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it's own food group...

Friday, December 19, 2014
...would be the classification for peanut butter if you were to ask the person I live with here. He has been saying (with great authority) that pb is the 'perfect food'. I can't say whether that statement is a quote, or just a very strongly held opinion. But if you hear anything often enough, you learn to not argue with someone who has just made a statement he believes to be a documented, researched, proven fact.

I likely shared the recipe for these cookies the last time I made them... which I suspect would be about a year ago. It is so easy, and so good to be so easy, I have made them again. Twice. Once yesterday and again this morning, to put some in the mail to a couple of people I won't see until next year, but wanted to send a little 'thinking of you' gift.

And: the other good, wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can let little people help roll them into balls, to drop on the baking sheet. Or give a fork to press lightly to make the all-important 'fork prints' (otherwise they are not complete peanut butter cookies!)  If more should end up in their mouths than on the pan, they will likely have some elimination problems for a day or so, but otherwise will not make them ill as some people think eating uncooked dough or cake batter will do.

What could be easier than a recipe with four ingredients, especially when one is a dollop of vanilla?

Peanut Butter Cookies with fork prints

1 can condensed milk (not evaporated)
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups baking mix (Bisquick, Pioneer, etc.)
1 tsp. vanilla
Put milk and pb in a large bowl, put in micro. for one min. to make it easier to stir. Add vanilla, stir well, add baking mix, stir well. Form into 1 inch balls, place on baking sheet, press lightly with fork tines. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes about 60'ish yummy cookies if you don't eat half of them before they go in the oven.

new food group...???

Thursday, December 18, 2014
... might be best for something I just stirred up. I wanted to make some cookies to send, but between: a) lazy, b) lack of time, and c) hoping for a smidgen of nutrition - even though, yeah, I know the rules don't apply between mid November and January the 2nd. So I would like to plead my case for having invented a New Food Group.

I didn't have the recipe for rice krispie treats stored in my brain any longer, after such a long time of not having made such a useless, non-nutritious food item. So had to google it up to find out how much butter and how many cups of (non-food) marshmallows to mix with what quantity of cereal for right proportions. Though back in my 'treats' days, I was prone to put the whole box of krispies in, without a thought for measuring cups.

My plan was to substitute whole grain cheerios for the krispies. It all seemed to come together pretty well - you might be able to substitute the melted marshmallows for most any form of water based glue as they consist of corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, water. They will have to cool a bit before the final evaluation/taste test/quality control takes place. But I suspect the individual who is always opening the pantry door or peering into the fridge here, in an optimistic, munchy state will have no complaints about the cheerios replacing the krispies.

Plus my theory of "It's always good when someone else is cooking" has been confirmed any number of times by passing customers when they eat at the demo booth in Publix.

a day of arggghhhh...

..is what happened when I agreed to do a sub. teaching job on Wednesday,that somehow went completely awry. I was at work on Tues., and could not answer my phone when the computer generated calls started coming in around 6 p.m. So just had to let it ring and sing in my pocket. By the time I got finished up: I had twenty missed calls from the 'subfinder', looking for replacement teachers. I knew I didn't want to go into a Special Ed. classroom, so it was just as well that I had to pass on all those offers.

When I did get to the point after work that I could take a call, it was for a job in a little school where I have been before, as an aide in a pre-K class. I am really amused by four year olds, and though I would rather get better pay for my time, decided to take that assignment. Got up Wed. morning, and found something for lunch, got organized and drove to the school. Nearly on time, with only a slight traffic backup on the way.

Only to be asked when I went in the office to sign in to take a third grade class. Which I did not agree to and did  not want to do. When the admin. assistant asked me, I said 'no', not even tempted with a better paying day. Then she asked if I would go in that class and stay for a bit until they could find someone to do it. I said 'no'. So she asked if I would just try it. I didn't want to, and told her I would rather do the pre-K job, but with great reluctance and trepidation would go until she could call around and get a replacement. I am almost certain she quit trying the minute I walked out the door.

The good news is that there was an aide in the room when I got there, they were remarkably well behaved until they went to lunch. 99% due to that person in there who knew them, could call them by name, knew their routine, knew what the teacher expected from them, and could bring disruptive behavior to a screeching halt. The rest of the day was not fun. But I survived.

