A Pot for the Chicken

Gourmet, I am not, but adequate-plus works for me.  Greek Wedding Bread is terrific as are my sticky buns.  Just ask Molly.  Even though I don’t eat the results, I love to bake beautiful desserts.

Salads, soups, chili, casseroles, breads and desserts get the plus.

Brisket and oven roasted meats are difficult to mess up, but I can turn a beautiful steak or a fine pork chop to crispy critters in the time it takes to say “Turn off the smoke detector!”

A church sale had piles of clay pots called Romertopf. The  number of these discards should have been my clue, but the $2.00 price was my undoing. I hurried home with the pot, stopping to buy a plump chicken, some celery and onions.

Thinking like Julia, I planned a nice rice dish, a salad and a huge apple pie to top off my Romertopf dinner. Staying with Julia’s methods, I slathered on the butter after washing and stuffing that bird. Even at this point, the smell was terrific, though the fit of bird to pan was a bit tight.

Soaked pot (cold water for 15 minutes), cold oven, and 450 temp reached gradually. Two hours later, the chicken was golden though the pot had little juice. Ummm…odd, but maybe the meat is all tender and moist with that butter bath.

It was. Dinner was fantastic.  After the dishes drying and putting away the dishes, it was time to make the brownies for tomorrow’s event.   Back to the oven controls, whipped up the batter while the oven came to temp, but it didn’t. It came to fire–smoke and fire, actually, while those not-so-vanishing juices blackened the oven floor.

Forty-five minutes later, I had enough of the mess cleaned to turn on the self-clean cycle and finish the job. Rubber gloves blackened and sticky, yucky bucket of water, kitchen smelling like burned bird and a batch of brownies waiting for a turn.

Anyone for ice cream with that second piece of pie?


How You Do What You Do

Nana: “How about some oatmeal for breakfast?”
Grandson: “How about a cookie?”
Nana: “How about a cookie AFTER the oatmeal?”
Grandson: “How about a cookie now?”
Nana: “How about oatmeal AND a cookie for breakfast?”
Grandson: “How about that cookie now?”

This being said as he walked to Nana’s special Granny-Cupboard.

Sammy, age 3, has the condition called SPE. He is always Specific, Persistent and Expectant.
He has it dialed:
Ask for exactly what you want.
Continue until the message is heard.
Fully expect that the good will happen.
And, as his older cousin once decided, “Nana  can’t say ‘No’. She can’t.  It is a rule.  Nana isn’t allowed to say, “No”.

Pretty amazing lesson here.

Imagine what our relationships would be like if we adopted Sammy’s SPE. No more hinting, pouting, whining, beating around that overused bush. Straight out expression of our wants and needs. Straight out and honest effort to say what needs to be said. Then we continue with calm persistence until we are heard. No anger. No shouting. No “Why-don’t-you-ever-listen-to- me?” Express the need with total belief that the listener will respond.

And then go stand by the right cupboard fully expecting that the good will happen.

A little child shall lead them, right?

Making A List

Santa is coming.   Today.   5:30.   A special arrival for the grandchildren in the quiet comfort of family, food, fun.

For two weeks, we have talked about the food part, making a list, checking a gazillion times making certain that we, Bob and I, are looking at the same list.

Okay.   All early preparations have been made…chopping, peeling, dicing, baking, frosting, opening, smoking, shopping, arranging.   Table cloths pressed and house decorated to the extent that red bows and two trees allow.   Our little house  extended in every way possible.  Ready!

Maybe not.  The discussion begins.  The discussion that I do not have the intelligence to circumvent, no matter how much I scheme.

“Where will the drinks go?  Who drinks what?  Desserts–on the kitchen table or the dining room?  Hot foods where?  Salads?  This is too much food.   Are you finished in the kitchen?  Ready for the trash to go to the barn? ”

Our dance.  He wants it perfect in the planning, the arrangement and the food.   I know it won’t be perfect.  Martha Stewart doesn’t make house calls.  But it will be terrific.  Santa and his Elf are wonderful. They even bring wine to further the glow.  The meal will be late enough that hunger will perfect the food.

So we dance our tw0-step once again.  One of these days, it will be a waltz.

Picture This

A beautiful cruise ship was  populated with folks having one primary goal…fun.  Not exactly the LOVE BOAT skippered by Captain Steubbing, but a voyage designed to make the worry world go away.  Ports of Call scheduled  a bit of exotic flavor and opportunities to buy some local treasures.

