Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A recipe for my friend Carlene


2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup sugar

dash salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup whipped topping (dairy or non-dairy)


Combine eggs, sugar, salt, and lemon juice in top of a          double boiler.  Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until thick.  Cool.   Fold in whipped topping.

Now, combine all the following and fold into the above dressing:

2 cups chopped apples

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup halved grapes

2 bananas, sliced

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup pecans

Could  it be any easier?  And to think I've only made it twice in the space of thirty-some years.  I'm going to correct that error by Christmas time.

Monday, November 27, 2023

It's finally happened; I want nothing.

We don't do Christmas gifts here.  Back when we had a lot less money, we tried to buy something for all the appropriate people in the family  The only way we could do that was to use a credit card, which never got paid off completely.  We finally told our relatives we only wanted to buy gifts for the children, which made it much more affordable.  At some point, we even opted out of that, since all the grandchildren were grown.    

So when Black Friday comes around and my email is full of invitations to buy things at rock-bottom prices, I've looked for things that Cliff and I could use while their on sale.  This year for the first time ever, I couldn't even find one thing I needed or wanted.  I did look at toasters because the one we have gets one side done while the other side is barely toasted at all.  But we've learned the hard way that all toasters these days are junk, and as I read the negative feedback on two or three of them, I knew I was wasting my time.  We bought a toaster oven once that did a good job on toast, but it took up too much room on the counter to suit me and I got rid of it.  

So here I am, no longer wanting to buy the latest gift or gadget.  There's nothing I want or need that money can buy.  

We had a happy Thanksgiving shared with the family of our oldest grandson's Significant Other; their tribe blends very well with ours.

Cliff's late brother's oldest son joined us Thursday, along with his wife.  They  invited us to their Thanksgiving celebration on Saturday (tacos!!!).  Cliff took them up on it; I wasn't all that excited, simply because there wouldn't be that many people I knew and I am not very comfortable in that situation.  Honestly, I don't want to go anywhere these days, especially when it's cold.  And the nephew lives an hour's drive away in Peculiar.

But now I am SO glad we went.

Cliff's brother Don died a few years ago.  They  were eighteen months apart in age, and had a very close relationship all their lives.  Cliff still says he misses him every day.  All three of his sons were there, absolutely overjoyed to see their uncle, and he was thrilled to see them.  We see Scotty, the oldest, quite a bit, and Bryan maybe once or twice a year.  But we hadn't seen the youngest, Shawn, for a long time.  He's the one who, from a distance, resembles his father a lot; he even walks like his father did.

I told the three to get together so I could take a picture, and they wanted Cliff to join them in the shot.  I agreed.  The picture doesn't do any of them justice; Cliff hates how he looks in it (he said to me, "I guess I'm just ugly").  I actually took four shots, but this was the only one where they were all looking at the camera and Cliff had at least a little bit of a smile.

Shawn, Cliff, Bryan, and Scotty

Their mom was there, so I had a good visit with her. 

This is what I woke up to Sunday.  I'm ashamed to say it, but I didn't go to even one of my two churches.  The thought of getting out of my pajamas and warm robe, then going out in the cold and tromping through snow, was just too much.  I will pay for that omission all week, because when I don't go to church on Sunday, the week literally feels like it will never end.

What have I become?  I used to put on Carhartt coveralls twice a day and go milk my cows.  I wouldn't even skip going for my  walk in winter.  Now I don't even want to stick my head out the door.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Recipes from the Kansas City Star

For many years we subscribed to the Kansas City Star and Times; yes, two papers each day.  The Times was discontinued in 1990.  After all, we had been getting most of the important news events on television by then.  We didn't realize it, but all newspapers were going to start going the way of the dinosaurs.  I would read many portions of the Star religiously:  Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren, Charles Gusewelle's column twice weekly, and the once-a-week Thursday recipe page.  I still have some of those recipes that I clipped out of the paper and glued onto recipe cards.  

My grandson's favorite dessert is Oreo Delight; I probably had that recipe for at least ten years before I ever tried it, but one Easter I finally made it.  My oldest grandson, Arick, was four years old at the time.   We had eaten dinner that day, but some of the guests were eating desserts when I went outside to the barn for some reason (I had cows and calves to tend back then).  I came back and walked in the door, and my smiling grandson, sitting on the floor with a dish in one hand and a spoon in the other, looked at me wide-eyed and said, "Gramma, I LIKE this berzert!" (His way of saying dessert.)