I should have stayed at home, and gotten my Christmas letter written. It would have been a much more peaceful and productive day. Though I did go to church and help with the ARC blood drive,  plus give a pint. And so exhausted from all this, I fell into bed about 8:30.  Which of course means, I woke up about 4:00 am, thinking about that letter I need to get written, copied, addressed, mailed.

remembering Christmas...part 3

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
... is what I was doing when at work yesterday. Thinking about childhood holidays. Just odd little bits and pieces of things that stuck in my brain from growing up in a small town.  Being a kid  in a place and time when parents assumed it was safe to let their offspring roam the streets unsupervised.

One set of grandparents lived on a small farm several miles from the center of town. Though my granddad came into town to work every day, in a local bank, I remember my brother and I spending a good bit of time out there 'in the country', doing whatever kids do when left to their own devices. I think he spent a lot of time in my granddads workshop, hammering nails into everything he could find. I must have spent more time with my grandmother, but do recall a lot of sitting up high in the limbs of a large magnolia tree in their yard.

Having the benefit of living in close proximity to grandparents on both sides means our family saw a lot of them. We would have Thanksgiving lunch with one set each year, and Christmas dinner at the home of the other. Occasionally wondering from year to year, where to go? Which place we ate at the previous holiday?

The group at the house on Court Street was always larger, with more extended family available to crowd around the table. Aunts, uncles and cousins living in the adjacent house, and other adults in close proximity meant lots of family gathered for the holiday meal. Since this grandmother was an avid bridge player, there were plenty of card tables and chairs to set up all over the house in hallway, living room, where ever a space could be made, to use for children to sit. Where cousins would get loud and rowdy, with uncontrolled laughter and smothered giggling. To be thoroughly threatened by adults who never put down their forks or got up to carry out the threats of deadly force.

I am sure grandmother, who had a cook, pulled out all the stops for the holiday meal. With turkey and ham, cornbread dressing and gravy, rice and more gravy, various vegetables and homemade yeast rolls. Stuff that takes days to prepare, and hours to cook. Magically having everything appear on the table at the same time. And of course, setting the table with the best china, sterling flatware and crystal. Linen table cloth and diligently ironed napkins.

I don't recall specifics of the menu other than always 'ambrosia'. Which is a combination of peeled and sliced citrus fruits, along with bright red marischino cherries and grated coconut. I am thinking the coconut was not available for purchase in grocery stores, so was tediously prepared by hand. Meaning you have to: buy the coconut, intact. A little hard round, dark brown shell, about the size to fit in an adult hand, with three little grouped together indents that look for the world like a face, with eyes and mouth.

 Pay for it and take it home. Get out the ice pick or screwdriver and hammer to punch holes in the 'eyes', turn it upside down on a small bowl or measuring cup in order to drain out the liquid/milk. If you are smart you will now wrap it in a towel. (I wasn't ever that clever, not thinking ahead.)Take it out in the back yard and whack it several times with a hammer. Crack it open, to get to the inside on a brick in the back yard (with occasional pieces going flying in all directions.) Then you have to pry the 'meat' from the hard dark brown outer shell. Then you have to wash all the dirt and sand off the white meat. And get out the grater. Proceed to grate each of the pieces, and your knuckles to get as much coconut as possible to add to the citrus/cherry mix.

Much, much later in life I realized I don't like coconut, and continue to look back over the decades with surprise that I ate so many things I did not want to put in my mouth. Don't care for the taste or texture of. But ate because I knew not to refuse. I think with the ambrosia, the ingredients were such a rarity in that time, so 'dear', and such a rarity: fresh fruit in winter, that it was a treasured item, with both the citrus and the coconut being a scare, therefore expensive commodity that it was considered a real treat. So I was given my dish of ambrosia. And ate it without question. But now, I would like to say: "none for me, thank you", and hope to leave my portion for others who really enjoy it.

remembering Christmas...part 2

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
...when there were some good and some not so good. I apparently have gotten pretty adept at putting things in little compartments where I can close the door on things that I want to block out. Plus you don't want to hear the stories with remembrance of the 'not so good'.

The Good: and The Best: was the year my dad bought a horse. When I think about it now, it is difficult to believe that I would be so outrageous as to ask for/expect to get a horse. It had to be a drain on the family economy. After you buy one, you have to feed it. A whole lot more than table scraps a dog would consume, along with the occasional can of food. I am not sure how old I was,, maybe eleven or twelve, definitely of the age to be 'horse crazy'. I'm wishing now I had asked my dad a lot of questions about a lot of different things before it was too late, and inquiring into the details of how him came into possession of a very large four-footed mammal is one of those questions.

