.
I thought that I would show those of you who haven’t ever made a peach pie before, how I do mine if I am not using my homemade peach pie filling. That was the case with the peaches from Georgia. I froze them in slices and thawed a gallon to make a pie, but I also use fresh. I figure that I’ll be ready for the next reunion where they can say that I only look like I’ve been eating one peach pie short of an orchard. Much healthier, I think.
1 gallon sliced peaches
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 double pie shell
2 pats butter
Make your pie crust. My recipe for multiple pie crusts is great for a quick pie.
Put peach slices into a large bowl with flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and toss until pieces are coated.
Pour coated peaches into an unbaked pie shell
Wet the edges of the bottom crust with ice water and lay top crust on top.
Roll bottom and top crust edges together to form a coil around the edge of the pie.
Flute the edges by using a floured knife end and pushing the pie dough into the pinched fingers of your opposite hand
Cut slits in the top of the pie dough to vent the pie
Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the top of the pie crust and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for one hour or until golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for an hour before cutting.
(Don’t forget to comment to enter our newest giveaway for this heavy, heavy, marble and wooden rolling pin and package of a Made In Oklahoma mix to roll out! Winner will be announced Labor Day weekend.)
I’ve been sitting here, patiently twiddling my thumbs, having dutifully turned off all computers and the water heater due to a power outage this afternoon, that occurred without warning. I called the power company to alert them that we are without electricity and the woman laughed at me! She did. I asked if she had any idea how long this outage would last, and again, she laughed. Did I sound that funny? Or maybe she heard the terror in my voice as I assumed that she was hinting to me that we would never have electricity again?
Mr. Fix-It isn’t here this afternoon and so I am totally on my own. I am like Mrs. Ingles on the prairie, only with two dogs and two cats instead of children. And you can’t eat your dogs and cats any more than you can eat your children!!! How will we survive? I have already assessed my stock of deydrated food stuffs, mentally preparing what could be on the menu for the evening meal. I still have two quart jars of my homemade beef jerky that I have managed to hide from Mr. Fix-It and lots of veggies. I have water in the Berkey to boil and pour in with the veggies and meat to make soup and figure that could last us a few weeks. But it just dawned on me that we are under a burn ban so there will be no fire to boil the water. And it is getting stuffy in here. Never mind that the 115 degree days have broken. It has been 88º outside and who can live in 88º without air conditioning? I mean, really? Well, that’s all there is to it. We are all going to die. I remember the nice man who came to talk to us about a generator. We had all chuckled that if we invested that much money into something, we would end up never needing it. That is how Murphy’s Law works, you know. We didn’t buy one. Now it is payback. No generator – no electricity. I can’t even get the car out of the garage because the door is electric and HEAVY and I haven’t competed with Olympic heavy-weight lifters in some time now. And I have no water! Ack. The well pump is not working. All I have is what is in the Berkey. I have to conserve and I feel like it’s been weeks since I had a drink of water. My tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth. This is rough.
Oh wait. Never mind. The lights just came on. Yep! And water is coming out of the faucets. I’m tellin’ you. That was the longest ordeal! The electricity was off, like…let’s see…hmm…an hour and a half? Really? Huh. I thought it was weeks. You know, you just lose all track of time when you are having to rough it.
OK. So I’m being silly. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Fix-It is looking into a generator and I’m thinking this episode will give him a little extra boost toward that purchase! We lose electricity a lot in Oklahoma. And this has given more pause for thought on our water situation, as well. A hand pump would be a handy addition to our well system or a windmill with a tank. We’ll have to think about that too. We all need to be thinking about ways that we can live more sustainably without depending so much on outside forces. And trust me, two quarts of beef jerky won’t cut it!!
This kind of thinking always sends my tastebuds to grilling out. Unfortunately, we can’t do that right now. Too dangerous with a chance of a grass fire. But it hasn’t been that long ago that we weren’t under a burn ban and I tried a meat marinade that Mr. Fix-It found online that is just to die for. He said that he found it at American’s Test Kitchen. It is wonderful and unique and doesn’t take much time. Try this out. I promise that you that you will be hugging yourself and saying, “Who needs a Steak House??!”