.  I've been making it ever since, although it's far from my favorite... gobs of Cool Whip, Oreo cookie crumbs, instant chocolate pudding... that isn't cooking!  There's also some cream cheese, and enough butter to hold the oreo crumbs together on the bottom of the pan.  But  I promise you that wherever I take it, it is the first dessert to disappear.  

As I was looking through my old yellowed recipe cards this week, I saw a recipe from the Star that I remembered making once, and only once.  Kathy, my then daughter-in-law, was staying at our house with her children when our son was in the Army.  The recipe was for Waldorf Salad, and the reason I saved it was that it didn't have mayonnaise in it.  

You see, when I was a child in Iowa and we had dinners at church, someone would always bring Waldorf salad.  I made the mistake of thinking it was a fruit-and-whipped-cream dessert and would put some on my plate.  Then I'd taste the mayonnaise and wished I could spit it out.  Back then I  had no love for mayo or Miracle Whip or mustard or ketchup; besides, who mixes mayo in with whipped cream?  So when I saw this recipe in the paper years ago, I couldn't wait to try it.  I made it one time only for some holiday dinner, and it was exactly what I thought... DELICIOUS!  The daughter-in-law liked it so much, she begged me to make it several times while she was with us, but I never did... that is, until Wednesday of this week.  I should tell you that I do like mayo and Miracle Whip in their proper places now, but I still don't want it mixed up  with whipped cream! 

I knew when I made the fruit salad that nobody but Kathy and I would probably eat any of it, with all the  other stuff around; but I wanted to find out if she even remembered it.  Yes, my former daughter-in-law spends holiday meals with us, she and Andy.  After all, her two children are always with us at holidays.  As it happens, though, she was under the weather, so she and Andy didn't come.  But the grandson tried it later, and said, "Who made this?  It's really good!"

So another good berzert is discovered.  And being in his thirties now, Arick knows how to pronounce the word dessert. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday Stealing

1, People I'd like to thank and why:  All my relatives near and far who have put up with my very weird personality their whole lives and loved me anyway.

2. Something I rebelled against as a kid   My parents, especially my mother, who wanted me to be sure and marry someone who was a member of the "right" church, and sooner rather than later.  I think she felt there was something wrong with me because I wasn't dating as soon as everyone else.  Believe me, I liked a lot of boys, but they didn't know I liked them because I didn't know how to flirt, and I was afraid to talk to them.  As a consequence, I never dated until I was twenty years old. 

3. What I need to accomplish before the end of the year   The same things I've accomplished this year:  all bills paid, dog and cat fed, meals every day and dishes washed, laundry done.  Yes, these are indeed accomplishments!  And I had a nice vegetable garden, too.

4. Guilty pleasures right now   Lindor chocolate candy; it's very expensive, and I eat five of them a day.  I compensate by not eating anything after our noon meal (the candy is my dessert for that meal).  Also Twinings Earl Grey Black Tea.   

5. Local landmarks:  Ten miles away at Lexington, Missouri, we have The Anderson House,  the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site, the 1847 courthouse.

6. Cause or purpose I deeply believe in   I believe in God, and that He knows who I am.  I believe in Jesus and that He loves all of us.  

7. Things I never learned to do  Drive a car.  I took the course in high school but my teacher made fun of me.  That ended my desire to learn.

8. Seasonal traditions I’m always excited for  Activities in my garden

9. Something I’d like to be mentored on  Too late.  If someone mentored about me in some way, I'd forget about it by the next day.

10. Exotic animals I wish I could keep as pets   Wild animals don't make good pets.

11. Something normal to me, that might be odd to others  Going barefoot outside any time the weather is above 45 or so.  Not having a closet full of shoes like most women.  I really don't care about nice clothes or fancy houses and am not impressed by them.  In fact, I seldom notice them.

12. The last book I quit reading and why  The Warmth of Other Suns.  It is a great non fiction book about the fifty years of African-Americans leaving the south and going north to New York and Chicago, and west to California.  I'm sure I read more that 75 percent of it, but it began to be repetitive, so I opted out.  The book had 640 pages, and I was ready to quit.

