Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Friday, August 31, 2012

Common threads--food and weather

For some reason, certain subjects seem to crop up on a regular basis. I live in northeast Wisconsin. Perhaps I should add three other topics to the above list: Packer football and the "rumor mill," as our pastor calls it. I readily admit that I never watched sports until I moved here, but I think it is illegal to skip a Packers' game. As for the rumor mill, I don't mind it, as long as I'm not at the center of it. I have been known to hang up on a caller who is telling me what people are saying about me. I am so sick and tired of politics, whether it is by phone calls (both people soliciting my vote and taking polls), TV ads, email rants, Facebook threads, or out-and-out political discussions. I refuse to discuss them, and by now I'm of the opinion that when they held the WI recall election they should have expanded it and sacked the whole bunch of them, starting in the state and going all the way to the US government.

Weather, as it is discussed here usually centers on (1) the cold weather, (2) the amount of snow we are getting, (3) drought, or (4) the heat--especially this summer. Recently, the weather has moved to the Gulf Coast, thanks to Isaac. I have good friends who live in LA and MS, so I watched it carefully and waited for them to have power again so I would know they were OK. I thanked the Lord that my son is no longer living in New Orleans. He was there during Katrina, and it was a route I didn't want to travel again.

Food? Everybody loves a good meal, whether they are somebody from my past who "knew" I couldn't cook to a friend from Germany, who accused me of adding to his caloric intake just because I mentioned that I had had a cheeseburger and piece of raisin pie. I promised the friend that I would share my "non-cooking" story, so I figured I might as well do it for all of you. Maybe it will put a smile on your face, and if you are a soon-to-be bride, it might give you a few ideas.

It was Jan. 1966. Ivan and I had just gotten married. When we moved into our first apartment, he gave me $20 and sent me to buy groceries. At that time, $20 bought a lot of food. I had just come back from Venezuela. I returned with several bags of groceries, and like a proud new bride, I set them all out on the table. He looked at them, sort of scratched his head and asked, "What are we having for supper?" I looked at the spread on the table and answered, "I have no idea." I had bought all the things I had missed so much when I was in Venezuela: cake mixes, fancy jams and jellies, things to make cookies, etc. There was no meat, no potatoes, no pasta, no vegetables. He sort of chuckled and said, "I guess maybe I should start buying the groceries." I wasn't especially fond of grocery shopping, so that was fine with me.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Let me preface this part of the tale by telling you that my mother taught me to cook when I was just a young girl. I cooked during my 3 years in Venezuela. I had entertained a lot of people there, and even taught cooking classes to the women there. I did a pretty fair job of it. Still, we tend to cook the things we are familiar with, so when a new challenge comes along, we sometimes get lost. As long as I had my trusty old Betty Crocker cookbook, I could handle anything, but it was still back in Venezuela, waiting for our return. I cooked a minimal amount of meals for Ivan and me during those first couple of weeks.

And then...one day he said, "I am hungry for breaded veal cutlets." I told him to buy what I needed and i would fix it. He was out in the living room as I began my culinary experiment. After a while, with the meat in the frying pan, he wandered out into the kitchen, lifted the lid and asked, "What is that?" I told him it was breaded veal cutlets. "Not that anybody would notice," he said. You see, I don't remember my mother ever making anything breaded. I couldn't look in my trusty cookbook, and that was years before the ability to check on the computer to see what to do. I knew that it involved cracker crumbs, eggs, and the meat. I had crushed the crackers up and added the eggs to them. The result was a mass of horrible looking "globs" that had no intention of clinging to the cutlets. He said, "Maybe I should start doing the cooking too." Hey, it sounded good to me. Over the years, he turned into a gourmet cook. I baked and could manage a simple breakfast, but for the main meals, he did almost all of the cooking until he lost his leg in 1995.

As he sat in his wheelchair, he lamented the fact that it was really hard for him to reach the things he needed in the cupboards, manage things on the stove, etc. He asked me, "What are we going to do to eat?" I said, "I guess we have three options: I can cook, we can starve to death, or we can eat out a lot." It didn't take even a second for him to decide, "I think we will eat out a lot." Red Lobster became his favorite haunt, to the point that they made a regulation Red Lobster pin that read "Mr. Smith" that they put on him in his casket.

Since that time, I have returned to cooking. I have even discovered that I enjoy it. I also enjoy entertaining. Most of the things I have attempted have turned out quite well. Well, there was that one pizza...but that's another story for another day.

So, if you are in the mood for a good feed, come on over. Make sure you call first, as I do tend to wander around hither and yon. I am busier than I've ever been, but having more fun than I ever imagined was possible. Yes, my kids keep reminding me that I am supposed to be retired. I tell them, "I am retired. I got tired, then I got tired again, and again, and again. I can't begin to count how many times I have been re-tired. Now that I have a good mattress to get a good night's sleep on (see the blog below), I'm good to go, and keep on going. I plan to give that bunny a good run for his money!

And I can just picture Ivan watching me from above, once again scratching his head and saying, "I can't believe you did that to me."

Bon apetit!


  • At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Lee said…

    But you didn't tell anybody about the fantastic BBQ sauce that you "just whipped up." It was so good that I had to get the recipe from you. Granted it did not look like anything from a cookbook. I am especially commenting on the handfull of this or scoop of that in the recipe.
    Keep on cooking, but do not forget your writing. That's where you are really creative.

  • At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks, Lee. It was pretty good, wasn't it. Still wish you'd gotten the name of the "lost woman from MN" though.


Post a Comment

<< Home