So, here’s hoping that you have electricity all the days of your life…and that you will be well-prepared just in case you don’t!!
Warm-Spiced Parsley Marinade with Ginger
1/2 cup (packed) fresh parsley leaves
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and chopped course
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped course
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/s cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
3 or 4 one inch to one and a half inch thick steaks, preferably New York Strip, Ribeye, Filets or Sirloin
Place first 10 ingredients into a food processor or blender
Process until all ingredients are well-blended and fine
For Kabobs, trim all fat from steaks and cut into 1″ cubes. Sprinkle with tenderizer. Or, leave steaks whole and sprinkle with tenderizer.
Place steaks or cubes into a container that has a tight lid and add marinade from the food processor. Seal with lid.
Toss until all cubes or steaks are coated with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator, covered, from 4 up to 24 hours. I did mine overnight and until the next evening – probably 18 hours.
For kabobs, on skewers, alternate meat with pineapple, sweet onions, green pepper or you can also add mushrooms and parboiled new potatoes.
Place steaks or kabobs on a hot fire. Coals should be gray, glowing red. And these are now my instructions about how we cook a steak. Sear one side of the meat until browned and quickly turn to the other side. Immediately cover the grill with lid and allow steaks or kabobs to cook, undisturbed for 7 minutes for medium-well, 6 minutes for medium and 5 minutes for medium rare.
Immediately remove steaks or kabobs to a platter and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
The good news is that my meds seem to be working and I don’t feel like I’m burning up from the inside out, with the accompanying clammy persperation from a metabolism gone haywire. And my eyes are a teeny tiny better and that is awesome. Thank you so much for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. But the bad news is that it is 105º outside. There was a roadrunner on the drive, carrying a frilly, little parasol to beat off the heat as she looked for a lizard. OK. So, I’m exaggerating a little. It was actually just a tiny fan.
I have to tell you about my adventure with our little Ellie-dog, our long-haired mini dachshund, in this heat. I was driving on the interstate, after having made some deliveries, and Ellie went along for the ride. She was in the front seat, panting from the very hot day and trying to get comfortable, when all of a sudden she jumped down to the floor. I told her to get back into the seat, but she dove under the car seat to the crackling and rustling of paper and plastic wrap. Backing out of her hideout, she jumped into the seat with a stale, partially eaten, chocolate cupcake. Chocolate can be deadly to dogs and I knew it.
Just to give background: A few weeks ago, in a moment of absolute insanity, I had purchased a packaged “Super Chocolate” cupcake from a huge pile on a table at the grocery store. The pile was so inviting to a person who is supposed to be totally abstaining from such things and besides, there was a big, big sign that declared, “SALE!!”. They were on sale. That’s a siren song to this coupon shopper. I had to have one. So I did.
When I got to the car, I opened the package, took one bite and thought, “Bleh! That’s awful!!” and put it back into its plastic wrapping, intending to toss it in the trash. That was a sale down the drain. I don’t know if my separation from such things made that cupcake taste bad or if it was just a sorry product, but whatever, my picky tastebuds saved me from myself. I placed the wrapped cupcake in a small bag and put it on the floor of the car, where I promptly forgot about it. I must have stopped fast or something, because that little bag rolled under the seat where it went to live in a cupcake no-man’s land.
That is, until Ellie found it. As soon as she had grabbed that cupcake, she jumped onto the seat cushions on the passenger’s side of the car while, at the same time, my hand shot out to grab her nose. Now, remember that I am on the interstate going 70 mph. Ellie was trying with all her might to wolf down her treasure before I could pry her mouth open. Driving with my left hand, I stuck two fingers of my right into the back of her jaw, opened her mouth and scooped out wads of slobbery cupcake as Ellie tried valiantly to grab it back along with my fingers. I yelped. Using the elbow of my left arm, with hand on the wheel, I managed to get the window open partway in order to toss the offending cupcake onto the highway. I figured that it was so slobbery that it would decompose and that wouldn’t be considered littering? I managed to hold Ellie’s collar in such a way that she could not move to grab the chocolate pieces that had broken off and scattered all over the seat. And I mean ALL over the seat.