13. Right now, I appreciate...  everything I can still do.

14. When “the holiday season” starts for me   Thanksgiving

15. Holiday foods and treats I love the most   Pumpkin pie

16. “Terrible” movies that I actually like  "Terrible" is in the eye of the beholder

17. Cooking all day for holiday dinner vs. ordering carry-out  I've never done carry-out, but I probably wouldn't like it  

18. If I were trapped in a holiday movie, I’d pick...   none

19. Which holiday tradition I wish lasted all year long  I'll pass on this one.  

20. Favorite books, music, tv, movies and music this month  I'm not good at having favorites of these things.  My favorite movie is Little Big Man.  My favorite music changes depending on the day, nothing on TV deserves to be a favorite, and I read too many books to really have a favorite, but right now I'm thinking about Ron Howard's autobiography:  The Boys:  A Memoir of Hollywood and Family.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Grits and a rant

I woke up this morning craving cheese grits; obviously I'm not pregnant, and unlike Abraham and Sarah in the Bible, I wouldn't be laughing if an angel told me I was.  Anyhow, I'm always craving something or other, and many times our meals are driven by some food item I'm wishing for.

I argued with myself for an hour or more this morning, knowing that grits aren't the healthiest food.  Even if they were, I'd be making them unhealthy adding butter and Velveeta (or a store brand of it).  Finally, my stomach growling, I decided to just give in and get it over with.

Nobody in my family ever made grits; I don't know that I ever heard of them until some woman in a TV show said "Kiss my grits!" a lot.  As an adult I tried them a time or two when eating breakfast out, but I wasn't a fan.  My son who lives in Georgia adds sugar to them as if it was Cream of Wheat.  So does his wife, who insists that's the way southern people eat them.  However, any southern recipe for grits that I've find online never mentions sugar.

In the last few years I became so curious I went searching for some form of grits I would like.  After reading various books about southern food and googling recipes, I found the recipe that won me over on the side of a Quaker Grits box.  It's on the old-fashioned and the five-minute boxes.  Lately I've had trouble finding the old-fashioned grits, which I prefer.  But if all I can get is the five-minute variety, I'll take it.  When it's done cooking, I put the cheese in it and a chunk of butter, and garlic powder and cayenne pepper; Cliff and I both enjoy it once or twice a month.  I just eat a bowl of grits, nothing else, while Cliff likes an egg with his, and toast.  This morning there was a leftover biscuit he chose instead of toast.  

You could never have told me I would ever be eating grits, but here I am, craving them at times.

As I think about all the good things I can choose to eat at any time, I think about the people in Gaza who have almost no food.  It makes me feel selfish.  So many little children are suffering, hungry and scared, and we in the USA are all planning a big Thanksgiving dinner.  I imagine most of the families in Israel and Gaza and Ukraine would not have chosen to be at war, but there they are in the middle of  wars.  I mustn't brood on it, and yet what kind of person can pretend it isn't happening?  I pray for the end of war, knowing that won't happen as long as there are people on the earth.  We will never get along.  Americans can't even run our government without fighting, so we don't have much to brag about either.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

My husband is clueless about cooking (and a little google rant)

This is the strangest thing:  Every few days I am signed out of my blog.  If I click on the words "sign in", it takes me to where I can make a blog entry, but when I finish the entry and actually go to my blog, I am not signed in.  I finally realized I can only sign in in my comment section... or even someone else's comment section.  I don't even have to make a comment, I just have to hit that dropdown arrow that is telling me I'm anonymous and look at the other two options... google or name/url.  I select google, sign in, and when I go to the top of my blog I am signed in there too.  Isn't that crazy?

Not much going on here.  Tuesday I was trying to decide what to make for dinner and told Cliff I decided on spaghetti.  This summer when I had an overload of tomatoes I cooked and froze a lot of my homemade spaghetti sauce in quart freezer baggies, so my sauce is made when I need it; I just add some Italian sausage.  I had it nicely heated up when I went to get the spaghetti and found out I didn't even have enough spaghetti for one person to eat.  Since we were going to go shopping the next day I told Cliff I'd put the sauce in the refrigerator, add spaghetti to the list, and have something else.  But spaghetti is Cliff's favorite food, and that's what he wanted.  He said, "Why don't you throw that little bit of spaghetti in a pan with some macaroni?  Do you have macaroni?"  I told him yes, I had a lot of it, but that wouldn't work... (picture that in your head if you will).

"Aren't they the same thing, only a different shape?" he said.

Well, kind of; they're both pasta.  But macaroni is not going to be anything like spaghetti, even with the same sauce.

He just couldn't understand it, so finally I agreed to use macaroni, although I wasn't about to put that tiny bit of spaghetti in with it, because why bother?  If I'm going to ruin a meal, I want to do it right.

