Monday, November 29, 2010

The tale of the pumpkin pie

One time about 25 years ago, my sister, her husband, my youngest sister and myself all got in the car in north Florida and drove to my parents house in northern Pennsylvania. It was about an 18 hr drive. We had a nice drive, arrived late and after greeting the family, went to our various assigned rooms and fell asleep.

It was Christmas time and so, there was snow on the ground - fun for FL kids. There was food to be cooked and presents to be set out and there was some last minute shopping to be done.

So we commenced the cooking. While some of the food was cooking, I happened to go out onto an enclosed porch to look around. (This was not the home we grew up in. It was the parsonage for the church they had at the time and we hadn't been there before.) My dad came in from outside and I asked him about the corn on the cob that was sitting out in the rafters and that had been chewed on. He said he was saving the seeds for next year. He also had some other seeds that I noticed had been chewed on and asked him what was eating his seed supply. He replied that it was some clever chipmunks that figured out how to get in and out and that he couldn't stop them. (Cue "Chip and Dale" intro). He had tried a variety of ways to stop them, but nothing was working. He didn't really want to hurt them, just stop them from eating his seed supply.

Well, the cooking was finally done and mom was ready to go shopping. Before we left, mom decided that the pies would be cooled quicker if she placed them on the enclosed porch.


"mom, won't the chipmunks get into them?"

"Nah, they've never bothered the pies before. They don't care for pumpkin pie."

"Oh. ok."

And off we go for a couple of hours.

And we come back.

And mom goes out onto the back porch to get her pies.

And we hear hysterical laughing going on.

So...we go check.

There on the top of one of the pies, in a corner, are little chippymunk footprints! And TEETH prints!

Yes, Virginia the chipmunks DID like pumpkin pie. And YES, they DID get into pies on the porch!

So, mom cut the wedge off where they had nibbled it, put it on the porch and wished the little beggars a Merry Christmas.

And we ate the rest of the pie for Christmas. Yes. We. Did.

And it was GOOD!

Spaghetti Soup

SOUP??? Spaghetti?? Yeah, that's right. Soup. Spaghetti soup.

Why soup? Well....I have a cold. The monster cold of all colds. It's gone down into my chest - like it always does. Triggers the asthma - like it always does. Now it's turned into bronchitis, hasn't done that in years.

It's 3pm. I'm just now eating "breakfast". (No, I did not just get up. Actually, I've been up since early am.) It's that now I'm hungry enough that it's worth enough to me to move and start the coughing. So I went and cooked something.

Why don't you have TURKEY LEFTOVERS, you ask? BLEEEEECCCHHHH. I eat turkey 2 times a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's it! I eat left-over turkey for 2 days afterwards. And. Then. I'm. DONE!!

I've never been very fond of turkey anyway and the older I get, the less fond of it I've become. Actually, I once broke out in hives from eating too much turkey. I quit the turkey and the hives went away. (long story, short. I lived alone, fixed a turkey and proceeded to eat it for 3 meals a day for a week - I wasn't throwing out food.) I'd say I'm allergic to it because after 2 days of turkey, I start having a sick stomach. So NO turkey!

Anyway, I left the left-overs at my DD and DSIL's house. They LIKE turkey. They both work FULL-TIME. DD is pregnant. THEY did a happy dance to have the extra food. Especially food that didn't require cooking or dirtying dishes. lol

And I'm HUNGRY. So....what's in the fridge? What don't I have to cook? Yogurt? Blech. Not today. Salad? Double blech! Not today.

Some ground buffalo that a friend picked up that was on sale. (Thanks Kathleen!) Ok. What do I want? Hamburger? Nahhh. I know, I'll fry up half of it and wing it. (proceeds to turn on eye under cast iron skillet and dumps in 2 tbs of rendered fat from some fatback. Hey, I don't want to hear that. It doesn't MATTER that I "could" DIE from heart disease because this cold is gonna KILL ME FIRST! I'm pretty sure this is my last meal! EVER!)

And step back from MY cast iron skillet. It's well seasoned. It's the heir to my fortune (sorry kids) and if you step back now, you'll live to tell the tale! Touch it and you DIE. IMMEDIATELY!

Oh, back to the food. Whoa, here's 1/2 an onion from T'day wrapped in foil and it's still good. (Chop, chop, chop. Toss, Sizzle, sizzle.)

Hummm. Probably need to add a little salt and garlic powder to this. This is a normal amount. A sane amount. Not I can taste crazy amount. I eye balled it like I normally do when I fry meat & onions.

Looking about done. What do I want to do with this? sigh Hash? Naahhh. sigh

Oh, here's some left-over cooked spaghetti - must be 2 cups of it in the bag. (Dump. Sizzle, sizzle.)

Humm....what kind of tomato products can I find?'s a can of diced tomatoes and here's a can of tomato paste. (Opens can of diced tomatoes and dumps them in. Adds about 1/4 can of water.)