Instead of heading back to work, I made a detour to the vet and plopped my silly puppy onto the table, stating rather foolishly, “She ate a chocolate cupcake. Not all of it, but some of it and it said that it’s a Super Chocolate cupcake!” The vet dubbed her Cupcake Dog and did an exam, using the name frequently. He determined that she was just going to have a really bad tummy ache because – yes, we read the ingredients on the cupcake package – there wasn’t even enough chocolate to call it just a Regular Chocolate cupcake, much less Super Chocolate. False advertising indeed.
And so, Ellie, Cupcake Dog, did fine and I bandaged my fingers where she had been unable to distinguish between them and globby cupcake. No harm done.
Better for you than preservative-filled, pretend chocolate cupcakes are the veggies in your garden. You do have a garden, right?! If not, then start thinking about next year! If you are like me, your garden is coming in all at once right now. It makes an overwhelming task to deal with mountains of tomatoes, potatoes, corn and every other kind of vitamin-filled vegetable that show up at this time of year. At the request of a reader, who asked what other kind of soups I process that use potatoes, I thought I’d share a recipe that my friend Janis invented and shared with me a number of years ago. She serves it every cold, Halloween night to volunteers who help with her community project. Her method of making this soup is the “dump” method and the ingredients include the “kitchen sink” but I put together a batch and measured what I did so that I could pass that on to you.
The nice thing about this soup is that it makes so much that you are able to can it in the pre-meat stage and then cook up your meat prior to serving so that it is fresh tasting and delicious. The recipe makes about 8 pints of base soup. Of course, you can make this large batch for a crowd and add your meat at the end, without worrying about canning it. So here you go:
6 – 8 cups fresh tomatoes that have been blanched, skinned and quartered or chopped. (You can use canned tomaotes if you do not have fresh, one can being Rotel tomatoes)
1 can chicken broth
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper diced (not needed if using Rotel tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 medium new potatoes chopped with skin left on
3 carrots, chopped
1 cup corn (frozen is fine)
1 cup green beans (frozen is fine)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (optional)
1 large onion chopped
1 1/2 cup cooked pinto beans or kidney beans or a can of drained Ranch Style Beans
1 26 oz can of your favorite brand of spaghetti sauce – I like Hunts
To Serve Soup (For 1 quart)
1/2 lb hamburger
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1/3 cup shell pasta
Drop tomatoes, whole, into boiling water and watch for the skins to split. Remove to ice water when the skins split. Slip skins off of tomatoes and quarter or dice tomatoes and place into a large stock pot.
Add can of chicken stock to tomatoes and bring to a boil to stew.
Add chopped new potatoes and carrots. Continue to boil until carrots are tender.
Add chopped onion
And just a little hint. When using fresh tomatoes and cooking them, often they have a slightly bitter taste. If you make spaghetti sauce or even juice from fresh tomatoes, this can be a problem. The solution is to add about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the tomatoes as they cook. They will foam up like the top of a volcano! But this cuts the bitterness totally and gives a more smooth, nice taste. If using commercially canned tomatoes, this step can also be necessary. Note: Do not add soda if you are going to can tomatoes only, using the waterbath canning method. This cuts the acidity and reduces the safety of using waterbath canning. For this particular recipe, we will be pressure canning it, so reducing the acid will be fine.
Add green beans, corn and peas (peas are optional). I am using frozen here, but fresh is great.
Add spaghetti sauce
Put soup into jars, either pints or quarts, and process in a pressure canner on 10 lbs of pressure for 60 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts.
To serve, open a jar or two of the soup base and put into a deep pan. Add one cup of water for one quart of soup base. For 1 quart of soup, cook 1/2 lb of hamburger or ground chuck with 3 cloves of pressed garlic, salt and pepper, until browned.
Add beef to the soup. I like to add pasta shells too. Boil until the pasta is tender and add more water as it cooks to thin if need be.
Serve hot with fresh cornbread. This is a wonderfully quick dinner on a cold, winter night. Also, just for information, this is great for camping. Dehydrated hamburger can be purchased at many hunting/camping stores, as well as at Costco. This meat can be rehydrated and cooked with the garlic and salt and pepper and then added to the soup. Great meal for around the campfire or when the electricity goes out!