When it was done we sprinkled parmesan cheese on top of our meal and dug in.  Of course it was edible... but he had to admit it was NOT like spaghetti.  I didn't use all the sauce on the macaroni because I knew we wouldn't eat a lot, so there might be enough for my husband to have some real spaghetti in a day or two.  Or I'll just put the leftover sauce in the freezer and add it to the sauce I get out of the freezer next time.

Cliff has never understood anything about cooking.  

Monday, November 13, 2023

When I can't think of anything to write

This time of year, I often have trouble finding something to say in my blog.  I am not a fan of the winter holidays, and I celebrate as little as I can while trying not to ruin this time for others.  I like the family gatherings, although this year Thanksgiving is approaching far too fast and I'm not prepared mentally.

I take solace remembering the times all my mother's family gathered at Grandma's house for the holidays.  The little house where she raised her five children had four rooms downstairs (two of them tiny bedrooms), and an upstairs that was one big room.  On Thanksgiving, the kitchen aromas would make your mouth water; the room was alive with aunts washing dishes and fussing with dinner as they chattered away.  Most of the men smoked back in the early fifties, so they'd go out to smoke if the weather permitted and discuss farming problems, or which tractor or implement was the best or the price corn was bringing that year.  This was when men all wore hats, so many old black-and-white photos show them wearing hats.  

My cousins and I tried to stay out of the way, except for Carolyn, two years older than me; she was always in the kitchen with the women, helping any way she could.  She never was much for playing.    

I suppose Grandma's living room was roomy enough for her family when her children were growing up, but with twenty to thirty people there for Thanksgiving, it was definitely close quarters.  In winter there was a big heating stove that took up one whole side of the room.   In my youngest years, that stove was a wood-burner.  Later it was either fuel oil or propane, I'm not sure which.  Two of my uncles lived near Grandma: They would move the big stove out in springtime, then back in when autumn came.  They also cut the wood for her stove.  She didn't drive, so uncle Leo and his family took her with them to shop in Bethany.  My cousin Betty told me that when Grandma got her groceries she would also buy bread and baloney for all of them and they'd eat baloney sandwiches on the way home.  As Betty finished the story, she smiled and said, "It was so good!" 

Simple times. 

I remember climbing on Grandma's woodpile every time I was there.  There are certain things a kid has to do each time they go to Grandma's house, right?    

Sometimes on Thanksgiving the adults would put everybody's name in a hat, pass it around, and draw names to find out who they were going to buy a Christmas gift for.  Grandma managed to give a gift to every one of her grandchildren, usually a pair of socks and a candy bar together in a package.  That doesn't sound like much, but all she had was the money she got for her eggs, the quilts she made and sold for a pittance, and her "old age pension", which wasn't much.  Medicare was a bit late for her; it started around the time she died.

I need to remember those good times, so thank you for allowing me to reminisce.  I know I jumped around from one thing to another in a rather awkward fashion, but it's all I have today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

The things you learn to laugh at when you get old

There are a lot of words I can't summon up when I need them these days.  I have told my family it's fine to help me figure out what I'm trying to say.  In fact, I encourage it.  I make jokes about it often.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it's dementia.  One time maybe three or four years ago I mentioned online that I probably had dementia and several people said I should get checked.  

I am not going to do that until I start making things rough on my husband, and then he can figure out what he wants to do with me.  Meanwhile, I have fun with  it.  Please don't comment telling me I really should get tested.

I am now so old that I have to go to the doctor every six months!  My kidneys are apparently getting tired, so the doctor has me come in for blood tests, so I went yesterday.  When I got up this morning at 4 A.M. and finally checked my email, my test results were there.  I saw there were three things that were "off":  Creatinine, serum high (but not much); Glomerular filtration low (but very little); and calcium, serum, which is only 1 point away from being high.  Doctor Google told me I have, or maybe almost have, a kidney disease.  Barely.

A nurse called at 8:30 to tell me she had my tests back; "I know," I said. "I googled them."

She had trouble talking after that because she couldn't stop laughing. She was still giggling when she hung up. By the way, she said this test turned out a little better than the one six months ago.

I might make it to 80 years old yet.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

I've had a couple of nice days

Well, I skipped going to my two churches today because Cliff so enjoys having me with him watching the Chiefs.  They were playing in Germany starting at 12:30 P.M. their time (8:30 our time), and he'd have been watching alone if I'd gone; then he would have driven to town to pick me up, and would have missed a very important part of a game that was full of ups and downs in the second half.  Whew.  I'm too old for that much excitement, but GO CHIEFS!