Sadly, I was not surprised: my brother apparently could not keep a secret. But I did. They told him what I was getting, and told me what he was getting. And he blabbed. But not me, so he had no idea what to expect at the crack of dawn on that Christmas day.

I was delighted and rode that horse all over town for years. My dad built a pen in the back yard. But expected me to take care of it, which I did, feeding, watering , grooming. He was occasionally tied out in the yard or a big pecan orchard across the road, to graze on fresh grass.  He was a sort of rusty red color, with a white star on his forehead. His name was Tony. I did not know about a man who made cowboy movies before I came along, but there was a guy named Tom Mix who has a horse named Tony, so I think that was how this one got his name.

I guess I lost interest, out-grew horse riding... along about the time I started high school. So my dad must have sold him... not sure what happened...

a small flurry...

...of gift wrapping activity occurred last Thursday when I was trying to get organized for going to Decatur. I got them all done - temporarily. And delivered on Friday. In the process of searching for boxes to put stuff in, I found a box up on the shelf in the closet that had some 'decorations'. This from the  person who said: "I went into the workshop and got the wreath off the shelf, walked out of the carport to the front door, and hung the wreath on the light fixture, plugged in the string of lights, and completely finished my holiday decorating".

What I found in the box was The Three Kings x 2. Left over from when Paula was, oh maybe in the fifth or sixth grade. i'd been drafted to make some crafts for her class at school. and we made the kings out of cardboard tubes. They were actually pretty cute. What you see, when you come in and get done laughing, wipe your eyes, and look again:

What you don't see, is over to the side, on the far end of the mantel is the two santas. One is also made for a cardboard tube covered with red paper, and the other is just a red paper cone, decorated with all the appropriate gear to make it santa-like. I think I probably made both of the goofy little santas and one set of the three little four inch tall wise men, and if you look closely before they go back in the box and up on the shelf for another eleven months, you can tell which ones Paula made. I'm sure we had good fun.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

...is the reason I wrote on my calendar many months ago, asking for their cooperation for something memorable today. I'd made a note, and sent emails to daughters so we could plan to 'save the da'y. Without a specific idea, I was counting on one or the other to come up with something we would do together that would be amusing, entertaining, and hopefully be sufficiently unusual to stick in memory for a long time.

I think it was 11-11-11 when we went to 'see Rock City'. I had not been in years, though I doubt much has changed in fifty years (other than an increased entry fee, and quadrupled prices on trinkets and concession stand food items.) It's been so long ago, that neither daughter had any memory of going. Probably the first year the big aquarium in downtown Chattanooga opened. Surprising when you consider one can look out the window of her house and see the buildings there, hanging over the edge of Lookout Mtn. But they were so young when we last went, neither could remember anything about having been. 

Sadly, 12-12-12 got away from us, when there was a scheduling conflict and we could not all be together. I went to Decatur for the day, but have nothing of note to report about activities. Which means it was remarkably unremarkable.

But today: we went to Stone Mountain Park for a sledding adventure. Pretty fun, and a pretty day as well. Out on the front lawn where you would sit in the summer when there is a laser light show after dark. There is a complicated maze of plywood panels, and constructed risers that lead paying customers up onto a staging area where we lined up to plop into tubes for a speedy ride to the bottom of the slope. Lots of man-made snow covering about ten lanes of super slick iced over snow for a quick trip down the incline. Some smaller, single person tubes for individuals, and some larger ones for four or five - big enough to hold a family.

I have advice for anyone thinking about going: Go early in the morning, to get a head start on sleepy-heads, and not spend half your time standing in line. Go on a cold day, so you won't get hot in all those layers you think you need to wear. Pee before you get on the tubes that hold a single person: the ride is so bumpy you will be sorry if you don't do that first. And you will waste valuable time searching for a bathroom, or waiting in line there, when you only have a two hour slot, which is what you get when you purchase your ticket.

Fun and funny. The only thing better than spending time together, is doing it under circumstances that causes us to laugh uproariously. Beautiful clear sky, bright sunshine, a gorgeous day. Pretty dang memorable to  my way of thinking.