As is usual for out in the country, the internet has been down for a few days and my I-phone has served for emergency web surfing. Yes, there is such a thing as emergency web surfing. One must bare one’s soul on Facebook and email or life comes to a screeching halt! And yes, I do know the definition of addiction. But the I-Phone is no substitute for a laptop when it comes to blog work.
And speaking of baring souls, I guess I’ll have to come clean and admit that I can really make a mess of things. Yep. I have done some really dumb things in my life, but I’ll have to say that last week proved that I can top even the dumbest things I’ve done.
On Friday, my daughter and her husband asked us to babysit for our little 4 1/2 month old granddaughter so that they could go to a banquet. At 3 in the afternoon, I gathered supplies at their house, placed diaper bag and gear into my car and snapped the carseat, little granddaughter snugly harnessed, into the base which is in the back seat. I tossed my keys into the front driver’s seat to have both hands free and arranged everything to my satisfaction. Aiming to run around to the driver’s side, I slammed the back door shut, only to hear a sickening “click” as my car locked all of the doors with a, “See? Who’s in control NOW, sucker!!”
I freaked. It was cool outside, but the sun was shining directly onto the back of my hatchback and so I knew that it was going to get warm really fast in the car. I ran up the steps of my daughter’s front porch and started pounding on the door to catch her before she got into the shower.
Now, there is one thing that I have come to realize about grandmotherhood. Your grandchild isn’t your child and so there’s this feeling of extra, extra, extra responsibility that goes with the title of ‘grandparent’. I didn’t even think about the fact that my daughter might tell me that I’m an imbecile or that I shouldn’t even HAVE keys to a car in the first place. My only thought was focused on my poor little grandbaby locked in my child-eating car.
It was at the moment my daughter opened the door and was quizically assessing my panicked face that I had the humbling feeling that I would definitely be dropping in my daughter’s admiration of my intelligence. I explained what had happened. Without a word, she was quickly on the phone with a locksmith. Well, did you know that locksmiths don’t unlock cars with babies in them? Something about liability. If they don’t get there on time, then they are liable. The locksmith told my daughter to call 911. Next, I heard her tell the situation to the 911 operator and as she hung up the phone, I could hear the wail of sirens in the distance. Pretty fast!
A minute later, the biggest, shiniest, reddest fire truck roared into place in front of my daughter’s house (which is in a neighborhood of many, many nosy neighbors) and I would say that the entire fire department unloaded from the vehicle. I am thinking that they all wanted to see what the dumb, old broad looked like who would lock a precious baby in a car. Using a wedge and this thing that looked like a blood pressure checker, they pried the door of my nearly new car about 1/2″ apart and pushed a rod down to the locking mechanism to push on the unlock symbol. Click. Simple as that.
My dear granddaughter, hair starting to mat against her head from sweat, was staring at her stuffed cow, blowing bubbles through her tiny lips and carrying on a conversation that only she could understand. When one of the firemen opened the back door, she grinned at him, face all lit up, as if to say, “You having fun too?!” He commented on what a happy baby she is and that she is awfully cute. We think so. I tried to pay him (he didn’t want a hug) but he said that this was just part of the job. Our heroes rode off in their bright red chariot as we waved them on. I am sure that the neighbors still wonder what that was all about.
I have learned a new truth. The only people who can retrieve babies from locked cars are firemen. And firemen do it all the time because there are more idiots around than just me! Other people have automatic door locks too and their cars like to show them who’s boss too! I feel so much better. But I will never let my keys off of my person ever again!!
Of course, cooking always strokes my wounded self-esteem and so I decided to do a little inventing to really make myself feel intelligent again. Mr. Fix-It had read about a rosemary-ginger seasoned salmon filet, grilled to perfection at some restaurant and as I could see his mouth watering as he tried to tell me about it, I decided that I might as well take a stab at my own version. I had a number of wild Alaskan salmon filets and so I thawed them and set to work throwing together a savory seasoning to rub onto the surfaces of the fish steaks. About a half an hour later, I had sampled a tiny taste of my mixture and decided it was perfect. It worked great as a rub and the charcoaled filets were perfection if I do say so myself! And Mr. Fix-It said they were too. He was a happy camper. This rub would work great on chicken as well. So if you would like to try something with a fresh and different flavor, here is the rub that I threw together.