I got out of bed at 5 A.M. to find that my husband had already turned back the clocks back.  The time change didn't bother me at all.  I actually embrace our regular hours as opposed to daylight savings, because I can see the sun rise while I'm the only one awake.  There's a bedroom on the east end of our trailer house, and when I notice it's getting light outside, I walk down the hall and look out the window to see the sun coming up.  The rising sun represents hope to me, telling me I have one more day.  When I'm looking out at the sun, I often think about the song Whispering Hope.  Hope does whisper to us, I believe, in a still, small voice.  Here's what I saw out the window this morning:

I went out yesterday and got my garden ready for winter.  The tomato cages are gone and the trash from the tomato plants was hauled away behind Cliff's tractor; I cut down the tall, dried-up okra plants.  I also hoed a few weeds here and there.  It was good to be out taking care of my garden even though I won't be planting anything until at least March.  I thanked God for the hope of another spring.  

I've been sharing pictures of my garden all year, so I decided to show you what my garden looks like when it's finished for the year.

  The strawberry plants are still as green as ever.  That's why  I haven't put straw on them yet.

I love living so near the garden.  The straw you see near the fence is protecting three blueberry plants from the cold that will soon be coming.  There are some cabbage plants on the left that didn't get big enough to harvest before the hard freeze we had.  But I'm still eating turnips!


Saturday, November 04, 2023

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 movie Cliff and I watched on Netflix last night and thoroughly enjoyed.  It was funny, almost impossible to believe, and yet it was for the most part a true story based on a book written by the man portrayed by the  main character.  As we watched it, I faintly recalled reading about those happenings in the newspaper, but that would have been in the 1970's.  The man is Frank W. Abagnale, who began his life of crime at the age of 17 years old.  

"Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo, was one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks, all before he was twenty-one."

I did a lot of googling when the movie was over and found out he's alive and well.  I checked to find out the library has the book the movie is based on, and I can't wait to read it, because the book is always better than the movie.

Way back then, there was a show called To Tell the Truth; there's a clip of that show that played in a scene near the beginning of the movie, so this morning I watched the whole thing on Youtube.  I'm placing it here because I know Cliff will want to watch it when he wakes up, so  he  can see the real person instead of Leonardo DiCaprio. 

I strongly recommend it.  It's hard for me to find a movie I really like, but this one fills the bill.  

And that's all I'll say about that.  Most likely,  all of you have seen it by now.

One more thing:  Cliff and I just watched a Johnny Carson show that had Frank as a guest.  It's very  interesting too.  Here's the LINK.

Friday, November 03, 2023

I miss summer already

We've had a hard freeze this week, but now we're having highs in the 60's.  I intend to get the garden cleanup started this afternoon.  I need to get the dead plants out of there.  I think it's too soon to put straw on the strawberries.  I doubt the soil temps are consistently below 40 yet.

Here's what I found with Goggle:

Apply straw mulch over the plants in the late fall, once the plants are dormant and soil temperatures are consistently below 40°F.Spring care of June-bearing cultivars begins with mulch removal in mid-April to early May.Remove straw in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 40°F and the first new leaves begin growing.

Wednesday Cliff and I got the current Covid shot.  The next day we both felt lousy.  Not sick, but I had a runny  nose and a throat tickle that made me cough, and Cliff just didn't feel good; in fact, he called and rescheduled his yearly appointment with his cardiologist.  By evening we were back to normal.  I've heard people saying that some shots have made them feel bad, but I've only ever had achey arms from the shot until this one.  We got our first shingles vaccine a month ago, and Cliff said he felt punk for a couple of days then, too.  We agreed that from now on we won't get any more vaccine shots on the day before a doctor's appointment, or any other scheduled plans.

I don't have much of anything interesting to say, so I'm going back to the book I'm reading, Black Boy... a book published in 1945.  I don't know how it happened, but lately every book I read is about the suffering of the African Americans.  Before this one I read Warmth of Other Suns. Before that one was Dreamland burning.  I really didn't plan it this way; some of the books had been on hold for quite awhile.  I'm learning to understand how bad they had it.  

Here's a funny  thing.  Yesterday I finally got a very popular book that's been on hold for a long time, not really knowing what it was about.  I looked it up after it showed up on my Libby  app, and here's how it was described: "Salvage the Bones is a simple, yet powerful story about a poor black family living in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi."

I guess Somebody Up There must be wanting me to understand the suffering these people went through, but it's really hard to read about people who treated their fellow human beings far worse than they would treat a dog.