As with many recreational ventures, an ever-present photographer grabbed each opportunity to snap yet another souvenir photo.   The spiel is the same…”A treasured memory captured forever…”

Tim and Sally were cruising with friends and having the promised good time expect for the constant flash interference.   Granted they are a striking couple.  He, tall, distinguished with earned erect military bearing.  She, shorter, lovely and sparkling with southern vitality.  Perfect subjects for photos that will sell.

Subtle hints and evasive movements did not stop the annoyance.   Finally, Tim had an “ah-ha” moment and the ambush photos abruptly ended.    With a look of concern and a studied whisper, Tim said, “People in the witness protection program are not supposed to be photographed!”

Of course, with a career dedicated to protecting others, this friend had no need for witness protection nor did he really ‘say’ that he did.  Tim just found a quick and painless was to enjoy the trip unencumbered.  Touche’.


Not Just For Today

I forget.  When I think about it all, I can bog in the down side.  Never, ever will I discount what teeters us towards the ugly.  And sometimes, I do forget.

I forget what is stunningly beautiful in our balance.   Could be I take it all too much for granted rather than actually forgetting.

Today I received an email from my friend, Tim,  in  South Carolina describing his share of the cooking responsibilities for holiday meals.  He does make me laugh.

Pounder.  Tim is the pounder, smushing food to such thinness that all calories disappear— right along with any friends who might otherwise accept dinner invitations.

OK.  Maybe my brain is on the shallow side, but such fun is just what I need to bring me back to understanding how important gratitude is to every single day.  Kudos to the pounder!

Recipe Requested

Now this makes me laugh!  A friend named me “Polly without the Anna” and “Little Mary devoid of Sunshine” because I cannot seem to let the humor gene  surface as I write.  But now I am laughing at the request that I share a recipe.

My first thought was a favorite invention, Greek Wedding Bread, which morphed from my old cinnamon roll recipe.  Second thought said that a two-day recipe would not be the choice of busy bakers.

Viola!  My newest food group and easiest recipe.  I rarely eat desserts, but I never pass this one.

Cupcake pans and liners, 24 in all.   A favorite round cookie that will fit into the bottom of the cupcake pans.  Those chocolate or caramel striped cookies are perfect.  Sandies are nice, too.

Mix two 8 oz. packages of softened cream cheese, two eggs, 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 1 Teaspoon of either vanilla or almond flavoring.   Both if you like.  Beat the above until softened and fluffy.

Press the cookies into the liners and divide the cream cheese mixture covering the cookies.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until set.

Enjoy as they come from the oven OR cool and spoon a teaspoon or two of prepared pie filling over the top.  Chill if you can wait, and refrigerate leftovers –or give them to me.

There!  I typed a recipe.  Now, Gentle Readers, that is funny.

Strother Martin Got It Right

The line is from Cool Hand Luke.  Paul Newman’s character is about to suffer the consequences of Martin’s displeasure.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Absolutely beautiful autumn afternoon.  I had just returned from  the ice rink where I skated with my friend, Jane.   Autumn’s color and warmth combined with the icy cold at Line Creek Rink to give the best of the seasons.  Conversation with Jane was open and fun.

Winding up the drive, I heard the big Ford tractor’s chug and knew Bob was maneuvering the boat into the storage shed.  Circumstances had kept the boat away from the lake this summer and it was time to get it sheltered for the winter months.

My only fishing passion is standing in a stream and casting for trout, feeling the tug and doing the ‘dance’ until the release.  Boat fishing?  Ugh.  So I go in the boat as little as possible, have never driven the boat and thought that ‘throttle’ was a synonym for a kind of punishment.  There have been times when I have lowered the motor by pressing the button on the side of the motor, but that is the extent of my boat lore.

So…the big tractor is high decibel background, the boat is half-way into the girdle-squeeze-fit  of the shed and Bob asks me to lower the motor.  A mouse could fit between the trailer and the shed and he expects me to get back to the motor?  Reminds me of that childhood chant about can’t go over, can’t go under, can’t go around.  Can’t.  Oh boy.

“Throttle.  On the throttle.”  Hear Bob’s shout, but nothing registers.  Still trying to find a way to the back of the boat…maybe crawl under?   Why does he keep calling the motor a ‘throttle’?   “The throttle!  The button on the throttle!”    Punishment has a button?

For the record, Bob is genius with machines, motors, schematics of stuff and he doesn’t get my ignorance.  “I thought everyone knew that.” is a kind of mantra for him.   Maybe everyone but me.

With a sigh that ruffled the pines, he climbed down and squeezed half way down the boat’s side, yanked at the cover and point to the stick thing that IS a throttle.  Who knew?

Well, now I know.  Communication happened.