3 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp any bottled garlic and herb mix (I used Frontier’s Garlic and Herb)
3 Tbsp paprika
3 Tbsp dried onion flakes
3 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp salt
Process first 6 ingredients in the blender until a powder. Add salt and sugar and mix thoroughly. Place in airtight container. Use as rub on fish or chicken, coating both sides, and charcoal.
Ginger and Rosemary make this rub taste so unique
Grinding all of the ingredients, except for the salt and sugar which are added after grinding, makes a uniform rub that can be easily sprinkled and rubbed into the meat.
My car died. It didn’t just stop. It bled to death, a pool of oil tracing its way across the driveway and into the grass. I had just driven in from shipping orders and Mr. Fix-It asked me if I had checked the oil lately. Are you kidding? Am I my auto’s keeper? Ok, so I had to admit that I had not. The car needed to cool down after its trip and so it was forgotten for a couple of hours.
It was then that Mr. Fix-It came in, rather stern-looking, and informed me that there was no oil in my car. Oh no!! How could that be?!! Like most women, I feigned horror, not really sure that having no oil in the car was all that big a deal. I followed Mr. Fix-It to my vehicle and watched as he poured 5 quarts of 10W-40, through a funnel, into the oil reservoir, while schooling me of its importance. He checked the dipstick and still there was no oil. What? But under the car, there was a bucketful!!
Mr. Fix-It declared my lovely, champagne-colored Toyota Camry a dead duck. Of course, most cars become dead ducks after they have been driven for 210,000 miles, but I had been sure that this one would live to another 100,000!! As it was, I no longer had wheels. That’s bad. Trust me. Mr. Fix-It drives a big, honkin’ Ford and I have always had the small cars in which to tootle around and save gas. But now, I was seriously short on tootlin’ machinery and didn’t need gas!
I think that I have written about the Afghanistan truck before. It is a small Toyota pickup exactly like the ones used by the Taliban to bomb buildings. Ours looked like one of those trucks AFTER the bombing. We got it for $100 and Mr. Fix-It made it work like new. However, the body looked like someone had hit a tree with the front hood and then had backed into another one with the rear bumper. Two opposing ‘V’s’ would be an apt description. And somewhere in there, a bomb may have crunched the tailgate. I had driven that truck on occasion as have most of the children when they were in-between vehicles, but the Afghanistan truck was finally given to our son-in-law for him to use with his projects.
In its place, we received a little 1988 Nissan truck, with a camper on the back and only 73,000 miles on it, from my mom and dad when they moved from Tennessee to their retirement community. It has a 5-speed manual transmission and is the very basic package that includes no radio, no cup-holders and no place to hang your cell-phone. Oh wait. Did they even HAVE cell phones in 1988?? But it has the most comfortable seats and shifting is pretty smooth….that is….unless you are in downtown Oklahoma City or Edmond and you are me. Oh my. Talk about stress and a headache. Today, I was the little ol’ lady with the gray hair, holding up traffic as I attempted to pull forward at a green light, and killed the engine twice until I finally figured out I was in third gear. Traffic does that to me. My mind turns to mush. And other drivers’ hands turn to shaking fists.
And so, Mr. Fix-It and I have embarked on the fun and enlightening pastime of car shopping. Yes, that is an activity that is sure to leave you with the immediate need to hit the shower and remove the slime that has been sent your way by car salesmen. We even had the made-for-tv experience of the salesman seating us in his office, disappearing and then hauling in the “manager” to see if he could “get us into the car of our dreams.” I mean, how cliché is that? One dealer asked me what I do and I tried very hard to explain my business. He is still convinced that the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ helps you slice onions and cucumbers. Don’t ask me why. I gave up after his fiftieth interruption to correct me about its use. Yep, cars are a necessity but car dealerships are not. It is with that realization that I have hit Craigslist. I will keep you posted on the outcome.