And now for the paste. Oh. Interesting. I don't believe the can should be shooting tomato plasma out of it when you puncture it. Must of been in food storage too long. Why haven't you bothered to DATE any of your stuff?? sigh (dumps the can of Tomato paste and washes can opener).

Man, that's some watery sauce. Ok, lets go looking for some more tomato products in a different BOX because there's still 9,005 boxes not unpacked yet. There's no place to PUT the stuff. It's in boxes with labels. Fruit, Veggie, Milk, etc. So...(dig, dig, dig) Oh, look there's some tomato sauce! SCORE! (Opens can and dumps it in, rinses out the can and used about 1/4 can water to do so.) (Looks at pan and goes; "Oh, crap! Man, that's watery!)

Hum...something missing. Oh, yeah, better season it. salt, garlic powder, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, fresh basil - ok, it's drying out on the plant. but since the plant is not yet dead, it's still "fresh", Italian seasoning, brown sugar.

Still missing something.'s some Feta cheese.

Yeah, that looks good.

Does it taste good? Did you NOT READ the first paragraph? HOW THE (mystery word) DO I KNOW?? I have a COLD! The only thing I can "taste" is the salt in the feta and the large pieces of the rosemary - which I failed to think about needing cutting UP so it didn't overwhelm my mouth.

So here's the "recipe". Note of caution. You probably do NOT want to use the amounts of herbs that I put in here. Hello, I have a COLD!

Spaghetti soup that wasn't

1/2 pound of ground something - beef, chicken, turkey, pork, buffalo - not kid, it would not taste good! (You'll have to find another way to dispose of unruly children.)

2 Tbs of fat if you're using a lean meat like buffalo. Olive oil, shortening. Whatever ya got.

1/2 lg onion

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups left-over spaghetti (COOKED)

14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes + 1/4 can water (rinse out can with it and dump contents in pan)

15 oz can tomato sauce + 1/4 can water (rinse out can with it and dump contents in pan)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp Italian seasonings

(Crazy amounts of the following. If I could taste, I probably would only use about 1/2 of these amounts!)

5 semi-dried out fresh basil leaves or about 2 tsp dried basil

1 TBS fresh rosemary (chop 'em up folks or they're STRONG!) or about 1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp fresh oregano. This one might be ok as is. Normally, I would used about 1/2 tsp dried oregano in something like this, so 1 tsp fresh is probably spot on.

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


Get the skillet hot, add the fat, then the ground meat. Cook over med-low heat until done. While it's cooking, chop an onion and toss it in there. Season it with the salt and garlic powder (or use 2 cloves of fresh garlic and don't use the second amount of garlic for the sauce.

When the meat is no longer pink and the onions done, add the spaghetti and let it "fry" while you find the tomato products and deal with disaster.

Make the sauce:
Add the tomato products and the water. Mix it around. Turn up heat because it looks like it's gonna be really soupy.

Add spices. Turn down heat as you realize that 1.) it's spattering all over and 2.) it's not as bad as you thought it was and you don't want it too thick. (Did I just imply that spaghetti sauce can be TOO thick?? NEVER!)

Heat until it's all hot. Don't wait for the flavors to "marry" because YOU CAN'T TASTE ANYTHING, ANYWAY!

Add feta and serve.

Eat a bowlful and write a useful blog entry.

Go back for seconds. Realize that as it's sat, it has thickened and it tastes better. Or is that because I have more feta in the second serving and THAT'S what I'm tasting?

And for the experienced, adventurous, broke cook:

1/4-1/2 lb meat, ground, shredded, cubed. Cooked or raw

an onion

garlic if ya got it.

fat to cook above so it doesn't stick to pan

some cooked pasta, egg noodles, rice, chow mein, or rice noodles

some kind of tomato product or spaghetti sauce, watered down a bit for "broth" or whatever kind of sauce floats yer boat or cranks yer tractor.

seasonings for the meat/onion mix and more to sauce - unless you're using spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce.

Cheese, what kind? I don't know, look in YOUR fridge!

black olives, mushrooms, more/different kinds of cheese, etc

Cook/heat meat with onion and garlic. If meat is already cooked, you may want to start the onion cooking first and then add garlic and then meat. Remember to not brown your garlic as it makes it bitter. (I thought only humans got bitter. humm...wonder if it was a divorced garlic that was tested?)

When the meat is hot, onions cooked, add the pasta and let it cook for a few.

Add the sauce. Whatever kind would work. Water it down a little bit so as to make it more soupy. You want soupy. Make a white sauce if you want to instead of tomato based "soup". Add some Parmesan to the white sauce and call it "Alfredo" which is what Alfredo sauce IS! lol Season it as ya need to.

Add cheese. Add black olives. Add mushrooms, whatever's in the fridge that needs usin'. Eat it as is, or put it in a casserole and sprinkle it with cheese. Put it under a broiler or in a 350 oven until the cheese is golden.

