A Place To Light

The annual Christmas journey was completed in record time on Sunday.  A combination of good weather, no traffic tie-ups, and drafting behind some Floridians.

The shopping is completed.  All gifts were wrapped by yours truly.  Groceries purchases finished today in preparation for the Christmas feast.

Now, the food preparation starts in earnest.  The mantle of official turkey carver has been passed down to me.  In the interest of public safety the cooking will be done by others. I’ll be ready on Christmas Day.

 

Wind Came Shreiking O’er the Plains

The annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage began early Thursday at three in the morning, and ended at eight in the evening.

A technical glitch prevented access to Wi-Fi for a couple of days.

It is customary for me to give warning when absent for this long and for that I apologize.

Yesterday, the drive to my Little Sister’s place was quite an adventure.  I was in the midst of a blizzard  that roared through the Midwestern plains.  Luckily, the ground was too warm for it to stick.

Today is Pre-Thanksgiving home made soup Sunday.  Could there  be such a thing as “Soupsgiving?”  Beef vegetable and chicken noodle soups are on the menu–hearty fare for a cold, clear day.

THE RELUCTANT TWENTY MINUTE GOURMET

short order cooks 2

It’s been a long recovery since my wife’s accident on December 20th.  There was a new sense of purpose–a different attitude. Less helplessness, more take charge.  Breakfast preparations were underway.  At times, it seemed, just a bit too frenetic.

“Be more careful cracking those eggs.  Half the egg whites landed on the countertop.”

“Add a little milk, some salt, and pepper.”

“Use a fork–not a spoon.  It works better,”  “OK,” I answered–put down my spoon, and picked up a fork.

“You’re making scrambled eggs–not meringue.”  “Yes, Dear,” I replied.

“Where’s the ham we just bought?  I know one piece, is in the freezer, in the garage.  Where’s the other piece?”  “Right here,” I answered.

“Now, divide it one-third, two-thirds, for me and you.  Cook it in the skillet till it browns.  No, that’s not done yet–turn it over once more.”

“Add some butter to this pan, now add the potatoes.  I just use scissors to open the package–it’s quicker.”

“Don’t forget the biscuits.  Use some non-stick cooking spray.  Biscuits take the longest.  This entire meal should take no longer than twenty minutes to prepare.”

I caught my breath, rinsed, and put the dirty dishes in the sink.  Any thoughts of ever being a short-order cook, quickly drained away–not, that there ever were any.  I already knew, more that I ever wanted to know, about cooking.  And you know what?  Breakfast was ready in exactly twenty minutes.

SUNDAY MORNING (At the Midnite Diner)

Sandwiches from last night’s roast
Hot chocolate and well-done toast
Reverential, talk and laughter
This was here and now
Not the Great Hereafter
Some said nary a single word
Some not used to being heard
Some stared at walls and floor
Some waited near the door

______________

Imposters, impersonators
Humanness barely recognized
Bounce back queens and kings
Diner friends, familiar feelings
Fallen stars worked the room
Raw emotion, killed inner gloom
Janitor took a welcomed break
From cleaning, mops, and brooms
Newcomers came, just to stare
Bingers hung over, barely there

__________________

Homeless from nearby park
Sought relief from the dark
Newfound, ill-gotten gain
Killed nothingness, hunger, pain
No one cared, they were all the same
Familiar characters buttoned their coats
Strong backs bent over, saluted the wind

___________________

 Local charlatan, welcomed in
Clever ruses, left outside
Sinners, saints
Self-righteous
Paupers and pawns
Congregation left at dawn
Another Sunday morning
At the Midnite Diner

EXPRESSION OF LOVE

The sound of excited voices echoed throughout the kitchen.  Little hands pressed out cookies.  Grandma complained about the kitchen being a mess–same as every year.  I knew she never meant it.  Some of the snowmen cookies had a garish “Picassoesque” appearance.  The process guided by a Grandmother’s loving hands.  She was fair, but firm.  Any disputes were quickly mediated and concluded.  Older grandchildren helped the little ones.  It was all in good fun.  Oddly shaped cookies with extra sprinkles tasted just as delicious as “normal” ones.

Cooking is an expression of love.  My expanding waistline tells me, perhaps I’m loved too much?  Good cooks memorize recipes.  When asked, my wife replies, “Oh, I don’t write anything down.”  “I just put in a pinch of this and a dash of that.”  She knows what ingredients, in the right proportions, taste good together.  All our children and grandchildren have favorite dishes.  My wife goes out of her way to prepare requested favorites when we visit.  I tease by saying she’s taking the kitchen with her.    Some favorites are homemade vegetable soup, swiss steak, smothered chicken breasts, mini-meat loaves.

My future bride was amused by this bumbling bachelor’s gastronomic forays.  Some of which she refused–with good reason.  It may have been my canned tuna, green bean, tomato surprise casserole topped liberally with cheese.  Over the years, my culinary skills have been sharpened.  For several years, we worked different schedules.  My responsibility was preparing the evening meal.  I came up with my own recipes.  Sometimes it was wise not to reveal all the ingredients.  Chef’s secrets, and all that, you know.  The few catastrophes were due to my creative spirit run amok.

Most guys are content to stick with outdoor grilling.  It’s hard to beat a good steak.  My speciality is grilled honey-orange, marinated, bone-in, chicken breasts.  I’m breaking tradition to pass along one of my “secret recipes.”  Not to worry, there were no barriers broken down–no frontiers crossed.  My “Sweet and Sour Coleslaw” recipe has never been written down.  Quantities are estimated to the best of my ability.  I’m a guy, I believe in keeping things simple.  There are no “exotic” ingredients.

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw

One regular sized head of cabbage, coarsely chopped, red cabbage adds color

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery, (may be deveined if desired)

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

1 large shredded sweet onion, (Vidalia or equivalent)

-Thoroughly mix dry ingredients-

Prepared Italian dressing, (Liptons, Kraft, or equivalent)

Use one third bottle, add more later, if necessary

Red wine vinegar, two dashes, (1 teaspoon)

Dill weed, (2 pinches)

Celery seeds, (1 pinch)

Garlic powder, (1 tablespoon, or two crushed cloves)

Thoroughly mix wet and dry ingredients

Taste test for proper sweet-sour balance

I prefer slight sourness over sweetness

I don’t add sugar, but that’s a personal thing  

Carrots have natural sweetness that comes through

Adding some tart apple pieces would add interest 

Marinate in the refrigerator overnight

Peace! Love! Enjoy!