Here in Okie Land, there is only one thing that we Okies would rather do than eat…and that’s watch sports. Sports is the one way that we can bring our large neighbors to the south – Texas – down a notch. There is a reason that the OU Sooners vs the UT Longhorns is called the Red River Rivalry. Sports is the way that we little southwest nobodies can whoop up on some northerners like the Boston Celtics or some west coast smarty-pants like the Lakers. It looks like we have the number one pro basketball team both in the Western Conference and the nation, you know! And even here in Prairie Country where winter lasts all of a month, we have a professional hockey team with its own ice arena. Shoot, on the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma City, we have boat houses where teams from all over the country suit up to compete with rowing teams on those long, skinny boats that look like something out of the Middle Ages powered by chained prisoners!
I have to say that I get pretty engaged in a good game if I have an interest in one of the teams. The Thunder’s games have become a regular show at our home and during the Fall with football weather, OU, OSU and Baylor (my niece attends Baylor) grab my attention. I am known to jump up and down and scream on occasion and Mr. Fix-It seems not to mind. He’ll let go with a shout every so often, but he is such a patient man.
One of my favorite pastimes concerning sports, however, is to write down the really stupid things that sports casters say. It’s like they have to be yammering throughout an entire game and don’t even realize that they sound really ridiculous. Here are some that I have heard in the past and also caught just recently at the Super Bowl and a few basketball games:
• “He’s not a normal human being!! Normal human beings don’t make a living of trying to get killed.” (I’ll second that)
• “He’s gonna fall off and drop back.” (Sounds like a recipe for injury to me!)
• “I wanna know what’s going on in that locker room!” (And then proceeds to tell us exactly what the coach is saying as if the sports announcer is really there!)
• “We can move the football.” (Doesn’t look like it so far, buddy!)
• “We have to move the football.” (That’s the object of the game!)
• “Look!! Look! He passed with his left hand!! He’s amphibious, you know!!” (Somebody hand him a dictionary!!)
• We’re going to get a double crack (That sounds painful)
• “It’s all about getting the ball down the court.” (Well, duh)
• “It’s about making points. If they don’t make those points, they don’t win.” (Another, “well, duh”)
Get out your pencil and pad and keep track of your own “Stupid Sports Comments” and you’ll get double the entertainment watching any particular contest! But as I said, second to sports in Oklahoma is eating, and so I thought I’d show you how I fix hot wings for Mr. Fix-It to munch on while he quietly holds in the normal male urge to jump up and scream as his OU quarterback races down the field for a touchdown. Someday, he’s just gonna let go and be just like me!!
3 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 to 3 dozen chicken wing portions
In a large container, mix salt into water to make a brine. Place the chicken wing portions into the brine and soak in the refrigerator for several hours.
Meanwhile mix flour with spices and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Drain the chicken (but do not dry) and place into flour mixture.
Toss to coat all chicken wing pieces
Fry pieces in oil that is about 1/4″ deep. You can use canola oil, olive oil or coconut oil for healthier oils.
Turn pieces and brown on the other side. Don’t worry if the chicken is not totally cooked when browned.
Place wing pieces on a rack (I am using old cookie racks) over a cookie sheet. Place in a 350º oven and bake for 35 minutes. This is a very important step. It helps to take out a lot of the grease from frying, cooks the chicken all the way through so that it just falls off the bone and seals the crust.
Remove wings from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Place into a large bowl.
Pour your favorite hot wing sauce over the wing pieces. Put just enough that when you toss the chicken, it will be covered but not saturated. I am using “Wing Time” brand Buffalo Wing Sauce (medium heat).
Toss the wing sections in the sauce, gently, with a large spoon or spatula
Place the coated wing sections back onto the rack and place back into the 350º oven for 15 more minutes.
Serve the chicken with blue cheese dressing and celery as a game snack. Or serve for dinner with mashed potatoes and the works!
Well, it’s Monday and I can sure tell you that I’m glad it is today and not last Monday. A whole lot can happen in just 7 days!! As you know, the spectre of Toxic Shock Syndrome in our daughter overshadowed the bliss of having a first grandchild. All of a sudden, marveling over perfect, tiny toes and fingers of the baby turned into a fearful dread over a sunburn-like rash, high fever and excruciating joint pain in Momma.