I know there's no black pepper in this recipe. I don't LIKE black pepper, so I don't USE it. Knock yourself out. Use it if ya wanna.

And then when you're done eating. Decide that the bathroom floor can just not STAND another day without being swept. And washed.

And then get side-tracked by remembering it's trash day (at 4:30 AM!), as you collect the trash and are in the process of emptying it, notice that there are MOTHS coming from a storage box of FLOURS and RICE. OH! NO! PANTRY MOTHS.

And will someone PLEASE answer my ears? They're ringing.

Yah know, tomorrow has GOT to be better! If it's not, I'm thinking I'm gonna have to just curl up in the fetal position for a while. Maybe pull the covers up over my head. You know- HIDE. Sort of like the hog-nose snake that the minute you touch it, it plays dead. Then when you walk away, it comes back to "life" and crawls off. Wonder, if I play dead will stop beating up on me? Nah, I don't think so either, was worth a thought. Ah, the fairy tales we write for ourselves. lol

Oh, my one ear just popped. YEAH! It's stopped ringing. Oh, fun. Now it sounds like the ocean. Hey, I grew up in St. Pete. I LIKE the beach. And hearing the sound of surf on the shore sure does beat the ringing! Now if only the other ear will pop, clear and perhaps I'll have the ocean in stereo. Or be able to HEAR again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sledding in North Georgia

I have a tale to tell.

Background: I WAS born in Philadelphia, PA. Only we left when I was 6.5 years old. Went to St. Petersburg, FL.

The second year we were here in North Georgia, we had a really good snow. In fact, the next day, there was still snow all over the ground, though the roads were clear. (Even then, there still wasn't anything to write about for traffic, everyone was staying home because of "the SNOW".

The kids and I got dressed, grabbed the sled and went crunch, crunch, crunch, through the snow to the park downtown. We had a really fun time on the short hump that went down to the Railroad tracks. Mommy and kids pushed each other in the sled. Ok, the kids were 1 1/2, 3 and 7. Mommy did most of the pushing and pulling - there and back! oy!

Well, we were done and I pulled them all home. Got home and crunch, crunch, crunched through the snow back up the hill. Then MOMMY got the BRIGHT idea of putting the kids on the sled at the top of the hill and telling them to staying put until I got to the bottom of the hill. Did I tell you that it drops the car out of gear into a lower one when I go up that hill? No? Well, it does.

I told them I'd catch them at the bottom because I didn't want them to go into the street as there was a LITTLE bit of traffic. And if, for some reason I don't catch you, just roll sideways off into the snow. So I get to the bottom of the hill and call up to my oldest telling her to push off. OH, YES. I. DID. (ok, look guys cut me some slack I WAS RAISED IN FLORIDA!)

They came ROARING down that FROZEN, SLICK hill like a bat from you know where. I went to grab them and the sled hit me so hard it was like getting sacked by Reggie White. Oldest managed to roll off the sled, but the 3 year old froze. I tried to grab the sled. Well I STARTED OUT on the left side of the sled. Got hit by it, the force flipped me completely OVER the sled, my foot hit my son's mouth and give him a bloody lip, but I managed to get him off the sled before it slid out into the street. But I was on the ground on the RIGHT side of the sled - that's how force the sled had.

So...lessons learned:
1.)There is a science called PHYSICS.
2.) Lack of knowledge of it does NOT suspend the CONSEQUENCES of ignoring it.
3.) If the snow CRUNCHES, that means there's a layer of ICE on it.
4.) Ice is SLICK.
5.) HILLS that make a car shift gears are STEEP! It's NOT just that I'm fat and out of shape!
6.) Son FREEZES in an emergency.
7.) As much as I wanted to play football, I am NOT 17 any more. The calendar does NOT LIE about how old I am.
8.) I didn't know my body could still MOVE in those directions.
9.) Getting sacked HURTS!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day

Some of you may not know that I am a veteran. I was in the US Air Force for about 2 3/4 years and then in first the Utah Air National guard and then the Van Nuys Air National Guard for about another 2 3/4 years total guard service.

A friend sent this link to me. Made me cry. Hope you guys enjoy it.

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I also want to give a special thank you to all of you who served "in country" during times of war. My sweet little butt was safely stationed in Japan while some of you were having your tails shot at, watching your friends die, and eating C-rations in the heat of Viet Nam.

And more special thank you's to:

2 of my birth brothers who served in the AF.

Several cousins and an uncle who served in Viet Nam

My birth father, a Navy Korean war vet.

My uncle, a Navy and Air Force vet who served in WWII as a 16 year old seaman, a Korean war airman and a Seabee for two tours in Viet Nam.

My Grandfather, one of two men to survive his battalion being mustard gassed in Germany during WWI. He spent the rest of his life with service-connected disabilities and no compensation, but he didn't complain. Not even when he was then beaten up during WWII for being "a German", though he was a US citizen.

And two great-uncles who are buried at Gettysburg.

They are part of why I'm free today.

Happy Veterans' Day to all.