I don’t know about you, but Toxic Shock Syndrome is something I had only read about in boxes of feminine products. I’d never heard of anyone having it and I wasn’t really sure that it wasn’t made up by some pharmaceutical company to promote a drug and give us something else to worry about besides restless legs or dry eyes. But it is real and it is bad. It is deadly. It can be caused by staph or strep bacteria (in this case it was staph caught at the hospital) and within a matter of a couple of days, can be fatal to its victim. General flu-like symptoms with fever are the initial signs, but the tell-tale bright, bright red rash over the entire body (that looks like the victim has been blow-torched) is the warning that a hospital admission had better be in the very, very immediate future.
We feel very fortunate that dear daughter’s case was caught early and that the worst thing she had to experience was lots of drawn blood and IV megadoses of antibiotics that nipped it in the budding staph rampage. The pseudo-HAZMAT suited personnel were a little disconcerting, but heh, it was staph!
I have to say, though, as for me, a battle with a recliner and the ensuing laugher healed my angst and stress I was feeling, better than any medicine could do. The nurses were very generous in trying to find a comfortable way for me to stay with my daughter each night so that Daddy could take Baby home away from all germs. When they mentioned a recliner would be more comfortable than a cot, I envisioned overstuffed and soft and readily agreed. I was not prepared for the ’70′s era, straightbacked, minimalist black monster that appeared while I was in the cafeteria.
That evening, after making sure that daughter was as comfortable as one can be with tubes attached from arm to a stand of hanging bags with the inability to move freely, I fluffed pillows and a blanket into the recliner and positioned it to leave a pathway for the nurses whom I knew would be appearing every hour on the hour. I sat down, leaned slightly for the foot rest to pop up and then used every ounce of my upper body strength to force the back of the chair into a reclining position. It was then that I realized that it was the kind of recliner that makes an “ab buster” passe. The only way that this piece of furniture would stay reclined was for me to remain rigid, using stomach and thigh muscles as springs. I figured I could do it.
I turned my head on the pillow, closed my eyes and was hit with a beam of light that flashed through my closed eyelids and made it impossible to sleep. A square light was positioned on the opposite wall and I think it was illuminated with a 200 watt bulb.
I sat up and removed blankets, slipped on shoes since we were told not to touch the floor or put anything onto the floor, found the light switch, turned it off, squirted sanitizer on my hands and trotted back to the chair. I sighed with pleasure as I reclined again and fell asleep with tight stomach muscles holding the recliner in place. As soon as I fell asleep, I relaxed, and as soon as I relaxed the chair shot back into position and I was rudely awaken to sitting straight up in the chair that was about two feet back from where I had started. It was on rollers and my abrupt upright snap sent it backwards a few feet. I slipped shoes back on and instead of getting out and postitioning the recliner, I placed both feet to either side of the foot rest and walked the chair, ala Fred Flinstone, into place. I reclined again and settled myself to sleep and did fall asleep, only to be awakened again in an upright position and further back toward the door. The nurse walked in and I greeted her as if the chair and I were best buds. She said nothing about my blocking the doorway or about my tennis shoes sticking out from under the sheet. She did her blood-letting and disappeared. I made an effort at getting some sleep and again woke up, sitting up and had to walk the chair back into place. It was then that I started to giggle. I didn’t want to wake my daughter but my situation was feeling pretty hillarious. I finally figured out that sleep was not an option, trundled back to the light switch for the wall light, switched it on, slapped some sanitizer on my hands and read a book until the sun peeked through the blinds at the window.
The next day, I requested a cot which was comfortable as all get out for each hour that I was allowed to sleep between nurses’ visits. As it turned out, my daughter had the most positive outlook of us all and pointed out to me on her final night there, that we were at a 5 star hotel in a room with a view. She had me open the shades and I was astounded at what I saw. It was just breathtaking. Lights glittered over the city of Oklahoma City and the Devon Tower rose above everything with glistening lights like a nighttime ride at an amusement park. The view made me so thankful to be an Oklahoman with praying friends and family. Life is good!!
So thank you again for your prayers, thoughts and notes. God has blessed my family with His healing hand and we are all very grateful.